Are Opposite Sex Friends Allowed in YOUR Relationship?

Category: Moral Question of the Week, Weekly Columns

friends

You’re married. You and your wife had opposite sex friends before you met and before you were married. Your wife has a gay male friend that she sees once or twice a year to go to a special event with. You have a female friend that you met on a date well before you met your wife. At that “tennis date,” you both looked at each other after and said, “Friends.” You never even kissed.

Is it alright for each spouse to have opposite sex friends? In the above scenario is there any difference between the wife having a gay male friend and the husband having a platonic heterosexual female friend?

Please leave your opinion in the comments section below.

NOTE: any resemblance to my life and any misuse of pronouns was simply an oversight – Honey? HONEY?

  • Sue Nador

    Hi Bruce. I’ve thought a lot about this topic. Here is one opinion piece, “Ghost of Girlfriends and Boyfriends Past”. Bottom line though (and I say this with 30 years of happily married street cred ) is that creating problems by unfounded jealousy is a poor strategy. Just discovered your site – pretty great! http://therelationshipdeal.com/2013/11/08/ghosts-of-girlfriends-and-boyfriends-past/

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

      Thx @suenador:disqus – do you like this new feature? Please come to #DadChat on Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET – it’s a great community of dads and moms, men and women!

  • Edna Myers

    I honestly feel that it depends on the couple and their depth of trust. Sadly, some people can’t get over what happened in the past and carry that forward. Forcing the past on the present. Constant turmoil for something the “present” didn’t do. Until that changes, how can a future happen?
    Shawn and I have friends of the opposite sex. The big RED FLAG would be if one refused to introduce the other to a friend of the opposite sex.

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

      That’s a GREAT “red flag” @ednamyers:disqus – hmmm, I haven’t met that “gay” friend! Should I be concerned!!??

      • Edna Myers

        The question is: Have you requested to meet the guy pal?

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

          No @ednamyers:disqus – because I trust my wife and I just don’t think that way – I’ve been blessed to NEVER display or feel jealousy! And, with one exception, every woman I’ve ever been with hasn’t been jealous either and the one exception is NOT my (present) wife!

          • Edna Myers

            KUDOS to you Bruce! If that could be like that across the board!

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

            I think I just got lucky @ednamyers:disqus – that “gene” just isn’t in me!

  • Josh Rueff

    I like your blog, Bruce! This is a good article, and a very interesting topic. I remember having this discussion with my wife early on in our relationship. We’ve been happily married for five years now (I know that might seem short to some folks, but we’re proud!) and though we both trust one another, we’ve always thought it wise to stay away from such relationships. We’re all about couples hanging out with couples, and having co-ed get-togethers though.

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

      Thanks for commenting @joshrueff:disqus – I’m just past five years, too (2nd marriage) and I’m equally proud. In our case, we were much older when we got married (the 2nd time) so there was a LOT of history. I don’t think denying our previous friendships makes sense…depends on the couple, obviously.

  • Chris Prince

    I’d say, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” or maybe it’s not good for the goose at all. In other words, a marriage is a very close bond. If the friend cannot be a friend of both, should they be a friend to one? Don’t you share everything else? It only makes sense to me that you share your friends or not have them no matter what gender or sexual orientation.

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

      Very interesting perspective @ChrisPrince – but don’t you think individuals in a couple can still be “individual?”

  • MimiBakerMN

    I think there are a lot of variables, Bruce. First, if someone dated someone, there was some sort of attraction to that person. I would be very uncomfortable if Fred went out, one on one with someone he’d dated (even if it was only once). A gay friend would be like a girl friend to a woman or a guy friend to a man. Neither is going to have an attraction to the other person. Fred and I know that we’re not going to be alone with someone of the opposite sex unless it’s business related and we both know about it. We want to protect our relationship and that’s the best way to do it so far for us.

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

      So I guess that Vegas trip we had planned is out of the question @bigguysmama:disqus??? Lol…

      • MimiBakerMN

        Yes, unless you’re gay. And I know your wife hasn’t dated my boyfriend. =)

  • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

    Being jealous can really hurt a relationship. We can’t control what anyone else does, so it makes no sense to worry about it. As long as you are committed to not sleeping with your opposite sex friends there is no problem having them.

    I was almost the only woman for 23 years when I was at IBM. In all that time with almost 100% male co-workers I only ever had an issue once. One co-worker’s wife actually called our manager to complain and ask that I not phone him about his mainframe account when the system was down. She was that jealous. May have been his fault because he actually believed that men and women can NOT be friends. I disagree.

    As co-workers in the field we ate out and sometimes did other things as friends. It was never an issue with anyone else’s wife. (I was surprised it was for her. We had met in person and I wasn’t interested in her husband in the least.) I played racquetball with married men all the time and their wives didn’t care.

    I was also the only single woman in the tiny county I moved into in Texas. Many of the wives were convinced I was going to steal their husbands. Eventually I told them in a town that small if I had slept with anyone’s husband they would know by now. Told them if they were wise they’d be nice to me because a more vindictive person might do something out of spite because they were so unfriendly. If they knew how many husbands I sent home and kept in line maybe they would have been nicer.

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

      Sounds like you were a pioneer at IBM @GrowMap:disqus – thx for the comment!

  • Mei

    I guess best not to be alone, bring along spouse!

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

      Ahhh, but isn’t that the entire point @disqus_mAYzV8PM6A:disqus ? Do you trust your spouse alone (with members of the opposite sex)?

      • MimiBakerMN

        I’m with @disqus_mAYzV8PM6A:disqus. Fred has work lunches with female co-workers, and his old company used to have parties after long meetings. He would go for about an hour and then head back to his hotel. Just not his scene and it’s one that typically lead to not very good things. That being said, if he were to come home and say, “hey honey, remember that gal I only dated once? Ran into her and asked her to lunch,” it’s just not a good set up for trust. What would be appropriate is to say, “honey, I just ran into so-and-so, would love you to come join us for lunch. If not, I’m not going to mention it to her.” THAT on the other hand builds trust. Also, scripture also tells us to avoid the appearance of “evil”. That’s something that’s also important to Fred and I. =) Long response, eh? HA!

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

          @bigguysmama:disqus – what you’re living in Singapore now? WHAT about ex-wives or girlfriends that pre-dated “you?” Not allowed to have contact without “you” there? In my opinion it’s more nuanced than that…

          • MimiBakerMN

            Yea, agreed, Bruce. He sees his ex during kid exchanges, and various events. That I don’t mind. There’s a gal he dated and we’ve talked about her, and he won’t see her alone. I think each situation can be handled on it’s own merit. Communication is the key. =)

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

            WE AGREE @bigguysmama:disqus (no surprise)…

  • David Weber

    I would imagine I would be more comfortable with my wife having the gay male friend than my wife would with me having the platonic female friend, with me and that friend being heterosexual. I am sure that I would feel jealous, however, with what I would imagine would be the emotional intimacy my wife would have with the gay male friend.

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

      I’m NOT that clear on your answer, David?

  • http://truerelationshipsthatlast.over-blog.com Dianne

    I think they can have those friends as long the wife and husband makes each other their own best friend. The lines only gets blurred when the wife and husband chooses to be closer to their supposedly gay friend and platonic heterosexual female friend.

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

      @dianne_sarah_kaye_p:disqus – I continue to believe it’s BEST to not bring same sex friends (especially of the same “persuasion”) into a relationship UNLESS they pre-existed!