The opposite gender will always be a mystery in many ways.
We spend so much time trying to figure out what they're really thinking. We muse on what makes them tick. We bite our lip and try to imagine life in their shoes.
But in the end, it's in vain. Guys are guys, and they were made to be quite different than us womenfolk. This is how it's supposed to be! And you know, they do see us as equally perplexing, anyhow.
The opposite gender.
It shouldn't be such an ominous topic!
Yet you think a post on "how to treat guys" is a bit simplistic, right? I mean, it might seem like I'm writing a post on 'how to breathe', or 'how to walk'. We interact with people and oftentimes don't even consider if we're doing it the right way or not. This goes for both guy and girl interactions.
But guess what? There is a right and wrong way to do it. Like all other areas of life, there is a delicate balance.
These days, it seems we're being given mixed signals on how to treat the opposite gender.
You have the liberal, secular media which says you should put on something 'hot' and master the art of flirting. You have the ultra-conservative crowd which says to avert your eyes and just avoid male contact in general because it's 'a slippery slope'. And then you have the 'trying to catch a husband' crowd, which may not be doing anything wrong necessarily, but perhaps the motives are a little off.
Let's be honest: it's a mess out there! What's a girl to do in all the chaos? Is it possible to communicate with men and boys at all without everything being super awkward and weird?
Do you ever feel like you don't know how to treat the opposite gender? Do you wonder if, maybe you're being too stand-offish, or perhaps too bold? Do you question if perhaps you're being forward? Maybe wallflowerish? "Am I smiling too much?" "Or should I be more friendly?" "Should I view him as a potential husband or just a friend?" "How should I act around guys?"
It's your lucky day!
Well...if you believe in luck, that is. I personally don't. But anyways. This is your day, because that's what this post is all about!
So here's a list of the basics I've learned on how to treat the opposite gender. Hopefully it makes your life a lot easier and clears some of those iffy questions floating around in your head!
1. Follow the golden rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Guys are human beings, too. And while they may seem vastly different, we share a lot of common factors. Usually we even deal with some of the same struggles. The difference is, guys handle reactions different. Guys may try to act tough and thick-skinned, but they still have feelings. Some are more sensitive, some have learned to just take it. Either way, it doesn't matter. Know when to open your mouth and when to shut it! Don't become a discourager, even if it's just in the name of 'joking around' or 'teasing'. There are times when us girls are allowed to get away with things that guys never would be able to get away with. Insulting and sarcasm for example. Bottom line, treat people the way you'd want to be treated! This actually covers everything right here.
2. Stop looking at every decent guy you meet as a "potential." Sometimes I think marriage is idolized in the conservative, Christian, homeschooling community. Not intentionally, no. But we place too much focus on finding Prince Charming. Marriage is good, but if you're single right now it's for a reason. View your guy friends and acquaintances as what they actually are - brothers in Christ, fellow warriors of the faith. Stop fantasizing and wondering if he is 'the one' and view him as a friend you can build up and encourage. It makes things so much easier and less awkward, trust me.
3. Smile! I've seen where some people think that smiling at a guy is a form of flirting. This is hogwash! Now, you can of course smile in a flirtatious way, if that's your intention (it shouldn't be), but if you're just trying to be friendly it should come across that way. Now, this being said, some guys will see any form of attention as a sign of romantic interest from you. I've experienced this. One time at a reenactment I met a young man and spent a little time with him and he thought I was flirting. All I was doing was smiling politely and listening when he talked! I hadn't considered myself to be flirty at all. Sometimes no matter how you try to /not/ appear forward, it just gets interpreted in the wrong way. It's not your fault and you can't stress out over it. Never, never stop smiling because you're worried a guy will take it the wrong way. A smile is the most beautiful curve you can have, and it is a sign of a radiant, Christ-following heart. Smile at everyone, whether they be male or female! (Did you know smiles release positive chemicals in the brain, too? So you even feel better!)
4. Avoid flirting like the plague. It almost goes without saying. Flirting is bad, bad, bad. Just don't go there. Period. Unless you're trying to be some seductress as wise men are told to avoid in Proverbs....yuck. Some guys, even nice ones, will eat it up, but think about how it reflects on your character. Do you want to be remembered as the girl who was always fooling around inappropriately with the guys? Do you want to look boy-crazy? How would you like to see a girl flirting with your teen brother? Flirty girls aren't pure girls. A real man will recognize this, and a real woman won't lower her standard of dignity by flirting.
5. Just chill! If this whole topic is even an issue to you, you need to just take a step back and think about how much emotion and energy you're giving it. I think we girls tend to make communicating with guys a big deal when really it shouldn't be. Just take a deep breath and relax, cool down. Stop making it so dramatic! It's not a soap opera!
6. Stop trying to impress and be who you are. Leading off of point #5, one of the best things you can do around the opposite gender is not put on airs. Just be yourself! Don't put on masks or try to be someone you're not. Be genuine, and it will be noticed. Nobody likes fakes and phonies. I'm sure a lot of guys will tell you a big turn-away is the girl trying to mimic somebody else. If God wanted you to look or be like that other person, He wouldn't have made you YOU. Embrace the individual uniqueness the Lord blessed you with!
7. Don't be afraid to carry decent conversations. This isn't flirting, y'all. This is called being a decent, interesting human being. Good conversationalists are hard to come by these days. Be one of the few who actually know how to talk in person! And not just talk, but listen. There are very few people who are willing to be quiet for a minute and just listen to what the other person has to say. Conversations are two ways...that's what makes them conversations. Plus, if you are wise, you'll be open to possibly learn new things - you never know what kind of insight the other person can offer!
8. Don't look down on them. Confession: I hate admitting it, but this is something I fall prey to at times. One of my weaknesses is my pride. I have a big ego. Sometimes I look down on certain guys because they don't seem like they have as much going in their lives as I do, or because they weren't provided with some opportunities/gifts I've been blessed with. I have to remind myself that this is very wrong! You never want to look like a know-it-all. It comes across as extremely stuffy and unattractive. DON'T fall into this trap! Pride is a sin, an abomination in God's eyes. Humility is such a beautiful virtue. "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life." Proverbs 22:4. Never look down on anybody, for whatever reason. And if you ever do start feeling cocky, just remember that once you were a lost sinner with a tainted heart and that you are nothing without Christ!
9. Be honest, but don't get too personal. Tactful bluntness and transparency is one thing, but info-dumping stuff from your personal life is another. The main difference between guy friendships and girl friendships is that you shouldn't ever share the same kind of information as you do with your close girlfriends. Some deep, personal things don't need to be shared with your male buddies. You're never gonna have the same kind of connection that you have with best female friend, and nor should you. There is physical intimacy and then there's emotional intimacy, which happens when a guy and girl start telling each other their 'deep dark secrets'. Be honest and open with your guy friends, but don't give them really personal info that's not necessary. It's almost like showing off your body, only instead of skin it's your heart. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23. You should always maintain a sense of reservation around the opposite gender. Some things you do with your girl friends would be fine if it were just you ladies, but if a guy were around it wouldn't be appropriate.
10. Stop being super-sober-Sally. This goes with the smiling thing again. Proverbs 17:22 says "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." You may think you're doing the guys a favor by looking so serious and straight-faced, but you're only going to come across as a dried up, tasteless prune. My sources tell me that guys appreciate smiles and cheerfulness, and even more importantly God does. There are better ways to avoid flirting than putting on a poker-face and looking like a zombie. Refer back to #7. Would you rather be likened to a radiant sunflower, or a stony gargoyle?
11. Respect them. If you treat young men with respect, you are in turn respecting yourself. Every soul deserves to be treated in this manner, no matter who they are. Remember that we are all made in God's Image and this is reason enough to respect!
12. Stop comparing them. We tend to compare people unconsciously. We compare ourselves to other women and girls. We compare guys we know to either our idealized mental image of what the perfect man is, or other predominant male figures like Christian 'celebs' and the like. Especially when 'in search of Prince Charming'. This isn't a sin, but it can become a nasty habit and a waste of time. We create a mental list of what makes the 'ideal man', but often the standards are way too high and unrealistic, so we find the 'real life guys' are disappointing and not up to par. High expectations can be good, but if they're too high they will be your downfall. This way of thinking cheapens your view of each individual guy and you are actually objectifying them in the process. Also, you probably need to stop and go back to point #2. Just cut it out with all this "single and seeking" stuff already, because it's what's making all your guy friendships and connections awkward. If you have a friendship going with a guy it doesn't have to be a potential 'relationship'!
13. Pray for them. Want to keep a clean, pure mind when interacting with guys? Pray for them, lift up their lives to Jesus in prayer. If you know a young man that's a fellow Christian pray for him to be an overcomer. Pray for him to become strong in Christ. This will not only keep things in perspective when you start thinking of somebody in a potentially inappropriate manner, but it will also benefit them.
So there you have it! Not that tricky now, is it? And the cool thing is, most of these points apply to other areas of communication and demographics, not just if you're a single girl around single guys. Basically if you follow point #1 everything else should fall into place...in anything you do or with anybody you're around.
Have a blessed week!