Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?

I’ve just started in on Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions by Dan Brennan. And I think it’s going to shift a paradigm of mine about intimate friendships. Brennan is an evangelical Christian who believes that men and women can, and should, be intimate friends. He and his wife have been married for 28 years, and both have dear, close, intimate friends of the opposite sex. They spend time with those friends in the company of one another and alone. I know, I know- their pastors have warned them that they are playing with fire.

BUT, I mean, what if they’re on to something? I am and/or have been VERY close with a few male friends (several that read this blog) and have found true intimacy with them without feeling like I wanted to make out with them. So, in some ways, I really get what this author is saying. I love having the ability to go out with one of my male friends to eat dinner or go do an errand or pray about something significant– and not having to worry about Jake getting mad or jealous or the other person’s spouse feeling the same way.

But, I digress. I’m only one chapter into this but already have lots of questions, hesitations and excitement about the possibilites that the author is presenting.

How do you feel about cross-sex intimate friendships?

For more about the book, check out this video:

Interview with author of Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions

12 thoughts on “Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?

  1. I think it is possible but it is something you have to be honest with your spouse about. I also hold that friendship up to the mirror of would I want my husband to have that kind of relationship with another woman.

  2. This is an interesting topic Tiffany. I thought it would maybe be about singles having intimate guy/girl relationships but I like this convo too! I feel like I have not even really had to think about things like this within our community. Being a single female I have loved that I have had the freedom of riding in cars, going to lunches, and hanging out with married guys and not even thinking about if their spouse is going to be upset. You & Jake, Manda & JR, Henry & Meredith, even Allan & Patty have LIVED this so well. I don’t even think we have had convos about it before now. But I am so thankful, bc as I look at that list of males, those have been some of the most influential men in my life the past 5 years and in a spiritually intimate way. I cannot imagine things not happening that way. But I am just one story and one person. I know not everyone’s turns out that way.

    What are some questions you are asking as a married person?

  3. In theory and hopes in practice, I love, love, love this as a goal and end. It is ultimately grounded in our view of the sexes, sexuality, and community (why I think books like Eve’s Revenge, Sex God, and In Memory of Her are so important for Christians).

    In reality it goes horribly wrong so often. That practical point is what gives me pause and I don’t like it. I’ve personally seen both ends of it, where it goes well and where is runs amok.

    As an ideal – yes; as something to strive towards – yes. Tomorrow and for everyone? Perhaps not just yet, more de-programing is needed.

  4. For me, no. I used to be much closer to males than females, but in recent years, call women my closest friends.

    I have a history of having BFFs become boyfriends, stalkers, or the latest development, a husband!

    I know myself and know it is just not an option for me at this point in my life. I cannot do it.

    I also could not tolerate Dan having a BFF other than me who is a girl. A friend, sure. A pal. Not a confidant! I don’t know how not to be jealous or how not to covet that time he would spend with her. I don’t think it is insecurity. I think it is the type of love I have for him.

  5. Ash, the biggest question I have is:
    – If men and women can be intimate friends, what exactly is the uniqueness of marriage? Anything more than a sexual relationship?

    The author talks about relationships between singles, marrieds, and singles/marrieds. He gives a lot of examples of interesting relationships over the years of some of the saints.

    I think so far the biggest case he’s making is that Christian men and women should pursue unity, and this probably will look like truly being brother/sister…having that kind of relationship (most people don’t want to make out with their brother or sister, lol, but many are still incredibly close). Anyway, I’m in chapter 4, so hopefully I’ll get another update in soon.

  6. Kelly, I think your point is essential to this being healthy- honesty and openness with your spouse. I think if the spouse feels weird about it for one reason or another, then it has to be dealt with in a way that is going to honor the marriage relationship.

  7. Tiffany – have you got any further in the book? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts?

  8. Hi Jennifer,
    Yeah, I have almost finished it and have really enjoyed it! I think that the author’s best support for his thoughts are that of men and women living out the reality of brotherhood and sisterhood. I think that there are some cautions that should be raised for some people, but overall the risk is right!

  9. Thanks. I think its such an interesting topic – are you planning another post when you’re all done with the book?

  10. This is an interesting topic… one that Jared and I have certainly encountered because we are both fairly comfortable with having close friends of the opposite sex. We have never had an issue with it, even while he was deployed and we both spent time with these friends away from each other. The trust is there completely and has never been shaken. What we run into, however, is that OTHER people have a problem with it–other Christians. For their sake, we limit the time we may spend alone with friends of the opposite sex. We’ve run into trouble before because of the suspicions others have pinned on us and it’s just not worth it. It is also a “weaker brother” situation… not wanting to cause others to stumble, etc. We know that the our friendships are purely that–friendships, but so many Christians just can’t accept that.

  11. Tiffany, I’m looking forward to your seeing your review. Elizabeth, I loved your comments about cgfs in your marriage.

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