How To Be Friends Without The Sex

Despite what people think, being an introvert does not mean I’m antisocial. I love a good, rich, deep conversation with one or two people. The other night, I got that with an old friend I’ll call E. We talked about literature, media’s impact on society, relationships, and our personal items in a two-hour Skype chat.

E is one of the dearest people in the world to me. She and I have been friends half our lives, and despite distance, struggles, and our history, we’ve remained a close friendship that–and you think we’re screwing, don’t you?

In our world, if two people have a close relationship, the common man assumes romance or sex.

Just looking up pics for this article earned me a trillion results on how guys and girls will only be friends is one is gay or ugly. Because heartthrobs and boinking take precedence over real friendships. We’re a culture obsessed with shipping.

How limiting! How reductive! I’m currently living the antithesis to that idea, so here’s how two people of any sexual orientation can have a close, intimate friendship without romance or sex getting in the way.

1. Love Them For Who They Are, Not What They Do For You

friendzonelogo2

Almost as soon as I met E, I had a major crush on her. For years I nursed these feelings, but in the end she clearly didn’t feel the same, so I made up my mind to quit crushing and just be her friend.

And POW! Our relationship took off.

You can’t help attraction, if that’s a factor, but you can choose how to react. If you only see other people as marriage-trainees or bedpost notches, of course you’ll never have friends of your attracted gender. Which, of course, means you’re cutting out the wisdom, character, and personality of half the globe.

Learn to love and respect platonically. To do that, see who they are and love who they are, not just what they make you feel.

I don’t think E and I could have worked out as a couple, and E agrees. But now that I can admire, respect, and care about her, we’ve lasted fifteen years, and she’s honestly one of the best friends I have.

Romance and sex are not always the highest goal. In fact, that’s rarely the case. With most people, friendship is the most you should reasonably expect, and you’d be surprised to find out how many people are lousy lovers, but incredible friends.

2. Do Life With Them, Not Just Thrills

fighting

Sex is easy. Well, not to make it happen, but we gravitate towards it because it feels good. But friendship? Holy crap is it a slog!

You have to live alongside them. That means mundane routine, arguments, humility, vulnerability, and a hundred other scary words. You have to get way outside your comfort zone to be good friends with someone because friendship is about giving.

It also means risk. Good friends don’t sit back and watch friends destroy themselves for the sake of peace or a good time. To keep friends, you have to risk losing them for their benefit.

E and I have had to call each other to task many times. E showed me how much of a self-righteous prick I can be. And I’ve had to tell her to break up with a guy she really liked because he wasn’t good for her. If either of us had chosen to scoff and walk away, we wouldn’t have the riches we do now.

But when you do life with someone, you create shared experiences, the foundation of good friendship. The times you fought together, bled together, laughed together, and helped each other up.

E and I have memories of bad teachers, low-paying jobs, spelunking frustrations, shoddy film-making, stressful concerts, and poverty woes. But we did them together. We’re not just people who share fun times; we’re also partners.

3. Care More About Them Than What People Think

not a couple

Explaining my relationship with E is hard sometimes. I fear people will suspect I’m cheating on my wife. But lately I’ve realized something: anyone who says those things about me clearly doesn’t know me, and if they don’t know me, their judgment means nothing.

The Bible says a good reputation is better than silver or gold (Prov 22:1) but it’s not even in the same ballpark as “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) The only person I have to convince is my wife, and she understands, so I have no incentive to stop being great friends with a woman just because some outsider doesn’t get it.

I love my wife more than pizza, video games, and sleep combined. When I say E and I have a relationship that my wife and I never will, that’s not a bad thing because my wife and I have a relationship that E and I never will. Unique does not mean better or more powerful. It’s just different.

Why are we so threatened by good friendships? Yes, people have abused the “friend” line to get some booty on the side, but abuse of a concept does not vilify a concept. Friendship can work and does work, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

When you love someone, you’re secure in your friendship. If people whisper, you just shrug and move along. You’re not here to impress people; you’re here to love them.

In Conclusion…

bronze medal

The word Friendzoned is tossed around too much. I got Friendzoned by a girl in high school and I’m glad I did. Sex and romance would have crashed, but our friendship has lasted to this day.

Friendship isn’t the bronze metal to sex and love’s silver and gold (in whatever order you place them). It’s not just a stepping stone to something better. And the way to understand that is to stop thinking of other people as side characters in your story and to see them as fellow inhabitants of his world.

When you think less of your own interests, it’s easier to see a guy or girl as a person, it’s easier to do life with them, and it’s easy to shrug off the social stigmas of shippers.

In short, learn to love having a friend and learn to love being one. Take it from a guy who’s nurtured an opposite-sex friendship for fifteen years, it’s one of the most underrated joys you’ll ever find.

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9 thoughts on “How To Be Friends Without The Sex

  1. I’ve always been afraid to have any but the most superficial conversations with married men. “Avoid every appearance of evil.” As a singe woman, all the crabs at church think I’m out to steal their hubbies. So no, I don’t think I’ll become chummy with any man at church soon. Or women for that matter. (All they ever rave about is which detergent can make their hubby’s socks whiter. Or what wonders their Gerber babies are.) Then, when folks like me quit attending they attribute it to how unspiritual we are. Ooh brother.

    If I weren’t totally committed to obeying God, I sure wouldn’t suffer through Sunday morning with those people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is it possible to try another church? Sounds like you’re running into self-important people. That’s their problem, not yours.
      Actually, I feel God telling me to stress this point: it’s their problem, not yours. If you want a platonic relationship with a man, that’s not a bad thing. Yes, his wife’s opinion is paramount and you can’t convince everybody, but don’t think something’s wrong with you. And no wonder you’re not making friends with women if they see you as a threat in waiting. Sounds like those people could use some Jesus, not you.

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      1. Frankly I think men and women should all be capable of non-erotic love within the church. Brothers and sisters, right? Despite modern accusations of woman hating, the Apostle Paul had many lady friends including a married woman, Priscilla. 300-400 years later St. Augustine came along. Because he was horny he accused all women of being seductresses. So, Augustine of Hippo and many other “Church fathers” had issues rather than Paul and the writers of Scripture.

        Unfortunately what I am talking about is the norm in evangelical protestant churches and is why many single women hate going to church and some even fall away from the faith entirely. Maybe God wants more of us to stand up and tell churches that they are wrong to show favoritism to the marrieds and rich.

        I nearly married a man I couldn’t stand to be around in order to find acceptance in my church home. In the end I decided it wasn’t fair to him.

        A lot of Bible study groups avoid the epistle of James. I think I have an idea why this may be.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Some good insights. You’re right about Paul and jesus had women friends. I jist read 2 john which he wrote to a woman and he said he loved her without having to explain himself.

        Yes one problem with the church is its insistence on marriage, which is odd considering how many single people made the bible. Must be our culture, or remnants of another. We do need to stand by single people.

        What did you mean by why they avoided James?

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      3. I have belonged to churches that skipped the book of James in Bible studies on Wednesday night. James condemns favoritism to the rich and marginalizing the poor. Once, I sat through a Bible study, where a man read through the second chapter of James’ epistle. He basically said, “I know James says this, but it’s okay to prefer wealthy, well-educated people.” I was living on government support and at least one other person there was too. He must have known it, but he went on defending his unbiblical position. What can you say to someone who thinks God’s wrong and he’s right?

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  2. Much of the sexual pessimism and hatred of pleasure entered Christianity in the late 4th century at the time of Augustine and Jerome and Pope Siricius. This animosity towards the married state is from ancient pagan schools of thought. Sadly, elements from these pagan schools of thought entered Christianity at that time. The point is that these views are not authentically Christian.

    Augustine may have been “horny”. As well, Augustine was personally bitter as his mother, St. Monica, broke up his long term relationship with a concubine. His negative attitude towards the married state may be driven by a “sour grapes” bitterness.

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  3. Yes. Shame on that cheesecake for forcing me to eat it. I would be free of gluttony if it weren’t for that evil chocolate cheesecake seducing me!

    If Augustine could have quit viewing women as lust objects his problem would have been solved, married or single.

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