One of the Boys

I was over 30 yr. old when I actively pursued friendship with women. For my entire life, I was surrounded by the other gender.

There were sisters, but they were never really friends.

One of the boys

I’m up behind the (male) German Shepherd.

The “hood” where I grew up, was almost entirely boys. I was never a tomboy, little athletic prowess.

But I managed, stayed safe, kept their respect, kept my emotional distance.

I had many female acquaintances, very few friends.

In school, I was a competitor, academic challenges came from male students.

Like myself, some were dating, but avoided committed relationships. They were planning, dreaming, moving forward toward their goals.

I understood that.

College was not much different. Early female friends moved on to sororities, seeking a more secure social life.

I remained close to a large group of guys, fell in love with one of them.

My initial career plan was to be a teacher. When that didn’t work out, I went to work with a group of engineers. I was one of 2 women in an office of 40.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was in my comfort zone.

Outside of work, attempts were made. I got involved in social organizations, adult sororities, civic groups, political campaigns, wives’ clubs.

Women were cordial to me, but never close. I was awkward at baby showers, weddings, potluck dinners, coffee klatches. Clearly out of my element.

And then, pregnancy. My world was changing.

I began to genuinely cultivate female friendships. Acquaintances who had kept me at arm’s length responded in beautiful, supportive ways.

When my daughter arrived, I bought my first pink clothing…my first pink anything.

I became one of them. Wife, mother, PTA member, school volunteer, soccer mom, scout leader, neighborhood hostess.

I embraced my new life, happy and fulfilled in a way that I never thought possible.

And yet today, at parties, family functions, neighborhood gatherings, I spend time with the women, but am more at home with the guys.

Some things never change.




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108 Responses to One of the Boys

  1. lbeth1950 says:

    Loved this. Wonder if it was because of your mother’s illness. I always played with boys because I loved rowdy play. No good at tea parties. I am proud to be your friend.

    • Very perceptive, Linda. I edited this piece a bit, took out the heavier references to the way I viewed my father vs. mother. No doubt, I had more respect for the men in my life. They had all the drive, power, etc. Through no fault of her own, and because I didn’t understand her illness, she was never what I aspired to be. Thanks for that thought, and for your friendship. 💘

      • Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

        This reply added a whole new layer of context for me that really put some of the pieces into place.

        Thanks for posting, found it quite interesting!

      • Yep. There were surely deeper motivations for my preference, Vic. Thanks for noticing. 💕

      • lbeth1950 says:

        My other half.

      • writerinsoul says:

        I know you’ve honed your ability to write concise posts, Van. I think the way you viewed each parent could have fit in here too. It’s a strong point; relating to the gender perceived to have or have access to all life’s goodies. Or simply opting out of aligning with the “weak” one.

      • I agree that it would have fit, Colette. It was not so much an attempt at brevity, more a way of evoking a lighter mood for the post. Both you and Linda have been witness to much heavier posts that address my relationship with my mom. Thanks for understanding. And for your thoughtful comment. ❤️

  2. Jim says:

    I’d hang out with ya

  3. Amanda Lyle says:

    Aww, there isn’t anything wrong with that. Amazing throwback pic, too! And yes…motherhood changes it all, doesn’t it?!

    As a kid, I was a tomboy and surrounded myself with mostly boys, but then somewhere along the line (I think the Spice Girls may have had something to do with it) things changed and I was all for ‘girl power’. Now, nearly into my 30’s, I really miss male companionship. I haven’t been able to maintain a steady male friendship for years and years (apart from my husband, of course! But that’s not the same!) and I feel like I am missing out! 🙁

  4. There was no denying those pregnancy hormones, Amanda. ☺ Your tomboy instincts will always be a part of the way you see the world. Those friendships will return some day, no doubt. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’ve always seemed to get on better with an older generation, mainly because when I had my first holiday job, the youngest person to me was my Mum! I was a bit of a late starter though not having my first real boyfriend until I was 18.

    • Are you a first born child ? It seems to be a trait…to prefer the company of older folks, also for only-children. I had a secret boyfriend at 16, bit of a wild child, so he didn’t fit in with my school friends, but summers were sure fun. ☺

      • No, I’m the youngest of 4 (74, 72 and 65 yr old siblings). I was a bit of a loner as a child though, always teased or in my sister’s shadow, so I stayed out of the way. We’ve made friends of all ages since getting the boat, but most are in their mid 70s and 80s!

      • I’ve gotten to know boating folks over the years…there is a special bond there that I envy. (And yes, it seems many are retired, and more relaxed). I was a loner in my family, my dreams were much different. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

  6. That sounds a lot like my wife. She can be a girlie girl, if need be, but is more comfortable hanging with me and my friends. 😃

  7. The V Pub says:

    When I was young, there was one girl who would hang around with us. She was tougher than us, and a better athlete. But we always looked at her as one of the gang. Thanks for your beautiful recollection. Such sweet memories they are.

    • Do you know how she “turned out” ? It’s so funny, I have some of these guys as Facebook friends…I think they were surprised at my life. ☺ Thanks, Rob. 💖

      • The V Pub says:

        You’re welcome, Van. 💗 I don’t know about her life journey, since she was a childhood friend who moved away before I was 13. Makes me really wonder about how everyone from those early, beautiful days turned out.

  8. colinandray says:

    Interesting reading this because I was on the opposite side of the “same fence”! This is touched on in my Post below:

    • Wonderful…thanks for including the link. (my dogs have always been male, as well) ☺☺☺ But I also get the opening, and the level of intimacy that women have in conversation. Good for you in dealing well with that. 💝

  9. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, sounds like my relationship history! Always the tomboy, because I grew up with 2 male first cousins. Then I had 2 boys! So, no pink frilly dresses! I do have a few adult girlfriends and love their company. However, my comfort zone is with the male gender! I’m happy we are friends in the blog world! Too bad geographically not possible in real life. Happy weekend! 💛 Elizabeth

  10. Erica Herd says:

    Really enjoyed this piece. As a kid, my brother and I had a best friend that we climbed roofs and did other daredevil / mischievous stunts with. I was a tomboy I guess till I made my first close female friend.

  11. Bradley says:

    I always felt closest with the girls. Go figure.

  12. LaVagabonde says:

    I was just thinking about this today. I’m ill at ease around women and the thought of going to baby shower or some other female gathering totally gives me the creeps. I never did become a member of the Motherhood, so I’ve never had the experience of bonding with women. And there’s no way they’re letting you in unless you’ve got offspring. 😉 My best friends have always been men – gay and straight. Thanks for sharing this part of you, Van. Good to hear I’m not the only one.

  13. I wonder if times are changing and gender won’t be as big a factor as it was in our youths. I was such a shy introvert as a kid, I wasn’t comfortable around anyone but a couple close girlfriends. Now, I think I’m equally comfortable around both. Growing up was good for me 😀

    • The gender roles have surely changed, Diana. In my time, all moms were stay at home, if Dad was in the picture. I can tell by your writing, and sensitivity…that growing up was good for you. ☺

  14. spearfruit says:

    Van, I enjoyed reading this post! Interesting how we fit better with a certain group. As a young boy, I always felt comfortable around the females and not the males. It was not until much later that I figured out why! Thank you for sharing this – Happy Friday to you. 🙂

  15. Val Boyko says:

    It has become easier for me to appreciate the company of women friends as I have gotten older. As I never had kids, I always felt drawn to the career oriented women as well as being one of the boys! Motherhood and time does soften the edges 💕

    • It surely does, Val. Thanks. I’m watching as seniors in independent living come full circle, their backgrounds fade. It’s a bit like junior high school again. ☺

  16. Erika Kind says:

    So interesting. It’s funny, I rather played with boys with cars, or did races with them, building huts in the forest than playing with dolls with the girls. So I understand that. But when I got older I became insecure with boys and was more with the girls. Changed some years later again… lol!

    • We are constantly evolving, aren’t we ??? Thanks, Erika. 💝

      • Erika Kind says:

        You say it! It is always so interesting to look back and remember how we thought one year back, 5, 10 or more years back and what happened to make us think differently. Life is awesome! Have a lovely weekend, Van 💖

      • Each stage brought us to where we are today, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Enjoy your weekend as well, Erika. ❤️ Our thoughts are with Germany today.

      • Erika Kind says:

        My daughter was in Munich the day before. Due to changed plans she was back yesterday…. if not, she would have been there at exactly the time when it happened. When it is not meant, it won’t happen. She is glad now, that their plans were disturbed! Looks like it was not a terror attack but a desperate young man who just freaked out…. so sad!

      • So glad she is safe. Here, they are speculating that he was a bullied teen. Horrifying, happening everywhere. 💔

      • Erika Kind says:

        So many reasons why someone can come the same tragic actions. How lost must he have felt at such a young age.

  17. George says:

    That’s so interesting. I always hung out with guys when I was younger, lots of sports. However, as I got older I gravited and felt more comfortable in social settings, with women. I’m not sure why, I just do.

    • I suspect you, like many men who blog, are more in touch with feelings, can relate to women who tend to open up a bit more. It makes conversation more comfortable. I see it in my own husband as he “evolves” ( not saying “ages”.) ☺ Losing those work challenges/stresses at retirement has made a difference. 💖 Glad you’re here, George.

  18. Conscious and subconscious elements in our lives certainly create strong feelings often difficult to understand let alone explain. You know they’re ultimately beneficial if you can look back on them and realize a second chance would produce the same choices all over again.

    • At a very young age, we were made aware of the value of that desired boy child, who came 4th. It was not so subtle, Doc. Thanks for your insights. ☺

    • writerinsoul says:

      I had to read your comment a couple times. I suppose that much of what we do – say, relating better to one gender over the other as per Van’s example(s) – didn’t feel like a choice exactly at the time it happened. And maybe it’s hard to see if something was beneficial because there’s no clear way to know if another choice/path would have been better. (I’m thinking some could have been worse.)

  19. I completely understand that. In school I was the academic competitor, and when I went back to school at 28, I stayed in an over 21, coed dorm. I was always in a classmate’s room, trying to figure out where the glitch was in my computer program I was writing, or struggling through a problem from my Calculus class. I had a female roommate, or course, but we didn’t go in the same circles. It was school, and work, and school again for the entire week. I did have the weekend off, to spend time with my partner at home, tinkering around the house.

  20. Nurse Kelly says:

    So we’ll find you hangin’ in the man caves at the neighborhood parties, eh?! I often feel the same way – girls and women can unfortunately be mean at times. Guys are generally more laid back from my experiences. 🙂

  21. Bun Karyudo says:

    My mother has a somewhat similar way of thinking. It’s not all that surprising, of course. She was the only girl in a family of boys and so grew up surrounded by men.

  22. Oh my gosh! I so relate to this. I had 3 older brothers, 2 younger brothers, 2 younger sisters. I always relate(d) more with the guys. In some ways, most ways, I still do. My younger sisters and my daughters didn’t get any frilly advice from me. But my husband benefits from me not having those traditional female wiles either. 😉

  23. writerinsoul says:

    We’ve “talked” about this before and it’s a rich topic, Van. I suppose never having children, as I didn’t, makes a woman seem too much of a “wild card.” Which, truth be told, isn’t entirely wrong in my case! I’m the woman in the intense conversations with men; debating, discussing, philosophizing (with a helping of “cracking wise”). I enjoyed this post and all the comments it elicited.

  24. amommasview says:

    Funny you say this. I’m a bit the same. I feel very much at home with being in the guys corner. Some of my best friends are boys (well… men) and we always talked about everything.

  25. I could resonate with this post Van.. I was a bit of a tomboy growing up climbing trees and outcrops of rocks.. Jumping brooks 🙂 Maybe as I grew up in a village and my younger sibling next down to me was my brother and all the children around the same age group as me were boys 🙂

  26. Laura says:

    Funny…I’ve always been more comfortable around the guys as well. I didn’t cultivate genuine friendship with women until my adult years, and even now there’s only 2 I’d call in a crisis (plus my sister). Wonder if we’re just born this way.

  27. joey says:

    Interesting. I know and friend a lot of women like you, supposedly because I am not like other women. I can’t say, really.. My life has been much more women-centered.

  28. Thanks for this Van! I’ve always had a difficult time relating to other women. Once I got over turning red talking to boys in high school and went off to college, I’ve felt much more comfortable around men. Maybe it’s because men tend to keep a bit of an emotional distance and that seems to be my MO as well. Plus I’ve just never been into the drama that some women thrive on. I really abhor drama!

    I did the whole PTA president, soccer mom, football mom, baseball mom, school volunteer thing and made many female friends during those years but, a precious few who were what you would call intimate friends. Maybe two or three in the 20 years my kids were going through school…

    And since we moved from the city our kids grew up in 10 years ago, most of my friends here in Atlanta are single women (straight and lesbian), childless couples, and gay men! So sometimes, change is good and it expands your horizons!!

    • I’m sure I was all about that emotional distance as well. I took on a lot of roles, but let very few into my inner sanctum. They say that at the end of your life, if you can count your close friends on one hand, you are lucky. That will be me. ☺
      Thanks for sharing. 💛 💙 💜 We all have so much more in common than we realize.

  29. I understand Van…love the thread here too ☺️

  30. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #31 | A Momma's View

  31. Canuck Carl says:

    I am quite intrigued by this post and has got me thinking. When I think of it, the majority of bloggers that follow me (and I follow) are female.

    I have a quite a few platonic friendships with females. I just really enjoy their company and seem more comfortable around them And when I am running, sometimes I run alone and other times it is with females. The ones I run with are less competitive, when I compare with some of the men I have run with.

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  32. Eugenia says:

    Great post and comments. It seem many of us relate. I like your style – very down to earth.

  33. “I remained close to a large group of guys, fell in love with one of them.”
    Bound to happen. =)

    Men are (a lot) easier.

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