Recently, Lindsey Nobles asked the question on her blog, “Can guys and girls be friends?” Her question has provoked a vigorous discussion. I read a few of the responses early on, but not the majority of them. Instead, I have spent the last few days thinking about friendship, not just between men and women, but in general. So, here are some of my observations along with a few follow-up questions at the end.
First, I will respond to Lindsey’s question (undoubtedly others have the same question): Yes and no, depending on what you mean by friendship. If you mean best friend forever and ever til death parts a man and woman, then get married. That is the only way it is workable. And even then, it is tough. Or so I have heard. If you mean close friends with clear limits and boundaries, it might be possible, but it depends on how you define close. That topic alone is too large for this post, but I will say that men and women will have different ideas about what close means. They also will differ about boundaries and limits. Even people among the same gender will disagree. Put simply, it can be a relational quagmire because of differing expectations, assumptions, desires, and so on.
I enjoy many friendships with men and women. This is healthy. Jesus modelled such behavior during his life. I have tried to follow his example the best I can, no doubt failing along the way countless times. Deeper friendships are a challenge. They require ongoing maintenance, a task too few people are willing to invest in. Time, proximity, emotional energy, conversation, giving, receiving, reconciling, negotiating are all a part of the mix. I value the friendships I have. I miss those people who I no longer have opportunity to connect with due to changing circumstances. I am thankful for their part in my life.
Think about your life. Who are your friends? How do you negotiate the issue of friendship with the opposite gender? Although this issue tends to be at the forefront of what single adults struggle with, I expect that married people wrestle with it in their own right. If you are married, I would particularly appreciate your responses.
Fire away. I am listening.