Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Nathaniel1
Valentine’s Day Thoughts: Can Men and Women be “Just Friends”?
On Valentine’s Day, those of us in romantic relationships are coerced to make a stop at a local CVS and raid through scattered heart-shaped Russell Stover’s boxes, test the plushi-ness of life-sized “I Love You” teddy bears, and scour Groupon for a “Semi-Fancy, Yet Not Piggy Bank-Breaking, Restaurant.” And the real Casanovas might go to work to impress their lady- we’re talking the full shebang: poetry, lyres, rose-petals, homemade steaks, and Merlot. But what about those of us in a purposeful season of singleness? (For more on seasons of singleness check out my previous post: http://bit.ly/Yhr5fb) Those of us who are “cool” just chilling- having friends who are girls or guys…This trail led me to question- can guys and girls just be friends?
I’ve been told I’m kind of a “nice-guy” which is fresh with me…only one thing; the constant-smiling and the occasional winks sometime lead women to think I want more than friendship. And when I feel the relationship heading in a direction I’m not ready to invest in- I pull back, which can often sever the relationship completely. Similarly, I’ve been that guy- so enamored with a girl’s smile and vivacious personality, taken back by her commitment to God, her inner and outer beauty that I open myself completely like a can of Stagg’s Chili eagerly waiting my sweet Marie Calendar’s Cornbread only to realize she wants to be “just friends.” Maybe the insignificant value we place on friendship is wrong. Is it “just friends” or “friends”? Maybe we’ve confused ourselves. Maybe the problem is that we’ve been so conditioned to think there is something wrong with us when we’re single that we are ready to spill our Chili on any piece of Jiffy Cornbread that comes by and doesn’t reciprocate.
I really like how Joshua Harris addresses this topic in I Kissed Dating Goodbye– “The reason most guy-girl friendships cross into romance is that the people involved don’t understand the difference between friendship and intimacy…Pursuing intimacy without commitment is like going mountain climbing with a partner, who once halfway up the mountain face, isn’t sure he or she wants to hold the rope.” In a friendship, it’s so easy to mistake our feelings for intimacy because we desire that from someone we connect with and relate to. It can often be difficult to decipher between the two but we should never commit to someone who doesn’t want to commit to us. Rather than pushing a romantic relationship, we need to learn to relate and move with our friends in a way that promotes the Kingdom, not our personal desires and fantasies.
I think men and women can be friends. However, it takes honesty, even when it hurts, and clearly establishing that there are boundaries in the friendship. I’ve realized the worst thing that I can do is allow a woman to become vulnerable to me in the context of friendship and acquiesce her into a mindset that our relationship is heading in a different direction than I want it to.
On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes our friendship becomes so “friendshipy” and now that one person feels enamored, the other person can’t help but see him or her as a little brother or sister. Been there too. But I would rather be connected in a purposeful friendship with a girl than a romantic relationship with her when she can’t reciprocate those same intimate feelings. I think we should be physically, spiritually, and romantically attracted to the person we pursue an intimate relationship with. Friendship involves a trust and an investment in a purpose that doesn’t revolve around getting our needs/desires met. In a friendship, we also need to guard our heart and be careful of how we choose to invest in the relationship. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else guard your heart; for it affects everything you do.” In that process, we don’t have to become stone-cold but conscious of sharing our heart with a person who is ready and willing to head in the same direction.
Cheers to friendships!