When Friends Know too Much - Part 1

Guy – Girl Attraction: that magnetic pull which elicits the secret ingredient in all cross-gender relationships.  The mystery of these relationships began with the creation of male and female at the beginning of time.  When we consider all the pitfalls in relationships, how past experiences play in, the way people were raised, their “norms” and the intricacies of how guys and girls communicate on two completely different levels – it’s really a miracle any relationships form, flourish in the differences and last. Oil and water, Mars and Venus, waffles and spaghetti – these are never things which sane people put together. How does this magnetic pull fit into our friendships with the opposite gender?

I’m not sure it does very well.  God created us male and female – to be attracted to each other, to be fruitful and multiply. He designed guy/girl relationships to go somewhere. (Read Song of Solomon – the Lord delights in the guy/girl relationship as He created it to be).  I used to believe that it was possible to have a close or best friend of the opposite gender and have it stay completely platonic. I have been proven wrong over and over again. In my life and in the lives of those around me, I have yet to see a deep guy/girl friendship stay platonic on both sides. Inevitably, one will develop romantic feelings for the other or desire more than the friendship they currently have.

Let me clarify for a minute- I’m talking about close guy/girl friendships. When your best friend is of the opposite gender and they are the first person you go to when have something to share, good or bad.

If God designed us to be drawn to members of the opposite gender, then it’s natural we want to be close friends with them. Even if we’re not romantically drawn to them, we still want a friendship with them. But in having and wanting these close friendships outside of dating and marriage, are we going against God’s design? Against the natural order of things?

To my knowledge there aren’t any examples in scripture of close one-on-one guy/girl friendships. Arranged marriages worked in days of old, because when people spend a lot of time together and become emotionally attached, attraction forms. It’s the natural order of things.  In the 20th century as courting went from a serious structured thing, to our now causal dating scene, friendship entered the picture. “Oh, we’re not dating, we’re just friends”.   Because our approach to relationships has changed so much there is now a lot of room for freedom, but also for grey areas.

Believe me, I love the new freedom we have. I have a lot of guy friends and, until recently, had a lot of close guy friends. The more I learn about guys and girls the more I see how cross-gender close friendships ultimately don’t work. They might work for a while, but in time one of three things will happen:
(1)    One party will fall for the other, and the feelings won’t be returned
(2)    The couple will cross boundaries, either emotional or physical (usually crossing the emotional boundaries leads to crossing the physical ones.).
(3)    They will acknowledge they have more than a friendship and talk about pursuing more.  If they decide not to, the friendship deteriorates.

In any of these three cases, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy friendship afterwards. Where do you think the phrase “friends with benefits” came from? Guy/girl friendships don’t even work on TV. Watch an episode of “FRIENDS” or When Harry Met Sally.

If you know from early on that you wouldn’t want to date or marry the other person, don’t let a deep friendship grow without boundaries.

Here’s why close guy/girl friendships don’t work: There’s a theory that love’s design is triangular and has three components – Intimacy, Passion and Commitment. The version I’m presenting was the illustration presented in a marriage and family class I took at the Focus Leadership Institute this past semester. 

Friendship starts with intimacy – it’s that emotional closeness – knowing each other deeply and really well.  Passion will follow at its heels because of the emotion, even if you’re not attracted to the other person. Frustration, heartbreak and sin will follow without the commitment of marriage or a relationship heading there. If you start with the attraction/passion and it doesn’t work; pursuing the intimacy of friendship afterwards will lead you to the same place of frustration as when you have intimacy first.  It’s not meant to work that way.


So how is it supposed to work?  What should healthy guy/girl friendships look like? I’ll be addressing those questions in my next post!

2 comments:

Jeremy February 1, 2011 at 9:40 AM  

Wow. I like the triangle.

There are two things that come to mind reading this -

1. The problem you already eluded to of people getting into trouble because they try to walk on the fence you described of having that close guy/girl friendship and the fallout of that relationship.

2. The problem of mature young people who are so afraid of getting too close that we have a whole boatload of Godly, mature singles. If they just let themselves get close enough to become attracted to each other they might find that kinda like each other and they wouldn't be single anymore.

I think this mostly falls on the guys. We think that we need to wait for the intimacy and emotions to be evident before we will think about the commitment. But we never allow ourselves to be close enough for the that to develop.

I'm looking forward to Part 2.

Katie February 2, 2011 at 9:33 PM  

Jeremy,
Thank you! Part 2 is up. I'm not sure how to tackle your point 2 yet. Especially as how it relates to guys. It's definitely a fine line to walk - to be attracted, and then not let the emotions go beyond the pace of the commitment. I think the problem occurs more when both people have talked and are not ready for, or don't want to be in, a relationship with the other person yet continue in a deep friendship. So the emotions war against what they know is right?

Who knows. These are just my guesses :)

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I'm a fun loving, people person, with a passion for ministry and the Lord. My greatest desire is to see people come to realize who they are in Christ and how that effects every area of their relationships and lives.I want to know Him more.