I will admit freely that as a child, I watched Disney Channel a lot. With a slightly larger twinge of embarrassment, I will also admit that I watched quite a bit of Hannah Montana. Besides telling me that it was possible for any of my friends at school to be secret pop stars, which I didn’t believe even as an impressionable youth, the show had some other long-lasting lessons for young girls. One of them is perhaps one of the most perpetuated tropes in all of romantic media: the myth of the best friend turned lover.
There is a song from Hannah Montana, and the lyrics are, “If we were a movie, you’d be the right guy, I’d be the best friend you’d fall in love with.” While it might seem that here Disney Channel was trying to debunk the myth of ending up with your best friend, in fact Lilly and Oliver, Miley’s two best friends on the show, end up together. The same is true in almost every other sitcom; if the main character does not herself end up with her best friend, it is only because another close friend ends up with him. I am here to stop this madness, this insanity fueled by movies like Friends with Benefits / No Strings Attached (still don’t care enough to tell the difference between them), where two people start having casual sex and then end up in love with each other. In real life, no. This. Does. Not. Happen.
Maybe sometimes, you do fall in love with your best friend. But then it turns out that he actually has a girlfriend, has had one for some time, or is interested in someone else. Or maybe he just plain isn’t interested in you. Shocker. Or maybe he sleeps with you just to sleep with you, because it’s some sort of weird thing guys do to feel close to their female friends. And then afterwards you think it means more than it does, because to you it means a lot. Don’t be fooled, it doesn’t. You may have heard people say that sex is never just sex. This is partially untrue, because sex is quite frequently “just sex” to one of the people involved, and deeply meaningful to the other. If you are the person who cares, you should know that just because you guys took mud baths together when you were four years old does not mean that he will wake up one day, when you’re about to leave New York for a job in San Francisco, and jump into a taxi in his pajamas because he can’t wait one more minute to be with you, and buy a random plane ticket to get past security, and find you moments before you leave, to make you get off the plane with a grand romantic speech.
The reason that girls and boys cannot be friends, from this girl’s perspective, is that society tells us that boys and girls are not just friends, ever. Even if you meet someone and pretty much hate each other, just give it ninety minutes and you guys will be getting drunk together, making out, and confessing your deep mutual love and affection.
For a long time, I’ve thought that one day I would realize how in love I am with a boy who I hadn’t even considered until that moment. Probably even a boy whom I have always consulted for romantic advice, if the movies are to be believed. But then I thought about it, and rewatched a few rom-coms (after all, what else is Thanksgiving break for?). In these movies, even though we’re told that both people are totally blind to their chemistry, they are hard-core, ridiculously flirty from the moment they meet. We suspend our disbelief because we want to believe that everyone around us could secretly be in love with us, but the truth is that attraction is a lot more obvious than Katherine Heigl leads you to believe. So don’t wait around for someone who seems like they don’t like you to wake up one day and sprint across Manhattan. Odds are, he really and truly just doesn’t like you.