Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed. With the man the world is his heart, with the woman the heart is her world. In ideal relationships, these differences make it so the two can work together as a team, with the strengths of one complementing the strengths of the other.
Often, however, those differences create friction, sparks, even explosions. For singles, those frustrations can be magnified as you navigate the shifting waters of dating life, and each person you encounter presents fresh challenges in how to behave without being misinterpreted or hurt.
At times, the complications of opposite-sex relationships capsize what actually could have developed into a deeper friendship—even a happy marriage.
The key to resolving these frustrations requires knowing why men and women are different. There is a reason—one that many people reject. Once it is understood, however, it brings tremendous clarity to the matter. The truth is that the Creator God designed men and women to be different! Not only that, He has given us some ground rules for how to make our relationships with those of the opposite sex work.
He knows exactly what makes men and women tick. In His Word He gives us insight into how to avoid the pitfalls that can sink a friendship or a marriage—and also, how to satisfy the needs of those of the opposite sex.
And selfishness is the number-one obstacle to having meaningful relationships—especially with people of the opposite sex. All those beautiful, God-designed differences become sources of irritation and frustration. Here is some great advice on correcting this problem: Why do you suppose Paul wrote this to the church in Philippi? Because there was a lot of selfishness and conceit—a lot of people looking after only their own interests—esteeming themselves first!
How easy is it to have a fundamentally selfish approach toward the opposite sex? Within marriage, to think mostly of how the other person should be serving you? As a single, to look at other singles in terms of who can best fulfill your needs? How to Kill a Friendship Here are some ways our selfishness can manifest itself. See if you spot yourself in any of these descriptions. You can try too hard to project a certain image in order to impress others, and not be sincere and genuine.
As a single, you can consistently shut people of the opposite sex down because you interpret any sign of friendliness as proof positive that they want to marry you. Or you can deliberately lead someone on because you like the attention, even though you have no intention of ever pursuing a closer relationship with that person. You can have overly sensitive feelings, and pull away or get pouty whenever your feelings are bruised.
You can hold on to past grievances, even for years, and tend to give a person the cold shoulder in order to punish them. You can have unrealistic expectations of how that person should treat you and end up constantly disappointed.
You can have a firm idea of how an ideal person of the opposite sex should act, and harshly judge someone who fails to live up to that standard.
You can so cling to a personal idea of what kind of mate would be best suited for you—maybe a certain physical ideal or personality trait—that you prematurely judge and reject someone, limiting a friendship. These manifestations of selfishness are friendship killers and marriage wreckers.
The tricky thing is, in many of those cases, we can feel justified in holding on to our selfishness. But here is the beautiful truth: If you want to overcome your own selfishness, building quality friendships with those of the opposite sex is a fantastic way to do it! The selfishness that hurts those relationships can be knocked down to size if you step out and put a priority on building good, close friendships—if you commit to conquering those barriers created by selfishness whenever they crop up.
Loving and Being Loved The biblical instruction regarding the marriage state is not only extremely deep, it is also very practical in how to relate to the other sex—even for singles. God equipped women mentally, physically, emotionally and temperamentally to appreciate a man who demonstrates sacrificial concern for her.
She wants a man who keeps her on his mind and watches out for her as she makes her way in the world. A woman loves it when you make her feel special and treat her with respect. Look for ways to express honor for her. Show her that you notice her and are concerned about her feelings. Even as a single man, get in the habit of treating single women with respect—noticing them—giving them the loving concern they need.
God also made men mentally, physically, emotionally and temperamentally to feel fulfilled in providing this love to a woman.
He made us to want to protect her, provide for her, look out for her. Realize that men are flattered when you call on them for help. We like to be the hero. This is the way God designed us to function and thrive. This verse sends many people into fits of indignation. But the truth is, God made men to be the leader in the relationship. He equipped men mentally, physically, emotionally and temperamentally to fulfill that role. At the same time, God made the woman mentally, physically, emotionally and temperamentally to appreciate it when the man takes charge and is decisive and strong.
Of course, society today is so hostile to that divinely inspired order that we may find ourselves resisting it. Why does it always have to be me? But here is the truth: This is how God designed men and women, and anytime we step outside that divine order, there will be problems. There will likely be friction. There will be hurt feelings, frustrations, anxiety and discontent. If we break this spiritual law, curses will result. It means being willing, even eager, to help him and see him succeed.
Take an interest in his goals and ambitions. Realize, too, how beautiful and attractive you are when you show inner charm, refinement and culture.
Western culture favors loud, boisterous women. But godly men love femininity, charm and grace. A woman who is kind-spoken, courteous, concerned about others. Practice these principles even in simple conversation. Women do admire you when you try to lead in conversation. Try to have a few subjects to fall back on in case of an awkward silence. Make it easier for the man to communicate by showing an interest and being responsive.
Realize too that men actually appreciate a difference of opinion from time to time. The word reverence means to venerate, to treat with deference. All men secretly crave your respect. God hardwired us to really want that veneration, deference and reverence. So in your relationships with men, if you give that to them, the relationship will go much further.
It will have far less frustration and friction. Nowhere in Scripture does it say women need to be obedient to all men—only wives to their husbands, children to their parents, servants to their masters. But if you want to improve your relations with any man, here is how: Show him that you value his opinions and appreciate his ideas.
If you criticize him or focus on his weaknesses, be assured that will break down the relationship. Instead, focus on the positive. Try to make him feel like royalty. The more you respect a man, the better that relationship will be. A man must be willing and able to give love to a woman.
A woman must be willing and able to give reverence and submission to a man. In addition, a man must be willing and able to give godly leadership to a woman—leadership that earns her respect and that is a joy to submit to.
The people around you should be some of the highest priorities in your life. These are the people with whom you can learn how to love! And it kills marriages just as readily as it kills friendships. It must be conquered, and the time to start conquering it is yesterday.
Whether you are single or married, overcoming these obstacles will allow your relationships to blossom.
Take advantage of that opportunity!