Armida Dispieta, Guest Author
I’ve pretty much always had a guy as my “best friend,” all my life, and have a lot of close male friends both online and offline. I think there is a lot of value in having at least one platonic friend of the opposite sex, especially if you’re married or in a serious committed relationship. Here’s why:
1. It proves that your relationship has a healthy level of trust on both sides.
2. If you’re heterosexual, it gives you someone of the same sex as your partner to ask for advice.
3. You can vent to your friend so that you’re not constantly boring your partner with endless stories about all the minor dramas of your life. I appreciate it when my guy friends tell me “you’re obsessing about this, let it go” .. because my girlfriends won’t say that, they’ll just be sympathetic and let their minds wander.
4. It’s fun! I enjoy the company of both women and men, and there are benefits to having a wide variety of friends.
Choose carefully. Make sure you are very clear with your friend of the opposite sex that you are married or committed and not available, and that if there is ever a conflict of interest or time, your relationship gets priority. Mention your partner/spouse often and if it seems to make your friend uncomfortable or jealous, that’s not a good sign. It’s best if the other person is also in a relationship. If appropriate, socialize as couples occasionally.
Be up-front with your partner that you have friendship only in mind, but this is a person that you want in your life. It helps to have a specific reason, like a shared hobby, networking or professional connection, or mutual friends. If your partner becomes uncomfortable or jealous, it’s essential to put the friendship on hold until you work things out. I don’t believe that a spouse or partner should ever have to say “it’s him/her or me.” If you have a healthy relationship and are respectful of your partner’s feelings, that situation should never arise.
You should have nothing to hide. Mention casually that you had lunch with X, and give a short summary of what’s going on in their life, job, etc. If you have online contact with your friend, tell your partner that you’re talking to them, let them read the chat window over your shoulder if they want, encourage them to say “hi” to each other from time to time… just as you would with a friend of your same sex.
Be loyal to your partner. Don’t ever badmouth or complain about them to your friend of the opposite sex, and be very careful about sharing things that should be kept private between you as a couple. If you do find yourself tempted to ask for serious relationship advice or cry on their shoulder, this should be a RED flag and you should focus on fixing your relationship. My rule of thumb is that my partner should know more about my friend than my friend knows about my partner. Note: this is tricky for women, because we’re used to telling our female friends private stuff about our spouse/partner, sex life, etc.
It is possible to flirt with a friend of the opposite sex, but it’s dangerous and very easy to let things get carried away. If you want to do this, I suggest having multiple friends and being deliberately and openly flirtatious with everybody equally, in public. If you ever find yourself in the position of saying or doing things in private that you would not want your partner/spouse to know about, you should break off the friendship immediately, because it is either already an affair or will be soon. And recognize that your friend may be the one who crosses the line. It happens. At that point you have to be ruthless, for the sake of your primary relationship.
Larry’s NOTE: A platonic relationship (opposite sex friends when you are married) is a non-issue when there is absolute trust between the spouses. Trust brings partners closer together. Consider it a Divine joining; the inevitable interweaving that occurs when two people love unconditionally and become as one. One of the most wonderful gifts of a loving marriage is the ability to trust your partner. This creates safety, security and a deeper capacity to love. You must never stop working on building trust in your marriage. Successful marriages are built on trust. It’s the foundation of a healthy relationship. There can be no trust without conversation; no genuine intimacy without trust. Armida said it very well, “If you ever find yourself in the position of saying or doing things in private that you would not want your partner/spouse to know about, you should break off the friendship immediately, because it is either already an affair or will be soon.”
Copyright © 2014 Armida Dispieta. Reprinted with permission. Armida is an INTJ personality (INTJs focus their energy on observing the world, and generating ideas and possibilities), writer, mom of two boys, from the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her articles at http://www.Quora.com/Armida-Dispieta
Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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