By: Emma B. and Meghan K.

This past year Meghan and I discovered that we had something in common. Over lunch one day we discovered that we both have friends of all genders. Another thing we both discovered during that lunch session was that because of our friendships, we have been accused of being in serious relationships with people or have heard stories about people being accused of being in serious relationships.
So now we are here to share some stories of our experiences and observations about having friends of all genders.

The Difference Between Love & Friendship:
(By: Meghan K.)
The difference between love and friendship is how you feel and interact. Sure, you’re going to act a little bit differently around guy friends than you would around the girls you consider your BFFs, but you’re also going to act differently around a person that you have a crush on. Also, hanging around your best friends is going to feel a lot different; you’ll feel good (at least, I hope you do), but not weirdly nervous, giggly, or shy. Trust me, I’ve had crushes on a lot of guys and I’ve been friends with a lot of guys, and hanging out with a guy you like feels totally different than hanging around with that dude you’ve been friends with since the beginning of time!

The Issue of Dating & Gossip:
(By: Emma B.)
Oftentimes I will end up going to school expecting a normal day of work until I reach class and I start overhearing major gossip.
“Oh yeah I’ve been dating since like the 2nd grade. I totally get you girl.”
I find this baffling because I think in second grade it is hard to know about true love. Frequently at a young age, we’ve only seen true love in Disney films.
I do think that by expecting perfection in a relationship you could be setting an unhealthy standard.
After I had my first couple big crushes that weren’t just copying the crushes of others or the love stories of Disney, I decided to tune out “dating gossip” until 6th grade. This is because I realized how unhealthy it was and too this day I will keep gossip about my own crushes to myself until I’m ready.

The Difference in Problem-Solving:
(By: Meghan K.)
I’ve had a lot of guy friends. I’ve been quite emotionally close with those guy friends, and I’ve noticed that when I ask for help, my friends tend to react in different ways. From my experiences, my female friends usually try to help me solve my problems, giving me various advice and just generally being comforting. I have found my male friends simply listen, say “I’m sorry to hear that” and leave it alone.
I’ve noticed this especially when I get really stressed out; my female friends are very focused on solutions and will give me their ideas, whereas my male friends just listen and then call me out if I start getting into a rut and going on and on about the same things.
I know it may sound a little bit frustrating, but actually having someone say to me, “Meghan, you’re overthinking this again, chill” can be really grounding. It does help me down the road when I’m stuck in another random rut and then I’m reminded of my guy friends saying, “Meghan, you’re overthinking this again, chill.”

Being Friends with Everyone:
(By: Meghan K)
I have found a really common misconception is that people can only be friends with classmates of one gender. This is completely not the case; I believe it’s possible to be friends with all genders, not just one or the other. In fact, having the different perspectives that friends of different genders provide may actually be better, or at least make you feel much more at ease. It’s really nice to have friends you can talk with about makeup and clothes, friends you can talk with about video games, and even friends you can talk with about sports. I believe being friends with people of all genders can provide this sort of variety.

Hugging does not Equal Dating:
(By: Meghan K.)
I hug my friends. It’s just how I show that I care about people. However, I’ve had this misread quite a bit as a signal of “We’re dating.” This isn’t always the case; in fact, where I’ve been concerned, this has pretty much never been the case. I believe it is completely possible to hug someone or put your hand on their shoulder without being “in to” them.
If someone does ask you, “Hey, are you guys dating?” when you’re not, you can just say, “no” and leave it at that.

People are People:
(By: Meghan K.)
What a lot of people don’t realize is that people of another gender are people too. I see a lot of my friends, girls especially, struggle to talk to people of a different gender. I think this can be really easy; just do it! It’s not going to be easy at first, especially if you’re not used to it, but you’ll find that talking to people of another gender gets easier the more you do it.

Find the Middle Ground:
(By: Emma B.)
I have found one of the biggest reasons people don’t typically get along, at least in my school, is because they feel they are too different. I have a solution. It may sound like work but its a neat trick. I use is this simple icebreaker to get to know someone.
“Oh hey have seen (insert favorite movie, book, television show or video game here)?”
This is a great icebreaker because not only do you learn about their interests but they can also share new things with you. Be open-minded. Don’t automatically make assumptions about the person before talking more. Some of my best friendships have started with conversations about me freaking out about what I love.

Parents’ Permission:
(By: Emma B.)
Now even though most people with a grain of sanity know their first crushes typically don’t always work, sometimes people do get very lucky. But be honest with your parents about your relationships. I think teens often feel that parents hate the concept of dating but in reality I think parents are just worried about their kids. I have had many people tell me to ignore my parents and simply tell my crushes how I feel. But I feel this counter productive. If you lie to your parents then they won’t trust you with relationships ever again. So what do you do? Talk openly with your parents about your crushes and friends.

In conclusion, make your own friends regardless of what anyone tells you. Choose your friends with care and respect. This more than anything is the key to success.

                                                  Meghan K.                   Emma B.

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