“He’s my best friend.”
Have you said it?
I’ve said it. I said it in middle school about the guy who taught me to swim freestyle and to whom I gave my first kiss. I said it in high school about the guy who wrote me six page emails every other day. I said it in college about the ex-druggie, bio-chem major who edited my papers, tutored me in math, and who (incidentally) really still is one of my best friends (Hi, B!).
Nearly every season of my life I’ve had him around. “Him” was someone different every year, but he was around, there, present, always ready to listen, to give counsel, to hear my boy woes, text me, and tell me what was probably wrong with my car (although I’ve mostly been friends with artsy, musical, brainy types who mostly make up everything they know about cars…).
I used to think it was because I have seven brothers. I get guys. I understand guys more than I understand girls. I can carry on a conversation with a guy for hours and not get bored. With most girls I’m bored ten minutes in.
And, as my list of top ten books will testify, and as my Google reader will testify, this seems to be a universal truth in my life. I jive with guys. They’re my best friends.
But am I theirs?
Harry (who met Sally) said that guys can’t be friends with women and I’ve made it my aim to prove him wrong. Isn’t the proof in the pudding? I mean, first-kiss-guy aside, all I’ve ever been with my slew of best friends is friends. Right?
Recently I’ve been taking stock of some of the relationships in my life and realizing that the people who have the most access to me, the people who I trust to let in, and the people I actually answer when they call, are all guys. Friends, right?
The thing is, sometimes it’s confusing. Are we just friends? Is he flirting? Am I? At what point did we get into the friend zone? At what point is our friendship crossing boundaries? Are we both thinking the same thing about this relationship? What about when I begin to feel like maybe he could maybe possibly like me? What if he’s been thinking all along that my natural inquisitiveness and warmth is actually an interest in being more than just friends?
These questions pulse through me.
I was eating breakfast with my roommate a few weeks ago, and over coffee and poached eggs, I asked the question: what should I do?
Because I thought that this one guy and I were friends, and then I thought, well, maybe not, maybe he likes me, then I thought, nah, he’d tell me, then I thought, well, what if he thinks we’re just friends? But it didn’t seem like it. So what should I do?
And my question was meant to elicit wisdom about what I should do in this particular friendship/relationship/whatever it is, but what it did was reveal a bigger and deeper question: what should I be doing?
Simply because something is natural, easy, and familiar for me, does it mean I should be running into it with consistency? I complain to my roommates often about being thrown into the dreaded “friend zone” all the time, but what if I’m the one throwing myself into it? What if, by allowing access to my heart, my warmth, my head, and my time (to guys and girls alike), I’m sending the message that I’m emotionally available to everyone, and therefore not particularly available to anyone? These are big questions and I don’t have solid answers to them. But I think they’re questions that should be asked. I think that because I’m opposed to blanket statements and bullet point rules in my faith, it means I’m going to have to ask myself poignant questions with uncomfortable answers.
I know that the choices I’ve made about how much and how little I will guard my heart, trusting the Lord to guard it instead, will result in more heartbreak than the girl who builds castles around her heart.
I know that choosing to live open-handedly, transparently, with candor and question, means that my actions can be misinterpreted as flirting or unintended romantic interest. I know that choosing to live that way also means that when I really do want a guy to know that I maybe, could be, maybe possibly interested, it will be harder to differentiate my natural warmth with purposed interest. I know all these things are risks.
But here’s why I ask these questions: I am absolutely convinced that asking these questions and confronting myself with uncomfortable answers will lead me into greater joy in Christ and more rewarding relationships here on earth. I’m convinced of it.
So I am going to continue doing it, challenging myself to be purposed, intentional, and real in every relationship I have.
So, if you’re a girl, wanna be my friend? I probably won’t want to do manicures or go shopping or talk about so and so or such and such, but I do want to be your friend. I want to pray for you and with you. I want to ask you hard questions. I want to challenge you and be challenged by you. I want to talk about life, but mostly I want to walk alongside you in life.
Up for it?
And, if you’re a guy, will you please be clear about our friendship? Say it often, remind me well, call me your sister if that’s what I am. Flirt with me and ask me to coffee, though, if that’s what this is. Be patient with me while I try to navigate these friendship waters, but be direct with me so I can navigate the relationship waters. Use your words. I want to do this, but I want to do it with as minimal guessing as possible.