Can Guys and Girls Be "Just Friends"?
It’s a picturesque fall afternoon. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her from across the park. He notices what she has and realizes he has to have it. He immediately stops what he’s doing and sheepishly approaches. She sees him coming and begins to lock her eyes with his. As he nervously steps into the sandbox, he musters up the courage and asks: “Can I play with you?”
What happened to the sandbox experience? Do you remember those times when guys and girls had no expectations of each others’ company other than the possible risk of getting cooties (which we all knew you could easily wipe off)?
Somewhere between recess and freshman orientation we’ve turned the innocence of coed relationships into this intensely awkward samba of mixed feelings and sexual frustrations. One of the biggest beliefs that society has (especially since coming to college) is that guys and girls cannot just be friends.
Apparently, guys have this innate desire to pursue every girl they meet, and girls can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with a guy because they said “hi” to them. The only thing is that God didn’t design us to live in this tension. He created men and women uniquely — each with distinctive dispositions, perceptions of the world, and social realities. Girls like to eat spaghetti on Venus, while guys like to eat the occasional waffle on Mars (I think that’s how the phrase goes… or whatever).
We were meant to grow and learn from each other in a harmonious relationship. However, because this concept has been severely warped, it affects how we see ourselves—as objects that have to be admired by the opposite sex rather than fully understanding what we can contribute to a healthy co-ed relationship. So how can we get back to where God intended for us to be?
No romantic relationship is just randomly created. Whether you want to believe it or not, somebody either did something, said something, or acted in a way that gave the other person a green light to pursue. I’ve seen too many people on one side confused and the other heart-broken because his words claimed “just friends”, but her text message inbox inferred otherwise.
People, especially but not exclusively guys, have this habit of putting themselves in relationship-like situations with no intention of pursuing. Maybe this rings a bell — have you every invited a guy or girl to “just watch a movie” with you alone? How about going on a “simple walk”? Maybe multiple study sessions when it’s just the two of you, or even texting late into the night every night? Unfortunately, we are all guilty of these actions in some shape or form. The worst part is we act so clueless when the other person acts on those perceived pursuit signals! We don’t want to take ownership of the situations we place ourselves in. And if you find yourself in that situation, don’t think “I’m not ready for commitment” is your get out of jail free card. Take ownership and be real.
When we allow someone who we have no intention of pursuing become an emotional crutch, or dare I say, pseudo boyfriend or girlfriend, we are being deceitful and setting ourselves up for failure. Let’s face it. College students are notorious for using their friends as substitute boyfriend or girlfriend. You might know them as your “favorite cuddle buddy” or maybe even “best friend.”
Understand Unique Perspectives
I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible community of guys and girls while at school. The best part is, I truly value my friends that are girls. In my quest for finding my Topanga (Boy Meets World), I have said and done some really stupid things. It’s not enough that I am a guy, which means I’m genetically disposed to Foot-In-Mouth Disease, but I haven’t had a lot of dating experience.
If it weren’t for the unique perspectives of my female friends, I would not be the guy I am today. Their advice on not just dating but life in general has been invaluable. Their encouragement to me and my encouragement to them isn’t flirting. It’s a genuine respect and mutual love. We both learn and grow from each other.
You see, our human nature only gives us one vantage point. Having the opportunity to see through another’s perspective is incredibly beneficial! Through that benefit we have a better understanding of what our friends of the opposite gender go through. I have had some incredibly deep talks with these girls and didn’t feel that I had to instantly pursue and marry them!
I have a hard time thinking that God created beings that were supposed to coexist in tension. When God made man and woman, he made them perfectly in his image. If we start viewing the pursuit of coed relationships as an act of worship, we will begin to restore the true intention of God’s desire for male and female relationships.
Even Jesus had female friends he had no intention of pursuing. I know we like to imagine Jesus and his disciples rolling around being holy bros while racing camels and whatever else they did back then, but in the Bible we see he deeply cared for Martha and Mary. In one account, he went out of his way to visit them, and another he showed great remorse when he saw them hurting because their brother Lazarus had died.
Like a lot of things, society has warped what God has intended to be pure. Especially in our young adult years, we are told that members of the opposite sex are more like objects rather than individuals. Guy or girl, don’t let anyone tell you that the opposite sex doesn’t deserve to be treated with the utmost respect!
Now in these co-ed friendships, we have to understand there has to be boundaries. As young adults, the level of accountability and the information we share should be a lot different than our same-sex friendships. Even more so, those relationships have to change when our friends or ourselves get into romantic relationships. I could say so much more about this, but that topic alone could be its own blog!
Knowing Your Worth
The only way we can truly allow ourselves to just be friends with the opposite sex is if we are confident in who we are. I’m not talking about confidence that comes from wearing your favorite outfit (I know we all that that one sweater that makes us feel like we’re invincible), but I’m talking about the confidence that comes from knowing that our identity isn’t dependent on other people.
When we rely on others to fulfill our self-worth, guy or girl, we use whomever we can find to attempt to fill that void. This always results in using our friends in a negative way. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend may be nice, but it won’t complete you! When we stop looking at every person of the opposite sex as a potential Mr. or Mrs. _______________ , we are giving ourselves the freedom to explore, create, and utilize the benefits of a healthy co-ed friendship without having the pressure of trying to impress that person.
Isn’t that what friendship is? The ability to jam out to One Direction in your car without fear of persecution, or attempting to talk in a Jamaican accent all day long — just to be your goofy self? If who you are is enough for God, then it’s sure good enough for others.
You should be loved in your friendships.
You should be valued in your friendships.
You should be considered beautiful in your friendships.
Nii Abrahams is a Senior communication major/sociology minor at Missouri State University. He is a student leader and extremely involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. He has a passion for college students and quickly fell in love with the Insecurely Movement because of its incredible impact on future families. To connect with Nii, follow him on Twitter.