friends, brothers, or potential threats? how to deal with the opposite gender

I am blessed to say that I have great friends that just happen to be guys. But for some reason, that seems to be an enigma in our Christian culture. How can you be friends with someone of the opposite gender? If you’re married, can you even have friends besides your spouse?

After doing research (I’ll post the links below), I’ve discovered there is so much controversy about whether we can truly be friends with members of the opposite gender. If you want to know more about what I think about the issue, here is one article I found that completely sums up my thoughts (I even bought the book that goes along with the article!).

The definition of the word “friend” has been diluted because of social media. I have a ton of male “friends” on my Facebook, but that doesn’t mean I would hang out with them. It just means, quite simply, that I’ve had some interaction with them in the past. According to the dictionary, a friend is someone to whom you have some sort of personal connection, someone who can support you, someone with whom you are on good terms, and someone of the same social group as you. I may have six-hundred-plus “friends” on Facebook, but, in light of those definitions, I’m only actually “friends” with about thirty of those people.

To have friendships with members of the opposite gender, we need to have clear boundaries, practice open communication, and be part of intentional community.

Have Boundaries

The key to any friendship is boundaries. Some Christians do not advocate being friends with members of the opposite gender is because of sexual temptation. You don’t want to fall into sin. You don’t want to be too attached. OK, great. Then, establish in your mind (and, if needed, out loud), that you won’t pursue a sexual relationship with anyone that is not your spouse.

If sexual temptation is a struggle for you, then you have to set strict boundaries with yourself. Be smart. Don’t sit alone with a guy in the car at two in the morning and talk about your past relationships. That has “trouble” written all over it. Before entering a friendship (and you have a choice to enter a friendship), decide how far you’re willing to go with someone who is not your spouse, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.

Have Open Communication

When my husband first asked me on a date, I was scared out of my mind. Typically, before him, boys would ask me to “hang out”, but they wouldn’t be clear of what that looked like. I would be wondering the whole time if they wanted a relationship with me or if they just wanted to be friends. I really liked Lenny, and I was kind of burnt out from all the “dating” (or not) I’d done, so I was very hesitant when he asked me to go to the movies alone with him. But he made his intentions clear: “I think you’re a really nice person, and I want to get to know you better.” And then we started our pre-relationship dating, going on a couple of dates alone.

Then, when I felt like we were going to pursue a relationship, I sat him down at the diner and explained my expectations for a relationship. Then we started our relationship. After three months of dating, Lenny told me he planned on asking me to marry him in a couple of months. Of course, we sat down over dinner at Houlihan’s and talked about what that would look like. Finally, when we got engaged, we prayed about when we would get married, and we talked about what we were willing to sacrifice in order to get married sooner. As I look back, the entire time, we were in constant communication. There was no assumption.

If you have a friend that seems to be pushing your boundaries, be clear. I know it’s hard and scary, but it is so much better than “ghosting” him. I know we’re all afraid of rejection, but honestly, it is worse to lose a really good friend than to have a really good friend simply say he doesn’t want a relationship with you.

Intentional Community

Community can help you stay accountable with these questionable friendships, but community can also help you find true friendship. We as humans have needs that others can fill. We don’t just have sexual needs (which, obviously, only one person can fill), but we also have emotional and mental needs. We need encouragement. We need a listening ear. We need accountability. We need wisdom. I am so thankful for the men who have poured into my life, who have encouraged me, who have taken the journey inside my head with me and have helped me process my thoughts, who have listened to me and have given me guidance about my next step.

If you are a Christian, you belong to the family of Christ. Your “guy friends” are actually your brothers. How would you treat your brother? Keep this in mind as you interact with all of your friends. If you are married and you have “couple friends”, think about your interaction with your brothers in Christ in light of your sisters in Christ. Would you want to let emotional attachment ruin your sister’s happiness?

So, yes, it is possible to have friends of the opposite gender. You simply need to establish clear boundaries, practice open communication, and be a part of intentional community.


Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash

The Billy Graham Rule: Should You Be Friends With Someone of the Opposite Sex?

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-christian-men-and-women-be-friends

https://www.gotquestions.org/married-friend-opposite-sex.html (musings from reading this, not actual information from it)

Relationships: Opposite Gender Friendship

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