How Can We Lovers If We Can’t Be Friends?*

How Can We Lovers If We Can’t Be Friends?*

I do this exercise in my writing classes with students. It involves a handout with the list of my Top 10 Most Hated Romantic Cliches. The students will laugh at or defend some of the cliches and then I ask them to come up with their own list of cliches they don’t like.

In my last class at the Loft, one boy brought up a cliche that I hadn’t considered, but one that is very prevalent in YA lit: the girl whose best friend is a boy.

Does that really exist? The kid in my class said that he never sees that, and if a guy hangs out with a girl, that means he wants to go out with her. This was recently verified by some people I know on Facebook, so the scientific findings are unavoidable at this point. We heap a Twitter poll on this and it’s solid fact, right?

(Of course, now, the story I’m working on posits just that. GREAT.)

So, can boys and girls really be true friends?** Not quite the men and women question like from When Harry Met Sally, but in the same vein. (Except younger. Okay, it’s the same dumb age-old question. Sorry.)

* Sorry about the Micheal Bolton earworm potential. Couldn’t think of a snappy title. Ongoing Known Issue.
** If they’re both heterosexual, that is. There’s a whole case to be made for the gay boy/straight girl relationship but let’s set that aside for now.


  • Carrie on Apr 17, 2012 Reply

    An actual WORM IN THE EAR? Dear god.

    I think the reason we see this arrangement (the suppressed attraction officially labeled friendship, by both or one party) is because it’s dramatic and tense. But I guess I’m wondering what it could REALLY look like. With out a physical component. For older kids, not ones that climb trees, but ones that hang out nonetheless. And I’m coming up with nothing. I don’t want to believe that all boys are sexualized mouth breathers at that age (13-19) but…I guess I kinda do.

  • Ela on Apr 17, 2012 Reply

    I don’t understand “Michael Bolton earworm,” but I have a hilarious photo of Phil with an earworm I’d be glad to share.

    On the boy/girl thing, I think it depends a lot on individual characters (duh). I was innocent to the point of clueless about the whole romance thing until I was about 15 or 16. When I was 9 or 10, I was best friends for a while with a boy the same age. He had kidney disease (had had a transplant) and was pudgy and unable to be active like most boys around, and was very smart and nerdy and had a whole menagerie of pets, and cool science toys. I was part bookworm, part treeclimbing tomboy. We were on the same school run (until I upset his mom–I never understood what I did–and she stopped that), and it was kind of sweet–the other kids would always let us sit together because we were always deep in conversation.

    In college, almost all my friends were guys (although it turned out several of the straight ones had some latent or not romantic interest to which I was oblivious)…

Leave Reply