We all know that situations occasionally arise before our awareness does. We show up for a doctor’s appointment and his nurse steps out of the room momentarily. The electrician shows up at the house when you are the only one at home. The well-meaning neighbor stops in to see how things are going the evening your husband is away on a business trip. When such is the case, here are a few guidelines:
* Keep the topics of conversation at the same level as you would if someone else were standing there. Just because no one is in earshot, it doesn’t give you an excuse to go to personal or intimate levels of conversation. As much as women like to go deep with their conversations, it isn’t always wise. Before you venture into any given topic, check your motivation to make sure you don’t have a hidden agenda, such as using him as a sounding board, testing his personal resolve, or looking to get your ego stroked.
* If a man tries to engage you in a conversation that seems flirtatious or even borderline (it could easily go in an inappropriate direction), respond minimally and then find a distraction to pull you from the conversation altogether. This will send the message plainly but politely that you are not interested in playing his game.
* If a male workman shows up without a partner and you are home alone, call a friend and ask if she can come over for a few minutes to enjoy a cup of tea — now! I have a friend in the neighborhood who shares this boundary with me, and when one of us calls the other with a spontaneous tea invitation, it’s like speaking in code: Drop everything. Come now. Tea kettle’s brewing. See you in a minute. If a friend is not available, avoid more conversation than is absolutely necessary while this man is in your home.
With e-mails and chat rooms, women have found cyberspace to be an extremely slippery place. Have you ever noticed that men send one or two-sentence e-mails, or sometimes even just one or two words? Women, on the other hand, send several lengthy paragraphs, the cutest poem that a friend forwarded recently, and a photo attachment of the family pet while on their latest summer vacation. While that’s fine for grandma and girlfriends, let’s lay down some guidelines for conversing in cyberspace with men who might tempt us toward forbidden or unhealthy relationships:
* If you must contact a man for business reasons, then stick to business. Avoid too much personal chitchat that might give the appearance that you are interested in more than just a business relationship.
* If a man that you have a previous history with or are extremely attracted to sends you an e-mail that requires a response, be very careful not to say anything that may be interpreted as being an open door or an innuendo. If this relationship causes more temptation than you can handle, you might even consider copying a third person such as your husband, secretary, or a friend for an added measure of accountability.
* Avoid private, personal e-mail accounts that no one knows about or has access to. We have a personal e-mail account and a ministry e-mail account. My husband and assistant have free access to either of these accounts anytime, providing built-in accountability.
* If a man invades your space using “instant messenger” and you sense that his intentions are less than honorable, you are under no obligation to respond at all. That’s what the “Do Not Accept” button is for. But if you choose to respond, keep your responses brief and to the point, taking care not to veer off into a conversation that you wouldn’t want someone else to be aware of.
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Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.