Magazine article Work & Family Life

Teenagers' Best Friends Come in Both Sexes

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Teenagers' Best Friends Come in Both Sexes

Article excerpt

Lauren slammed down the phone, tears streaming down her cheeks. "How could he do that to me?" she cried. Then she picked up the phone and furiously dialed her best friend. "Sam, I don't know what to do. Jordan dumped me!"

"I told you not to make him sit with you instead of his friends at the basketball game tonight. Guys don't like that. It's embarrassing, Lauren."

"But what should I do? Now everyone will know he dumped me, and I can't show up at the game alone."

"Alone? You'll go with me. Maybe he'll even get jealous."

Lauren sniffed and blew her nose. "Thanks, Sam. You're so sweet. You're the best guy friend in the world."

One of the hallmarks of budding puberty is the realization that the opposite sex is not so gross and can actually be rather fun and exciting to be around. The giant step into middle school or junior high includes a leap into the world of raging hormones and the first stirrings of sexual desire.

While most parents dwell on the novelty of boy-girl romantic attachments, an equally important, if not more significant, relationship among teens emphasizes trusting hearts rather than throbbing hearts.

Impact of boy-girl friendships

A positive platonic relationship can have a powerful impact on a teenager's developing attitude toward the opposite sex. It's a way for boys and girls to connect at intellectual and spiritual levels about things that really matter. It gives a young person a built-in confidante, an insider's view and a secret window to another world, with their best friend as their "eyes" to the other sex.

So when your daughter wants to wear a too-tight tank top or get her tongue pierced, she is apt to see your objections merely as a parent standing in the way of her stampede to express herself. But her male best buddy can say, "Tongue studs? Last week we were talking about how Chantelle's stud got caught in Eric's braces. Every guy there said he'd never kiss a girl with a pierced tongue." And pierced tongue dreams vanish like magic.

Having a platonic best friend is also a way for teens to be themselves, let down their guard and learn to be comfortable with the opposite sex without sexual tension. In this relationship, girls can ignore the teen magazines' product pitches like the importance of lip-gloss and mascara for hooking guys. They can be themselves for a change. And with no mating and dating variables there, boys can drop the macho attitudes they build up with other guys and see girls as they really are, rather than through the cultural prism. …

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