When I was in ninth grade, I spent biology class goofing off in the back of the room with a table of all guys. These kids were some of my great friends and biology was full of excellent times dissecting pigs, telling jokes, and listening to the guys talk about the beautiful girls that made their lives miserable (ah, junior high...). One day they made an anti-girl club called "Chica de las Muertas" and they let me be an honorary member since, in Aaron's words, "You're practically a guy when you hang out with us."
I'm not going to make this an analysis of my relative girliness or manliness, I'm quite comfortable with being a girl. However, I have a lot of experience being "one of the guys," and I love it. Historically, I've found it easier to establish and maintain friendships with guys than with girls. I tend to be less intimidated by guys. Since coming to college and living with roommates I've gotten much better at building wonderful friendships with girls, and I adore my female friends. To quote Nacho Libre, "They are my heart." But, being in a female-dominated major and living with 5 other girls, I often have moments where I need to escape the estrogen cloud I live in and get a breath of fresh, testosteroney air.
However, attending a university where dating and marriage are highly stressed and becoming more aware of my sexual attraction to men and my desire to someday be married to a man has made my friendships with guys...complicated. Whenever my friendship with a guy passes the surface level my brain goes into heavy over-analysis mode, trying to decide if this deeper level of our friendship means we're going to fall in love, get married and have a passel of young'uns. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Every romantic relationship I've ever had has come from a process similar to this one, and I since I hope to marry someone I consider my best friend, I'm sure I'll continue to use this process. But what if I become really good friends with a guy, but for some reason or another, we don't end up dating? Maybe there's not enough physical chemistry. Maybe our worldviews or personalities conflict. This is the point where I start to stress out. A lot.
I have a tendency to invest a lot of emotion into my friendships. I don't make friends quickly or easily, but once I do, I get very attached. So if I have a male friend with whom I've built up a certain degree of trust and emotional intimacy, I tend to get very scared of losing them. Because in BYU culture, many people seem to think that the primary role of cross-gender friendships is to find a spouse, and once you've found and married your one true love, you have no need of other friendships. In fact, having close friends of the opposite gender after marriage is often frowned upon as an "emotional affair". So if I have a male friend who I love platonically, but am incompatible with romantically, our friendship is more or less doomed as soon as one of us falls in love with someone else. Not wanting to lose the friends I've become so close to, I'm tempted to force myself to fall in love with my male friends so I don't have to lose them. This becomes a problem when no matter the amount of affection, there is insufficient attraction. Or when one party doesn't reciprocate the attraction. Or when I have several really awesome guy friends who I want to keep.
What I wonder is, am I making this too complicated? Why can't I have the same joyful, pressure-free friendships with guys that I have with girls? One reason I'm hesitant to start dating anyone right now is because I'm afraid to lose all of my wonderful male friends, but maybe I don't have to. I mean, things would be different, but...they're my friends. They're important to me. And I like to think I'm important to them.
Readers, what do you think? Are platonic male/female friendships ever sustainable? Why or why not? And whether or not they are sustainable in the long term, how do I stop freaking out and enjoy spending time with my male friends while I still can? Give me some wisdom here, friends. I'm lackin'.