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Just Friends?

AdaAda Administrator PEx Moderator
Got this e-mail. I hope the guys learn something from it.

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Just Friends?
By Susan

If my sources are correct, the following scenario is played out frequently among the world of Christian singles. It happens on both sides of the gender line, but allow me to talk about it from my own female
perspective.

A man meets a woman and begins to show interest in her. He asks her to spend time with him on a regular basis: hiking, biking, watching videos. He calls her at least once a week just to talk. He begins telling her about the deeper things in his heart and invites her to share at this level as well. He sends her mushy "friendship" cards and tells her that she means a great deal to him. He may become a little affectionate: the hugs begin to linger.

The relationship has been defined as friendship, if it has been defined at all. But after all this special attention, the woman is definitely feeling more. So she asks the guy what's going on. To her surprise, he does a quick about-face. He insists they are just friends. After that, he avoids her, leaving her hurt and bewildered. She feels rejected - she has lost not only a romantic interest (she thought) but worse, a close and trusted friend. And she feels stupid. Did she really misread all those signals?

After I experienced this as a single woman, I asked a friend my friend "Joe" to help me understand why guys do this. After I told him my woeful tale, he said, "I did that to somebody once."

"What? Why would you ever do such a thing?" I asked.

"We were getting too close, and it scared me," he said.

This helped me understand why the "just friends" syndrome is so widespread. A guy wants to get to know a girl, but without the pressure of dating. So he spends a lot of time with her, treating her in many ways like a girlfriend but defining the relationship as friends. This way, if it begins to look like there's no future in the relationship, or he's messy breakup. It sounds like a nice arrangement - for the guy.

But that approach can be a problem for the woman. If a man tells a woman he just wants to "be friends" but he treats her like it's more than friendship, she will believe his behavior instead of his words. It sets her up for a big disappointment. Or if he invokes the "just friends" mantra after being asked about the nature of the relationship, but then promptly begins to distance himself from the friendship, again, his actions do not match his words.

He may think he's sparing her feelings by avoiding a breakup. But by defining the relationship as a friendship, he hurts her even more deeply when he disappears. A dating relationship comes with certain risks. But she expects a friendship - especially such a close one to continue.

Think about it this way: A broken dating relationship says only, "I don't want to marry you;" a broken friendship says to her, "I don't want/value you on any level."

Taking a woman down this path violates two scriptural principles. First, it's dishonest. The apostle Paul said that it was the way of the world - not of a godly man - to say "yes, yes" and "no, no" in the same breath (2 Cor. 1:17). A man of integrity will call a relationship what it is. Second, it is not kind or loving. The "just friends" approach may be safer for the guy, but it is harmful to the woman. In effect, he is asking her for the rewards of a dating relationship - companionship, emotional intimacy, even affection - without the responsibility. He is playing with her heart, and her heart will probably get broken.

But what if a guy does only want to be friends - or wants to develop a friendship before he decides to date? It's pretty simple. He just treats the woman like all his other friends. He doesn't spend more time with her or call her more often than he does his other friends. He usually invites other people along when he gets together with her. He doesn't pick up the tab when just the two of them go out. He avoids compliments that might communicate she is "special" to him. He lets her know he spends time with other women. He's extremely careful about showing any physical affection - even playful shoves or hugs. If, after getting to know her from a safe emotional distance, he wants a deeper relationship, he tells her that he wants to date her.

What if you are not thinking about more than friendship, but she asks about your intentions? Tell her you appreciate her friendship, but be honest about where you are. Above all, though it may be awkward for a while continue to be her friend.

Years ago, I began to be attracted to a male friend. Though I hadn't really been getting any signals that he was interested in me, I knew it would help settle my emotions to hear it from him. I asked. He affirmed me as a person but told me gently - but clearly - that he thought of me only as a friend. And then he did a wonderful thing. He kept being my friend. Though it hurt a little to learn I wasn't attractive to him in that way, it helped to know he still valued me and wanted me around. This was nearly 15 years ago, and though we have both moved to different states and married, we are friends to this day.

Women can be great friends. But guys, unless you are ready for a dating relationship, please be careful to treat us "as sisters, with absolute purity" (1 Tim. 5:2), not as girlfriends, nor as something in between. Your honesty - with yourself and with us - will be pleasing to the LORD, and prevent hurtful confusion for your sisters in Christ.

Comments

  • There is "friendship" and then there is "courtship", the line between the two must be established way before two people consider "dating" or "hanging-out". If this is not defined in the relationship early on, it could very well lead to misconceptions.

    As for running away from a friendships due to the fear of "getting too close", only one word best describes this.. cowardly.
  • That happened to me na. Lots of times actually and it really hurts. I felt so violated. I am still recovering as of the moment kasi it happened to me again. Sometimes I feel stupid kasi I fell for the same trick again pero...I dunno...I hope I realized that the problem is not with me but with the guy/s. :(~
  • Haaaay naku...I'm in that exact malabo situation right now...I like my friend a lot, but I'm not sure if he likes me...super mixed signals...sometimes he treats me in a special way, other times I'm just one of the guys...it's soooo frustrating!! Ano ba talaga??? Pero his friends always tease him whenever I'm around...what does it mean??? Wala lang...just venting...
  • it happens and it bites!

    feeling mo tuloy u've just been used. parang ur taken for granted coz he knows that whatever happens u'll always be there for him. he's always toying with ur emotions at ikaw naman walang magawa kasi "friends" kayo...life is so unfair!
  • AdaAda Administrator PEx Moderator
    Kyla: Ever considered confronting him and asking him point-blank if he likes you more than just a friend? Would save you a lot of sleepless nights, you know.
  • tnx for sharing this with us Ada
  • I've been there too, and I guess it's not a pretty uncommon experience. The problem with me is that I kept on going back to that person. I really felt so stupid, but then I was in love.

    This type of situation seems to normally happen to girls. I wonder, does it ever happen to guys? I mean, are there guys here who were or are left hanging and unsure about their girl "friends"?
  • crying.gif actually, m experiencing it ryt now. i mean...masakit kc he just told me that last monday. tapos i asked him why? nagback track sya sa decision nya and he said...since he doesn't want to hurt me wag na lang daw. but diba he already told me what he felt, and that's what he want...i don't have any other choice. ayaw kong pilitin ang isang tao just to please me. we'll just go on hurting each other. pero masakit pa rin...i mean, what we had was just a fling.we didn't exactly agree to that, pero from the way he's been treating me...i see it as one. pero nasasakatan ako...he wants us to be close friends. duh!!! like bakit pa?? maging friends nga kami tapos he wants to ask advice about this girl he likes...dba ansakit nun? gusto kong isigaw sa kanya: GET REAL!!! I'D RATHER NOT WANT U AS A FRIEND!!! YOU'VE HURT ME ENUF!! crying.gif
    from now on...ayaw ko nang maging close sa isang guy. at f ever sum1 gonna be showing me those type of attention again, i have to ask him muna...what do u want? it's cruel...but nasaktan na ako...what can i do?? :(

    btw, tnx Ada... :)

  • Think about the topic, well its very much complicated in both side, boy or girl. Too much expectation is dangerous, in every relationship either friend or lover we have to keep something for ourself, we hurt becuase we expect. "Just friend" is enough world to keep in mind to put limit in your relationship or feeling. I know sometime it fall into love that we cannot avoid, by that time ask yourself if u can take to loose that person or not, if you do asked her/him if not stay in your foot pray that he/she feel the same way. :)
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