Every day, girls tell me how much they wish they could be like me and be “just friends” with guys. For some of them, the problem is that the only guys they hang out with are drunk frat boys who want to hook up and never speak to the girl again. Others, it seems, can’t help but fall in love with every male between the ages of 18-30 with decent facial structure and an average personality. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the casual hookup aesthetic (I’m not hot), or I’m too cynical to imagine a relationship with someone I hardly know, but by some twist of fate, I have become that girl who is just friends with all of the guys and never dates any of them.
I had the perk of growing up on a street of almost all boys, so while other little girls I knew spent their days coloring with their mothers, I went gallivanting through the neighborhood shirtless, without a clue that society would frown upon such frivolity. My favorite Power Ranger was the red one, and I liked Pokemon just as much as the Powerpuff Girls. Of course, I still loved Disney, and as reigning queen of the block, I convinced all of the neighbor boys to dress up as princesses with me on a weekly basis. At some point, we all began to understand the concept of gender role, but that was not something that any of the neighborhood parents sought to enforce. By allowing us to play with whichever toys we preferred, and not questioning my little brother when he refused to wear any footwear besides tap shoes for a week, my parents and other adults I know helped to shape me into the person I am today. I did “girl things” and “boy things,” and as I grew up, I never grew out of either phase. So here I am today, a girl who has boyfriends who aren’t her boyfriend.
The average female college student in this situation tends to complain a lot, claiming to have been “friendzoned.” Admittedly, falling in love with one of the boys in the friend group can lead to some emotional issues, but once you move past the feelings, being friends with boys is quite enjoyable. Nobody tells me that swearing is unladylike, they don’t think it’s weird that I want to play video games – although I really am terrible, so they probably shouldn’t let me play regardless – and “but you’re a girl!” is never an excuse to exclude me from an activity. Sometimes, I’m just one of the guys, and there’s nothing wrong with that! (Most of the time)
Part of the reason I become so easily acquainted with the men I encounter is that I am naturally the mom of my social circle. When someone is having a problem, I’m the one who wants to fix it, and if two people are in an argument, I will gladly mediate. Through this, I became one of the few people these guys are willing to break their stoicism for; they can tell me about what’s bothering them, and I can do the same. Emotions are universal, you don’t have to be the same gender to understand.
Interestingly enough, this is not the aspect of my relationship with men that most girls envy. Instead, they covet my acceptance as a “bro”. If I were to crash guy’s night, for example, I would be warmly welcomed because “I don’t count as a girl.” This part of the friendship, however, is not always so enjoyable. You see, once you are no longer identified by your gender, there is no filter in the conversation. While it technically is nice that my femininity doesn’t keep me out of any meaningful discussion, I can’t say I enjoy answering queries as to which of my friends has the nicest breasts. Apparently, despite spending a decent amount of time staring at women’s chests, my male friends assume that I’d have a better perspective on the girls’ bodies, as girls obviously spend most of their time hanging out in the nude. In attempt to retort with a question that would make them as uncomfortable as I had just been, I wondered at which of the boys in the room had the best-sized penis. Much to my dismay and discomfort, they began debating the matter freely, and obviously my point was never proven.
Sometimes, the bros just forget that I’m not quite the same as them. I am the one they all go to for relationship advice, so when I accidentally developed feelings for a boy with whom I was close friends, I was stuck still giving my insight on what to do about the ex for whom he still had feelings. Even after making my feelings known, nothing changed, because he conveniently had forgotten that I am indeed a female. Apparently this is a common misconception, as my saying “wow I loved *friend*’s top at the concert yesterday!” led the boys to believe that I wanted to hear a half an hour lecture on how hot she is. Because I endured that conversation in silence, though, I should be allowed to comment to another girl at least once on how attractive the leading man is in whatever movie we’re watching, without being reprimanded for being too “un bro”. Unfortunately, while the guys may be willing to open up in private, their douchebaggery always shines out in social situations. They all know that the others are somewhat compassionate and emotional on the inside, but when we all join together, they can’t help but act like the stereotypical college boys that everyone expects them to be.
So, ladies, I know you may be jealous that I get to spend so much time with the boys you’re in love with, but believe me, I’m not keeping them from falling in love with you. I love that I can talk about anything with my guy friends, and that they know I would never judge them for not being manly enough. I love that I can watch “dumb boy movies” as some of my girlfriends would say, without anyone questioning why I think it’s so funny. I love that there are people who don’t think I am any different from them based on my gender. Sometimes, though, I just wish that just once I could be the girl that a boy would fall in love with, instead of the one who stands on the sidelines, coaching him to woo the girl of his dreams. For that to happen, though, I guess someone would have to remember that I’m not always a bro.