Unpopular Opinion: On Female Friendship…and Boys

Warning: contains spoilers for Something Borrowed (movie version), Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Matched series by Ally Condie, Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick , and Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Last week I talked about the lack of media portraying platonic relationships between heterosexual male and female couple. This week, I want to talk about the portrayal of female friendship in the media and how it is affected when a romantic interest comes on scene.

According to much of the media, including YA, there seems to be two main things that can happen to a female friendship once one of the girls begins a romantic relationship. Option one, the girls can both be after the same guy, and this wrecks their friendship. Option two, the newly smitten girl ignores the friend that has been with her through thick and thin for years in favour of the new boy.

The first case brings to mind Something Borrowed and Anna and the French Kiss.

I haven’t read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, and I’m not sure I ever will simply because the plot itself makes me feel sick to my stomach. I am a very loyal friend. So loyal in fact that the moment one of my friends becomes interested in a guy, I lose interest. The idea of a girl sleeping with her best friend’s fiancé completely boggles my mind. Not to mention the fact that the best friend totally knew that her friend was in love with him before she started dating him in the first place! Yeah, their friendship wasn’t built on the greatest of premises, but the point is you don’t sleep with your best friend’s fiancé. You just don’t.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite books ever, but unfortunately it also falls into this trap. Twice. First Anna’s best friend from home, Bridget, begins hooking up with the guy Anna had an almost thing with and had been totally head over heels in like over. Then Anna totally has a thing with Étienne despite the fact that she knows Meredith, her first friend in France, is totally in love with him (and the fact that he has a girl friend…but that’s a whole other story). It’s been awhile since I read this book, but I think the girls all make up in the end, but you don’t really hear about either Bridget or Meredith in Lola and the Boy Next Door (that I can remember), so did they really make up?

WHY ARE GIRLS DOING THIS? Why are we being taught that it is more important to get the guy than to stick with your girl? Why is friendship once again being devalued when compared to a romantic relationship?

The second option is visible in basically all the popular YA novels with female protagonists. Let’s check out goodreads most popular books of 2011, shall we?

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick (#23) is part of the Hush, Hush series. What happens to Vee and Nora’s relationship once Patch is in the picture? Seems to me like Vee fades quite a bit into the background, which is really too bad considering she’s the more interesting character of the two.

Crossed by Ally Condie (#24) is the second part of the Matched trilogy. Didn’t Cassia have female friends before she started going ga-ga for Ky? Well, you don’t hear about them in Crossed!

Don’t even get me started on Passion by Lauren Kate (#25) of the Fallen series. Luce’s best friend in the first series freaking dies because of her and Luce is barely affected. Yeah, I definitely want Luce as my best friend.

This is another side-effect of romantic relationships being put on a pedestal. The message being thrown at us over and over again is that being in love is fun, finding a hot guy with dark a past who for no apparent reason is in love with us should be our life’s goal, and friends are only there for those scenes before we meet HIM or for after he breaks our heart for our own protection. And I for one am tired of it.

About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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13 Responses to Unpopular Opinion: On Female Friendship…and Boys

  1. Samantha says:

    I’m so sick of this as well. Seriously, what has happened to all the strong friendships these days, especially female friendships?

    Probably the best book for female friendships I’ve read so far this year would be A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon.

  2. Yup. Another one I’m guilty of doing once or twice.
    Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen in real life. More than once.
    Granted, when I heard that a certain boy thought about asking me out in high school, my first thought was “hell no, one of my close friends is absolutely in love with him. I would never.” So…yeah. I’ve been on both sides of it in real life before.
    I do wish that books had some better friendships in them sometimes. Maybe girls would start treating each other less like Mean Girls and more like Babysitters Club,.
    Yeah, I seriously just made that reference.
    Obviously, I need more coffee. *drinks more coffee*

  3. I’m totally with you here. I don’t understand why girls (both in novels and real life) are so quick to give up their friends in place of a guy. Especially a guy they just met! Why are they so quick to forget all their memories with their best friend? All the times that friend was there for them? Aggghhh it drives me crazy.

    I was also just talking to someone over lunch this weekend about the lack of platonic male-female relationships in YA books. I had many male friends in high school and still do and I don’t think that’s unusual. I’ve wrote more than one review where I state that the romance was unnecessary and I would have liked it better if they had just been friends.

    Great post!

    • megtao says:

      Yeah, romances are so often forced in novels. Half the time they don’t even have a good reason for being in love and it’s based on some sort of “magnetic connection.” It makes me want to punch a wall with my head.

  4. Candice says:

    Wow… I really feel like I know what I want to say about this argument but then I feel like I don’t know what I want to say about it. I’ve never been on the “dumps friends for boy” side… have been on the “dumped by friends for boy” side though. However, I think my opinion is tainted by the fact that I’m in a completely different stage in my life than the girls in the books you mentioned (and other books similar)… well, except Something Borrowed – that plot makes me kind of sick too. I remembered in HS I had friends that dated, but their boyfriends magically became part of our group of friends, so there wasn’t really a feeling of “oh she’s too busy with her BF to hang out with us.” However, now that I’m past the HS age, past the college age, I realize that unfortunately for us single girls when you start dating someone and have a relationship, your girlfriends take a backseat to your relationship. Do I hate this? Yes. Do I better understand this? Yes.
    To comment on your last statement, I agree… that scenario does get a little tiring, but (and I swear I just talked about this other day) reading a book about average Jane falling in love with average Joe and no drama-infusion doesn’t really make for good literature. But, maybe that’s just me. 🙂

    • megtao says:

      The thing is, I don’t think girl friends need to take THAT MUCH of a back seat where they basically disappear from your life. Every relationship takes work, even friendship, but I think most people decide they can only handle one relationship at a time and the friend goes out the window.

      reading a book about average Jane falling in love with average Joe and no drama-infusion doesn’t really make for good literature.

      But what do we even have to read about love at all? Why can’t we read about a couple of average Janes going off and doing something not so average? What’s so average about a guy who wants to be with you because you’ve built a strong friendship and he has ordinary issues.

      I don’t think drama necessarily makes “good literature.” I think writers depend on drama so that they can avoid the extra effort of writing good literature.

  5. Lauren H. says:

    AGREED AGREED AGREED. Gosh darn it I love this feature!

    One huge offender is Alyson Noel’s Immortals series (Evermore, Blue Moon, etc.). Those books were one big jealousy fest. Drina is jealous of Ever because she’s Damen’s soulmate, but Drina had Damen first. Haven called dibs on Damen, but then Ever goes out with him. Then there’s some other dumb chick who Ever always jealous of. And Ever and Haven (despite being best friends) actually try to kill each other by the end of the books. I don’t think there was a single positive female/female relationship in the whole darn book.

    One series that does show great friendship between females through thick and thin is the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. Those girls really do stick by each other. But it’s sad because people were kind of mean about those books and said they were cheesy and silly. But I wonder if part of the reason they were called cheesy is because the girls cared about each other and there wasn’t the stab-in-the-back-type-drama.

    I definitely think this is a problem in YA, and sending some really terrible messages to girls.
    Great post!
    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

    • megtao says:

      I love the Travelling Pants series! I want to reread them before reading Sisterhood Everlasting, but I lent my copies to a friend and she said she returned them…but she didn’t :/

      I think that’s a good point. I didn’t find them cheesy at all (granted it’s been a couple years since I read them), and I think you make a really good point!

  6. Emily says:

    I’m going to go a different route and say that, rather than having a conflict develop between two female friends over a guy or having the female protagonist forget all her friends to fall in love with the new hot guy, I would like to read YA books in which male and female protagonists fall in love/have love lives AND have strong friendships outside of the love life. I agree that currently, friendship is being devalued in favor of romance, and I would definitely appreciate more books focusing on meaningful friendships between all sorts of people. Ideally though, it wouldn’t have to be an either/or situation. Instead, there would exist books with solely friendships, books primarily focused on a romantic relationship, and books with a healthy dose of each.

    That’s my take, at least!

    • megtao says:

      Well that would be the perfect fix, but I do think that in order to combat the stereotypes that have been created by the overemphasis on romance there do need to be some books that focus purely on friendship in the YA genre. I would definitely settle for both in a story though because you’re unlikely to find a friendship-only novel.

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