Let’s be honest, Catholic dating can be overwhelming sometimes. What should you say in conversation? Are you making a good impression on a first date? These questions can be more consuming than picking out that perfect outfit.
Here at Catholic Singles, we get a lot of questions from online dating users about what is and isn’t appropriate for those who are in a relationship with a Catholic man or woman. One of the most frequent questions we see is online dating users wondering if it’s okay to be friends with someone of the opposite sex.
This is a great question, but it can also be a frustrating one because we can’t answer it directly. Why? The answer depends on a lot of factors.
Is the friendship one that you want to maintain between an ex girlfriend or with a girl you’ve been friends with since grade school? Is the person a guy who you’re may be a little bit attracted to, or is it purely platonic?
If you’re a good Catholic dating a great person, the question of whether or not to have friendships with members of the opposite sex is totally valid.
So let’s take a look at some important things to consider when making this decision.
Are you attracted to them?
If you’re discerning this friendship, your gut answer is probably, “Of course not!” But if you want to be completely honest in this discernment, you need to spend time thinking about this question. Even if you’re completely happy in your dating relationship, it’s possible for attractions to exist elsewhere.
It’s one thing to think a guy is cute, but not experience any real draw to him. It’s another to daydream about what it would be like to be in a relationship with him.
If you’re absolutely positive that there are no feelings brewing beneath the surface, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to have or maintain a healthy friendship. But what if you have butterflies in your stomach or you find yourself daydreaming when his or her name comes up? It’s probably a good idea to step away, at least for now.
Is the friendship with someone you used to date?
Many opposite sex friendships can appear harmless from the outside, when in reality, they can be harmful to your dating relationship.
Let’s examine the ex boyfriend/girlfriend situation. I’ll go first. Once upon a time I was engaged to an awesome guy. He was my best friend, which is why I thought for sure that when we broke up, we could remain friends.
When I drove to his apartment to return the ring however, he had a different view of how things should go. He made it perfectly clear that for him it was all or nothing. There was no in between.
But what if we had tried to remain friends? Our friendship may have caused problems when my next romantic relationship began. There might have been issues that would have arose when my ex saw me with someone new.
On the flip side, how would the person you’re dating feel about having your ex in their life? If it would be uncomfortable for them or even for you, it’s probably a good idea to leave the friendship in the past.
Are you able to define this friendship?
It would be impossible to completely lock ourselves away and avoid the opposite sex. Our world successfully revolves around men and women working together on a daily basis and many of them form great relationships.
There are many places to strike up friendships with members of the opposite sex. You could be friends with someone of the opposite sex at your job. These are good friendships to have! If you’re going to spend eight hours a day with people, it’s important to get along with them.
You could have friendships with people of the opposite sex that you know in casual settings, like at the gym. I took a kickboxing class at a local gym for many years and some of my best friendships came out of that one hour each week. There were both men and women friendships that blossomed in that class and they never interfered with boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses.
Or, you could form good, healthy friendships in your parish community. In fact, some of the best friendships and community can come from the people you meet at church.
But in all of these situations, you’ll need to make sure you can define the purpose of your friendship in order to make the relationship work out. Define those boundaries and stick to them.
Does this friendship make you a better person?
Is the friendship increasing your quality of life? Does it make you happier as a person? Is it an older, deep rooted friendship? Does it bring you closer to God?
Asking these questions can help you figure out if your relationship with your friend is a healthy one. It’s imperative to make sure your friendships outside of the relationship are wholesome ones.
Consider how your partner feels about the friendship. Is he or she okay with it? Does it bother them at all?
If there are any issues, examine what they are and what is causing them. Review the points above and address them head on. If you’re both comfortable with each other’s friendships, that’s a good sign that things are as they should be.
Is this a healthy, happy friendship?
Catholic dating can be fun and exciting, but it doesn’t mean you have to completely rearrange your previous friendships.
If you have a childhood friendship that’s lasted through the years, and it just happens to be with a guy or girl, that’s okay!
Even new friendships between opposite sexes can be fine as long as they have clear and defined boundaries.
The important thing is to know if and when a friendship is no longer healthy or beneficial and to step away from it if and when that occurs.
If you can check the boxes on a healthy, good friendship with safe boundaries, go for it!