Not Alone: “Just Friends?”

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not alone5The dreaded phrase, “I think it would be better if we were just friends“, has been feared by teenagers for decades.  The fear that, after professing love for a girl, she’ll look at him and whip out this infamous line has kept many a boy from even suggesting that next step.

Though much could be written about the problems with that phrase, why it should not be loathed like it is, and why it is, in fact, so awful, the real question today is- is it possible?  Is it possible to be “just friends”?

From a girl’s point of view, it can be very hard to be “just friends” with a guy.  As long as the two of you are both single and do not have any significant others, being friends and hanging out together without the question “Does he like me?” floating in the air is practically impossible.  Ladies who do not have a boyfriend, but would like to, have a very hard time seeing guys as anything but potential boyfriends.  And, after all, if the guy is enjoyable enough to be friends with, why wouldn’t he be enjoyable to date?

The difficulty with this is that a girl and a guy could go see a movie together just as friends, but she could spend the whole time analyzing him with the thought “how would he be as a boyfriend” in her head.  When she does this, she gives off a different “vibe”- so to speak.  When she talks to him, looks at him, or touches him, the thought that it could all mean something more is lurking behind her every action, and the guy she’s with picks up on it.

So if, a couple weeks later, she decides he’s not the guy for her, he might have finally decided to ask her to take their relationship to the next level.  This situation eventually ends in confusion and subtle anger nine times out of ten- because he’s embarrassed that he told this girl he liked her, and angry that she made it seem like she did, and she has no idea why he thought he had a chance, since they had just been hanging out in a friendly way to begin with.

So- what’s a girl to do?  Is it possible to take precautions to ensure that the friendship line isn’t blurred, and thus avoid any awkward confrontations?  The answer to the question is yes- but not without hard work and sacrifice.

If a young lady knows that her male friend, is the kind of guy she’d like to have as a friend, but not as anything more, the very best thing she can do is make sure she does not go out of her way to spend time with him constantly.  If every time he calls to hang out she drops everything to be with him, that makes him feel like he’s the most important thing in her life- and thus holds an elevated position.

If she makes sure she’s always available in case he e-mails or texts, constantly checking to see if she’s heard something from him, the same impression- that she cares more about him than anything- will be given.  If when they hang out they flirt constantly, feelings that should not be created will inevitably surface, and the slightest and most innocent touch can easily be elevated to more than it was.

Even though she may enjoy his company- if she doesn’t want him to ask her out, she needs to make it clear that she does have other things to do.  This isn’t to say that she ignores every call and never does anything with him, but examining how much time she actually spends with him compared to all her other friends and family would help her discern if she needs to tone down the relationship a little.  If she does a careful job of being kind, but not flirty, fun but not inviting, it will be much easier for the guy to know where the relationship stands.

Remembering that people are very sensitive to touch is also important- if she touches his arm during a suspenseful movie scene, or pats his back while laughing at a joke, gestures which were simple and maybe even impulsive to her can be signals for her male friend, or could even lead him to create feelings that he did not have for her previously.

Ultimately, if ladies learn to guard their hearts, give up some of the fun but dangerous habits that could lead both them and their male friends to have feelings they cannot act on, and make sure that they remain firm in God, praying for guidance before acting impulsively, then being “just friends” can be both possible and enjoyable.

This topic is part of an ongoing series for single Catholic women entitled “Not Alone”, and hosted by Morgan and Jen at “Follow and Believe“.  I highly recommend that all readers check out what other young women have to say on this and past topics by following the link above.  My posts on the past topics can be found at my personal blog, “A Catholic Teen’s Perspective“.

Abigail C. Reimel

Abigail C. Reimel

Abigail C. Reimel is a budding Catholic author in love with her faith. Though her more immediate dreams include successfully completing college and securing an editing position, she ultimately hopes to live in a little beach house with her future family while writing books that present "the good, the true, and the beautiful" to the young adult generation in an exciting way. She has been published in the St. Austin Review and hopes to be published many more times in the future. She adores living by the ocean, but traded salty winds for mountain air to attend Christendom College, where she is majoring in English.

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6 thoughts on “Not Alone: “Just Friends?””

  1. Pingback: Not Alone: “Just Friends?” - CATHOLIC FEAST - Every day is a Celebration

  2. Avatar

    It seems to me that there is an equivalent term which is even more hopeless for the romantic-minded, which is “You’re like a brother/sister to me.”

    “And, after all, if the guy is enjoyable enough to be friends with, why wouldn’t he be enjoyable to date?”

    I’ve often wondered this myself, or at least did during that long stretch of life when my friends and I were all largely “perpetually single.”

    1. Avatar
      Abigail C. Reimel

      Yes- I agree. The “brother/sister” label- in my experience- is often employed by people as a way to continue enjoying an intimate relationship without having to take the next step. Between two people who are both only interested in friendship, this can be lovely, but if there’s any uncertainty on either side it can only be painful, and delay the much-needed distance from being created.
      Yes- it is easy to begin wondering that, but things change on so many levels when a relationship moves from friends to dating. Sometimes friends end up being an amazing pair, but sometimes they both discover things they do not like as much once they go deeper… It’s a fine line to cross, and takes wisdom to know when- or if- to cross it.
      God bless!

  3. Avatar
    Darren Anderton

    I think a large problem lies in American dating culture as well. If we ask, “What’s the difference between two who have feelings for each other going to a movie together as friends rather then as a date?”

    I would argue that there isn’t one. We date to get to know a person better and see how the feelings grow. Isn’t that exactly what this girl is doing by analyzing her friend while hanging out with him? The problem with the culture lies in the expectation of commitment, which the guy is guilty of in this scenario.

    I’ve never heard anyone in my generation (I’m 19) use the phrase “going steady” to describe their relationship with somebody. They would just say “we’re dating.” Removing the distinction between these two levels of commitment makes it very difficult for a young person to be as reserved as you recommended.

  4. Avatar

    I’m that lady that doesn’t realize what her body language portrays to a guy friend when I smile (to all my friends), strive to be consistently friendly (depends on situation), and listen to what they have to say (even if it’s boring, I act like it’s interesting by engaging in the conversation w/ “mhm/wow/ really!/interesting…” to not be rude, until after the situation is over. I have a guy friend who expects a ‘hello & goodbye’ hug every time I see him & it’s annoying..now I simply tell him that one hug is enough & he stops that day but the next time I see him, he tries again. I could never like him the way he wants me to..he’s simply NOT my type & no longer my friend, since he can’t find a way to respect my choices. An acquaintance guy friend of mine saw this and on another day, unexpectedly greeted me with a ‘hello’ hug and when the conversation was over, he gave me a ‘goodbye’ hug..this numbed me b/c we never hugged ever before & I hardly knew him, so I got the feeling that he watched my other guy friend & I hug twice on a particular day when I saw both guy friends..the acquaintance talking w/ my parents & the other talking with me. Now, when I see this new friend, I hold a book or fold my hands in front of me, & sometimes he gets the hint & other times he finds a way to hug anyways..I don’t understand this..what are his intentions?..why won’t he take a hint that I only hug guy friends that I really know. Yes, I am interested in this guy as more than a friend & analyze each situation, but am very cautious..there is always more than meets the eye. I’m not trying to brag, but 5 out of 6 of my guy friends (my current guy friends) have never taken me seriously when I tell them they will only be my friends & nothing more..that’s sad!..gosh how much I would rather have just supportive guy friends to hang out with (not personally but for friendship reasons)..I long for a connection with a guy at friendship level. My Dad’s convinced that I may never find a guy who will consider me only as a friend, b/c of my personality (& that’s all I’m sharing).

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