Just Friends vs. Dating
Being "just friends" with someone from the opposite sex that you can just hang out with, while avoiding all the boyfriend/girlfriend drama, can be a real blessing. I wish every teenager and young adult could experience a friendship with someone from the opposite sex with no strings attached. It's possible to have a "just friends" relationship, but so many people are looking for that perfect romantic one. That boyfriend or girlfriend that's going to sweep them off their feet and they will live happily ever after. In the meantime, they lose out on all the good times a relationship that's "just friends" could bring them.
I get tons of calls on my radio show about boyfriend/girlfriend drama and broken hearts. Sometimes, the consequences of bad dating relationships can be hard and life-changing, like unintended pregnancies, STDs, and abuse.
I find myself saying to many of these callers, "You don't need a boyfriend. You need a boy you can be “just friends” with. The same is true for guys. We think we need that special girl, but often we simply want a woman in our lives to help us understand more about the female point of view.
What I'm trying to say is having a friend of the opposite sex is a huge gift to you and can be far healthier than the drama of dating.
Today I want to look at the benefits of "Just Friends" relationships along with the challenges these relationships might face.
7 Reasons to be “Just Friends”
The comments I received about the advantages of being "just friends" fell into two primary categories. The first four reasons point out that these relationships tend to be genuine, supportive, quality relationships that you can depend on. The next three reasons have to do with the benefits of having no "romantic" pressure.
1. You tend to respect your friends more than the people you randomly date. People who have Just Friends relationships tend to take care of their friends more than people they just randomly date. I'm best friends with a guy named Mikey and he's awesome. We respect each other. We know that we don't want anything to ruin what we have. (Angelica)
2. "Just Friend" relationships tend to be more like brother/sister relationships. Everybody needs a brother or sister, but let's just suppose for a moment that you're a guy who doesn't have a sister or a girl who doesn't have a brother. Or perhaps you don't relate well to your brother or sister. Just Friends can help fill the gap for those who have never experienced a good brother or sister relationship. Just Friends' is like having a brother or a sister for those who didn't have a sibling of the opposite sex. (Christy) By the way, if you have a good relationship with your brother or sister, you are truly blessed.
4. "Just Friends" often protect each other. I have always been amazed at how real friends will protect each other no matter what. "Just Friends" may fight amongst themselves, but if someone else tries to step in against one of the friends, the other will protect his/her best friend to the end. I have noticed how best friends who are guys are extremely protective over their best friend girl. This desire to protect is not some way to control and manipulate the girl. It comes out of real love and friendship. It's a good feeling to know there is a Just Friend who's got your back. My best friend is more than a best friend, she's more like a sister. And she feels that same way. We both have each other's back now and forever. (Narda)
5. You can learn much about the opposite sex without the pressure of dating. It seems to me that many people really do not understand the opposite sex. Let's face it, men and women look at the world differently and react differently to life. That's one reason why in dating, things get so confusing. Because along with the deep emotion of young love or infatuation comes confusion and frustration. But a friend from the opposite sex can fill you in on what women/men are like. They can answer a lot of your questions about the opposite sex and save you all kinds of grief. I think it's great to have a friend of the opposite sex because sometimes the same sex won't understand some things you are going through such as if you have been in a bad breakup. A guy can see your point of view when you're talking about your ex, and it gives you an opportunity to see both sides of the story... (Megan)
6. There is no sexual pressure. In a recent survey, 61% of all teenage girls say they are pressured to have sex. Guys aren't pressured to have sex as much by girls, but some still are. Being pressured to have sex can be a very difficult experience. If you're dating somebody and really like him/her, there are all kinds of fears of losing your bf/gf. In the end, some bargain away their bodies in their attempt to keep the relationship going. That's sure a crummy way of staying in a relationship. But with "Just Friends", you don't have all that pressure. You can relax and just enjoy the friendship with no sexual strings attached. What a stress reliever that is! It's so nice to just hang with guys who are "Just Friends" and not have any sexual stuff in between. It has never been that way between any of us! (Jenn) I'm amazed at how many people pressure their dating partner to go against their value system and do something sexual the other partner doesn't want to do.
7. Just Friends are comfortable with each other with no need to impress. There is tremendous pressure on teenagers and young adults to impress other people, especially the opposite sex. They end up not even being themselves, but instead what they think the person of the opposite sex wants them to be. It's just one big performance. Not being yourself and performing for others is extremely exhausting and never worth the effort. Just Friends helps solve that problem because with Just Friends you can be yourself and not worry about impressing. If you hang out with someone of the opposite sex, you don't have to try to impress anyone. One of my best friends is a guy, and we talk about almost everything. I don't have to prove myself, and neither does he. (Kaitlyn)
I’m more convinced than ever that every person needs at least one "Just Friends" experience. However, I would guess that less than 50% of people have these kinds of relationships. I believe that's because these relationships need to overcome several challenges before, they can become successful.
Four Challenges to Protecting A “Just Friends” Relationship
1. The Culture Challenge. Think about all the movies you have seen that have to do with two people of the opposite sex. The messages we get from culture are often shallow and, in some cases, just flat out wrong. In almost every movie they meet, supposedly fall in love, have sex, get mad at each other, get back together, and live happily ever after. Almost no movie or pop song talks about two people meeting each other and becoming best friends without the sex and drama. So, after you’ve seen all these movies and listened to all the songs you begin to say, I guess that’s the only relationship I can have, a romantic relationship.
2. The Developing Feelings Challenge. It is very important when you first start a "just friends" relationship that you and your new friend clearly define what this relationship is and is not. Unless there is a very clear understanding about your friendship, there is bound to be confusion over changing emotions from friendship to romance. Having these discussions where you talk about your feelings is not easy to do, but it is the only way to clear up any confusion that could turn from romantic feelings to hurt feelings. expressed what happened when she unknowingly developed feeling for her guy friend - "Lately, one of my male friends asked my advice about getting back with his ex and I told him it was a terrible idea, but he went ahead anyway, and it hurts really badly. I asked myself why? Then I realized that it was because I had feelings for him that I wasn’t ready to admit. Nikki is very wise. She is in touch with her emotions and hopefully has already talked to her best friend about these issues. Even though she has feelings for her friend, there’s a good chance the relationship will last.
3. The Sexual Tension Challenge. It is very easy for sexual tension to enter a "just friends" relationship. This is because as you get closer to someone, it’s easy to become more affectionate. So there ends up being more hugs, kisses, and touching than what is appropriate. When this happens, there is tremendous confusion and tension in the relationship.
4. The Challenge of Being Misunderstood By Others. A final challenge to a "just friends" relationship is other people misunderstanding your friendship. It seems like everybody who sees two people from the opposite sex together hanging out must have a romantic relationship, and so they will make suggestive comments and tease you about your relationship. This puts pressure on both of you. Just remember when people make comments about your "just friends" relationships, they just don't understand the good thing you have going.
I want to challenge you to have a "just friends" relationship. Yes, they are challenging and you must show respect and discipline in them, but the advantages far outweigh the difficulties.
Ground Rules for a "Just Friend" Relationship
Allow me to list a few rules you need to follow to help protect your relationship.
- Have a conversation with your friend setting the boundaries for the friendship in the beginning.
- Never give into physical attraction you may feel, as there may be no point of return and the friendship is ruined forever.
- If you know your friend likes you, never taken advantage of those feelings for your own benefit.
- Remember your friend of the opposite sex will have differing perspectives. Respect your friend for their different opinions.