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On boundaries and being “one of the girls”

After having a conversation with a friend about motives and boundaries and friendship, I realized that I need to be honest. I need to have my motivations and thoughts brought forth and I need to lay them out for all to see. I am a single man who is most comfortable being friends with women. I can count my male friends on one hand. And while this sounds sexist and stereotypical, I still think the following is applicable: I don’t like sports, I don’t like cars, I don’t fix things myself, I read voraciously, I like celebrity gossip, I love TV storylines and will follow them slavishly, I am a romantic, I love love stories, I cry, I hate beer, I use lotion and facial cleanser daily, I don’t have calluses, I wouldn’t go into a strip club, I love talking on the phone, I emote, I communicate, I suffer from diarrhea of the mouth, I care about what people wear, I notice haircuts, and I’ve found that I actually really like having my toenails painted. Is it any surprise that most of my friends are women?

With all of that being said, I am still a man, by default and by choice. It can be easy at times to see me as “one of the girls”, something that I explicitly encourage, and that’s when it can be dangerous. Being a straight woman who is friends with a straight man can be done and it can be done very well. It’s also a path that’s fraught with risk and difficulty. If you are a woman and you are friends with me, there are things that you may forget. There are things I may not tell you. Things like the thoughts below which I am now sharing with the world:

1. I probably find you attractive and want to have sex with you. I’m a man, you’re a woman. If the option presented itself to have sex with you, it’s likely that I would be very interested.

2. Any appearance that I’m better than your spouse or significant other is an illusion. It’s easy, as your friend, to support you, to understand your craziness, and to be there when you’re upset. The dynamic of a relationship with someone with whom you share a home, children, history, family, and years of love is very different than someone who may see you or talk to you for even as many as a few hours a day. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and during those down periods, I might seem like a shining example of “how to be a spouse”. I’m not. If I was a female friend, the comparison would never be there, but just by the fact that I’m a man and your friend, it’s a logical jump. Don’t believe it.

3. I’m horrible with boundaries. One thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t believe in boundaries. And even as I try to learn about boundaries, I still have a hell of a time seeing those lines. Whether it’s part of my controlling nature or my need to be accepted, I will attempt to be ever-present, to have an opinion on everything, and to convince you that I’m right. I’ve gotten better about stopping when those boundaries are exposed, but it’s always a battle.

4. My loyalty can enable you. I’m fiercely loyal. When I’m your friend, I’m there for you completely, and while this can be good, it also means that I will not tell you if I think you are doing something wrong. In fact, I won’t even think that you are doing something wrong – I will support your actions unilaterally as a way to support you and will be able to justify it quite easily. And with a gorilla in your corner, it can be hard to hear legitimate criticism and concern from others who love you.

5. I’m selfish. Once I’m your friend, it can be hard for me to get enough time with you, enough of you in general. If we get along great, always laugh, and you’re always happy when you’re with me, I’m happy too, and so why shouldn’t we do that ALL THE TIME?

Lest you think I’m beating myself up, I’m not. I know that I’m an excellent friend. I’m loyal, dependable, funny, fun, optimistic, reliable, reasonable, smart, and a solid person to know. But how can I tout these traits as being admirable while ignoring the negative aspects? I can’t – it’s irresponsible.

133 thoughts on “On boundaries and being “one of the girls””

  1. You don’t like beer or have calluses? We can’t be friends anymore. *sad llama*

    I’m such a dood sometimes … I love sports, beer, burping and have the biggest cock you’ve ever not seen.*

    Out of your entire list, #4 is my favorite – everyone needs a friend who is willing to tell them that they’re doing something wrong – no matter how hard it is for either side. I commend you for being able to do that with your friends.

    I am looking forward to the car-ride to Vegas, Adam! Also? We should totally have our toenails painted together. LOL <3

    *that last part might be a lie

    1. @Sarahndipitea, actually, I said that I DON’T tell people they’re doing something wrong. It’s one of my biggest faults. I’ll justify a friend’s actions indefinitely.

      And the car ride will be fun! As long as you don’t shame me with your giant cock.

  2. I love beer and strip clubs, and I hate emoting and talking on the phone. And I am all about boundaries, to the extent that it’s detrimental to my friendships. I like seeing people occasionally, but I don’t like to feel like I’m required to spend time with someone. That’s the quickest way to get me to not spend time together at all. Mostly I like to sit by myself (maybe with Mike) and watch Tv/movies/read. Those are mostly solo activities.

  3. I love #4 and #5. We are opposites though, I have always been called a “man’s woman”. I love sports, cars and can fix almost anything. I love beer, can kick ass in an unladylike burping contest, and can out cuss a Russian sailor. I’m not afraid to get dirty or greasy, I was a cop and was right in the front with the SWAT team every time, but I still like bubble baths, rom-coms and getting manis and pedis. But yet most of my closest and best friends ever in my life have been men.

    And in that number, I hope I can include you. : )


  4. That first paragraph could have been written by me. Except I’m not single, I love sports, I don’t read nearly as much as I should, I love beer, I don’t cry, I don’t use lotion (well…), I’ve been known to visit a strip club now and then, I hate talking on the phone and I’ve never had my toenails painted nor have I ever wanted to have my toenails painted.

    But other than those few things…exactly like me.

  5. I love a metrosexual man – one who isn’t afraid to be honest about who he is … one who enjoys the finer things in life!

    And one who wants to go get manis and pedis with me is a total bonus!

  6. OK, I am so the opposite of a girl. I like strip clubs, I used to drink beer before the Celiac diagnosis, I always had more guy friends than girl friends, I participate in a full contact sport and watch football on TV as well…… sigh, I’m the anti- girl I guess. You’re just filling in my spot I left open.

  7. Wow, I’m impressed with all this honesty over here. On the other hand, my self righteousness about knowing some of my friends better than they know themselves just took a serious hit. The hit is well worth it, though. And the thing is, that despite these flaws, you’re a good friend… I’ve never met someone who does that with the level of clear intent and determination that you do. That’s a rare and very good thing, IMO.

  8. I think it’s funny, based on both real life observations as well as your reader’s comments above, how little reality is reflected in gender stereotypes. I’ll add myself to the list of motocycle driving (hey I had a lumberjack tell me yesterday that I was braver than him, because I rode *g*), hockey playing, wrench-turning, cussing, non-emoting women who need to know the latest gossip and read like crazy (there is a list right?). I commend this list of observations, I think it’s pretty damn brave to be able to admit to them.
    #1 is one that hubby and I often clash over, I have a hard time seeing this in my male friends. #2 is really an easy trap to fall into – the grass is always greener right? Wait, is your grass greener? Anyway…
    You sound like an awesome friend, and I’m in desperate need of a pedi *g*

      1. @Avitable – gaaa! Didn’t mean to come across as a ‘no you’re wrong’ more of a supportive, ‘metro is cool’ (what why don’t women get cool names like metro?) . I was thinking of gender stereotypes as a package. I’m not sure I know anyone who only picks from the ‘girl’ column or the ‘boy’ column…and I don’t think I’d want to hang out with them if they did
        Was there any post-coffee clarity in that? Maybe I need an IV. Maybe today I should be grounded from the internet.

  9. Can I say something about #2? Years ago, I broke up with someone after falling in smit with a close male friend of mine. I rapidly discovered that the friend was not the man for me, but I was still so grateful to him – he helped me get out of a relationship that was really, really, really, really bad for me. It wasn’t that ever I thought he would be perfect for me in a relationship, but that he showed me that a good boyfriend should treat me just as well as a good friend does; that he treated me better than my boyfriend suddenly made it clear what a jerkass the boyfriend was. I suddenly knew, because of the friend’s treatment of me, that I could do better than the boyfriend, that I deserved better. That’s a real gift that a male friend can give to us ladies.

    So yeah, you may be giving your woman friends an ideal of a relationship with you that is not accurate. But you may also be giving them a life preserver, something about their self-esteem to hang on to while they’re (temporarily) weathering a shitty relationship.

    1. @crisi-tunity,

      I think you are spot on with this comment.

      Adam is right that sometimes we who are attached get crushes on the friend boys, but often they are a great reminder that there are better men out there. Better for us. Better to us.

      And Adam – little secret about #1 – it can go both ways. Attraction is a big part of chemistry, chemistry is a big part of friendship.

  10. It’s so nice to know there are other guys like you. Erik doesn’t make many guy friends and doesn’t fit in when he does hang out with the guys. He hates sports, he has no interest in getting drunk or stoned and he’s got a very strong feminine side he’s not afraid of. I think it’s great you are like that and ok with it. I’m sure if we lived near each other we’d get along great, reading up on all that we have even more in common than I realized.

  11. So is that a beer bong she’s got because that seems to fly in the face of your detailed list of likes and dislikes. You and I are complete opposites. Either that or very much alike. I wrote a whole post several days ago called “One of the boys…” and it was all about how I’m better with men than women. Because I like beer and sports and will watch a good baseball game over a good love movie. Oh, but I do read voraciously as well. So we’ve got that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. –>I think I’m more “manly” than you – I love beer and football. Then again, it was because of these two factors that I met my husband.
    You sound like a great “girlfriend.”
    Someone commented on my blog once that I looked like I was always having so much fun with so many different friends. I wanted to respond and say, I have so many great friends because *I* am a good friend.

  13. Brutal, honest. Good.

    My ex is also one of those men who has maybe one male friend and a plethora of female friends. It caused no end of angst in our relationship, ultimately it was a betrayal about five years ago that sent us down the steep slope to the end. That wasn’t the only reason, but it sure made all of the other reasons seem much more impossible to overcome.

    Ultimately, any guy/gal friendship has potential for boundaries to be crossed. People who aren’t very good with boundaries need to be self aware and honest about what they are doing lest they live in a little too much denial about their opposite-sex friendships. Now that I’m single I see how the wives of my guy friends view me with suspicion and fear and frankly, I don’t blame them. I was one of those wives once, and my fears came true. I just don’t have any good way of reassuring them that I’m not interested in their husbands…not in THAT way.

      1. @Avitable, honesty IS important. You seem to have a comfortable relationship with honesty, unfortunately most people do not. They aren’t honest with themselves and they aren’t honest with others. That’s when opposite sex friendships can become problematic for marriages. But hey, everyone is human and most of us make mistakes. Except for me. /sarcasn

      1. @Avitable, what about Jersey Shore?
        Gah, I am behind. This is what happens when my head decides to asplode in revenge for making it leave New York.

        You are a lot of fun to hang out with.

        And your toes looked good.

  14. I have both male and female friends, but I tend to want more male than female, because I’ve always wanted an older brother. I don’t know why, but it’s always been this visceral, genetic thing. Interestingly enough, I found out from my mother many years ago that she gave a baby up for adoption in 1966, a baby boy, six years my senior. So, I do have an older half-brother out there somewhere. I guess I’ve always been trying to replace him.

    So, hope you don’t mind, but when I make male friends, I’m always looking for that big bro. Thanks for helping fit that bill!

  15. Why do you see these as faults? Anyone would be lucky to have a fierce friend like you – male or female. And to be able to be “one of the girls”…well, that just rocks in my book. ‘Cept I’m so not about pedicures…

    Why be anything close to what is considered “normal”? It’s way more fun to just be who we are. And we loves ya…


  16. The real true question is can I talk about my period with you ? Not that I just run around talking about it all the time but sometimes it’s necessary. The husband runs and hides, he says as a male that you don’t want to think about the vagina that way.

    P.S. I really love the honesty in this post.

  17. Love this post!
    However, you forgot to mention your love for cheesy music. ๐Ÿ™‚
    #1 is something that I think is pretty much always there, except in very special cases.
    I loves my honest Adam. I love how you’re always willing to back me up, no matter what- everyone needs someone in their corner.

  18. Blah blah blah: You stereotyping women to say you’re just like “us” offends me. I’m not like the description you gave, and I have lactation-possible breasts, a vagina, ovaries, and my period (not right now, but I definitely have it once a month). Whether or not I’m weird to you, I’m a woman. You’re not a woman. And who cares what gender you are, quit telling me what women are supposed to be.

    Read between the lines: I love beer and this should be your Christmas gift to me. Preferably Belgian.

  19. I donโ€™t like sports (I DO), I donโ€™t like cars (I DO), I donโ€™t fix things myself (I DO), I read voraciously (I DON’T AS MUCH AS I WOULD LIKE TO), I like celebrity gossip (I DON’T), I love TV storylines and will follow them slavishly (NOT A SLAVE), I am a romantic (NOT ME), I love love stories (KINDA), I cry (HATE WHEN I CRY), I hate beer (I FUCKING LOVE BEER), I use lotion and facial cleanser daily (DIAL BAR SOAP DAILY), I donโ€™t have calluses (I DO), I wouldnโ€™t go into a strip club (I DO), I love talking on the phone (NOT SO MUCH), I emote (SOMETIMES), I communicate (I TRY), I suffer from diarrhea of the mouth (SOMETIMES), I care about what people wear (NOT ONE BIT), I notice haircuts (RARELY), and Iโ€™ve found that I actually really like having my toenails painted (THIS IS IT!!! THIS IS WHY WE ARE FRIENDS!).

    for a minute there i was all confused as to why we are friends. must be the pedicures.

    and the fact that i would also defend you regardless…even when i wanted to shake the snot outta you. xoxo

  20. I think I could have written 3-5 myself. Which is why, I can’t see anything wrong with any of it.

    You are honest about it and that is a good thing. Your honesty and humor is why I keep reading here. Well that and the comments, you truly get the funniest comments.

  21. 1, 2, 4 and 5 are me. To a T. And it really doesn’t matter if you think you’re “fat and hairy” (your Tweety words, not mine!), I find men attractive that are intelligent but down-to-earth and funny as hell. So… if you’re at BlogHer next year, watch yourself, Adam. That’s all I’m sayin.

    Also, WHAT is that girl holding out to you? I see the spikes of death and the crocodile but what is she holding? A gigantic…. bowl on a stick? Is this a medical device of some sort? This is seriously messing with my mind.

      1. @Avitable, Ohhhh… a.. ROPE… Yeah, I can totally see that. It’s a magical flying rope of friendship that doesn’t actually NEED to be attached to anything because the power of your undying and trustworthy friendship shall lift and carry her past the perils below.

        That makes complete sense.

  22. I don’t cook, clean, do laundry, or make babies. I can reindex your sql server db or load balance your web farm. I love shopping, eatting, drinking, pedicures, Starbucks, and loafing around. I cheer for my school’s football team but can’t name a player. I know which end the gas goes in my car & where to take it to get the oil changed. I’m all woman but still one of the guys.

    I think we could meet in the middle of boy stuff & girl stuff & hang out.

  23. I’m always very suspicious of people who say they have difficulty being friends with people of the same sex – I think it means they think they are better than their own kind and don’t do all of those silly or dopey things that everyone else does. This is usually something that women like to say more than men so it’s interesting to hear you state it. I think you need to take a closer look at yourself if you find that you aren’t comfortable with people just because of their gender.

    BTW you’re spot on with #2 – a very astute observation.


    1. @Maggie, I generally do think I’m different than a lot of men because I don’t do the silly or dopey things they do. I never have. And I think this is a pretty close look at myself, don’t you?

      I don’t enjoy hanging out with many men. I have a few male friends, but I much prefer the company of women. I’m okay with that – most men find me weird to be around because we have very little in common.

  24. “I donโ€™t like sports, I donโ€™t like cars, I donโ€™t fix things myself, I read voraciously, I like celebrity gossip, I love TV storylines and will follow them slavishly, I am a romantic, I love love stories, I cry, I hate beer, I use lotion and facial cleanser daily, I donโ€™t have calluses, I wouldnโ€™t go into a strip club, I love talking on the phone, I emote, I communicate, I suffer from diarrhea of the mouth, I care about what people wear, I notice haircuts, and Iโ€™ve found that I actually really like having my toenails painted.”

    I like sports, my husband doesn’t like cars, I’m capable of fixing things myself. I know lots of men who “read voraciously”, and some of the largest celebrity gossip sites are run by men. Tons of other men abhor strip clubs, cry, and are romantic. To suggest that they don’t because they like beer is faulty logic and insulting to these whole individuals you’re stereotyping.

    “Is it any surprise that most of my friends are women?”

    So, yes. It seems that these common interests are not the reason that most of your friends are women.

    Ironically, what I was thinking last night as I thought about this post was pretty much what Maggie said.

    I was thinking about a time in my life when I would have said that “I get along better with guys” or that most of my friends were males or that I didn’t like women because they were .

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but taking a closer look at that version of myself years later, I can say with confidence that common interests had nothing to do with it. For me, it was probably more about being afraid to be judged too harshly by someone who could more easily be compared to me. The standards were lower when I hung out with guys because of the novelty factor.

    1. @Miss Britt, I find fault in your logic saying that if someone is your gender, they’re “someone who could more easily be compared to” you.

      While some of the things I listed are stereotypes and don’t apply across the board, the sum of the parts means that I do, indeed, have more in common with many women than I do with many men. (Notice, I didn’t say “all”.)

      My circle of friends has been primarily women for at least 20 years of my life. I thoroughly enjoy my friendships and I know that “being judged” has never been an impediment to becoming friends with someone.

      I put a lot of effort into friendships that are valuable to me, and that value is different for every person, but I can safely say that my friends are people that I enjoy being around and share many common interests with, not people that I’m around because it’s easier or for novelty reasons.

      1. @Avitable, I guess in my case I wasn’t talking as much about why I was friends with guys – I certainly wouldn’t classify my friendships as something borne out of “novelty”. I adore my friends male and female.

        I was more talking about why I was NOT friends with members of my own sex.

        If I find myself repeatedly unable to engage with a large group of people based on something as generic as sex (age, religion, race, etc.), I think I need to ask myself why that is. And it doesn’t make sense that common interests, in this case, would be a valid reason.

  25. Wow, I love you already. Oooo, can we be friends? That would be bad, though. I am basically just the female version of you. No boundaries, relate better to men than I do women, blah blah blah, all that same stuff. I have decided to try and work on my female to female relationships, but it is sooooo exhausting. (yes that sounded awful, get your mind outta the gutter, y’all.”

  26. you’re funny. i think i got here from casey’s blog, and was scrolling through your posts, and this immediately caught my eye.

    when i was in college, i had this guy friend. we worked together, and we clicked immediately. same sense of humor, same level of intelligence, same interests, everything. i was already married at the time, and people used to ask me all the time if my husband minded the fact that i was so close to this guy. he was really the only male that i felt comfortable going places alone with, and we hung out all the time. we had this weird chemistry, to the point that people who didn’t know us asked if we were together.

    for some reason, i never thought of him that way. and usually, i have my guard up when i hang out with men who aren’t my husband–i know how easy it is to cross those boundaries you’re talking about in this post. but with this guy, i behaved in the same way i would with my female friends. and funny enough, my husband wasn’t threatened even a little bit–he never really said anything about it.

    turns out, he was gay.

    not sure what the point is, but it’s a nice story and i liked your post. and i’m not insinuating that you’re gay.

  27. i find myself to be in the same situation, only as “one of the guys.”
    i definitely get along better with my guy friends.
    i am comfortable when i’m hanging with the guys bc there’s no jealously or power trip. guys don’t care what you look like when you’re just a friend so there’s no prep time needed in order to go out and have a good time!
    plus, my guys are usually in my corner when i have some creeper stalking me.
    now don’t get me wrong, my gf’s and i have a killer time when we’re together…but i ultimately prefer hanging out with the dudes.

    1. @mwork, *I* don’t care if you get all dolled up. Really it makes me feel better about myself when you don’t because you’re the Mary and I’m the Rhoda and it’s already hard to sit next to you.

      P.S. I’m pretty sure that I would be more of an advantage to you fending off creepers than some of your wiener looking guy friends.

  28. I’m not a single woman, I get along better with men. I have zero female friends … well maybe 1. You don’t sound sexist. I like MMA fighting, I fix everything myself, hardly ever read (except blogs), know nothing about celeb gossip, I like beer, but I don’t have calluses and I’ve been in many a strip club … I never answer my phone, and totally hide my feelings, my nail polish is chipped and my hair is usually a mess … but I do have diarrhea of the mouth so we should totally be friends.

    sorry haha

    I really like the flow of your blog … have a great day ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. ok so i just started reading your blog like yesterday, actually like at 1 or 2 this morning and im pretty sure you’re a male version of me….. #’s 2, 3, and 4 are exactly me and that scares me a bit a the same time as it makes me happy.. allow me to explain:

    it scares me because having another of myself in the world is perhaps the worst thing that could possibly happen to the universe..

    it makes me happy because now i know im not alone. i know that im not as different or weird as everyone has always told me, and i know that other people have the same issues as i have.

    thanks. this blog made my day ๐Ÿ™‚

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