Boundaries in Attraction

A few months ago I went out to coffee with 2 male colleagues. I bluntly asked, “Can men and women simply be friends?” They gave each other a sort of secret male eye contact and laughed. Then one said: “Sure, if the girl is ugly BUT if she’s attractive- NO!” I imagine that this post will seem a little archaic to a 2015 audience that read it, but it’s one that’s important.  Male and female friendships need to have boundaries when attraction is involved. I also think that churches can do a better job in guiding their young people on the importance of setting up boundaries, so that the dating age folks can understand what healthy and Godly friendships with boundaries look like.

Guys and girls are different. We think, act, and approach things differently. And when it comes to guy-girl friendships they can be a tricky topic, but it doesn't always have to be. Most of my friends are guys and it’s intriguing for me to observe them and see how they act. With a best friend your level of friendship becomes intimate. Intimate in the way that you tell them everything, your worries, your problems, your crushes, and your dating relationships. I would say that more often than not, one of the best friends will start to like the other. And when attraction kicks in, and if one acts on it, it can change the dynamic of the friendship because the other is suffering with a burning desire of liking the other.

Now, guy-girl best friendships don’t have to be complicated. I’m sure that there are loads that work, even if attraction is involved. But before writing this post I asked random people- Christian and non- if it’s necessary to have boundaries if one friend likes the other. And both males and females, who were honest and mature said yes. Boundaries will vary from person to person- situation to situation, but they are needed.

Some people I know won’t talk on the phone with a friend of the opposite sex after 10 PM at night; some won’t share a sleeping space with someone of the opposite sex even if there are two beds; some will only hang out with someone of the opposite sex in groups; and some fiancés will end hanging out at 11 PM at night.

Why the need for boundaries? Because any temptation can lead to a fall. Look at King David- sex changes everything. When people set boundaries it shows emotional, mental, and spiritual maturity.

But, I want to take it a little deeper. A friend said this to me a couple of months ago: “Chastity is more than physical. We must guard ourselves and be emotionally chaste as well.” When you allow yourself to become so open with someone, you open up to them about everything- life, dating, and problems- a bond of sorts starts forming. It’s not sexual, it’s emotional. They become what I call your "conversational crutch." I was loosely referring to this in last week’s post about friendship. You really see it and feel it if the bond is broken by ending the “best-friendship”, and you’re left feeling empty and divorced-like because you don’t have your conversational crutch. So, we must guard ourselves and put up boundaries of how deep we let our guy-girl friendship go. And, who we let our conversational crutches become. Perhaps it’s best that your only best friend of the opposite sex is your husband or wife.

We see that gender relationships were complicated in the Bible era as well.

After Christ's ascension, the Apostle Paul, along with many other apostles traveled to Asia Minor proclaiming the Good News. Many of the apostles in the 1st century church were women, one being St. Thecla, a beautiful woman from Iconium (Turkey). Anyways, she had a heart for the Lord but was becoming too dependent on Paul. He urged her to stay in Iconium, as her beauty would put her at risk with men. He eventually had to place a strong boundary on St. Thecla because she was becoming too dependent on him than God.  Whether there was attraction, that isn’t recorded. But, Paul was a man and Thecla was a beautiful woman. He was on a mission for Christ so he had to draw a line.

Boundaries are not silly but they are rooted in wisdom. If you examine God’s character in the Old Testament, we will find that He placed boundaries with the Israelites. He instituted them out of love, the way our parents gave us boundaries when we were growing up. God doesn’t want us in bondage to anything, but only to solely rely on Him, and boundaries are the most freeing thing. The Bible is a guidebook of love, which offers the most freeing way for people to live their lives. So, we must guard our hearts about who you let into it- “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23).”

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2: 11-12).

A lasting point, I think it’s important to communicate with a friend if you need to place a boundary. You don't have to go into deep detail but it is respectful AND mature to give a little explanation. And if they’re mature and a real friend they will understand. I also think it’s also wise to let someone know that you only see them as a friend- that is if you do- and if they tell you they like you, or you sense it. That way you're communicating up front.

Happy Friday & Kindly xx