We fast and pray asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.
Have you ever mouthed the words “olive juice” to someone? The lip movement is the same as if you were saying “I love you!” I didn’t realize, but this is actually in the Urban Dictionary, the word is out! If you haven’t heard this before, you may stop reading now and try it out on someone (be careful who you choose) or watch yourself in a mirror.
I have come to use these two words, “olive juice,” to describe certain relationships. The kind where the actions and/or words of one party seem to be communicating more-than-friendship (I love you), but he/she doesn’t really mean or want anything more than an awkwardly defined friendship. Have you experienced this kind of relationship?
When does a male/female relationship cross the line to something more than friendship? What if the olive juice mouther is unaware of what his/her actions and words are communicating? Or what if he/she is aware, but likes the flirting game? Does the receiver call the olive juice mouther out and hold him/her accountable? Or should the receiver continue wondering and allow their heart strings to be yanked back and forth like a yo-yo until all is revealed?
The rules for how relationships move from friendship to dating have changed throughout the years. Today, there seems to be more time spent in the friendship zone than in years past, which lets more room for those “olive juice” moments to occur. I get it, relationships are risky business! Developing a friendship with someone is important, and the time in the friendship zone can give you valuable insight about the heart of a person before the butterfly feelings ramp up and cloud vision. Where it gets tricky and messy is when one party starts jumping across the friendship line without expressing their intentions or feelings.
I can only speak from the female perspective, but I desire for a man to be intentional and communicate his feelings without a veil of confusion and inconsistencies in actions and words. I know it can be scary to move a relationship from friendship to dating, it will change things, and there is always the possibility that she won’t return the feelings, but I think honesty and taking the risk are character building traits of godly men. As women, we play a role in this process too and here are a few thoughts for navigating these relationship waters.
- Keep our friendships with men God-honoring!
Until there is a verbalized and official transition to a dating relationship, this man is our brother in Christ (not that he stops being a brother when dating, but the allowances change). So as we relate to him as a brother, we don’t get physical or toy with emotions if we have no intent of this developing into more than a friendship. If we do develop feelings during the friendship, it’s okay to open the door and allow our interest to be known through the use of God-given femininely wiles or open conversation.
- We owe it to our brothers and sisters to protect hearts!
This “Olive Juice” stuff plays with the emotions and heart of another person. It’s really the opposite of true love, because it’s more concerned with the “I” in the relationship than the feelings of another person. Even in a friendship, there should be an element of sacrifice and concern for the other person. A good friendship should want to be honest and respectful of the other person’s heart. This means that we (girls) have a responsibility to make sure guys know when they are consistently sending mixed messages. It’s okay to ask what he means by such-and-such comment or text message or action.
I find that texting has opened a door to the ease of sending mixed messages. A little emoticon here or there, a flirty comment, or extended texting communication is at the touch of a finger without the added vulnerability and accountability of face-to-face conversation. If the bulk of our communication with a man is done by texting, this could be a problem. Phone calls are better than text-only conversations for keeping things real and accountable, but nothing replaces face-to-face honesty for seeing true intentions.
- Until he’s our husband, he could still one day be someone else’s husband.
Relationships are hard enough without having to deal with scars of the past. Not every dating relationship will lead to marriage, so it’s important to remember we take the good, bad, and ugly with us from one relationship to another. Song of Solomon warns throughout “Do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases.” I prefer not to be a scar someone carries with them, but an encouragement to be all God intends for his life. We also owe it to other women to not ruin guys for our own kicks, and most of all we have a responsibility to God to treat each other with respect.
Olive juice is used in dirty martinis; it’s the ingredient that makes them dirty. This may be stretching the analogy, but “olive juice” words and actions in relationships make them murky. Explore friendships with men, by all means, but let’s work to keep them free from ambiguity and misleading murkiness.
Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Song of Solomon 2:7 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the doves of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
We’re all in this together!