There are some unique dynamics from God’s Word we need to understand about opposite sex friendships. When relationships are not defined and managed correctly, it can create huge problems.

Paul tells new believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:2, For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God your sanctification.

Sanctification means to be set apart. As a believer in Christ, you have been set apart for God’s purpose. Paul continues: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.

Paul wrote to the church of his day. For the most part, sexual immorality was just a part of the culture then. It isn’t much different than today’s culture, is it?

Here are some of the symptoms of a person who is setting themselves up for an unhealthy friendship. As you look at each symptom, let it serve as a warning sign to become more intentional about opposite sex friendships.

1. Frustration.

Do you desire affection, but you find little satisfaction? Marrieds who desire affection look for a touch that makes a difference. You want to feel needed and valued. When that desire isn’t met, there’s that sense of frustration and that creates vulnerability.

2. Sexual issues in marriage.

Does sex with your spouse leave you empty and ungratified? Many who have walked away from their marriage say, “I wasn’t getting the kind of satisfaction I expected in my marriage.” It’s not an excuse, but it’s evidence of a potential vulnerability in a marriage.

3. Wandering thoughts.

Do you find yourself looking in other places to meet the needs that God intended to occur within a marriage relationship?

4. Emotional numbness. 

Emotional numbness is a huge warning sign that can lead to unhealthy relationship outside of marriage. Are feelings for your spouse vanishing?

5. Anger.

Do you become exasperated, even infuriated in your marriage relationship?

6. Loneliness.

Are you married, but feel like you might as well be single? Loneliness is not just a married person’s problem; it’s a single person’s problem as well.

7. Compulsive behavior.

Do you use food, drugs, or alcohol to kill the emotional pain in your life?

Paul warns us when we have an inappropriate relationship with another person, we defraud them. So often we think of sex outside of marriage in terms of what it does to the person who’s doing it, but what about the person they’ve done it to or with? Sometimes the fallout can destroy multiple families.

If you’re married, I encourage you to sit down and talk with your spouse about these boundaries and your desire to have a healthy relationship. Being intentional today will help you build a lasting marriage.

*As seen in Family Life Radio Newsletter, November 2015. Dr. Randy Carlson is a best-selling author, licensed marriage and family therapist, and world-renowned radio personality that shares wisdom, encouragement, and comfort from God’s Word while helping others live an intentional life through Christ with issues that affect their families today.

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