Sunday, February 12, 2006

she's not your girlfriend ... what is she?

She’s not your girlfriend. But she is your friend.

She’s not your mom. But she is your sister in Christ.

She’s not a seat-filler. She’s got her own seat to fill.

She’s not your best friend. You’ve already got one.

She’s not your conscience. You’ve got one of those, too.

She’s not your day planner. Your aunt gave you one of those for Christmas.

She’s not your Jeannie in a Bottle. She’s a vulnerable human being who makes mistakes and likes to feel appreciated.

She’s not a damsel-in-distress. She’s a young woman who out of necessity has become independent.

… Yet she longs for someone to lead,

someone with a plan,

someone who desires her,

someone who appreciates her,

someone to run life’s race with,

someone to help as Eve was created to be the helper,

someone who’s not always right but she’d still abide by his decisions because he is her leader,

someone who will drive her crazy with his bad habits and she will drive him crazy with hers but they will be used of God to sanctify each other,

someone who will show her how the Church ought to relate to Christ by treating her like Christ treats the Church,

someone … she needs.

She’s not your girlfriend … What is she?

If she’s your friend, be honest.

If she’s your sister in Christ, be upright and don’t take her for granted.

If you use her to fill that empty spot in your life while waiting for that special someone to come along, it’s not fair to her.

If you’ve been treating her like a best friend, it’s not her place to fill.

If you’ve been depending on her to be your conscience, she can’t. She struggles with her own.

If you expect her to fill your schedule, it’s a waste of your time and hers.

If you have treated her like a Jeannie in a Bottle, she is tired and worn and you need to set her free.

If you expect her to play the damsel-in-distress, SLAY THE DRAGON AND SWEEP HER OFF HER FEET!!!

(picture from this weekend's Babble of the Sexes: Lorie, Michael, Hayley, Christine)


José said...

Are you stating that a single man and a single woman cannot be real friends? What if they mutually agree to be nothing more than friends? (I mean of course, not in the same way that I would be friends with another guy, but nevertheless have a friendly relationship where we both know where we stand because boundaries, ground rules, whatever, have been set by the both of us.)

--Sorry, this is kind of "wordy"

Jason said...

Insightful as always. You've been such a catalyst for introspection over the last few months. Despite difficulties, I really appreciate the internal conflicts you've caused with your posts. I must always view women differently than I have before. I am so thankful that God has not finished with me or kicked me to the curb nor will He.

ckhnat said...

I think if you read it again, Jose, you'll find that I am not discrediting male/female friendships. What I am standing up against is "emotional prostitution", the rent-a-girlfriend/boyfriend mentality, virtual dating.

How many times has either a girl or guy expressed where they felt the relationship going (hopefully it was the guy who took the initiative) and both have agreed (perhaps one grudgingly) that friendship is all it will ever be?

Now it appears that they can be guilt-free. Even with boundaries set up (what kind of 'real' friendship is riddled with rules and boundaries anyway?!!), the guy or girl can feel free to spend as much time and do whatever they want (within the boundaries) with the other person, they ARE only friends, afterall.

However, that friendship is used to fill in the gap in their lives where they long to one day find that "special someone." I believe the "world" calls it "friends with benefits", only without the sexual connotation.

Girls SHOULD not be best friends with guys. They should have their own best girlfriend that can meet that need in her life. Girls SHOULD not mother guys, they have mothers, even if they are thousands of miles away. ... and so on ...

Neither of them are doing the other any favors as they seek to find their potential mate. Her mothering and scheduling and blinking (as in Jeannie) are all training the guy to sit back and enjoy the ride, bask in the attention, instead of getting up off of his sorry ....

instead of being a man, leading, caring for, planning, opening her doors, and carrying her heavy packages in a real relationship ... not this pseudo (i-don't-have-a-date-Friday-night-so-i'll-call-him/her) relationship.

You've told her or him that you don't want to be her/his boyfriend/girlfriend. Well, stop acting like you're dating.

Bobby said...

I have to say, even with your qualifying statement, I see where Jose is coming from.
Life involves pain; friendship involves pain. Some of these comments and qualifications seem to be designed to avoid all possibility of pain. For instance, this seems to be an implied statement: "If I hang out with a guy and we become great friends, (and even given that this is what we both want) in effect I am being used to fill a calendar. When he gets a girlfriend I'll be kicked to the curb and it will hurt."

This will, and does, happen all the time with same-sex friendships, too. You spend a lot of time together with, say, a "best" friend of the same sex. You do things together every Friday night. You call each other a lot. You stick up for each other in times of trouble. You counsel each other. THEN, all of a sudden your buddy is in a romantic relationship -- perhaps it even leads to marriage. The "standing date" on Fridays becomes more and more rare. And there is someone else that your buddy is now leaning on, confiding in. It hurts and you have to adjust. I've seen many same-sex friends go through this, and I've felt it myself in my own friendships. It's a part of life.

About "best friends." It's hard to know what you're going for there -- I have never had one, solitary, be-all-end-all best friend. Nor do I recommend anyone have one. If you do, not only have you elevated them to a position that belongs to a mate, you have elevated them to a position belonging only to God.

However, I have always, and now have, a small group of people, each of whom I call my "best friend." This includes guys and girls. Each one is special, each one fits key roles, and I love each one very much. A good friend who knows his/ her role will not hurt you when that special someone enters your life. A good friend, whether same-or-opposite sex, will actually help you.

On the other hand, both opposite and same-sex friendships can get in between you and your significant other and cause a TON of problems. Trust me, I know. I was married ten years, now I'm divorced -- I know the potential of friendship to help or to harm, to facilitate or to get in the way.

It's not that there isn't any wisdom in this post; it's just that the statements (as "how to find a mate" rulebooks and statements tend to be) are too dogmatic.

Laura said...

I think it might be safe to assume that Christine and I are picturing the same kind of relationship: one in which the desire for romance is coming entirely from one party. Or one in which one party has definite romantic feelings and the other is mired in confusion. Just because you've slapped the "just friends" label on a relationship doesn't mean you're free to spend every waking moment with a person of the opposite sex.

Michael and Hayley asserted (rightly, I think, judging from my own experience) that male-female friendships, by nature, cannot be as deep as friendships between two people of the same gender. There are certain things a man and a woman are just not designed to do for each other -- keeping each other accountable in the area of sexual purity, for instance, or mentoring each other.

That's not to say that I cannot have male friends, or that I must have only one female best friend. I have several close girlfriends, and a couple of guy friends with whom I'm not as close, but whom I would consider good friends.

Bobby, your point about growing distant from friends of either gender one of you gets married is valid and certainly worth stirring into this conversation.

I don't think the issue is pain avoidance, however, at least not as I understand it. It's an issue of investment. If all my close friends are men, then when I get married, Lord willing, and my husband says, "Listen, I don't want you to spend all that time with other men," I'm left without a support group.

The "best friends with your spouse" issue is one I think I'll let someone else tackle. Christine?

ckhnat said...

Perhaps the "best friends with your spouse" issue would be best expressed by a married individual. However, I believe it is an important issue to tackle while single: to have thought it through and develop a definite position.

Michael and Hayley discussed the topic a bit Friday night and have further defined their position in their chapter titled "Don't Marry You Best Friend Unless You're Gay" (the title is meant to be ironic). Everyone grew up throughout life having a different "best" friend throughout their life's different stages. Your Junior High "best" friend and you grew apart in High School when you started playing soccer and your friend became involved in student government. Your "best" friend did something terrible and you couldn't possibly forgive him/her, so, you are no longer "best" friends.

All those "best" friends you've lost, in a way, you've divorced. In terms of marriage being "best" friends, as we understand it today, just doesn't cut it. If you see yourselves going in different directions, that's not reason to nullify the marriage. If s/he did something "unforgiveable" ... that's not a reason to call it quits. Marriage is more than being "best friends". It is a life-time covenant broken only by death (not a reason to murder your spouse).

One's closest friend outside of the marriage, however, ought to be one of the same gender. Women need a woman companion to communicate to. Because we, women, are wired to multi-task and think of many things at once, communicating to a girlfriend who will listen and help us think through our desires, our fears, our dreams, our messes. We love to have someone to shop with, giggle with, etc. To do that with a man would be inappropriate and outside the role that he was created for.

Michael DiMarco states that men, often, appreciate mere presence as an A for participation in the friendship. You watch football games together barely saying a word to each other and as you leave you say, "Wow! That was great! Let's do it again some time." Whereas, if it had been women, and barely a word was said, ... "Great ... she hates me ... I wonder what I did or said to upset her."

ckhnat said...

Laura mentioned the "agreement of friendship" while one person may be desiring more. True. But I also think that if two people find themselves in a "friends with benefits" relationship, inevitably one person is not only going to view the other as not only a "seat-filler" but eventually that position will be filled in their heart while the other is merrily taking advantage of the other person to fulfill his/her emotional needs.

ckhnat said...

And you're correct, Bobby. These are rather sweeping statements. But the purpose is to get people to stop and think. Not to justify their actions in their relationships, but to analyze: are they doing the best for the other person. If so, super. But if readers realize that they have been selfish in their friendship with a person of the opposite sex and change that ... my mission in posting this has been fulfilled.

Jason said...

Everyone grew up throughout life having a different "best" friend throughout their life's different stages.

Really? I understand a lot of peoples' best friends change as they grow up or move, but two of my closest friends have been the same two guys since the 6th grade, even through college when each of us went a seperate direction. My parents seem to have been the same way. I never thought it was unusual to have the same best friend(s) for so long (but I'm not trying to disagree with author... it's just interesting to that their perspective is so different).

Eddie said...

Since we're speaking in sweeping generalities, guys that want girls to be close friends are one of the following:

afraid to ask the girl out 'officially'

secretly interested but afraid to express it

says 'just friends' is good enough but would instantly date the girl if she changed her mind

expressed interest but was shot down

too lazy or cheap to pursue a woman

doesn't know how to pursue a woman

likes having girlfriend companionship without the commitment

is gay

believes that men and women are exactly the same (and is woefully wrong)

has low confidence thinking he can't get someone better than the girl that doesn't want to date him

believes the lies of the feminist movement that men need to act more like women and women, well, are just fine

likes to use women for companionship until he finds his goddess, essentially keeping them off the market

Talk amongst yourselves...

The Once Dead Poet said...

Excellent post and discussion. I especially agree with what you said about ending "emotional prostitution."

Basically, it all boils down to our personal motives. It is just a plain fact that the majority of men, myself included, are incredibly selfish. This is especially true when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. Many times we look to our female friends as "emotional crutches,"--they are the friends we talk to when we are carrying any kind of emotional burden (guys can't/won't talk to other men about those things). We pour out our hearts to them in order to relieve the burden. At the same, not realizing our selfish motives, the woman is developing an emotional atachment of a different sort becasue they are seeing a side of us that others usually don't see. I think this can be a detriment in more ways than one. The first is the most obvious--the pain that generally occurs when the female realizes that they are nothing more than a crutch. The second works its way out in courtship and marriage--a lack of intimacy in the one-flesh realtionship in part because the male may still be pursuing other avenues of emotional relief (esp. keeping the old female friends)and also because, in those "crutch" relationships, the male never develops the capacity to listen, nor do they develop the ability to deal with problems other than their own. Deep, non-romantic, male-female relationships can be dangerous on so many different levels. I always advise people to check their motives in those kind of relatioships, and to err on the side of caution. And, like someone said earlier, "calling it what it is" doesn't always solve the problem. I also think that there is a big difference between considering (and treating) a woman as your sister in Christ and just considering (and treating) a woman as your friend. But, I've already taken up too much of your coment section.

G. F. McDowell said...

In my church, I have observed two things:
1. Single young women struggling with contentment re: being single.

2. These same single young women spurning, at times brutally, the overtures of fine young men. (no, not me)

Then they complain that nobody's interested in them. Who do they expect? Fabio? Orlando? That spineless twit Josh Hartnett?

Quote Eddie:
says 'just friends' is good enough but would instantly date the girl if she changed her mind

expressed interest but was shot down

Those are the two major reasons I've tried to do the idiotic "just friends" thing. They are weak reasons. Where I live emotionally is in not wanting to see whosoever has rejected me ever again.

Bobby said...

Wow. Some of you live on a different planet than I do. And Eddie is from another galaxy (although of course all of his assertions are true about certain percentages of guys, and facts that ride on the tail-coat of his assertions are true (i.e. "believes the lies of the feminist movement that men need to act more like women and women, well, are just fine").

Believe me, I know the dangers of opposite sex friendships. My ex's adulterous relationship was with an "old friend" of hers. But I also know, both from observation of others over the years and from the honest assessment of my own heart, that some of the things said here are simply wrong.

Others are simply common sense: of course marriage should be honored, and you shouldn't be taking day-trips to the outlets or going to the theater alone with a friend of the opposite sex. Of course a guy shouldn't lay all his emotional baggage out on one woman -- or only on women. And of course there are some deep things, like for instance, the example given about talks concerning sexual accountability, that should stay outside the realm of opposite sex friendships.

These and other boundary issues can be addressed and honored without resorting to "sweeping generalities" and statements that stem from having made poor choices for friends in the past, or from a belief that the particular sins or weaknesses in your own heart, or the self-defense mechanisms you have personally used (ex. "I'll go along with being friends till she changes her mind") are true of all people who enjoy the friendship of someone from the "other team."

ckhnat said...

Bobby, are you thinking that I, and others, am saying that men and women can't be friends? I think if you take a moment to meander through the post and comments you'll see that's not the case.

A relationship, however, in which two friends monopolize each other's time and company and emotions is false, self-destructive, and selfish.

Bobby said...

Christine: no. It's just that I am a Voice of Dissent. It's my curse to be argumentative. Especially on blogs.

But seriously, I do think it's always good to look at all sides of an equation.

And of course I agree with your last statement.

Eddie said...

Bobby said: And Eddie is from another galaxy

...and the name of that galaxy is called reality. A galaxy once inhabited by real men until an alien race of feminists relocated the men via holoship to a parallel galaxy called Sensitivia taking all but a remnant group of stragglers.

These stragglers resist both the reprogrammed males (now a shell of their former selves) and the legion of feminists shrieking "we will assimilate you!"

Anonymous said...

Eddie, "Sensitivia" sounds like a brand of feminine hygiene products.

Laura said...

Bobby, I appreciate your rowdiness and arguing another side, especially as it helps me to categorize your constant desire to develop alter egos.

ckhnat said...

Are you saying Eddie is really Bobby?

Eddie said...

Anonymous said...

Eddie, "Sensitivia" sounds like a brand of feminine hygiene products.

Maybe you've seen the Sensitivia commercials, women biking, swimming, & jogging all while neutering men... :)

Bobby said...

Eddie is not one of my characters.

Actually, I am one of his. He planted me in bloggerworld and at Sojourn long ago, just so things could come to a head on this blog and get interesting.

For those of you who have met me, I'm actually an actor named Ted.

Eddie said...

I not know Tedward.

Bobby said...

Don't deny it. The jig is up. I told you I needed more of a costume than just this hat. Dang it.

Jason said...

and you shouldn't be taking day-trips to the outlets or going to the theater alone with a friend of the opposite sex.

The outlets? Do you mean outlet malls, the bastion of good deals in small-town America?

And if you're seeing a movie with your friend, whether they be a he or a she, you're not alone, don't you see?

hink said...

i liked that. i have to mark that one.

Bobby said...

Jason, I actually meant live theater, not the movies. But I guess it's neither here nor there. And your logic is ... strangely compelling. Or not. 8-)

Jason said...

Live theater? Ya mean like the church Christmas play all them li'l kiddies do? Or maybe ye ain't from 'round deez parts, is ye?

Well, I gotta grab a bite to eat right quick an' skit on down to the Gap Outlet fer some city clothes.