By Phylicia Masonheimer
The girls leaned around the bistro table and giggled, watching the guy across the street as he lingered outside an adjacent café.
“He’s super cute!” said one, winking at her single girlfriends.
Just then, the café door swung open and a cute, fashionably dressed young woman stepped out. The young man smiled and took her hand.
“Ugh! It just figures,” whispered one of the girls. “Of COURSE he’s in a relationship.”
It’s tempting as single women to look at the men around us as “prospects.” Until a relationship proves otherwise, we assume most young Christian men are eligible bachelors just waiting for the right girl to come along. We view the stranger on the street and the leader of the teenage Bible study in the same way: as prospective boyfriends, or even future husbands!
But this view, while seemingly harmless, does more damage to a girl’s heart than good. In viewing men as potential mates, we miss out on our calling to love others the way God intended. Our view of men becomes conditional and based on what they can do for us—not on what we can do for them.
As a married woman looking back on my own teenage years, I see how many times I viewed my guy friends in this context. With the perspective that time and marriage have granted me, I now see how I silently asked, “Are you my future husband?” with many of the young men in my life. In asking that question, I failed to view my guy friends as individuals designed by God, instead viewing them as people who could potentially fulfill my personal desire for a relationship.
This habit is damaging to the hearts of young women in three distinct ways:
- It cultivates discontent. Viewing others as potential spouses reveals that our hearts are more concerned with finding a relationship than simply cultivating God-honoring friendships with those around us. This undue pressure causes us to be dissatisfied with the season of singleness. Sometimes this same discontent causes us to resent guys we like when we find out they have girlfriends! Discontent is the root of jealousy and envy, two emotions that are contrary to God’s perfect will for our hearts and relationships.
- It skews our view of the individual. When we look at guys as potential mates, we cease to view them as individual people. Instead, we view them in relation to what they can do for us: if they would make good boyfriends, how we would look on their arm or how satisfied we would be in a relationship with them. Instead, we should be viewing our guy friends as men of God and people we can encourage as our brothers in Christ.
- It hinders our ability to love others—male and female—the way God intended. Focusing on another person for fulfillment hinders our ability to love them the way God intended because love is sacrificial. God’s definition of love is not “roses and butterflies,” but the willingness to place another’s needs before our own. When we view guys as potential boyfriends, we tend to get jealous of any female attention they receive—which means we are not focusing on what may be God’s will for that young man, nor are we accepting the other young women in his life with grace and love. God intends for us to love selflessly, trusting Him to bring the right person at the right time both for us and for our male friends.
So what do we do about this sneaky habit of ours? We change our perspective. Instead of viewing guys as potential mates, we treat them with the respect and unconditional love of one Christian to another. We honor them as the future husbands of godly women we do not yet know. And we treat them the way we would want our own future husbands and boyfriends to be treated by other Christian women: with kindness and respect.
This view destroys the disappointment of finding out a young man has a girlfriend, because we don’t put expectations on him in the first place! It also destroys the insecurity created by comparison, where we measure ourselves against girlfriends and fiancées of men we assumed were single.
God has a plan for each heart that is dedicated to Him. We trust this for ourselves, but we must also trust this for the young men in our lives. No man is our emotional property. He is God’s man with God’s destiny laid out for his future—a destiny that very well may include a future wife we’ll never know. By releasing our emotional assumptions, we free ourselves from disappointment and discontent while empowering ourselves to be friends who love sincerely, no strings attached.