Monday, May 10, 2010

When a Friend is Going Too Far

Dear Jocelyn,
I have a friend who identifies themselves as a Christian. In the past, we have discussed the ideas of boundaries in dating relationships and the correlation between physical and emotional involvement, an area where this person has previously struggled. More recently this person has entered a dating relationship and although she is reluctant to admit it appears to be struggling in this area. The guy she is dating has a different view on boundaries and relationships and has expressed interest in progressing the relationship physically. As this person's friend, how should I bring this up? Is it even my place to discuss this with them?
     -Trying to Help

Dear Trying,
It is admirable that you are looking out for your friend. Since she professes to be a Christian, it is perfectly fine to discuss your opinion with her. I recommend finding a time when just the two of you can talk privately, and ask her if you can offer your opinion on something. This is a way of having her invite you to talk. (Most people will say yes, but I suppose if she declines hearing it you have your answer!) I recommend not starting out with your concerns over the relationship, or physical boundaries - this can cause many people to immediately become defensive and stop listening. Instead, tell her some positive things you've seen in their relationship, and then tell her your concerns. For example,

"Sue, I love seeing you and Bob together. You two really seem to get along well. However, I've been concerned that you two are perhaps on different pages regarding physical intimacy. I really like you, and I don't want to see you do something you might regret later. Can I share some thoughts I had about this?"

This approach will work with most people, and keep them open-minded enough to actually hear what you have to say. It is important to speak up in situations where you are concerned for a friend's well-being, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual. After this conversation, you should be able to judge her response and see if this is something you can continue to discuss with her, or whether she wants you to butt out.
     -Jocelyn

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