Let me first introduce you to two words and their special use in the context of this article about the complicated world of male-female relationships:
“Mokong” or short for “Huwag MoKong Paasahin” – we’ll use this to refer to men who are sweet, and at times confusing, in their ways and words with women without making their intentions clear.
“Mokang” or short for “Mokang Asang-Asa” – we’ll use this to refer to women who are hoping, assuming, about to fall, or have already fallen in love (ouchie!) with men who can either be only plain friendly to them or just enjoying their company / friendship.
A "mokong" can be your closest guy-friend and the one you trust the most. Of course, it’s hard to admit he is one especially if you are a “mokang”. In the same way, a “mokang” can be your closest girl-friend and the one you wanna hang out with and talk with most often. Of course, it will be embarrassing to admit she is one, especially if you are a “mokong”.
I am hoping that my courage and candor in writing this blog entry can help clarify relationships, spare people we care about from further emotional hurt, and keep male-female friendships that are life-enriching and pleasing before God. I don’t say I have mastered the science or the art of NOT being a mokang. It’s an everyday battle I fight together with God. The things I’m sharing here are from my own lessons learned and the questions (face-to-face or phone in) that I struggled to answer to help friends and ladies in my discipleship groups.
Friends-Zone: Enter With Caution
Does this mean a guy and a girl can never be CLOSE friends? Of course not! I definitely would promote male-female friendship – women have a lot to learn from guys and vice versa. I have experienced successful projects I’ve done and being effective in ministry with and around men. I have great guy-friends with whom I can comfortably share my joys and sorrows. And I feel they trust me with theirs, as well. I consider these men (few and chosen) truly gifts from the Lord!
So, it’s perfectly okay to have guy-friends…but I would say with CLARITY and BOUNDARIES.
By CLARITY, I mean to say that it’s clear to both of you that you are not lovers and you are not in a season of courtship. YOU ARE FRIENDS, in the truest sense of the word. Friendship is not a testing-ground on how to be a girlfriend or a wife. So don’t act like you are your guy-friend’s girlfriend or wife (or for the men, your girl-friend’s boyfriend or husband). It is not a period of guessing games as well (he likes me, she likes me not!). I still believe it is the guys’ call to bring a friendship to another level if they feel led by God to do so. Meanwhile, just be a friend. We don’t need a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts (or we might be too legalistic). In your heart, you’ll certainly know the difference.
Have you heard of the term, “defrauding”? There’s a legal definition that helps me emphasize a point here about clarity:
“Defraud- To make a misrepresentation of an existing material fact, knowing it to be false or making it recklessly without regard to whether it is true or false, intending for someone to rely on the misrepresentation and under circumstances in which such person does rely on it to his or her damage.”
You see, in every relationship, there are two elements—the actual situation and what it means to those involved. Let me give an illustration: a guy constantly communicates with a girl—this is the actual situation. For the guy, he is being friendly to the girl (representation of the situation from his perspective). To the girl, the guy might just be waiting for the perfect time to declare his feelings for her (representation of the situation from her perspective).
The fact that there are two meanings here already tells us there’s a “misrepresentation”. Defrauding happens when an actual situation is NOT clear to either one of the parties. That’s why it becomes an act of raising expectations one cannot righteously fulfill. And I would say the guy and the girl both have responsibilities in making the friendship clear to themselves. We are responsible for our own thoughts that actually produce our feelings.
Now, about BOUNDARIES--there’s a thin line between being careful and being “overly-cautious-you’re-already-too-stiff!” when it comes to relating with the opposite sex. There’s also a thin line between being cool about it and making your heart an up-for-grabs prey. Wisdom will tell you to set boundaries, but leave a BIG room for God’s amazing surprises!
For me, there are basic boundaries (but this isn’t a complete list):
- One-on-one dates are too risky
- Inappropriate physical touches are dangerous
- Sweet-talks are misleading
- Give-your-heart-away-information are improper
- Exclusivity is not the best way to nourish a friendship with the opposite sex.
So, by all means, enjoy being friends with men and women. But make sure you are clear and guided!
Good things come to those who wait. And waiting is never passive. For the men, yes you take the initiative but you also have your own period of waiting, right? For the women, the waiting period should make us more beautiful each passing day! So, how not to fall in love when you’re not supposed to? My answer is W.A.I.T.
W.ATCH your thoughts, words and actions – Thoughts produce feelings, so be careful with what you allow your mind to dwell on. Don’t imagine something that’s plain and simple friendship to be a romantic possibility. While friendship is a good foundation for a lifetime partnership, there’s a proper time and process to bring a friendship to that level. And as long as it is not reaching that point, don’t allow your mind to get ahead of what’s actually happening. In the same way, make your words and your actions consistent with the level of your relationship.
A.CCOUNTABILITY is important – Share what’s happening to you and how you are feeling—but only with trusted people who will always point you to God and who care for you enough to speak the truth in love to you. These people will help you remain in the real world and get you out of your fantasy world, if needed.
I.NTERACT with a pure motive and make the most out of your relationships. You don’t interact to flirt with men (or women). You interact to be a blessing to them, to serve and encourage them. Keep your heart towards guys (or ladies) pure and it will surely show in your ways with them.
T.RUST God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. Trust His unfailing love and ever-sufficient grace to carry you through, as well, if ever you’ve already reached that “can’t-help-it-i’ve-fallen-already” stage. If it is God’s will for you to get married, He is most capable to bring the right person to your life.
Having said these, I think it is still best that a romantic relationship is founded on a great friendship. I pray that God will give us the wisdom, discernment and guidance to keep our friendships pure and if led by God, to bring a particular friendship to another level in a way that honors and pleases Him as it inspires other single men and women around!
God bless our friendships!