The Risks of Opposite Sex Friends

Category: Weekly Columns

Do you have opposite sex platonic friends? Are you married? Does your spouse have opposite sex friends, too? What about opposite sex friends that used to be boyfriends or girlfriends? Is that cool? Interesting questions, don’t you think?

Many people believe that their spouse should be their best friend. I am sort of agnostic on that issue since I believe that for the sanctity of marriage it isn’t always wise to bring every thing on one’s mind to one’s spouse. That is the value of same-sex friends.

What Do You Say If…

For instance, if your spouse has gained weight, is it smart to express that observation? If you’re feeling unhappy at home for somewhat trivial reasons, is that something you should share with your spouse? I say, “No.” I say that is the province of same-sex friends.

But, back to the question of opposite-sex friends. A business associate of mine, we’ll call her Sharon, shared her story recently and it inspired this column. In a nutshell, she ran into her husband at a restaurant with a woman with whom he had had a fling many years ago. He was seeing Sharon at the time, but they weren’t married.

When she caught him that first time, she got mad. But, she loved him and decided not to let it de-rail their relationship. Sharon also felt that carrying this “business” into the marriage – as a wedge – would be destructive, so when they got married she gave him a “clean slate,” to quote her. She went to therapy to process this; she discussed it with her girl friends, and looked deep inside herself and chose to forgive him.

She Forgave Him

A year later, they were married. Seven years later, she finds him at a restaurant with the same woman. He jumps up, hustles his friend out of the place, and runs away like a dog with its tail between its legs. Sharon had wanted to confront both him and the woman, but didn’t get the chance.

Later, the husband declared that they were “only friends.” Sharon believed him. However, her confidence in his story was weakened when she checked his cell-phone records for the past year. Turns out he’d been calling Sharon about 100 times per month to the 200 times per month he was calling his “girl” friend.

Going TOO Far

Later, the so-called “girl” friend posted numerous remarks on Facebook demeaning and criticizing Sharon for her immature behavior. Hello!?

Meanwhile, Sharon’s husband continued to defend his actions, ignore the insulting Facebook posts, and otherwise expect to be forgiven since they were “just friends.”

Sharon kicked him out of the house. She’s not sure what she’ll do next or what she wants to do.

Sharon went on to tell me that both she and her husband had brought many opposite sex friends into their family fold. When that happened, soon everyone was a friend with everyone else. She believed that was cool. But, this time there was at least a year of secrecy (per the cell-phone records), maybe more.

Was He Being a Coward?

Clearly, Sharon’s husband was acting both cowardly and seeing this “girl” friend was something he knew was wrong. Otherwise, he’d have been open about it. I suspect there was more than “friendship” going on between them, but I don’t know. I also feel, as does Sharon that the issue of infidelity is almost less offensive than the closeness her husband and his “girl” friend shared with so many phone calls and secretive rendezvous’.

I ask again, can couples have opposite sex friends? My feeling is decidedly unclear. It depends. If, and only if, an opposite sex friend existed prior to the marriage, the primary relationship, then it may be possible to bring that friend into the new family.

But, it has to be open. It has to be up front.

I’d Do Her

However, when either partner wants to bring an opposite sex friend into their lives after marriage, I question the wisdom of that choice. A non-PC truth is that most men would like to have a physical relationship with as many women as they could. Of course, most men control that desire, but why tempt fate and biology?

Again, this is one man’s opinion. Whatever works for you is just fine with me. For Sharon and her husband, his secrecy and possible infidelity has threatened their marriage.

While I would rather not face my wife being unfaithful in any fashion, I actually sincerely believe that a one-night fling, while away on business for instance, is far less of a betrayal than an on-going intimate friendship with another man in which my wife were sharing intimate feelings and thoughts and doing it all in secret.

Sharon agrees with this thinking as she demonstrated in forgiving her husband the first time he cheated on her, prior to their marriage. She chose to give him a second chance that I believe he squandered by continuing to see this “other woman” in secret.

What do you think? Can opposite sex friends exist in your marriage or relationship?

 

 

  • http://jplovescotton.com/ Janice

    Interesting perspective and while the story of Sharon & her husband may seem to fit, I don’t think it does. To me there was a real lack of trust there if he was just friends with the woman. He should have been truthful and talked to his wife about it. Tough conversation but knowingly hide something that would upset her was dumb enough but running with his tail between his legs goes even further. 

    In today’s world, I think friends of the opposite sex are fairly common. There have to be boundaries when people are married — that is they are friendships and not intimate relationships. I think those friendships largely need to meet the approval of the other spouse and I think its important for me to truly respect the spouses of my guy friends which is easy enough because I respect myself so much that I am never worried about that cause I am not doing anything that I need to slink away from. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I think the secrecy kills Sharon’s husband’s excuse! We agree…I still think couples have to be VERY CAREFUL about how they handle it…be up front is KEY!

    • Sharon

      Janice, Good point! And this is my whole thought process! My husbands 2 best friends are female – Janet and Jackie – but they ask how I am doing when they call, they ‘tell me Hi’ through him, we text each other to plan surprise birthday parties, they come over to my house (whether invited by him or myself) for events (Thanksgiving etc.)

      My whole point is if a ‘friendship’ has to be a darn secret than there is something WRONG with that friendship!

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        THAT is the bottom line, Sharon…

  • http://twitter.com/60secondparent Sixty Second Parent

    I think Sharon and her husband situation is more about infidelity and trust – this was someone he had had an affair with – the ‘just friends’ explanation was pretty weak.  I agree that being upfront is the key.  My husband and I both have a good female friend that we share. They like discussing documentaries and histories (my eyes glaze over) and I prefer to go to movies restaurants with her. We have both spent time with her on our own.  We both met her in our first year of marriage.
    I am not as close to some male friends as I would like to be – I would love to spend time alone with some of them, but it is not ‘the done thing’ I guess. I have never really asked my husband if he would mind if I went to dinner or the movies with so and so – I think he would probably say he didn’t mind – it would depend on who it was.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      The key is that you SHARE that female friend. Another red-flag is having opposite sex friend who are single when you’re a couple. It’s just taking an unnecessary risk…again, more so if the friend is post the relationship. I’m NOT suggesting dropping all your opposite sex friends the moment you get married, but you must bring them into the fold just as you described you and your husband did!

    • Sharon

      See Bruce, this is my point, to women it just comes naturally to not hang out with Men as much once married. I think for the most part Men fill a need and our needs are met with our husbands, fathers and brothers on most occasions. Men for some reason don’t as naturally drop / distance themselves from Female companions upon getting married.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        At the risk of once again being politically incorrect, I completely agree with you BECAUSE men and women are built differently. Women instinctually know better what works once married while men still have to fight their procreation biological instinct. 

      • http://twitter.com/60secondparent Sixty Second Parent

        I don’t agree. I wouldn’t say I naturally stopped hanging out with men, but consciously stopped. I didn’t stop because my husband fulfilled my need for men (that would be a big ask). I think it is a societal expectation that when you are married or in a serious relationship, you don’t hang out as much with opposite sex friends. My need is for friendship – I don’t really think of it as a men women thing – I see people that I like – some of them happen to be men.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Do you really believe it is not a men-women thing? 

          • http://twitter.com/60secondparent Sixty Second Parent

             I guess I mean that I don’t want the friendships BECAUSE someone is a man, but because they have something about them that I like.

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            Understood and agreed!

  • http://jong.my/ netster

    interesting story.

    just my opinion

    girls normally get pretty uptight when the opposite sex talks to their spouse/bf especially if the opposite sex are younger or perhaps look physically attractive. I get that a lot from my wife (LOL)
    Male are born to have the desire to attract partners and these animal instinct are control by our commitment (example if we are married). female protects these commitments by not allowing their spouse/bf to have any chances to get to close to the opposite sex. you know in case – something happen.

    But it’s hard sometime if both husband and wife/ bf and gf are busy most of the time – something definitely will happen when either party neglecting the commitment.

    So yeah I wont even have any doubt that Sharon senses something amiss in the relationship especially when the husband can’t even explain his situation with the “girl” friend. This result in losing the trust they have earn for each other.

    I hope your friend Sharon would resolve this soon and hopefully the husband would turn back and realize the commitment he has promised to carry for his wife.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      WE totally agree, netster. This is why I tend to believe men need other men in their lives – post marriage – more than ever. 

    • Sharon

      Sharon here! Netster, I completely agree with you – I love my husband dearly – and he is quite handsome if I do say so myself, as well as intelligent and funny. I know I got an awesomely attractive man not only in looks but in personality – so I am of course a jealous person. However, I know that and I accept that which is half the battle. So I go into life and situations, thinking ‘What would make me not jealous’ and I make sure to express that with my husband. Rarely is the answer ‘don’t have female friends’ – normally it is – invite them over to the house, go out in groups, invite me to hang out with both of you. The more I interact with my husband and his ‘girl’ friends, the more I see how they engage and the more confidence I feel that their relationship is platonic. And in many cases, they become my friends as well. For example, Janet (his friend) her and I go shopping together for our children; we go Christmas shopping together for my husband and her boyfriend; she comes over for Thanksgiving and Football Sunday – and if on occasion they go out for a drink one night – I am never jealous (and am actually normally invited, and decline!).

      Can I honestly say that this specific woman, the same thing could have happened. Probably not because of the affair that existed prior to the marriage. They were intimate and that is something that I could never change and would always have me nervous. I think in this specific situation, that is one friend he would have had to have given up.

      Bruce used my situation as an example, of how things can go haywire with opposite sex friendships, although again, it is a very unique situation. I personally think there is nothing wrong with opposite sex friendships as long as certain ‘game rules’ are laid out – and I think the most important is – that the significant other should ALWAYS be included in all gatherings and events until the point that there is 100% confidence established that the relationship between them is a healthy and platonic one, consider it giving your significant other ‘peace of mind’.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Thanks so much for weighing in, “Sharon.” Here’s another question for you and everyone. Do you think men or women have more trouble with opposite sex friends? Do you think men or women tend to be more jealous than the other? I continue to believe it is the openness that can make opposite sex friends work. ANY secrecy in a marriage will make the other partners suspicious. How can it not!?

        • Sharon

          I think it is equal, but I think men like to pretend it is not as bothersome and most women find it natural to reduce the volume of their male friends once married. 

          When I was younger, and in college, the majority of my friends were male because of my interests and major – I majored finance, raced cars, and kick boxed. 

          When I began dating my husband I introduced him to many of my male friends. He made an ongoing joke that how could be be bothered when my best female friend was gay. I knew then it bothered him, but truth be told when I relocated 2k miles from my home town, the majority of my male friends went away just because of the distance. I became friends with his friends, and when my friends come to visit we all hang out in groups.

          To answer your questions more specifically:

          I think Men have more trouble with opposite sex friends.
          I think Women tend to be more publicly jealous, but Men just as jealous.

          At the end of the day, the whole thing and situation is like a garbage disposal – 

          One time a group of us went to a bar – ALL of us were married, ALL of us had wedding rings, none of us were with our spouses, there was a combo of men and women.

          Out of the 6 women there, only 1 got hit on, and when she told him she was married the guy said ‘What a Shame’, bought her a drink and walked away.

          Out of the 3 men there, all 3 got hit on, and when each one told them they were married – the women continued the chase.

          So in other words – Men are more respectful of the act of matrimony from an outside stance? Or is it just that single women that hang out in bars have no self respect?

          The whole thing is screwed up.

          My husband screwed up by putting the woman in his car and protecting her. It is my RIGHT to confront her and him, it is my RIGHT to tell them both how I feel, and he took that away from me. He put her above his wife. That is where he screwed up.

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            Wow, I must have gone to all the wrong bars when I was single…LOL…or, because of my age and the time I grew up in, times were different and women were far less aggressive!

          • Sharon

            I don’t get it either. I only remember ONE time ever being the aggressor and that was at a party that we were both mutually invited to and I sent him a beer – he then pursued me going forward (which happens to be my husband by the way!). But I have seen it, and I don’t understand it either, maybe it is just the area in which I live (South Florida) – I don’t remember it being that way back home.

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            I’m moving to South Florida…NOW! 

            lol…

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    YIKES!

    Enough occasions of sin will inevitably lead down a road of despair. Been there and done that. And I repent of them.

    The answer is obvious, my friend. For we speak of love and there is nothing that speaks more about love than the first Law that Moses gives to us from above.

    Allow me to present Stan’s modern translation.

    I’m your God. Or else. Exodus 20:3

    In other words,

    You shall have no other man or woman in your heart or under the bed sheets.

    You want a license to play it as it plays? You’re more clever and enlightened than all the holy men and women of the ages? [grin]

    Such is our arrogance.

    I’m cool with you wanting to play it as it plays – just remember that you will savor the pain and trouble as much as the joy ride. 

    And that pain and trouble is always rewarded one thousand times more. Pinhead (a la Hellraiser) will show you the way to the mysteries of the most exquisite pain. [laughing]

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow Stan, so poetic of you! LOVING your comments. THIS is a difficult subject, without a doubt! We will DO THIS on a forthcoming #DadChat for sure…but this week we’re doing Nagging!

      • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

        I hate nagging. There’s nothing worse than that! [grin]

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          So, be sure to put it on your calendar Stan. Don’t forget! I always have to tell you these things ’cause you ALWAYS forget. Write it down. NOW…Thursday at 6:00 p.m., PST – that’s Los Angeles time! (grinning back at ya)

  • http://gewandte-kommunikation.de/ Sebastian Koch

    Great article but can men and women “just” be friends? Latest research shows they can’t^^. I posted the youtube video here. http://bit.ly/Acv6oP

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’ll have to check that out, Sebastian. I don’t believe that research tells us as much as common sense. However, opposite sex friends are clearly touchy if one of you is married or in a relationship. I stand by the fact that most men have a harder time with it than women ’cause most men want sex with ANY female (if they could)! So un PC but so real!

  • http://chopperpapa.com Kyle Bradford

    Here’s how I look at it. I anxiously await the naysayers to lament how we, as a society, need to be more open minded and trusting. This is usually espoused by those who have never been misled or have been the misleaders. 

    My point here is that once a man and woman enter in a relationship, the idea of ‘opposite sex’ friends needs to be severely modified. First that opposite sex friend needs to be brought into the relationship to include the wife or husband, second there should be an understanding that no get togethers without the spouse being part of that. 

    I have no room for that in my life. Part of the responsibility of being in a relationship is knowing when to set aside those relationships of the past. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      We so agree, Kyle. Where are the naysayers? Not seeing many (yet?)!

      • Sharon

        This is where I agree! We both have plenty of opposite sex friends – this example – was an example of an inappropriate relationship.

        Leading back to – the saying my father always said – if it has to be a secret, there is probably something wrong with it.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Nothing to say…except YEP!

  • http://twitter.com/delwilliams Del Williams

    Hmmm, I am not sure. On the one hand I don’t think this rises to that, but the fact he had been in a relationship with the woman before, so clearly that was unacceptable and he knew it. The fact he hid her from his wife shows he thought (knew) that he was doing something wrong, because if nothing had been wrong he would have told his wife. The idea of the other woman talking smack and him not defending his wife shows more than cowardice, it shows he agreed with her doing it. The idea that his wife would forgive him was because she had always done so before. If she had been on her game she would have made it clear the first time she “caught” him that it was unacceptable, but like too many women she probably fell into the “anyone is better than no one” trap and thought she had to accept it. The idea that the issue sent her to therapy should have been beyond red flag territory. She didn’t listen to her gut which I guarantee you told her to send him packing. No need for therapy on that, just a moving van. I am glad she finally wised up, but think of the time she could have saved by seeing the kind of guy he was. As Maya Angelou said once, “when people show you who they are, believe them.”  All that to say, it has nothing to do with the ability of the opposite-sex to be friends, but the individual character and morals of the people involved.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Well said, Dell! She showed great forgiveness at first…and chose to give him a 2nd chance. Will she give him a 3rd is the big question now?!

      • Sharon

        I think there is a great difference between dating and marriage. While I believe that dating of course holds a level of commitment, it does not hold the same sanctity of marriage.

        I did not go to therapy to deal with his affair, I went to therapy to determine whether I could truly forgive – and forget – as it was not fair to go into an engagement or marriage holding something over his head – as many woman do. They stay with the man or in the relationship, yet continuously throw the issue back in their face – over and over and over again.

        I, never once in 7 years, threw it back into his face.

        As a matter of fact – when I saw them at the restaurant, I didn’t even realize it was the same woman. That is how far gone I had forgotten about it, it was only after I reviewed the cell phone records and realized they were one in the same.

        I think each individual relationship and situation is unique. I sent prior boyfriends packing for less, there is something to be said as to why I did not in this situation, and even given everything that has happened now, I don’t regret making the decision the first time to stay with him. I would not have changed anything in the past 7 years. No matter what happens between us, I won’t regret our marriage.

        However, all that being said – as I have said to Bruce – I believe opposite sex can be friends, I believe this specific example is how NOT to be ‘friends’ with the opposite sex. For example, Kyle’s comment below for me is an example of an appropriate opposite sex friendship when married.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          It’s all in the details…

        • http://twitter.com/susie_parker Susie Erjavec Parker

          So very well put, Sharon. So sorry you are going through this. 

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            Hey Susie, nice to see you here! Yes, so sad that Sharon has to go thru this…MEN!

  • martin gibb

    Mr. Sallan,

    Quite disappointed in your perspective. Not sure whether it’s the result of your age or education or a combination of both, but you have a surprisingly uninformed perception of both the male and female genders. The unfortunate part is that your view seems decidedly like an old-fashioned chauvinism, and worse, that perspective hurts both genders equally.

    Thinking first that men want sex with ALL women is quite an ignorant supposition, and based on nothing but cultural and educational ignorance. This is compounded further by your inherent statement that only men feel this way while women are somehow more “pure?” chaste? innocent? moral? superior? The entire slant of your article suggests clearly that not only can ALL men not be trusted when it comes to women and sex, it is only men who cannot be trusted, and it is usually women that are victims of this “abuse.”

    After writing the above I recognize those must be your long-held “suspicions,” and that you are probably beyond truly understanding the  comprehensive idiocies of that perspective, not to mention the destructive perpetuation of these kinds of gender myths for everyone including your children. Shame a writer with your audience isn’t really interested in educating himself on his own subject matter. Subtract one reader.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Well Martin, if my one post so offends you that everything I’ve done prior loses its value, goodbye. I suggest you are the one being naive. NEVER did I say that every man wants sex with every woman. ALL I assert – and you must have gone to grad school, I assume – is that men have stronger urges in that department. Most men. Not all men. I suppose you also would take objection to my article about PC lies: http://www.brucesallan.com/2012/01/21/the-most-egregious-politically-correct-lies/. You might want to make it your LAST read of mine…Ever wonder why there are “Women’s Studies” departments and NO “Men’s Studies?” It’s because of PC thinking, like yours! 

      Other people care to weigh in!?

      • http://www.amberrisme.com Amberr Meadows

        Bruce, you are awesome. That is all.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Thx Amberr. I welcome disagreement…but smart and respectful disagreement – you know, like they do in politics!

  • http://twitter.com/LaurenHug Lauren Hug

    What a thought-provoking article. Given that I am currently concerned about the marriages of two friends (one the victim of an opposite-sex “friendship” gone haywire, the other a participant in an opposite-sex “friendship” that appears to be going haywire), this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

    I think the appropriateness or healthiness of opposite-sex friendships depends entirely on keeping priorities straight. If a member of such a friendship ever (even for a second) feels the need to hide, lie about, or otherwise misrepresent the friendship to anyone (spouse, opposite-sex friend’s spouse, co-workers, neighbors, ANYONE) it’s heading into dangerous territory. Likewise, if the spouse of either member of an opposite-sex friendship expresses concern about the relationship, then the “friends” need to cool it. Whether the “friends” think the spouse is being ridiculous or suspicious or jealous or stupid, doesn’t matter. The marital relationship has to take precedence over the friendship! 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow Lauren, seems you’re living the dark side of this. I wonder what you would say to Martin who thinks I’m way off base? Do you think that men and women approach same-sex friendships the same? 

    • Angier56

      I have went threw a bad exprience this past year. I became very jelous of my husband female friend. she started texting him mulpi times a day and I told both of them to stop. Well I thought they did beacuse I did delete her from his contacts. I noticed this past year another name. first letter and last name. was driving me crazy. Yep it was her. he used her maiden name and her other initials. I don’t  belive that they are up to no good but it has hurt me deeply that he lied and hide this from me. well he thinks nothing of it. Their friends. what about our marriage what is more important his friend or wife. still trying to deal with this . Its hurts.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Your feelings are REAL…don’t let this sit. Deal with it with your husband! Seek help together, if necessary. This is NOT unusual…

  • http://twitter.com/dadvsspawn Dad Vs. Spawn

    My wife has friends who are men, I have friends who are women. I trust her and she trusts me. We are honest with one another. Neither of us has cheated on the other, and we don’t have any plans to. In other words, we are proof that you can have friends of the opposite sex.

    The only hurdles there really are, are the friends themselves. If a husband doesn’t trust his wife to meet my kids and I on a playdate, then I’m not going to push their boundaries. We have met lots of good people who feel the same way as us, and we are all friends with one another. I really, honestly have no intention of cheating on my wife. I don’t need to explain that to anyone. That’s what marriage is.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I appreciate your view, DvS…especially the hurdles you mentioned!

  • AmyMccTobin

    Wow. Great debate. I’ve actually considered this many times. One of my very closest friends is a man whom I’ve known for 15 years – far longer than I’ve had my boyfriend/daughter’s father in my life.  Because my friend and I live on opposite coasts we have primarily a phone relationship. This was an issue in the beginning of my relationship; I made a point to introduce my boyfriend to my friend over the  phone, and I ALWAYS talk to my male friend in front of my boyfriend if the call comes in.  

    Over time my boyfriend has become used to my male friends… and all of the ones who are close to us he knows and now they are his friends as well.  He has many girl friends, and they’ve all become my friends.  THAT is the issue: secrecy always equals betrayal, even if it is only emotional betrayal.
    Good for you Sharon for booting his rear end out.  Forgiveness once is noble. It doesn’t sound to me as if he’s even asked for it the 2nd time.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Yes, it is getting to be quite a debate Amy. Thanks for weighing in. 

  • Rmalove

    Yay! I can comment on the site. Deleting FB rant accordingly 😉

    To those of you who say that the “friend” wasn’t the problem-I agree. I know many will look at me funny, but easily 70% of my friends are guys. Some of whom I met AFTER I was married. A few of whom I’d dated before. We hang out together. We talk on the phone. We text. We email and Facebook. We run and hike and swim and camp together. We go to movies and book clubs together. Sometimes we go with our spouses. Sometimes we go alone, because there are hobbies we share that our spouses couldn’t possibly care less about if they tried.

    So. Yes, men and women can have a platonic relationship. Sharon’s husband didn’t err by hanging out with a “friend”, whether she was an ex or not. His mistake was keeping the relationship secret. Had he introduced her to Sharon, giving the two women a chance to get to know each other, and spent time with her while his wife was present rather than sneaking around, this situation could have ended very differently. It’s impossible to believe that the relationship was platonic when he felt the need to hide it…and, if they WERE just friends, the fact that he hid the relationship is incredibly disrespectful to both Sharon and the friend.

    Yep, I said it. If there WAS nothing to hide, by hiding it he disrespected both of them. And even though Sharon isn’t hearing it, his friend probably isn’t too happy with him right now either. That doesn’t mean he should have allowed her to complain about Sharon on FB. Or complained about Sharon to her in a way that made her feel that those things warranted being said.

    I’m not taking sides here. I’m not. But I’ve been the friend that was hidden and lied about when there was nothing to hide because my male friend was afraid of his wife’s jealousy, and when I found out he’d been hiding it (which of course was after she found out) I was incredibly upset with both of them. So my takeaways here?

    1) There are three sides to every story. His side, her side, and the truth.
    2) Opposite sex friendships don’t ruin a marriage. Sneaking hiding and lying about them does. If there’s nothing to hide, don’t hide it.  If you feel you have to lie about it, you probably shouldn’t be there. And if the relationship IS truly platonic, in every way, and you still feel you have to hide it, perhaps it’s time to evaluate the role that jealousy is playing in your marriage.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Love and agree with your takeaways! 

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  • http://www.amberrisme.com Amberr Meadows

    Opposite sex friends is fine, but if sneakiness is involved, something is wrong with this picture. I would have kicked him to the curb, too. So not worth the drama.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Would it be so easy after kids and years of marriage, Amberr?

      • http://www.amberrisme.com Amberr Meadows

        Oh, no, it would be the hardest thing ever and probably involve many sleepless nights, but I’d push through it. It really seems like they were way more than friends. Maybe a lie detector test? Soooo complicated, all of it.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          We’ll “hear” what Sharon decides AND what her husband does or doesn’t do!

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  • Alyse

    I’ve thought about this subject ever since it went up. I wanted to answer honestly, but didn’t want to come off sounded like I think I’m all that, because I don’t. But to tell you the truth, I have never physically met a man,(exc. relatives), who just wanted to be friends. I’ve known guys who pretend, or might honestly start that way, but sooner or later they make a move. Based on my own experience I would say it doesn’t work. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks SO VERY MUCH for your honesty, Alyse! Meet Martin, above…he could learn a thing or two from you! Lol…

  • http://milaspage.com/ Mila Araujo

    Bruce, this is going to be an interesting dadchat! I happen to be (what feels like in the people i meet) an exception in thoughts on this. I know men and women can just be friends, BUT (and thats a huge BUT) I believe that this relies on the two people, their perceptions of relationships and sex – as well as how developed they are in what they need from relationships. To truthfully be able to just be friends with someone from the opposite sex, a few factors have to be in place, factors that beat attraction. Number 1, lets face it, there just might not be any attraction there…thats the easiest answer! 🙂  Lets not forget that attraction is a force that creates wars in man, so, this being said… if the potential for attraction is there, both people need to know each other well enough to respect each other and each others goals, and priorities. What does that mean? Well, if someone is in a committed relationship- it means they decided to be committed, right, we’ll assume here in a relationship that is exclusive. So the ‘friend” has to have enough respect for the other person to not go to inappropriate places. what creates that respect? Seeing what is best for them, and the person must realize that “they” are not best for the friend.Thats some pretty heavy friendship. If a friend sees an opportunity where they seem to be a better fit than the significant other – there is a whole field of problems that can arise!

    Another way it can work is if the friend is also friends with the significant other- respect for the significant other can often maintain the situation. So it requires a long standing friendship – one based in truth. Lets face it, new friends don’t have that off the bat, and thats why it can be dangerous – but spouses have to have faith in each other – have faith in the choices they have made

    No one ever knows the intention of another, I think thats why this is such an issue for people. In my experience I have lots of very good male friends, but the common ground for success there is 1. we have it out on the table, there is nothing else going on. 2. there is respect 3. if ever something else seems to be going on, it gets addressed & ended – or it just wont work>> That’s not friends, that turns into more. It takes a little more work sometimes, but isn’t that what friendship is built on?

    And – advice – if you find you are confiding in your “friend” more than your spouse, then you do have a problem, your significant other, your spouse etc, has to be the one who holds your greatest trust and comfort, otherwise, it IS a risk. 

    Can’t wait to see the convo on the stream thursday! 🙂

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Mila, you WIN the comment award for this column! I’m glad it struck a nerve and look forward to hearing more of your thoughts at #DadChat tomorrow night when THIS is the topic! Our friendship works, Mila, ’cause of Josepf…He’s BIGGER than me!

  • http://twitter.com/BetsyKCross Betsy Cross

    HA! My experience? Who wants a guy friend? I have been told by my girlfriends that I have NO filter, so I will end there! LOL!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Ha back at ya, BC! Come to #DadChat tomorrow and share that opinion! LOVE IT!

  • Alyse

    Hey it’s Alyse again, I commented on this the other day, but after talking to a male relative,I thought I would share his thoughts on the subject.I ask if he would thought it was okay for his fiance to still have male friends. He said yes, as long as he didn’t look like Johnny Depp, one of her faves, or if he did, but had a smokin’ hot girlfriend or wife, and was deeply in love with her. And of course getting together would include him also. lol

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      There seems to be a consensus that opposite sex friends might work – but it CANNOT be in secret!

  • http://www.mominmanagement.com/?p=2029 Daria @ Mom in Management

    Great post!  I agree that a one time fling is much less damaging than a long term emotional affair (even if it’s not physical), but I do believe opposite sex friends can exist.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      YOU are a RARE woman that agrees with me on that…

  • Heather

    For an alternative point of view, you may be interested in Dan Brennans work on opposite sex friendships:

    http://www.sacredunionssacredpassions.com/ 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      But, what do YOU think Heather?

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  • cyclic

    I have a similar issue with opposite sex friends in my current relationship. My boyfriend is a professor and he dated several of his students and tried to date other students. He was not much older than them so I was okay with it, however, once I moved in I was uncomfortable with many of these girls and felt that the professional work and personal life in this situation is too muddled. He hangs out in his office with these girls discussing their dating life and talking about issues we are having. Also I found a e-mail to one female student where he confessed how unprofessional he was and attempted to make plans one night with her while they were going away toa conference. He never he mentioned this girl to me before. There were others he texted and talked to behind my back. Now however he promises to stop, but it took me moving out and breaking up with him to do so and now I am worried that changing like this is impossible for him. I am not sure if I can ever be comfortable with him becoming friends with one of his students that is a young attractive female. He tells me that he wants to be their friend because he finds them so interesting, but I can’t find this appropriate. Am I being too jealous?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I don’t think you’re being too jealous at ALL! He must really win your trust back and STOP that sort of contact with his students – not only for you but for his professional career! He is playing with fire and crossing lines just NOT ALLOWED these days!

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