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Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Introduction
Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Question # 1
Can Guys & Girls Be Friends? Question #2
If we are always hanging out together, will anyone else ever ask me out?
Last year I was flipping through the channels and landed on some show whose title is escaping me.
My gut tells me it was The Tyra Banks Show.
I know. I wish I couldn’t remember either.
There were two “dating experts” being interviewed. I use dating experts loosely in the same way I kind of cringe when someone refers to me as an expert. HELLO, PEOPLE! I AM SINGLE! That’s like calling a surgeon who just amputated the wrong leg on their patient “successful.”
Anyway, these older, single, cougaresque* women had written a book on dating and had come up with a term called “snacking.” They used it to describe women who kept sleeping with their exes.
They essentially said that if you keep snacking, you will never be hungry enough for an actual meal.
Unfortunately, that visual has stayed with me for two reasons.
1) I really like snacks.
2) I see this applying to male/female friendships.
As I mentioned, I like snacks. I also really like sandwiches. If I am hungry and I open a cupboard and see a loaf of bread, my mind thinks, “Oh, I shall maketh a sandwich!”
Then I see the Cheetos.
Hmmm, all of a sudden a sandwich seems like a lot of work. All that slicing of cheese and spreading of mustard, folding meat and patting down the onions and pickles so they don’t fall off to the floor of no return. (At least after ten seconds.)
Cheetos have cheese on them. That’s kind of like a sandwich. They are easy and I can have them right now.
I like snacks.
I had a friend I hung out with quite a bit. We had addressed people’s opinions that we should date. We both agreed it wasn’t something we desired. (If you doubt me and think one of us was lying, I can expand on that story sometime.) But…
…we had similar interests and schedules and found ourselves hanging out almost every single Sunday afternoon and evening and some week nights in between.
It finally clicked for me one day. We were “snacking.”
I told him my theory and he agreed. We didn’t want to be crazy and never see each other again, but we realized we were fulfilling a need for opposite-sex attention that could possibly leave us waking up at age 40 and realizing we never got to a point where we felt strong enough to be open to someone or to pursue a spouse. We could be picky and find faults with everyone else.
Loneliness, introspection, or future planning wasn’t really happening because we were too busy with our “friends.”
So, am I still friends with this guy? Yes. Good friends. But we don’t get into lazy half-hungry habits of each other as a default snack. We’ve both dated since that conversation, and sometimes I wonder if our dates would have happened if we’d kept falling into our Sunday afternoon Cheetos buzz.
A sandwich takes more time. You have to wait. You also have to prepare. And while both snacks and sandwiches are food that allows you to feel satisfied, there is a difference. One will fill you momentarily, while the other will be more nutritionally balanced.
The latter will sustain you for the journey.
So, my point?
Don’t snack too much, or you’ll never realize how good the sandwich can be.
P.S. If you are missing the analogy here, then I really must work on my writing skills.
* I know, I didn’t think I would ever stoop to using the word cougar in a post either.
Do you agree with my “snacking” theory?
What has been your experience with being in a “snacking” relationship?
What has been your experience avoiding starting a relationship with someone because you were confused by their “snacking” relationship with someone else?
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As soon as I saw the first two sentences I knew exactly where you were going with this. It makes perfect sense.
My boyfriend of 7 months and I just broke up Tuesday. Amicably. We were more friends than boyfriend/girlfriend. I’ve realized this week I have the tendency to go around like the village idiot saying “BUT WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDSSSSSS!” I did it with the last quasi-relationship I got out of. Until I was blue in the face.
I’m realizing I need to step back and let myself go through different stages of getting over this before I rush trying to build a friendship with him.
Thank you for this post.
This whole topic reminds me of Billy Crystal on When Harry Met Sally (I’m old). I’m very encouraged to hear a negative take of opposite gender friendships. These relationships are not able to fulfill each person’s needs at the friendship level. If they bloom into courtship, very well. But when a male holds a door for a woman, helps her move the couch, “dies” for her, how is she to feel? Protected? There’s only a certain percentage of fulfillment that can be achieved and it does cause a sense of comfort that stunts the desire to have the more intimate and challenging relationship.
Can they be friends? Yes. SHOULD they be? I don’t think it’s the healthiest relationship for singles.
This is also an easy out for guys. Having female companionship without the trajectory towards marriage is like giving men a prescription pain killer. They’re sedated and comfortable, while drooling on their chest. We want men to be motivated and driven to fulfill their role towards women’s needs. When men get the message that they are only responsible for 40% of the duties in the job description, that’s the level you’re going to get. Hold men to a high standard! They need that accountability. As a teen I said that women hold all the cards. In this feminine culture, they do. As they require, men shall perform. I’m not trying to take guys off the hook. They’re wrong when they aren’t self-accountable. I’m just speaking of their nature, they need that motivation.
Ladies, don’t settle for x% of a male relationship, call for the real deal! You’re lovely and you’re worth it!
@ron, Hey Ron – thanks for your challenge for women not to settle. I would encourage you to read the whole series if “not” being friends is the message I am sending loud and clear. It’s not. It’s to be wise in each situation. And in this situation that I shared I am still VERY much friends with this guy, but we were challenged to think through how much alone time we were spending and how it was affecting our appetite for an actual dating relationship.
We hunger for wisdom and awareness not complacency and comfort.
and i’m off to hit this with a retweet….
I love the comparison! I’ve experienced this phenomenon but didn’t have a nifty name for it. Snacking is a really big problem and can be difficult to deal with. Especially in a situation where you think someone is snacking on you and you don’t know how to tell them to stop without sounding like an ego maniac and/or hurting their feelings. Thanks for the post! Any additional wise words on snacking will be welcome and appreciated!
Hi Joy. I really appreciate this post! It is definitely a topic that needs to be discussed and using this analogy is spot on.
I just have one question… You mention that you are in no way an expert because you are single, and then compare that to a surgeon being called successful when he amputates the wrong leg. You make it sound like you are a failure because you are single and that is not the case at all, I am sure. I think I know where you were going with it, but it kinda makes it sound like you’re saying being single is a result of doing something wrong. So, I guess this isn’t a question.. I’m just saying I would hate it if anyone misread it and thought that being single makes them in any way a failure.
@niki, @reneamac Thank you! I couldn’t agree more. It was more me poking fun at myself. I can honestly say I feel awkward when I am actually out on a date and I always get uncomfortable when people call me an expert because I don’t have a bazillion degrees like my pops. However, I have prayed for wisdom and firmly believe I am called to help as much as I can. But, isn’t it always easier to tell other people what to do than do it yourself?? ha.
But thanks for calling me out to clarify. And thank you Renea for the kind words.
Let me start by saying that this is great. Everything about it makes perfect sense to me.
And I started writing a comment and it became 100% way too long. I think I”ll submit it to the “Ask Joy” for this series for further discussion. I don’t want to take up too much space here in the comment section!
I definitely have experienced this kind of emotional snacking. This is one of those moments where I wish I knew then what I know now.
I also think—while completely agreeing that emotional snaking is dangerous and should be avoided—that perhaps guys and girls should have a bit more chutzpah when the one they’re interested in is super good friends with someone else of the opposite sex and ask them out anyway. What are we afraid of? that they might be unknowingly in love with the person they’re just friends with? There’s only one way to find out.
Joy, this friends series should go in your book I hope you write someday. I really appreciate the discussions here for a number of reasons. It helps my husband and I to minister to people in your age group with better understanding. (Yes we slightly older than your intended audience). It’s refining my instruction and intended trajectory as a mother of two young men that haven’t started shaving but think they are ready to date and call everybody “friends”. (Our quiver is full and we want our arrows to fly straight. Psalm 127) I feel the thoughts that are shared here equip me better as a “Word girl” to identify cultural influences verses God’s will. I just want to say, “Thank you” for sharing your heart with us and I hope you don’t mind this “older” lady hanging out on your blog.
I do support your snacking theory as a viable analogy. And I’m with you on the creepy aspect of the cougar culture. In my opinion, the CC it’s another version of sugar daddies but feminized. Cougars are afraid of growing old and struggle in the same areas of loneliness and consequences of broken relationship. They want “companionship w/ benefits” but without commitment. Same problem different age group. They attract men who shave but don’t want to man up in the responsibilities as Ron aptly addressed. Proverbs 6 addresses the wayward wives/seductresses and how it can reduce a man to a crust of bread -so watch out for the cougar influence. Thus far I have distilled these thoughts: “healthy friendships” when wisely chosen are good for well being. But too much of the convenient/easy stuff doesn’t help with maturity and actually may make us lethargic creatures.
Ohhh Joy, I am so guilty of snacking!!!! It’s such a self control thing for me though. I know the snack isn’t good for me, but it fills the gap immediately (and then leaves me hungry and kicking myself directly after that). A frustrating cycle when you want the sandwich but can’t find the sandwich ingredients.
Ok, now this analogy is starting to feel weird saying all that! 🙂
Very much looking forward to your next posts in this series. Thanks
I’ve been wondering what this whole “snacking” thing would be. Makes a lot of sense!
Honestly though, “snacking” has never been an issue for me. As a matter of fact, I think I could do a better job of actually “walking up to the pantry”. Yeah, while I do have great friends that are guys, I’m not that close with any of them where I would talk on the phone, or hang out with them one-on-one. But I tend to have great conversation with some of them when we’re at a game night or out to dinner with friends. I really don’t know if that’s good, bad or just…whatever. I guess I would like to find a good balance.
@Emily, Haha…Love that. Get in that pantry girl!! You know yourself and what you need to be more open to. If you have closed yourself off from getting to know men, unpack the “why” and ask wise people around you to help unpack some of the fears you may have. Hopefully some of these friendships will blossom into dating – but you won’t know if you don’t walk into the pantry. Love that analogy. (-:
@JOY, Finally coming up for air after a busy two weeks! Thanks for the reply. You’re right about unpacking the “why”. Been working on that for the past couple of years. It’s only recently that I’m allowing me to be me regardless of who’s around or who’s watching. Letting go of fear and inhibitions has been very liberating. Now, I’m just patiently waiting and “doing my thang” in the meantime. 😉
@Aaron, yes, almost. I can’t stray from my post’s title! Also – are you the same Aaron who was chosen as a plant parent on the FB page? You need to pick up your child asap: http://www.facebook.com/loveandrespectNOW
Yeah, I’ve never really done the snacking thing after my first girlfriend and I broke up and we tried to maintain a friendship. I learned my painful, painful lesson and haven’t done it since, or have at least avoided it as best I could.
Most of the female friends I have now are either married or in solid relationships and I’ll go to them for a feminine perspective/guidance on occasion, but I won’t try to use them to temporarily sate my desire for a sandwich with a pizza roll. And while I have single female friends, I generally don’t hang out with them one on one in a manner that could lead to snacking.
P.S. Everytime I see the word “Cougar”, I think of John Mellencamp back when it was cool to have stupid nicknames…
@G Fresh, on behalf of the single gals in your life and everywhere, thanks for not snacking. 🙂 To address Joy’s second question, not only do I (as a single girl) find it really unattractive when a guy has way more close girl friends than guy friends, but it’s a major turn-off to feel like I have to “stand out” or compete in some way with those friends in order to take the relationship to the next level. I don’t deny struggling with insecurity, but I also don’t think a a girl should have to constantly reassure herself that she’s more special than all the others when a guy is pursuing her. It should be clear that I’m the sandwich. I want to be the sandwich, dadgummit!
Love it. Too true.
Trivia: My mom went to high school with the guy who invented Chester Cheetah.