Faith, Issue 44, Love, Purity, Relationships

Dear Kallos: How do we set up emotional boundaries with someone we like but want to stay as friends?

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Dear Kallos: How do we set up emotional boundaries with someone we like but want to stay as friends?

How do we set up emotional boundaries with someone we like but want to stay as friends? - Waiting

dear Waiting,

Thank you for your question that is so relevant. Emotions are God-given, but they can honestly be very messy too. One important thing to remember is that emotions are real, but they aren’t eternal truth. I applaud you for bearing in mind that even though you have feelings for someone, you don’t have to act on them right now!

My first thought is, what is the motivation to stay friends given that you like the person, rather than seeing if the relationship can go further? Are you feeling that it isn’t the right season to get attached? Or perhaps you want to remain friends for now because you’re still unsure about the possibilities ahead? Whatever your motivation, knowing your reason for remaining friends will help clarify your actions and bring you back to what is important. Underlying your every motivation should be to honour God in the season you are in. In any situation, seeking God for clarity is key.

As for setting up emotional boundaries, firstly, you can communicate with the person less often than you might like to, as constant communication often leads to feelings developing even more! I know it may sound rather rigid, but honestly, setting a limit to the times you communicate helps.

Secondly, watch what you talk about. If the conversation is veering toward being flirtatious, pull the handbrake. If you’re sharing with this person more than you should with a regular male friend, you may want to re-evaluate what you are doing.

Thirdly, if feelings are mutual, have a chat with this person and set up certain boundaries you both want to adhere to, so that you can remain friends for now instead of awakening love before the time is right (Song 2:7). Do what is appropriate for your level of commitment. For example, if you’re remaining friends because you’re not ready to be in a relationship, don’t go out one-on-one, act like the relationship is already exclusive, or share deeply about your lives. That should be reserved for when you’re ready to date, and able to keep yourselves accountable to the authorities in your life, such as your parents or church leaders. Set up such boundaries together — being on the same page on where you stand is often a lot easier than muddling through without clear expectations!

Lastly, keep talking to God about this, committing everything to Him and being accountable with a trusted Christian mentor to help shepherd you in the right direction. The right timing leads to amazing relationships — if we have the patience to wait and faith to trust in God.

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