Her situation prompted us to wonder if it was weird for a man and a woman to be just friends.
I think that there are a lot of factors that come into play on whether or not men and women can be friends. It really depends on the nature of their friendship, and the nature of the relationship between the individual and the spouse. In a secure marriage, there is absolutely no issue with a spouse being friends with someone of the opposite sex. I think that if the spouse had always been friends with this person, there wouldn’t be any issue at all. However, if it’s out of character for them — then that might be a little weird.
I have a lot of friends who are guys, however those friendships did change drastically when I got serious with my now-husband. Before I met Matt, my guy friends and I were as tight as my girl friends and I. We used to sleep in a pile of limbs together after partying at someone’s house. It didn’t matter who was cuddling who; we were all friends. Nothing was sexual about it.
Naturally, those days are in my past and I have drifted quite a bit from my guy friends. I believe it has less to do with our sexes and more to do with the fact that they are at a different stage in life than I am. I was the first person within our group of friends to settle down and have kids. When I was adjusting to parenthood, my friends were finishing up their college educations and entering the work world. Most of my friends — especially my guy friends — are not parents. They can easily take off and meet up with each other for camping weekends and trips to the bars in Montreal, just for fun. I have to arrange for childcare any time I want to go out or do something, and then I have to try and not feel guilty about spending that money.
I believe that if one of my guy friends had traveled down the same pathway I had, we would still be super tight to this day because he would also be adjusting to parenthood and adulthood at the same time. We would have more common interests, and we wouldn’t have drifted apart. I actually find that I have managed to maintain my friendships with my friends who became parents easier than I have maintained the friendships of my beloved single friends.
But that’s not the way things happened, and we did drift away. Now, I am raising my children, settling into my career of writing, and running the household. Attempting to find time to spend alone with my husband is a challenge in itself so when I get the opportunity, of course I want to use it to reconnect with him, not build new friendships with other guys.
Because of my personal experiences, I can easily see how befriending [or maintaining close friendships with] someone of the opposite sex when you’re married could be a problem. Let’s face it: marriage is hard. Really, really hard. On the one hand, you constantly are around each other. You live together, you eat meals together, you parent children together, but finding the time to be together as you were before you were married is rather hard. There are so many other obligations that come into play. Kids schedules, work schedules, home upkeep. It’s all very demanding and very exhausting. If the spouse feels ignored even before a friendship blooms, or even that their partner is investing so much time into someone that isn’t them, feelings of jealousy and insecurity can easily arise, as it did for the man’s wife in my friend’s case.
It’s not my friend’s fault, and it’s quite sad for her…however, if her friend and his wife decided mutually that he needed to pull back from the friendship, I’m sure it was for a good reason. When you get married, you are agreeing to make it work with that person. You’re agreeing to choose them before everyone else, to support them and lift them up when they need it. I know that there are always exceptions to that rule (open marriage, irreconcilable differences, abuse etc), but if you love your spouse, your marriage, and what you have together — the general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to jeopardize it by causing friction.
And personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable being friends with a guy unless he was undeniably in love with his wife. Then I would know for a fact that I wasn’t being used to fill the holes of what’s missing at home, and I would be secure in the knowledge that our friendship is strictly platonic for them as well as for me.
So to summarize the question can men and women be friends; I think it’s entirely possible, but it really depends on the people and the situation. If you’ve got an opposite sex bestie and your spouse is 100% comfortable with it, that’s awesome! I’m truly happy for you. I wish there wasn’t such distance between me and my old friends. However, if you’re like me and lost touch with your opposite sex besties over time, don’t feel bad. It’s common, and it’s normal.
This article was originally featured on Sarcastica
Photo Credit: Atlas Green/Unsplash