Over the years I have, quite frankly, had very few healthy friendships with men. I’ve realized that this is a problem recently and have been attempting to fix that as best as I can. I know it’s important to have friends of both genders, and I quite enjoy the company of my Christian brothers, so it is something I’m actively working on.
I’ve run into some road bumps though, and I think I can explain why.
In some groups at my age, there seems to be this unspoken awkwardness surrounding guy/girl friendships. People like to question whether they’re a couple, which is reasonable, I suppose, but it tends to make everyone involved mildly self-conscious about the entire friendship. The main problems I see, however, aren’t with outsiders questioning the motives of the friends, but with the attitudes about duel-gender friendships themselves.
First off, a lot of women seem to have trouble with thinking that an afternoon coffee with a guy means he’s interested in some sort of romantic relationship. This, quite frankly, is stupid. I feel I can say it because I’ve been that woman in the past. It’s also a tad insulting to both the woman and the man involved because the assumption is then, “He could not possibly be interested in a friendship with me; he must only be interested in what I can give him.” I think it’s best to assume friendship unless intentions are stated as something other than friendship.
Now, on that note, guys: one of the reasons women have issues with this mindset is because of a horrid practice I like to call Sneak-Attack Dating. For the love of your integrity, if you want to take a woman out on a date, take her out on a date. If you are interested in a friendship, communicate that. But do not under any circumstances try to trick a woman into dating you using the guise of friendship. It’s completely dishonest and puts us in an incredibly awkward position. Just don’t do it. I understand it’s hard and scary and the possibility of rejection is a tough thing to handle. But, I feel pretty safe in saying that, even if the Lady of Your Dreams returns the sentiment, starting off the relationship with deception is never, ever the way to go.
I really think that these two factors cause awkwardness when it comes to making friends with the opposite sex…at least at my age. In my speculation, the guys who would rather stay friends are somewhat skittish when it comes to interacting with women because they’re afraid the women will think they’re interested in them romantically, which is probably somewhat true, but partially because of some other guy who Sneak Attacked them…it’s kind of a muddled mess, and I don’t really have much of a solution.
My conclusion may be totally wrong, but this is what I’ve observed thus far. If you have any other input, I’d like to hear it and discuss it. I’m trying to integrate friendships with people of both genders into my daily life because I do enjoy the company of and want the input of my brothers in Christ. I’m not totally sure of the least-awkward way of doing this, but I am trying.
Have you ever had issues with forming friendships with the opposite sex?