Fostering friendship can save us from sexual chaos

It might be difficult to remain friends with someone you’re attracted to, but I reject with disgust the idea that it’s impossible for boys and girls to be friends, or that girls are somehow defrauding boys if they enjoy their friendship without wanting romance. We can be better than this. If we want to find our way out the current sexual morass, we must be.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

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9 thoughts on “Fostering friendship can save us from sexual chaos”

  1. It’s funny that I read this now because I was doing some research on chastity earlier and it says in the Catechism in paragraph 2347 that “The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship…Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.” Which is so close to what you said here. It makes so much sense!

  2. I’m reminded of something C.S. Lewis mentioned (I think in The Four Loves): that some cultures separate the sexes so that the only significant points of interaction are familial (brother, sister etc.) and marital. Other cultures include interactions between sexes as friends and colleagues, as well as familial and marital ties. Both systems can work, but marriage (and the idea of what marriage ought to be) will be quite different in each. If we expect friendship to be part of marriage (and if we want successful colleague relationships), we need to have friendship between the sexes.

  3. I have 6 kids, 3 of each. Alternating. Girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy.
    Oldest girl is 16. She and her now-boyfriend were friends first–classmates, then they were in a study group for Latin that his mother taught. With his twin, and older brother too. Her first playmate was her brother almost 18 months younger.
    She has a friend without those experiences. This friend makes disparaging remarks about guys: they’re dumb, they don’t think, they’re impulsive or shallow or childish. My daughter gets very upset by these remarks. “I have a boyfriend who’s my BEST friend. I have brothers. And a father. And plenty of guy friends. They aren’t like she says. Yes, they’re different in some ways, but they’re really PEOPLE. They have hopes and dreams and fears and feelings just like girls do.”
    My middle son is 10 now and expressed a similar sentiment. “I don’t understand the boys that are afraid of girls. They’re just girls. Like people.” A poet he’s not, but his meaning is there: girls aren’t to be feared.
    If you’re going to marry a member of the opposite sex, it’s really important to be friends with one of them first.

  4. Is there any evidence to support your claims that if you have friends of the opposite sex you are more likely to come to the side of someone in need? Or that you will be a better parent? Or deal better with chastity?
    This sounds nice but I’m not sure there is any evidence to support your claims. How about anyone with strong family ties, or strong friendships that are with someone of the same sex?

    I think maybe it could be argued that more close friendships with the opposite sex encourages earlier sexual exploration.

    Those that have issues with sex probably have them no matter who their friends are.

    1. Anne said:

      “Those that have issues with sex probably have them no matter who their friends are.”

      There are certain kinds of marital dysfunction that seem much more typical with people who don’t have experience dealing with the opposite sex as peers and have trouble seeing them as real people.

    2. Because having friends of the opposite sex means seeing them as people possessed of so very much more than genitals.

      Many saints had dear friends of the opposite sex.
      Francis and Claire. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Benedict and Scholastica are siblings, but were able to model what that relationship ought to look like.

      And the are a number of examples of saints who were drawn to salvation by someone of the opposite sex. Saint Cyprian of Antioch, a former sorcerer, was converted by Saint Justina of Antioch.

      Saint Pelagia was a prostitute who was converted by the chasteness glance of Saint Nonnus, Bishop of Edessa.

      1. If someone never learns how to deal with people of the opposite sex outside the category of romantic and sexual attraction, interactions with persons of the opposite sex will be difficult and fraught with unnecessary tension, miscommunication, and temptations.

  5. this post makes me feel better about my poor son (only boy- 3 sisters)- I really don’t have time to get him to a boy-only activity like Trail Life- so he is always around girls or a combo (choir, Shakespeare, etc, etc) – his ‘boy only time’ is when we travel to see cousins or at the altar!

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