Monday, July 21, 2014

An Age Old Question

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! 


Cassie said...

jon and i started out as just friends in high school. that lasted about six months.... lol.

Fran @ Sassy Southern Bride said...

I have a very close male friend, which a lot of people find odd as I am now married. We've been friends for 10+ years and email almost daily. I think what keeps it from being weird for my husband is that he is much older than I am (29 yrs), and is like a father figure to me. Aside from him, I don't really have friends that are straight men.

P!nky said...

I was like, when I was in HS and college and completely thought guys/girls could just be friends. But, then the hs relationship got weird and then the college relationship got weird and it was weird.

It's tricky, because there's always that lil 'maybe' out there, I think.

I completely advocate being more intentional. I went through my flirty, flirty, kissy stage when i was 25 and thought it was the best. But now, looking back, I just see wasted kisses, that I can't take back and that should have been saved for my husband.

Call me cliche or old fashioned, but man, getting older really brings perspective.

<3 to you!

Amanda aka Manda said...

It definitely is tricky. I had a best guy friend in high school that I am still friends with to this day, but I will admit at one point or another we did like each other, just always at the wrong time.

Anonymous said...

I have two guys that I would consider best friends. We were friends when we were single and nothing ever progressed (they aren't my type and vice versa). Both of them have girlfriends now, but I've been friends with both of these guys for 6+ years. Through relationships, through being single, etc. Nothing more than friendship has ever happened.

LB @ Table For One said...

This situation is tricky I agree and I'm not sure if the question will every really "get answered" haha. best friend is a guy. We started out dating, quickly realized it wasn't going to work and now here we are six years later. He is married and I was his wife's Maid of Honor in their wedding. I spend slightly more time with him than I do with his wife, but she has now become my best friend as well. Many people find it odd (especially if they know the whole story) but for us it works. I would fall apart without that friendship!

Kerry @ Till Then Smile Often said...

It is really hard because I do think at one point one or the other develops feelings and it makes it complicated.

Kristen said...

honestly, I think it comes down to the people. I have never met a guy that I could be friends with - that sounds weird. I think guys and girls can be friends, I just tend to gravitate towards girls. I dont have any guy friends, unless you count my friends husbands.

Tracy said...

I agree with you my friend!! It's hard to find a positive male relationship without getting into the muddy waters of us women looking too far into it and men giving us mixed signals - although I agree with you that a positive male relationship is GREAT, I would say maybe someone from church would be a great start!

I was just sent this last week that I think goes perfectly! One friend looked into this and said men need to be more intentional which I do agree with, BUT - I see this where us women need to guard our hearts and not assume and read into every.little.thing. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). If a woman feels her heart longing for a man who's not pursuing her, indulging those feelings is unwise.
Song of Songs puts it this way, "Do not awaken love before it so desires." As a generation of women drunk on chick flicks, we want romance to happen so badly we allow ourselves to fantasize about relationships that have no founding. It's a great read!!

Jill @ Bluegrass Belle said...

LOVE this post and love your quote at the end. Being older and wiser definitely changes perspective. Above all else, I think of this - "friends are people you share things with." I don't want to be in a situation where I'm "sharing" things with a male friend that I wouldn't share with my husband (or about my husband), or vice versa. Saying "we're work friends" or something like that is a little different, I think, because chances are you aren't going to call that person up on the weekend to hang out.

chantal marie said...

I have two best guy friends from middle school. There have been points where all of us were single and some times one single and one not. We are BEST friends and we have never kissed/hooked up or had any kind of romantic relationship. I think its only possible with old friends, but it has been possible for me.

Brianne said...

I've been staring at this post for 2 days not sure how I want to respond because after reading it I don't know how I really stand on the situation. A large part of me wants to say what I always say "Guys & girls can be just friends...I have plenty of guy friends to prove that!" but then there is the tiny part of me that knows that with at least a few of those friendships one or both of us has had feelings for the other one either at the same time or at different times. Most of those few though nothing has every happened...although with a couple...friendship lines have definitely been crossed.

Amy @ Living n Learning said...

I think I agree with you, two completely single people of the opposite sex cannot be just friends because it eventually will lead to someone developing feelings or blurring the lines of the friendship/more than friends boundaries. I know I've said I'm just friends with a guy when really I want to be more than friends. But shame on him for taking the step into blurring those boundary lines without really wanting to take it to a more than friends relationship. And I'll admit, I've done it too. Sometimes (a lot of the time) it's hard to be the single gal when you're out with a group and you know that you're the only one, or one of a few. That's when I let my guard down and start blurring the lines when I know if the situation were different I wouldn't.

And I love that quote about how we treat men. I'm going to read the rest of it now!

Janna Renee said...

I think guys and girls can be just friends as long as there are safe boundaries, but the only one I know I'm safe for sure without a doubt, is my gay friend, haha.