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.
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.
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.