Last month, I had a guy staying at my house for a whole week. My flatmates were away, so it was just the two of us alone in the house (gasp!). We’re just friends, so nothing happened, but it felt so refreshingly normal to be able to hang out with a guy on my own and not feel awkward. Five years ago this would have been way beyond my comfort zone.
Learning how to be friends with guys is a fairly new development for me. Growing up, I was expected to be in an arranged marriage, so I was taught to keep my distance from the opposite sex to help keep my “purity”. Plus, I was shy and insecure. Except when I was really young, at the age when you play with anyone who lives in close proximity, I literally had no male friends until I was about 23. Even in high school when there were several guys in my group of friends that I saw every day, we rarely talked one-on-one and were hardly more than acquaintances.
As I’ve become more comfortable with my own beliefs and with myself, I’ve become more comfortable around guys too. It’s a bit like being in high school and there’s a clique you’ve never talked to. They dress differently and act differently from you. You find them intimidating and avoid them. You make all these assumptions about how they’re weird, they would never want to talk to you and you have nothing in common. Then one day you finally talk to them and realize they’re really not that different from you.
The only trick to becoming friends with a guy seems to be to make a minimal effort to be friendly and, voilà!, you can be friends with him. In other words, to be friends with guys, treat them as friends. It’s honestly that easy. If you’re silent and never make eye contact, you don’t come across as someone who would make a good friend. I realize how obvious this must sound to most people!
Since I’ve been interacting a lot more with guys than I ever have before, I’ve realized that I had a lot of misconceptions about them. Here’s what I’ve learned recently:
You can be friends with guys. Maybe it’s true on some level that they’re attracted to all of their female friends. Not being a guy, I have no way of knowing. Regardless, they still have brains. They don’t all go after any girl that comes by with no thought of the consequences.
Guys are people too. They don’t just spend all their time sitting on the couch playing video games, watching sports and drinking beer. Many of them do some of the time, some of them do a lot of the time, but most have varied interests and goals too. There are probably a lot of guys who think girls only care about makeup, clothes and gossiping.
Guys don’t all just want ‘one thing’. Sure, some of them do. But most of them are multi-faceted individuals with just as much emotional depth and just as many needs as girls.
It still takes me a lot longer to warm up to guys, even ones I’m not even remotely attracted to. I suppose old habits die hard, but the more time I spend with them, the easier it gets. To anyone out there who thinks they’ll always be painfully awkward around guys, I sincerely believe that if I could get over it, anyone can.