I haven’t written much on relationships between girls and guys in a while, mostly because I’ve been overwhelmed with other stuff and have needed to process. But the topic of “defrauding” has been on my mind for several months now, and I wanted to talk about it. Normally when I write a post like this, I primarily address the girls, but today I want to talk primarily to the guys. (Don’t go anywhere, ladies, there is stuff here for you too).
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).
First of all, let’s get this straight: these verses are speaking about physical sexual purity, but they also get applied to lust and emotional purity. I’m dealing with the second application in this post, so I’ll be talking about more of an emotional defrauding.
As Christian women, we are often expected to consider our brothers in Christ in how we dress and conduct ourselves. Why? Very simply, we don’t want to cause them to stumble in their thoughts or actions. We don’t want to defraud them. For the record, I think it’s a good practice. What I’ve rarely heard talked about in reference to these verses or any others is how Christian men can and often do emotionally defraud their sisters in Christ. (Yes, I went there).
Guys, more than anything else we girls want be known and know others. When someone takes the time to get to know us – who we are, what we like, our interests, what’s going on in our lives – it means the world to us. It’s how we relate. When it comes to guys getting to know us, sometimes we build up their intentions to be more than they are. And that is on us. (Just as a guy’s thought life about a woman is on him).
But sometimes, guys play the field. (You know what I’m talking about). They want to get to know a girl, not for herself, but for if she could maybe possibly be a girl he’d like to date. He displays interest in her by asking often super-personal questions, buying her things, spending more time with her than anyone else, and letting her do things for him (like laundry and cooking). Maybe he hasn’t been taught about these things and he’s ignorant, or maybe he has and he’s being selfish, but he suddenly stops talking to this girl and is dating someone completely different. Maybe he genuinely thinks they were just friends and that she felt the same way, but trust me, that connection was much deeper on her end and now she’s a mess.
Dear guys, just like you don’t think like us, we don’t think like you. Somewhere in all of that getting to know each other business, we’ve gotten ideas about our relationship (some of us may have started planning the wedding), and we think it’s more than it is. And that is partially on us. But it’s on you too, particularly if you are treating us like a girlfriend in everything but name.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t get to know us or be friends with us at all. Just follow some practical guidelines:
– If you want to casually get to know a girl to see if there might be something more there, do it in a group setting, not one-on-one. It’s less easy for a girl to misconstrue your intentions that way.
– If you want to casually get to know a girl to see if there might be something more there, don’t ask her any questions you wouldn’t ask any other girl. In fact, in the group setting, throw a question out there for everyone to respond to.
– Unless you’re interested in some form of commitment (however small), don’t single her out for special attention. If you wouldn’t do it for any other girl, don’t do it for her. That includes buying or paying for things for her.
– Try not to let her doing things like cooking, cleaning, or laundry for you. Some girls are bound and determined to do these things for you anyways, and that’s why I say try not to allow it. When you start dating someone else, she will feel taken advantage of.
During my junior and senior years of college, I knew this great, godly guy. We’ll call him Brad. All the girls liked him. (Well, I don’t know about ALL the girls, but a good number of them, including myself). He was a servant leader, a good listener, and a little goofy too. Brad took all of the interest in him kindly and patiently, and everybody kind of just worked through their feelings while being friends. (Including myself). At the end of my senior year, God had called Brad somewhere far away. We’ll call it Timbuktu. We got him this gigantic card, and as I was thinking about what to write, I was super-impressed because I realized that this was the guy who taught me what a great brother in Christ looked like. He wasn’t worried about conveying interest (or disinterest), he just focused on being Christ-like. He didn’t leave me (or any other girls in our group) with broken hearts or emotional scars because he acted wisely.
Sometimes attraction comes way too easily to us girls. We are responsible for prayerfully working through those feelings, just as guys are responsible for their feelings. But we can all make this easier on each other by just respecting and considering the different ways we think and feel.
A final note to the ladies: When and if a guy is interested in you, he will find a way to convey that interest clearly. That’s just how guys work. Until then, you’re just friends. If you find yourself making more of it than it is, maybe it would be wise for you to step away. Don’t be cold, just limit your interactions. If he’s walking in step with God, he’ll most likely understand without your even having to tell him.
For everyone, be wise. Don’t play games. We’re talking about human emotions here.