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, and....you'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 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.