Friends

Because the weirdness that accompanies dating (not to mention dating-as-a-Christian) seems just about limitless, let’s talk about it some more, shall we?

Remember how I was saying that I think, for a Christian, the ultimate goal of dating is marriage? Okay, so I really think that, but there’s also a really strong sentiment–everywhere, but also within the Christian subculture–that a person should marry their best friend. I actually concur with that, maybe solely on the basis of my parents’ example of marriage, which I would just like to laud here as exemplary and for which I am extremely grateful. They met in college and got married right out of it, and even though, had I done the same (and I wanted to, believe me!), I don’t believe I would have had all the adventures I’ve had, I do think they’re “way” of getting together was just about ideal.

That, however, is not what happened to me, nor is it what has happened to a lot of people I know, and so now we have to figure things out from a slightly different angle. Or maybe a couple: namely the “marriage is the goal” angle and “with your best friend” angle. Sometimes it seems like, in process, those two things are about as incompatible as some of the people who might reach out to you on a dating website. Not to mention that by the this time, we’re all working this out through relational wounds and heart-ache which incline us toward or away from certain ways of putting ourselves forward for the chance at another one.

I don’t know about the women, but lots of guys say in their profiles that they want to make friends first, and I applaud that, but I also want to know what that means, and sometimes I think it means semantics. My own profile mentions friends first, so any one of the following questions could just as easily be reversed and addressed to me, but they’re still questions I have, and I address the gentlemen because it is you whose profiles I read and am curious about:

1. At the very least I think it means you’re trying not to settle too immediately on one person before fully assessing your options and the relevant situations. I am fine with this, because I do the same thing myself, although I still think the whole process is for the birds.

2. Does this mean you’re trying really hard not to have “impure thoughts” (never mind actions), so you are relegating your lady friends to somewhat genderless status as much as possible? Years ago I had a friend who became a Christian as a young adult, but she had been a young adult for a little while before that, so when she started dating again, it was really hard for her and her boyfriend to figure out what to do together that was chaste, because she was so used to sex being the primary recreational activity. This really is a challenge. If friends first means, “We have to keep our distance in order to keep our purity,” I applaud it, but I still think there’s got to be some sort of balance and it still brings me to question 3, which is:

3. If question 2, how and what makes you suddenly switch modes so you can suddenly see your “friend” as both a companion and a lover? I think you have to see her in that capacity at some point before proposing to her, for example. (Note that I said see. I’m not talking about acting upon this realisation out of order.) I’m sure this can happen. It’s just . . . after I graduated from college, I moved to Nannyville to become a nanny and I was part of an interchurch young adults’ group. We hung out together and had parties and outings and went dancing and everything and it was great, but everybody was just everybody’s friend. Those of us who did get married, mostly got married to people outside of the group, and the rest of us could probably have married each other . . . and mostly still could, frankly, but we didn’t and we won’t, and I think it’s less because we were and are all so ineligible as that we got stuck in our “just friends” boxes.

4. If you are making “friends first” and you don’t want to “date multiple people,” does this mean you’re not going to meet any of these “friends” you are making until you’ve decided to date one of them? You’re just going to email them until . . . I dunno, you get sick of most of them, or they get sick of waiting around to meet you and drop off your correspondence list and the last one standing is the one you decide to meet/date? Or can you somehow meet these people without dating them? And don’t you think that’s kind of semantics?

5. Or is it? Does friends first mean you go to coffee and a museum with at least a foot between you at all times, and dating mean after the third get-together you might kiss her?

6. Or maybe, friends first simply means you are trying to get to know people without Marriage necessarily on the horizon, and dating means you’re trying to get to know them with it there. But in either case then we’re back to the same question we started with, which is–how are we supposed to conduct ourselves in all this–with these different understandings and different expectations and different standards? And one Lord?

2 thoughts on “Friends

  1. With all those questions, I’d vote for dating first, then friends, as long as dating doesn’t necessarily have to mean holding hands, making out, etc. Marriage should be on a possible horizon–it’s just more realistic and if “friends first” excludes that, it’s just weird. Pretending marriage isn’t a possibility leads to awkwardness or the death of the possibility, as you say.

    I think one problem is that for lots of folks think dating necessarily involves the physical and sometimes the possibility of marriage. Should be the other way around. Maybe “friendship first” means you want to develop a friendship that could lead to marriage but you want to hold off on the makeouts until the relationship is established in other ways.

    • Oh, TheBro. You are so wise. That must be why you’re married already. 😉

      That sounds facetious, but I really mean it–I think you’re right on. At least–I think that’s what it should mean.

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