If you're not a tomboy, or interested in the friends with benefits thing, can any of the guys you know be real guy friends to you—guy friends without the sexual tension? Maybe you know a girl who conquered the men are from Mars, women are from Venus stigma, and enjoys a healthy supportive friendship with a boy. What does she know that you don't?
Why is it so tricky? Society has always had rules about how to act in romantic relationships (flirt, date, get married, have babies) and rules about how to act in same-sex relationships (boys do stuff together, girls talk and share and talk and share), but it has very few guidelines when it comes to male-female friendships. Watch TV or go to the movies, and you'd swear unless they're on the road to romance, distinguishing between romantic, sexual, and friendly feelings is incredibly difficult.
Your parents grew up in a world where men and women were off limits to each other until marriage. In elementary school, you probably played only with the girls and whispered about the boys only as future dating possibilities. Because you never really knew guy friends, the obstacles to establish a friendship now seem overwhelming. Today, society is slowly learning how to treat both genders more equally. Guys are more willing to admit to some feminine characteristics, and girls are more willing to expose traditionally masculine characteristics like assertiveness. If men and women are to work, play, and coexist now and in the future, they must learn to communicate and understand each other.
So if it's true that girls spend the majority of their time together discussing thoughts and feelings, while boys gather to play sports or other group-related activities, why would you want guy friends? The girls we spoke to who have guy friends say that it's a refreshing change.
I love that my guy friend Paul isn't so sensitive about every little thing, says Jessica. It's a pleasure having an entire conversation without anyone mentioning their thighs. He's like a big brother...without the teasing. And I feel like I'm a fly on the locker room wall learning how the other side thinks. My guy friend makes all those boy mysteries—video games, why the guy I really like doesn't call me back, what's up with skateboarding—crystal clear.
My guy friend Rob laughs with me at dumb stuff no one else thinks is funny, explains Alison. He's a good sport about girly stuff, even rescuing me by standing in as my date to my cousin's wedding. And the fact that he's a gizmo genius who can install and upload anything in the world doesn't hurt. He's helped me double my songs on iTunes, updated my Facebook entry, and tricked out my cell phone. I love my guy friend as much as I do my best friend.
Wanna get one of these guy friends for yourself? One of the easiest ways to get to know a guy is to ask him questions...preferably about himself. Get involved in activities that you're both interested in. Don't approach him in front of his friends when peer pressure might interfere with how he responds. And don't take it personally if he's not up for the same kind of relationship you are. He is a boy, after all.