This has been an interesting question for a long time. It was popularized by a viral Youtube video that asked that very question to college students in mixed friendships. You can watch the video here. The answer you ultimately get from the video is that girls seem to have no problem having friendships with guys (almost naively) while guys struggle with wanting more from the friendship.
I was determined to overrule this outcome when I started some friendships last year with some girls in my class. I figured I had the upper hand with the insight I have on guy/girl relationships. As I got closer to one of them, I even had a serious conversation with her and we talked about this type of relationship and how it needs to have proper boundaries and cautions. We both agreed we were happy with just being friends. I know that’s all I was looking for and I’m genuinely certain she felt the same. We became close over the year. We did things I probably shouldn’t have now that I’m looking back. We had gone out to eat together several times since we had the same lunch hour. We had gone on a couple hikes together as I was trying to help her lose some weight. (I was also counseling her on her diet.) We were carpooling to clinicals together. I would often drive her car home while she slept in the passenger seat because she was working night shifts on top of full-time school. We had experienced a lot together. We had become REALLY CLOSE. I knew a lot about her. She knew a lot about me. We even knew some things about each other that nobody else knew. I was feeling really good about having a friend like this that I could be close to. They seem to only come along every so often.
But, then there was the problem with my wife. Understandably, she was not into this relationship. She was really hurting–feeling like I was sharing my heart with another woman. I continually denied it. I always maintained that we were just friends. But, as time went on, I was finding it harder to draw the line between the friendship feelings and the feelings of a crush. I didn’t find myself very sexually attracted to her because of her weight issues. But, she is pretty and has a nice smile and beautiful eyes. I found myself wanting to be closer. I was tempted by the thought of a kiss.
I knew it had come to far. How did this happen to me? I thought I was going to be able to manage these feelings. After all, I should be able to push away my feelings, right? So, I tried to do that. It didn’t seem to be working. I was becoming more infatuated with her than I was willing to allow and needed to do something. But, I didn’t know what to do. Well, I kind of did know what to do buy I didn’t want to do it. I needed to back off of this relationship!
Thankfully, as I mentioned in my last post, I started reading a book on marriage and started to focus my attention on my wife instead. My school situation also changed right about that time. Instead of having clinicals with only me and her, I now have clinicals with five other students. We no longer have the same schedule, the same lunch hour, and we don’t have time to study together like we used to. So, providence has been good to me in that way.
We still see each other often. We have class together two days a week. We still carpool occasionally. We see each other at clinicals a little bit on the three days we’re there. We’re still friends. But, I’ve been backing off a little in how I interact with her. I’m intentionally touching her less, flirting less with her, and trying to keep my head focused on other things instead. It’s helped a lot.
Interestingly, although I believe she finds me attractive and enjoys my company, she has seemed to be able to manage this friendship better than me. She seems able to just be friends. I haven’t noticed any “crush-like” signals coming from her like I was giving her. I don’t know how we spent so much time together and she was able to hold herself together when I was kind of emotionally unstable.
My conclusion through this experiment is this: I think girls might have the ability to be just friends with guys. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t understand it. It’s an absolute mystery to me. But, I think I’ve seen that they are somehow able. Guys, on the other hand, I’m not so sure of. In my experience, I don’t think it’s wise for me. I’ve learned my lesson. This friendship, although exciting and fun and free, has brought me pain I didn’t expect. It really hurt. I was tempted to want something I couldn’t have and it was very difficult. I never want to go through that again. For that reason, I’ve learned it’s better for me to keep my distance better. I’m learning to keep better boundaries, to hold back my flirtation, and to be more careful. It’s all fun and games until someone gets their heart torn out, right? I’m learning that!
So, guys… have you ever had a close friendship with a girl that you never developed feelings for? If so, how did you do it?
Girls… can you explain your unique ability to be in close friendships with guys if that’s a reality?