The jump in seriousness and commitment in those two questions seems like a pretty big leap. Yet it seems as though most men start drawing these connections immediately, simply from an extension of hospitality.

As soon as I wrote that, it popped into my head that girls do this as well, though in a different way. We have fun daydreaming and talking with our friends about boys and ultimately marriage. In fun, we’ll toss around what it would be like to marry a certain someone. This happens to the range of guys from the mysterious cutie across the room in class to a serious boyfriend. It’s what we girls do. So in the guys’ defense, this probably plays a role in them trying to stay on the safe side, especially since guys are stereotypically commitment-shy. However, that is not an excuse for their hesitation to accept a woman’s generous hospitality. I hope to make some sense of all this having recently felt misunderstood on some level by all my new guy friends (as having friends of the male variety is a new phenomenon in my life).

So hanging out with guys is new to me, but they’re people right? Considering them as friends, it seemed appropriate to treat them about the same as I would my girl friends. My highest love language is quality time (tied with words of affirmation), so obviously I enjoy simply spending time with my friends. Most of the bonding seems to occur over conversations during time spent together. A lot of these conversations happen over meals; it just makes sense. We all have to eat right? We might as well multitask a little bit. Especially now that I have my own place, I enjoy playing hostess and having company over to eat, sip tea, or hang out. I want to share my home with other people: open heart and open home.

It makes sense to me to invite my friends over for dinner; this includes guys. This is where the thin line for boundaries comes into play. I may be naive, but I can see how that might not follow the typical pattern of social agendas. It is rather personal to invite someone into your home, and a girl cooking dinner for a guy is a common thing that would really be a girl making dinner for her boyfriend. For the most part though, I’ve tried to minimize weird tension by inviting more than one. That, or sometimes the platonic intentions get clearly stated. The awkwardness seems unavoidable though. I’ll admit that I’m a unique individual, but I don’t think I can take the whole cake on these scenarios.

So long story short, the guy ends up misinterpreting my invitation to hang out or my inquiry for assistance. Sometimes the way they respond to their thought that I’m really trying to hit on them makes me chuckle; they get that sneaking suspicion that I might be attempting to seduce them, so they ignore my request or invitation. I had one friend try not to give me wrong idea about him returning the “affections” he thought I was expressing by bringing three other guys with him to help me air my tires. This particular friend had also tried to distance himself by not talking to me like he had the first few times we met. Had I not initiated a conversation about this, the friendship probably would have stopped where it stood. This scenario reminds me of how important it is to have open communication with people. Without that conversation, we would have gone on in ignorance and/or misery with trying not to give the other person the wrong idea, and subsequently would have squelched any possibilities of a growing friendship.

Then sometimes the guy just doesn’t really understand what’s going on. I was recently called creepy by a guy who is known as the creeper (but this isn’t because he is genuinely a creeper; he just expresses creeper tendencies). Surprisingly, I have yet to notice his creepiness. So this guy calls me creepy when he is the one who says the things that make the conversations take a wrong turn. The first of these happened on a Wal-Mart shopping trip when he turned to me and semi-provocatively said, “Should I get naked?” while he looked at the cold juices. Then on our second shopping trip several weeks later, I told him that he should find himself a woman who knows how to shop after he complained of being a bad grocery shopper. He then looked at me and asked me if I was a good grocery shopper. But somehow I was the one who was trying to convince him to marry me! The next day I brought him cookies from a cookie event; it was my way of trying to make up for the three of us being stuck at Wal-Mart the night before since it took longer than anticipated to repair my car. This is when he called me creepy. I said something about them being in my car, and of course the conversation took a weird turn.

My last guy who greatly falls into this category of misunderstanding my hospitality is hard to place. Our interactions seem a little more difficult to categorize in terms of misinterpretation. Perhaps it’s because as an idealist and a rational we share a rare compatibility (in reference to Myers-Briggs personality profiles). Ha! I think we both misunderstand the other person in general, and this stems from both of us hiding behind our security walls and either one of us having different perspectives on expectations for classiness and friendships. This can get a little frustrating at times. While this guy has come through as an extremely selfless gentleman performing actions such as rescuing me from a flat tire (all on his own accord) to being there to share a hug when needed, he skips the minor details of etiquette the general public typically follows. Part of this results from his personality. For instance, in a romantic relationship this type does not find it necessary to constantly tell his partner that he loves her; once it is out there, it is there always. I’m all about understanding everyone’s unique personalities and expressions of love through different love languages, but I kind of expect people to exhibit at least some general class in friendliness: something simple as saying, “And how are you?” I will end my rant there. I get slightly flustered at this, despite the more significant selfless acts. These misunderstandings stem from different expectation levels I suppose. Partially because he happens to live next door, this gentleman has been the recipient of the most invitations or general sharing of baked goods. At the heart of sharing food with my neighbors sits my desire to express my gratitude for having such wonderful gentleman living across the hall (I don’t think they know just how thankful I am that they are there and are my friends). Not to mention that I appreciate said person’s selfless gestures for me. At least a couple times I have succeeded at having some quality time over shared desserts.
When I really think about it, these scenarios don’t quite fall into the other ones where there is a huge leap in the intention interpretation. Or at least there isn’t as much awkwardness involved. Again, maybe it’s the compatibility of our personalities. We do share a significant similarity in how we communicate and think. The other two gentlemen mentioned do not share the N part of the Myers-Briggs personality types. This guy just happens to be a party to the misunderstandings with the others. I suppose I just have to go ahead and share that he likes to make me sound less naive and conservative than I am by telling people that I asked him to try out my sheets. Really though, it was past my bedtime and I was showing off my old satin sheets (they are not the right size for my new bed). Who wouldn’t love sleeping on satin sheets?!?

I suppose in the end there always exists some level of “sexual” tension in inter-gender relationships, even in the most platonic of friendships. As in any relationship, especially the romantic ones, communication is key. For some reason in efforts to avoid awkwardness or damage to another’s feelings, we avoid maintaining openness in communication. It’s kind of funny when you think about it though; in our ignorance of true intentions or correct understandings of the other person, we end up creating more awkwardness. In a mutually loving friendship, such communication should be had, seeing how crucial it is.

I should be able to extend my hospitality and open my home to everyone, including the menfolk. Fortunately I know my true intentions and that I shouldn’t have to explain myself away. God will take care of people’s impressions of me. I don’t want to make the guys uncomfortable, but I hope they know that they are welcome in my home. They are trustworthy, and I honestly would not allow just any guy into my place. In a lot of circumstances, guys and girls hanging out signifies some sort of interest in each other, but I am simply hoping to grow new friendships. Interactions with guys provide me with growth opportunities and expose me to different perspectives. I might not quite be understood or appreciated, but I’m going to try to not let that stop me from sharing God’s love.