Can guys and girls be just friends?

By Tiffany Hattori, 15, South HS (Torrance)
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Tiffany has made some new guy friends this year who are in band and love video games.

I believe that guys and girls can be friends, and not just in a big group but one guy and one girl can be really good friends. I have always been close to guys. Even though people like to assume that we’re together or that I like the guy, they are usually wrong. Even if one person starts liking the other, the friendship doesn’t have to end, which I say from experience.

I like being friends with guys because I feel like I can trust guys more than girls. It seems like whenever girls find out a secret they almost always tell someone else. In sixth grade I liked this guy and one of my girl friends told everybody. And the guys I’ve been friends with haven’t judged other people as much. When I tell one of my girl friends that I like playing the card game Yu Gi Oh, they’re shocked and say, “It’s a guy’s card game” with a tone that implies I shouldn’t be playing it. But a guy I didn’t know that well saw me playing one time and he wanted to play me immediately. I also like hanging out with guys because I can be myself. I like to tease and make fun of my friends, but around most girls I have to be more careful about their feelings. I almost made a friend cry once when I made an innocent joke.

In elementary school, I liked how we could just accept friendships. I played tetherball with my girl friends and handball with the boys. No one ever asked me whether I had a crush on any of the boys I played handball with. There was one boy who I called my boyfriend, but it was childish. We were just good friends and since we hung out a lot we thought we “like liked” each other.

By the start of middle school, I realized that boy-girl relationships wouldn’t be as innocent as they were in elementary school. In sixth grade I was friends with these four girls and every once in a while I went to play handball with the guys. One day one of the girls told me that the other three hated me and didn’t want to be my friend anymore because I hung out with the guys sometimes. I couldn’t believe it. I stopped hanging out with those girls because I wanted friends who let me hang out with my other friends too. The guys didn’t care that I hung out with the girls, so this showed me that guys were more accepting.

I was just one of the guys

Illustration by Courtney Loi, 15, Sierra Vista HS (Baldwin Park)

After that I almost always hung out with my guy friends during lunch and talked to them in classes so I think they saw me as one of them. They even talked about girls in front of me. One of them asked me about a girl he liked. He wanted to know if I thought she was pretty, if she was single and if I thought she had feelings for him. I liked that I was included. The only thing that was bad about being so accepted was that they didn’t feel embarrassed making stupid sexual jokes (which weren’t even funny) in front of me. I could tell that puberty and hormones were going to make friendship a lot more complicated.

I’ll admit that sometimes girl-guy friendships don’t work out. In seventh grade I sat next to this cute boy in English. We started talking every day and became friends. Then I thought that I shouldn’t think of him as cute, because it could become awkward. But we kept talking and he kept being cute and it became a full-fledged crush.

I told my friend that I liked him and then a week later he asked me out. I squeaked, “yes.” The next day I heard that my friend had paid him gum to ask me out. I was so sad that I had my friends ask him if that was true. It was, but he kept saying he actually liked me and would’ve asked me out anyway. After that I avoided him because I was embarrassed that he was paid to go out with me. We barely talked to each other and English class was awkward the rest of the year. I found out in eighth grade that he never got his gum.

Going into high school I still thought that boys and girls could be the best of friends. I wasn’t going to let one bad experience in middle school spoil that belief. During band camp before freshman year I met one of my best guy friends, even though he was a senior and I was a freshman. We marched near each other on the football field so we waved to each other all the time. Pretty soon we started talking during breaks and whenever we saw each other outside of marching band. I felt like we were becoming friends, so one day I asked for his phone number the way that I would with anyone, a girl or a guy.

When he asked me to homecoming I said yes, but I said only if we went as friends. I thought, “We’re friends so, yay, let’s go.” After he asked me, some girls in band I didn’t even know asked me if I was going out with him. I thought they were crazy. We didn’t hold hands or act like a couple. I didn’t even hug him. I wondered why everyone would assume one of us liked the other. Why couldn’t a guy and a girl just be friends?

By spring of that year, I ate lunch and played hacky sack with him and his friends every day. We talked about random stuff like video games we liked and also more serious stuff like who we liked. When I told him who I liked, I knew he wouldn’t make fun of me and that he wouldn’t tell that guy, even though it was one of his friends. He felt like the cool (even though he’s actually kind of dorky) older brother I wished I had.

He admitted he liked me

One day in May, we were messaging on Facebook about who I liked. He kept telling me to stop talking about the other guy. When I asked why several times he typed, “I like you.” I wasn’t that surprised. Since asking me to homecoming I had had a feeling that he might. I replied, “I’m sorry” several times until he told me to stop saying that. I also told him that I didn’t feel the same.

A few awkward minutes later we were talking about random stuff like YouTube and video games again. Still, I was worried that he might not want to be friends anymore. I considered him my best friend, but I wasn’t sure if he felt the same.

The next day when we saw each other things were cool between us. We were playing hacky sack and hanging out at lunch as if nothing had happened. I was so happy that our friendship wasn’t ruined. I was also relieved that he had told me because then I didn’t have to keep wondering whether he liked me.

I appreciated his being honest about his feelings, so out of respect for him I stopped mentioning who I liked when I was around him. Otherwise things didn’t change. He still teased me about everything, we still texted dozens of times a day and talked on Facebook all the time. I’m really happy that we stayed friends. We were already so used to hanging out and talking all the time that if we had stopped, it would have been weird. It’s that closeness that preserved our friendship.

I think that the key to a successful friendship with anyone, guy or girl, is having stuff in common that you can talk about and feeling comfortable with the other person. And if you start becoming attracted to your friend, I think you should tell them. Maybe they feel the same way. But even if they don’t, a truly strong friendship will survive.