He Said-She Said: Inappropriate Relationships
- Thursday, May 27, 2010
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I met this girl about one and a half years ago. She literally blew me away the first time I saw her, but when I got to talk to her and tell her my intentions she told me she was already in a relationship. We are both born-again Christians. When she told me about her relationship, I was stubborn at first, acting contrary to my Maker and though I did not continue to strongly pursue her we remained close friends.
The problem is we always got ourselves into compromising situations and though we didn't have sex, we have kissed and caressed. Even though she insists that she loves her boyfriend and has no feelings for me, she's usually the main architect of these situations.
I have tried to explain to her that not only does this compromise our Christianity but these situations only make my feelings grow deeper, and yet I would hope to have a strictly platonic relationship with her as I search for that lady that God has prepared for me.
I have decided to take time off from her and hopefully kill my feelings as I work on myself to be whole, as I believe they are issues I need to deal with in my life.
I have four questions:
Is a strictly God-pleasing, platonic relationship possible with someone you've had feelings for in the past? I really don't feel that I should be friends with this person ever again, because I believe she's not been honest and open with me yet she claims to be my friend.
Is she a "player," leading me on, giving me all these signals and yet says she has no feelings for me?
I sometimes feel guilty that I am abandoning her at this time when she had shared with me something traumatic in her, a past of which I believe God used me to reach out to her through a Joyce Meyer book I bought her over Christmas.
There is this other friend I have known for a while whose values I really admire as a Christian and who was interested in me a while back. We are in contact. Should I wait for my feelings for the other lady to subside before I seriously pursue her? I wouldn't want to rush into anything. Please help me out.
HE SAID: I appreciate your sharing your situation and asking honest questions. Unfortunately, what you are struggling with is not a unique circumstance. Many of us find something or somebody we desire, and although we know it is not godly or righteous, we dabble with or justify it only to fall victim to it sooner or later. Whether it leads to a public acknowledgment or a personal degradation of our walk, unrighteous behavior no matter who "initiates" it will affect us and our effectiveness for God.
King David's story with Bathsheba is the epitome of a person who allowed himself to be allured into a situation which he knew was immoral. As a result, many misguided (and ungodly) decisions followed and he fell deeper into disobedience.
Joseph should be our illustration of how to take action in a compromising situation—run! There was no discussion, no justification, just immediate and decisive action.
- Is a "God-pleasing, platonic relationship possible with someone you've had feelings for in the past?" Yes, it is definitely possible. I have been able to create some great friendships with those I've had feelings for. However, it has taken a great deal of time away from each other, distance apart from one another and a concerted and deliberate effort (with personal and spiritual guidelines) in order to build them.
In your case, the friendship (using the term loosely) does not sound as if it is based upon trust and honesty, nor does it seem to have a strong spiritual basis upon which it was developed. It sounds as if she wants to have a friendship "with privileges." Why would you want to put yourself (or allow yourself to be used) in that sort of situation? You are better than that, to yourself and to God.
- Is she a "player"? I don't like to put labels on people and classify them into a group. However, if she is saying the things you want to hear, is leading you on with her actions, has no feelings for you and you are sticking around, you are being played.
It may feel good for that moment to be (temporarily) desired by the person you have feelings for, however, if she is saying these things to you, what do you think she is saying to her "boyfriend" who she "loves" or to another "friend" of hers? If you ever did have a relationship with her, do you think her lack of openness and honesty will change or will she carry on other "friendships" during your relationship?
- It is great God is using you in your friend's life spiritually, but she doesn't need a male friend (nor does her boyfriend probably want you to be) who she confides in. Direct her to a mature female who she can share her past and issues with. It sounds as if she may be reaching out in an effort to be loved and desired for something she may have missed growing up.
You won't be abandoning her, but rather directing her to someone who is in a better place and position to help her.
- Your heart still seems emotionally connected to your friend and you need to be cautious to not "rush" into anything, especially when it involves another person's feelings. Unless you can wholeheartedly give yourself to someone or something, you should consider waiting until you can.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart (Colossians 3:23).
Pursue someone you fully want and feel led to have a relationship with. Don't chase someone just because they showed some interest in you. Relationships are hard enough when both of you are trying, so don't begin one unless you are fully committed.
Whether we acknowledge it at the time or not, we often receive God's direction through his Spirit. Our human feelings, desires and "knowledge" are the things that often get in the way with thinking clearly and hearing his voice. Continue to seek him in all you do.
SHE SAID: I'm thankful. Yes, that may seem like a bizarre way to start out answering your question. But I really am. I am thankful that you are seeing this situation for what it is, and that it has helped highlight some issues in your own life that you wish to work on and hopefully will learn from going forward.
I do believe God allows us to make mistakes, to trip and fall, to find ourselves in a mess of our own doing. And thankfully (yes, thank you, Lord!), he does not hold our wandering ways and transgressions against us (Psalms 103:10-12). Believe me, I have been there myself and am not casting stones at all (Some of us have to learn the hard way, right? And it's good to take a closer look at what we have done and why.). It's not a great place to find yourself, but when you've hit bottom (in any type of situation) then there's no place else to go but up. We can either choose to stay in the pig-pen of poor choices or we can receive the Father's outstretched hand, stand up, dust ourselves off and start walking toward a way of living that honors him (Ephesians 4:22-24).
After taking part in a relationship such as this, I'm sure you will be more aware and mindful of your future interactions with women who are already in relationships with others. I've read before that it is a good policy to regard every man or woman (those who are single) as though they are already someone else's husband or wife—primarily so that you will guard yourself and your actions, treat them with respect and honor and not be led into temptation or into any sinful behavior (James 1:13-15; 1 Corinthians 10:32-33).
Due to the length of your inquiry and questions, I can tell that this situation has greatly affected you and that you have been convicted of your choices and corresponding actions. I believe you are gaining clarity and are moving in the right direction.
So let me answer your four questions:
- I think it's very difficult to go backwards from a romantic relationship to a purely platonic one. Once the feelings have been expressed and acted upon, then they're out and cannot easily be caged (or ignored) again. Also, does your female friend's boyfriend know that you were having a relationship with her (while they were still dating)? I can't imagine that he would be okay with your having a platonic relationship with his girlfriend now (if they are still dating). In fact, if you have not already done so, you need to apologize to him (James 5:16) for your part in an inappropriate relationship with his girlfriend (whether they are still dating or not). I also believe that it might be better for you (emotionally, psychologically) to move on from this friendship so that you can repent and be restored without any lingering feelings or deceptive emotions that may still be clouding your judgment.
- Yes. She is a player. But you were playing with the player, so to speak. Perhaps that makes you the "preyer" (as in, did you take advantage of her in her moments of weakness and poor choices?). Put yourself in the boyfriend's place, and you can see from that vantage point that you both contributed to dishonesty and improper behavior (and doing harm to his relationship with his girlfriend) in the nature of your relationship with your female friend.
- When God restores this young lady, then he is more than able to handle this without your help (Psalms 89:8). Nothing will stand in the way for what God wants to accomplish in her life and in moving her closer to him. I suggest you focus on your own restoration right now. That is more than enough, and you need to focus on what God is requiring of you in the healing of your life wounds. Just like we read in the airplane instructions in the seat in front of us, we must first get help for ourselves (put on our own oxygen masks) before we can be of effective help to others (when and if we are called to do so).
- If you are still asking questions such as the above today, then you are not ready to move forward in pursuing another woman. Have you spent time analyzing what you did wrong in this scenario by having an inappropriate relationship with someone who was already in a relationship? I think you recognize that this is not the type of woman you are looking for (someone who is deceitful and not faithful). And for your other single female friends (or sisters if you have any), I'm sure you would frown upon them having secret relationships with men if they (the women) were already in dating relationships. You sound like you do not wish to make this same mistake again. Time, prayer, study in the Word, and perhaps a few sessions of Christian counseling will help to ready you for the kind of woman you say that you admire. May I also suggest an accountability group? Guys only, though. Ask them to question you and to pray for you now and continuing on to whenever you begin pursuing another woman—that you will make good choices and be the type of man who will seek to honor the Lord in all of his interactions and, by example, be a man who will lead his future wife closer to Christ (Romans 12:10).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on May 27, 2010.
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