Relationship Q&A: Friendships and Faux-Dating
Are friendships with the opposite sex friends BEFORE marriage okay?
I guess it ultimately depends on what your friendship looks like! If you have a healthy friendship with good boundaries, then friendships with the opposite sex are okay before AND after marriage. If there’s anything about your friendship that would need to change if either of you were to get married, then that friendship isn’t okay before marriage either. Some of the answers below will elaborate on this.
What does a “right” friendship with a guy look like? // How far can a friendship with a boy go until it’s crossing over boundaries?
It may look different for different friendships, but there are some important things to consider in all of them. Again, a key question is: would anything about this friendship have to change if one of you started dating (or married) someone else? If so, change it now. Don’t wait for another relationship to come along and make this one awkward. Do people often think you’re dating this guy? Then you are probably spending too much time alone together. How much of your heart do you share with each other? Think about your future spouse sharing this much of themselves with someone else of the opposite sex. If you wouldn’t want them to do it, you shouldn’t be doing it either. And once any friendship gets physical, you’re definitely crossing boundaries.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. – Proverbs 4:23
Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. – 1 Timothy 1:1b-2
Faux-dating is spending so much time with someone in such a way that others might think you’re dating, and you might even feel like you’re dating, but you’re not actually calling it dating. I’ve also heard people call this DWATing, or Dating without a Title. Usually both people in this relationship want the benefits of having a relationship without calling it dating, and without committing to or investing in each other. In nearly every case of this, someone is being set up for heartache and disappointment, since often at least one person ends up liking the other and wanting more than the other is willing to give.
So how do you know if you’re faux-dating? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself:
- Do you talk on the phone at night (or at least text at night or talk multiple times in a day)?
- Do you hang out one-on-one often?
- Do you do “date-like-things” (i.e. go to movies, dinner, etc)?
- Do things get awkward in the relationship when one person starts dating someone else (does your friendship have to alter in any way)?
- If you were married, could this kind of friendship (the way it currently is) remain the same?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then congratulations, you are in a faux-relationship!
The reason this isn’t beneficial is because the two of you are selfishly looking to one another to satisfy an emotional need apart from any commitment whatsoever. You’re also not guarding your heart or the other person’s heart. Essentially, you’re using that person to satisfy a need you have without having to give of yourself, sacrifice, or commit yourself to them.
Again if your friendship would have to alter in any way if one of the two of you started dating someone else, then whether you want to admit it or not, you are in an unhealthy friendship with this person. It may be time for a DTR, which would hopefully change the dynamic of your relationship.
Is it possible to have a strictly friend-like relationship with the opposite sex? And what does that look like/what separates it from faux-dating?
Yes! I definitely think it’s possible to be friends with the opposite sex without faux-dating, especially once you’re aware of the problem of faux-dating and taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen. I think some of the main things that would separate a true friendship from faux-dating are the level of emotional depth you get to and the amount of time spent together. Think about your current friendships with the opposite sex. How deep are your conversations? If you had a boyfriend/girlfriend would you want them to be that deep and emotionally connected to someone that wasn’t you? How much time do you and this friend spend alone together? Would you want your bf/gf to spend that much time alone with someone that wasn’t you? There’s no reason to let yourself get so emotionally connected with someone of the opposite sex who isn’t someone you’re in a serious relationship with. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with the opposite sex! I have some great guy friends that I really enjoy hanging out with, but I don’t spend time alone with them and we don’t have aimless, unintentional phone conversations. I don’t pour out my heart to them about every little feeling I have. That’s what my girl friends and accountability partners are for.