Are We Really Just Friends?
We’ve all felt awkward around the opposite sex before, “Are we just friends? Do they like me? Is it worth being friends with the opposite sex?” It’s easy to navigate friendships if you can start with this principle: the guys and girls in your life are your brothers and sisters. That is, until a conversation or commitment has taken the friendship to the next level. A very simple way of looking at it is that we are all family. Every single person in your life is either a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter to you, until you enter into a committed relationship with someone. At that point they become a significant other and the level of intimacy deepens. This is a gradual process. It is not something where one day they are your brother/sister and the next day they are your exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend. As the level of commitment changes, so does your relationship status and level of intimacy.
With the knowledge of everyone in your life being either, a mom/dad, sister/brother, or a daughter/son, it’s good to know which category the men and women in your life will fall under. Again, some of these relationships may change over time, and that’s okay. But take the time to understand your current relationships by asking yourself questions like:
What does the mothering or fathering role look like to me?
What does the sister or brother role look like to me?
What does the daughter or son role look like to me?
How are each of these roles different from one another as far as what you will receive from them?
Once you have determined what those relationships look like, it’s equally important to discover what your roles will be in each of these types of relationships. If you know that the guys around you are brothers, you won’t try to entice them for romantic attention - that’s not what a sister does. If you know that the ladies around you are your sisters, you’ll honor and protect them by being clear about your intentions.
Next, it’s important to understand and recognize that you are a man or a woman who has been created with needs. God did this on purpose so we would live in community with one another. Understanding your needs, knowing how to communicate them, and learning to get them met in healthy ways is an incredible tool to have on your belt and will make living in relationships much easier. So the next step is to figure out what you need from each of the relationships with members of the opposite sex. When you understand what you’re getting from each relationship, you can make sure it’s healthy, and doesn’t exploit or expose the relationship or either individual.
What do I need from the mothers and fathers in my life?
What do I need from the brothers and sisters in my life?
What do I need from a boyfriend, girlfriend, or future spouse? How is this different than my other relationships. (You don’t want to give away something that is meant for your spouse.)
Another factor to consider is the level of intimacy you have with the men and women in your life. Your level of intimacy cannot exceed the level of commitment or covenant you have within each relationship. The definition of intimacy is a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group. Intimacy is also defined as “in-to-me-you-see”. Intimacy means being vulnerable and letting someone know the real you, which is what we all long for - to be known. But, it is dangerous to a heart to be open and vulnerable without the protection of commitment. Very practically, this is how we guard our hearts (Prov 4:23).
With that being said, you might want to ask yourself:
Do I actually view them as sisters or brothers, or potential cuddle partners?
There is a vast difference between the two; lets take a look:
If you view him/her as a brother or a sister, you’ll:
Preserve who he/she is
Fight for his/her dreams
Champion who he/she is
Be in it for the “long-haul”
Ask, what strength can I bring to him/her?
Be a safe place
In short, you’ll do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, you’ll value him or her above yourself (Philippians 2:3).
If you view him/her as a “potential cuddle partners” you may find yourself::
Texting or talking to him/her when you’re lonely
Stalking his/her Facebook when you’re horny
Using him/her to get your needs met
Wanting the pleasure of “now”
Wondering what or how much you can take from him/her
Feeling devastated when he/she says “no” to you
Having selfish motivations
Feeling powerful, controlling, or manipulative in the relationship, like he/she is your prey
When it comes down to it, opposite sex friendships look like honesty, honor, protecting one another, communication, and knowing how to get your needs met in healthy ways. If you’re wondering, “Is this friendship healthy?” ask yourself, if I were to get married tomorrow, would I have to change this relationship? Could we still be friends? Is this relationship honoring to my future spouse, and theirs?
In doing this, you will become a man or woman that mothers and fathers will be proud of. Brothers and sisters will thank you for how you impacted their lives. Your future spouse will love you and your children will follow after in your footsteps.