So what is the purpose of male and female relationships when you’re single? Let’s explore one type of relationship in this article. In some cases, interactions with men are unavoidable. We work with them, they’re in our families, they’re in our churches, and they work at stores we frequent. The bottom line is…men exist. So are you supposed to spend time avoiding them or should you just master the art of having healthy relationships with them? I’m inclined to choose the latter, but in order to be successful in this regard, we must know ourselves.
I’m reminded of the story of Joseph from the Bible. Joseph was very close to Egypt’s second in command, Potiphar. Potiphar really trusted Joseph although Joseph was his slave. He gave Joseph charge over his entire household. Potiphar’s wife was extremely attracted to Joseph. Day after day she would hound him and ask him to sleep with her. The Bible distinctly describes it as a daily battle. Joseph did his best to ignore her advances. One day she was fed up with his constant rejection. I can picture what was going through her mind… “Who does he think he is? Doesn’t he know who I am? I’m Potiphar’s wife! Crème de la crème, the most coveted woman in all of Egypt next to Pharaoh’s wife…I am fine! How dare he deny me? Oh! Today’s the day!” After becoming determined, Potiphar’s wife cornered Joseph so much so that he literally ran out of his coat to get away from her. She lied on him and claimed that he was trying to rape her and used his coat as evidence of him being with her so ultimately Joseph was put in jail. What an injustice! (Check out their full story in Genesis 39).
Joseph was a single man that had a job where he had to deal with a married woman. In this particular case, the married woman wanted to entice Joseph to have an affair with her. This is where we as singles have to be careful. In general, there is nothing wrong with having a relationship with a married man, but it definitely depends on the context of the relationship. As a single person, you have a responsibility to yourself and a responsibility to those you are in relationship with. Your goal should never be to destroy someone’s marriage or lure someone from his relationship. Once it is realized that the dealings you have with a married person have an underlying attraction, it is necessary to flee from that relationship.
You may question why a single woman would ever have a relationship with a married man, but in my experience these relationships are common in my profession. As a teacher, I frequently had to maintain working relationships with married men. These relationships were maintained successfully through mutual respect for each other as professionals and respect for each other as people. There were boundaries set, whether they were talked about or not. Joseph tried to set boundaries with Potiphar’s wife, but she didn’t care to respect those boundaries. When Potiphar’s wife propositioned him, he respected Potiphar enough to say to the wife that he would never dishonor Potiphar’s trust by sleeping with her. Joseph opted to stay away from her, but she chose to make his boundary an opportunity to quest and conquer. Maybe she wasn’t satisfied with the way her marriage was. Maybe Potiphar didn’t pay her much attention, but what I like about Joseph is that he never made it his responsibility to try and “comfort” her during this time of need. Even though their interaction or lack of interaction ended in disaster, it is obvious why his boundary was necessary.
I also set boundaries. I never disrespect a married man by calling the house late, texting crazy things, or by discussing inappropriate things with him. I currently have 2 awesome friendships with married men and the relationships include their wives. Their wives have welcomed me into their homes and treat me as a part of the family as opposed to competition. These relationships were forged by there being no secrets between him and his wife and by me speaking directly to his wife if I called or happened to be at the same place as them. I introduced myself to the wife when given the opportunity and directed comments to her when in conversation with both of them. The common factor in both of these relationships is that the wife knew about me before we physically met. Secrets are what get us in trouble. Potiphar’s wife incited Joseph outside of her husband’s presence. She wanted to do this in secret. Again, we don’t know her reasons for seeking the attention of another man, but the point is someone needing to keep a relationship secret is a red flag and should be considered a danger zone.
The benefit that I have had in these types of relationships is that in both of my friendships, the married couples are Christians and they look out for me. They help me to maintain my sanity as a single and help me to stay encouraged while I wait to be married. I can go to them for sound advice and have decided to use them as buffers when my mate does come along. So what do I mean by buffer? I trust these people to look at potential love interests and see if they notice anything that a love-blinded eye would miss. I am not an advocate for having a lot of voices in your relationship, but I do believe that one should have trusted individuals around them that are not afraid to tell the truth when they see danger lurking. I would introduce any man that has a viable interest in me to my pastors, these two couples, my mom, my sister, and one of my single girlfriends. These are people whose opinions I trust in this regard, who watch for my soul, and have my best interest in mind.
In the two cases I mentioned, the married men and I have a relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ which is the way it is intended. If in any case, his wife becomes uncomfortable, my job is to respect any decision made. Easier said than done, but out of respect for the sanctity of marriage I would honor the decision. Some of you reading this may wonder why go through all of this hassle to maintain a relationship with someone who is married, but don’t misunderstand where I’m coming from. The purpose is to illustrate that men and women can have a healthy relationship and the purpose can come from a place of purity and offer wisdom and safe haven for those who include God in their interaction with one another. This is not an encouragement to put a banner that says, “Married Man Wanted Here…Be My Friend.” We see in Joseph’s case how all interactions are not healthy and must be avoided.
I have other relationships with married men that are strictly professional, but I consider those men associates and colleagues. I keep myself guarded in these relationships as well, because I never want discussions or comments to get to a point where either one of us feel uncomfortable or to the point where if someone walked in, they would view the conversation as inappropriate. With any man, it is necessary to watch the type of conversation that is coming out of your mouth, because conversations can open doors to emotions that neither party are ready to deal with comfortably.
The problem in any relationship usually occurs when dishonesty ensues. Be honest with your feelings. Why is the man in your life? Do you have a secret hope that he will be your man? Do you hope that he will see you more than a friend? These are issues that must be dealt with personally and honestly. As a single woman, you should be able to have a relationship with a male without there being sexual tension and an underlying hope to be more than friends. If you have these emotions, I suggest you keep yourself guarded and make a decision to not involve yourself in a relationship with this man. The Bible is clear, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22 NIV). We are found; we don’t search. Also in friendships, whether male or female, we are to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals. The Word also encourages this, because it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV). If the people you are in relationship with have God on the brain, it is more likely that your relationship with them will maintain the purity that is suggested for relationships. Also, these relationships will help you to stay focused on God’s purpose for your life as you were not designed to simply look for the relationship potential of every man you have dealings with. You were designed for something much greater!