Tag Archives: 95%

Can a girl be “just friends” with dudes?

One of Xandra’s friends asked this question, and I thought it would be easy to answer, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it seems. Keep in mind, that this is all purely my opinion.

First off, I guess you have to define what a friend is. There are acquaintances – people that you see at school or work or church or wherever and you chat with them but don’t go out of your way to see them or talk to them outside of there. There are closer friends – these are people that you would invite to a party or people you would miss if you haven’t seen them in a while and you would go out of your way to see them and they would go out of their way to see you. Then there are best friends – people that you check in with every day, that you know what is deep in their heart and they know what is deep in yours.

I would say that you can have any gender of acquaintance, and you really can’t have a best friend of the opposite sex that is just platonic. So for the sake of this question I am going to use the “closer friend”.

The first issue, from my perspective is that God made you to be half of a whole. God had made Adam in His own likeness, so Adam had a character a lot like His own, then when God took the rib out of Adam and made Eve, he took half of His own character and put it in Eve. When you find someone to spend your life with together, you find wholeness together. For that reason, there is a natural tension and attraction between guys and girls, and it’s a healthy natural thing.

The second issue that I see (again all this is my perspective) is how well everyone is playing their media defined gender roles.

100 years ago, children wore clothes that were easy to wash and because of the difficulty of getting decent clothing everyone wore hand-me-downs, so all the clothes were dresses. On top of that boys didn’t get their hair cut until they were at least 6 and maybe older, so little boys and little girls looked exactly the same. Here is a childhood pictures of Franklin D. Roosevelt at age 2 ½.

Franklin Roosevelt in a Dress
Franklin Roosevelt in a Dress

Enter department stores and their desire to get people to part with more money, so the very first boys and girls section was a ploy by department stores to make parents feel like they were not doing enough for their kids. Boys got pink because it was a lighter version of red, which is obviously a good strong color, and girls got blue because it was a softer color. Pink did not become a “girls color” until the 1930s when chemical dies made it possible to make a color called “Shockingly Pink” that wouldn’t fade. Clothes were launched in that color as was a perfume with the same name that had a bottle in the shape of a woman’s bust.

From that time to this, marketing departments have been working on making you feel like you are missing something so they can sell you more things.

The reason that this has anything to do with boy-girl friendships is because the main target of the marketing machine is teens who are mostly at a stage in their lives where they are figuring out who they are and are therefore the must vulnerable to feeling like they need this “thing” to make them feel more complete or to define them. If the message 100 years ago was that boys and girls need to be recognized separately by colors, then the message today is that you are not sexy enough. In order to make that message stick, they put hyper-sexualized images… EVERYWHERE. And 95% of people or more buy it all, hook-line-and-sinker.

But the 95% crowd is constantly moving toward the target that the media painted and if the crowd ever gets to the level that the marketing departments are painting then they won’t have that disparity to make you feel like what you are really missing in life is a new bikini top and Daisy Duke shorts, and a hot boyfriend, and… So they keep pushing to sexualize and make things even more over the edge so you will keep pursuing the elusive happiness that is represented in those Photoshoped and staged ads.

If you go back and watch TV shows and movies from the 50s and 60s you will see a lot more “just friends” or plots that don’t involve cheating at the first opportunity.

Boys do the same thing. We all hate Axe deodorant, especially when mixed in great quantities with 10th grade guy sweat, but your school is full of the stuff. Not because of the quality fragrance and effective adjustment to body odor, but because the ads say that girls will throw themselves at you, even if you are a comely nerd.

Just Friends

Add in the movies and TV shows about the topic of “just friends” where it is never just friends, or movies about cheating, or “friends with benefits”, or any other movie where the guy always gets the girl or the girl always gets the guy and you have everything stacked against you. You’re a girl to start with, which dudes are going to naturally be attracted to. You are wearing clothes that are designed to get guys attention and get them turned on. And you have a million different media messages the give nothing but examples of making everything about sex.

And you want to be “just friends” with a dude.

I still think you can, but “the cards are stacked against you”. I think that there is always some awkwardness and most of the time one of you actually wants more out of the relationship than you/they are actually saying. But there is value in getting to know different kinds of guys and figuring out the kind of guy that you want to be with long term without going through meaningless relationships and breakups. I personally married my best friend, someone that I had known and been friends with for over four years before we ever went on a “date”. Here are some pointers that I came across and I thought they were good:

1) View your friends as family – There’s a verse in the Bible telling a dude to treat the girls around him as sisters. If a guy intentionally thinks of you as a sister, then his instinct will be to protect you and your honor. And you are not all that likely to flirt or be inappropriate with your brother.

2) Avoid “pair” pressure – as soon as you talk to the same guy more than once, someone is going to ask you if you like them, or if you are going out. Be ready to answer that and tell your friends that say stuff like that to get a life.

3) Alleviate awkward – sexual tension and attraction and uncertainty are all made a lot worse when things are awkward and someone you like but just want to get to know as a friend doesn’t know what you expect, or what to say, or what to do. Doing something as a group, like having a few friends over or doing something in your youth group is a great idea. If the target of your friendship is there in the group, its a lot easier to ease into meaningful conversation if there is a group around.

4) Learn how to converse – there’s no real precedent anywhere in history for the kind of social skills your generation is growing up with, using technology and instant messages, etc. One thing that I have noticed though is that this generation is not great at meaningful conversation or resolving personal conflicts where words are required. When you do get together with others (guys or girls) put away the phones and talk. Being better at talking in general will help you to be better at talking with guys in a platonic way.

5) Don’t flirt – this might seem obvious but if you have a dude that is your friend and you like them and you are goofing around and you start flirting with him in even a joking way, it could derail everything. Draw up some obvious boundaries like no hanging out in a guys house or having a guy to your house when no one else is there.

6) Ask for help – if the dude is really a decent guy and worth being a friend with, then ask them to tell you if they find something you are wearing to be too suggestive or makes them uncomfortable. If they really are decent, and really are looking at you like a sister they will not only tell you if if makes them uncomfortable, but they will tell you if you are sending the wrong message to other guys as well.

Heartbreak sucks! Hurting in general sucks and most of it can be avoided by not jumping into relationships that have no chance, but it will require you to think for yourself what you want in your relationships and not just play the parts you see in the movies. By only having relationships with people that are worthy friends first, you can avoid a world of hurt and your relationships will have a fighting chance.

This is all my opinion – and I am sure there are a million exceptions to all the rules and ideas above, but the conclusions are pretty much the same. You can be just friends with a dude, but it is a bit complicated and most of the time its worth it.

When 95% is a fail

One of my daughter’s friends asked me a question. At first I thought it would be a fun and fairly easy question to answer. But I keep coming back to this key concept that I need to explain first.

There is a study that was done at some point in the late 60s. (I’m not an expert or on trial, so I have no idea what the reference for this study is, but I trust the source that told me about it.) They took a bunch of average people that were all at about the same level of life when starting in college. Then they looked at where these people ended up, at the age of 65. The statistics broke down like this: 1% was wealthy, 2% were fairly well off, 2% had enough to take care of themselves. The other 95% had to keep working, were dependent on others to take care of them or were in complete poverty.

Keep in mind that these people were all level at the start of college, so they were not “poor” to start.  They were not unintelligent or unmotivated… they were all going to college!

So they looked into what the difference was between these folks. It wasn’t the grades they got in college, or even if they finished college. It wasn’t what classes they took in college. It wasn’t how wealthy they were to start with. It wasn’t their IQ or gender or any other predictable factor.

What set these 95% on a course for failure? What helped the 5% get ahead in this race? The 95% didn’t plan on failure; in fact, they didn’t want failure and they thought they were headed in the right direction in the beginning.  But there was a very important but missing skill.

The difference is independent thinking.

Independent thinking means looking at a situation and deciding what to do for yourself. That seems simple enough, but 95% of people will make most of their decisions by looking at what other people are doing, making sure their actions and social interactions are in line with what other people are doing, and following what is expected. The lie in all of that is that you think that most people know what they are doing.  The truth is that they are all just as insecure as you; they don’t want their actions to break the normal and they can’t bear to handle the potential shame of trying something different and failing. So the pack huddles together and shuffles in mass towards oblivion.

Random example… buying your own kids presents for Christmas or their birthday. 50 years ago, on Christmas you might get 1 present for Christmas and a few stocking stuffers. The present would be worth the equivalent of a new pair of shoes (a BB gun, a toy car, a train set, a doll, etc.) The media starts showing us pictures of Christmas trees that can barely compete with the pile of toys and gifts under them, and over the holidays we visit friends that have piles of gifts all laid out nicely, and well they seem successful, and it sure looks fun. Added to that pressure is the knowledge that your kids are going to go back to school after the Christmas break and are going to compare what they got with other kids. So you go shopping, and you make your tree look like that.

You have no idea how much debt the other people incurred to get that pile of gifts. You know you couldn’t afford it. You know that most of the gifts you bought will not get used, and will likely get discarded within the first few months of the new year, but you buy them anyway. If you keep this up year after year, you will struggle to keep out of debt and your house will be filled with junk.  If you follow this pattern for birthdays and everything else in life, your finances will be a wreck. You will have debt instead of savings or investments.  The reality is that this simple issue can destroy your life and leave you with nothing, but… you will look the part.

Nobody will stop you and tell you that you are going too far. Nobody will chastise you for your lack of planning or short-sighted thinking.  Your children will certainly not complain… All those people who are saying nothing are trying to keep up with you.  I am not saying that giving gifts is bad or that even giving lots of gifts is bad.  I am not saying that someone who gives lots of gifts is somehow making a big mistake, but what I am saying is that you have to look and decide for yourself what you can spend, and what your kids actually need and not to worry about what others think of you.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend that would come with us to Red Robbin. We would all order our meals and drinks and maybe split an appy.  He would order non-stop fries and water.  We would spend $10 – $20 and he would spend $1.75.  He would then proceed to order three or four refills on his fries and leave full.  Now granted, that’s not a well balanced meal, but its not like a bacon cheeseburger is the picture of health. He did eat well at home and he had quite enough money to order anything he wanted, but that’s not where he wanted to spend his money and he didn’t care if he fit in or copied everyone else.  Because of the way he handled his money early on, and mostly because of the way he makes his personal decisions, today he owns a web hosting company that is doing very well.  You would be blown away with the number and size of his clients while even his own company’s dated website design says, “I don’t care what other people think”. He gets so much business from referrals that he doesn’t need his website to look nice to get business so paying to make his website look current would be wasted money.

in 2007, more than 40% of teens admitted to driving high and that number is even higher today.  While that is a bad statistic and makes the roads unsafe, what I got out of it is that a whole lot of teens are trying and smoking weed. So many, that in some social situations it might seem socially awkward or bad to say “no”. So many that you might have to think, “it can’t be that bad if that many people are doing it.” But who is looking down the road and thinking about where this “95%” type activity is heading. Is this a crowd, huddled together shuffling toward oblivion, or is it actually ok? I’m not answering this question for you; I am saying you need to answer this question for yourself.

So, here is a piece of advice that has served me well.  10 years.  I figure that any behavior or habit or strategy in life will start to show how it pays off within 10 years.  So if I wonder what something in life is like, I will find someone who has been doing it for 10 years and ask them. When I was 16 I started working at McDonalds and back then you could smoke on your lunch break in the staff room… I know – gross! Anyway, out of pure curiosity I wondered what smoking was like.  I would watch fellow workers come running down to take their break, get out a cigarette, light it up, breathe it in deeply and exhale like they were finally at peace. It would actually look kind of refreshing. I would then ask, “why do you smoke?”

This is the part that freaked me out… they ALL (and I mean ALL) said the same thing. “Oh, I have to – it relaxes me.”  Then I would ask, “yea, but why did you start?” They would say something about who introduced them, most of the time is was because everyone else was doing it, but then ALL (and I mean ALL) of them did the same thing; they would stub out their cigarette and say, “yea, I wish I hadn’t started. I’m trying to quit now.” This all happened withing about 45 seconds, and I repeated it about 20 times with all age ranges of people.  I figured out that smoking cigarettes has got to be one of the stupidest things that you can do.  I’ve never had one.  Ever.

Ask questions about the decisions you make in life and I mean ask about everything. You will find that most people have very very shallow logic if there is any logic at all in most of the decisions they make, and a lot are regretting doing the things that they are currently doing.  Wherever you find this… think up a new plan that makes more sense and don’t worry how it will look to others.

Because 95% is a fail, but turning on your brain is free and getting at least 96% is easy.

(Feven, your question is next 8-D )