YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
Friendship or Romance?—Part 1: What Signals Am I Receiving?
You really like this person of the opposite sex, and you’re sure that the feeling is mutual. After all, you text each other all the time, you pair off at gatherings . . . , and some of the messages you’ve received from this person are downright flirtatious.
So you decide to ask where the relationship is going, just to be sure you’re both on the same page. The reply? “I view you as just a friend—nothing more.”
How it feels
“I was so angry—angry at him and at myself! We had been texting each other every day, and he showed a real interest in me. Naturally, I developed feelings for him.”—Jasmine.
“This girl and I were chaperones for another couple. At times, it seemed as if we were double-dating. The two of us talked a lot, and then we started texting a lot. It was hard to take when she told me that she viewed me as just a friend and when I found out that she was seeing someone else all along.”—Richard.
“A boy was texting me every day, and at times we were both ‘flirty.’ But when I told him about my feelings for him, he laughed and said, ‘I don’t want to date anyone right now!’ I cried for a long time.”—Tamara.
The bottom line: When you think you have a special bond with someone and then find out that the romance is one-sided, it’s only natural for you to feel angry, embarrassed, and even betrayed. “I was devastated when it happened to me, and it really hurt my feelings,” says a young man named Steven. “It was a while before I could trust anyone else.”
Why it happens
Texting and social media make it easy for you to develop an emotional attachment to someone who in reality has no romantic interest in you. Consider what some young people say.
“Someone could text you just to kill time, but you might take it as a sign of interest. And if he texts you every day, then you mistakenly feel that you’re really special to him.”—Jennifer.
“One person might be genuinely interested in romance, while the other person just wants someone to talk to, someone to give him or her a confidence boost.”—James.
“A simple ‘good night’ text message can be read as romantic, but it could have been sent with all the ‘tender’ feelings of a telemarketer.”—Hailey.
“A smiley face can mean either ‘I’m being nice’ or ‘I’m flirting.’ Sometimes the person receiving the message assumes that it’s flirting.”—Alicia.
The bottom line: Don’t mistake attention for affection.
Easier said than done? Yes! The Bible says: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9) It can cause you to build a ‘sand-castle romance’ that washes away the moment you realize that it existed only in your imagination.
What you can do
Be objective. Take a step back and analyze the relationship. Ask yourself, ‘Do I have solid reasons for thinking that this person is treating me differently from others?’ Don’t let your emotions hijack your “power of reason.”—Romans 12:1.
Be discerning. Out of all those signs that make you think you might be more than friends, pay special attention to the signs that make you second-guess yourself. Don’t assume that just because you feel a certain way about someone, the feeling is mutual.
Be patient. Until the person says explicitly that he or she wants to get to know you in a romantic way, don’t invest more in the relationship than you can afford to lose.
Be honest. The Bible says that there is “a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) If you want to find out whether someone views you as more than just a friend, talk it out with the person. “If the feelings aren’t mutual,” says a young woman named Valerie, “it’s better to be a little hurt now than to go on for months before realizing that this person wasn’t interested in the first place.”
The bottom line: “Safeguard your heart,” says Proverbs 4:23. If you feel drawn to someone, find out if that person is drawn to you. Allowing romantic feelings to take root before then is like trying to grow a plant on a solid stone.
If you discover that the person does have feelings for you—and if you’re old enough and ready to date—then it’s up to you to decide if you want to pursue the relationship. Remember, a strong marriage is made up of a husband and wife who share the same spiritual goals and who are also up-front and honest with each other. (1 Corinthians 7:39) In fact, they no doubt started out as—and continue to be—good friends.—Proverbs 5:18.