In my last post I talked about close guy/girl friendships and how I’ve come to believe that close cross-gender friendships ultimately don’t work. So what should healthy guy/girl friendships look like?
First – Call it what it is. Be honest with yourself. If you’re in a close friendship with someone of the opposite gender, do you desire for it to be more? Does he or she? Do you tell everyone you’re like brother and sister?
Brothers and sisters don’t necessarily text, chat, talk or see each other every day. They don’t flirt (By the way – if you’re just “teasing or flirting” as friends – you’re in a very dangerous spot). Brothers and sisters rarely do things alone together (or at least not as a habit). Brothers and sisters are also never exclusive (most of the time there is always one cross-gender friendship that is ‘exclusive’ or deeper than the others). Jealousy with the interactions the other person has is never present in healthy sibling relationships.
If your relationship falls into one of these – call it what it is – you’re dating. I encourage you to stop and think – even more so if you just tried to justify “oh that’s not me” to yourself after reading that last sentence.
Look at it from the future. Where can these friendships go? What happens when one party starts dating someone else? (Again – the deep close friendships) The friendship has to change. The closer one gets to marriage, in order to honor their spouse or future spouse, they can no longer have these deep relationships.
Why do we have these friendships? Do you ever think about the purpose of the friendships you are in? Unfortunately a lot of deep guy/girl friendships grow out of unmet emotional needs. Or maybe we just enjoy the attention. The tangled webs we weave! Danger comes when we look to the other person to meet needs and securities that the Lord should be filling.
Honor your future spouse now. Do you want your future spouse to have a deep cross-gender friendship like you currently have? What if we looked at the opposite gender as some one else’s spouse on loan to us? How would we want someone else to treat our future spouses? How about with respect, encouragement and care, but also guarding and protecting them emotionally and physically?
Always the “best friend”? Tired of never being the girlfriend or boyfriend, but always being the “best friend”? I have news! You are always the “best friend” because you act like the “best friend”! Stop kidding yourself! Build healthy friendships instead.
What do healthy guy/girl friendships look like?
¬ They are clear-cut. There’s no confusion or questions and always good boundaries.
¬ They challenge and encourage each other in the Lord. (Look for a post on this soon!)
¬ They are friends in groups. Avoid a lot of alone time – it builds confusion and opportunity to share things that should only be shared in committed relationships. (Again, I know there will be exceptions – such as long distance friendships. It’s the spirit, not the law, to keep in mind.)
¬ They treat each other with respect and put their own personal needs aside.
¬ They act like true “brother and sisters”.
¬ There is intentionality in the relationship and it’s not forced. “I called to ask about this event, person, request, etc…” Not “what can I think of as an excuse to call”?
Rule of Thumb: Your closest friends, emotional support, and accountability are always with people of the same gender until you are married. This frees you and keeps you in check to have healthy interactions with the opposite gender.
The Balance. I understand that a lot of people use friendships as a way to “test the waters” or try things out in a “safe” way, to see if in the future, they would like to date that person. A lot of great marriages start out from great friendships. It’s the boundaries in the friendship that make it or break it. Good boundaries will also allow a smooth transition to something more than friendship. I also believe you can see what you need to see in another person without crossing into an unhealthy, deep, emotionally-tying friendship. If attraction forms, great! That is the way things are supposed to work. Do something about it then – define the relationship. It’s staying in the grey area that creates the problem. ??On the flip side, some people are so scared of where a friendship might lead; they won’t let anything start. This isn’t healthy either. I think in all cases it’s wise to remember:
??“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col 3:17
I’m also not saying you shouldn’t have guy or girl friendships. We need the opposite genders perspective and influence in our lives – we just shouldn’t be “best friends” with them.
Seek the Lord. I challenge you to seek the Lord on this and see what He thinks and would have you to do. I wish someone had told me all of this sooner or I had listened more. I’ve learned it the hard way. I have also been learning how to practically live out healthy guy/girl friendships, but I hesitate to post specifics because I don’t want you to do anything because “Katie suggested it”. Seek Him. If you want some tips get in touch with me and I won’t mind sharing then.
If you would like to hear this from a guy’s perspective, I encourage you to check out my friend Chris’s blog. http://chriskaspar.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/best-friends/
Thanks again to Christine Britten for being the best editor ever!