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What are your rules for maintaining friendships outside of your marriage?

Posted by on Dec. 31, 2014 at 10:29 AM
  • 15 Replies

The Truth About Keeping Friends of the Opposite Sex Once You're Married

friends at lunch

Once you're married or in a serious relationship, do you have to abandon all your friends of the opposite sex? Of course not! Most of us realize that's an unreasonable demand ... but being in a committed relationship does change things.

To find out how different couples draw the boundaries between love and friendship, we talked with several women and men in long-term relationships.

Okay ... But I Don't Like It

"I will admit, the idea of my husband having close female friends doesn't please me," writer and mom Sasha Brown-Worsham confessed in a previous Stir post. "I'm a jealous person by nature. I wish I weren't, and I'm working on it, but I am." I think a lot of women can relate to that!

Were You Friends Before?

"I think any kind of platonic relationship that was okay before you were in a relationship should be fine while you're in a relationship," says D, currently single. "Trust isn't made by rules. It's made by communication." A few others we spoke with agreed that being in a relationship shouldn't change your friendships.

Just Facebook Friends

One woman who has been married for about a year says that she's always had friends of both genders. "But since I met my husband eight years ago, I've maintained platonic friendships with a handful of male friends, some even ex-boyfriends," she explains. "Most of them I've been friends with since I was a kid, and they're also in LTRs/married now. Most of our interaction is confined to Facebook, because they live out of state." She has one exception: "I'm still friends with my college ex, but neither of our spouses seems to love the idea of us all getting together, so at least for now, we just chat online occasionally."

Know When to Dial It Back

"Friendships of either gender are a-okay -- for me and for the mister," says a woman married for 15 years. "We both have gay and straight friends of same and opposite gender and it's all good. That said, if I ever felt any kind of 'twinge' or 'inkling,' I would dial it back for a while. I'm guessing my husband would do the same. Doesn't happen very often, however, as we are good at picking friends."

And yeah, we'd like to point out that we realize the entire question of having friends of the opposite sex is totally heteronormative. Being in a same-sex relationship, in fact, might make this question seem almost silly.

I Have a 'Work Husband'

"I confess to a work husband," says S, a married mother of one. "And my husband has a work wife." This is common for many couples, and joking about it seems to defuse any sexual tension.

More from The Stir: 10 Signs You're Having an Emotional Affair

The More, the Merrier

"I want my significant other to have as many friendships as possible," says a woman in a long-term relationship. "It makes his life richer." And the couple believes this makes their life together richer, too.

Not So Close

"I don't know," says K, a man in a long-term relationship. "It would make me really uncomfortable if my girlfriend had a close male friend. I would worry about what the closeness would lead to, and whether it would compromise my relationship with her."

Use Your Intuition

"I feel like there is no hard and fast rule," says L, a married mom of two. "It's an intuitive process to navigate and define intimacy and loyalty." Other couples agree it takes this -- plus good communication and solid trust.

It's Tricky ...

"It's tricky," admits a married dad of one. "You can meet at Chipotle for lunch, but meeting at an Olive Garden for dinner is a huge no-no!" Okay, we think he's kidding around with us just a bit. But seriously, does it "feel" different to meet someone for lunch as opposed to dinner?

Don't Try to Hide Anything

A married father of three says that he doesn't try to hide friendships, and he makes sure friendships don't turn into affairs. "The first warning sign that your friendship might be turning into an affair is that you want to hide something from your partner," he explains. "If you don't want your partner to know that you had dinner with your old girlfriend, then you should think about where that friendship is headed. If you have no problems answering all of your partner's questions about the dinner, then things are probably fine."

It's About Trust

"Most of my friends are female," says M, a married father of two. "It's about trust, I guess, and commitment to your partner/best friend." Doesn't it say something good about a guy if he's friends with a lot of women -- that he respects them and gets along well with them? What wife wouldn't want that?

What are your rules for maintaining friendships outside of your marriage?

by on Dec. 31, 2014 at 10:29 AM
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by Marianne on Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:19 AM
1 mom liked this

 We do have one "rule" (I don't see it as a rule and don't really like to use the word) that we don't spend one on one time with a friend of the opposite sex. It's more a respect thing. It's easy for us since neither of us have many friends of the opposite sex. And since we're both kind of homebodies, we're not itching to get out of the house and hang out with people other than each other. And neither of us have really ever been into one-on-one hang outs. If we're going out with other people (and not each other) we prefer to be in groups :)

by Member on Dec. 31, 2014 at 12:56 PM

We don't have any rules set in stone because luckily we both are on the same page with this kind of stuff. Also we are fortunate that neither of us came into the relationship with friends of the opposite sex (one's that are straight anyway) and most of our opposite sex friends are mutual friends that are in a couple and we all hang out together, usually never alone, and even if we do we both know and trust every party involved.

I don't know how well either of us would do with having friends of the opposite sex that the other is not also close with. We both believe that kind of situation, while seemingly harmless on the surface, can start out innocent but can escalate and evolve into something else without you realizing it. And if you allow yourself to go beyond a casual intimacy level with someone other than your spouse, we both think it can compromise your relationship with your spouse who is the only person you are supposed to be most intimate with.

by on Dec. 31, 2014 at 1:08 PM

It's a non issue. Any guy friends I had and any female friends he had drifted their own seperate ways once I got pregnant. Going forward there is no need for us to start or maintain friendships like that. We have mutual couple friends and he hangs with the husband, I hang with the wife. I can not recall any one on one conversations with my friends husbands. Thats just how we roll in our circle. DH has one single guy friend who is our daughters godfather, but him and I don't hang out and the one time he came over and DH wasn't home yet he mostly played with the girls while we made small talk. 

by Member on Dec. 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

We spend all our free time together so meeting up with the opposite sex friends isn't an issue. I'm the jealous type and wouldn't be okay with him meeting up with a female friend. For me, there's no reason a married man needs to meet up with a female friend. I feel the same way about my meeting up with male friends too however, we don't do it so it's not an issue. 

by Brenda on Dec. 31, 2014 at 4:49 PM

We have no rules friends are just that friends!

by Ruby Member on Jan. 1, 2015 at 3:09 AM
No rules here. I do use my intuition though and DH in general isn't trusting of any of my male friends. We do have friends of the opposite sex though and we do gang out with them solo from time to time.
by on Jan. 1, 2015 at 11:24 AM

We have no rules. We trust each other completely.

by Silver Member on Jan. 1, 2015 at 1:02 PM

I think is sad and pathetic that adults still maintain the teenage ideals that men and women cannot be friends. It's just plain stupid and idiotic. To me it literally screams a lack of trust between the two. 

We both have friends of the opposite sex. It really is not a big deal if you trust each other. 

by on Jan. 1, 2015 at 4:33 PM
We have no rules, we're both adults and trust each other. We both have friends of the opposite sex, and we see them regularly, both alone and together.
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by Member on Jan. 1, 2015 at 11:52 PM

I'm not married anymore, but I didn't care if my ex had female friends. He didn't give me that same trust, though. He would throw a fit if I had any kind of interaction with a male. If a guy so much as looked at me, he thought I wanted him. SMH... I could barely go out with my female friends, but he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, with whoever he wanted. That was a major problem in our marriage. Of course, there were plenty more, but that was one of the big issues.

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