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Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Keep a Relationship Platonic?

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‘Desiring Friendship and Ministry Partnership’ Asked:

I’m in my mid-60s and have been widowed for five years. I recently met a single Christian man who is a difference-maker. I have a deep respect for him, and admire his humility and work ethic. I’m not attracted to him but I’d love to partner with him in his humanitarian work in Uganda. What are the wisest ways to develop a friendship and ministry relationship with someone of the opposite sex without appearing as if I’m pursuing him as a potential date or husband?

Dr. Zoe Answered:

Making platonic friends after widowhood is not any different than before marriage. I have to admit that I wonder if it’s really your heart’s desire for this relationship to be platonic? If there wasn’t some type of inkling towards a romantic relationship, it probably wouldn’t occur to you that you need to do something special to make sure that it’s platonic.

I imagine you must interact with males and females every day and possibly work with people of both sexes without considering how to navigate that.

It seems to me that you’re worried about appearances, when you really shouldn’t be. You are both single adults. Please don’t waste your time or curtail your life, worrying about what other people may think.

If you truly are not attracted to him, then approach him like he is any other human with whom you are interested in forming a friendship. Men often can’t tell the difference between normal conversation and flirting, but they usually err of the side of oblivion. If he begins to show romantic interest in you, friend zone him quickly. Make it clear to him that you only see him as a friend and a potential philanthropic partner. The sooner the better if you want to maintain a friendship with him.

Heads up though. If you plan to spend a lot of time with him and you two have a lot in common, don’t be surprised if you get shot with a little cherub’s arrow. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!

You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace

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For related content and more relationship advice for women, start here:

This Is a Window Into My Widowhood
I Said I Would Never Date Again, but Then…
Why You Should Just Have That Hard Conversation (And How to Do It)
I Never Wanted to Be a Pregnant Widow
He Brings Me Flowers, but Is That Enough?
When Life Gives You a New Normal
Dear Single Mom, This Is Why You Inspire Me

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Dr. Zoe is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert who recently jumped out of a perfectly good plane just for the experience.

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