Boy Friends

I watched that show The New Girl last night. Usually I have a rule about brand new TV shows. Which is: I don’t watch them. There are so many, and you never know which are going to last anyway. So I wait until other people have watched, judged, and told me I’m missing out. Then I jump on the bandwagon.

But last night it was late and I needed a 30 minute comedy. And I gotta tell you, I liked it. First of all, Zooey Deschanel’s character could totally be my BFF. She’s all dorky and silly and sings a lot and says nerdy things. She seemed like a made-for-television (translation: more cute, less dorky) version of me.

This post is not about Zooey, though. It’s about those three roomates. Male roomates. Who are quickly turning out to be her new BFFs.

I loved another show, once, that was also about a girl and her male best friends. My Boys. May it rest in peace.

In both shows, the guy-girl friendship looks both easy and totally desirable. According to TV, which is of course where I learn most of life’s most valuable lessons, guy friends will:

– Call you out when you are being crazy

– Always help you land the guy

– Be sweet when they need to be, but not overly so

– Play poker with you

– Eschew drama. No fights and cat clawing. This is not Real Housewives.

Both shows make a strong case for the female-male friendship. Like I said, they’re televised versions of reality, which means those relationships are glossier, funnier and all around more perfect. But they do remind me of my college days, when I would spend hours at Matt’s apartment, long after he’d gone to sleep, watching Elimidate with his roommates. That was the life.

These days, now that I think about it, I don’t really have many guy friends. In Chicago, I know plenty of men, but they are largely husbands or boyfriends of my friends, or buddies of Matt’s. I’m not sure how I would land that male PBFF even if I wanted to. Which, now that I think about it, kind of makes me sad.

I’ve written a lot about whether men and women can be friends. But today I’m deciding that sure, let’s say they can. Do those relationships really come with all the comfort of these TV BFFships? And, seriously, how do a man and woman even develop that sort of close relationship without there being any weirdness? Between themselves, their significant others, potential dates, and on and on? Thoughts?



Filed under The Search

10 responses to “Boy Friends

  1. I love my new male roommate! He’s one of my platonic soul mates. He comes home and vents, I come home and vent, we cook together, we putter around the house, he helped me build my pallet bed, I gave him girl advice, he hooks me up with local shows (he’s in a band) – it’s a match made in roommate/BFF heaven. Partly because, unlike with some girl roommates I’ve had, he doesn’t get offended if I don’t want to talk for a while, or if I just want to sit in silence, or if I want to go to my room and not be social. And the best thing is, he feels the same way! And no, for all those wondering, he’s not gay, and yes, he’s attractive, and yes, I’m attractive, but we just don’t want to sleep together. Sorry, Harry, in this case a man and a woman really CAN just be friends.

  2. ana

    Its definitely tougher when the guys are no longer your roommates and when you and/or everyone else you meet is married/attached.
    Just like with girl BFFs, its about access and opportunity. Thus, a lot of the male-female friendships I know develop at work, but less so in the neighborhood, where the husbands/wives are around.

    But there is also a component of awkwardness when dealing with the sig others. My best friend in grad school was a guy, and we hung out & talked on the phone constantly (we totally had that “why do I have 3 jars of pickles” type relationship, we’d call each up just to make one comment sometimes…pre-texting days, of course) until his formerly long-distance girlfriend moved in. Then it became weird to call up and ask to speak to him 8 times a day, and we certainly couldn’t spend all day bumming around bookstores & coffeeshops anymore. We were still really good friends but that spontaneous quality was replaced by more pre-planned events.

  3. Emily

    I think meeting an established group of man-friends might make a difference. (Like Zooey does in the pilot – the guys are already friends, she’s just joining their preestablished group.) That might make the is-this-platonic-or-not issue less of an issue.
    But on that note, am I the only one who thought the guy who blew off his ex-girlfriend at the end (Nick was his name I think?) is going to end up being interested in Jess, and that’ll lead to funny awkwardness?

  4. S

    I’ve always been a big advocate of male-female relationships, I had a lot of guy friends during my teenage years, but I do see a problem once you’re in a committed relationship or married.
    I believe most male-female relationships develop pre-marriage, because it’s a less awkward time to get close to someone other than your sig. other.

    It also really depends on the closeness of this friendship. If you call male friend 8x a day when you’re in a relationship with someone, I do think that it’s a little excessive. If you occasionally meet up for coffee or dinner, I think that can be ok.

    It really depends on a lot of factors in my opinion. I still have quite a few guy friends that I talk to regularly and that I meet for brunch/coffee, but I think the days of hanging out the whole night and watching movies together are over.

  5. I miss having a male bff. The person I was closest to in college was a guy and he was so easy to talk to and we never had awkward moments. He could tell me about his dirty dreams and I could tell him when my roommates were getting on my nerves. The only problem was his girlfriend (now wife) had serious trust issues due to a break up they had when we were freshmen (they went long-distance for all 4 years) and she hated me because I was single. She was convinced every single woman wanted to sleep with him (hint: we didn’t). When we graduated we slowly lost touch. We emailed back and forth for a while and then he just never responded to an email. I heard from him a few years ago on Facebook and we exchanged messages for a bit but, again, he stopped responding. I actually miss him a lot but I don’t even know how to initiate contact anymore because it’s been so long.

    I have another guy friend but he lives in a different country. When he first moved a year ago we exchanged letters and postcards several times a month and usually talked to each other on Facebook at least once a week, usually more. Since about June I’ve had a heck of a time getting responses from him and he’s stopped sending me random messages during the day that I always looked forward to because they were so random. Part of it was he was sick for a while and then on vacation but then part of it is he has a new girlfriend. That’s totally good for him but I’m definitely feeling some jealousy just because I miss that presence. He was definitely that “why do I have 3 jars of pickles” person to me, but now I feel less comfortable simply because I’ll send a message and it just seems to disappear and if I get a response it’s weeks later so that I start to feel like a burden. He’s supposed to be coming to the states in October and mentioned getting together but I haven’t had a response to a message I sent weeks ago asking for details (i.e. exact dates so I can plan accordingly).

    If I lose him I truly won’t have any male friends anymore. I’ll have husbands of friends and people I work with. I love my girl friends but it’s definitely a different relationship and it seems even harder now to slot in a male bff than it was in college.

    P.S. I loved My Boys. I’m still mourning its loss.

  6. I was laughing outloud at this show! My husband has a huge crush on Zooey Deschenal, but I was the one who ended up raving about this show. I texted my best friend ten minutes into it to tell her she needed to add this show to her dvr queue (she also loved My Boys) and she already had!

  7. I’m seriously bummed I missed the pilot the other night — but I’m sure I can find it on hulu or whatever soon.
    Personally, I totally believe that men and women can be platonic friends — but I agree with what “S” said above and think it gets A LOT tougher to make new friends of the opposite sex once you’re in a relationship. It’s cliche, but it’s one thing to stay friends with guys you’ve known since before coupling up, and another to actively seek out the company of a new guy. So from what I understand about The New Girl, Zooey’s character has just broken up with someone and isn’t looking for anyone new yet, right? So she’s actually in the perfect position to make new male friends.

    That said, I’ve been dating my guy for 3 years, but recently joined a social running group in my effort to make new friends, and every time I’ve gone so far, I’ve fallen into pace and chatted with another guy. So I don’t know.

  8. Liz

    I totally miss my group of high school/college guy friends! There were times it was me and 6-7 guys hanging out. It lasted through college, even through dating two of them, but when I got engaged to my first husband, I think it started falling apart because he was from outside The Group.

    (Yes, I actually have an email folder labeled The Group with all the infrequent emails I get from them now.)

    As everyone met their wives and got married, it got tough because the wives DID.NOT.GET.ALONG. Which presents a certain awkwardness – as a woman, am I supposed to get involved with all that drama? Or as an original member of The Group, can I just hang out with the guys without spouses? Or does that lead to all kinds of suspicions? Because, honestly, if any of us were going to sleep together, we had 5-6 years to do so before any of the spouses came along (and no, I never slept with any of them).

    Another aspect was … yes, we talked about past events A LOT. And I imagine it’s boring as hell for those partners who weren’t there for the glory days (cue Bruce Springsteen song). But that’s what we as a group loved doing. But one too many evenings with uncomfortable silences & car rides homes with complaining spouses, and talking about the past was off limits.

    Um… ok. So ……. how bout them Bears?

    Over the years, other girls joined The Group (two were college friends of one of the wives). Then one of the guys got married, and refused to have two of The Group at the wedding because we had dated her husband-to-be …… like 8 years ago (me) and 4-5 years ago (other girl)! That was … awkward the next time we all got together.

    Then I got divorced, and everyone was shell-shocked. Hubby and I just didn’t click anymore but never got into knock-down drag out fights (or even just being snippy) in public, so no one saw it coming.

    Have gotten together with The Group twice in 7 years with my second husband, who is wonderful, but …. it didn’t click.

    We all Facebook back and forth – some of the guys, a lot of the wives – but it’s not the same.

    May have to go find My Boys on Sidereel now…..and will set a reminder for The New Girl.

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