Friends of opposite gender


#1

Hey, I’m new to the forum and I was just wondering about something. I’m 17 and I strive to follow the teachings of Christ and His Church (not an easy thing, especially in high school!) Recently, I’ve been learning about dating, chastity and w/e and have been hearing advice saying that you shouldn’t have close friends of the opposite gender if you’re married or in a relationship or w/e. This troubles me because I’m a girl who has a lot of very close guy friends, as well as a wonderful boyfriend and I was wondering, do you have to give up friends of the opposite sex when you get married? I’m probably a bit young to be thinking about this, but it’s been on my mind for awhile.


#2

Good friends are good friends regardless of their gender. There is, however, a certain distance that must be established between men and women in their friendships. Certain lines cannot be crossed without creating issues that involve romantic entanglements.

Married men and women need to be mindful of these lines and must create hedges and fences around their relationships to protect themselves from all forms of infidelity whether they be in thought, word, or deed. Furthermore, we need to be sensitive to our spouses to avoid all situations that might stir a reasonable person to jealousy.

I am rapidly approaching senior citizenship and my wife and I have mutual friends and acquaintances. These people are both male and female. Neither of us is even remotely interested in any of our friends in a romantic fashion and we spend most of our time with one another. Watch your friends and acquaintances interact with one another. If you notice someone that seems to cross certain lines in your expectations, then distance yourself from them. This does not mean that you need to hurt their feelings or never speak to them. Your purpose is to protect yourself and those you love from entanglements that do harm.

I hope this helps.


#3

It’s probably a good thing that you think about such things - it shows concern for your boyfriend and your future marriage. Not sure if it’s right for your age, but reaching the couple years back with my memory, I think it is. :wink: According to Canon Law, you’d already be able to marry if your local civil laws allowed.

I can’t give you any official teaching that you wouldn’t already have read on your own, but I can tell you that there’s no command not to have close friends of the opposite sex. People say various things, but they base them on their personal experience, not to mention personal understanding of certain theological or moral intricacies. There are plenty of people who believe one shouldn’t have friends of the opposite gender if married, other than shared friends, or at least never meet up alone. There are people who say it totally doesn’t matter and the whole thing is morally neutral.

Personally, and I insist that this is my personal opinion only, I believe that it depends on the people involved. It depends on the friends and on the spouses (to be). For example, friends who hit on a married person aren’t acting like friends. I think such behaviour waives any “rights” to contact or care they might have. Similarly, if one’s attracted strongly to a person of the opposite sex, while we may sacrifice our lives for them, our spiritual, eternal life must take precedence. Risking a life for friendship is one thing, risking a soul is another.

People experience attraction in different ways. They will have different levels of resistance to this or that type of attraction. Circumstances will matter. Also, the road between feeling it and acting on it is different person from person. It is the individual’s responsibility, but while I wouldn’t like to be paranoid, I wouldn’t take any unjustified non-negligible risks.

Another concern is the non-sexual side of such friendships. Or rather the not-physically-expressedly-sexual one. :wink: The fact we don’t think we feel anything sexual doesn’t mean we really don’t. It wouldn’t be prudent to ignore empirically verifiable data such as how much time we spent with the friend, how it compares to the time spent with the husband (or boyfriend), how intense it is, what level of “sould kinship” is there.

I can tell you that if I had a girlfriend at the moment (and I don’t because I steel have feelings for my ex), I wouldn’t mind friends, but I think I might wonder about the reasons of her having more male friends than female. I would be understanding of such reasons as getting along better with males than females, or even paying more attention to have male friends out of a past despair or fear of not having enough guys to pick from, although I would be adamant about it being contained within the limits of friendship if she wants a relationship with me. However, I would certainly be worried if they were getting so much time and attention it would make me feel neglected. Certain signs of affection I might be uncomfortable with, depending on the scope of deviation from her normal levels of physical affection, same with flirting or sexuality-related remarks. Again, personalities are different so what’s alarming with one person is pretty much normal with another, but I’d be careful about crossing the lines. I would be worried from seeing my girlfriend have prolonged and continual problems with dealing with attraction to friends or sorting out what’s proper and what’s not, more than from any specific acts or expressions. If she talked about a friend being so nice, caring, standing up for her, nice to talk to, I would ask her if she didn’t feel something more to him and maybe even help her with that (even if it meant losing her). But things like this or that friend looking great, being hot, whatever… Sorry. It may be mental poverty on my part, but I wouldn’t take it. Don’t know about other guys, but I’m sure I’m not isolated on this. I would be similarly hurt and probably end the relationship if I saw friends take up boyfriend roles, even limited. Again, I don’t mean specific behaviours as much as the spirit. I can also tell you that my levels of tolerance would be affected by the levels of love I were feeling from the girl, levels of care, respect, attention. If she were a mature person dedicated to me and respecting me a lot, I would give her the benefit of doubt often without even thinking about things. I would be suspicious about having time for friends but not having any for me. I would be suspicious about favourite friends, and especially about new friends (I’m very tolerant about old friends, but I can be tense about new ones or strangers - e.g. I wouldn’t take well to a girlfriend slow-dancing with a stranger because he asked, while with a good friend she would normally have no second thoughts about throwing herself on the neck of, I doubt I’d care).


#4

Myself, as a guy, I would question my motives when sensing that my need for some female friend’s company were increasing, I would sometimes think twice about my ideas of going somewhere with a friend. Not to the point of being a paranoid obsessive-compulsive antisocial avoidant and girlfriend-dependant wet blanket, but more in the way of staying tuned and not feeding myself excuses. :wink: If you sense the need for excuses, something’s probably going wrong. Good things don’t typically need an excuse. If it isn’t manifestly wrong but still feels like you need an excuse, maybe it’s better to let go of the thought entirely for the sake of peace of mind, conscience and moderation. And prudence.

Note that in marriage the choice has been made permanently, so it’s different. There’s no question of the boyfriend or girlfriend not certainly being around in a couple of months or years. So long as friends are friends and immediate sexual temptation is not a problem, I would focus on making sure they don’t “steal” the time the one special man or woman should get. Or that they don’t act as replacements or makeshifts where it isn’t necessary (obviously not talking about helping a married friend drag a heavy object, for instance, or escorting her home).

Hope my long musings are at least a slight bit helpful and once again please keep in mind it’s just a personal opinion coming from a guy just a couple years older. :slight_smile: I’ll pray for you tonight. :slight_smile:


#5

I applaude you for thinking along these lines at such a young age, and think there are some great insites posted.

However, I think that when you find your future spouse it will just seem to be a natural transition to have more female than male friends. I too had many friends of both genders when I was growing up. I never tought twice about hanging out with a guy friend. When I met my spouse he became my closest and best friend. Many of my other friends drifted in their own direction. We were all still friends, but our priorities changed and we went our different ways.

Also, assuming you would start a family, I think it’s only natural to make more female friends who can relate to what you are physically going through. No disrespect to men intended, but there are certain things that you really don’t want to discuss with a man (other than your husband):wink:

Trust and follow God; really listen to what he tells you and it will all work out!


#6

That true…and we men don’t particularly want to hear about those things:thumbsup: .


#7

I have to agree with the poster who said you will naturally have more female friendships as you get older. I, too, had a lot of male friends in high school. (However, in my situation, that was a bad thing in regards to chasitity, but you are obviously in a very different place than I was.) I had a lot more in common with boys in high school than girls. I found most girls to be too petty and self-involved. Boys accepted me for who I was and didn’t try to change me (as long as we were just friends). By the time I got to college, it was much easier to find women with the same characteristics, and my friendships became more broad (men and women). Now, as a young mom, most of my friends are women. Actually, I can’t think of a man, other than my husband, who I would call a good friend. I just don’t have much in common with men my age any more.

MJ


#8

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