Thoughts on sex and relationships from a single Christian gal
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
"We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together.
But we sure make it feel like we're together..."
-Drake, "Doing It Wrong"
I never thought I'd be the kinda girl who finds transformative revelation in a rap song. Yet, this lyric haunts me. This has been much of my relational experience throughout my twenties--developing "friendlationships" marked by intense emotional investment, devoid of commitment. Relationships where we certainly acted like we were together, but we were "just friends" all along. So, when I share my dating/crush/relationships stories, it's not your typical list. Well-versed in the ways of the "DTR" and having experienced my fair share of heartbreak without actual break-ups, I know all about pseudo-boyfriends.
"I am a whore, I do confess..." says Derek Webb in his brilliant spiritual allegory "Wedding Dress." Lately, I find myself singing that line under my breath...
Because I know it's absolutely true. While I have been dilligent to maintain my physical purity, I desperately wish that I had transferred that self-control into emotional abstinence as well. I have given myself away more times than I care to count. I have loved "uncarefully"--which is both beautiful and essential for living out true the true Agape love we are called to as believers. Yet, when improperly motivated and guided, "uncareful love" can easily become foolish. There is a difference between loving "uncarefully" and flat-out "carelessly."
I know I'm being careless with my love when I completely disregard the still small voice that prompts me to hold back, to slow down...to walk in wisdom. When my heart gets wrapped up in a person or situation (romantic or otherwise), the communicator in me runs around passionately wild and (often) unrestrained. Likewise, the relator in me so longs to connect with others that I begin to confess without contemplation. Lacking the proper restraint and reflection, the actions that stem from pure and well-intentioned desires quickly turn sinful, selfish and frankly, stupid. In neglecting some pretty significant fruits of the Spirit (namely patience and self control), I so easily toss wisdom to the wind. Wisdom like Proverbs 10:19 that reminds me that "Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." Oh, snap. When I turned my back on wisdom, foolishness was all too happy to step in and take it's place.
When I throw away those key Holy Spirit fruits, it's not like I'm completely fruitless...I've just acquired different fruits in my life. Rotten ones, unfortunately. I've discovered that the fruit of foolishness is heartbreak. And the thing that sucks is that I can clearly see my own foolishness in the whole pseudo-boyfriend process...now that my heart is broken.
My hope is that my hindsight can at least save someone else from the heart-break of foolish decisions...
Because I know I'm not the only one with an affinity (clearly subconsciously) for the psedo-boyfriend. Nearly all of my girlfriends have told me stories. Note "stories" with an "s." We usually haven't recognized this negative pattern until several such "friendlationships" have been unintentionally collected under our belts...or more accurately, ushered naively (albeit excitedly) into our hearts.
What does "pseudo-boyfriend" look like, you ask? Well, here is the amalgam I've created from my own fake BF's, along with characteristics recently (and repeatedly!) mentioned by friends. (Sad but true fact: Pretty much every single girl I know has or is currently getting over a pseudo-boyfriend at the moment. Goes to show that even us smart girls can make some dumb decisions...).
Profile of a Pseudo-Boyfriend/Friendlationship:
-Constant communication (texting, FB, Skype, etc), deep conversations and confessing/counseling each other through emotional/spiritual struggles.
-Looking to each other for emotional fulfilment and companionship (investing a lot of time into getting to know and developing significant friendship with the other person). Of course you have other friends, but there is no denying that you both gravitate towards each other's company/listening ear more often than with other people.
-Romantic expression/tension--engaging in flirting, casual inuendo (don't act so holy, you Christians...) and talking about your mutual attraction to one another. This romantic element may or may not involve a physical relationship ("friends with benefits" definitely falls under the pseudo-boyfriend category in my opinion).
Hmmm...sounds like a real relationship, doesn't it?
So, now is the prime time to ask: If you have this kind of "friendship" with an attractive member of the opposite sex, why AREN'T you dating?
My recent revelation is that there is only one thing separates the fake version from the actual boyfriend. Forgive the anti-climactic answer, but that one (key!) thing is COMMITMENT. Rather, the pseudo-boyfriend exhibiting a complete lack there-of (forgive the stereotype, but 9 times out of 10, this falls on the guy. Read on...).
Many a pseudo-boyfriend has made lame excuses for this lack of commitment, including the infamous lines of "I'm just not ready for a relationship" or "I just think of you like a sister."
Ha! That's kind of hilarious, boys...Not ready for a relationship, but willing to be so vulnerable with your heart and allow a girl to freely share hers with you (via deep conversation)? Denying attraction, but willing to invest hours to keep her companionship--typically accompanying that friendship with blatant (intentional?) romantic/sexual undertones? (Who's the tease now?)
Um, yeah. About that...
Lest I digress and turn this into a male-bashing fest (I'm not that girl...), allow me to turn the tables on the ladies and share a lil truth in love (to myself included). While the pseudo-boyfriend status is typically generated by the guy in the "friendlationship" (as the man, he is, after all, the one with "the say" as to whether or not he wants to truly pursue and commit), us girls are in the wrong when we stoop to going along with it.
We might not consider ourselves insecure or lacking self-respect, yet that's exactly what we are when we allow ourselves to settle for such relationships. Instead of picking up our Superfox-selves and moving on to someone worthy, we come up with a myriad of excuses for pseudo-boyfriend's lack of pursuit and commitment.
Step back for a minute, however, and it suddenly all becomes clear: When we are willing to invest, but he isn't willing to commit, we are being used for the emotional and/or physical benefits we are so freely giving away to these men.
And by staying in these friendlationships, we're giving the okay to be sucked dry emotionally or taken advantage of physically. (Although we say that we're the ones in control and that it's not hurting us emotionally to stay in the friendship, just try telling that to the alcohol and ice cream in the aftermath of the "break up"...).
I always prided myself on not settling when it comes to men and relationships. But what the heck else is the pseudo-boyfriend if not settling for a romantic-looking/seeming relationship without making it necessary for him to commit to me?
Ladies, listen to me: WE ARE SETTLINGwhen we give so much of our time, caring and the deepest parts of our heart to men who won't work to woo us. The sad reality is, in these situations of subtle settling, these men don't even need to exert any effort to win us. We have already exposed ourselves--speaking too quickly and allowing them access to our hearts without question. They really did have us at "Hello." At the first spark of interest, we held little to nothing back...
But here is an even greater truth: You and I don't have to live in guilt about our mistakes in this area. We don't have to keep on settling for pseudo-boyfriends and fake relationships. We need to be confident of what the Lord has destined and designed godly relationships to be. We need to know what we are worth...
As daughters of the Almighty King, we are worth being treated with love and respect. We deserve to have bold, godly men who have the emotional strength and Spirit-led confidence to pursue us. We deserve men who are willing to commit to exclusive relationships, forsaking all other possibilities and choosing to trust God's ability to transform them into strong leaders, even when they don't feel "ready." We deserve men who consistently express care for us, showing us that they genuinely can love us like Christ--with actions faithfully marked by servanthood and sacrifice.
And I know, without a doubt, that these men exist. The Lord has been so faithful to show me them EVERYWHERE (yes, even in Sacramento!). Yet, my problem comes when I rush ahead--when I don't wait to be pursued, but instead, seek to turn a friendship into something more by my own effort.
I've come to realize that I am settling even if the man I'm interested in is amazing, but I'm the one in control. Because is that really what I want? To have to convince the man of my dreams--my "list" in flesh and blood form--why he should be with me? Of course not! There is no greater form of "settling," in my opinion, than feeling like I was the one who made the relationship happen....
Call me old-fashioned, but I'm a romantic. I want the man to know it's me. I want him to pursue me and commit to me, not because I pressured him into it, but because he knows in his heart that I am the only one he wants.
So, farewell, pseudo-boyfriends. The "man drama" that has jokingly (albeit truthfully) marked my life over the last year is a thing of the past: I know what I am worth. I know what I want.
And what I truly want is what God wants for me: The best. All in His timing and by His leading.