“Just Friends” — The Path to the Dreaded Friendationship

I could sense the intense level of confusion Sam was feeling as he uttered the words “I had no idea I was leading her on.”

A few days before, I asked Sam about a girl I had seen him spending time with. Sam shared she was “just a friend” and he wasn’t interested in her. I asked Sam if the girl knew that and he immediately responded with, “Well, she should, we’ve been friends for a while and I haven’t asked her out.” I shared with my sweet naïve friend that sometimes, that isn’t enough. I explained that sometimes when females have a close friendship with a man, they hold on to hope that the friendship will turn into something more. Sam adamantly said that wasn’t the case, then hesitantly, as if trying to convince himself, said “I’m sure I’ve made it clear I’m not interested.”

The desire to find a mate is obvious among singles. If two singles are spending a lot of time together, chances are, one of them wants more. So, how can you tell if you might be leading someone on? Here are some simple ways you can assess the situation:

  • If you are spending quality time alone together and have no intention of dating.
  • If you talk, text, or Facebook message the other person daily, or more than a couple times a week and have no intention of dating.
  • If you are continually being playful and flirtatious and have no intention of dating.
  • If you are keeping them around to fulfill your needs but secretly hope a better option comes along.
  • If you know the other person is interested in you and you are not establishing healthy boundaries to guard their heart.

Did you pick up on the common denominator there? “No intention of dating.”

One of the biggest reasons singles continue to find themselves in the predicament of entering into a friendationship is because their definition of friendship is not the same.

For women, friendship with the opposite sex is often defined as the foundation of a relationship. You’ve heard it before guys, we want to fall in love with our best friend. So, the way to do that is to become friends first. It should come as no surprise to you that she is sizing you up in friendship to see if you would be a good mate.

For men however, friendship with the opposite sex is defined very differently. Friendship with the opposite sex for a man usually means they have already put you in the friend zone. There are men who take their time to get to know a woman as a friend before making their intentions clear, but, as a wise friend of mine once said, “Men are horrible at hiding their interest.”

Alistair Begg says it best when he says “We should never assume that friendship is going to be more than friendship when it begins.” Unfortunately, I spent many years in a state of confusion and heartache because I didn’t quite understand this concept. You see, prior to hearing these words, I treated the opposite sex as “potential suitors,” instead of “brother’s in Christ.” I was lost, searching for love in all the wrong places and I hadn’t yet figured out that I needed to do some intense healing of my heart and abundant growth before my heart would be ready to receive a man’s love.

Somewhere along the path of searching for relational connections, we’ve skipped the part where God instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We’ve fast forwarded through genuinely caring for people to the part where we size them up to see if they can meet our needs. I have news for you singles, God created the opposite sex for more than just eye candy and intimate relationships. He created us to serve one another, to love one another, and to learn from one another.

One of the growing problems with single’s today is that instead of treating men and women as brother’s and sister’s in Christ, we are treating the opposite sex as future spouses. It’s not until we have marked them off the list of potential suitors and put them in the friend zone that we begin to treat them the way God intended all along. I believe this backwards approach to relationship building is the foundation of much of the hurt and pain driving singles to stay single longer. We need to figure out how to do friendship in a more healthy way.

 

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So how can you tell if you are in a healthy friendship versus an unhealthy friendship?

A healthy friendship is one that edifies us and encourages us toward spiritual growth. Think of a guy or girl you are friends with who you know you would never date. Maybe it’s because you’re not attracted to them or maybe there’s just an area in which you do not align. Whatever the reason, think about your friendship with them. Think about the boundaries and rules you have knowingly or unknowingly placed in that friendship. How much time do you spend together? What types of things do you discuss when you do see each other? The way you interact with that person you know you would never date are the same boundaries you should have in place with anyone of the opposite sex. The bottom line is, they are your brother and sister-in-Christ and until they become your significant other, you need to honor and respect them as your brother and sister-in-Christ.

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Be careful not to allow your emotional needs to be met by friendships with the opposite sex. God desires for you to seek intimacy with Him. He wants you to lean into His presence when you are feeling lonely. He wants to show you He is there.

So stear of the path to the dreaded friendationship, and if you need a reminder in the future, remember the following;

  • Get out of the habit of spending one on one time alone with the opposite sex.
  • Approach the opposite sex as your brother/sister-in-Christ not your potential suitor.
  • Make your intentions clear
  • If you are friends with someone and you think they may have feelings for you, have a conversation. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
  • If you have skid marks across your heart from where people have run over you in the past, it might be time to learn better boundaries.
  • Don’t let your heart run astray, guide it in the right direction.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome

Tall, dark and handsome. Many women would include these three adjectives on their wish list. Women often swoon over tall, dark and handsome celebrities, they visualize what the tall, dark and handsome fictional character in their latest romance novel really looks like, and they dream about the tall, dark and handsome man they expectantly long for.

Okay, so these three things won’t be on every woman’s wish list. But for most women, tall (read taller than me) is almost always on the list.

You may have read my recent article about weight being an instant disqualifier for most people, but it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a male friend (who is less than 6-feet-tall) that I realized this same bias is used to rule out great men from the pool of potential suitors, just because of their height.

Who was responsible for making these rules of attraction anyway? I mean, just because a guy is tall doesn’t mean he will make a great husband.

This article was originally posted on Single Matters. To read more, click here.

Should We Break Up?

“I had gotten used to living in the pit. Not only was I used to living there, but I started decorating. I painted the walls. I hung pictures. I made the pit a comfortable place to live.”

Feeling the trap of not knowing what else to do, she allowed herself to stay in the trenches of an unhealthy relationship. We exchanged stories of decisions made amid the emotional ups-and-downs of relationships past. We shared both laughter and sadness as we compared the similarities in our stories, and our conversation left us both asking why people stay in relationships they know are not healthy for them?

Her words helped shed light on just how much work we will put into maintaining a chaotic environment. When things are out of order, we try to create order. When we feel like we are losing our control, we grasp tighter trying to hold on. When our world starts to look disorganized and messy, we try to make it look more appealing. But sometimes, all of our attempts to organize the chaos are only a temporary solution, prolonging the inevitable.

Relationships, when not done right, can leave a wake of destruction. Internally, the aftermath of heartache, pain, tears, sadness, brokenness, insecurity, self-doubt and unanswered questions begin to decorate the walls of our reality.

For some, it’s easier to try to make the uncomfortable situation more comfortable. It’s easier to live in the chaos rather than face the unknown.

Have you found yourself in the messy pit of a relationship-gone-wrong? If so, here are three questions to ask yourself as you prayerfully consider what to do next:

Do I have a fear of being alone? 

What if I stay single forever?

Fear is one of the enemy’s most-used tactics. The devil knows he can fool many of us with his strategy of overloading us with anxiety and worry. We long to know what lies ahead. This fear of the unknown sometimes drives us to stay in a situation that makes us unhappy because the alternative is much more daunting.

I once heard the following quote: “We fear when we believe our enemies are greater than our God.” Every time we give in and allow fear to drive our decisions, the enemy does a victory lap. I can imagine him now, doing his ‘I-told-you-so’ dance as he says to God: See, I told You. I told You they would be too scared to do something different.

Every time you find yourself hesitant to take the next step, think back to that first day of school, or the first time you jumped into the pool to learn how to swim, or even the first time you rode a rollercoaster. Each foreign thing fills us with panic at first — but once you dive in, you figure out how it works and it is much easier the next time around.

Do I lack faith in the Lord’s provision over my life? 

I’m getting older, what if this is my only chance to have a family?

I am sad to report, I have had countless conversations with singles who believe they will never find love again if the unhappy relationship they are in ends. It breaks my heart every time I hear this.

God is not in the business of intentionally disappointing His children. There are times when He will intervene and change the direction of the course we are headed if it is destructive, but He desires only the best for our lives.

When we are faithful to the Lord’s direction, He WILL bless our faithfulness. There is no doubt about this. You can trust Him with your future. He knows the plans He has for your life. They are His plans. He desires for you to take His hand and follow His lead into this beautiful journey of life He has mapped out for you.

Do I feel broken, inadequate or unworthy of something better? 

But they know all my secrets; no one else will understand everything I’ve been through like they do.

Each relationship takes a little piece of us when we part ways. And the more we connect with someone emotionally, the harder it is to break ties. When we emotionally connect, we create a unique bond that leaves us feeling like no one else will understand or accept us.

For some of you, you’ve heard things like:

“No one will ever love you as much as I do.”

“No one will put up with everything you’ve put me through.”

“You’ll never find anyone as good as me.”

If that is the case, I am so sorry those words have been spoken over you. They are not true! You are a child of God who deserves to be loved, cherished and adored.

When we listen to those negative words, we start to believe they are true. Our self-worth minimizes and we feel unworthy of anything better. Can I tell you something? If you are in a relationship where you are hearing those things, you are worthy of so much more!

As you mediate on the words I’ve shared, I want to leave you with the very powerful words of a Marcus Belmore song, “Loved At All.”

I won your heart/And I let you fall/ And I left you there/ Wondering if you’d been loved at all.

God does not desire for you to live your life wondering if you’ve been loved at all. He loves you. Deeply. More than any human is capable of loving you … and He desires to see you happy.

(This article originally posted at www.SingleMatters.com under the title “Why Do People Stay In Unhealthy Relationships?”)

3 Things Every Single Should Consider

The combination of Whirleyball, Italian food and deep conversation made for a very entertaining Saturday night with friends. As I filled my stomach with Patrizio’s and conversed with a male friend about gender roles, my mind began to wander.

My friend referenced Genesis 3:16, and as I heard him say the words, “Your desire shall be for your husband,” my unfocused brain thought: There are so many singles here tonight; why aren’t any of them dating?

That question pops into my mind quite often. The more social gatherings I attend, the more I wonder how we as singles aren’t connecting. Are we too picky? Are we content in our singleness? Are we living selfish lives that are keeping us single longer?

We could ask many questions in an attempt to answer why we aren’t connecting, but I think the answer is quite simple: Men aren’t asking women out, and women aren’t saying yes when they are asked out.

Friendships are happening, groups are gathering, but connections aren’t being made. We’ve made dating far too complicated. The fear of rejection keeps some from pursuing, and the search for perfection keeps others from seeing the potential of those already in their lives. We are reaching outside of our own churches to date when there are plenty of singles all around us, and the excuse of not wanting to “ruin the friendship” is prolonging seasons of singleness.

Let’s set those things aside and look at the benefits of the simplicity of asking and responding.

This is an article I wrote for Single Matter’s Magazine, to view the entire article, follow this link – 3 Things Every Single Should Consider

Being Intentional And Dating With Purpose

Being a single Christian in today’s world continues to be increasingly difficult.

It hurts my heart every time I hear one of my single friends say, “I’m enjoying being single right now.” If we’re not careful, those words can be decrypted to mean “I’m enjoying my life of selfishness.” Part of the reason many people are choosing a life of singleness is because some singles ministries make being single fun and exciting. Commitment and intentionality are inadvertently being discouraged by increased opportunities to go on group dates and see members of the opposite sex without pursuit.

Another reason people are choosing a life of singleness is because of the difficulty, confusion and frustration that comes with dating.

When I had dinner with a married girlfriend in her late 30s, she asked about my current, non-existent dating life. I filled her in on some recent, very confusing behavior from a guy friend that was leaving me wondering if he was interested. As I shared, she responded by saying, “Hearing you share about the challenges you are having in your singleness makes me so glad I am married.”

In that moment I was also feeling very glad that she was married and didn’t share the same continued frustration I often feel. This is an article I wrote for Single Matters Magazine, to view the entire article, follow this link Being Intentional and Dating With Purpose