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Published on August 11th, 2016 | by Discussion Questions

How do I guard my heart with friends of the opposite gender?

ANONYMOUS WRITES: I have been blessed with a few friends who are guys. One of whom I’m fairly close to, but not at all romantically. He doesn’t like me in that way either. We’ve become better friends over the past few months, and have shared some edifying, helpful, but spiritually deep conversation. My question is, How much of my feelings and heart is too much to share? I feel like I could tell him anything, and I think that feeling is reciprocated, but I know that’s not the healthiest for my heart or his.

Many things I’ve read in Christian circles stress the fact that we shouldn’t share anything that seems even close to personal, because someone involved is bound to become emotionally attached. I care a lot about him as a friend, but I don’t feel like I’m emotionally attached in a way that’s not fair to either of our future spouses. Am I being selfish, or putting his feelings in danger by being open? How can I guard not only my heart, but his?

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  • Ryan Mueller

    Toward the end of 1 Timothy, Paul gives some guidance on this issue. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 (ESV) says “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

    This, to me, means that it’s not only possible to have cross gendered relationships, but encouraged! Purity and intent are what your question really boil down to. Provided that you and your friend can remember your place as friends, I see no problem.

    I would personally suggest never hanging out with him alone, however. In my youth group, it’s against the rules for a young man and a young woman to go off alone. Sometimes that may mean you shouldn’t share everything that’s extremely personal, however most personal things (I’m thinking struggles with keeping up on daily devotions, prayer, some easy temptations for you to give into), are okay to share.

    Hope this helps! (And sorry for the essay).

  • I TOTALLY get this! It is something that I have thought about a lot.
    When you feel that you can tell someone everything it is very easy to do exactly that which creates a deep emotional intimacy that is deeper than the relationship you are in and can make for confusing emotions and hurt hearts even if you don’t intend for it to.
    1 Timothy 5:1-2 as Ryan wrote, is a great verse. If you have a brother that is following the Lord it helps a lot for that comparison- Share with your friend what you would feel totally comfortable sharing with your brother.
    Also remember that he is probably some other woman’s future husband… Only share with him what you would feel comfortable with another woman sharing with YOUR future husband. It can be a really hard balance to find, especially if you don’t have a lot of people to talk to about your relationship with God.
    Pray about it and during conversation and God will guide you- take every though captive to Christ.
    One last thing- Tell God your inmost thoughts, struggles… He wants to know you intimately. Developing these types of relationships is normal- The Most High God created you as a relational human being- so that we would have a relationship with Him. It is wonderful to find other human beings that we can share about our deepest thoughts and emotions with but just use discretion as you share. Ryan’s guidelines were good. Don’t worry about every little detail though… None of us will ever get it exactly right. We will always fall short in something. If you share too much one day, don’t stress about it. Just try not to do it again and move on.
    Our desire for relationship is God-given and He gave it to us so that we can have joy in relationships with people and FULLNESS of joy in following HIM. He will never leave or forsake you…. Or in this case- get a girlfriend and eventually get married and it be impossible for you be as close ever again. 😉

    That was a lot, my apologies. This is still something that I am learning, I hope that it encourages you as it has been encouraging me.

    In Christ, Susannah

    • Christine Mae

      I agree with what you said “Only share with him what you would feel comfortable with another woman sharing with YOUR future husband.” Because remembering this would guard us from sharing or interacting with guys in a way that does not glorify God.

      I am also struggling with the way I interact and talk with guys so this reminded me. Thanks. :)

      • Pleasure! Glad to know that it was a good reminder. :) It is something I need constant reminder of as well. Praying that God will help you to guard your heart and mind and tongue according to His will.
        In Christ, Susannah

  • Amanda

    Thank you for submitting this question, friend!! I am in exactly the same situation. I’ve gotten close with a guy friend recently and I’m wondering how to avoid getting into a messy situation. I know I have gone too far emotionally in the past, and I want to protect myself and him from the hurt that can happen in those relationships. This guy is 14 years older than me, so it seems crazy that something like that could happen, but it can happen without either of us realizing it until it’s too late. I also think this friend will probably get married at some point, so I don’t want to cause problems. I just want to be able to have a normal close friendship with my brother in Christ and not have to worry about this stuff…I kind of wish it wasn’t so dangerous.

  • Cassie Whitten

    I have been wondering the same thing lately. I am in college and broke up with my boyfriend recently, and suddenly became close to his best friend. We are both going through a tough time right now and ‘bonded’ over our trials. Now I wonder if it somehow went too far, but I take comfort in the fact that he is moving away in a month. Still I don’t know what our relationship is exactly. And I don’t k is how we suddenly became such good friends!

  • Jesse

    I saw a quote somewhere recently that said, “If he does not love Jesus, He will not love you” I don’t know if this helps but it’s a good thing to remember.

  • Jediah

    I have that exact same problem, been dealing with it for a long time now, and I’m not positive I have an answer perfect for myself, let alone for anyone else, so I’m gonna be coming back to this to see what others have to say on the matter.
    But as a guy, one who actually has at least as many female friends than guy friends, here’s what I’ve come up with.

    Friendship with the other gender is definitely not a bad thing at all, and really I think quite helpful for the development of us. Without my female friends I wouldn’t understand my Christian sisters nearly as well, and thus would not be able to help them better develop themselves as persons in Christ. We are made to have relationships with both genders, and it’s not hard to have a platonic relationship with someone of the other gender as long as you know how to do it; the trick is that there are very few examples for us as teens of a healthy relationship between brothers and sisters in Christ that’s not set by our peers. Most of the relationships we see between males and females is based on Hollywood – who isn’t exactly the greatest character model… And this isn’t just me spouting-out what I’ve thought-up to satisfy myself by the way, like Ryan Mueller said so well: “‘1 Timothy 5:1-2 (ESV) says “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.’ This, to me, means that it’s not only possible to have cross gendered relationships, but encouraged!” (I hope you don’t mind Ryan!)

    So how does one be friends with someone of the other gender while maintaining a Christ- honoring relationship? Balance. You have to find the balance between you that allows for the closeness of friendship, without stepping over the line into a Relationship. Honestly, this is the hardest part of it, finding(and then keeping), this balance. I have struggled with it ALOT, I’m a person that loves getting to know others, and I love to help, which for girls in highschool can sometimes mean listening to an emotional deluge, and let me tell you, that creates a strong bond faster than almost anything else I know of. So that’s probably one of the biggest things to watch out for, I made the mistake of letting it get too far once, and let me tell you, it’s not a fun lesson to learn personally, so learn it here. And that’s not to say that you can’t share, and you can’t go to your friends for comfort, but as my senior pastor once told his daughter, “propinquity propinque’s propinquity” that is to say, “closeness with someone creates closeness with said someone”(propinquity means closeness, whether locationally or emotionally). So it has to be a proper balance of closeness, but not so much as to create an attraction in either party, cause that can get bad if it’s not in the right circumstances.

    Of course after all that negativity I’m sure you’d be surprised to hear that I have discussions like that, while not regularly, not rarely. And that’s the next step, you have to take each friendship at a base level, they all start the same for either gender (though the starting criteria is probably different between genders), but once you have a solid friendship, some friendships move on to become something more, becoming truly close friends, or they might just stay where they are, and you can close friends in both genders, perhaps not quite as easily, but it can be done. My personal trick? I had to convince myself that those friends were forever off my dating radar (cause even though I’m not dating in highschool, I still struggle with nearly always having a crush on someone) and that’s when it didn’t matter.

    Why doesn’t it matter? Because that’s where friendships form, in brother/ sisterhood. Proverbs 17:17- “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. (NLT)” Proverbs 18:24- “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (NLT)” So once I could love them as a sibling, loving them as a friend without worrying about anything else became so much easier! And now one of my best friends is a girl, and it’s great.

    Anyway. That was really long, and a bit ramble-ly I imagine(and sorry about the grammar if I messed that up too!), but those are my honest thoughts on the matter, I hope they help you figure it out for yourself!

    • Piragi

      Amazing! I needed this for quite awhile. Thank you for your advice… I struggle with the same thing. God bless you brother. :)

  • I’m really not sure how you’re supposed to become real friends with anyone without becoming “emotionally attached” to them. I’ve lost several friendships because the other person was concerned about so-called emotional attachment. It hurts.
    I’m not an expert, and I know I don’t always make wise decisions, so I would advice anyone against taking my friendship advice without thinking through it first. But please hear me out.

    I don’t know what you’re afraid of. If you’re afraid of getting hurt, don’t even try to be friends in the first place. In the words of C. S. Lewis:

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

    Love is not without the possibility of pain. Love cost Jesus his life. So if pain is a problem for you, beware.

    You must decide what “too close” means to you. In the context of a friendship between a guy and a girl, there are certain commands in the Bible that we are to follow. So yes, sexual purity is a thing. What I don’t really see in the Bible is anything about emotional purity. As @disqus_7IWNwkJvS5:disqus quoted, the Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:1-2:

    “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

    That indicates that we can and should encourage members of the opposite gender purely. Oh yeah, that’s what Ryan said. I guess we all appreciate his comment. 😉

    What is it that you’re concerned about saving for your future spouse, and why? Don’t ruin positive friendships if you don’t need to. Save what you should, and save what you want, but don’t wait for friendship!

    I really appreciate a lot of what @disqus_sPYSmkBa53:disqus said. I have more female friends than guy friends, partly because there are more (and more mature) girls around me and partly because I just find a lot of girls to be easier to become more than just surface-level friends with. So yeah. I don’t think being relationally close, even very close, with a girl (as a guy) is a bad thing at all. Close friendships are great! I need people in my life who I can tell anything to, and I want to be that person for others. Close friendship is good and important. Real friendship isn’t selfish.

    I’d be happy to discuss this further with anyone who would like to. Some of what I said may need clarification. :S

    • Haylie

      Hmmm, yeah. I suppose I should’ve clarified what I meant by using the often overused term, “emotional attachment”. I guess I meant it to mean emotionally involved on a level that isn’t helpful as far as actually like being attracted to said person, or idolizing them in a way that isn’t healthy/okay. But I really like what you said. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for your thoughts, Sam, I appreciate it a lot! :)

      • Okay yeah, idolizing is never a good thing!

    • Amanda

      Very good answer, Sam! I think you and I have learned some of these lessons together. :) I love that C.S. Lewis quote! So true. So true.

    • That was perfection. ^^

    • What @Sara M. said.

    • Jason

      Hey Sam. . .I might take you up on your offer for further discussion-maybe off theReb. I agreed a ton with your first part. I disagreed somewhat with things you were saying in the middle, and then at the end I could pretty much feel you. Do you want to email or google chat about it. Also, if you’d be up for it, I’d love to talk to you just about friendship in general (not just girl-guy friendship.) It’s something I think about a lot, and I’ve especially been thinking about more in the last two years as I’ve made some close friends.

    • Piragi

      I agree.


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