From Like, to Like Like, to Love in Your Twenties
By Jeff Taylor
On both sides of the passionate road of love is the
less desirable stage of friendship. Anyone who’s
ever been there knows the terrain is perilous. Friendlationships
shares stories of those who are in your shoes and
gives insight into how relationship issues can make
or break your spiritual life. After all, relationship
advice should be about more than sex or dating methods.
Friendlationships covers all the stages between
and during this thing called love.
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Avoiding the Couples 'Cult'ure
By Jeff Taylor
Meet Joe. Joe has three really close friends, and
he does everything with them. They hang out all the time and have
been compared to a band of brothers. Then Joe meets “her.”
Guys, you know what I am talking about. She is cute, but not good-looking
enough for Joe; she is nice, but not nice enough. After all, Joe
desires a girl who is incredible, and this girl, well, she is
just mediocre from your point of view. The problem is, however,
that he really likes her. No, he really, really likes her. He
likes her so much, in fact, that you hardly ever see him anymore.
He spends all of his time with her, and the little time he spends
with you is awkward because he is looking at you through the lens
of “we-ness” (i.e. “WE do not like to eat Chinese
food” or “We cannot go out because we always watch
Felicity together”). You can even tell that he
secretly pities you because of your singles solitude. Then, the
realization hits: “Dear God, he has been infected by The
Couples CULTure! He is one of them!”
The Couples CULTure is a group of couples who seek to separate
themselves from the rest of society and hang out with others just
like them. You can deduce their association with this group by
their innate desire to be defined solely by their relationship.
In essence, it would appear to those who knew the individuals
BH (Before Him/Her) that they have lost all sense of self and
identity. That is the stigma of couple-hood. These days, many
couples are viewed the same way; as they begin a relationship,
they forsake their own individual identities for the chance of
acceptance. This is not always the case, but The Couples CULTure
is doing nothing to hinder the stereotype. In fact, if you are
different from those in The Couples CULTure, they will either
ignore you or attempt to have you join and become “one of
them.” Couples get a bad rap, and I think I know why.
The truth must be revealed.
We have all been in situations where we are hanging out by ourselves
with a couple that does not seem to know you exist. They are so
“into each other” that you are barely a blip on their
radar. Any conversation you make somehow ties into the love they
have for each other or is soundly ignored while they stare lovingly
into each other’s eyes. It looks like “true love,”
when in fact it is rude and disrespectful to the other person.
“That will never be me,” many people state until they
You do have a choice.
Do not be fooled by the wedding band on my finger or the marriage
license with my name on it. Alison and I utterly refuse to take
part in that CULTure and have been ostracized. We are fine with
that; after all, we strive for unity not uniformity. But some
of you are in The Couples CULTure without even realizing it. Now,
I would like to give you a few warning signs that you, my friend,
might be taking part in The Couples CULTure.
1) Another couple instantly becomes your new best friends.
After all, single people can never relate to you anymore. Only
couples can! You must be friends with a couple first and foremost.
Why is this? You do not instantly become another person as soon
as you are in a relationship, unless you are in The Couples CULTure.
Your single friends are still your friends. Being in a relationship
does not change that. For a short while Alison and I tried to
find couples with which to hang out and spend time. Many couples
we encountered were dull as dirt because they were too into each
other. It was impossible for us to relate to them because all
they knew (and frankly, all they wanted to know) was each other.
They had their own little world and were content to be oblivious
to everyone else. There was no way they could invest in us or
help us grow, and it was very unlikely they wanted to be invested
in either. After all, they had each other. I do not know if you
ever listen to other people’s conversations, but a pair
of couples that are best friends have some of the dullest conversation
you can imagine. Everything is funny and/or wacky. Think about
your friendships. Where are your single friends? Do you have difficulties
identifying with them now?
2) You become increasingly awkward around single people.
If you are having problems being around single people, you have
a problem. Being awkward with singles and embracing couples you
barely know is a vicious cycle. Again, there is no need for awkwardness
around single people. They do not need your pity for being single;
they need you to be their friend. Throughout my life I have had
many good friends who disappear the second they get a girlfriend.
Then when they would make time to hang out with me, it was very
weird. I have a friend who used to play me in Nintendo 64’s
Goldeneye 007 all the time. It is a very fun game, and
he and I would have a blast. As usual, I was dominating. (Trevelyan.
Grenade Launchers. Temple. If you have the guts.) After his sound
defeat, he looked at me and said, “It’s fine. You
won this game. Now, I’m just gonna go hang out with my girlfriend.
You know, since I actually have one.” (Note: This type of
trash talking is typical among guys and is also grounds for a
beating. Seriously, rappers have shot each other for this kind
of talk.) You see, the joke belied a hidden truth. He felt as
if he was lowering himself to play me in a video game. After all,
he had a girlfriend; he had no more use for me. Anyway, she dumped
him a month later. I even let him win a game of Goldeneye.
Yeah, right. I am not that empathetic. My point is that your single
friends still have value and are still people. Choose to be their
friend, not their object of mockery and “why doesn’t
she spend time with us anymore, that jerk” conversations.
3) You ask permission to do things.
“I do not know if I can hang out or not. I will have to
see if it is OK with him.” Ouch. Remember when I said that
in a dating relationship, the date is implied? True, a date is
implied, but spending every spare moment with your SigOth (Significant
Other) is not. It is actually healthy for you two to do things
apart from one another regularly (as long as it is not harmful
to the relationship). You are not married yet. You are not joined
at the heart, so there is no need to be joined at the hip either.
You do not have to ask permission to do anything. Of course, you
need to show consideration, but there is a fine line between showing
consideration and acting whipped. This applies to guys and girls
alike. It is not, “I need to check with her and see if it
is OK.” It is either, “Of course, let me call and
let her know,” or “Well, I would love to, but I already
have plans.” Make your time together a priority, but also
respect each other’s need for time apart.
4) You feel the need to proselytize all of your single
friends into The Couples CULTure.
In other words, you try to hook everybody up. Don’t bother.
It is not your responsibility to put everyone in a relationship.
Resist the temptation. After all, if you try to fix your single
friends up, it confirms the fact that you have pity on them and
that their life will not have meaning unless they are in a relationship.
That is inaccurate and hurtful. It is wise to not transfer your
insecurities onto others.
5) Your spiritual life is dependent on your SigOth’s
Remember the earlier statement about taking joy in a worship
service because you felt you received approval from the person
you had your eye on? This is what happens when you leave that
problem unchecked. You find yourself spiritually dry because your
SigOth happens to be in a bad mood. I have known dating couples
who, if one person was sick and unable to attend church, the other
would not attend either. In a marital relationship that is often
necessary in order to help with housework and whatnot, but in
a dating relationship it is not needed. You do not go to heaven
If any of these apply to you, you have my pity. But all is not
lost. There are many things that you can do to prevent finding
your identity in someone else. One thing that you need to do is
take at least one day a week off from each other. This gives you
time to be alone and work on things that need attention. It also
gives you a chance to hang out with your single friends who you
may not get to see as much. Every person needs people of the same
gender with whom to identify and encourage.
You also need to spend serious time working on your relationship
with God. Is something lacking with God that you feel the need
to look for in someone else? There might be some serious soul-work
to do. Spend time intentionally building your relationship with
Christ. The more you do this, the better SigOth you will become.
We do not achieve our “destiny” by being in a relationship.
That is not our goal. Our goal is to grow closer and love God;
you can do this as a single person or as one in a relationship.
The people around us will all die someday; if we allow ourselves
to be defined by them, then where does that leave us when they
People in The Couples CULTure hate being single. They utterly
hate being alone and feel as if their happiness is defined by
true love. Is it wrong to desire a relationship? No. Should that
be your desire above all others? Absolutely not. Find peace in
God, not in others.
Oh yeah, and don’t bring SigOths into your video game trash-talking.
To read part one of this article click
Excerpted from Friendlationships
by Jeff Taylor, copyright © 2005. Used with
permission from Relevant Media Group. All rights to this material
are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web
locations for retrieval, published by other media, or mirrored
at other sites without written permission. Visit the publisher's
Web site at www.RelevantBooks.com.
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