In my recent article, “Time for a Breakup,” I wrote about the inability of many single men to maturely initiate with women. My theory is that a lot of men have a basic problem: they are already committed, and there’s simply no room for someone else. That is, many of these guys have ongoing, highly involved relationships with (1) their imaginary girlfriends, (2) their moms, or (3) their tag-along “friendgirls.”
This article evoked more of a reader response that anything I have written up until this point, especially regarding my point about unhealthy, “friendgirl” relationships between men and women. Though this is, by no means, the only dysfunctional way that single women interact with men, people suggested a follow-up article about this topic.
I felt that topic would be better handled by a female, so I enlisted mine and my wife’s friend, Jen Harrison. She’s got some great thoughts on the topic that I think a lot of women might find helpful. Welcome Jen, and thanks for being the first guest writer.
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My experience as a friendgirl began in high school when I met the man I was sure I would marry someday. He was tall, handsome and played the drums in a band. Wow. What more could I ask for? We spent every waking moment together, and everything was going great until the day my rockstar friendguy did the unthinkable: he started dating another girl.
I was devastated, unable to understand how he could betray me like that. Today, I realize I was just the buffer friendgirl between girlfriends. I developed a similar relationship in college and eventually cut it off when I didn’t want to go on dates anymore with someone I wasn’t dating. To this day, he doesn’t understand why we had a “friend break-up.” Unfortunately, the same pattern ensued with my post-college “best friend,” whom I foolishly hoped would one day wake up and see that we were meant to be.
Somewhere along the way I came to the painful realization that I was always just the friendgirl. At first, I grew bitter at these guys for putting me in this position. Then, after much prayer and reflection, I came to a profoundly humbling conclusion: I was a friendgirl because I allowed myself to be a friendgirl.
Here’s the deal ladies: it takes two to tango. And as much as I applaud “Time for a Breakup” for its admonition of our male counterparts, it’s time to take a long, sobering look in the mirror, because abolition of the friendgirl phenomenon begins with us. As a starting point, it helps to identify, at its root, what is so unhealthy about these kinds of pre-marital relationships, which aren’t going anywhere romantically.
Playing the role of friendgirl continually reaffirms the lie that you’re not good enough to be the girlfriend. When a guy has a friendgirl, he chooses to cultivate a high level of emotional intimacy with a woman without any real romance. In essence, he is communicating to his friendgirl that she is good enough to be his girlfriend in all other ways – but not romantically.
After all, if she were attractive enough for him, he would be romantically drawn to her and, in theory, he would move her to the girlfriend category. This is clearly devastating to a woman’s self esteem, and if she is perpetually caught in this cycle, she starts believing that no one will ever be attracted to her.
More than that, the friendgirl misses the guys who are attracted to her, because she’s too caught up in her emotional boyfriend. She doesn’t even notice the admiration of other potential suitors. This is assuming the other men don’t avoid her all together, operating under the false impression she is already spoken for.
As my mom used to say with regard to this topic, “He’s never gonna buy the whole cow when you are giving out the milk for free.” Crude, I know, but go with it. The point here is that many men will not go to the extra effort of actually dating someone when they can get all they need from a woman, emotionally, at very little personal cost. Being a friendgirl teaches men to be lazy in their pursuit of women. The friendgirl is by her nature easy, and should not be surprised when no one is willing to work for her.
My status as a friendgirl was ruining my dating life, so I decided to deal with my problem. And that was just what it was: my problem. It was time to stop blaming men for making me their friendgirl and time to start taking responsibility. Eventually, I started saying no to playing the role of friendgirl. I learned (and am still learning) to set boundaries and develop guy/girl friendships with appropriate levels of intimacy, even as I’ve ventured into the world of real dating.
Most importantly though, at its core, I believe the friendgirl phenomenon is a spiritual issue. When I started believing the lie that I was not good enough, not smart enough, or not pretty enough to be worthy of a real relationship, I began to settle for whatever scraps someone was willing to give. I failed to recognize how completely I am already loved by my God. He is the One who satisfies my deepest longings and provides for all my needs. And He has better things planned for me than settling for the scraps.