Hello all! I am glad to continue blogging today! Today I want to deviate from matters of religion and society, and instead talk about a less crucial topic: opposite gender friends. I want to address it simplistically and with a heavy reliance upon my own experiences and what I have seen in the lives of friends and family.

About a two years ago, I went to a foreign country. While I stayed only a brief time, I did make a lot of friends there, both male and female. And my intentions were pure. However one friend in particular, a male who’s name I shan’t specify, became a dearly beloved friend. But only that; a friend. We developed an extremely close yet platonic relationship. (Side note: Fast forwarding almost a year after meeting him, I was accused of shall we call it “inappropriate conduct” with him. Ridiculous, unfounded, and untrue. This was a result of flaws in society that are the makings of a separate blog post.) Interestingly enough, after a year or so our friendship died out by itself. It was the oddest thing. As if, overnight, we lost interest in each other.

At that season in my life, the vast majority of my friends were males. I somehow wasn’t developing a deep sisterly connection with females as most heterosexual women would. I think this was the result of a lack of unity with my sisters in Christ and humanity. I was also not paying attention to being as modest as possible.

It is my opinion from my experience that, as women, we need female friendships to feed our souls and grow ourselves. We benefit from each other’s mutual experiences in a very unique way. We (I am talking about heterosexuals) can connect wholeheartedly without worrying about romantic intentions complicating things. For those of us who are hijabis, we can unveil our bodies and souls without worrying about modesty. We can also support each other in making progress as feminists and becoming successful women overall. There is something special about girl power, and that is something that we need to not undermine.

Someone in my immediate family has internalized misogyny that is poisoning her life. She believes that her fellow women are untrustworthy, and as a result has literally zero female friends. Those few that she used to have she recently cut out of her life in favor of semi-platonic relationships with males. This is hurting her just as it did me. It is perpetuating her misogynistic philosophy because she is not creating experiences contrary to that belief. It is causing her friendships to remain underdeveloped because they’re constantly complicated by casual romantic intentions from one person or the other. I have watched her do as I did: jump from one intense cross-gender friendship to the next, suffering heartbreak and the repeated literal loss of that best friend.

Strong cross gender friendships have another dangerous side as well. In regards to modesty for both genders, the issue is raised of propriety and formality in interaction with the opposite gender. Casual romantic intentions in relationships can and usually do lead to improper or even sinful thoughts and/or actions. And while we might be tempted to take that lightly, especially in light of western attitudes, it is important to realize that God has a reason for wanting us to avoid lustful thoughts and actions. Lust objectifies the person being lusted after, and degrades the lustful one. When we see a person only through the eyes of having what we want from the relationship, we cast aside their inherent value as a person. We don’t acknowledge the beauty of their personality and the fact that their (and our) primary purpose is to worship and serve The Creator. We as women need to respect ourselves enough not to open ourselves up to disrespect. We must be above reproach.

In continuance with the topic of importance of our roles as servants of the Most High, we must avoid distractions from the task at hand. Cross gender friendships typically serve as a distraction, an excuse for useless romantic fantasies and unedifying conversations and behaviors. In a same gender friendship, a heterosexual woman will be more likely to discuss edifying topics with her friends. She will benefit from common experiences. And she won’t have to strive to avoid impurity by holding back part of herself. Aside from her husband (if she is married) a woman’s female friends are her greatest connection and most important allies in self-growth.

As I began to develop a relationship with the man who is now my husband, I became more aware of intentional godly relationships. Now that we are married and I am even more aware of this, I have begun being more purposeful in my interactions with others. I am focusing on cultivating valuable, edifying same gender friendships. I want to embrace my sisters in Christ and sisters in the human race. And I am trying to cut back on my relationships with men who aren’t my relatives. One area in which I made a significant change was my instagram page. I used to interact with many men on there. I’m not proud to say that there was a long time during which I loved the attention of men commenting on my selfies and saying I was beautiful. I quit particularly wanting the attention but for a long time I was ok with ignoring their intentions. Finally, I recently deleted every male follower from my instagram. I am so glad! My internet interactions are better now. They are more in line with my – everyone’s – purpose in life. We women are edifying each other, and are connecting with each other as sisters.  And our interactions are full of respect.

Men also respect me more. They see the formality in my conversation and interaction, and they recognize that I am a woman on a mission in life. I do not want to be distracted by frivolous things and relationships that waste time and drain my life energy. This dignifies me, elevates me, and causes me to seen for my soul, my inner value, and my intellect. I am not a disrespected body, but rather a highly regarded soul.

Really this goes along with the topic of hijab. Hijab means veil/separation/cover/barrier. And the hijab in many ways goes hand in glove with the practice of careful, purposeful cross gender interaction.  But that is for another post…. 😉

Well, I hope I gave you my dear readers something of worth to think about. I hope that at least some aspects of my own life are applicable to you. Let me know your thoughts on this topic! I love comments on my posts!

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