When I was roughly 7-years-old, I had my first boy friend. Not ‘boyfriend,’ but ‘boy friend.’ His name was Marc.
Marc and I met at church. He had fuzzy brown hair that stuck up everywhere and blue eyes that I wanted so badly compared to my boring brown eyes. I forgot how we met, but we became fast friends. We used to rush and race to the swings to pump our legs to see how high we could fly and throw our hands up in the air when we slipped down the slide. The adults nicknamed us “M & M” for obvious “Marc & Mary.” The adults and children giggled and whispered that we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I didn’t even think twice that Marc was a boy and I was a girl. We just clicked and had fun. We were ‘just friends.’
Marc eventually moved away and I was bereft of my buddy who I had loads of fun with on the playground at the church. I missed him. I did not see and never saw Marc any different from all my other friends who all happened to be girls. However, when I was finishing up elementary school and then went into middle school and definitely high school, it was suddenly viewed that boys and girls were not ‘just friends.’ Cooties turned to Crushes. Hormones ran high. My ease and fun talking with Marc when I was a little girl suddenly vanished, and I was a tongue-tied and blank-minded teenager around boys. During that time, I asked for the first time: “Can guys and girls be friends?”
Forgive me for not recalling someone who once said to me: “Guys and girls cannot be friends if they are both single, unless one or both of them is attracted to their same gender. There will always be that sexual attraction or tension.”
I found this rather dismal and unbelievable, for this completely contradicted my friendship with Marc. This person explained, “You and Marc were just kids. It all changes once you go through puberty. Guys and girls can ONLY be friends if one of them is already in a committed relationship with someone else whether it is with another guy or girl.”
Then another question slipped from my mind outside of my mouth: “Can guys and girls be friends again if they were once in a relationship?”
Two responses I’ve received were “It Depends” to a blunt and rather abrasive “No way because it is all or nothing.”
Needless to say, I was very dismayed and down with this interpretation because of my friendship with Marc. It was never about him being a boy and me being a girl; that thought only came in when I was older. It was about us being friends. It doesn’t help that we (particularly women) are fed fairytales of new beginnings and happy endings of man and woman as friends only to end up together by the end of the movie. At what point do we see the blatant ‘differences’ of others that can question and contradict the similarities that forged the friendship in the first place? What if we could just be friends with a person just for the person and not from all the blatant differences of gender or religion, ethnicity, and more? What characteristics attract you towards a certain person to form a friendship? Did you have just a ‘guy’ or ‘girl’ as a friend?
Indeed, can guys and girls be friends? Can they be friends if they were once in a relationship or dating? How come we interpret the ‘all’ or ‘nothing’ that if a single guy and single girl are hanging out together alone AND not in a relationship with a significant other that they must be in a relationship?
Of course, I still wonder where good old Marc went—would we be ‘just friends’? ;-)
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,