Thursday, December 17, 2009

Platonic Friendships

It's the age old question. Can men and women really just be friends. My answer to this questions has definitely changed over time.During my high school and college days, I would say it was pretty evenly split with male and female friends. And I definitely thought opposite sex friendships were great! However, I learned the hard way in certain situations that opposite sex friendships only really work well within a group context. One-on-one male/female friendships get complicated because ultimately one person wants it to be something more. Eek. And then you're stuck with, "Well, do we end the friendship since we obviously want different things?" Sometimes you can just eliminate the one-on-one part of the friendship and maintain the friendship among a group of other people. Other times the friendship fizzles completely.

Other times you both end up wanting the same thing (i.e.: relationship) and then you go get married, fuss at each other about Christmas decorations and live your lives happily every after. A la: me and Chad.

So once you're married, the male/female friendship question has to be readdressed as a couple. If you were to ask me now if men
and women can have a close platonic friendship, I would cautiously say yes... but only under these particular circumstances.

1) You are allowed to be good friends with your spouse's best friends. Fringe friends may or may not apply... depending on trustworthiness of said friend. But husband's closest friends - in the clear. For instance, two of Chad's best friends are David (Annabelle's daddy) and Stephen. He's grown up with them. My close friendship with them is actually encouraged - since it means Chad will get to hang out with them more often. Likewise, Chad is absolutely allowed to hang out and be friends with my girlfriends like Hannah and Kelly.

ummation: Spouse's best friends = Green Light for Friendship.

2) Y
ou are allowed to be good friends with your best friends' spouses. For instance, it would be approved for me to be friends with Hannah's husband Jack or Kelly's boyfriend Ian. A-okay. Likewise, Chad is permitted to be friends with David's wife Jamie, etc. Once again, the reason this works is because the friendship is 99% of the time within a group context.

Summation: Best friend's spouse = Green Light for Friendship.

3) You are allowed to meet a new friend of the opposite sex independently, so long as the other spouse completely approves of said-friend, and you don't keep any get-togethers, phone calls, emails, etc. secret from spouse. Example - at my old agency, I became very good friends with this yankee Sean. Mainly the war-zone like atmosphere we worked in caused us to bond like army brothers in order to make it through the day in one piece. Sean and I early on set up double dates with our respective spouses, and to be honest, I like Sean's wife Heather more than I even like Sean, and likewise I'm sure Sean likes Chad much more than he likes me. However, if either Heather did not care for me or Chad did not particularly like Sean, friendship would be broken. But we are all one big lovey friend group - so opposite sex friendship can proceed. Interesting fact: these types of friendships are the ones that most likely arise through work situations.

Summation: New friendships (usually work-related) = Yellow Light for Friendship. Proceed with Caution: aka - spouse approval.

And here are my no-no's for opposite-sex friendships, post-marriage:

1) Keeping secrets from spouse on the new friendship. If you have to lie about it - there is something fishy going on whether you want to admit it or not.

2) You tell opposite sex friend details about your marital relationship that should be private.

3) You talk to opposite sex friend about things you wouldn't talk to your spouse about.

4) You start to wonder in respect to new opposite sex friend: "Hmm... what if I wasn't married."

5) Being friends with an ex - unless it was your boy/girlfriend when you were in elementary school. Sorry. It just doesn't work.

5) If for ANY reason... even if you think it's stupid... your spouse feels uncomfortable about a friendship you are in with a person of the opposite sex, you MUST end it immediately. No questions asked.

So there you go! My little bit on platonic friendships. Agree? Disagree? Leave it in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Caroline, I now consider you a yellow light friend, but Chad definitely gets a green light.