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Discussion related to living as a Catholic in the single state of life. As long as a topic is being discussed from the perspective of a single Catholic then it will be on-topic.

Tobias and Sarah's story is from the Book of Tobit, and his journey is guided by Saint Raphael.
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I brought the subject up briefly in a somewhat-related thread and it was suggested (before that thread completely collapsed) I start my own thread with this question. I ask this because I think we all assume the answer is, "Of course," but I think if we were to reflect on it, then
I think most of us would come to the conclusion that it's impossible.

It's safe to say that we overuse the word "friend," using the word to describe almost any associate with whom we are on friendly terms. I would
be willing to bet that most people we assume to be friends really aren't; we may get along with them and have a relationship without any fights, but I think most of us would have to agree that that alone would not make us friends.

To explain further: There is a non-physical intimacy in a friendship. (As marriage is beyond this non-physical intimacy, a marriage is, or should
be, the epitome of what the word "friendship" means.) We let our guard down with friends, we confide in them, and we share fears and anxieties with them. Most of our acquaintances do not reach this level of trust and confidence, but almost by default, any of those that do are almost
certain to be of the same sex. (It's the members of the same sex with whom we have the most in common to form any kind of acquaintance.) As romantic interests are one of the most personal subjects to any of us inclined towards marriage, these are probably the most often discussed topics among intimate friends; it is easy for us to turn to someone like us, either to share a story or to seek advice.

I take issue with the idea that we would allow a member of the opposite sex this far into our minds without moving together in a direction that would only lead to marriage (or would lead to heartbreak and frustration if it didn't).

In discussing the roles of men and women in the workplace in his 1987 classic, The Closing of the American Mind, the late Allan Bloom pointed
out that a man and a woman would always be aware that they had a responsibility in this world that was far greater than winning a court case or flying an airplane. I would apply the same logic to the case where two members of the opposite sex have the (non-physical) intimacy of a
friendship but think that natural biological calling to that greater role could simply be ignored. I'll wager that if one of the two people doesn't see marriage in the future, than the other one does.

Anyway, that's my two cents and I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Mar 23rd 2013 new
Yes , I think this is possible as long as both parties are aware that this is the case. In respect when boundaries are violated one of parties should be reminded of their statuses as "friends" if this is the state they elected to be. However , a very fragile relationship in the sense we can always easily go beyond the expected behaviour. Otherwise if one decide to go on the other route, the other party should be informed and the relationship should be reviewed in the sense of being responsible to our own emotions. If ignored, these as we say can lead to frustrations on the one who expects more than the other. However , in the realm of friendship and develops a mutual non-physical intimacy this is a good thing. Wouldn't this be the most wonderful relationship one can start with because not only are you getting a life partner but a dear friend that shares your life concerns and dreams ?

Another aspect should be pointed out, when one starts to share things that are more than an acquaintance, he or she should be aware where this can lead . If however involve with another friend more dear to one's heart, placing yourself in this situation creates tension in the end . It is then a reality check for one to let go of the other . Always hard in real life but one of the decisions we adult should take time to ponder about. Just my opinion.
Mar 23rd 2013 new

That's an interesting question! It depends on two things 1. your definition of "friend" - which can be broad or narrow, and 2. your personality. When I was young and very introverted I was rather jealous and possessive of those I wanted to call my friends - including those of the same gender. I could also be hurt if my feelings of loyalty and affection, and desire for their company, were not to my eyes returned. I was also always aware of what is called "sexual tension" between the sexes. "Oh, he's just a friend" never really rang true. Now I am older, and hopefully more relaxed, more accepting of different personalities, I accept as a friend anyone of goodwill. And I certainly have known several older "couples" who are quite happy to be friends and no more. Perhaps it's just easier to enjoy life once the passions have died down! smile

Mar 23rd 2013 new
(Quote) William-607613 said: I brought the subject up briefly in a somewhat-related thread and it was suggested (before that thread comple...
(Quote) William-607613 said:

I brought the subject up briefly in a somewhat-related thread and it was suggested (before that thread completely collapsed) I start my own thread with this question. I ask this because I think we all assume the answer is, "Of course," but I think if we were to reflect on it, then
I think most of us would come to the conclusion that it's impossible.



It's safe to say that we overuse the word "friend," using the word to describe almost any associate with whom we are on friendly terms. I would
be willing to bet that most people we assume to be friends really aren't; we may get along with them and have a relationship without any fights, but I think most of us would have to agree that that alone would not make us friends.



To explain further: There is a non-physical intimacy in a friendship. (As marriage is beyond this non-physical intimacy, a marriage is, or should
be, the epitome of what the word "friendship" means.) We let our guard down with friends, we confide in them, and we share fears and anxieties with them. Most of our acquaintances do not reach this level of trust and confidence, but almost by default, any of those that do are almost
certain to be of the same sex. (It's the members of the same sex with whom we have the most in common to form any kind of acquaintance.) As romantic interests are one of the most personal subjects to any of us inclined towards marriage, these are probably the most often discussed topics among intimate friends; it is easy for us to turn to someone like us, either to share a story or to seek advice.



I take issue with the idea that we would allow a member of the opposite sex this far into our minds without moving together in a direction that would only lead to marriage (or would lead to heartbreak and frustration if it didn't).



In discussing the roles of men and women in the workplace in his 1987 classic, The Closing of the American Mind, the late Allan Bloom pointed
out that a man and a woman would always be aware that they had a responsibility in this world that was far greater than winning a court case or flying an airplane. I would apply the same logic to the case where two members of the opposite sex have the (non-physical) intimacy of a
friendship but think that natural biological calling to that greater role could simply be ignored. I'll wager that if one of the two people doesn't see marriage in the future, than the other one does.



Anyway, that's my two cents and I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.





--hide--


Speaking from personal experience only, I have never once had a relationship with a man where one of us didn't end up developing romantic feelings for the other even when clear boundaries and expectations were set. Agreeing to be just friends sounds like a mature decision two adults can reach, but unfortunately that isn't usually the reality, at least for me. If you like someone enough to enjoy being their friend then I think it's only natural to consider them as a potential spouse. I liked reading your thoughts on this.

biggrin
Mar 23rd 2013 new

I have a personal male friend who is truly as close as a brother to me, who feels like my brother, and who is certainly my brother in Christ. I am very fortunate to have that friendship. I've never once, and neither has he, ever felt any romantic type of emotion about our relationship. That kind of friendship probably does not happen often, but I know that it can exist.

Mar 23rd 2013 new

It is exactly like was said in "when Harry Met Sally"--if neither one has any romantic feelings/sexual attraction to the other, then yes.

If either one does, then no, not real friends in the true sense of the word--the one with the feelings is always hoping.

And if both have romantic feelings, and sexual attraction, then yes--they can be best friends, the kind we all hope for in our spouse.o

Mar 23rd 2013 new

My best friend is a male, and he probably knows me better than anyone. There is no romantic or sexual attraction between us. He recently moved so we don't see each other nearly as much as we used to, but we still talk on the phone a lot. If I were dating a man and he had a problem with my friendship with Larry, well I would not continue dating such person. He is no threat to anyone I date that is where trust comes into play, because if you don't have trust then you don't have much anyway. If I am in a serious relationship at some point and time they usually end up meeting each other and we will do things together socially.

I think in life we have very few true friends, but a lot of acquaintances.

Mar 24th 2013 new

By the heck does everything have to be so complicated? Of course they can be friends. I have lots of male friends who are Catholic who are not married, and we're all on the same page as to what the relationship status is.

I also have lots of male friends who are married, older than me, and younger than me. I don't rule out friendships based on maritial status, neither mine nor their's.

Mar 24th 2013 new

(Quote) William-607613 said: I brought the subject up briefly in a somewhat-related thread and it was suggested (before that...
(Quote) William-607613 said:

I brought the subject up briefly in a somewhat-related thread and it was suggested (before that thread completely collapsed) I start my own thread with this question. I ask this because I think we all assume the answer is, "Of course," but I think if we were to reflect on it, then
I think most of us would come to the conclusion that it's impossible.

It's safe to say that we overuse the word "friend," using the word to describe almost any associate with whom we are on friendly terms. I would be willing to bet that most people we assume to be friends really aren't; we may get along with them and have a relationship without any fights, but I think most of us would have to agree that that alone would not make us friends.

To explain further: There is a non-physical intimacy in a friendship. (As marriage is beyond this non-physical intimacy, a marriage is, or should
be, the epitome of what the word "friendship" means.) We let our guard down with friends, we confide in them, and we share fears and anxieties with them. Most of our acquaintances do not reach this level of trust and confidence, but almost by default, any of those that do are almost certain to be of the same sex. (It's the members of the same sex with whom we have the most in common to form any kind of acquaintance.) As romantic interests are one of the most personal subjects to any of us inclined towards marriage, these are probably the most often discussed topics among intimate friends; it is easy for us to turn to someone like us, either to share a story or to seek advice.

I take issue with the idea that we would allow a member of the opposite sex this far into our minds without moving together in a direction that would only lead to marriage (or would lead to heartbreak and frustration if it didn't)....


I'll wager that if one of the two people doesn't see marriage in the future, than the other one does.

Anyway, that's my two cents and I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.

--hide--

William, that was an awesome post.

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU, WILLIAM. I actually so emphatically agree with you, that I got online onto Catholic Match this morning precisely to go on the forums and post the very same topic. Then when I saw your post, I was surprised.

Whatever one wishes to call a friendship where he or she confides personal information, whether they call the person an acquaintance or close friend, that confidence sharing is a type of intimacy. If you are not company keeping with the intention of timely marriage it is simply imprudent, as one person at least is likely to have or develop feelings for the other. Even if that hasn't yet happened, the emotional intimacy is one step closer to more, sans the committment. Take the same two people, even if one is not attracted to the other, at the wrong place and at the wrong time, and it is a near occasion of sin if not worse.

This is even more greivous if someone is doing this while in a courtship. That intimacy of sharing personal information in confidence should be shared with only he or she with whom you have the courtship, and no one else. Otherwise, you are not developing the type of relationship you ought to have by the time you are married. You would have given that intimacy to someone else.

Also, I want to point out that with men this is especially true, as they often hang onto women friends either waiting or hoping that there might be an opportunity to be more. I know this because I have been that friend to guys. For the longest time I didn't understand this, but now that I am older, I have to actually tell my friends in so many words, "Tell this to your girlfriend, not to me." They will almost always make and excuse and complain about their relationship. This is disrespectful to their relationship AND to you. If they have a problem, they ought to deal with it and work it out, not try to get attention and sympathy from another woman, which is really what they are trying to do. It is not cool and you aren't really being a friend at all if you let your guy friends maintain this type of friendship with you. Either you are cordial or you are courting. End of story. The rest of the drama, complications and manipulations belong in highschool.

Women do that sort of thing, too, but I think it is more often men who do this. Which ever way it is, one ought to ask themself, "why would you want to do that?" If your friend is some sort of licensed psychologist, then maybe that is the one exception, but other than in a professional context, it really is a no-no.

The popular excuse against this point of view is, "But we've been friends for years", meaning to imply that nothing is ever going to "happen" because it hasn't yet happened. That is a poor excuse simply because that friend should not still have the same priority (especially) whenever you are courting someone else. Anyone who thinks that things ought to always stay the same, then they are fooling themselves and haven't really a clue what it takes to be fully committed to someone.

Even if that emotional intimacy never expands to the physical, that emotional intimacy alone takes away from what one ought to save and give to the one for whom they are courting or wish to court (or be courted by) in the future. It is not enough to say that you want to marry your best friend, and still have these other friends of the opposite sex that fulfill other areas of your life. People often say it is not 'cheating' if you don't intend on it to go further, but it is either leading the friend on indirectly (or directly) or lying to yourself about your own feelings that you've compartmentalized for this person. Besides, cheating can occur even just by developing emotional intimacy outside of your commitment and shows a lack of prudence, without anything else but the emotional cheating. From what I've read, most affairs by far begin in this manner, and take people off guard because they didn't necessarily 'intend' intially for the relationship to develop beyond friendship.











Mar 24th 2013 new

Hi William, that was great post you put on the forum board. It can hard to be friends with someone that is not married, and that you feel some attraction to. We can set rules and barriers up in what friends can and cannot do. We all are wanting that companion, and someone to feel whole and at peace with. We all strive to be there for the people in our lives, we go to great lenghts at making sure their needs are met, or to get them on right path of self-awareness. Yet, we at some point want somebody to share our labor, and our life with. If there is an attraction there and it has been there for years, it hard to maintain the friend role, without expressing your true feelings towards the other person. So, in my opinion, it is difficult to be single and be friend to someone that is that same.

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