9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part I

coffee-heart-art

“Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love.”

– Albert Einstein –


In the last 10 years, I’ve learned a lot of things about guys…and how I as a girl should behave around them. These 9 things aren’t really secrets, actually…just things that have encouraged, inspired, and sustained me as I navigate the strange and rough waters of young adulthood.

I hope to debunk some myths, relieve some fears, and inspire you with the tools you need to show godly love to the young men in your life.


1. “Crushes” Aren’t Always Bad

Before you start running the other way, let me clarify.

It is okay to like someone. It is not okay to be obsessed.

God made girls with antennae that perk up whenever a fellow walks into the room. We have emotions that go on red alert when a guy starts to be kind to us. We have hearts that suddenly start doing backflips in our chests.

That’s normal, actually.

So if you find that you actually…eh, like a guy, it’s not the end of the world. God made us to have an appreciation for men. That is a good thing.

But here’s the key: You can admire someone, enjoy being with them, and even have hope for “something more” one day without letting thoughts of them take over your life. 

Remember, a guy will not make you happy. It may seem like they can, but they can’t. So if you start dreaming of Mr. Right saving your from your unhappy existence, you will be disappointed.

So…what’s the verdict? Is a crush always a horrible affliction? I think my friend Emily sums it up well:

“After a series of paralyzing crushes in my midteens that I denied even to myself, I came to the conclusion that a crush is a period of time when you see a person at their best without the balance of faults. It’s not always that your view of them is inaccurate, only that it is incomplete. The solution, therefore, is not to blind yourself to their true strengths — this dishonors both them and their Maker! — but to seek the complete portrait that comes with time and a more mature relationship.”

2. Boys are People

This is obvious, but boys are people too. They have emotions. They have dreams, and fears, and loves, and hurts.

So don’t treat them like objects. They are people made in God’s image, just like you. Please, please, don’t forget that.

And on that note, guys are also human. Meaning, they aren’t perfect.

Don’t think that your “special guy” is the only faultless one on the earth. He isn’t. He has struggles and sins just like you do. So don’t idolize him, or have unrealistic expectations. People — including Mr. Right –will fail you. Be ready for that, focusing on the grace that you’ve been given by God. That grace is what will glue your future relationship together.

3. What Treating Them Like Brothers Doesn’t Mean

I sometimes have trouble with the idea of treating a young man “like a brother in Christ.” Does that phrase ever bother you?

This concept comes from the apostle Paul’s directive to the young pastor Timothy:

Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NKJV).

But…what does this really mean when put into practice? And what does it not mean?

Honestly, this one question could be an entire blog post. (Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more, and I’ll write one!)

But to narrow it down, treating a young man like a brother “with all purity” means that you’re not looking on him solely as an object of your romantic dreams or a way to get what you want. It means that you care about him enough to want what’s best for him, not just what would make you happy.

It means that his relationship to Christ is more important to you than his relationship with you. And it means that you’re looking at more than his exterior (handsome or homely though it may be). It means you value him as a person, not just a love interest.

But what doesn’t this verse mean?  

In my understanding, this verse does not mean you can’t ever think of a guy romantically. How would people ever get married? “Oh, sorry, but the Bible says I have to always think of you as just a brother in Christ.”

So when people say, “I’m just thinking of him/her as a brother/sister in Christ,” that’s wonderful. It is a very important thing to keep in mind, so that we do not objectify those around us.

But it also doesn’t mean that you can’t ever think “Oh, that’s the kind of guy I want to marry” or even “I think I would be happy if he was ever interested in me.”

Related Post: “To See Like You” 

4.  Guys Like Real Girls

This is super tough for guys. Girls can act so strange! I ought to know — I am one!

It is such a relief to guys when girls are “real” around them. (And guys, we girls like it when you’re normal, too!) So when you’re conversing with the fellows in your life, just be a real, genuine person. Say sincere things.

It is such a huge relief to talk to a person who doesn’t have an agenda. Be a friend, first and foremost.

5. Your Heart Might Not Shrink (The Truth about “Giving Away Pieces”)

When I was younger, I learned so much from several conservative Christian conferences my family attended. One of these conferences in particular taught about the importance of guarding your heart and not “giving away pieces” of it to every guy you meet.

But what does “giving away pieces of your heart” really mean?

Serial dating is one thing — yes, that’s a big problem. But for the average Christian girl who’d just like to grow up and marry a nice godly man, how helpful is this advice?

In the years since attending these conferences, I think I’ve seen a little of both sides of this coin. So I have a proposition.

Maybe caring about people and getting hurt isn’t the worst thing.

Yes, there is definitely a balance here. I think girls should be wise and careful about the boys they have as friends. I definitely don’t think that it is beneficial for girls of any age to walk around with their heads in the clouds always dreaming about the latest love of their life, or to go about throwing themselves at guys. That’s definitely not what I’m saying.

But I do think that we can put too much emphasis on keeping ourselves “pure,” when what we’re really doing is blockading our hearts against pain.

Sure, I believe it is unwise for a girl to throw herself into love at every turn. (One way I guard against this is by consciously avoiding the phrase “in love” regarding my feelings for guys I admire).

Sometimes, there are good precautions to keep your emotions in check. Over the years, I’ve had to make various decisions, such as times of limiting my consumption of books/movies with a dominant romantic subplot, or intentionally not popping up in every place where a guy friend tends to be.

But trying to avoid heart-fragmentation is no excuse for not loving your brothers in Christ. They are still fellow Christians. They are still that neighbor Jesus said to love (Mark 12:31). How can you do that if you never let yourself get close enough to care?

 Life has heartache, and sometimes loving someone — even as “just a friend” — is heart wrenching. And sometimes it is pure joy.

soft heart
“”Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.” – Katherine Henson

Painful relationships don’t indicate that you’re doing it wrong. It doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed to keep your heart pure. It might actually mean that you’re sincerely caring in a broken world. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Parents are a huge help in this — my mom and I have an extremely open relationship, and I keep her posted on my thoughts of every guy I know (and every girl too, for that matter!) My dad and I have also had several conversations about the young men I know, so that we are all “in the loop.” I can’t express how incredible this has been. I get to hear immediate feedback from them about my friendships. Plus, their years of experience and logical approach help me fend off overly-emotional reactions.

So…does liking a boy mean that you’re giving away part of your heart?

No.

You might be developing an unhelpful habit of unrealistic obsession that will get in the way of a successful marriage later.

Or it could mean that you are learning how to navigate a very complicated world of human emotions, relying with all your might on your God and on the wise counselors He’s placed in your life.

I will testify to this: I’ve had dreams die and hopes turn out to be nothing more than that…budding hopes.

But those dreams that died and those hopes that never came true did something to me. They didn’t take part of my heart — they made it stronger, and deeper, and wiser. 

The prayers I prayed for young men, and the friendships I developed were not a waste. They’ve matured me and led me to a greater dependence on the only One who can always satisfy my heart.

Related Posts: “Half-Frozen Lake” and “Living Safe”


Come back next week for the rest of the things I’ve learned about guy and girls over the years! Have any thoughts? Comment below!

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3 thoughts on “9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part I

  1. Shelbie, I love this post! Thank you for taking the time to articulate your observations, thoughts and feelings so beautifully. As a parent who wants our children to avoid any pain or heartache it is so easy to become unbalanced or to forget that many of life’s most blessed lessons and maturity come through experience. Your love for Jesus shines brightly as you strive to walk joyfully and obediently in this world. I applaud you for seeking wisdom from your parents and other godly individuals. May the Lord continue to direct your paths as you seek to walk in ALL His ways. ❤️

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Allyson! Balance is something I value so much. Thank you for your godly example. I hope when I am a mom I laugh and smile as much as you do!

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