I write the following words with conviction, as it’s something I’ve done. It’s something most of us have done.
You’re young; you worry about feeling loved and attractive. Will anybody ever like me? you think. And then someone does—only it’s not whom you wanted.
You let him down easy, or maybe you avoid letting him know how you feel at all, while still remaining friends, texting, and hanging out.
You may not even realize you’re doing it, but you might be leading him on. You might have unconsciously created a safety net—a guy you can hang on to in case you eventually decide you like him back.
Don’t get me wrong, guys do this, too. This is not a cruelty exclusive to girls, but it’s important that we recognize that we have the power to hurt guys as much as they have the power to hurt us. Sometimes in the midst of emotions and heartaches, it’s easy to get so lost in your own feelings that you forget about others’.
When I was young, I made that mistake. I knew that a guy friend had feelings for me—or at least had at one time—and, yes, I had told him I liked someone else, but I still did not put up enough boundaries. Under the premise of being “close friends,” I essentially allowed us to create a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship emotionally. We texted constantly. We hung out all of the time. All while he watched me pine for other guys.
Obviously, he could have created distance if he needed to, but I still think I had a responsibility there.
Later, when I actually did start dating someone, I essentially had to “break up” with him, as that boyfriend did not appreciate the constant texting between myself and the friend. You know why? Because he recognized what I didn’t at the time. It was COMPLETELY unhealthy and inappropriate.
And you know what else? It made what once was a meaningful friendship feel weird and distant. Listen, somewhere there is most definitely a middle ground where guys and girls CAN be just friends. I’m not one to necessarily preach on what that looks like, but I can tell you that you’ll know when you may need to set up some boundaries to spare either his or your feelings.
Don’t get so lost in your own feelings that you forget to look out for someone else’s. While it’s important to guard your own heart and protect it from heartbreak, it’s just as important that you recognize when you can harm someone else’s heart.
Preserve your friendships. Preserve others’ hearts.
It’s what you yourself would want.