Some people think teen boys and girls can never be just friends. Once those darn hormone levels rise, that’s it for friendship. From then on male-female relationships are all about one thing. Hooking a partner. As Harry explains in “When Harry Met Sally,” men and women cannot be just friends. Ever.
Don’t you believe it.
I’m more into the Elton John, Making Friends thing from the 1971 movie Friends. The lyrics say that
Friends are found on every road.
I believe that. If you get a chance, check out the video:
That kind of thinking belongs to older generations (mine included) when the only reason for guys and girls to get together was for dating purposes. In the old, old days, girls stayed with Mom and boys went off with Dad to learn how to become MEN. The two groups only came in contact when the boys were ready to pick a wife. As recently as my own generation (I won’t tell you when I was in high school year, but I am about to become a grandmother) things were almost as bad. Sports, sciences and the workplace were guy havens. Girls got to cheer on the boys, took Home Ec, and waited for a guy to ask her out. Yet, even in my day, it was possible for a guy and a girl to be just friends, without benefits.
I know. I was one of the lucky girls who had a guy friend.
In a 2001 article for Psychology Today, Camille Chatterjee discussed what she called “cross-sex buddyhood.”
These days, shared interests, and even simple proximity do a lot to make these friendships possible. While there are still challenges to cross-sex friendships, including the “you’re not really just friends” kinds of comments.
In my upcoming book, BEING GOD, the teen couple I write about end up calling themselves Platonic Soulmates. Okay, that’s HER term for the relationship, HE just calls them buddies. Either way, the result is a friendship outside the confines of a romantic relationship that helps both of them through difficult times. I drew a lot of their interactions from fond memories of my own cross-sex buddy from high school. (Who says authors don’t pull from their own lives?) Gil and I were both science nerds—that shared interests thing. Hours in the school science lab sparked the friendship. We cared about each other, worried about our achievements. Boyfriends came and went. Gil stayed. I always knew there was someone I could share with. One of my best high school memories is rushing to be at the science fair to be with him in case he won an award. He didn’t, so I was at his side while he dealt with defeat.
Mostly we talked, bragging on the world-altering discoveries we would make in the future. I was the person he could talk to about things other than sports. He was the friend I didn’t have to discuss fashion with. I never cried on his shoulder about a lost boyfriend, that’s what my female friends were for. He never asked me to tell a girl he like her, that was his business. I think we both subconsciously understood there was a line we shouldn’t cross if we wanted our friendship to continue. We simply enjoyed each other’s company. Gil told me I was the one person he could share feelings with. He was like a big brother, without the hassles I had with my real brother. He’s the guy who told me how guys think.
I was fortunate enough to watch the same thing happen to my daughter. She and my best friend’s son became friends in kindergarten. Their friendship lasted over the years, even though they attended different high schools. She now lives in Illinois and is expecting her first child. He’s in New Mexico. They still call and chatter about life together. For them, gender means as little as distance.
Things went a little different for me. Graduation meant Gil and I went to different colleges. We lost touch. The same thing happened between me and many of my female friends. The distance and time thing sucks. But I still remember Gil and the conversations and feelings we shared. He made my high school years brighter. I hope he remembers me fondly.
B. A. Binns, winner of the 2010 National Readers Choice award and a 2010 Golden Heart® finalist, writes to attract and inspire readers with stories about “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.” She visits schools and libraries, discussing writing and was to engage reluctant readers.
Her debut YA novel, PULL, is the story of a young man’s journey from guilt and the fear that biology forces him to repeat his father’s violence, to the realization that his future is in his own hands. Voya called PULL a book where “…once you've read the first page, you’re hooked.”
Her second novel, BEING GOD, is about a teenaged alcoholic whose male and female best friends help pull him through his personal bottom. BEING GOD will be released in the fall of 2012.
So what about you readers? Have you had experiences with “Platonic Soulmates?” Have you had friends of other genders? Please share how things went for you guys.