First a brother, not a lover

You meet someone new and find him attractive. You wonder if maybe, just maybe, this might be “The One.” You start to look for any sign of affection in their behavior towards you, and become mildly flirtatious in your own behavior. We’ve all been there! There’s no physical contact, no premature declaration of love, nothing obviously inappropriate in your relationship. It’s innocent, right?

Except that you don’t have to let your physical guard down to let your emotional guard down. Without meaning to, you’ve taken the emotional connection to a level that the relationship is not, and may never be, ready for. More often than not this risks distracting you from where God is calling you in life and may damage your friendship with the person in question. Not only that, but when we see each other as merely a romantic potential rather than as people, we actually deprive each other of our dignity as men and women.

The Bible calls us to ‘Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters’ (Hebrews 13:1), because that’s exactly what we are in Christ. Our primary identity is as sons and daughters of God, meaning that we also need to view each other first and foremost as brothers and sisters in His family.

With your own siblings, you don’t find yourself constantly seeking their attention and judging yourself based on their affection. You simply love them for who they are, and affirm them in that identity. This is the attitude we should have towards all members of the opposite sex! We have a responsibility to hold each other accountable and build each other up in our faith, but as soon as we allow ulterior motives to take root in our relationships we are no longer able to do that whole-heartedly. Viewing everyone we meet as brothers and sisters will encourage inclusivity, community, respect, and both emotional and spiritual protection.

There are several ways we can all work on altering our attitude in this area of life:

  • Pray for your brothers & sisters in Christ.
  • Affirm their gifts & strengths, as well as their masculinity or femininity.
  • Focus on their personality rather than appearance.
  • Dress & act modestly to show respect for yourself and others.
  • Remind yourself daily of the dignity and purpose of men and women.

In order to form a healthy, loving relationship with the person who eventually becomes your spouse, it is important that you develop a pure heart in your attitude to the opposite sex. Not only will this allow you to get to know a genuine potential husband or wife within the boundaries of a respectful relationship, but it will also mean that your heart is guarded against confusion and misinterpretation of other relationships so as to be able give yourself totally and freely to your spouse if and when the time comes.

Ask yourself this: Am I treating the opposite sex with the same respect, authenticity and purity as I would treat my own brothers or sisters? Are there any ways in which I can better serve, affirm and support them?

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imgassd Esther Rich is studying Psychology at Oxford University, UK. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”

63 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this very wise and wonderful message! You are so right. It’s taken me a few years to understand this in more clear context and reading affirms many of my beliefs that Jesus has called all of us to follow. God Bless 🙂

    By Paola | 3 years ago Reply
  2. That’s all very well and good, but if I start viewing every guy as if he were my brother then I’d never be attracted to any of them and I’d never find a husband!

    By Katie | 3 years ago Reply
    • I think you missed the point of the article, it is not to view all men as your siblings, but to love them as you would love a sibling, wholly and not dependent on how cute they are or how they make you feel, but loving them just because they are your brother in Christ. This will allow you to learn to value them as a whole person, and allow you to see their whole person, and from there you can move forward into a romantic relationship with them.
      Basically, you have to be friends with them first, to sum it up in a very short and secular paraphrase.

      By Cecelia | 3 years ago Reply
    • That’s not exactly true. We can and should treat men as our brothers in Christ. If a man is chosen by God to be your husband, the attraction will be there naturally. In other words, we must see men as people, and care about them as people, not merely objects that we hope to fit into our life plan

      By Gabriela | 3 years ago Reply
    • That’s what I thought too… then again there are always those guys that no matter what you do, you just can’t see them as a brother, but you can still treat them as one.

      By Marie Clare | 3 years ago Reply
    • I find this article awesome. The problem with Katie’s response is that they are not your brother. You willfully look at the person as your brother or sister. In other words the Love you have for your sister or brother is the love that is true it is authentic. This true kind of love makes the other person twice as attractive as someone you don’t look at as brother or sister. If the reason you marry someone is because your simply attracted to them than your relationship will not last. The attraction will die and the marriage along with it. But if you form a brother sister relationship and you become attracted to the other person based on that relationship the attraction will last forever. I think a good example of how this works is in the movie October Baby http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1720182/

      By Dave Hahn | 3 years ago Reply
    • Well, maybe not exactly like a sibling but I like the idea of respecting people as equal full humans instead of just objects of desire first.

      By Monika | 3 years ago Reply
    • It’s easy to find a husband if you view guys as brothers first. Because then you get a quality and depth to a relationship before you add romance. Romance is the icing on the cake. Just because you view guys as brothers in Christ does not mean that you can’t be attracted to them. You just don’t focus or dwell on that attraction. You acknowledge the attraction but dig deeper because even married couples will not always be attracted to one another. I know that is strange to think about. But marriage is not about romance believe it or not. Yes that is a part of it, but marriage is so much more. You don’t have to look at guys as your actual blood brothers… however the things listed above, “Pray for your brothers & sisters in Christ. Affirm their gifts & strengths, as well as their masculinity or femininity. Focus on their personality rather than appearance. Dress & act modestly to show respect for yourself and others.
      Remind yourself daily of the dignity and purpose of men and women,” are good to keep in mind. Grow in who you are as you help them grow and show each of them you truly love them by helping them find what is truly best for them and in that you will find what is truly best for you.

      By Anna | 3 years ago Reply
    • There are more than plenty of attractive ‘brotherly qualities’ to be found in your future spouse; (similarly for sisters). I have two sisters and I imagine, if I were to get married, my wife would be God-fearing, kind, easy to talk to, etc. These are all attractive sisterly qualities. And if you never find a husband that’s not a bad thing. be open to God’s plan for your life. There is no man, ever, in your future who will be able to love you as much as God loves you.

      By David | 3 years ago Reply
    • As the title suggests, this should be your initial approach to meeting people and it’s just saying that before pursuing a romantic relationship with someone, you need to first get to know them on a deeper level, and seeing them as a brother or sister in Christ will not only prevent you from being distracted or confused by physical attraction but it will also help you to keep clear boundaries with them and other friends of the opposite sex as well as treating everyone with equal respect

      By Gino | 3 years ago Reply
    • I very much agree with you. It’s so hard to see someone you find attractive and especially have chemistry with as a brother.
      Well, I’ve had so much experience in this area of mentally forcing myself to treat them as such. It is not easy I tell you. At all. But I can share with you that I hold in all my emotions. With every guy I’ve been interested in practicing this has helped and made it easier for the next. Not that I like a guy every week.
      I also try to try to focus on their qualities and I actually tend to be very critical of their personality and how they respond or react to certain situations.
      With time feelings die down and I get a pretty good and solid perspective on who they are.
      I end up not regretting holding back emotions and being so critical because obviously none were for me, hence, my single state.
      But with some of them I continue to feel a special bond but since I know they aren’t for me I can easily see them as a brother.
      It’s so weird and hard to explain but actually both can happen: seeing them as a brother and attractive. Weird, I know.
      I’ve survived and haven’t ridiculed myself yet.

      By Vania Batya | 3 years ago Reply
    • The point of looking at a man as a brother is that you look at him in purity , not in submission to lustful desires or passions . The christian belief is that God in his time and way will provide a man for every woman and vice versa . It is important not to sit and assume or judge who will / can be your future spouse rather it is best to live a life in surrender to god and his well in which everything shall be provided for in his way ,time and place .

      By Andrea | 3 years ago Reply
    • Hi Katie,
      seeing somebody as your brother does not mean you are not attracted to him, actually it has very little to do with how you feel and is just about how you act. You can´t choose who you find attractive as it is a reaction of your body to the other person, but you can choose how to encounter this other person. If you encounter a guy as a fellow child of God you meet him at the point where he and you receive the ultimate dignity. Also is it the point from where a relationship can grow from into whatever it is proper to it, but if you are in a romantic relationship it is very hard to track back there and to become truly best friends.
      united in prayer
      Philipp

      By Philipp | 3 years ago Reply
    • Treating members of the opposite sex “as if they were your brother or sister” does not mean you are not attracted to them. The point is to keep your intentions pure and not to force something that might never happen.

      By James | 3 years ago Reply
    • To me, this is about creating kind and meaningful relationships between families that do things in different ways. It is about honour, tradition, and deep respect. When there is something good I can do or encourage or inspire, I do it as a brother and for my brothers. I see unity with the children of God. I am always first a brother.

      By Graeme Kilshaw | 3 years ago Reply
    • Not so… I knew my husband from the time we were both five years old. We played house as youngsters… Our moms started a Catholic homeschool group together… I moved away a few years later but we maintained our friendship through the years via letters and a yearly phone call. A few times I lived close enough that we could visit sometimes, but that was because our moms were good enough friends to want to make the trip to see each other. We had a brother/sister friendship – in fact, people sometimes thought we were related. When he was 19 and I was 20 – despite being 2000 miles apart at the time – we fell in love. Yes, it was a bit strange as we realized what was happening, but it happened in God’s time and was perfect. We married at 21, 11 years ago now. Five kids and an Army career later, we are still madly in love. 🙂

      By Natalie | 3 years ago Reply
    • All the men in our life are first and foremost our brothers. Christ is our first on true lover of our souls. The purpose of the men in our life is to show us Christ and to give is a balances view of humanity. If you treat them first as a brother, And if they are the one you are called to marry Christ will give you eyes to find him attractive and see him as a husband 🙂

      By Elina | 3 years ago Reply
    • Katie, I think that you don’t need to view every man like he is your “brother”, which would mean not being attracted to him or perusing a relationship with him. You should treat each man the way you would treat your brother in the sense of not becoming emotionally attached to him by always caring about how he thinks of you or think about him more than God or worrying about how he feels about you. I think the point of the blog is that we need to guard or hearts and emotions and that we can look at our relationships with our real brothers and sister to guide us in our relationships with others. Especially those people that we feel attracted to. Let me know what you think 🙂

      By Matt | 3 years ago Reply
  3. Very nice post, congrats. I acctually “try” to see every woman as my sister, especially when I notice lust is hitting in, and it works turning temptation down, but feeling attracted to and even aroused is not ill in itself, I believe, in my humble opinion, you should know what you are looking for ultimately, and discern if letting those feelings/impulses carry on will be against the plan of God for you.
    Cheers

    By Frank | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Wow! I never thought to think of it like that. Quite frankly, I feel like in. high school many people only look to others as potential boyfriends or girlfriends. However that just makes everything more drama filled and stressed. I like the idea of viewing everyone as brothers and sisters because then I can get to know them easily and innocently. Thank you for writing this article!

    By Hannah Pavalko | 3 years ago Reply
  5. Thank u sooo much for this post. It opened up my eyes to see what God is asking of me. It came to me at the exact moment when I needed it!
    Thank u, Shalom!

    By Lola | 3 years ago Reply
  6. One of the bullet points you brought up says “Dress & act modestly to show respect for yourself and others”… and when I scrolled down to see the author’s picture, I noticed it’s a girl wearing a really low-cut tank-top. I mean, at least the cleavage is cropped out, but it’s difficult to believe an author with a blaring contradiction on her own article.

    By Jonathan | 3 years ago Reply
    • For the record, the top stops exactly where the photo does, and has Scripture printed on it…

      By Esther | 3 years ago Reply
  7. This article is exactly what I needed to hear! I was literally just praying to God and writing in my journal about my struggle with desiring a relationship with someone I do not think is ready to be in one, nor myself being ready. I wrote that I desired to know if I should pursue this I friendship to a deeper level, and what you just described about this type of emotional relationship in the first part of the blog is spot on of what my feelings towards this guy were! I have been drawing closer emotionally and focusing on how he could benefit me in a relationship instead of focusing how I can draw him closer to God and love him as a brother in Christ more than romantically love him. Let’s just say as disappointed I may be about not feeling like I should push further right now, I do feel in a way that God is calling me to wait for a reason, and to love this man as a brother in Christ, not as a possible suitor for a relationship He is not calling me towards.

    By Catherine | 3 years ago Reply
  8. This completely changed the way I look at guys. Wow. I always check them out.. But that’s wrong. That’s not treating them with respect and dignity. I would never do that to my blood brothers.

    By Cecilia | 3 years ago Reply
  9. Friendzone everyone! Sorry, that does not work in practice. You cannot be onesided about how you approach the opposite sex because they WILL get the wrong message.

    Frankly, it is very difficult to be close to the opposite sex without some kind of tangible barrier between both individuals like distance or a vow of celibacy or of marriage.

    By Locke | 3 years ago Reply
  10. Thank you for better explaining this way of viewing the world. Seeing every man as a brother (in Christ) will help me to better respect them with the dignity they deserve. This idea allows two people to become good friends and see one another for who they are, and can probably prevent accidental heartbreak because no one will get the wrong impression. Then if two do decide to pursue eachother, they can make it clear and DTR so everyone is on the same page. It’s a daunting task, but mysteriously-worth a shot.

    By Elizabeth | 3 years ago Reply
  11. Katie, you’re missing the point. It’s not seeing the person exactly as you would see a brother; rather, it’s about treating that person with the same respect and dignity (and ease of relationship) that you treat your brother and your family with. It’s the idea of respecting them and coming to know them in a totally emotionally chaste manner.

    By Zach | 3 years ago Reply
  12. This is an awesome article. It’s so important to look at members of the opposite sex with more than just eyes for romance and relationships, but eyes of pure brotherly/sisterly love. Not a message we get from society but such an important one. Thank you so much for this reminder.

    By Olivia Mullins | 3 years ago Reply
  13. Thank you for writing this article! I started listening to Jason Evert’s talks recently and he mentioned the importance of having a season of friendship. At first, it didn’t make sense to me and I was feeling like Katie in regards to viewing other men as brothers in Christ, but the Holy Spirit gave me the grace to understand it. If we wholeheartedly put Christ in the center of every relationship then it will become easier to see Christ in every person. This doesn’t mean that we will not be attracted to our brothers in Christ. The idea is to build that season of friendship first to get to know the person genuinely and to avoid the confusion that may arise if you were to jump directly into a romantic relationship. It makes perfect sense to me.

    By Wholly Feminine | 3 years ago Reply
  14. this is awesome. my thoughts exactly, and just what i needed to hear. thank you 🙂

    By ruby | 3 years ago Reply
  15. This is really heaven sent!

    God bless you Esther!

    If ever you’re coming here in the Philippines, let me know! :]]

    I would love to have a chat with you! :]]

    God bless!

    -Em

    By Em Caparros | 3 years ago Reply
  16. It’s so true we look at some guys as brothers not as boyfriends

    By Melissa hartmann | 3 years ago Reply
  17. Thank you Esther. The timing of your post was providential!! Exactly the reinforcement and clarifications I needed to hear/read.

    By Véronique | 3 years ago Reply
  18. Great article. ^Katie, I so know what you mean! It seems almost hopeless but let me try to assure you…for the past year, I gave up affectionate dating in order to establish deeper relationships. I took this brother in Christ philosophy to friendship and I find myself with much clarity around the opposite sex. 1. It’s selfless. 2. Emotions don’t take over. 3. Because of that, Once you meet the right guy, it’s dead obvious because you chose to see through a broader lense. Who knows if this was clear but….always remain hopeful. We all have vocation 😉

    By Margaret Medellin | 3 years ago Reply
  19. Thank you for this article. I whole heartedly agree and it is not true that if you started viewing the opposite sex as brothers and sisters, you would never be attracted to any of them. On the contrary, I think your attraction would directed to the more substantial aspects like kindness, generosity and respect for truth, rather than the superficial aspects of physical appearance. It is giving yourself a chance to get to know the person before emotions start to cloud your judgement.

    By Emma | 3 years ago Reply
  20. I’m sorry, but if a woman is my sister (in Christ or otherwise) she is not a romantic possibility. When a woman tells me she loves me like a brother, she is declaring that she sees no romantic possibilities (yes, this has happened).

    There is nothing wrong with being aware of romantic possibilities when you meet a new person. In fact, it is necessary if you want to get married while you are still young enough to have children. You are young still, so you do not see the danger yet, but many of my generation built a wall around their hearts and are now paying the price.

    By Matthew | 3 years ago Reply
    • Loving as a brother or sister first first protects against lust. It helps a person view the other an a whole person. It actually does NOT prevent romantic feelings later. I know this from experience. I began a friendship with a man, with no other motive other then to be his friend and get to know him. I treated him the same way I treated my brother. It removed so much pressure. As I got to know him more and more, it was clear (to both of us) that we were very well suited to each other. Six months after we met, we began a romantic relationship. 6 months after that, we got married.

      P.S. Read Song of Songs… over and over it says, “I love you my sister, my Bride” … “sister” first is significant. John Paul II has much to say about this in Theology of the Body. It’s worth reading!

      By Natalie | 3 years ago Reply
    • “When a woman tells me she loves me like a brother, she is declaring that she sees no romantic possibilities.” This is all too true for MOST women in today’s society, and it makes it very difficult for us men to pursue a woman genuinely and without forcefully pushing the relationship forward. However, know that there absolutely are women out there who want a “brother” or a “friend” to someday turn into their husband. When you show a woman that you can love her without the promise or potential of a future romance, it demonstrates that you recognize her dignity first and foremost as a child of God, and don’t see her as someone from whom you want to get something (e.g. a future relationship). If both she and you are prayerful and open to God’s plan, it is absolutely possible for a friendship like that to develop into romance! And when it does, it will be far more beautiful than if it had happened any other way. Don’t give up and don’t settle for anything less than what God wants for you!

      By Noah | 3 years ago Reply
    • Exactly. I have guy friends who I view as romantic possibilities, and I also have guy friends whom I see as brothers. To think about a romantic relationship with one of my ‘brothers’ seems wrong and unnatural to me.

      I think today’s Christians need to stop being afraid of romance and sex. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, just because a lot of unbelievers get it wrong.

      By Olivia | 3 years ago Reply
    • if u meant the price that people that dont’ jump into relationship are now paying the price of being single,if that is the case the man or woman that u build the wall around is not the right person for u anyway, if that is the right person i’m sure that wall will be broken when u know each other better, my personal opinion is better to be single and happy then to be in relationship with the wrong partner and hv many heartbreaks or divorces and hv children involved, that will be paying a higher price.

      By annie wong | 3 years ago Reply
    • I don’t think she’s referring to that particular scenario. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, but the English phrase used, “brothers and sisters”, is only an approximation of the original Hebrew word used in the Bible. The original meaning of the word includes any member of your extended family in the same generation, like cousins, and refers more to a sense of being part of the same familial community.

      Treating each other as brothers in sisters in the Christian sense means that we treat each other as fellow people of equal dignity, working toward a common goal of Heaven. People are people, first and foremost, and that respect should come before romantic interest. Otherwise, we open ourselves to lust, greed, and anger, which are not usually a good basis for a long-lasting, happy marriage.

      By Josh | 3 years ago Reply
    • That’s how I thought too, that to see men as a ‘brother’ would automatically kill off any possibility of seeing them in a romantic light. But experience tells me that there are always those guys that no matter what you do, you just can’t see them as a brother, but you can still treat them as one. The romantic ‘spark’ is already there, but you keep a damper on it by treating them as a brother, letting objectivity rule (we need this focus because feelings have a way of growing). We can consciously choose to see a person in a brotherly light, and it does work. You get to see the whole person that way.
      “Do not awaken, or stir up love
      until it is ready.” from Song of Solomon 2:7 or we may find that we have cleaved unto the wrong one. 🙂

      By Margarita | 3 years ago Reply
    • She does not mean that you exactly view the person as a brother as far as attraction goes. She means that, yes you think the person is attractive, but you choose to not let the physical part of the relationship take precedence over truly taking the time to get to know the other person and also focusing more on what you can do to make the other person happy instead of just expecting emotional and physical satisfaction from them. Even if you aren’t having sex. I personally respect the Duggar family on 19 kids and counting. Some people can call the parents too strick but I think they are doing it the right way. When you truly care for a person it is very easy to become too physical and saving yourself completely for the person you love until marriage I believe demands respect.

      By julia | 3 years ago Reply
    • Isn’t love supposed to be about knowledge first? Just like we see in the relationship between Joseph and Mary when they are first betrothed. If a woman tells you that she loves you as a brother, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she will never ever see you as a romantic possibility. She may find you as a potential love interest later in the friendship. The article is proposing a different method in how we meet new people (which is actually nothing new), which is not building walls around our hearts. Our generation built walls around our hearts without knowing how to build pure hearts…that’s the price they paid.

      By KK | 3 years ago Reply
  21. I must agree with Katie and Matthew. It’s a good idea to try to treat everyone with respect/like a sibling. But I don’t see the problem with actually developing a romantic relationship with someone you find attractive. I think the idea that letting your emotional guard down is somehow a negative thing is somewhat unrealistic. If you never let your guard down and take a risk then you’ll end up never having a meaningful relationship. All relationships involve some risk.

    By Adam Conroy | 3 years ago Reply
  22. How do you show her she’s special if you treat every girl the same? After you spend time just getting to know each other as simple friends how do you know when to make your relationship more?

    By Eli | 3 years ago Reply
    • My guess is that you will start to notice her more.
      And by that, it is she particularly catches your attention on how she treats others, on how she acts, on how she is with her family, and how she treats her own body.
      You first want to know how she acts, without any commitment to a certain person.
      I hope that helps.

      God bless you!

      By -_-Sleepy | 3 years ago Reply
  23. This is all well and good, Esther. However, I am confused. In your perfect relationship, both the man and the woman would view each other as ‘sister’ and ‘brother’ in Christ, right? So how on earth would any romantic intentions grow or flourish? No, don’t go into a relationship thinking only of the sex. But romance and attraction need to be nurtured and cultivated just as much as brotherly or sisterly love. That is the only healthy way. You cannot subject everyone to the same kind of love.

    By Olivia | 3 years ago Reply
  24. I think your point is a good one and I understand the need to relate with the body of Christ in a “sibling” kind of way. However, I think the point you’re making needs to be fleshed out a bit because the relationships with our earthly sib’s is not a perfect parallel to those who outside immediate family. I do agree that some young people should be patient and learn to relate within a group of Christians without the intention of pursuing a romantic relationship with the first potentially spousable girl/guy. We should be careful of communicating some sort of need to suppress or condemn feelings of attraction.

    By Charles Haben | 3 years ago Reply
  25. I believe what Esther was trying to say is that we should appreciate the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and part of God’s family, because then can we build potential romantic relationships with a strong foundation. And even if a woman views a man as her “brother in Christ”, it may not always mean that she doesn’t have the potential to become attracted to him. Personally, I would much rather have a romantic relationship that began as a strong friendship. 🙂

    By Sara | 3 years ago Reply
  26. Esther’s comments seem right on target. I would like to add two additional points: First boundaries are essential. They vary from person to person, but we all need to know what we can and can’t handle. in terms of maintaining a healthy relationship, or friendship for that matter. Establishing personal boundaries and protecting them, assures that we both treat and are treated with the respect and dignity we and others deserve to treated with. Second, regardless of what we are pursuing, there needs to a level of intimacy involved. contrary to what the world sells it as, it has much more to do with self esteem, than it does sex. I haven’t come up with a definition of it that I’m happy with, but an easy way to remember it, is to break it down phonetically…. IN-TO-ME-SEE. If we are “intimate” with someone, it simply means, that we are giving someone else permission to define who we are. If the self esteem is not there, then, it probably means, that we are going to allow others to either treat us like garbage, or manipulate us, for selfish intentions. I do agree with Matthew and Annie’s comments, and feel that having a better understanding of intimacy would increase the possibilities of healthy relationships and friendships, plus help in making better judgement in separating the two. The only difference between the two, is how they develop. Friendships tend to grow “up and outward”, while relationships tend to grow “inward”. Anyways, I think I’ve said enough for now.

    By manuel | 3 years ago Reply
  27. Hi Esther, thanks for sharing this view. I think to a certain point you are right but I also agree with some of your opponents here 🙂 Given the fact that we cannot really decide upfront whom we will be attracted to, this will always stay kind of a determinant as who is our potential partner. However, once you met someone attractive the challenge is to try to view them as a brother/sister as well and not only as a romantic object.

    By Salome | 3 years ago Reply
  28. I was at Sunday School as a helper and the lesson on Holy Matrimony was to 11 year olds said that they should prepare themselves for marriage by loving others and being of service to others. At that age, it is definitely, parents, siblings, extended family, friends, teachers. It was such a wow moment for me.

    Love your perspective -of accepting, support and encourage a suitor as what you would do for a brother. That definitely makes us less judgemental and allows us to give our side of things.

    By Josephine | 3 years ago Reply
  29. It seems that most here seem to think that loving someone as a brother/sister, and loving someone as a significant other are 2 entirely different things, when in reality, a relationship is always a relationship, regardless of whether its between friends, siblings, relatives, neighbors, or spouses. What differentiates the various types of relationships is the boundaries we both establish, and safe guard with each individual. Each individual we encounter demands a different set of boundaries. Neighbors and others we don’t know as well, usually demand stronger boundary enforcements. siblings and relatives, and closer friends, ask us “relax”, boundaries, but not to the point where we sacrifice our dignity and respect for each other. spouses, or potential spouses, demand very few boundary restrictions, but again, dignity and respect much still be the priority. Just as boundaries vary from person to person, so does the level of intimacy involved. people who are closer to us, should be allowed to define us on a more personal level than those who are not as close to us. Esther’s thoughts on chastity allow us to avoid sending out mixed messages. From there, we can choose who we want to pursue as friends. Once a friendship has formed, then we can make deeper decisions as needed.

    By manuel | 3 years ago Reply
  30. Also, this is all well and good, but Jason Evert once said on the topic of dating for young boys/men to “Trust in god and pop the question” meaning that they shouldn’t fear rejection and they should simply ask the girl out if they’re interested in her. So which is it? I’m getting mixed signals here!!

    By Eli | 3 years ago Reply
  31. I think this is good advice for married women as well & our relationships/friendships with men.

    By Robbie | 3 years ago Reply
  32. A few objections/points of clarification:
    1.Do not demonize attraction. Even being attracted to someone before you’ve really gotten to know about them can be good, true, and beautiful. Do not be afraid! Face it head on, be honest with yourself and others, and then decide if it’s something to be pursued or something to be redirected.
    2.Even if you are trying to treat a man like your brother, it’s easy to have the wrong intentions. For example, I cook for my brothers all the time. So to follow the logic of this article, cooking for other men all the time would be permissible. Except that we all know making cookies for a man is a very devious form of flirting. 😛
    3.It is important to treat ALL people, not just the opposite sex, with the dignity they deserve. This was implied, but not really mentioned. Granted, the article was more zooming in on opposite sex relationships, which is certainly different from friendships between the same sex.
    4.“Inclusivity, community, respect, and both emotional and spiritual protection.” All good things. But there comes a point where exclusivity is needed. And there comes a point where you have to let your guard down. See point #1. Do not be afraid of attraction!
    The man that I intend to marry (and intends to marry me) was my “little brother” (the annoying kind that tried to ruin my life in grade school) for the first 14 years that I knew him. So I can’t sit here and tell you your ideas are bogus, because hey, it worked for me. All I wish to say is be careful you aren’t being too careful. Relationships are messy. Love hurts. You can view a man as a brother all day long and still be tortured by feelings that can never be satisfied. Take heart! Be not afraid! Love is hard, but love conquers all.

    By Joan | 3 years ago Reply
  33. I agree with Joan. If 2 people have the ability to be Intimate, then they will most definitely have to go through a process of “trial and error” before they discover what type of relationship they are willing to pursue. The key is to treat the other person with the dignity and respect they deserve, and assuming the mistakes along the way are minor, you’ll always be a better person just for trying, regardless of the outcome. It also doesn’t hurt to know that God is always in control, and will make sure you come out ahead in the end…. even if you don’t get the outcome you’re expecting.

    By manuel | 3 years ago Reply
  34. Eh… this is great…. and terrrible. I struggle with SSA, though I do have OSA along side it. I’m not attracted to men very often, so when I am, I’m delighted! I take joy in the fact that I feel that beautiful pull towards someone of the opposite sex! As I should. But… I don’t know. To leave it at that? To say “oh! He’s attractive…” then shove it from my mind and move on..? The attraction itself isnt a bad thing. And as I am constantly being reminded by my other faithfully catholic, homosexual friends, “attraction isn’t lust. It CAN be, but isn’t.” So why ignore it?
    I suppose, I suppose there must be a middle ground. How do I deal with attraction towards female friends? Not very well, honestly, but I DO both rejoice (because beauty inspires joy in me, always) but I redevote myself towards sisterliness in my appreciations and efforts. And things turn out alright. Maybe that should be my additude for everyone.

    By HN | 3 years ago Reply
    • Let me just say that I view this article with no little terror. I long to love somebody, as many of us do, and I admire and feel drawn towards the Sacrament of Marriage. I don’t form friendships well. I have only a few, dear friends, and not a one of them is a man. Not through any lack of trying, and with all types of guys, whether I am attracted to them or not. So to take that initial burst of hope and set it aside, to let it go and deliberately attempt to build a girl-guy friendship (which I have never suceeded with before) where I present myself as something other than his potential “other”…… its a big step fo faith.
      I’m not the pretty girl people fall for off the bat. Or even pay attention to. Remotely. People are more likely to decide I’m worhtless because I’m young, stupid because I’m removed from pop-pultre, bland because I’m content, lazy because I’m black, airheaded because I’m cheerful, and generally repulsive because I’m fat. In reality, Im sure that if, IF I can get anyone to slow down and see me as a simple, ordinary human with likes and dislikes and dreams and failures, they would see the untruth. But when anything outside of scorn or condesention is rare from any non-family male, be it neighbor or classmate or teacher or boss… its hard to step back and stop trying to simply please. Yes. I admit it. I know that boys like to be flirted with, even with unattractive girls. I’m afraid they will go back to either ignoring me or bullying me like all the others once I let that go…
      and as I say that I know what it means. A wife can’t live a life of, “please him or be ignored. Please him or be bullied.” And how, if I didn’t let the guy I fell for see me instead of his ego, would I know not to fear? I answer my own questions, I suppose. But it doesnt mean it isn’t still a terryfiying leap.

      By HN | 3 years ago Reply
  35. Excellent thoughts but expectation(any sort of) from others may lead to grief.

    By Kapil | 3 years ago Reply
  36. You should watch the movie, “Teeth” — it touches on these themes: chastity vs natural urges

    By Zbignew | 3 years ago Reply

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