The other day at work we had a full out debate about a question people have been asking themselves for generations. Can boys & girls really be JUST friends? As in close friend, BFF type of relationship, with no other feelings involved?
I gotta say I've always been an advocate for opposite sex friendships. I can't think of a time in my life that I didn't have a male BFF. I just relate to guys - I like sports and beer and it's easy for me to transition into "one of the guys". For a girly girl, I feel like I'm pretty masculine as far as my emotions and outlooks on some things go.
With all that being said, when it came my turn to defend my position for YES there is such a place as JUST friends - I felt torn. I'm starting to think I've been wrong my whole life and it's not actually possible for men and women to be JUST friends on more than an acquaintance level. To be clear, I'm talking two completely single people. Not single girls being close to married/attached men or vice versa.
I've come to realize that I might have developed a slight issue with boundaries since I've been single. Actually before I was single. Maybe this happens to all of us (hopefully?) or maybe it's just me. But I am pretty dang good at blurring the lines of a friendship vs. more than friends situation - without actually managing to turn anything into an actual relationship. For the record, I don't think this is a positive thing AT ALL!! It creates messes, hurt feelings and sometimes even voids relationships. This has been on my heart so much lately, and I've spent some time reflecting on how I've ruined relationships.
Lots of variables come into play here, in my mind. And let's just have some real talk -
1. Ex-boyfriends of the serious nature. I'm not one who can be too chummy with my serious ex-boyfriends. There's just too much history and the dangerous enemy of nostalgia always sneaks in when you even entertain that idea. We broke up for good reasons, and let's not forget those. I have one who still loves me and one who hates my guts, but my feelings are firm on being friends with both of them. Not happening!
2. Ex-guys I've dated, term used loosely. Not talking on a serious level or for years. Whether it be off and on, or just a matter of months, or a handful of dates. These are tricky. I have a couple who I've kept in my back pocket for backup dates, but you know these things will never play out. These are guys you've been out with for the sole purpose of going on a date. You aren't REAL friends, but you don't really want to date them either.
3. Old friends. Then there's those guys that you've known since 1st grade. You're comfortable with them. You've probably kissed them a couple times throughout middle/high school and college. Maybe more. They are comfortable, they know your history, they get you. Oh, how comfortable makes it easy to open some doors that never need to be opened. And you can always say "we have always just been good friends". LIE.
If you are married or have been in a relationship for years, then you might turn your nose up at me, and this post. And that's fine. I remember very clearly having tunnel vision too when I didn't have to experience certain things. It's not your fault you haven't, and it's not a terrible thing that I have. I wish I was more innocent and hadn't made mistakes. But when I can look at the mistakes I've made and see a pattern and realize that I want to fix that problem, then that's progress.
I think it all comes down to healthy boundaries in relationships. Clearly, I don't know a lot about those, but I do know: I need positive male relationships in my life, and ones that I don't try to manipulate for my wants/needs. I need to work on being more intentional with my feelings and actions. I need to work on filling my heart more with God's love vs. seeking a man's attention. I need to mantra myself to death with not settling.
I read this and it really hit home with me. It brought tears to my eyes, even. Especially this:
How we treat men is how they are going to treat us back. Our actions speak volumes into a guy’s ear telling him exactly how we want to be treated. Flirting with every guy, or even just one guy, who you know is not the one for you is simply selfish. Some will say, “I just have a flirty personality.” I’m just going to be real here and say that notion is absolutely and totally ridiculous.
The truth hurts sometimes, and this is my truth. I'm 29 years old and it's time to stop playing games. I think I have a little self help to do in the boundaries department!