“why men and women can’t be friends” part 2

so the video i posted on friday kinda hit a nerve with a lot of yous guys and dolls.

i got a tweet asking about me weighing in on the comments and honestly, i chose not to on friday.  sometimes i feel like if i start commenting, other people will stop and the conversation got really good without me.

however, even my considerable relational skills will not be able to end the debate of whether or not men and women can be just friends. 

but today i’m posting my thoughts for everyone to see.  i did this once before, too, but i’m coming from a different angle today.

i’m a married woman.  most of my closest friends are men.  all of those men are also friends of my husband’s.  a couple of them i spend time alone with on occasion and this is not a big deal for us.  my husband has female friends, who are also my friends, he has spent time alone with.

this works for us.  we don’t have any trust issues about it.  what we do have is boundaries.  those boundaries are few but finite.

1.  do not discuss your personal problems with someone of the opposite sex.  you should be talking to your spouse about whatever it is you’re going through, not someone else of the opposite sex.

2.  do not complain about your spouse to someone of the opposite sex.  confiding in someone of the opposite sex about problems in your marriage is just not appropriate.  it makes the other person want to intervene and/or protect and it’s just not his or her place to be involved that way.

3.  no placing a friend of any gender before your spouse.  i’ve seen friendships with people of the same sex be just as damaging as those with someone of the opposite sex.  no one, no one, no one should have priority in your time or emotions over your spouse.

4.  no spending time alone with opposite sex friends who make your spouse uncomfortable.  this is a matter of respect.  if your spouse is not comfortable with you spending time with a friend of the opposite sex, don’t do it.

i’ve seen exceptions to #1 be made and it worked out fine.  generally because it was kept to a single conversation that prompted the married person to talk to their spouse or because the person of the opposite sex was also married and was assisting with counseling as an extension of the couple.  however, that is dangerous territory unless you are absolutely certain your friend is capable of objectivity.

if you’re single, the rule is simple.  if a you have a friend who is into you and you know you will never feel the same, cut him or her loose.  do not be so selfish that you continue to let that person hope for a change in status just to stroke your ego or have a security blanket.  the rest is really up to you and your friends.

truth?  the answer to this big ‘ol monstrous question is whatever you want it to be.  what works for you, isn’t what works for everyone.  there’s not even a whole lot of morality attached to it.  either you are capable of it or you’re not.  either your friends are or they’re not.  everyone is different.

craig and i realize our boundaries are wider than others.  we get judged for it pretty regularly.  but it works for us, though it probably wouldn’t work for everyone.  and for good reason.  but those reasons change from one person to the next.

all you can do is decide what works for you and make sure you don’t hurt anyone else in the process.

what are you boundaries with friends of the opposite sex?


6 comments on ““why men and women can’t be friends” part 2

  1. Brian says:

    I’ve been judged for having similar boundaries in my friendships with married friends. Their husbands are perfectly fine with those friendships. Those outside our circles think I’m out to get a little somethin’ somethin’.

    Disclosure is a must. I assume everything I say to one of my married female friends will be told to her husband. There are no secrets between her and I and her husband.

    I’m embarking on a relationship with a woman. We agree on the fact that it’s okay for the other to have close friendships with the opposite gender. I also know there are women I should avoid being alone with at all costs.

  2. I have a good online friend of over a decade who’s a married woman. I know her well, but her husband a bit more peripherally as he tends to be a background sort of guy in the venues we know each other through. We’ve never met in person; we nearly did a couple of years ago (the three of us, that is, not the two of us) but a financial situation forced them to cancel the trip. And I’m usually broke enough that ‘travel’ for me means going to Wal-Mart and back. :> One of my longstanding habits ever since I knew they were married has been to add “Say hi to -husbandsname- for me.” to the end of conversations with her. It’s my own way of saying that I know she’s married and I have no intention of crossing boundaries with that.

  3. Bethany says:

    If I’m ever hanging out with a guy to the extent that we need to set boundaries and clarify our status as “just friends,” we’re probably going to start dating soon anyway. None of my guy friends are ever that close. I love hanging with the girls. 🙂

  4. Regan says:

    If we are really “just friends,” there’s usually not an issue. It’s when one or the other starts thinking about crossing the boundary that “just friends” gets questioned. For example, I had a friend invite me to an event because he “had an extra ticket.” I then, in my own mind, questioned the “friend” status. But had I not been interested in crossing the boundary, I probably wouldn’t have questioned his intentions.

    So I don’t really have boundaries other than if I don’t like the guy romantically I don’t spend any more time with him than I would any other guy that I don’t like romantically. That way he won’t think that I do like him and be confused.

  5. I have an equal amount of male and female friends. Some of my male friends (who are not friends with my partner) are like family and I will talk to them about personal problems because I value their opinion and they support me when I need it. I had a rough patch with my partner recently and got very level headed advice from a close male friend of mine. I know my partner has female friends that he would be able to talk to in the same way. I’d rather he talk to these girls to get a female’s perspective 🙂

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