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Author Topic: Is the "avoid the opposite gender" approach helpful or harmful?  (Read 26011 times)
Russ
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« on: July 08, 2009, 08:38:24 am »

It seems that, at least at most GCM churches, gender interaction among "singles" (college, post college, etc) tends strongly towards the "cooties" approach: The other gender is to be avoided as much as possible, *especially* any one on one interactions where people might get to know one another.

Generally, it seems that couples getting married break this down at some point and "break the rules" in order to get to know one another before the Official Courtship Process (3 months dating, 1-2 month engagement, marriage, kids born about 1 year in).

The argument for this level of separation typically involves the "Let there not be a hint of immorality among you" and "guard one another's hearts" verses.

However, there are also many verses discussing relating to one another as "brothers and sisters in Christ" - which I feel speaks to a very different level of interaction than is implemented.

Is it possible for non-related individuals to have a brother/sister type relationship, avoiding immorality & other such pits, while still not being terrified of one another?

Or is the GCM approach the closest that one can reasonably come?

I ask as I've not experienced much "Church Gender Interaction" outside GCM - I have opposite gender friends who are not part of GCM that I get along fine with, but I don't know much about how other churches deal with it.
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lone gone
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2009, 06:33:07 pm »

You won't like my answer....

Gender separation is both good and bad.  It helps those that it helps and it hurts those that it hurts. No one knows if it will hurt or help until after the fact.

GC errs on the side of caution. The feeling is that it is better not to try it. The trouble is, people get hurt anyway.

On a side note, seeing that we are human first and saved second, the humanity in us can lead us astray. This works both on a personal level and on an interpersonal level.  We might well be able to be "friends" with a member of the opposite sex, but it can gradually ( or suddenly) lead to temptation and sin ( or not). Others watching the "friendship" can either judge it  as bad because they don't agree with it or they can approve of it because they agree with the notion that opposite sexes can be "just friends".

Lastly, people change over time. I know I used to be tempted by the mere presence of a member of the opposite sex. Just crossing campus on a spring day when the girls were wearing shorts was a miserable experience. Now, I have no problems with it.

I think it has a lot to do with maturity and knowing yourself.
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G_Prince
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2009, 08:14:56 pm »

I think keeping the sexes apart is ridiculous and causes more harm than good. Men and women of every age are perfectly capable of spending time together without it becoming sexual. I mean, come on! If you can be friends with non-GC people of the opposite sex without it being a problem, then you can do the same thing with GC people.

The mere fact that they're saying "Don't spend time alone because it's too tempting" makes you think that it's a temptation when it really isn't.

Yes, there could be sexual attraction (how many times can I use a version of "sex" in this post???), but I don't think the possibility of being attracted to someone you're spending time with is such a bad thing. In fact, spending lots of time with a person you're attracted to is normal, healthy, and the only way to build a loving relationship.

I think it's far more damaging for someone to build up this huge crush on someone, spend months or even years praying about it, get the go-ahead, and then be rejected (we've all heard those stories) than it is to actually spend time with someone and see how/if the relationship naturally develops.

My advice? Break the rules. If there's someone you like, single her out, try to spend time with her, and possibly even *gasp* tell her how you feel and see if she likes you too. I think the courtship method is really more of a submission, will-you-jump-through-our-hoops test rather than a good way to find a partner for life.

If "dating" has too many negative connotations, just say you're "spending time together to see where the Lord leads."  Smiley
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EverAStudent
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2009, 08:44:11 pm »

The truth is that the Scriptures do not legislate any specific approach to dating.  There are boundaries: do not engage in extramarital sex, do not lust, do not marry an unbeliever.

What GC does is create laws where none exist in the Bible.  Whether it is "better" to date, group date, or be assigned a wife is best left to the individual rather than to church administrators.  Any rule that is imposed by one man on another (and that rule is not found in the Bible) is simply the process of enslavement to legalism.

Treat what GC teaches as "advice."  It may be bad advice, or it may be good, for you, but it is just advice and not the commandments of Christ.



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Russ
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2009, 06:36:57 am »

If there's someone you like, single her out, try to spend time with her, and possibly even *gasp* tell her how you feel and see if she likes you too.

That only works if the other person wishes to do the same.  If they don't, things go poorly.  Or turns into a 6-8 month drama of them trying to determine if they wish to go out for coffee with you, or you end up with 15 people having coffee together.
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ustawannabee
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2009, 01:30:10 pm »

Apparently, it isn't possible to avoid them even at GCx. This was forwarded to me today and I offer it for your amusement/annoyance. text changed to * is by me.

Subject: [*** Women] Showing your Breasts
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:45:02 -0500


Dear *** Women,

Recently I mailed you something from Mary Knox about modesty and I got a few “thank yous” but mostly silence. 

I have to tell you though that I am personally grieved that our church is not a “safe place” for our brothers in Christ and our husbands to come and worship God without the distractions of immodestly dressed women.   I am sobered to see women in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings with very low necklines showing cleavage.  I know it is fashionable right now and if we dressed that way for our husband in the privacy of our homes it would be fine.

 Please!  I beg of you Ladies!  Let’s not show our breasts to the entire church.  It dishonors God!  It causes men to awkwardly shift their eyes or worse…to  SIN right here in the sanctuary on Sunday!  Please, don’t be the cause of their sin- protect them from stumbling.  There is enough pornography available in this country, there are very few God-honoring places.  We come on Sunday mornings to take one small portion of time and turn our attention to God together- to worship as a group.  Can you see what an offense it is to God if we try and steal the attention for ourselves?  This is not the place or the time! 

I “grew up” in the 70’s so I know it makes a woman feel pretty and desirable and even powerful to see someone stumble, blush and get all flustered but I don’t think some women realize the grave seriousness of their offense against the entire church family. 

I have been torn in the past of whether or not to say something to women who are inappropriately dressed.  I assumed that they didn’t care about my opinion and that it would fall on deaf ears but I will not be silent anymore.  Our church needs to be a place set apart and I wll do what I need to do toward that end.  Please join me!  Talk to any sister that is immodestly dressed.  Appeal to her in love- not condemnation and judgement.  Let’s stand up and fight for purity.

For the glory of God!  E***
/////// my summary:

Go directly to burkas, do not pass GO. Do not collect $200 !!


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wastedyearsthere
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2009, 03:54:18 pm »

I have lots of memories -- it didn't seem like anything we wore was ever "appropriate".  The women were reproved for wearing sandals, turtleneck sweaters, belts, shorts, just about anything.......!!!  But interestingly, they didn't have problems with our bathingsuits!!

There is a line between a talk about modesty for women and legislating what women can wear.



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Linda
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2009, 09:23:03 pm »

So, what are all the "brothers" supposed to do when they walk down the street or go to work in a world filled with non-Christians? Believe me, I'm all for dressing modestly and may write more on that later as it relates to our GC experience, but if the only thing keeping Christian men from major sin is to make sure the women of the world dress a certain way, then there is something wrong with the Christian men!

On a more humorous note, my husband who played guitar in the band once wore a pair of denim jeans that had a drawstring (sounds weird, I know, but they were sort of a baggy demin pant made to be worn with Top Siders for when you went out on the boat--not that we own a boat, but I digress). Anyway, a male singer approached him and told him to tuck in the drawstrings since the hanging drawstrings were too sensual!
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2009, 08:16:03 pm »

Ha ha!!  Drawstrings on baggy denim pants are sensual.  Okay, then!  Whatever trips your trigger I guess.  At that point... what did you think?  That's a pretty Gothardesque thing too.  Gothard wants everything to "frame your countenance."  So dangly things are BAD as they might frame other things (that AREN'T you COUNTENANCE).  Oh, and countenance is another word our pastor used.  I can't remember the adjective now... maybe "Have a bright countenance" or something as in

"Have a bright countenance in order to be winsome and win some."   Roll Eyes
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wastedyearsthere
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2009, 04:27:32 am »

my husband was told  from GCI leaders that he had a "bad" countenance.  Being a new Christian -- he thought they were saying he was incontinent!!!   Grin

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EverAStudent
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2009, 05:44:52 am »

Quote from: agatha
my husband was told  from GCI leaders that he had a "bad" countenance.

I have no comment, just a few Bible verses:

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It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy. The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)
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wastedyearsthere
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2009, 10:27:40 am »

my point is that using a word like countenance to a new believer without explaining this is ridiculous.  When in normal conversation is this word used?  They couldn't have said "Dave (not real name) your face is sad" -- and explore why"  Of course, this was just used as reproof material -- never trying to understand why he was depressed...... 

Maybe it was because he was living with GCI leaders -- one who is mentioned many times on this forum!!

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Daisy
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2010, 10:12:19 pm »

Ok, so it has been a long time since I have been at GC, 2005 I think.  I know for a fact that this "cooties" type attitude about the opposite drove me to crave male attention.  I can remember a new guy coming to our college small group and purposefully flirting and seeing how long I could flirt with him before one of the other guys "informed him" that we don't date or flirt.....at which time he stopped responding and/or flirting.  I am not a flirtatious lady and knew, even at the time that I was not interested in dating this guy.  It was fun though, and I was so bored and frustrated with guys I cared about keeping me at an arms length.

I saved in a GC group that consisted only of student leaders, then, the pastors at our mother church decided that the student group was not growing properly.  The student group was to be dissolved and due to personal crisis in my life I moved with a handful of people from that city to a different city where the mother church was located.  Everything changed.  The men in my life quickly stopped going to coffee with me, talking to me (even in rooms full of people) and I knew that they were no longer there to support me.  The relationships were bankrupted in a matter of months, as my friends would rather be true to the teachings of the church than our friendship.

I was never "in love" with any of the men from the student group and I experienced far less male/female drama and gossip there than at the mother church where contact with the opposite sex was nearly forbidden.
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2010, 06:17:00 pm »

The Gcx approach to gender relations is not biblically correct. Doctrines that are "off"  are taught in almost all Gcx churches, though it may vary in severity.  

They may have 'good intentions,'  but that is really NOT an excuse for false teachings.
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theresearchpersona
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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2010, 09:39:58 pm »

Ok, so it has been a long time since I have been at GC, 2005 I think.  I know for a fact that this "cooties" type attitude about the opposite drove me to crave male attention.  I can remember a new guy coming to our college small group and purposefully flirting and seeing how long I could flirt with him before one of the other guys "informed him" that we don't date or flirt.....at which time he stopped responding and/or flirting.  I am not a flirtatious lady and knew, even at the time that I was not interested in dating this guy.  It was fun though, and I was so bored and frustrated with guys I cared about keeping me at an arms length.

I saved in a GC group that consisted only of student leaders, then, the pastors at our mother church decided that the student group was not growing properly.  The student group was to be dissolved and due to personal crisis in my life I moved with a handful of people from that city to a different city where the mother church was located.  Everything changed.  The men in my life quickly stopped going to coffee with me, talking to me (even in rooms full of people) and I knew that they were no longer there to support me.  The relationships were bankrupted in a matter of months, as my friends would rather be true to the teachings of the church than our friendship.

I was never "in love" with any of the men from the student group and I experienced far less male/female drama and gossip there than at the mother church where contact with the opposite sex was nearly forbidden.

HaHa! (Sad laughter.) They dissolved (by force) our DT for "effectiveness" and then encountered a group that just wouldn't quite; leadership of the two new groups was ordered to keep us all apart but it was difficult as we all lived in the same dormitory; get togethers with other DTs were scheduled to try keeping everyone apart but that also hardly worked; I was already drifting away/struggling with what to do at this time, learning all I ahd and needing to act on it, but I did watch with joy that the evil overlords weren't getting their way so easily, and that those friendships were enduring: I don't think they were ever very close to me as I was to them in that I was awkward around there from the beginning (awkward generally: most of the time I can't even anyone to talk to, especially since most people want to just talk, jest, whatever, er....) and it only got worse as I noticed things and flailed with how to deal/interact.<BR>

By the end I was sitting-around talking to unbelievers all the time who were more genuine and worth the time than all these people who wanted to unite around works and who would trample over and abandon people that happened to bring some criticism, er., "slander" them, give-up friendships upon orders, and even (as happened at one point) call heresies about Christ's natures "rabbit trails" because it was interfering with what the leadership wanted to do at the time--lead the opinions of everyone by facilitation to their predetermined goals. Sadly enough I found much of the same from church to church, if not as serious of abuse or authoritarianism, little concern for truth, little preaching of Christ (if not outright preaching of other Christs, or even "just' adding to the gospel), and much advertising of their programs, churches, groups, etc.: all this concern for unity for a political front and world influence ("friendship with the world" anyone?) rather than being a people holy, separate, pleasing to God (in the true sense, not the twisted ones which so many us these words to mean).

When I finally found a congregation that I might consider attending, first day there our passage of attention,

Quote
     Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
      But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.
      But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
      Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Cor 4:vv7-18
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2xA Ron
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2012, 05:07:57 pm »

I would say it's massively unhelpful and hurtful.

I was in both the Navigators and the Rock (a GC college ministry) until earlier this year, then spent a little time with Campus Crusade in my last year.  I got to be in two environments where Christian men and women related as friends and--occasionally--romantic interests, and then the GC where they did nothing of the sort.  Outside the GC, people were pretty open about their feelings and any awkward tensions were quickly smoothed over as friendships moved on and continued to grow.  If two people liked each other, you would know about it because they'd be dating soon.  In the GC, you didn't even hint at your feelings unless you wanted to be pulled aside and raked over the coals for them, and you never knew who liked who because obviously both of them would be trying to hide it from everyone out of guilt and fear until their leaders finally decided they'd suffered enough.  People, women especially, were always talking about relationships and trying to guess who liked who and whom should like whom.  Since there was a scarcity (though not an absolute absence) of genuine friendship and fellowship between the genders, the air was always thick with repressed sexual tension--something I never experienced outside the Rock!  And every time you turned around, people were suddenly becoming super-serious quasi-engaged couples--which made it really awkward to try and figure out how to relate to them all of a sudden.

As far as hurtful, that usually came up when there was some sort of misunderstanding or something that created a genuine and urgent need to communicate with someone of the opposite gender.  That, of course, was guaranteed to be the moment someone would come up and tell you you shouldn't communicate with so-and-so because she was a girl.  This allowed simple misunderstandings to rip apart friendships (because clearing them up would be the "sin" of not "guarding her heart"), blew apart teams (rather than giving someone advice on managing a conflict and an outlet for their pent-up frustrations, we should shun her and let her explode because she's a girl and talking to her would be a "sin"), and prevented the spread of the gospel (nothing is apparently as traumatic to the heart as hearing the gospel from someone of the opposite gender).
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GreenAndGold
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« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2012, 08:36:34 pm »

Hi! I agree with a lot of what has been said. I'm a brand new user as I have just signed up to this forum today.

I have a unique spin on this whole gender rules thing within the GC movement. I was involved through The Rock at Colorado State University (hence GreenandGold - GO RAMS)

I am woman who has mild Asperger Syndrome (AS) which is a disability where it is a bit harder for me to discern social rules merely by observation. Professor Temple Grandin from my university says that concrete rules are good for those of us AS. Therefore, these rules helped initially. When I joined The Rock during my freshman year, this was my first time interacting regularly with people my age in a large group setting. Therefore, someone saying, 'This is flirting and this makes the guys uncomfortable' helped me know my boundaries. Concrete rules like, 'Don't spend one on one time with a guy regularly because he will think you are dating when you really don't want to date.'

When it became a problem was when I was following these rules and not even trying to communicate to the guys. Or when I was either avoiding the guys or flirting with the one that I happened to have a crush on. My team leader my second to last year of school (I was a super-senior by that time), really wanted us to get along as brothers and sisters, and he was trying to model that by acting brother-like to the ladies in the group, but me with my AS didn't pick up on that. A few other people in the group weren't getting it either, so he sat us down and said, "I want us to be a family. This means that the ladies and guys can hang out as a group, you guys won't get cooties by sitting next to each other, ladies can hug the gents, and basically ladies: treat the brothers as you would treat your own brother." I didn't have a brother, so I needed him to flesh that out more. He told me to watch how he treated others, and my gal pals also helped me with that.

When I transitioned out of The Rock into the young professionals' group at Summitview, someone else told me that the rules were much more lax, and I saw that, the ladies were more relaxed around the guys and the guys treated the ladies as equals. Unfortunately, the long period of "ladies hanging out with ladies only" and "men hanging out with men only" would still affect me because if a guy was being nice to me just to be nice as a good friend, I would wonder if he liked me. Then I would get confused if he never pursued me. I had to remember that he was being a good friend.

I guess in summary, I think the avoidance of the opposite gender makes it hard even for normal (people without Asperger Syndrome) to really see what a true Christian brother-sister relationship looks like and what true friendship (without the desire of one party to lead into something further) between a guy and girl looks like. For me, it was especially hard to pick up, and looking back, I wish I had more examples from my college years, as I am only just learning it now in my late 20's.

PS:

Kuddos to the leaders that were willing and able to explain these things to me and for my last Rock leader for attempting to break the status quo and really pushing for us to be a *family* instead of a group split by gender trying to be one.
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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2012, 10:53:11 am »

Years ago, Dateline NBC featured a program about a young Christian couple (I don’t think they were GC people) who courted by writing letters to one another (pen and paper letters; not even e-mail; and no telephone calls) that would not do anything physical with each other- no holding hands, hugs, kisses, nothing- and of course, no time alone together.  He spent time with her dad, she with his mom.  Eventually, they got married and the last thing I heard was they were expecting a baby.  Of course, the young couple was the picture-perfect model of Christian purity and Godly obedience.  That story was featured maybe 15 years ago.  IIRC, the story was reported fairly and didn’t treat the people as if they were a bunch of weirdos.   

They only thing I will say about a Church atmosphere like that is that I hope they are able to love and embrace those who don’t make it- i.e., those who gave in to temptation and do the very normal and natural thing of having sex.  I understand we don’t want to condone behavior we see as wrong… but the last thing people need when they’ve screwed up- literally speaking- is shame, judgment, condemnation and rejection. 

I also remember long ago at a mens’ Saturday morning prayer time a guy in the Church confessed to us he gave a woman oral sex.  I’ve never really been sure if he was guilty about engaging in a non-missionary position sex act or if he was confessing to something he did two days prior or whatever but I was so impressed at the love and acceptance the other guys showed to him- putting their arms around him and praying for him.  It was so wonderful to see that. 

On the other hand, a girl at a non-GC Church once told me her roommates would not even allow here to have her boyfriend in the house under any circumstances. 
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FeministRebel
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« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2012, 05:35:10 pm »

I recall one day I was spending time at the home of a local community elder (not a pastor). He basically had his home set up as a place for guys to stay, and as a party house for the college groups.

I was in the entertainment room, and another guy was there. I wasn't in any way attracted to him... but out of politeness, I said "we'd better not be down here by ourselves, because it's not good in the eyes of others," or something along those lines. I never cared for that rule, but whatever. He said to me, laughing "Don't worry, I could NEVER be attracted to someone like you, with your looks."

So... this rule put people in awkward situations having to dance awkward dances around one another, and perhaps saying things they would never otherwise need to say because they are *gasp* adults who should know how to carry themselves around each other. I found this particular young man quite homely, honestly... though I would have never said that to him, or to anyone. I guess he got great pleasure into telling ME I was not attractive.   
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« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2012, 07:56:41 pm »

I was in the entertainment room, and another guy was there. I wasn't in any way attracted to him... but out of politeness, I said "we'd better not be down here by ourselves, because it's not good in the eyes of others," or something along those lines. I never cared for that rule, but whatever. He said to me, laughing "Don't worry, I could NEVER be attracted to someone like you, with your looks."

So... this rule put people in awkward situations having to dance awkward dances around one another, and perhaps saying things they would never otherwise need to say because they are *gasp* adults who should know how to carry themselves around each other. I found this particular young man quite homely, honestly... though I would have never said that to him, or to anyone. I guess he got great pleasure into telling ME I was not attractive.  

Hi FeministRebel,
Obviously, that guy had no common sense to say something like that.

I never liked those guys should only share with guys/girls should only share with girls/no dating/no spending time alone rules, either.  But after saying that, I'm not really sure what to say about young men and women spending time together... i.e., what it should look like.  

Someone once told me when a guy and a girl get together, the tension between them is about the obvious fact that they fit together physically (I'm just talking about heterosexual relationships here).  Being aware of this, many people wonder, "Does this mean we're going to have sex?  And what if I don't want to?  Or what if I do?"  When I encounter a woman, I am certainly aware of the fact she is a woman.  I think maturity is about how well you can deal with that feeling.  The guy you encountered had no maturity to say such a thing.  But he was not alone.  A lot of people there also lacked maturity.  When I got fired from a job, I called up a woman (she was in her 30s and not a student) I had gone out with one time before (I had a gift certificate for two to a restaurant) because I was obviously upset about losing my job.  She came over to my place and we were the only ones there.  She listened; then she asked me how I felt about her, because she was not really attracted to me.  I was not seriously interested in her, either.  The only thing that bothered me was she went back and told her roommates everything.  The next time I went to her house, I was sitting in a room with one of her roommates.  To break the silence, all she could think of to say to me was, "Found a job yet?"  I really, really didn't like that.  If I had wanted everyone to know, I would have told everyone.  

Just because men and women fit together physically does not mean everytime they get together, sex is going to occur.  And remember, a LOT of people are uptight and immature about this.  It is most certainly not just a GCx thing.  



« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 01:34:35 pm by Ned_Flanders » Logged
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