Young people nowadays are technologically savvy but are socially awkward. Since a lot of their conversations happen online and not face to face, it has become difficult for them to read social cues.

In a social setting, young people may not be as comfortable talking to each other as when they are chatting online, where their words and emotions are sometimes unfiltered. This leads to a lack of clarity, honor, and wisdom, and eventually, unhealthy friendships.

To have healthy friendships between men and women, we must guard these three things.

Clarity

Some questions come up a lot in our conversations with young men and women:

“He’s been extra sweet to me compared to his other girl friends. He’d bring me home even when it’s out of his way. We’ve been chatting late into the night. Does that mean anything?”

“She’s interesting and I want to get to know her more and be friends with her. But I also don’t want her to think I want to be more than friends. What do I do?”

Here is the short answer:

Only you can define the relationship.

We have no control over another person’s actions. Therefore, we can draw the line for ourselves at platonic friendship to avoid confusion.

Regardless of what the other person does, have you clarified the relationship in your heart? If you have clarified in your heart that this is purely friendship, then there is no room for misunderstanding. You can safely treat the other person as you treat your other friends.

1 Timothy 5:1,2 says, Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers . . . and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

This does not mean that you are putting a cap to your friendship. After all, a lot of healthy romantic relationships start off with good friendships.

Girls, don’t read too much into it when a guy starts hanging out with you. Create a safe environment for guys to pursue friendship with you, where they can hang out with you just to enjoy your friendship and serve alongside you without fear of being misinterpreted.

Guys, don’t send the wrong signals. Guard your female friends by evaluating your actions toward them constantly. Give each of them equal attention and respect. Be aware that certain words and special treatment might lead to confusion and emotional attachment.

Clarity is important because God calls us to honor one another—to freely serve each other and to love each other without agenda—without the fear of being misinterpreted.

Honor

“I don’t think I’ll ever like him as more than a friend. He’s too passive.”

“Why did I ever like her? She’s toxic and emotional.”

A lot of us grew up in a culture where we get criticized more than we get affirmed, and we tend to carry it over to our friendships. We judge others based on their behavior and external appearance and decide whether they make the cut.

But Romans 12:10 says, Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

This means we are to cultivate an environment where we can pray for, encourage, and serve each other freely. We are to be ready to love each other without agenda in order to minister God’s unconditional love.

This also means that there are certain sinful habits we need to get rid of, such as:

Partiality. We do not honor others when we make judgments about a person based on their behavior and external appearance.

Gossip/Slander. We are not loving when we unfairly criticize people even without knowing their motives or situation. Instead of gossiping, why don’t we journey with the person through healing and maturity? Maturity comes when we are willing to share life and love unconditionally.

Teasing. Teasing two people puts malice in their actions. Just as we are supposed to treat one another purely as friends, we are also supposed to encourage and celebrate pure friendship among people.

However, we are sometimes unaware that our words and actions are sending the wrong signals. How do we deal with these blind spots? This is where wisdom is needed.

Wisdom

“How do I know if I should pursue her already?”

“Can we date while we’re still in school?”

“How do I make sure I don’t do anything foolish to make someone confused about our friendship?”

A lot of misunderstandings and hurts in a friendship can be avoided if we practice wisdom. Song of Solomon 2:7 says, I adjure you . . . that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. Here are six things we need to evaluate in our friendships.

1. Words

It is good to encourage one another, but we have to be careful lest we mislead someone with our words.

Guys, is it wise to call a girl “sweetie” when you are only friends? Or greet her every day with “Good morning. Kumain ka na ba?

Girls, is it wise to call a guy “bae?” Or even say, “You are more special to me than anyone else?”

The bottom line is, ask yourself before you say anything. “Will I be able to say this freely to all my friends?” Anything more may lead the other person on.

2. Intentions

Words and actions start from the intentions of the heart.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Luke 6:46

Do you truly serve all your friends with the same intentions?

Is your intent pure? Does it bring peace? Is it considerate, merciful, impartial, and sincere?

Guys, are you trying to gain the favor of a girl because you want her attention exclusively (a.k.a binabakuran)?

Girls, are you trying to earn the guy’s love by treating him more special than your other guy friends?

3. Season

What does God want you to focus on in this season? Will a relationship help you accomplish God’s purpose for you at this time or will it be a distraction? What is God building in you and in the other person?

Your years as a student are opportunities for growth, not just in learning but especially in relating with God, your family members, and your friends.

In her recent talk at Victory U-Belt, our daughter Janina said, “I was having a hard time falling in love with God because I was consumed with falling in love with [another person].”

If a romantic relationship hinders you from growing as a person, there may be a need to reevaluate the timing.

4. Decisions

What boundaries do you need to establish? Do you need to reevaluate the time you’re spending with someone or the attention you’re giving to him or her? Do you need to stop sharing things that create emotional attachment with the other person?

If you know something is not going to end well—that you might end up hurting the other person or yourself—then you might need to step back and stop some things you are doing that might lead yourself or the other person on.

Proverbs 22:3 encourages us, The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

5. Openness

Who have you shared your boundaries with in order for you to be held accountable? Is there a person who loves you enough to speak the truth in love about your blind spots?

6. Mindset

Your mindset is crucial in developing healthy relationships because your outlook affects your actions.

There will be times when you will make a mistake in treating someone with clarity, honor, and wisdom. There will be times when your emotions will override your will and mind and you find yourself in a friendship mess.

But God does not expect us to do things perfectly. Rather, He wants us to be fully devoted to Him so that in times of relational failures, we have soft hearts to repent, to forgive, and to continue to love others in purity.

 

Talk with your friends:

  1. Do you have a culture of honor among your friends? Do you commit to fight against gossiping and teasing each other?
  2. Is there clarity in all your friendships? Are you protecting each other from blurred lines?
  3. Who are the people you can be open with about the boundaries that you’ve set for yourself?