Q: Do you think it’s okay to be the only girl in a group of friends? I’m really close with some guys from my school. I do have a crush on one of them, but I’m equally friendly to them all. I don’t get to see them that often, but when I do, they almost always make me feel needed.
You ready for some vulnerable Jessie-ness? The first draft of my answer started out like this: “Growing up with three older brothers, it was always more natural for me to hang out with guys too. Sometimes girls were too drama-y, jealous-y, and judgmental-y.” But… you know what? After I mulled on it a bit, I realized that’s actually not true. I mean, I did hang out with mostly guys in some seasons of my life, but my reasons were a little less noble than I’ve led myself to believe all these years. The key to my new realization was something you said: Your group of guy friends make you feel needed.
When I was a little girl—from pre-school all the way up till junior high—I didn’t have a lot of boy friends. I hung out with mostly girls at my school, church, and neighborhood. We swung on the monkey bars, made honeysuckle necklaces, and baked lemon bars together. We had our share of petty fights and misunderstandings, but I was still drawn to try to make girl friendships work. The boys had cooties and smelled bad. But then came high school.
In high school something changed. Except for the girls on my sports teams, I spent more time with boy friends and boyfriends than my female compatriots. Your question has had me wondering why. Now having written Crushed and Backwards Beauty I suddenly see the reason I was drawn to hang with the guys in a way I never did before. As girls, we want to be wanted, we want to feel beautiful, and we want to know that we’re “worth it” to a guy. Those desires usually start surfacing around the time we change from little girls into young women… so right about the time I gravitated away from my girl friends and toward the guy variety. I was drawn by that very thing you mentioned: I felt wanted and needed by the boys. They liked having me around. They complimented me, paid attention to me, and made me feel like I belonged. They may have been good friends, but my reasons for gravitating toward them revealed some immaturity on my part. I was in it for what they gave me, rather than what I had to offer to the friendships. Plus, it was really, really hard to disentangle innocent friendship from those butterflies that would sometimes muddle things.
Does that mean it’s wrong to have primarily guy friends? No, not necessarily. We can learn a lot from those squirrelly boys: Like the value in taking risks, finding the funny in life, and throwing a proper spiral. Guys can also be really good at making a girl fee special, showing her how a guy should treat a girl, and looking out for her honor (even when she’s not around). But if you find yourself in a group of mostly guys, you’ve got to be careful of a few unique challenges too.
- Stand your ground. Just like girls have their -y‘s, guys can be testosterone-y, flirty, and crude-y. We are all works in progress, and the time might come when you need to confront your friends, like if they start joking about inappropriate stuff, get a little too touchy-feely, or forget that you have feelings too. Just because you’re outnumbered doesn’t mean you have to put up with shenanigans.
- Set the bar. As the female ambassador to the group—representing all your fellow girls—please make them treat you well. For the love of estrogen, stand your ground and make sure they treat you with respect and gentleness. Show them how to treat a girl right! Their moms, sisters and future wives will thank you.
- Be prepared for romance. Like it or not, 99.9 percent of the time (as you have found), someone is eventually going to have “more than friend” feelings for a member of the group. Sometimes it’s a guy who falls first, sometimes it’s the girl, sometimes it’s mutual, but more often it’s not. This can get messier than eating an In-n-Out double-double with extra spread while driving a stick-shift, sister. Sometimes a relationship within the friend group works out, but man, sometimes it explodes everything that was once easy. I don’t really have any advice to avoid that situation—lol!—so just make sure this group of friends is worth the risk.
- Find girl friends too. Even if your guy friendships are easier in some ways, I challenge you to work on keeping relationships with other girls too. It’s good to have at least a couple friends who don’t fall into that “might be a love interest someday” category, you know? And just like there are certain qualities we can learn from our brother-friends, other girls have a knack for teaching us to be caring, thoughtful, responsible and more. Plus, sometimes a girls just needs to talk about, well, girl stuff.
Whether your friends are mostly guys, mostly girls, or a diverse mix, I believe God cares most about the quality of your friendships (because the Bible doesn’t mention the gender of our friends as much as the friendships themselves). So I encourage you to focus on 1) choosing good friends (friends who point you to Christ, encourage you to make smart choices, and value you for who you are, not what you can do for them), and 2) being a good friend. And if you’re not sure how to do that, check out the Q&A Friends category right here at LifeLoveandGod.com!