Define the relationship … as friends
When I was in college I lived in a Catholic boy’s house for the men in my ministry on campus. We not only lived as roommates who shared the faith, but we truly sought to live in a purposeful community. We had a rule of life for our home which included prayer, service and communion. Our campus ministry didn’t have a Newman Center, so the house actually functioned as one. After my first year at home, and after two and a half years of existing family, our landlady was generous enough to build a new house next door for the women of our campus ministry.
With these two families side by side and a small chapel in the middle connected to the boy’s basement, we had a real community that went between the men and women in the two houses. We met every day, dined together, and shared the welcoming duties of all social events in our campus ministry. Over the next few years, many of the women who lived in the house became really great friends and very good friends with the men I was roommate with. We have had many adventures together and have all been able to thrive in our individual personalities. This freedom was born because we were all confident and confident in the nature of our friendships.
Our culture today has a friendship crisis. We are often led to believe that men and women cannot be friends, or that to maintain a friendship we must also accept the gray area that often derives from it. You see, sometimes our attractions get in the way. Who would have imagined that when a man and a woman get along well, have common interests and want to get to know each other better, they might just find themselves attracted to each other? However, in our culture today, we believe we need to act on these attractions as soon as we get them. We appreciate the other person and we certainly appreciate their friendship; yet we are probably afraid of ruining it if we find ourselves attracted to them. Sometimes we fear that the other person is going through this and we don’t know how to deal with it. Attractions may not even be involved, but we may just be cautious and fear vulnerability with another person. How can all these things happen in friendship? This is natural. It is normal for us to have these attractions. But having attractions doesn’t mean we’re obligated to act accordingly. This is another trap many of us can fall into. It can seem like there are so many gray areas in our friendships. In order to find freedom in friendships with the opposite sex, we must first re-establish our understanding of friendship.
In his book “Love and Responsibility”, Pope John Paul II defines friendship as consisting of two people committed to each other’s good. It’s that simple! Within this, however, there is a certain level of commitment to this good. Both people must strive for this good, and this means that friendship is a two-way street. We must equally commit ourselves to doing what is best for each other and to be proactive in this. Getting along with someone, enjoying their presence and sympathizing with them are necessary, but they don’t necessarily mean friendship. We must see that a true friendship seeks to do what is best for each other and engages in this, even if we have to sacrifice our desires and attractions. Pope John Paul also teaches that friendship is good in itself. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that friendship is where the virtue of chastity is found, and indeed where a school of love is cultivated and cultivated. Friendship seeks to protect each other from use and seeks their ultimate good.
So what do we do when we truly crave friendship but are perhaps lost and confused in the gray area of communication problems? Here are some steps you can take to ensure that we and our friends can live in the freedom of who we are.
- Decide how we want the relationship to be
It is very easy for attraction to develop quickly when starting a friendship with someone of the opposite sex. Just because we’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean we have to shoot for a romantic relationship with him. We need to understand what we want to do. When entering a romantic relationship is an open and uninhibited door, well that’s a different story. Guys, ask her out. Ladies, be encouraged to show signs and hints, and also tell him you’re interested if he needs an extra boost. As we said, friendship is a two-way street, which means intentionality goes both ways, and if both men and women act this way it shows the other person that we value them and theirs. friendship. But if we recognize our attraction but really want the level of friendship we are cultivating, it takes us to the next step.
- Have a conversation that establishes the relationship as a friendship
This step is the key to experiencing freedom in our friendships with the opposite sex.Whether it’s a super in-depth conversation or a brief clarification, communicating the desire for friendship determines the relationship. This takes away the pressures of dating and attraction and all the gray area that can come if we allow our attractions to overwhelm us. It allows us to trust that the other person is truly seeking our good and that we are on the same page as the nature of the relationship.
- Communicate any boundaries and expectations
Friendship is not dating, and since the level of responsibility and commitment to the other person is not at the same level, this should be reflected in our friendship. Sharing ourselves and our heart with another naturally creates emotional closeness. However, when we deeply share the deepest parts of our heart, especially with our particular struggles as men and women, it can lead to a slippery slope of chasing that emotional bond and seeing the other person for what they can give us in that. By creating boundaries in what we share, we can love each other by making sure we are not using them and it gives us the freedom to discover that balance. Expectations are also important, especially since we all have different ways of loving others and receiving love. Having conversations about how to be friends more effectively is necessary to maintain a good friendship.
- Let your friendship overflow
Every good relationship bears great fruit, and that fruit overflows out of it. Don’t let your friendships remain in solitude. When we create a community around our friendships, we are able to experience the true flowering of the heart of a relationship. They become the foundation of this greater community where each individual can experience freedom in what it is. It takes a dedication to continually strive for it, but it brings a joy that we are all looking for.
When we rediscover the power of authentic friendship, especially between men and women, we will begin to transform the way we experience relationships. Because friendship is truly the foundation for the rest of our life.