How to (REALLY) Just be Friends

So you've met someone. You've felt that jolt of attraction as you guys chatted on the phone, or walked to class together. You want to get to know them more, just don't want it to be the physical attraction drawing you to him (her). You want to have a solid foundation, so that even if things don't work out, you can still be FRIENDS.  So how do you just be friends first? How do you just ignore the elephant in the room (your obvious attraction to each other) and just be buddies??

First, I want to start off by saying that there's nothing wrong with first being attracted to someone physically. It doesn't mean that your relationship will be shallow or short-lived.  As a matter of fact, most guys are drawn to the physical first. Your looks, how you carry yourself, etc. Eventually things start to (hopefully) go beyond that to your shared interests, values, and goals.

Secondly, I have to let you know right now that not everyone you're attracted to and begin to develop a relationship with will become a friend of yours for life. You can be civil to one another, be in the same room and laugh at the same jokes, but know that if things do not work with them you do not have to be FRIENDS. Casual acquaintance is fine. Because eventually both of you will find your significant other and develop a close attachment with that person and their friends. So it's not that you guys will be enemies or bitter towards each other. It's just that life will go on, and both of you will be just fine even if you don't ever see each other again.

Now on to how to really get to know someone and have something meaningful with them after your initial attraction. After thinking about these points, I've realized that they are all connected to one common thing: HONESTY.

1. Be honest about your intentions. I can go several directions with this one, but I'll stick to the main two because I see this all time, even in the Christian community. Sometimes guys like to have several girls around and see which one they hit it off with the best, which one seems to suit them the best. It may not always be malicious or them trying to play with you. Guys are more logical than us, and sometimes this approach may seem like the most logical one. Us girls are the ones that already imagine how we'll look walking down the aisle with the guy on the wedding day.   Both parties need to be honest about their expectations and what they want from the relationship. If you feel like the person doesn't suit you after you've gotten to know them, don't just string them along. Don't start avoiding them either. Be up front, even if it's awkward for you at first, because in the end it saves the other person from hurt feelings.

2. Don't play mind games.  No hard -to- get, cold shoulder, or other manipulations. It's just a waste of time. Miscommunication hurts relationships. And if you develop the pattern of manipulating one another, it carries on into marriage. Also, avoid phrases like "God told me last night during prayer time that you're the one for me." Even if it's true. If you're just getting to know the person that's just going to freak them out. And give them reason to avoid you.  So many times, our deepest desires become what we imagine to be God telling us what we should do simply because we're so focused on it. There's just no room for God to tell you anything because your head is so filled with your own thoughts. If you really want to find out if this is the person for you, come to prayer time with the absolute willingness to give up that person at His command. Once your will is out of the way, God can speak more clearly to you.

3. Pay attention to signals. This is especially for the ladies. If he says he's not interested in pursuing anything further than friendship, BELIEVE IT. No matter how much time you guys have spent on the phone talking, or texting, or he invites you to his family functions, you really are JUST A FRIEND. Don't get mad if you see him flirting with another girl, or if he announces to you that he's (she's) seeing someone. It's very easy to convince ourselves of something we want to be true. But really, guys, no matter how shy or introverted, will find a way to tell you they're interested if they like you. And if they don't then THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED. With girls, it's not as straight-forward, but that's another post, for another time :-)

4. Have lots of group dates. You can tell a lot about aperson by observing their interactions with groups of people. Is he a people pleaser? Does he like to be the life of the party? Is she really flirtatious? Does he like to stick to himself in a group of people he doesn't know? It's very easy to be one way when you two are alone together, but being with other people will allow you to see important aspects of their character and personality. For example, if she (he) likes to have the final word in a debate, or if he doesn't know how to admit when he's wrong.

5. Time will tell. Be patient and allow time to get to know this person. Sometimes that's really all it takes for you to be able to see if this is really something you want to pursue. Eventually the guard comes down and you will see more and more of their true character. Don't rush things along because of your growing attraction. Don't be hasty in your analysis of their words and actions.

6. Avoid (like the plague!) physical situations. It's natural to want to hold the person's hand, or kiss them. But this is the quickest way to pseudo-intimacy. If you want to establish a REAL friendship with this person, find activities to do that allows you to talk more than anything else. If you don't have a large reservoir of self-control, keep your time together in open, public places and invite a couple of friends along. Once you get the ball rolling in the physical interaction department, it will be EXTREMELY hard to put on the brakes, mostly because YOU WILL NOT WANT TO. It's natural to desire physical connection with someone you care about, but trust me, it will do more harm than good. It will lead to things that cause guilt, shame, and doubt about the relationship. Going too far, even with the ONE, will damage the relationship.

7. If things don't work out, part amiably. This can definitely happen if you’ve followed the suggestions outlined previously.