Today a friend of mine was asking to hear a little of my story of how in the past I told a guy friend that I had feelings for him. Little did she know that the situation actually happened a few times with a few different guys who are not Greg, haha. (He was wonderful and did the vulnerable, emotional ask-out. What a champ!)
She was asking me how I stayed friends with the guy, which is a legitimate question. I am still on good terms with these guys I’ve DTR’d with. How did I do it? I had to think about it. It was then that I came across my epiphany.
I think a lot of times, when a girl starts to have feelings for her guy friend, she worries about saying anything about her feelings because it might “ruin” the friendship. But here’s the thing:
I think a lot of the time, when a girl really likes a guy, she might be spending unhealthy amounts of time with him and crossing emotional boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. The friendship needs to be ruined.
(Disclaimer: I am not saying that all “crushes” come from inappropriate boundaries. You can have feelings for someone in a healthy way. Just hear me out and then check your heart on where you really stand.)
This might not be the case every time, but in many instances, romantic feelings begin to form when emotional intimacy increases. When you spend time with someone and talk to them about deep things (or things beyond current TV and the weather), it is natural for emotional intimacy to grow. But I think a lot of times, girls and guys cross emotional intimacy boundaries that do not match what is appropriate for two people who are not dating (or related).
So when a girl tells her guy friend she likes him, and he doesn’t return the feelings, emotional intimacy decreases. Maybe they don’t see one another as much or talk about such deep things.
But maybe that’s good. Maybe that’s healthy. Maybe that’s what platonic friendship looks like.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about deep things with people you’re not dating. I’m just saying there’s a line, and I think many times, in the moment, we cross it, grasping for something more that isn’t there yet.
And we say we “don’t want to ruin a friendship,” but maybe we just don’t want to lose that emotional intimacy or that companionship or that attention, even if it might be bad for us or confusing. The part of us that that wants human validation, love, and connectedness overruns the part of us that says, “Hey! You guys have not committed anything to each other and you shouldn’t be sharing your heart in such a deep way with this person!”
So when the friendships shrinks to more appropriate boundaries, we think we’ve lost or ruined a friendship.
But really, we’ve just put that relationship in the proper context.
So it feels “ruined” but really, it’s “healthy.”
Maybe I’m just blathering and speculating, but I think this has been true in my life. There have been a friendship or two with a guy that got a little too deep too quickly, and I got my heart invested.
“He trusted me enough to tell me those things! He must care for me romantically! But wait, if I say something and that isn’t the case, we won’t be as close, and I won’t feel special any more. I would miss the attention. I won’t say anything.”
And that only led to prolonged confusion, the need for several DTRs, and heartbreak. In reality, the “friendship” was too deep for where we stood relationally. That friendship needed to be ruined for the sake of my own heart!
I deserved more than intimacy without commitment. I deserved to spend time with someone who was willing to give both. But I didn’t want what was best for me; I wanted what felt nice in the moment, so in the end, I hurt myself by not advocating for what I deserved.**
Just something to think about…
Do you need a ruin a friendship? Does this ring true to anyone else? Just me? Leave a comment with your thoughts!
**Thankfully, Greg came into my life and gave me what I deserved (haha!) — a man who is always straightforward with his feelings for me and lets me know where I stand. Our emotional intimacy grew as our dating relationship grew, and it’s still growing! I take pride in how well I know Greg (and he does the same with how well he knows me), but we are still continually learning about each other and each other’s hearts. Before we started dating, we shared a few conversations about deeper things, about God and things from our pasts, but really, most of self-disclosure unfolded in the context of our dating relationship, within the context of commitment in some form or fashion.