Sunday, November 7

Friends with the Opposite Sex: The Ultimate Debate

So this week at the Teen Fiction Cafe, we're blogging about friends and boyfriends and I'll tell ya, I had the hardest time coming up with a topic for this. I racked my brain for hours! (Okay, maybe it was only a few minutes, but any writer will tell you: a few minutes with no inspiration can definitely feel like hours).

And so in the end, I decided, instead of waxing poetic and/or inspiring with some clever anecdote about my most influential friendship or the worst boyfriend I ever had (and trust me, I could go on for a while about that one), I decided I would pose a question instead. Primarily because I'm interested in what others have to say about this and also, to be perfectly honest, because I'm feeling just a little bit uninspired about the blogging thing right now.

So here's the question:

When in a relationship, can you or can you not be friends with someone of the opposite sex?

And let's take that a step further...can you or can you not be good friends with someone of the opposite sex? How about besties?

I'm in a committed relationship and have a few good friends who are guys. I wouldn't call them best friends, but I'd definitely call them close friends. And my hubby has assured me that he's fine with it. And likewise, he has a few friends that are female, one of which, is the girl who introduced us. And they've known each other for much longer than I've known either of them so I've always looked at is as, "If something was going to happen between them, it would have already."

But then again, I've been in relationships before where I couldn't stand the fact that my boyfriend had female friends, so perhaps it just depends on the relationship.

My uncle is a relationship therapist and I once posed this very question to him and he said, (quite adamantly, I might add) "No. It shouldn't be done. Once you enter a committed relationship, you must sever ties with all friends of the opposite sex." He did go on to clarify that he meant friends who are not friends of the couple. Friends who are only friends of one of the members of the couple.

This always felt a little extreme to me. I think there are circumstances where you can have perfectly platonic, harmless opposite-sex friends outside of your relationship, but what are those circumstances? Or what are they for you? As I trust everyone is different.

So, in the end, my one question actually turned into several. But would still love to hear what everyone else thinks about this relationship hot topic.

And just for fun (and for those too lazy to comment), here's a poll on the issue:

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angela said...

I have a bunch of guy friends. I get along with guys more often than girls. Usually my boyfriends don't care, they know know I'm loyal, and that if I wanted the other guy more, I probably wouldn't have dated them in the first place.

I also don't care if my boyfriend has female friends.

HOWEVER, my last ex had a LOT of female friends, probably mostly female friends. For some reason, girls love him. And eventually that resulted in him cheating on me because I trusted him so much. (even his best friend, a female who is also my bestfriend, said that he'd NEVER cheat, and was pretty disappointed in him and took my side when he did. I trust her completely)

So I still trust them, I can't exactly NOT, you know? If I don't, it'll make more problems. And hell, if they do decide to cheat in the future, at least I won't be the one at fault.

Sometimes, I feel the need to tell them "PLEASE don't be so touchy with your female besties!" But I can't. I have to be a big girl about it lol.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I think it depends on the couple and on the people. My husband has no problem that I have more guy friends than girl friends and doesn't mind that my best friend is actually an ex boyfriend. I don't mind that my husband has chick friends and I don't mind that one of them is his ex girlfriend (who I happen to think is a cool person).

But my husband and I are really close and even before we dated we were really close and we trust each other and are completely honest with each other. Plus we kinda view this whole thing the same way, so I think that works out!

I think just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean you have to stop being friends with the opposite sex, I don't think there should be any outside reason for people to stop being friends.

(Off subject but blogger should really let you edit your comments after you post them!)

Sara Z. said...

Your uncle's response is so extreme! But, I will say: I've had close guy friends over the years, and there is definitely a layer of complication that comes with it, and it would be stupid to pretend that there isn't. I have learned that in order for it to work, open communication among all spouses/partners involved and being careful not to say/write things you wouldn't want spouse/partner to hear/see is a must. I think guy/girl friendships can be really great and special. Key word: boundaries.

Author Dawn Brazil said...

LOL this is a great topic for teens. This however is not one in which a simple answer is found. It depends on too many variables. When I married my husband, I severed ties to my guy friends who had been hanging on hoping for a chance (you know what I mean) but I kept our mutual friends. Sometimes I'll talk for hours to his guy friends on the phone but hince the word "his" friends. Again, great topic.

I asked my teenage daughter what she thought and she said, "I'd be okay with it as long as he didn't talk about her all the time."

Shannon Lee Alexander said...

I agree with Sara Z. that having friends of the opposite sex does add a "layer of complication" that quite often the relationship just can't handle. In high school and college I had many guy friends, and unlike Sara, I was stupid enough to try to pretend our friendships were always easily defined and strictly platonic. Underneath, I did feel a certain need to always be on guard about sending mixed signals. Keeping one's guard up like that all the time can be exhausting. Friendship should exhaust you.

Wendy Toliver said...

Interesting question!
I'm married and I do have some guy friends, some of whome I met after we were married, like writers and coach-dads (I'm a coach-mom), some I've known before, like school friends. My DH knows most of them, and I do not keep in touch with old boyfriends. (Well, excpet my boyfriend from 4th grade, haha!)My DH does not have any female friends on his own; they're all my friends too. Oh, and a lot of my guy friends from college and high school keep in touch with him better than me! I always give him a hard time about him stealing my buddies but in reality I'm glad they all get along so well. P.S. Here's an extreme: I was on a business trip a few years back, with my male boss and another guy from our ad agency. At the airport I ran into the husband of an acquaintance. He couldn't believe my DH would let me go to San Francisco with men! (Did he think we were all sharing a bed or something!?!)

Melissa Walker said...

Oh the layer of complication!

I am friends with some of my ex-boyfriends. I loved them! We were close! My husband is good friends with the ones I still see, and it works for him too.

BUT, I'm a hypocrite: he doesn't really have female friends who aren't connected to him through me, and I think I might get jealous if he did.

Lame, I know, but true... and I do love this question. It's fascinating to ponder.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I think I'm in kind of the same boat as Melissa. I'm sort of friends with one ex and have a bunch of guy friends. My hubby's female friends are mainly people he knows through me or mutual friends. If he made a new female friend that I didn't know, I'd probably be jealous. It's lame and hopefully I'd work through it fast because he doesn't have a problem with me having guy friends and I know I can trust him. I think the issues stems from having exs that I couldn't trust.