Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Faux-Ship

In preparation for preaching, Ryan will sometimes post a question or comment on Facebook just to get a feel for what people think about certain issues.

So when I came across a blog post that addressed a topic that Ryan and I have been discussing lately, I felt like it was confirmation that we weren't the only ones talking about this issue. A blog post started forming in my mind so, like Ryan, I took to Facebook to get a read on what others thought about it.

Because preparation for a blog post is just as crucial as preparation for a sermon. I mean, let's be real. Lives are changed by the reading of this blog, amiright?

I thought so. Moving along now....

Here is what I posted to Facebook if you want to read the article, which I think you should so that you know what stirred me to write this post.

But in case you're pressed for time, here's a quick summary:

Boy and girl are friends. Boy invites girl to spend time together. Calling and texting back and forth daily, multiple times a day. Much time is spent together - movies, eating, sporting events, shopping... whatever - just together a lot. 5 months pass. No mention of "dating" or "romance" or "relationship" at all. Girl starts to wonder if boy likes her since he seeks her time and attention constantly but will not comment or clarify or address what "this they are doing" is.  Girl is trying not to have expectations for a relationship but is afraid of getting hurt. "This they are doing" continues on indefinitely in ambiguity. Girl is slowly going crazy while boy is not thinking any further than what his next meal will be.

OK. I added that last line myself.

Probably because I am slightly biased since I have daughters.

But how I feel about raising daughters is a conversation for another day.

While the article addresses the concerns of the poor girl slowly losing her mind, I felt like, in a way, Joy (the author) was still basically saying, "Be wise and good luck".

And I certainly don't have the answers to all the questions or the sure-fire solution to this problem but I do have some more thoughts to share.

So here goes....

I believe that it is very common today for guys and gals to engage in something I will henceforth refer to as "the faux-ship".

It's this friendship/constant communication/dating but not dating/uncommitted/just hanging out/not a relationship thing floating out there undefined and often leading to confusion, hurt feelings, anger, and/or just general craziness.

The faux-ship often starts innocently enough.

Let's say a guy and girl meet in a college class. They decide to meet at the library with several other students in the class to study. The guy asks for the girl's number so he can text when and where the library study session will take place. They meet at the library with the group a couple of times. They sit together while studying. Then he starts asking if he can swing by her dorm and they can walk to study group together. He walks her home afterwards. Then the guy asks the girl to go eat before the next study session. He starts asking her to go get coffee after studying. By this time, he's texting her randomly, for reasons that have nothing to do with class or study group. He saw something funny and thought it would make her laugh. He's going for a run and wonders if she wants to join him. He's going off campus to the bookstore and asks if she wants to go, too. He's going to the football game and would she like to sit with him? Girl is responding to the texts and initiating ones of her own as well. She's going to Target and would he like to go? She just made cookies and would he like to have some?

And so it goes.... for months and months.

The faux-ship.

And lest you think I'm holding only the guys responsible for the faux-ship, think again. I know plenty of young ladies only too willing to lead guys on just so they have something to do on the weekends. Everyone plays a part in the faux-ship.

We can talk until we're blue in the face about why these faux-ships are so prevalent today but at the end of the day, they are common, no matter why. So what are we going to do? What are we going to tell our sons and daughters about the pitfalls of the faux-ship?

That's where I want to land today. 

I think after being a part of a faux-ship for several months, it can only go in one of three directions:   
One - moving to a real and authentic relationship,
Two - continuing on as friends, or
Three - going incommunicado and moving on.

But what is required for the faux-ship to head in one of those three directions? To start becoming clear to all parties involved?

An honest conversation. Maybe even a couple of honest conversations.

And at the risk of sounding terribly old-fashioned and out of touch, I believe this conversation should be initiated and led by the young man.

2 Second Time-Out:

Does it stink sometimes to be the guy and have to take the lead? Yes. And I'm sorry about that. 

But it also stinks to be the girl sometimes. Because one word. Childbirth. You should definitely be glad you're a guy, guys.

While I may think the guy should take the lead in clarifying a faux-ship, that thought may not necessarily be shared by today's young men.

So I asked a young man.

And here is what he said:

I think that it is the man's responsibility to:

1. Initiate the talk: Don't wait till she brings it up, or allow it to fall into a realm of unclear issues that never get addressed. Have a direction, an intention, a purpose and then present it to the lady.

2. Lead the talk: Don't just ask her how she feels about you, but clearly explain how you feel, what you feel, why you feel it, and where you would hope to go with that if she were to be interested and willing as well.

3. Assume all risk: Don't ever make her be the one to go out on a limb and ask if there is interest or what "this" is. If ever that is the case, you never belittle, or act surprised, or shoot someone down without hearing them out. You assume the risk by explaining how you feel, not beginning by asking her how she feels. The way to turn this risk into reward is to make this awkward talk into a beneficial dialogue which goes from asking a question of interest into a plan of direction for what it looks like to be interested, or what it looks like to continue forward as friends if mutual interest isn't there. Taking peoples feelings into consideration is a crucial kindness.

4. Do it in a timely fashion: Don't make a girl wait several months to have the talk! Have the talk early in order to save time, energy, emotional wellbeing, money, as well as preventing difficult recovery times for either party by stringing someone along into a messy, unclear, friendship/relationship. Even if the talk is saying that you don't know if you want to date this person yet, but are desiring to take an invested interest in getting to know this person so a wise decision can be made. I believe that's being clear, intentional, and purposeful. Always having timely checkups of course.

Well. That is definitely the way to add clarity to a faux-ship! 

But here's what I especially love, besides this young man, of course: 

He doesn't say that the guy must have all the answers when he initiates the conversation. He just needs to have the conversation! Just let the girl know that you are trying to figure out "what this is", as well. That is a really big deal to a girl. It also allows the guy to find out if the girl is wondering "what this is", too. Maybe she's the one only thinking as far as her next meal and he needs to know that.  

I also like how he says that the man should assume all the risk when having the talk. It's not very "manly" to open the conversation with something like, "Do you like me? I mean, LIKE me, like me?" Kudos for bringing it up but if this is your lead point, then you're still essentially passing all the risk to the girl. Not cool.

I would add that if a guy is bold enough to bring up the conversation and assume all risk, then the girl needs to be respectful, sensitive, and mature about his feelings, even if she doesn't feel the same. Don't make him regret taking a risk by being mean or petty and laughing about it later with all your friends. He deserves better than that.

And another great point he makes? Have the talk in a timely fashion.

The longer it lingers, the more difficult it will be to have the conversation. Because here's what happens:  after months of constant contact, I think it's pretty much a given that the guy and girl enjoy each other's company. So then it becomes this muddy dilemma of being such good friends that you feel like moving towards any kind of clarity might mean the potential loss of a really great friend.

Can we get real for just a minute?

What's the real goal here? Making more really good friends or moving towards meeting the person you might ultimately want to spend the rest of your life with?

I don't mean to sound crass. It's always nice to have good friends and if your goal is to have as many as you can, then more power to you.

But according to a recent Pew Research survey, since about 61% of people, or 6 out of every 10 men and women, say they would like to get married one day (and another 27% are undecided), I would venture to say you don't have a whole lot of time to engage in these long-standing, unclear, low expectation, time consuming faux-ships. Not if the goal is to meet your future spouse.

I'm not saying don't get to know someone. But if your friendship is becoming a faux-ship and no clarity seems to be on the near horizon, then I would start moving on down the road, still being nice but definitely less available.

So moms and dads, are we raising children or adults? Are we raising young men and young ladies who can avoid falling into the trap of the convenient but frustrating faux-ship? Who can have honest and open conversations when clarity is called for, and ultimately engage in mature relationships?

Maybe it's time for an honest and open conversation ourselves.

 courtesy of

Agree? Disagree? Got more to add? I'd love to hear it all.


  1. This is so ridiculously sexist. The boy does not have to initiate these things - girls are perfectly capable of expressing their own feelings and thoughts.

  2. Interesting article. I am a little surprised though that this is such a problem. Maybe I am old fashioned but I was taught that the best long term relationships start as friendships. It seems to me that if one or the other of the couple wants it to be more than friendship they need to speak up. That way everyone is clear on what is going on.

    I would like to add though that not everyone is comfortable speaking about how they feel and if you find yourself in one of these relationships you may need to speak up no matter what your gender - the other person may think you already understand how they feel and not be aware that they actually need to say it, out loud.


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