Are You “One of The Guys” or “The Girlfriend?”
Editor’s Note: Today post is by Kait Jones. She blogs at kaitrosejones.wordpress.com. It was so good for me to read. Through high school and college, I always saw myself as one of the guys, or the girlfriend. Learning how to be the in-between, the sister, the truly-a-friend, can be difficult but so important. – Lauren
I’ve always been a girl who found a lot of comfort and value in my friendships with the opposite sex. In high school, I thrived on the drama-free friendships that I found with boys. They were always more accepting of me and had lower expectations of how I should dress or act. I felt like I could be myself-in all my nerdy, goofy glory. However, I quickly found myself becoming “one of the guys.”
At first, this didn’t bother me at all, but soon I began to realize that I wanted them to see me as more than that. They knew the real me, and I just lived for the day that one of them would realize what a catch I was and pursue me.
I had met a boy while working at a camp over the summer in New York, just before my freshman year of college. Toward the end of the month, we found out we were both attending the same school in the fall, and I was excited to get to grow in my friendship with him, especially because I hardly knew anybody at the university. We ended up spending a lot of time together over the next two years, but during the entirety of that time, I saw him as nothing more than a friend. A lot of people thought we were dating or going to date, but I always ignored them in such disgust that they could ever think such a thing.
However, because I was in such denial about the potential of our friendship, I told him things I never told anyone else. We spent a lot of time just the two of us. And eventually, I began to see him as more than just one of my friends. It was a gradual thing. Starting with small acts of kindness on his part, such as bringing me flowers to apologize, cooking me dinner or just taking me out to cheer me up if I was upset. In retrospect, I realize that these things may be a bit much for a friendship, but at the time, it was pretty normal for ours.
When I told my best friend, Kelly, how my feelings were changing, she was quick to try and hold me accountable in my friendship with him. There were multiple occasions where he invited me over late at night to watch a movie just the two of us (which was not abnormal) and Kelly questioned it, but I was so wrapped up in all of it that I consciously ignored her warnings.
I had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never even been on a date – and the idea that a boy may have actually liked me and be pursuing my heart had me completely swept away. I saw so much potential for the future and just found myself living in a world that didn’t exist. In my mind, we were as good as dating, but he had never mentioned anything about having feelings for me or wanting to date me.
Then came the day where he excitedly told me he was dating a new girl. I was absolutely crushed. That whole summer, I spent my time plotting how they would break up. I tore her down and looked for any flaw in her that would turn him away. But nothing changed. They continued dating and mine and his friendship began to fall apart. I was angry with him and held a lot of bitterness toward him. None of this was really fair to him, because I’d never shared what feelings I had for him. I avoided him and spent so much time raging against him and trash talking him to my friends.
My relationship with Jesus was not good at all. I felt so ugly and unwanted, and I found myself openly disagreeing with the truth displayed in His word. I refused to believe that I was cherished or beautiful just because one guy didn’t want to date me. Oh, the lies we believe.
That winter, I got a phone call and told me he had exciting news to share. Later that evening he came over and shared that he was proposing to his girlfriend. I lost it. For the next couple weeks I was extremely depressed and very hurt that it seemed like he neither noticed nor cared because he was so caught up in his engagement.
Months later I finally realized how unhealthy all this anger I was harboring against him was. I found myself spending more and more time with alone with Jesus and found healing and encouragement from the Bible and my community.
Eventually, I worked up the nerve to talk to him about all of the anger and hurt I felt. To be honest, it was probably the toughest conversation I’ve had to this day, but it resulted in a lot of healing in our friendship. After some time, I forgave him for everything that had happened and stopped holding the guilt over him. We are still friends now, but the greatest thing that came from this whole mess of a friendship was that I finally began to learn what a healthy friendship with a boy could look like.
I used to think I could only be friends with guys if I was ‘one of them.’ I didn’t know how to be a woman amongst men and love them in the right way. I only saw the two extremes of being “one of the guys” and being “the girlfriend.” I never really understood how to be a sister.
We are asked to be brothers and sisters in Christ in the Bible, yet it seems so hard to have those relationships with healthy boundaries surrounding them.
I learned from my experience that there is nothing wrong with being friends with a guy. There are a few men that I am friends with that are like big brothers to me. I love them a ton and am so grateful for them. But, I’ve learned how to be more aware of how I interact with them in order to keep my heart and emotions in a good place. I don’t spend time one-on-one with them unless it is in a public place during normal hours. I also am more guarded in what I share with them about what is going on in my mind, my emotions, my past or my relationship with the Lord. I don’t risk becoming too vulnerable with them in order to protect myself from falling into the same trap I did before.
So ladies, I encourage you to be friends with men! They have a totally different take on things in life and it can be valuable to hear from them and learn from them. God created men to hold different roles: husband, Father and brothers. I urge you to learn what it means to be a sister to these men so that you can encourage them and love them in a way that is pleasing to God and beneficial for both parties involved. If this means placing boundaries on your friendships, then do it! It will benefit you both in the long run.
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