Recently, I have seen an article around the interwebs describing a study, put on by super-smart scientists who only research non-obvious things and come to non-fallacious conclusions, that explored if men and women really can be “just friends” in a platonic manner or if one or both sides secretly harbor sneaky sexual ambitions. I applaud the study: It is abundantly clear that studies involving 88 pairs of 18-22 year old college students, who are never known for casual sexual encounters even with those they do not find attractive (beer goggles for the win), is indicative of the entire human population throughout all age ranges and maturity levels. I mean, I am just shocked that hormonally driven young dudes find girls attractive. Blows me away. Furthermore, it is also obvious that we know for sure that attraction did not grow from friendship, rather it’s always that friendship stems from attraction (especially for dudes). Such obviousness need only be assumed. This is why philosophers adore sociological and pyschological arguments. Just love them.
If this is such a clear problem for the sexually-crazed secular world, it is arguably even more of an issue for Christians who want to stay away from funny business with the opposite sex (or at least, pretend to want to stay away from it). This is why, to avoid this problem, many conservative Christians have taught that it is exceptionally dangerous to befriend a member of the opposite gender and that Christians should be suspicious of any thinly veiled friendliness coming from the other side. For example:
However, in this world, it is nearly impossible to completely insulate oneself from interactions with the other gender. How should Christians navigate this tricky terrain? As someone who works with college students, I have some sound advice for Christian young adults who want to stay out of trouble but
still want to flirt a little bit want to have healthy friendships with members of the opposite sex.
1. Only befriend girls whom you find hideous.
Guys are far more driven by physical appearance than ladies, so for guys, in order to be safe, it is paramount that they befriend girls who offend their senses. Maybe some other dude finds her attractive, a guy that is blind or something, but certainly not you. If seeing her dress up in a nice dress or tight clothes makes you shudder and feel slightly sick, you’re on the right track. She needs to be bad enough that “friendship goggles” cannot make her attractive enough for your consideration. Here is a graph that illustrates this principle, inspired by the Hot/Crazy Scale proposed by the expert of relationships, Barney Stinson:
As you can see, everything on or above the curve is considered dateable for a guy while everything below it is the permanent friendship zone. While it is true that increased friendship can make a girl more attractive in the eyes of a guy, she only crosses the line to a potential sexual partner if she meets a certain baseline requirement of hotness. If she does not meet this minimum standard, as pointed out in the graph above, it does not matter if they become the bestest of friends in the whole wide universe; he would rather consume his own vomit than end up with her.
If guys do this, they will be safe from the effect of friendship goggles; no amount of friendship will cover that chasm for her. However, if you put on beer goggles, all bets are off, as the graph turns into this:
All the more reason to avoid getting throwed. Unless you want to realize later that you made out with some girl that looks like Frankenstein or, worse yet, you wake up next to her, then you better practice responsible alcohol consumption.
Anyway, this is great for girls too: Wouldn’t it make you feel so much better if you knew all of your guy friends found you as attractive as that piece of dog poo you almost stepped on? It should really raise your confidence if he has to look past your face to talk to you, gives you side hugs with great hesitancy, and finds you disgusting when you eat. No worries! And if he DOES flirt with you, you will know that he is either A) Drunk off his rear end or B) Imagining someone else’s face on you. Now that’s freedom.
Caveat: If she gets plastic surgery and all of sudden looks good, scold her for superficiality and then ask her out. If she says yes, you lost a friend but gained a girlfriend. If she says no, you lost a friend that you shouldn’t have anyway (since she is no longer hideous to you).
2. Avoid being nice to the really insecure ones.
While it protects guys from falling for their friends when they only befriend girls they find hideous, that doesn’t mean it works for the receiving girl: Some girls will take any overture of friendship as interested attention and latch on to the guy. Unfortunately, hideous girls are far more likely to be this way because they are normally ignored by guys altogether. While creepy guys are scary, nothing is scarier than a creepy girl. What to do about this?
One way is to simply avoid befriending these girls as well. However, if you feel like you should (Christian charity and all), make sure your friendship is based on brutally honest insults and putdowns. Call her ugly, fat, gross, and stupid on a regular basis, and she’ll hopefully get the hint that while you’re okay with being friends (especially if she gives you an inside track to her hot friends), you’d rather kiss a rotting corpse than her.
3. Use your hideous “just friends” as means to an end (hot girls).
Immanuel Kant argued that one of the keys to morality is to treat people as ends in themselves as opposed to only means to an end. Bullcrap. Your ugly female friends exist for one purpose for you: To help you get a hot girl. This can come in many forms: She is good friends with a hot girl and introduces her to you, she gives you advice on how girls think, your niceness to her attracts a hot girl because she thinks you’re sweet, you get invited to parties where hot girls are, etc. Believe me, this is the most honest and kind thing you can do to your female friends because you avoid miscommunication with them and you protect yourself from falling from them because you don’t really look at them as viable girls, only tools to get to viable girls. Nobody desires the kitchen knife or the stove; they desire the food those things can bring.
Basically, if you don’t want to languish in that prison dimension called the friend zone of an attractive girl, don’t befriend them; befriend the others that you really, really want putting you in the friend zone. That avoids awkward moments like this:
Sometime after that, he received a friendly fist-bump for his trouble. You want that to be you? Didn’t think so.
In general, girls are better at keeping things purely platonic with the opposite gender, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t fall for their friends. This typically comes in the form of emotional attachment rather than just looks, though girls can look at other things as well (money… and money). Here are some tips that can help them as well:
1. Do not believe any compliments your guy friends offer you.
Let’s be honest, ladies: You do not all look like Cindy Crawford in her heyday. I’m sure you have your inner beauty and all, but just to let you know, we can’t see it (since it is, after all, “inner”). Thus, if a dude friend compliments you on how you look, he is merely being polite; it doesn’t mean he finds you remotely attractive. Always assume that he is being less than honest here, and you will avoid emotional attachment because you think he’s being nice to you. He’s being nice to you so that you can get him something (your hot friend, or maybe some cookies you can bake him), not because he’s interested. Geez. Get over yourselves.
Remember, fear the Lord, for beauty is fleeting. For some people, beauty fled at birth, so don’t presume too much from a simple, “Oh, you look good today.” That may mean relative to another day, which is a bit like saying that someone is the thinnest kid at fat camp.
2. Find hotter friends than yourself.
If you are surrounded by hot girl friends, you will know for sure that whatever attention you get is a byproduct of the attention they are getting, so you will again avoid any emotional attachment. Be assured that if he’s spending a lot of time with you, he really wants you to invite your other friends to come along. This might seem harsh, but it is really quite liberating: You know that your guy friends couldn’t care less about you and are only using you, so you avoid getting emotionally caught up in what he is doing. That way, you can just be friends without any concern whatsoever. Who cares if your self-esteem goes down the toilet? You’ll have a good guy friend to help you through those troubled times… if you bring along your hot friend, at least.
3. Only befriend poor and boring guys.
Two things can often make girls forgive the fact that a guy is homely, fat, and short: Money and humor. Thus, if you only befriend guys who are bereft of both, you will greatly lessen any chances that you will fall for them romantically. If he is poor, he can’t win you over with nice gifts and cool toys, and if he is not funny, he will be a chore to hang out with. He may be quite nice and good to have around for encouragement, but since he’s so freaking dull you can’t stand him for more than an hour at a time.
Good candidates for this kind of friendship? Seminarians, who have a high percentage chance of being both ;). Unfortunately, many of them are on the hunt, so while you may not fall for them, rest assured, they are likely coming after you. Also, don’t say that you’re looking for a spiritual leader, because we know that you really aren’t and it will just encourage these seminarians.
Now, go make friends in a responsible manner that is befitting of both Christian and worldly wisdom. Paranoia is the way to go when it comes to opposite gender friendships and will help guide you through life and will certainly prepare you for marriage.