Bad boundaries.

A great article landed in my inbox last week.

It’s an article calling guys to be a better steward of their female friendships.  The writer points out an epidemic in today’s culture of guys using their female friends to fill their emotional and relational needs without ever committing to them in any kind of real way.

At best, these guys are unwittingly part of a relationship that deceptively looks like a good deal for both parties. At worst, they’re willfully blind to the ways they feed a relationship that largely just benefits them.

I am a big fan of male/female friendships.  I am also a big fan of clear boundaries in male/female friendships.  I think this article is a great step in that direction.

My only fear is that this article is mostly loved by women whose primary application is to construct a mental list of men who need to read the article.  I don’t love that.  Every time we have great teaching on biblical manhood in our church we see that kind of response: a chorus of ‘amens’ from the women obsessed with talking about how the men need to step up instead of focusing on their own development.

So, here are my two thoughts for the ladies:

1. Stop thinking about other people’s sin and start thinking about your own sin.  

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the tendency to abuse girl/guy friendships isn’t unique to men.  Most of the women I meet (myself included) are prone to miss out on the great gifts of singleness by living a life where they are never actually really single.  They use their male friendships to fill in the gaps intentionally left by this stage of life.

You may be doing this if…

  • You have friendships that would have to drastically change if you got married
  • You have friendships that you would drop if you were seriously dating someone
  • You have friendships with guys that would make their girlfriend (if they were to get one) uncomfortable
  • Your singleness is mostly spent planning, dreaming or strategizing for marriage
  • You are a serial dater

Some of these things rob you of  the ‘undivided heart’ that Scripture calls the gift God gives to singles.  In our relationship-obsessed culture most singles seem to be straight-up encouraged to have a divided heart, constantly looking out for the interests of a spouse who doesn’t yet exist.

You’re not single because God forgot about you.  You’re single because that’s God’s best provision for you.  Are you using guys to fill needs that are designed to be left unmet in this stage of life?

2. Stop getting mad at other people for your sin.

I have an abysmal track record when it comes to boundaries in guy/girl friendships.  Like most girls, I have been furious with male friends who didn’t seem to steward my heart well.

Blaming others is Satan’s little distraction tactic.  It keeps us from asking ourselves  the question: since when is stewardship of what God gave me someone else’s responsibility?

As a single person, my finances, my time, my gifts and yes – my heart – are all given to me to steward.  I am the one who is going to be held accountable for what I do with them.

And you know what?  When we’re the ‘friendgirl’ we’re sinning too.  We’re being selfish and hurtful and we’re using the guys as much as they are using us.

Maybe guys in our generation struggle with leading and pursuing women because women in our generation struggle with waiting for men to lead.

Maybe the hardest thing for the guys in our lives is putting themselves out there and directly communicating their feelings.  And maybe we could be a part of empowering them to do that by stepping back and creating space instead of enabling their sin by filling the gaps with assumptions and unfounded expectations.

What would it look like to count the guys in your life as more significant than you?  What behavior from you is going to most allow them to be the man that God created them to be?

If you’re anything like me, you spend each night telling God how good you would be for them if He would just let you be together.  How about you prove it by actually being good for them now, today?  God made that guy in your life single because He wanted to bless them with an undivided heart.  Don’t steal that blessing by trying to make their heart divided.

I think it would be neat if the women of our generation took a little while to work on taking the planks out of our own eyes.  It would be neat if that freed us up to help the guys around us with the specks in their eyes; not out of selfish interest or self-preservation but out of a genuine desire for everyone in our lives to see our sweet savior a little more clearly.

8 thoughts on “Bad boundaries.

  1. You nailed it. Apparently we read the same articles often b/c I read this as well. I posted that article to my fb and had a guy comment on how he felt feminine because he had been hurt like this by girls. I said that this article could and should have also been written with the exact role reversal. It sucks that he felt less masculine because of something like this. We as women are equally as guilty as men. There is no excuse. So thank you and I plan to share this with others. Thanks Fab!

  2. I loved this article because I think it points out something many guys do (either knowingly or unintentionally). They fail to protect the girls’ hearts and give them enough to think a relationship is coming soon…

    That being said, my first thought (after yeah, i’ve been the friendgirl) was wow, I bet I have done this to a guy too…strung them along, enjoyed their attention and adoration when I had no intention of dating them.

    It’s just as wrong from both sides. Its good for women to look at their contribution to these relationships….am I allowing myself to be friendgirl (ie, reading too much into something) or am I stringing along a friendboy??

  3. As a newly single after 20 years of marriage and a divorce I didn’t want the dating world terrifies me! Even though I’m not ready to dive into it yet I have been very prayerful about how I am supposed to honor men in this season of my life, whether romantically or just in friendship. I so needed to read this today. I want relationships based on integrity and honor. And I really want an undivided heart. Thanks for helping me figure out what being a Godly single woman looks like!

  4. Talk about being convicted, I needed to read this! I have been blaming him, but I have over looked the fact that I did not steward my own heart well. I am praying that God will open up my heart and mind to my sin in this particular situation. Thanks.

  5. Binge reading your articles.. You have so much wisdom, thank you so much for this. I can’t explain to you how helpful and relatable your articles are.

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