Why Can't We Be Friends?

I don’t read the Christianity Today Women’s blog frequently, but the topic caught my eye the other day. It was a post from a resident director of a dorm at Cedarville University. She was talking about the need for Christian colleges to provide meaningful friendships between the sexes. She poses the question, “will Christian colleges teach men and women to be friends?” and suggests that believers need to begin thinking of “new paradigms” for friendship between men and women. I think Christian students need opportunities to mingle and meet the opposite sex—but not primarily for the purpose of meaningful friendships alone.

We grew up in a culture saturated by the “Friends” mentality. Every girl wanted a guy best friend that she could live with platonically. And if she was Christian she just wanted the guy best friend, minus the same living quarters. It was cool. It was fun. But someone always got a little to into the friendship, crossed the “friend” line, and had the DTR talk (define the relationship). And then, the blissful friendship was over, or at the very least, extremely awkward.

Why is that almost always the case?

Could it be that we were never designed to be best friends with the opposite sex outside of commitment? This culture of close friends of the opposite sex has done a lot of damage to how we view relationships. It has allowed familiarity without the commitment. Suddenly we can have all of the perks of a relationship (companionship, being known, emotional intimacy, good conversation), but no commitment. We are just being familiar.

I have no male friends besides my husband. There is no one else that I bear my soul to. Prior to marrying him (and meeting him), I had no male friends either. I had a lot of acquaintances and spent a lot of time hanging out in groups, but no one had my heart. And to be honest, it was that much easier to give away when the man who is now my husband began pursuing me.

I agree that we need to foster meaningful relationships among the sexes, but boundaries with the opposite sex should extend much farther than the mere physical. Our longing for meaningful friendship with the opposite sex is stemming from a longing to be known and understood—ultimately to be married. Don’t allow a man to know you and understand you if he will not promise to do so for a lifetime—or at least try and date you to figure out if that is what God wants for the both of you.

Does this mean that single women should never have guy friends? Not at all. It just means that a single woman’s meaningful relationships should come from female friendships. These are friendships that will last and encourage you in your pursuit of marriage and godliness. Friendships with guys in a group setting can be extremely fulfilling and safe for everyone involved. You can call me old fashioned, or even crazy. That is fine. But I can honestly tell you that I do not regret the fact that I had no friendships to sever when I married my husband. My close friendships were with women and they were only strengthened when I said, “I do.”

It might seem fun and exciting to have meaningful individual friendships right now, but it will only make life difficult when the man who is to be your best friend forever comes along. We were designed to be known, loved, and intimate with one man only—our husband. And we shouldn’t settle for anything less.

For more reading on this topic, read Candice Watter's book Get Married: What Women Can Do To Help It Happen. I just finished reading it and wish I would have had it when I was single!