Single Desire: How Can I Be Cherished By A Man?

imagesRecently, I spoke at Grove City College chapel and had the delight of doing an additional follow-up workshop  that evening for women on beauty (which was not recorded). Only problem? The guys showed up along with the girls. Were they here for an easy extra chapel credit or could it be that they really wanted to understand the complex interweaving highway that is the female brain? I hoped for the later, decided to play it cool, and threw my notes away.  Inviting the guys into the conversation turned out to be something of a medicine for the soul to the girls, as I watched the men impart to their Christian sisters something I could not.

It went something like this.

“Let’s get honest with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ,” I challenged. “Women, stand up if you’ve ever….” I proceeded to list all the things we do to manipulate the attention of a guy. Manipulating your day to just “happen” to run into a certain one. Reaching for the shorter skirt. Painting on a redder lipstick. (Incidentally, the guys said they prefer naked lips so ditch that trick.) And, having a prayer journal full of guys and not God were among the things I included. 100% of the women in that room stood up confessing that they were guilty.

The guys jaws dropped.

They had no idea how delicate a power they held over their Christian sisters.

Then, I turned to the guys. And I told them it was their job to protect these delicate hearts. I asked if they truly could treasure their sisters as sisters and not potential dates. If they could acknowledge them and tell them they were worthy, and beautiful, and smart, and strong. And get in the face of any guy who didn’t hold them as worthy.

A hush came.

They pondered.

Had I pushed too far?

And then a slow clapping and a lone thunder from a single bass voice, “Oh yes!” The others in the room slowly joined and swelled to a boom of approval.

From the stage I saw something I’d never seen before. The meat market mentality stripped away and suddenly the night wasn’t about romance, but about family. It wasn’t about potential husbands and wives, but about brothers and sisters. What I saw on the faces of the women was…tears, relief, hope…healing.

We were created to be affirmed by our Christian brothers and to be cherished and protected by them whether in the context of romantic or platonic relationship.

What if, outside of the context of dating and match-making, Christian brothers and sisters could give each other some of what they really need? Is it even possible? One Relevant magazine article states that it’s nearly impossible for a guy to be “just friends” with a girl. The romantic implications are too difficult for a guy to navigate, reports social surveys.

This has lead to many single women experiencing alienation and loneliness when their male friends marry and the relationship ends cold turkey. Shannon Hodde Miller described her experience this way:

“As a single woman I often felt like a sexual object to be handled like fire. I grieved the loss of male friends who, rather than invite me into friendship with their wives, ended our friendship altogether.”

Her critique on Cross-Gendered Friendships is wise and worth a read, revealing the oft-imbalanced, unhealthy and unbiblical approaches we take to creating man-made rules about cross-gender friendships. I think we often hyper-sexualize the male/female relationship. As a result, we’re often putting the cart before the horse when it comes to male/female friendships, assuming they have to be sexual or romantic and that this is of paramount importance and relationships cannot exist without that tension. We’ve been trained by the culture that romance is the ultimate and we cannot exist in relationship without it.

What should come first?

Jesus defined the Church as a family. We are first and foremost brother and sister of Jesus Christ through adoption into the family of God. Husbands and wives are brothers and sisters before they are husband and wife. The contract of marriage is second. The covenant of family comes first. Marriage is temporal (Matthew 22:30) and the family of God is forever(Mark 10:29-30).

You NEED healthy relationships with men. God created you for them. So how will you foster those? And what boundaries will you set up to honor Christian marriages around you while you interact with your brothers in Christ?

This issue is so complex that I don’t have a lot of specific ideas. I’m stumped and need your help. No top ten list of ways to foster healthy brother and sister in Christ relationships. Just a question. How DO you do it? Calling both brothers and sisters to interact on this and hoping to see some jaw dropping…tears, hope and healing once again.

We certainly need it.

 

 

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16 Comments

  • Dannah,

    My answer would be GROUP SETTINGS ALWAYS! Accountability is everything in our walk. If the men want to keep us accountable and vice versa as family, then let’s keep it real and keep it in the realm of Church family groups with those of like minds. Sadly, anything sorry of that is breeding ground for the enemy to cause issues.

    Marlana
    Director of Garden of Hope Ministries for single moms!

  • I am a 34 year old, divorced, single mom. And my best friend is a 41 year old, divorced, single dad. We have truly the most wonderful relationship. We lift each other up, we hold each other accountable, we encourage one another. We read scripture together and pray and do Bible studies together. We love each other’s kids as if they were our own. We spend A LOT of time together. When we travel together we make sure that boundaries are never crossed. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where others could get the wrong idea. I have had married friends tell me that they wish they could have, with their husbands, what they see with me and him. What we have is extremely special, ordained by God.

    I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t say that at times it is hard too. People make assumptions and accusations that more is going on, a “friends with benefits” type thing if you will. That is absolutely not the case. And, over the past several years I have fallen in love with him. I don’t say anything and I won’t. I believe God has plans for us but that will be in His timing, not mine. In the meantime, I cherish the relationship I have with this amazing man. God brought him in my life and he is a blessing to me and my daughter. What we have is extremely special and something of great value. A gift from our Maker.

    • That is absolutely not the case. And, over the past several years I have fallen in love with him. I don’t say anything and I won’t. I believe God has plans for us but that will be in His timing, not mine.

      Buck Thornton – see my post below. Be honest with this man if you love him. If you are praying together and travel together and he does not know you are in love with him, then be honest with him. It will come out and if you have spent all this time loving him and he did not feel the same, he will feel terrible he’s hurt you. This is why I will not have female friends. A) he should know the amount of time together could lead to that b) I doubt he’s spending all that time/ travel without feeling the same about you.

      • I agree you should tell him, but for a different reason than Buck.

        Amanda, in the scenario you describe, I would not be shocked at all if you found out this guy loves you just as much.

        Best wishes, and best of luck.

  • Boundaries must be set to respect the spouse(s). Since I was 11, I have had a male friend who is married now and I need to respect his wife.I have no sexual interest in him, I see him as a brother, but I am female and by nature must consider his wife when I spend any time chatting with him. I do not meet him anywhere alone as his wife and or kids are included any time we meet in person. Now that I am involved with someone, I will never meet with my guy friend without letting my boyfriend know, or inviting him to come along.

  • Well I’m intrigued. I’ve always said its not impossible but unlikely that most guys and girls are just friends. Often when I thought I was just friends before married, I found out later they were interested, which disappointed me, because I thought we were great friends. My husband says he doesn’t believe guys and girls can be friends (when we’ve discussed our own daughters). Most experience has shown this to be true, but not all. However, most marriage counselors suggest having strict boundaries to protect the marriage, because they’ve seen too many friendships turn into affairs. As far as friends of opposite gender when married, we only have couple friends. I’ve heard this hotly debated, and to me it’s been a marriage protection and has not been a negative issue for us. This puts some interesting thoughts out there. I’m going to have to think about this! I haven’t thought as much about how it affects singles.

  • While I agree with the gist of what you’re saying, I think it is worth the caution that platonic friendships between men and women are always going to be different than between intra-sex relationships. It’s ignoring biology to suggest otherwise. Deep emotional connections (even if they are nurtured as brother-sister relationships) can shift for one or both people–which is fine when it’s mutual, but not so fine when one person is married or in a committed relationship. Besides, I don’t want to be “cherished” by a platonic friend. I can be respected, loved, and even protected by my brothers in Christ, but to be cherished suggests a more conscious decision to love and value someone at a very intimate level–beyond a mere friendship. That’s not our brothers’ job, and it’s dangerous waters for just friends.

  • I don’t do it.

    I interact with guys and I’m fine talking with them, but I don’t have an opportunity for close edifying fellowship and I crave it.
    I find I interact so much more easily with the guys who have a girlfriends. I know they are taken, I know I’m not trying to go after them.

    Sometimes I see other girls having close guy friends, and I wonder what is so wrong with me.

    It makes me sick how the desperate desire for marriage clouds my vision and makes the rare occasions do interact with me into an occasion to get my feelings worked up.

    Someone tell those guys to edify their sisters.

  • I think it starts with renewing the mind. Making a focused attempt to see others as brothers and/or sisters as opposed to someone that can “feed my need”. You have to be at least trying to find the place where God fills that need in your life instead of looking for someone else to make you feel valuable. I believe it starts with a foundation of scripture and prayer and making a decision to see and love people as we should.

  • Above all, we as Christian brothers and sisters, must focus on the glory of God and the uplifting of the Body in all our interactions. If these things become our focus, we will stop worrying about securing romantic interest, being misunderstood, and the opinions of others. We will be so driven to show brotherly love and, thus, build up the Body that our own interests and fears will fade away, and we will be willingly to take the risk to be a true friend. Philippians 2:1-5

  • I’m stumped and need your help. No top ten list of ways to foster healthy brother and sister in Christ relationships. Just a question. How DO you do it? Calling both brothers and sisters to interact on this and hoping to see some jaw dropping…tears, hope and healing once again.

    OK. I could write a book on this. I like the idea that God used the rib of Adam, that the rib is underneath the man’s arm for protection as well as close to the man’s heart. In this regard I think God has put it into Adam to protect and love Eve, and I think God created Eve to be protected and loved by Adam. In this regard, I think Eve, if submitted properly to Adam, feels safe and protected by the man who loves her. When she knows the man is strong, loves her, and sees her as value she feels safe both physically and spiritually/ psychologically.

    Disclaimer – I write from a man’s point of view and no sex before marriage point of view so I am not even going to touch the second as that leads to devastation – hope “friends with benefits” is not on the Christian radar. I respect that ladies have a point of view as well which may not seem the same. I can only speak from a male point of view.
    I am a 53 yr old divorced male. I was saved at 42. I’ve learned some things along the way -and I have 2 daughters whom I love very much. I have studied the scriptures intensely as I would like to remarry and make a wise choice for a wife.

    I have been involved in singles ministry. The women outnumber the men 7 to 1. I made a personal decision to run from it for a number of reasons.
    First of all -the single ladies do not want to be a “helper”. That is “old school”. They want the men to “help” them. This includes requests for drywalling, landscaping, picking out a car – the list goes on. After a while as a man you feel used. Have a few single lady friends and it’s a full time job. When you realize you are being used and taken advantage of and say “No’, then all the ladies think you are mud because you won’t help a lady in need.
    So, men will engineer a “safe zone”, like just staying out of the picture.

    Second – it’s about being christian friends and helping, right ? Wrong. As a man, before long you realize you were doing things for friendship, you are clear on that, and then you’ve got a problem on your hands when she takes a liking to you and you’re not interested. After that you realize you need to distance yourself. The other thing that happens is that when you choose a girlfriend, a man receives attitude from the girls who were his friends. I don’t think it’s a matter of inviting a single woman friend into your new relationship/ marriage, but the new girlfriend/ wife who does not like the competition. Even if that is not the case, and you are committed to your new wife, you do not want her to worry that other women are around.
    Third – to expect a Christian woman to be a helper will have you labelled as misogynist. So men don’t go there. In referring to another post of Dannah’s, I have yet to meet a woman who wants to do something to help. IF you recall from Genesis and Rebekkah, when the servant came to find a spouse for Isaac, Rebekkah brought water, and for his camels too. This was a woman with a giving heart.
    I once had a girlfriend who when I first met her and I was sick, made me homemade chicken noodle soup. It was just a little thing…but I was stunned. I was married for 20 yrs. For the first time I was on the receiving end of an act of kindness. My generation does not seem to want to cook as that is slavery. My mom cooked for my dad so I won’t do it. Not can’t…won’t or if will appear too much as “submission. Feminism has infected everything.

    AS far as protection, I believe that we should look out for one another as brothers and sisters. But I have learnd to ask questions first before jumping in. There is a good protection and a bad protection. But there is another type of protection that is very common. That is being the male white knight. The manosphere calls them manginas.
    These are men that come to the rescue of women thinking they are “good (Christian) men” by jumping in to defend them and that when a woman is in distress it’s automatically the man that’s causing it. Women manipulate these men to “come in to protect them”, of which men willingly do with no questions asked. I have learned that as much as women say they “fear men”, they instinctively know that when they have got themselves into a “situation” they can count on men to come to their rescue. No questions asked. I know – I’ve been one. But I have learned to ask questions – why are things as they are that you need protection, only to find out her mess was her own making and that you, as the white knight, are there as the “male protector and muscle” to get her out of a situation of her own design. As a reformed white knight, when I’ve learned I’ve been badly used, or come to her protection on a story of lies, and called a woman out on it, another white knight magically comes to take my place who now thinks he’s the “good guy” and now I’ve become the “bad guy”. Once your eyes are opened, and you see this, you realize just how common it is.
    What God has shared with me is to make friendships with other men. Men aren’t good at this. Look for the right female to be friends with that is mutual, and invest in that relationship helping each other. I want her to know she is special, and I don’t want to leave a trail of injured hearts that were interested though just friends and are now hurting because you have chosen a woman and it was not them. I have also learned that if you are doing things for them, other eligible men think you are her girlfriend, so don’t ask her out. Other females think she is your girlfriend so they think you are unavailable, or that if she is not your girlfriend, and you are helping her out, that you are doing it because she has your heart, so you are not available.
    I think as Christians we have to be very careful how we conduct ourselves, both males and females.
    Read proverbs….. and when the month is over, read it again…and again. Get an idea of how what God sees as a character traits of a Godly man and woman are/ ungodly man and woman. This knowledge will save you from harms way and is divine protection right in the word. I wish I knew proverbs as a teenager. Would have saved me a lot of grief and hard lessons along the way.
    I for one have fallen for a Christian woman believing she is interested, and pursuing, and only feeling at the end led on and used for attention.
    Men should not be leading the ladies on and the ladies should not be leading the men on. It can be innocuous such as going to the movies together, where you are using each other as “filler” until the “real one” comes along. When they do come along your friend is hurt.
    I can tell you that men’s hearts do break bad as much as female hearts. When a man loves a woman it is a very serious matter for him. It can pretty much ruin him, as I know it also seriously affects women.
    So, there it is, short version, from a male perspective.

    • Thanks for the “short version!” You bring up some good thoughts. You are right…no leading on. It’s not fair. As hard as it is sometimes to be honest, it’s the kindest thing.

  • I agree that as girls we definitely need healthy relationships with guys just as friends. The hard thing about that is that sometimes the guys will mistake friendship for interest and either back away from the friendship altogether or pursue a romantic relationship. Girls will do the same thing. Healthy friendships with people of the opposite gender definitely take two people both working towards friendship and nothing else. I haven’t really met many people like that though. Maybe a few who are more of acquaintances then friends? But at least I have that kind of friendship with my three brothers. 🙂 They care about me and encourage me (most of the time, anyway) and I am thankful for that friendship.

  • I’m so glad I found this page on your blog. How to do I respond? Where do I start? Here goes:

    First of all, I found your website while looking for some kind of real support and encouragement in dealing with the obvious frustrations of being single at 46, and for the first time in my life, trying to live a life of abstinence until marriage. I won’t lie. I don’t like it. However, I do have the dubious experience of having tried pretty much every other road… and that sure didn’t work out. So, I press on, and call it “faith.”

    I’ve read, and felt the pain of many frustrated and lonely sisters who have commented on your blog posts. I’ve also seen a pervasive assumption that men do not wrestle with all of these very same frustrations. I don’t understand that.
    It really shouldn’t be of any surprise that men need both guidance and support on all these same issues. Even if this IS primarily a women’s ministry, you can still reach men quite well, also. Joyce Meyer is a perfect example of that.

    But, is this a women’s ministry? Or, is it a sexual purity ministry? I applaud you for addressing difficult, sometimes painful topics, and “frustrating truths.” But, you’re trying to help Christians navigate sex here. Sex. It does take two to tango, after all.

    I believe “women’s ministries” and “men’s ministries” have their beneficial place, sure. However, I’m definitely a proponent of “Coed” groups, as you describe above, whenever and wherever possible. In promoting healthier marriages, it benefits everyone to continually seek a better understanding between men and women. That can’t happen in a discussion group full of all one, or the other.

    I’ll give you an example from my life. I was in a wonderful support group that was a mixture of men and women. We all sought to heal by speaking openly about childhood wounds, ways we had been hurt, etc. It was very beneficial, to me, to hear the testimonies of women and how they had been wounded by men. Yes, it certainly changed my perspective, and will influence my actions moving forward in life. But that is also two-fold. Men get wounded by women, too. I can only believe that it helps women to better understand men in these matters, just the same. One of the most profound moments came in a post-session conversation I got in with a woman who was moved by my own testimony of having been molested as a young boy. Not by a male, as you might assume… but by a teenage girl. She shared a similar story from her past. Neither she nor I had been assaulted, but rather our naiveté had been taken advantage of. In some ways the experience had affected us similarly… but in other ways, the lasting effects were quite different. Voila. Deeper, mutual understanding that is impossible in a room full of only women, or only men. In those environments, there is absolutely nothing to keep assumptions about the other in check, either.

    In your post, you almost seemed surprised that your mixed-gender session turned out so well. I find that curious. It seems to me that’s a perfectly natural, and beautiful, outcome. I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

    So, as far as developing a better, more healthy and supportive understanding between men and women… I personally think coed small groups / share groups / support groups are the way to go.

    I hope my train of thought here is coherent enough to follow. LOL. Thank you for the work that you do.

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