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Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Introduction
Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Question #1
Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Question #2
Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Question #3
Is it possible to be friends with someone I used to date?
In a perfect world, where everything functioned as it should, the answer to this question would be…
Yes, we can be friends on some level.
The reason is that in a perfect world, we would treat the people we date in a Christ-like, integrity-filled way that wouldn’t leave baggage and barriers. In short, we would treat them well before, during, and after.
I’ll never forget when my friend Mike commented on the guy I was interested in, saying, “He is the kind of guy that, if you don’t work out, your future husband will thank him for how he treated you.”
Wow. That was revelatory thinking.
I could treat and be treated in a relationship where our future spouses would thank us? And then I realized, yes, that is what it would look like to date with a reverence for our significant other and God’s design.
But let’s be honest: we do NOT live in a perfect world. So, let’s acknowledge the baggage and approach this question from the broken real world and explore three possible responses.
I sense that more than wanting to be friends with exes, many people hate their exes. But we Christians don’t say “hate,” do we? Yeah, let’s go with something lighter, like cutting off parts of his anatomy or pushing her off a cliff.
Trust me, I know how unproductive this can be.
But we have our reasons, right?
The pain is deep and the anger is larger than life. You daydream about running into him or her so your cliff and cutting scenarios can become a reality. But my question to those of us who have found ourselves in this situation is WWJD?
Ohhhhh yeah, I just brought that back. I’ll be making bracelets soon.
Seriously, though, Jesus does challenge us to love our enemies. I’m not suggesting you schedule weekly play dates; I am suggesting you be friendly, which is different from being friends.
Be like Christ, OK?
But maybe you don’t want to be friends with your ex because YOU are the one who treated him or her poorly. You’re paralyzed about what your ex might be saying about you; it could be a reputation-destroyer. Your fear causes you to have an unhealthy attitude toward this person.
But guess what. Your past can be the past if you change today. Don’t continue to give your ex reasons to believe you are unable to change. If you need to seek forgiveness for something and it’s possible to do so, do. But often this can be between you and the Lord, and all you can do moving forward is make it your goal to function from a more mature place where your interactions are friendly, even if those interactions are on rare occasions.
Be mature, OK?
And, lastly, those of us who want to avoid friendship with our exes tend to carry anger, pain, anxiety, or shame. Aside from the spiritual reasons to adjust your response, there are health reasons. It’s common knowledge that anxiety, stress, and fear contribute to the breakdown of our cell walls, which makes us more susceptible to sickness.
My point: be unfriendly to your ex, and you will get the black lung and die.
Be healthy, OK?
This response is what I mentioned in the beginning as a perfect-world scenario. It can be la-la land idealistic and unrealistic, but when it works it’s probably because you haven’t accrued so much baggage that your friendship can’t pick up and move on. Maybe you were friends before you dated; you had a casual, healthy, respectful, God-honoring relationship; and you’re confident that you can remain friends.
My only caution here: It’s very easy to deceive ourselves.
We must always be aware of whether we’re justifying something that is potentially dangerous or setting ourselves up for an unhealthy situation and just telling ourselves it’s harmless.
In our broken world, this is the most realistic mix of the two previous scenarios. When you can hold your ex loosely, so to speak, you recognize your friendship may be OK in one season and not in another.
You might not always be friends, but what’s most important, as I said before, is that you are always friendly.
There is sure to be some level of loss in the changing of the seasons, but it is so important to respect our exes’ wishes for this change and their spouses’ or significant other’s wishes. I know even seemingly small things—such as an ex defriending me on Facebook—can cause a little “What about Bob?” “owwww” moment, but I too have had seasons and reasons to block some of my exes on Facebook.
The sooner I am able to step back and accept these natural “seasons” as a reality and oftentimes healthy move, the sooner I can return to a place of peace. If I am not peaceful, then I am holding onto a desire for friendship with my ex too tightly.
May we all accept the changing of seasons, date with that perfect-world scenario in mind, and be at peace with all men.
How would you approach your dating relationships differently if you operated as if – on the chance the two of you didn’t end up together – his or her future spouse would thank you for the way you treated them?
What are some tangible ways you can be “friendly” toward an ex, without being best friends who schedule weekly play dates?
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.