I once spoke with a woman who was in her late thirties who told me about a man she had been friends with for several years. She was very interested in a romantic relationship with him, but he had made it clear on several occasions that they were just friends and he wasn’t interested in her. Still, she said they spent just about every weekend together, and many nights hanging out after work.
As she spoke, I thought about the contrast between how she said she wanted to marry, and how she spent her time. Even though she said she wanted to say “I do,” her actions and words didn’t line up; she wasn’t being intentional about her dating life.
Being intentional means you have a plan. It means you intend to do something—and in this case, marry. And, being intentional means you don’t get stuck in what one of my friends calls, “friendlationships.”
Friendlationships are one of the ways singles waste precious months and years in what I call the “dating cul-de-sac,” just going around in circles without moving toward the wedding altar.
A friendlationship isn’t a committed dating relationship that’s moving toward marriage, and it’s not a friendship. Either one or both people like each other, but not enough to take their relationship to the next level.
Singles can get stuck in friendlationships because they’re bored, lonely, or afraid of being alone. (I’ve been there!) And, they may think, “Having someone is better than no-one” even though they really want to be happily married. (I’ve been there, too!)
So, they end up spending their weekends, or oodles of free time with someone they will never marry.
If this describes you, could you be sacrificing meeting the right man when you're with the wrong man?
When you're out to coffee, could there be a guy who notices you but won't approach you because you're with Mr. Friendlationship?
If you're out running errands, could you notice someone in the aisle at the grocery store who you’re drawn to, but you don't say hi because it would be awkward since you're with Mr. Friendlationship?
If you’re at your girlfriend’s house when her handsome cousin shows up for a visit, could he avoid asking you out because he thinks you’re taken since he always sees you with Mr. Friendlationship?
Okay, I get it. I really do understand that it hurts to be alone. I spent a lot of time alone from the day I moved out of my parent’s home to go to college until I married at 46. I slept alone, drove to work alone, and often ate breakfast, lunches, and dinners alone. Sometimes I went to movies alone, on trips alone, and out to eat alone. There were years I even spent major holidays alone.
I know first-hand the pain of lonely nights. I know the tears. I get the pain of unfulfilled desire. But to make room for the right man, you need to make space in your life. Get serious about what you really want by being intentional with your time.
If you say you want to marry, make your actions and words line up. Act like the relationship you want is possible, because it is indeed possible. It happened for me. It can happen for you too. Make room for love, even if you're afraid of being alone. Be intentional. I promise that further down the road, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste time.
Friendship is Good. Friendlationships . . . Not So Much
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be friends with men. Friendship is an awesome—and critical—foundation for a great marriage. But there is a difference between a friendship that has the possibility of becoming a romantic relationship and a friendlationship in which the relationship isn’t progressing and one person has made it clear it never will. (Of course, there are times when both parties aren’t interested in marriage to anyone and just want a companion. That’s a different story.)
Be Kind to Yourself and the Other Person
One of the problems with getting stuck in friendlationships is that when one or both of you moves on, emotional pain can become a part of the story. You may be the interested party who gets hurt when the man moves on, or he may be interested in you, and when you move on, it can hurt him.
Love is the most important aspect of all relationships, and I believe it’s the highest calling of our lives—romantic or not. To love another person means we have their best interest in mind. If you aren’t interested in a romantic relationship with a particular guy with whom you have a friendlationship, the most loving act you can do for him is to let him go so he can find someone who will fully commit to him. Don’t waste his time. It’s not kind.
And, if he isn’t interested in a romance with you, but is holding on to a friendlationship with you, be loving and kind to yourself and move on so you can find someone who will fully commit to you. Don’t waste your time. It’s not being kind to you.
A Little of My Own Story
When I was single, there was a guy who expressed an interest in getting to know me. I couldn’t see us ever having a committed relationship. In the past, I would’ve just sort of hung out with a guy and not been intentional. He said, “We can just be friends.” I told him, “I’m not really interested in just being friends with guys. I’d like to marry.”
And that was the beginning of me finally being intentional about what I really wanted--and that was in my early forties! What if I had gotten hung up with him for a couple years hanging out like I had done with other men? I may have not ever had the room to develop a relationship with my husband.
I want to encourage you: The dream you have to love and be love IS possible.
Don't get in your own way. Be intentional and purposeful in your relationships.
Because, every minute you’re with Mr. Wrong, you’re not with Mr. Right. Friendlationships will keep you single longer than you want.
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