Part 3. Navigating Christian Dating Culture: In Defence of the Friend Zone

My ex-flatmate recently got engaged. She is back in the US, has asked for my current postal address so she can send a Save the Date card for the pending celebrations.

12 months of squeezing into a tiny, un-air conditioned loft together, and she has become extremely special to me. While our initial conversations were about rent payments, curtain colours and being quiet after 10pm, it slowly progressed into a mutual love and respect for each other. 

Further, we established that if we met under normal church setting circumstances, we probably would not have grown so close, or transitioned from flatmates to genuinely good friends.

IN DEFENCE OF STARTING OUT THIS WAY

I know what you're worried about. You're silently musing: "What if I can't get out of it?"

However a close male friend sold me the reason why he loved the Friend Zone. He said: "There are just no expectations. It's the perfect context to really get to know someone." 

In addition, I've met at least 10 couples in happy marriages who started out as just friends. My response to not being able to exit the Zone-of-Friends is this: maybe they just weren't that into you. Ouch. Sorry. If you're rocking those God-given assets, go forth with the confidence that you'll meet somebody who will love every crag and quarry of your unique identity. 

No convincing allowed. You're worth too much to beg love from someone who should have already captured how awesome you are!

Friends are asked to simply be present, to have fun, and be themselves. Should they wear no make up, pick their nose and cry incessantly - so be it! There's no pretending in phileo love.

In a friend, one gets a raw snapshot of their true character.

In a friend, one gets a raw snapshot of their true character.

MUTUAL CHARACTER ASSESSMENT: THE FRIEND ZONE

A girl I was coaching told me a story of a short trip she took with a bunch of friends. She was attracted to one of the guys on this weekend away, and looked forward to getting to know him better. 

However as the days progressed and the group sat down to eat dinner their first night, this guy was nowhere to be found. Out of politeness, the group would decide to wait for him, as his best mate shared that he was probably on the phone because of his crazy-demanding corporate job. Eventually Phone Guy [we'll call him] came to join the group; then made aware by his best mate that everyone had been waiting for him to start eating as a "family".

My girl client expressed her bafflement that he failed to acknowledge how rude this was nor apologise for his lateness to dinner. He resumed this behaviour the whole entire trip. While she empathised about his job being highly-stressful, he seemed to make no effort to leave his work at work, and try his best to be mentally present.

She then concluded "Before I was majorly attracted to his drive and ambition, but now I just find him a bit career-consumed and inconsiderate. I also thought he was a little arrogant. I don't think I like his character much at all."

DOES YOUR CHARACTER SUCK?

I'm sorry, but this is going to hurt.

I'm sorry, but this is going to hurt.

I have a huge qualm with the way Christian Church Culture (irrespective of dating) continues to be overly nice to people who could just use a little social training, counselling, or a friend who's just straight up honest with them.

Yes - we all need to exhibit more grace, patience and let people walk their own journeys; however easily changeable behaviour left unaddressed is criminal.

Grab hold of the plank in your own eye first, and then when you've done that - have the balls to tell your friend their inconsiderate behaviour needs to stop.

I've had about a handful of people do this to me throughout my short life. While it hurt at the time, I am super thankful for these people and their strong stomachs. If any of you are reading this (you know who you are!) thank you for making me the less annoying, considerably OK person I am today.

SOCIAL BLINDSPOTS

Here are some examples of people I've come across in the Christian world who have displayed blindness to social faux pas.

I encourage you to read these archetypes without getting defensive. You may write an emotionally intelligent comment below (forgive my cheek)! 

Alas, we've all been there, and I am thankful for the people in my life who were patient with me as I slowly learned how not to be a total bum-hat.

  • The Time Hogger:
    • The person who talks WAY too much about themselves in Cell Group, dominates the conversation and doesn't read everyone's exasperated faces.
  • The Shower Skipper:
    • The person who doesn't shower and reeks of body odour.
  • The Money Mooch:
    • The person who mooches off the generosity of other people and expects to receive without giving back in any way (this includes lifts and not offering to reimburse the driver for petrol).
  • The Cloud Floater:
    • The person whose eyes dart around the room during a conversation, giving off the impression they are disinterested and not present.
  • The Throne Sitter:
    • The person who doesn't consider the effort another puts into hosting a party, doesn't offer to help clean up or contribute in some other way.
  • The Snobby Scooby:
    • The person who doesn't make an effort to make a new person feel welcomed in a group with a simple handshake and name introduction.
  • The Alienator:
    • The person who is so caught up in their own world, they don't acknowledge what is physically going on around them, or the feelings of others. 
  • The Super Spirro:
    • The person who insists on praying out loud for twenty minutes to display their Biblical knowledge without it actually being relevant or helpful to anyone hearing the prayer.
  • The Opportunistic Owl:
    • The person who zeroes in on a conversation with the opposite sex (because they are clearly interested) and excludes the rest of the social collective.

WHAT WE DO IN THE MEANTIME

You see why I love the Friend Zone, friends?

You see why I love the Friend Zone, friends?

So here's my proposition: if you want to grow in Christlike character, and draw people to Jesus, then surely basic social awareness is where it all begins.

And when it comes to our dating lives, I'm sure the majority of us would like to marry somebody who is loyal, considerate and self-aware with all their marbles together, at the very least.

That is why character is sexier to me than accomplishments.

Give me a guy who listens and tries to understand over a Lamborghini driving success mogul (whom my Mother is in love with simply as he is an Asian Christian baller). Give me a guy who actually connects with me over the guy who takes me to Tetsuya's (but if he's both, I'd probably marry him).

I can't see his character clearly if I'm distracted by beautiful dates where both of us are performing the Better-Self-Tap-Dance for each other. 

May we pursue friendships from a place of already being committed to self improvement, where love blossoms as slowly as the bud unfurls her petals.

Or, as organically as the manure production process of a live farm animal.

NEXT WEEK:

Part 4. Navigating Christian Dating Culture: 10 Dating Blindspots We All Have.

CHRISTIAN DATING CULTURE IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER. FAITH-FILLED SINGLES ARE TRUSTING GOD IN THEIR BEDROOMS, PASSIVELY WAITING FOR MR OR MISS RIGHT TO FALL OUT OF THE SKY. 

AFTER COACHING MANY CHRISTIAN SINGLES TO BECOME PROACTIVE ABOUT THEIR LOVE LIVES, I AM OFFERING A 15 MIN FREE ASSESSMENT TO KICK START YOUR LOVE LIFE, MARRYING YOUR SOCIAL COMPETENCY WITH CONFIDENT FAITH.

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