Sunday, February 6, 2011

Treat Them As Brothers?

Editor's Note:
... Here's the result of a long 'think' and several lectures that I've given some friends - poor souls. I thank them, (and my Mum) for their support - and listening ear!

As we approach the ever ticklish question of girl/guy friendships, I would first like to say that these are only my human and fallible views and experiences - what works for me and my family very well may not work for you and yours. With that understanding I broach this topic.

Over the years I have been very blessed with many friends, both guys and gals - people who have dearly illustrated the principle that "Iron sharpens Iron." Even more specific to what we are discussing, I have many close guy friends - friends of the family that have been so much fun to be around -debating, jamming music and working with.

I would like to suggest that it is possible to have an entirely pure, open relationship with one of the male persuasion. It is also entirely possible to end up in a horrible sticky mess of a relationship. We've all seen that happen, so many times as a matter of fact that some are saying it is an impossibility. This I strongly disagree with - but how to have a true friendly relationship?
The most important advice I could possibly give is not my own, but a quote from C. S Lewis:
"Lovers stand face-to-face, Friends stand side by side"

Girls, there's a mother lode of advice in that statement.

Friends are looking ahead at the same thing. Be it a love of music and playing instruments, writing, religion, debating, singing, tailoring - it's an interest. When we're talking, we're discussing things, not people, not each other, not emotions.

So - we've decided to treat the young men in our life as brothers - but how do we practically go about it?

We define the relationship.

This is fairly self-explanatory, at least in principle. The best advice I can give is to be upfront and keep things as simple as possible. "Boy, it's really nice to have you as a friend - It's always nice to have Christian brothers to talk too." While you may be as committed as anyone to consider all young men as brothers, remember that some guys haven't had the opportunity to have a true sisterly relationship, and so some things needed to be stated upfront. So explaining clearly and early on that you do not view them as anything but a brother makes life easier for all involved.

When you are *not* looking at every young man you meet as a 'potential' it makes life so much easier - that's not to say that you'll never look at a guy as a potential, but that should be our goal. Seeing a guy as a brother - or maybe a cousin - means that you aren't going to be 'sizing him up' all the time, that you aren't going to over-analyze every word he says, that you aren't going to constantly be wondering 'what does he MEAN by that?' not going to be taking all of his teasing as 'serious'.

But it's more then words. It's actions. It's the way you think about him, the way you talk to him - as a loving sister you wouldn't want to hurt him or entangle his heart, would you? No, of course not. And I can truly say that the day I found out two of my closest guy friends were in a relationship, I was overjoyed - to the point of overwhelming people with the news.

From there on up it should be easy, but there's still a few things - even more 'down and at it' points I want to bring up. Remember that, as with anyone, guard the friendship. It's pretty simple -- if I could sum it up in one line:

"Talk about things, not people."

Girls, when we start talking about ourselves, we're just begging for trouble! Guys don't need to hear about how terrible you've felt today, or your emotional makeup - seriously. They don't think the same way as we do, and that is a good thing. Bcause of this, they can get very upset and you can end up entangling them in your emotions without even realizing it.

So, keep things in proper perspective. Just because it is alright to have male company doesn't mean that we should seek it out exclusively, nor does it mean that all guys are alright to spend time with. Just because I have friends who are guys doesn't mean that I talk to them that much - I don't. If I have a question or something specific in mind, but I personally stay away from chit-chat. In my personal experience, it's harder to keep the correct frame of mind when keeping an idle chit-chat going, and I cannot say that is wise. But that's off subject.

So let's be vigilant but not micromanaging - and enjoy our friendships! God brings people into our lives for a reason - let's build each other up.

Soles Deus Gloria!

~Miss Kate
PS: I would really like to hear other's opinions on this subject, as I AM very fallible, and I'm not a guy. :) Or a mother. :) ~KD


Anonymous said...

I was taught to keep friendships with girls as a brother and sister friendship. But sadly, I was never taught to define that to the girls before hand; I just expected them to know already. With friendships between guys, there is never any need to define friendships, they just simply exist. Out of ignorance, I expected my friendships with girls to work the same way. But some of them either slowly faded away to nothing or seemed normal one day and gone in to thin air the next. Not knowing what was wrong, I tried increasing communication and energy, hoping they wouldn’t stop being friends because I was keeping the friendship active and I also tried less communication and less energy, hoping they wouldn’t stop being friends because I wasn’t taking much of their time and still being fun and friendly. Neither way worked for long. I have lost friendships because of misunderstanding from not defining the friendships. In most cases, I think either the girl thought I liked her and she didn’t like that, or the girl liked me and didn’t like that I wasn’t telling her I liked her too. I hope defining the friendships with girls from now on as brother and sister friendships can help my current friendships survive, repair old ones, and make having new friendships easier. Thank you, Miss Kate.

Stephanie Ann said...

I agree with this. Too much pressure is put on dating when really people should be getting to know each other and enjoying each others' company.