Friendship is a powerful thing that we too often take for granted.
I know from experience that friends can be a huge influence in your life for good or for bad. They can spur you on for Christ or drag you down to sin. They can offer you encouragement or end up betraying you. They can bring you excitement or bring you devastation.
Friends are important – and we need to choose them wisely.
But one thing we often miss when choosing our friends is the advantages of having solid, healthy friendships with members of the opposite gender.
Most of us have our own same-gender friends we relate to so naturally, but all too many of us are missing the other half of friendship that God has in store for us.
From the beginning, God designed the male-female relationship with the potential to be the deepest relationship between two people. We were designed to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses, all the while having enough in common to relate with one another perfectly. We were designed to help each other and to be there for each other, in ways others could not.
But in today’s culture, this type of relationship has really been under constant attack. Teens are encouraged to couple-up at lightning speed; now high school, and even middle school, are romanticized beyond belief! Culture tells us that this is how things are supposed to be.
It says, “Forget friendship when you can have romance!”
But what I’ve found is that being “just friends” with members of the opposite gender is actually much more fulfilling and meaningful then most people would think.
This is something God’s been teaching me more and more over these past 12 months – and today, I’d like to share with you some of the really eye-opening things I’ve been learning from it.
You see, a little more than a year ago, I met someone (a member of the opposite gender) who I’ve since been privileged to get to know very well. But since neither of us believed in high school dating, we decided to simply remain close friends and help encourage each other in our own spiritual walks with the Lord.
It wasn’t the conventional way of going about relationships, but we felt it would be the best thing for us.
And what we found was something unbelievable: non-romantic friendships with the opposite gender can actually be some of the most fulfilling, refreshing, and long-lasting friendships you’ll ever have.
You see, during this year of our friendship, we’ve both been through quite a few good and bad times, and through it all, we were always able to be there for each other, encourage each other, listen to each other, and help each other when it was most needed.
And yet at the same time, because we weren’t romantically involved, we didn’t have to deal with all the many potential problems that come with modern-day romantic relationships. We were true friends and a genuine brother and sister in Christ. Even now, more than a year later, we’re still great friends, helping and encouraging each other in life’s circumstances.
And I have to say, it’s the best friendship I’ve ever had!
So, here’s what I learned during this past year: don’t be so quick to rush into a romantic relationship.
Oftentimes you can experience some of the best relationships you’ll ever have in simple, God-honoring, close friendship.
This is especially true for high school and middle school. Don’t add the drama of a fast-paced romantic relationship when in doing so, you’re missing out on one of the greatest gifts God’s given to mankind: close friendship.
This is my challenge for you today: stop worrying about romance and making sure you have that perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. Stop searching desperately to find “the one” in every person you meet. Stop jumping from one short-term romance to the next.
Instead, start turning your focus to God, and take a step back from it all.
I challenge you to invest in long-lasting friendships with the kinds of people who will encourage you in your relationship with Jesus, and stick with you in tough times.
Invest in friendships with both genders, so you can more fully grow in the single most important and impactful relationship of your life: the one with Jesus Christ.
Not only high school and middle school, but elementary school too. 🙁 Many of my high school friends who once said they didn’t want to date until they were out of high school, or ready to get married, now have significant others. I was feeling kind of alone so I’m glad you posted this! I have several guy friends–some in middle school, some in high school and some in college–that I enjoy hanging out with.
Besides, high school is hard enough without throwing in a romantic relationship! Being just friends with the opposite gender is pretty awesome.
👍👍 excellent article!!!!
Thanks Josh. Appreciate your enthusiastic response!
Yes! I have a few guy friends and it’s been a great blessing. You’re right – it seems like so much of high school drama could be avoided if people didn’t rush into boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. It’s really not healthy, and it ruins the potential for a great friendship.
Yes–observing a teammate who broke up with her boyfriend last weekend makes me want to agree with my dad and not date until I’m thirty lol. They were “together” for two weeks, and then he did something that she perceived as an attack against her and told him they were done. She was genuinely heartbroken and was up all night crying for a few days. I have enough problems in my life already haha, I don’t want to be constantly worrying about having a “boyfriend.”
This is ON POINT.
THANK YOU!!! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this!!! I have a guy friend of whom I am best friends with, (fairly close) but not attracted to at all. And this post sums it up. Neither of us “like” the other, we simply want to be friends. I love love love how you wrote this. God bless!
Thanks so much for your encouraging response, Melissa.
I’d also like to add that truly, it doesn’t matter if the guy and the girl are attracted to each other or not. If they aren’t, then of course there’s nothing stopping them from encouraging each other and being there for each other as close friends.
And if they are, then it also has the potential to provide a great foundation for a very healthy marriage – because it’s based off of mutual friendship, and not largely on feelings or romantic attraction.
And I totally agree with you! I’ve seen that happen with other friends of mine, and even my own parents were best friends before they engaged in a more romantic relationship. 🙂
Trent, you nailed it! That was awesome, and super encouraging. Thank you! 🙂
I definitely agree. I have a guy cousin who is my age, and he is one of my best friends. I’m really glad that I have a great friendship with him, since I know a lot of people who don’t have that with their brothers/cousins.
That’s really cool, Amelia! I am super close with one of my guy cousins, and like everyone I know thinks that’s weird. but its seriously one of the most encouraging friendships I’m in rn!
Yeah, I know what you mean! In today’s day and age having good relationships with family isn’t a priority. But I’m so glad it is something God has blessed me with.
Same. Its truly a gift.
SAME!!!! My sisters and I call him our brusin (brother+cousin). He has been one of my best friends for years. Unfortunately the church that we had both attended dissolved, and I haven’t seen him in months. But he was the one to teach me that guy friendships are not only possible, but very rewarding!!! Thank you Will!!!
Brusin… I like it. 😀
😀 Me too. It suits him somehow…..even if he’s not overly crazy about it. 😀
I am everything my siblings ain’t
Great article Trent! I love how you wrote this… it’s so amazing to be able to have friendships with the opposite gender without rushing in a romance. I have 5 brothers so I have several close guy friends that have been a great influence on me and me on them.
I’ve had friendships with girls in the past. They failed when they thought I was crazy. Currentlly everyone I thought truly cared has backed off of me except one who is still hanging in there. I’m the runner about everyone at school seems to know me because of my character. : ) A few people care though. I wish she was not so busy though. When one person cares about me I get clingy. She knows that. So i’ve been trying not to. She gave me the benifit of the doubt and i’m trying to be the person that her ex was not. The close friend who supports her and wants the best for her and prays she makes the right decisions. So all my friendships with girls except one have died. She is dear to me. I think it is good i keep from being involved with her life and emotionally hurting her. She does not like her body. I don’t like my mind. To me that kind has created something that is special to me.
I’m sorry that your friendships with girls have failed in the past 🙁 I’ve also had friendships with guys fail before. I hope that you can keep the one friendship you do have. Just remember that Jesus is always the Friend who is closer than a brother and is the One who will always be there for you.
Sometimes I have a hard time not getting upset at God for him not letting me have the heart to go ahead and commit suiicde.
I’m sorry you’re upset with God but you shouldn’t be upset at God for making you the way you are. God is the one who gets to decide the day you die, not you.
Evan White: Philippians 1:21-26 “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ–which is far better–but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.”
Thanks trent! This was a very amazing article that really put things into perspective. I have several very good “gal” friends that are strong in their faith and have been an amazing influence on my life. It is really awesome to have good friends when you are going through middle school and high school.
Thanks Trent for another amazing and inspiring article! I thoroughly enjoyed it and good luck on getting your book published! I hope to see it in stores soon! 😉 Thanks again!
Thanks! I’m excited to see what God does with the book after its release!
hi. So … this is so true what you say. well….. I found it good for a guy to have multiple female friends and a girl to have multiple male friends if possible. I am autistic and people with autism deal with obsessiveness sometimes. I choose to have multiple female friends. I am the cross country and track guy that everyone in school seems to know. I can say I may be. I’m about to turn 19 and will be graduating very soon so a relationship has always been a bad idea because of the age gap. Now that I am 19 every girl except one has been bailing out on me, that gal’s the one who is closest to me. Whenever i’m with her which is not as much because she has a lot on her hands right now, I feel abnormally happy. She knows about my past. So i’ve done my best to show i’m different. I told her that she ment a lot to me and if someone tried to hurt her that person would suffer pain…
One of my family members has autism as well. So, I can sort of see where you’re coming from here.
To me, it sounds like this close friend of yours is very important to you. I have someone like that in my life as well (the one I mentioned in the article) – a friend I really “clicked” with, who means the world to me.
My advice for you would be to take things slow, and not to rush into conclusions or rash actions. Be wise, and strongly consider each of the different possibilities. Be ready for her to bail out. Also be ready for her to want a deeper relationship. Lastly, be ready for her to just want to continue with this same close friendship relationship. I don’t know your situation as well as you do, so of course take my advice as you will.
I guess it all comes down to one thing: use your obsessive nature to become obsessed with wisdom & pursuing God .
While I do not have autism, I also have a slightly obsessive nature. (I can relate to wanting to make sure my friend is safe, even if I have to resort to brute force to defend her. That’s just natural instinct).
So, whatever becoming obsessed with wisdom and pursuing God means to you, I say go for that! If you truly do become obsessed with God, and his way, that will be evident to those around you – and the positive effects of it will overflow onto your relationships.
I hope this helps!
Thanks. : )
Good post Trent. The biggest push back is not so much with your underlying thesis, but rather the difficulty in remaining just friends. It is often easy to rationalize the “just friends” when really one of the two is thinking or trying to make it into something more.
So: not disagreeing with the point, but rather with the corollary that some might takeaway from the post!
Hey Christos! You make an excellent point.
If you read carefully, you’ll actually see that I never said that these close friendships could not turn into something more, later on (in fact, I’m close friends with a girl now, and we do plan on becoming more then friends after high school.) My point was less so “not being interested in more”, but was on choosing to “just be friends” for now, instead of pursuing a romantic relationship from the get-go.
At the same time, I was also explaining that non-romantic guy/girl friendships can be some of the most fulfilling out there. This does not necessitate romantic interest, but also doesn’t exclude it, either. So, truly, there’s nothing wrong with one or both of the people having feelings for each other.
But as far as the difficulty of remaining “just friends”, I totally agree with you that it’s not easy! There were a couple times when I as tempted to forget close friendship because casual dating just seemed so much easier!
But that doesn’t make it impossible. We’re still close friends because the two of us feel that’s the most beneficial to building our relationship on a solid foundation, and not mainly on feelings of attraction or the pleasure of romance.
I hope that helps answer your concern. 🙂
Well, I must say I was glad to read your comment, because if I understood it well I’m pretty much in the same situation as you are – and do not really know how to deal with it.
I became very close friends with a guy and then we realized that we had feelings for each other. However we decided it wasn’t yet the right moment to start a romantic relationship because of the years of study that are ahead of us, so we chose to stay “just friends” until the right moment came.
I think it is a good decision, but my parents are sure that it isn’t possible to really stay “just friends” when both know they have feelings for each other. And even though I do not totally agree with them, I still wonder how different from a romantic relationship this kind of “friendship” is, then we are building it together – just like any couple.
I don’t know if you see my point, I’m sorry if it is a little confused, English isn’t my first language, and I’m myself quite confused ^^
I never would have guessed English wasn’t your first language. Your written English comes across very fluent and well-written. So, don’t feel bad! =)
So, I can see how difficult it can be for you and your friend, since your parents don’t seem to be on your side here. It’s especially hard to maintain a lifestyle above the normal when you don’t have the wisdom of your parents to rely on.
I would say, be wise and don’t buck under pressure from your parents or your friends to start a romance in high school. While it’s not sinful, it can do serious harm to your relationship, and cloud your judgement – which opens the door to other problems.
I also want to affirm your decision here: what you and your friend are doing is very smart and extremely wise. By putting off romance for now, you’re opening up the door to building your relationship more on mutual support then temporary romantic pleasure. This is such a HUGE benefit to your future relationship, because if you do end up getting married, this will be the key to a healthy marriage.
Another great benefit of waiting for romance, is you’re both learning two very important skills: patience and self-control. These are also important parts in any healthy relationship – especially marriage.
Now, to answer your question, in my mind, this is the difference between a normal casual dating relationship, and a Close Friendship…
In dating , the main focus tends to be on getting to know each other, while simultaneously being romantic in atmosphere and in actions.
In Close Friendship You take a long time to get to know each other (at least a year), first, before you pursue anything more then friendship. If, after that time, you both know each other well enough to think you would be a good fit together, than you pursue a deeper relationship where you become more intentional about knowing the specifics of each other’s lives. You’d be searching for the answers that would be important to know before deciding on whether or not you should get married (i.e. views on raising kids, politics, standard of living, money, etc). It’s then that you would ask the questions that just wouldn’t be practical to ask in a normal friendship.
I am following this system here, instead of your typical system of dating. Not that dating is sinful by any means! But I just want to set myself up for as much a chance of a healthy marriage as possible, and of course, would welcome anyone else wanting to do the same. That means following a different system then the world, or even what typical Christian does.
So, I would say, “Hang in there, Mary!” and “It’s not impossible – it’s well worth waiting.”
I would also say, when my book gets published, I’d be willing to get you a free copy, if you’d like one (you would just have to remind me, because I’m very forgetful). I feel like it would help you see more detail about this system of relationships, and hopefully answer more of your questions.
Until that time, though, I hope I answered your question. If not, though, please feel welcome to let me know!
Thank you for your answer and your encouragements, it really helps! As for the book, I really look forward to reading it 🙂
I totally agree with you, and I’m quite sure dating isn’t the right thing for us now, but my parents actually agree to that. Their point isn’t that we should be in a romantic relationship, but that we just should stop seeing each other until we’re ready to go farther (that will probably be around a few years) – and then start a friendship again, to see if there still is “something” between us. They think that we’re in a very complicated situation leading to nothing and totally useless, and that right now we simply cannot be just friends.
My dad told me that as a man, he was sure my friend didn’t understand the situation as I did, and that the way I saw all of this (as a “special time” where things just had to stay as they were without moving to any romantic involvement, but still really worth being lived) really was a “girl way” of thinking, and that a guy in love just can’t stop pursuing the girl in a way or another, even if it means staying “just friends” for a while (so he would do it kind of as a necessary “obstacle” he has to overcome in order to get me). I don’t want him to act in a way or another because of me, I don’t want to play with him, and I really want him to be free from me, even if it means losing him. However before I talked with my dad I had never seen things that way. I really feel like we have a good communication and we don’t avoid the awkward subjects, and we both really do our best to keep our relationship healthy and in the strict limits of friendship. I must say I’m quite disturbed by the perspective of him seeing the whole situation in a very different way than I do, and if he still is trying to analyze what I do or say in order to see what how I see him, and to elaborate plans to make me like him more, then it must hurt him and I do not wish to be part of it.
I don’t know if you see my point, but if you do then I would just like to ask you as a guy if you think it is possible that he isn’t going through all of this in the way my dad thinks he is, and – because I realize I certainly cannot read into his mind and do not want to take the risk to hurt him – how I could help him not to focus on me through this time.
I still have to say that I have a really good relationship with my parents, and that my dad is for me a very great example of wisdom and integrity. That’s also a reason why his remarks really affect me, and I don’t feel good to just don’t care of what he thinks.
Thanks a lot 🙂
Your situation is starting to make much more sense to me now! To answer your question, to be honest, it could go either way. Yes it is possible that your friend is not thinking the same way as your father thinks he is. It’s also possible that he is. So it could go either way. Consider these two different, real life, examples…
A friend of mine met a guy who had feelings for her. When he told her, she responded that she had feelings for him too, but she didn’t feel romance in high school was a wise thing to do. He agreed, and they continued being friends. Since then, he has been pressuring her to start a relationship now (in high school), and she’s not interested. Now she’s in a tough spot.
Example #2 (the one from the article)
A little more then two years ago, I met a girl, and we became friends. A few months later, we did have some great discussions about our relationship, and agreed that marriage was a *possibility* in the future, but we would remain close friends in high school, regardless of what we decide to pursue afterwards. Since then, we’ve done what we can to be transparent to each other, in our post- high school plans, taking each other’s views and opinions into account.
What’s the difference between these two stories? Well, there are a few differences:
1. In my friend’s story, she was the only one pushing the “just friends” idea, while he said he agreed. In my story, we both are communicating over and over again, and welcomed the other person’s questions or concerns at any (reasonable) time.
2. In my friend’s story, the guy was not being the leader. In my story, I was being the leader (the first one to start bringing the status of the relationship up). When the guy is just passive and agrees to everything the girl says, usually there’s something wrong. Either he’s (1) hiding something, (2) is being lazy, or (3) has an unhealthy home life, that’s made him more compliant then he should be.
So, truly, it could go either way – I don’t know your situation. The only way, in my opinion, to know for sure, is a large amount of healthy communication . Talk about it, see what he says. Listen to what he says, and don’t interrupt! Try to understand what you each believe, and why. Odds are, it’s at least slightly different. But if you communicate, at least you’ll know. And, it’s also possible, that one or both of you may alter your views because the other person’s views make a little more sense.
The key is communication – lot’s of it.
I hope that helps!
Your answer is really helpful, thank you! I’m really grateful that you took the time for it.
Your examples are really well chosen, and I can actually relate to both of them in a certain way. I’m glad I found your comment and was lead to post my question. Even though you do not know the situation, you gave me food for thought, thanks!
Finally got around to reading this. 😉
LOVED this so much @thetrentblake:disqus !! While I don’t necessarily disagree with “high school dating” (I definitely think it’s possible to have a God-honoring relationship in HS), I fully agree with your underlying point of the value of godly friendships with the opposite gender.
Having grown up with brothers only, I often gravitate and find I need those male friendships at times more than female. Yet not many people nowadays can understand that it IS possible to be “just friends”. I struggle often because I spend a lot of time with guys and my association is often mistaken for interest, flirting (which if I’m coming off this way I should reevaluate my actions), seeking attention, or that the guys I associate most I MUST have a crush on.
This isn’t my heart at ALL, but in a society where romance is rushed it’s a precious thing to find a friend of the opposite gender who can genuinely just be a friend. It’s SO important and valuable to have relationships like that! I praise God for the ones I have in my life.
Anyway, thanks so much for writing this and I also just want to say thank you for being such a great friend of mine. =)
This is soooooooo awesome! It is so true to, about middle school. High school can sometimes be OK. But in middle school? Dating relationships don’t usually last more than two-maybe-three weeks. There are exceptions of course but still.
God spoke me through it! Thank you so much 🙂
I read your book (in Spanish) and it’s changing my life. I think everybody has to read Do Hard Things (haz cosas difíciles) but I know a lot of young people who hates reading so, I think…. Why can’t/don’t we do a good film about it? Maybe God will speaks with this generation whit a Film…
I’m sorry for my English, I’m Argentinian :/
God bless you 😀
Thanks for the encouragement! And, though I’d love to take credit for Do Hard Things, it’s not my book! Haha. That would be @BrettHarris:disqus you would want to thank for that masterpiece!
Hope you have an amazing week my friend!