DID A PARTICULAR PERSON COME TO MIND WHEN YOU READ THE ABOVE TITLE?

YES → READ THIS ARTICLE IMMEDIATELY. YOU MAY NEED IT MORE THAN YOU REALIZE.

NO → READ THIS ARTICLE ANYWAY. IT WILL HELP YOU TO KEEP YOUR FRIENDSHIPS WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX ABOVEBOARD AND PROBLEM FREE.

Mark the following statement true or false:

I shouldn’t have friends of the opposite sex until I’m ready for a serious relationship that could lead to marriage.

․․․․․ TRUE ․․․․․ FALSE

Consider: Although he wasn’t looking to get married, Jesus had friends of the opposite sex. (Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:1-3) Evidently, so did the single man Timothy, for the apostle Paul told him to treat “younger women as sisters with all chasteness.”​—1 Timothy 5:1, 2.

Paul must have realized that as Timothy served in various congregations, he would meet a number of young women. (Mark 10:29, 30) Would it be wrong for Timothy to socialize with them? No. But since he wasn’t pursuing marriage yet, Timothy would need to set boundaries so that he wouldn’t get romantically involved, certainly not flirting with those young women or otherwise toying with their feelings.​—Luke 6:31.

What about you? Are you in a position to pursue marriage?

If YES ⇨ Your friendships with members of the opposite sex may well lead to finding a lifelong mate.​—Proverbs 18:22; 31:10.

If NO ⇨ You need to set boundaries. (Jeremiah 17:9) Easier said than done? Absolutely! “It’s difficult to maintain a just-friends relationship,” says 18-year-old Nia. * “It’s not easy to know where to draw the line.”

Why do you need to draw a line at all? Because if you don’t, you’re bound to get hurt or hurt others. Consider why.

 FACT OF LIFE: When you get emotionally involved before you’re ready for a serious relationship, someone will get hurt. “It happened to me twice,” says 19-year-old Kelli. “One time I developed feelings for a boy, and the other time a boy started having feelings for me. Both times someone got hurt, and it has left me with scars that I carry to this day.”

To think about:

In what settings would it be proper for you to socialize with members of the opposite sex? What settings would you do well to avoid?

Why is it unwise to pair off with the same person repeatedly? What might the other person assume? What might you assume?

“At times, I have lied to myself, saying, ‘Oh, we’re just friends. He’s like a brother to me.’ But then when he moves on, I feel hurt​—as if he owed me something.”​—Denise.

The Bible says: “Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”​—Proverbs 22:3, Good News Translation.

 FACT OF LIFE: When you get emotionally involved before you’re ready for a serious relationship, you can lose a good friendship. “A boy and I would text each other,” recalls 16-year-old Kati, “but soon he began flirting and we were texting each other almost every day. Then one day he told me how much he liked me and that he wanted to be more than just friends. The problem was, I didn’t like him in a romantic way at all. After I told him that, we seldom talked, and our friendship ended.”

To think about:

Who got hurt in Kati’s case, and why? Could Kati or the boy have prevented a negative outcome? If so, how?

When texting, in what ways could a person unwittingly give the impression that he or she would like to be more than just a friend?

“Sometimes I’ve had to pull myself back. Boys can be great friends, but I didn’t want to mess up the friendship by being more than that.”​—Laura.

The Bible says: “Smart people watch their step.”​—Proverbs 14:15, Good News Translation.

The bottom line: Socializing with members of the opposite sex isn’t wrong in itself. But if you’re not ready for a serious relationship that could lead to marriage, you need to set boundaries.

IN THE NEXT “YOUNG PEOPLE ASK” . . .

Getting emotionally involved before you’re ready for a serious relationship can damage your reputation​—find out how.

More articles from the “Young People Ask” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/​ype

[Footnote]

^ par. 13 Some names in this article have been changed.

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WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

TRUE STORY: “I texted a friend of mine who lives about a thousand miles (over 1,500 km) away. We texted each other perhaps once a week. I wasn’t interested in him romantically, and I didn’t think he was interested in me either. Then, one day he sent me a text that read: ‘Hey, beautiful! I miss you. What have you been up to?’ I was stunned! I told him that I viewed our relationship as just friends and that I wasn’t interested in him romantically. He texted back, ‘Whatever.’ And then he never texted me again.”​—Janette.

● If you’re not in a position to be in a serious relationship or are not inclined to be in one, how would you respond if you received a text message similar to the ones Janette received?

● If you are a boy, do you think the text messages sent to Janette were appropriate? Why, or why not?

● In your opinion, does texting make it easier to get emotionally involved than face-to-face discussions do? Why, or why not?

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WHY NOT ASK YOUR PARENTS?

Ask your parents for their thoughts on the bulleted questions in this article. Do their opinions differ from yours? If so, how? What merit can you see in their point of view?​—Proverbs 11:14.

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WHAT YOUR PEERS SAY

Joshua​—The more time you spend with the same person, the more likely you are to become attached.

Natasha​—If you intend to be just friends but you regularly hang out with just one particular person, romantic feelings will get stirred up in one or both of you.

Kelsey​—Even if you start out as just friends, it’s easy for feelings to change if you spend a lot of time together. It’s not impossible to be just friends, but it takes maturity and discernment.

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Getting emotionally involved when you’re not ready for a serious relationship will lead to disaster