Guys as Friends. Really.

Just a reminder:  we’re fasting and praying for marriages for those who want to be married, for courage for men to walk upright and into relationship, and for courage for us to be able to change where we need to change.

Last week was avoiding codependency in female friendships and this week is healthy friendships with guys.  Knowing my mixed results on this front, I decided to get some more opinions with a survey.  Granted, this survey has an extremely unrepresentative sample (ie: my three brothers), but here are some of the themes from our conversations.

  • It’s complicated.  Examples of healthy platonic friendships between single guys and girls are few.  One party usually ends up with hurt feelings and often the friendship is lost along the way.  Don’t assume that any particular friendship is free from that reality.
  • Let go of your expectations.  The survey sample agreed that girls tend to make assumptions and then go to extremes: either being angry/upset/surprised that he doesn’t ask her out, or being angry/upset/surprised when he does ask her out.  Although there is often plenty of fault to go around, it’s a helpful reminder that true friendships are not agenda-driven.  When we don’t have an end goal, we are free to relax, trust God, and let things unfold as they will.
  • Don’t keep score.  Often women divide and rank themselves based on who, in reality or perception, gets to hang out with the guys and who doesn’t.  Don’t let that kind of silliness interfere with your friendships with guys or girls.  Treat girl friends as sisters, not your competition.  And treat guy friends as brothers, not a means to an end.
  • Keep doors open for everyone in your life.  Instead of focusing on befriending guys with “potential,” keep your eyes open to the variety of folks God is putting in your path in this season of life.  Invest in and befriend and encourage with an eye toward God’s goodness and grace toward us.

Lastly, I am trying (half inspired by 1 Timothy 5:1) to build a habit of encouraging all the guys in my life, regardless of relationship status.  The other half of the inspiration was, of all things, online dating profiles.  I know this sounds ridiculous, but at one point I realized how encouraged I was by what some guys were writing about their hearts and lives.  So I decided to start telling them that, regardless of immediate attraction level and with no expectations.  After several good conversations, I decided maybe I should do the same thing in everyday life and not just with my single guy friends.  The results have been uniformly positive!

So whether that’s dad, brothers, friends, coworkers, friends’ boyfriends/husbands, or even awkward first dates, I want to be an encouragement.  Obviously that looks different in those relational contexts and I have much left to learn (probably the subject of another survey!), but I want to be a source of support, not destruction in any friendship.

As we fast tomorrow, let’s make a particular point to pray for our brothers, biological or spiritual.

In His Grace,

Amy

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7 Responses to Guys as Friends. Really.

  1. passionatelyknown says:

    awesome Jen! I can’t wait to check it out! 🙂

  2. Jen says:

    I appreciate the “keeping the doors open” comment. I’m so guilty – even just yesterday! – of only noticing guys with “potential”.

    Katie, I also have a blog with similar themes too! I think you can click on my name and it should pop up :).

  3. thank you! It’s so awesome to see others writing on this! I was so encouraged to find your blog! I apologize if this is cheesy to post a link here to my posts, but I’m so excited to see the Lord leading other girls this way too, It inspires me to keep moving on! http://katieschronicals.blogspot.com/search/label/Friendship I too have surveyed guys 🙂 Thanks for having the courage to pray! http://katieschronicals.blogspot.com/2011/01/of-mountains-and-passion.html

  4. Theresa says:

    Letting go of expectations is key.

  5. katy says:

    i have a related question — what do you do when you feel a friendship is developing into more?? sometimes guys are just friends, sometimes they arent and sometimes that changes….. how is that approached?

    • fast. pray. says:

      Always a tricky situation! There is certainly no one-size-fits-all answer for that, but I might offer these a few small snippets. To start, in the paraphrased words of my roommate: “Until he asks you out, it doesn’t matter what you think.”

      Second, if your hunch is correct about the friendship’s direction, I think it’s really important to let him lead and initiate the relationship-defining conversation when necessary. I think that’s key to healthy male/female interaction; as women, I think we so often just want to grab the reins and figure this out and get started!

      Lastly, I would also say that if he wants to spend time/conversation with you in friendship-deepening ways but hasn’t clarified / isn’t explicitly pursuing…well, that’s just not helpful at some point. I think eventually you have to be smart about your heart – and that might mean dialing back your interaction / friendship.

      Again, no easy answers…lots of prayer, lots of wise advice from mentors, etc. Hope that is helpful 🙂

  6. smvernalis says:

    Amy, awesome as always! So much wisdom in your young life! Thanks for these good words.

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