James and Hannah spent every Sunday talking after church, for hours at a time.
Both were single and enjoyed deep conversations about love, life, family, and their thoughts on the world.
This went on for months and Hannah started to develop feelings for James.
She was sure the feelings were reciprocal, after all, what guy would spend hours talking to a girl if he didn’t want to date her?
Well, sadly Hannah learned the hard way.
She became emotionally attached, when James was just talking to Hannah to pass the time.
Sure, he may have enjoyed her company, but he had absolutely no interest in pursuing her. And once Hannah learned the truth, she was heartbroken. As a consequence, their friendship fizzled away.
The story of Hannah and James isn’t unique. In fact, it happens at churches all across the country, as singles carelessly begin close and intimate friendships with a member of the opposite sex they have no intention of marrying.
One of the biggest lies many people choose to believe is the lie that guys and girls can become close and intimate friends.
But they can’t and here’s why.
To start, like the story of Hannah and James, usually one party becomes emotionally attached to the other and confusion breeds.
Even if both parties are both clear they are “just friends,” it usually happens that one party ends up developing feelings, after continuing to have multiple, weekly deep conversations together.
And let’s take it one step further — if an outside party witnesses a guy and girl in continuous close and intimate conversation — it sends the message that the two may have something going on.
In response, if an interested party wanted to date Hannah, he may be discouraged or uninterested, thinking she was already spoken for.
God designed men and women to have the desire to become one. A husband and wife yoked together in marriage is the closet example of how Christ loves His church.
But by having close intimate relationships with a member of the opposite sex without the intent of marriage, it actually discourages marriage. Many singles get the need for companionship “satisfied” by having a close member of the opposite sex as a friend.
“Let’s assume for the sake of argument that your intimate friendship is one of those rare jewels that is devoid of the potential for hurt or confusion. There’s another drawback to such friendships. They discourage marriage.
Men and women who are not called to long-term singleness and celibacy have a strong desire for companionship with a member of the opposite sex. This is good and right. As I’ve discussed before, Scripture seems to consider marriage (and children) to be a normal part of the progression toward biblical manhood and womanhood (see, among others, Genesis 1:27-28; 2:23-24; Matthew 24:38-41; Luke 20:34-36).
In the past, when both sexual immorality and intimate male-female friendships were much less accepted and less common in society, men and women moved more deliberately toward marriage earlier in life. By offering a taste of the companionship and interactions that make marriage so satisfying, with none of the accompanying commitments or responsibilities entailed in marriage, intimate friendships discourage the pursuit of the grown-up, God-intended outlet for marital desires — marriage.”
It’s not bad for men and women to interact with one another, but healthy boundaries must be set.
Singles should develop strong relationships with members of the same-sex for discipling and mentoring purposes. In addition, men and women should interact in groups vs. hanging out one on one. Accountability is key in helping relationships blossom and a community of believers can walk alongside a man and woman who are beginning a relationship.
After all, one of the best ways to tell if a person will make a good mate is watching them interact in a group. Are they flirtatious? Careless with words? Do they make inappropriate jokes? Are they rude to servers in restaurants? Are they easily angered and prone to bursts of outrage?
If it turns out God brings two souls together, spending time in community can help strengthen and develop a blooming relationship.
But if you see two members splitting off — when the man has no intention of pursuing the woman — that is a red flag! Boundaries are key and Christian adults must learn the importance and seriousness of maintaining healthy boundaries.
Do you think guys and girls can be close and intimate friends?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!