(Photo by Natalie Baugh)
Help! I’m Falling For My Friend
By Sarah Komisky
You’re hanging out (for the gazillionth time), only this time it’s different. You’re starting to have feelings. Suddenly, the way he makes you laugh catches your attention and you begin looking forward to the next time you’ll get together. More and more, your friend starts popping into your mind and suddenly, the idea of you and him as more than friends seems more appealing. Then, you realize, you’ve moved out of the friendship zone. You’re falling, quickly, at least on your side of things.
Sound familiar? It’s a common tale. Weather you’ve just gotten out of a relationship, been waiting for a long time, or are searching to fill a deep void inside, romanticizing a friend is never a great option.
A.) Because it doesn’t work.
B.) Because it hurts you and your friend.
Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend call this concept in their book, “Boundaries in Dating,” the “bus stop” theory. The friend becomes the bus stop to the vulnerable, hurting, or lonely person until they find someone. Uncomfortable with their single state, the friend becomes the victim.
Other times, the person who feels comfortable and known by their friend devalues the friendship stage to move on to the romance stage. However, that may not be the case. Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend write, “Romantic relationships are not better than friendships. They are different and meet different needs. Do not get caught in the idea that you are missing out by keeping your friend as ‘only’ your friend.”
While all good relationships should be rooted in a good friendship, it’s never a great idea to romanticize a relationship that should not be romanticized. Other warning signs include picking out of brokenness (an unresolved issue in your past that you’re seeking to resolve it in the present through romanticizing friendship) as well as codependency (using a friend to fill the void for love, affirmation, or validation). Also, other areas Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend touch on in their book include impulsiveness and rescue/care-taking roles that make us prone to romanticizing our friends.
While there may be chemistry with a friend there might not be a romantic connection. Have you heard people say, “I don’t think they are cute, but…” Or “At first, I wasn’t physically attracted to them but…” If you can’t find the person you think you are starting to like attractive, then you shouldn’t be with them because you are giving them less than they deserve.
Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend comment in their book, “If you spend time a lot of time in a growing relationship and never feel any passion or sexual attraction, then something is wrong or this person is someone you should keep in the ‘friend’ category. Sexuality and intimacy must come together for a relationship to be deep and fulfilling.”
Imaginary romances can be easy to fall into when you have a void that needs filling. It becomes even more harmful when it’s one sided (AKA living in a fantasized relationship). The cure for romantics is to see the friend as they really are.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Can I say this person is God’s best for me?
- Am I sexually attracted to this person or am I just emotionally attached?
- Am I in love with this person?
- Am I lonely?
- Do I see myself in a long-term relationship with this person that leads to marriage?
- What is the reality of this relationship and is my romance only one-sided?
- Are you on the re-bound?
Above all, let your loneliness lead you to God instead of relying on your friend. Spend time with Jesus and let Him fill your heart first and foremost so you can enjoy a healthy and lasting earthly relationship in His time. Remember that romanticized friendships are merely quick fixes and counterfeits to the real deal, so it’s important to focus on developing safe relationships where you can connect and relate to others. Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend write, “Learn to verbalize, express, and deal with your strong impulses in ways that bring healthy connection, not a history of intense and broken connections.” A Christian support group or counseling can also be a valuable tool when it comes to your recovery.
1 Corinthians 16:14 in the English Standard Version says, “Let all that you do be done in love.” So, don’t do anything that would hurt your friend. Let God check your motives. Enjoy your friend and celebrate the relationship for the support and perspective it can uniquely give.