You meet someone of the opposite sex, and (s)he really catches your eye. Uh-oh. Then you get to know the person, and you find out that (s)he has a great personality as well. Double Uh-oh! To top it all off, this person sends you that “I’d like to get to know you better” vibe. Major uh-oh
If you’ve decided to put romance/intimacy on hold till you are ready for marriage or handle things in a godly perspective, what do you do in a situation like this? The simple answer is just be friends. But it’s not that easy. We are created to have emotions, and we have a heart so we can’t be immune to attraction. Can you have friends with the opposite sex with no strings attached?
It’s a confusing process that I’ve tried to understand through the years and observed my friendships with the opposite sex. Can I stand my male friend having a girl friend or do I just become jealous or possessive and not being able to evaluate our “friendship” objectively? Do I allow the romantic ardor gloss over our incompatibilities or do I try to leave us as friends just to avoid commitment, in essence, friends with benefits which is another topic for another day. Finding a balance between two extreme options: jumping into romance with anyone who catches your eyes or running in fear from those of the opposite sex, is anything but easy. But I strongly believe you can be friends with the opposite sex and no one has feelings.
Whatever it is, your mindset matters a lot. We set out with the mindset of being just friends but as you become closer to someone the bond is stronger, and we try to justify our actions of “I miss you’s” “I can’t wait to see you’s” as being just friends. But the thing is that you don’t have to go on dates to overstep the limit of friendship. No matter how good someone is or how holy you think both of you are, when we ask too much of it, we can cause harm to ourselves and others. No matter how good food is, too much of food can be harmful to you. Like healthy eating, healthy friendships require self-control and moderation.
I think when we are single we become obsessed with questions like how we are going to know our future husband or wife. Or how we have the friendships we need to get married one day. It’s not wrong to ask these questions but I think we need to see that an even more important question “How can I start being the kind of friend to the opposite sex that they need?” We need to take the focus off ourselves and look for ways to serve others around us.
We need friends not just those of same sex but both. We need the perspective, and the encouragement. Build friendships with opposite sex that are interested in growing in godliness. Discussing the most important aspects of our lives, what God is teaching us and doing in us and not just exchange flirty behaviors or mundane talks. It’s also important to be consistent. You shouldn’t show kindness only to those people you have romantic interest in, show kindness to all. Do you pray for them? Do you look for ways to encourage them in the walk of God?
Most of the times we mistake friendship with intimacy, and that’s why most guy-girl relationships go into romance. Friendship is about something other than two people in the relationship; intimacy is about each other. In a true friendship, something outside of the two friends brings them together, everyone is inclusive, not just two people, you involve friends and family in activities but as soon as the two people involved focus on the relationship, it’s moved beyond friendship. I’m not saying we should avoid intimacy. We shouldn’t, and intimacy is a great thing, but timing is key. If we aren’t ready for committing ourselves to someone, then there’s no point of intimacy.
In as much as we can have opposite sex friendships, we also need same sex friendships. Building strong friendships with other women has helped me grow in my love for God, and they keep me accountable. Those friendship provide something that no man could. It provides a unique form of encouragement and support. I am stating this because I’ve heard girls say I don’t get along with girls, so I only have boy friends. I see this as being myopic because after marriage it won’t be appropriate to have lots of close friends of the opposite sex and necessity of same-sex friendships will be more obvious. I just feel there’s a chance we’re lazy or selfish by avoiding relationships that would cause us to grow in character
We need to be very observant and discerning of friendships, especially with opposite sex. Like magnets, men and women are designed to attract to each other, but until we are ready to be committed, we need to avoid premature intimacy by respecting boundaries of boy-girl relationships and relating to others within the framework given by God’s word. Guided by this attitude, being ‘just friends’ can be just plain awesome.