Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fine line

Trooper and I were talking about men and women being just friends. Specifically, the affect it has when one (or both) of them is in a relationship.

That's a real issue for some people. To the point where friendships end. I lost almost a year with a good friend because his fiance didn't like him having female friends.

It also ends relationships. When X had a female friend outside our marriage, and I had a problem with it, it was the beginning of the end for us. It didn't cause the end of the marriage - but it sure didn't help.

Those outside friendships do open up new possibilities if your relationship goes through a rocky period. For example, if you're already having problems, and you have a guy friend at work (a "work husband") you might turn to him for comfort. One thing leads to another,'ve betrayed your relationship in a way you can't fix.

That's not likely to happen if you lean on your girlfriends for support. But it's a real worry if you're turning to a guy friend.

They say men and women can't be just friends because sex gets in the way. That's why it's OK to be just friends if you're both single (because then, if sex happens, at least no one else is betrayed), but if one or both of you is in a relationship, it's not cool.

I disagree.

I do think there's a fine line for men and women who are just friends - and I think that line moves when one of you is in a relationship. My guy friend and I were always flirty with each other - and when we were both single, it didn't matter. But the minute he started dating someone, I knew that line had shifted for us. Certain topics, humor, etc. that could be flirty were now off the table.

That was OK with me. That's what friends do; they respect each other. I wanted to look out for my friend, respect his relationship, and not get in the way of his happiness. In the beginning, I hoped to have a friendship with her too, which I also wanted to respect. I also remembered what it was like to be the one in the relationship, wondering about that friendship, and I didn't want to do anything that would make me that woman.

So people can set - and respect - boundaries. But that raises a trust issue. If you're worried about your boyfriend exchanging emails with a female friend - is it because you don't trust him? "I don't trust her," is the normal response. OK - she might have questionable motives, but don't you trust him to put on the brakes if it becomes a problem?

Don't you trust him to respect that line?

I think the biggest problem is that people assume that line is the same for everyone. They never communicate with the other person where they feel the line should be. How is he supposed to know you have a concern if you don't tell him? And by tell him, I don't mean accuse him of having already crossed the line, or order him to give up friends. No one likes to be accused or ordered.

Honest, fair communication is key. You shouldn't tell him what he can and can't do. He shouldn't be telling you what you can and can't say. "I'd dump anyone who tells me I can't have friends," isn't effective. It's as big an ultimatum as, "I want you to give up that friend." In a relationship, both people should be able to share and discuss concerns.

That's another fine line in relationships. Sometimes, it's not what you say, but how you say it, that makes all the difference.


  1. Your posts are, quite frankly, AMAZING!

    You have so much wisdom!

    I know that when I click on the link to your posts, that I'm going to learn something, and grow a little.


    That is all.

  2. "Honest, fair communication is key."


  3. I agree communication is most important. But another point my be the friends personality some people are just out there. My husband and I who had a friend that was outrageous and truthfully it did not bother me because I knew her and that if she grabbed his butt I knew that she was just as likely to grab mine as well. I think she is the only friend who could openly flirt with my husband and it would not bother me.

  4. i think a lot of it depends on your friendship. i have a number of very close male friends and my bf has no problem with them, single or otherwise, becuase he knows them and knows we were and have been friends forever. i think it's a lot different when you meet someone (a new guy in my case) AFTER you are in a relationship becuase it might seem strange...idk.. i think it all boils down to trust and communication like you said

  5. Love this post, and I 100% agree!

  6. Could you also go ahead and tell us how exactly do we talk about our concerns without sounding over possessive or bit*hy? That would help.