Sex + Dating

What No One Understands About Being a Girl Who's 'One of the Guys'

one of the guys
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

I was recently a grooms(wo)man in my (male) best friend's wedding. During the planning for said wedding, I received two very different kinds of pre-nuptial emails.

From the bride: "Hi Bridesmaids (and Liz!) -- Here is the dress for everyone. Liz, yours will be the black version of this."

From the groom: "Guys (and Liz). Here are the tuxes. Except for Liz's. She's in a dress or something. Let's make her stand directly next to [redacted], because remember, they used to bang."

On the big day, as I stood out amongst a sea of gold dresses and tuxes, it hit me that this whole experience was the perfect metaphor for my life. I am the black version of the dress. I'm a girl who has always been one of the guys, but also very much a girl; not really blending perfectly into either side. There are a bunch of perks, and plenty of detriments, to this life. Here's the brutal truth.

"Women can be territorial. But in reality, with pure guy friends, there is no ulterior motive."

Being "one of the guys" earns you a lot of labels

If you run with the boys, you're a guy's girl. A cool girl. A tomboy. A misfit. Or, on the other end of the spectrum: a slut. A tease. A homewrecker. People often confuse you for the women we all love to loathe -- the ones who talk about fellow ladies like this: "Girls just never seem to like me... [cue flipping of the hair]… I have no idea why."

Listen -- a women with no girlfriends is not to be trusted. And while I'm proud to say I'm not in that camp, women in my shoes are at least assumed to have an ulterior motive. Or, we're exalted for how cool we seem: the ones guys fall in love with, the ones other girls want to be. The "cool girls." Eh. It's all a bunch of symbolic labels that actually mean very little.

Not to say I don't understand those labels, or haven't cast them onto others myself. Women can be territorial. But in reality, with pure guy friends, there is no ulterior motive. No labels. Minus the anatomy, there is zero difference in how I feel about these friends -- they're basically girls (just don't tell them I said that).

Being one of the guys can be a lot of fun -- and not just because groomsman wedding prep (drinking whiskey, playing pool) smokes that of a bridesmaid (nail salons, hairdressers). But being confined to these labels can also feel claustrophobic.

You have to go through a different kind of adolescent agony

We all know teenage girls have it tough; going through a battle to make sense of societal standards being welded onto their adolescence (makeup, bras, acting shy, crossing our legs, competing for male attention, I can keep going here).

But there's a whole other layer on top of said growing pains when part of your coming-of-age story includes being wrested from the pack that raised you. I'll never forget my confusion when my mother pulled me aside and explained I would eventually have to put a shirt on while running around outside with the neighborhood boys.

But unlike a lot of my girlfriends, who over time learned to depend on each other and let the boys be boys, the solace I found in my guy friends stuck. The bond was deep -- and entirely platonic*.

Girlfriends absolutely hate you

They pretend so hard not to, but good Lord, your guy friends' girlfriends just can't stand you. In fact, how aggressively they try to friend the crap out of you is almost solely fueled by this hatred. There aren't exceptions to this, because even if his girlfriend/fiance/wife has come to terms with the nature of your "just friends" relationship, and may even genuinely like you now, she most definitely hated you initially.

Remember My Best Friend’s Wedding? Yup, so does she. You're the one her bae came to first with his problems, who knows how to make his favorite birthday cake, and who knows every intimate detail of his life -- details she realizes she may never know. To rub more salt in this open wound, his parents likely adore you. Every time I put myself in these girlfriends' shoes, I honestly think about how much I would hate me too.

"Remember 'My Best Friend's Wedding'? Yup, so does she."

You get oddly comfortable being inappropriate

Sometimes I catch myself in group settings talking about things like The Pirate (two words: Urban Dictionary). Most times I even act it out with sound effects. Sure, it gets laughs (because The Pirate is hilarious), but here's the thing: I'm not always surrounded by a bevy of bros... and it's not typically thought of as the most ladylike thing in the world.

In the same way a lot of us probably don't realize how our Kardashian-saturated culture has caused us to say, "I know, right?" a lot more than we'd all like to admit, the crass behavior of my dude friends has become a very real part of my own personality. To my inner circle, it's not a big deal. But drop me into a different group, and things can get uncomfortable pretty fast.

It's like playing slaps as kids. Eventually your hands end up so pummeled they just stop hurting. My insides are like that -- after years of being playfully harassed and ridiculed by my guy friends and being part of all kinds of disgusting jokes and inappropriate pranks, I've grown a thick skin that I'm proud of -- but I also can't always draw a decency line.

Boyfriends are always suspicious of you

There was never a time in my life I didn't have to explain my relationships with guys to a significant other. And the thing is, I get it. I talk to a member of the opposite sex who isn't my boyfriend almost daily. Who wouldn't be threatened by that?

The whole When Harry Met Sally theory makes this a constant uphill battle: you can't possibly really just be friends with this guy, because guys and girls are never just friends. And no matter what you say, it's lose-lose. You can try convincing your S.O. that you've never hooked up with your best guy friend. He's like a brother to you. If that works, your boyfriend will be relieved -- but he'll also have residual resentment that there are things you've told this friend of yours that he will never know.

Which, if I'm being honest, is totally fair.

Or, in an attempt to be fully transparent, you might admit that you did hook up with your best guy friend just that once, but it was years ago, and you're pretty sure you both had just had Goldschläger shots for the first time. So it doesn't count.

Yeah… good luck with your boyfriend ever truly trusting you alone with this person.

"Let's just say I've doused plenty of potential sparks."

You approach romantic relationships with guys very differently  

When you're surrounded by friends of the male variety, you tend to think guys may only be interested in you for that nature of relationship. But as one of my buddies very wisely clued me in, no guy initiates a relationship with a girl to just be friends. It can sometimes turn into that, but it's never the initial goal.

But there's something else to this, coming from the girl's perspective. I often view guys as non-romantic options from the jump, essentially friend-zoning myself. And believe me, prospective mates catch that vibe; often reading it as a "she must not be interested" rather than the more likely in my case "she's just entirely clueless she's doing this."

Let's just say I've doused plenty of potential sparks.  

You're stuck being every guy's confidant, not one guy's everything

I'm living proof that an unbreakable, non-sexual guy-girl dynamic can exist. Still, it's naive to think those pesky laws of attraction don't occasionally rear their ugly heads. I've definitely experienced the frustration of serving as a man's go-to shoulder for all things love-related… and yet never being the person he's in love with.

And that's the dark side -- when, at some point, you wonder if this guy you've always loved so dearly might be actual boyfriend material. Then he comes over, holds your hand, and tells you: "I don't know what I'd do without you, I love you, you're the best." And then he gives you hugs and kisses and heads home to his girlfriend. It would wear on any person -- but there's a unique struggle for the girl who rolls with the boys, and realizes she's sought after for every role except that of the woman those boys want to love unconditionally, romantically… and forever and ever.  

Would I ever actually change any of this? Absolutely not. These relationships have truly shaped my identity, and are a constant source of comfort for me; they remain long after the non-platonic ones come and go, which to me, makes them the most special ones that exist.

Plus, even tomboy Joey nabs Pacey in the end.

*Maybe we made out once, but it was a really long time ago… shut up.

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Liz Newman is a contributing writer for Thrillist, and to any of her beloved guy friends reading this, obviously she doesn’t mean you. You’re different. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @lizn813.