friends of the opposite sex .

Charlie - posted on 10/02/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )

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What's behind this impulse to deny male-female friendships—or to thwart them? Before the 20th century, when the chief obstacle to cross-sex friendship was a structurally unequal society, it's fairly obvious why non-romantic relationships between men and women made people uncomfortable: They put the lie to the idea that women have nothing to offer men outside of their traditional responsibilities (sex and child rearing). Michel de Montaigne cautioned in 1580 that women are not "firm enough to endure the strain of so tight and durable a knot" as friendship. If they really are "firm enough," though, who knows what else they might be capable of doing?



This conservative anxiety is still very much in evidence in certain parts of the world. A 2008 New York Times article on young Saudis from the nation's capital, Riyadh, notes that unmarried men cannot enter malls where women shop and that getting caught with an unrelated woman (in a completely innocent situation) can mean arrest and flogging. Even wedding ceremonies are separated by sex. Naturally a system exists to make weddings possible—arrangements between families, matchmakers—but there is no chance whatsoever for unrelated young men and women to meet as friends.



In the more level West, where the top-down barriers to friendship between the sexes have fallen away, the emphasis has shifted to undermining platonic relationships by suggesting that they're actually frustrated romances. Could the current objection to male-female friendship be an outgrowth of the older one? Maybe the "sex problem" is just another way of talking about how men and women are hopelessly different, hopelessly at odds.



Today it's no longer acceptable to suggest (publicly) that men and women aren't equal, but it's perfectly OK and even fashionable to state that we're equal but separate—that our brains work in fundamentally different ways, that we communicate differently, that we're metaphorically from different planets (Mars and Venus). The gender-war evangelists make men and women seem so far apart, so incompatible, you'd think that, if it weren't for the biological imperative to reproduce, men and women would want absolutely nothing to do with each other. This take on human relations serves as the basis for nearly every joke in the long-running TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, most Tyler Perry jokes, and maybe a significant percentage of all jokes. Maybe these theories are widespread because they're true—after all, men and women are not exactly the same; dissimilarities do exist. Or else we're drawn to them because they quietly justify lingering inequities.



The one variety of male-female friendship whose authenticity nobody questions, and which gets abundant screen time, does not rattle the gender-war thesis; I mean relationships between gay men and straight women. In reality, gay-straight friends come in all varieties (the equivalents of Brandon and Sue, Sean and Jody, Joel and Ruth). But in the popular imagination, the gay-male half of these relationships almost invariably takes on a feminine persona—he likes to shop and to gossip, like Stanford Blatch in Sex and the City. This isn't a friendship between a man and a woman, but a friendship between two people who both like guys. The gay man is just one of the girls.



When it comes to straight cross-sex friendships, such rationalizations are impossible. Here's a "regular" guy and a "regular" girl. Somehow they've overcome their natural differences and managed to build a platonic relationship.



It's possible that those who choose to enter into cross-sex friendships are less gendered to begin with—so it's not that the relationship encourages less stereotypical, less differentiated behavior, but is a result of it. Call it the Louisa May Alcott take—in the 1868-69 novel Little Women, Jo and Laurie have a platonic friendship, of sorts (Laurie proposes marriage but Jo rejects him). It's clear that they get along in large part because Jo isn't feminine—she's outspoken and rowdy—and because Laurie, in turn, isn't masculine: He's perceived as unmanly by his grandfather, not tough enough for the business world.



I know that, in my cross-sex friendships, the traits that supposedly make men and women so separate (excluding physical differences) are hardly in evidence. My friend Jeff preferred art class to gym class (he hyperventilated when he had to run a quarter mile our freshman year), wrote poetry about the girls he liked, and would tidy his room, including the closets, before they came over. He cries when he watches E.T.—or at least he did when we saw the 2002 rerelease in theaters. As for me: I don't watch sports; I have poor hand-eye coordination; I don't play video games. But I don't like to shop, and I confess I'm not entirely sure how to apply eyeliner. E.T. has never made me cry.



Did Jeff and I become friends because we don't fit gender typecasts to an unusual degree (the Alcott take), or did our friendship make us more androgynous? The answer probably comprises a bit of the former and a bit of the latter, but either way, our friendship led me, at least, to dismiss the whole Mars-Venus thing. As a greater percentage of men and women experience cross-sex friendships, it stands to reason that more people will come around to this point of view and that the more extreme versions of the gender-divide argument will fall out of favor.



What is your opinion of platonic friendships ?



Personally i am all for them , i have several guy friends , My fiance trusts me completely and so he should because i would NEVER stray just as i trust him completely with his female friends , one of whom he introduced me to when we first started dating as one of his best friends , i adore her and we talk often !



I find women tend to say things like " you never know what might happen ( with their husbands)"

or other comments with tones of mistrust and yet the very thought of accusing you the wife would have many outraged , sexist ? hypocritical ? YES .



Personally i think if you cannot trust your partner with people of the opposite sex then why are you with them ?

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Lindsay - posted on 10/04/2010

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We've never had any issues with either of us having friends with the opposite sex. For a long time, I was that female friend and he was that male friend. I have no reason not to trust him. We were strictly friends for about 2 years before we ever started dating. So I saw first hand how it was to be a friend with him while he was in a relationship and so did he. He always had nothing but respect for any of the girls he dated and all that did was make me have more respect for him. Now most of our friends are mutual regardless of who they were friends with first. It's a non issue for us.

Charlie - posted on 10/04/2010

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This is what i have never understood about " why put him in that situation " , ive heard this several times before .

For me i feel my partner is an adult who is capable of making the right choices , i trust his judgment in fact i trust him completley , yes there are women who have other intentions but i trust that he knows the right thing to do , i would expect , knowing him ,he would never befriend a woman like that .
To me the suggesstion that the males in our lives could find themselves in a "situation" gives me the impression that men in "situations" we are discussing are weak of mind , for me to think that of my partner would be insulting to him IMO.

Jocelyn - posted on 10/04/2010

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I totally trust my husband. And I trust his girl friend (lol he really only has one close friend that is a girl) She a fantastic woman, they met at his old work. We go to dinner at their house all the time, and she and her hubby and kids come to ours. Funnily enough, at their old work there was a rumor flying around that they were sleeping together because she brought him an ice cap one day :S can you say "high school" lol.
I also have some great guy friends, and DH doesn't have a problem with them at all; he actually befriended most of my guy friends (to the point that one of them was a groomsman!).
If you really trust your SO then having friends of the opposite sex shouldn't be a problem. Yes of course there will always be women who "want your man" but really, I was getting hit on at the bar tonight by a girl, so that's a moot point on the opposite-sex only front LOL.

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LaCi - posted on 10/05/2010

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My boyfriend isn't a social creature, so there aren't a lot of friends I have to deal with, and only a couple females, both of which I trust and don't feel threatened by.

It would be completely hypocritical for me to get angry or jealous of his rarely seen or heard from female friends when the vast majority of my friends are men. I've always preferred males to females. I think I may have gotten pissy about it when i was like 16, but it's very high school.

Tah - posted on 10/04/2010

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i dont think everyone is that way. If there were some lifelong friend in either of our lives then that would be one thing. There isn't and we dont develop new friendships with the opposite sex now that we are married, it's our choice it works for us. We are best friends and after almost 5 years of marriage it is still the same. We hang out with his best male friend and sometimes his wife and my family which is huge...the immediate family are 3 of my sisters, their husbands, my nephews, my brother his girlfriend etc. we do things at least once a month if not more. We just dont see the need.



let me just add that former female friends have contacted my husband on fb, he always either shows me the messages at home or forwards them to me. He tells them he is married and it goes from congratulations to i really miss you and i wonder why we never gave it a go, and are you happy????.....we laugh and decide what to type them together and they never take it too well. Like i said, we leave the drama out, my name is different now and you would have to know someone who is friends with me to know my married name and nickname, so they try to reach me via my family in philly.



Some women have other motives as well as men. The people you were friends with when you were gangly and had braces and they had the same when they are grown, live at the gym, have a degree and a good job. Sometimes they can go from being that funnny boy up the street to the man of your dreams, why let something small, like his wife, stop you..lol..

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My ex-husband and I were best friends for many years before we married. When we married, we did it because we thought it was just the next obvious step. I mean, who better to marry than your best friend, right? For us, wrong. It took us 8 years to figure out that we needed to get out before what was left of our friendship was gone completely. We had literally, THE nicest divorce I've ever personally heard of. He printed out the paperwork and we sat down together and calmly filled each page out over beers. When it came time to divide our common things, there were things that were obviously his, some that were obviously mine. When it came to the things we both wanted, we sat down and went item by item and played either high card-low card for it or 2 out of 3 heads or tails for it. The day we went to court to finalize the divorce, we went to dinner after. We remained friends for about 4 years after our divorce. Completely platonic friends. I found someone else (my current husband) and he dated. I even helped set him up on a few dates. We were the kind of friends who would call each other about recipes, if one saw something funny as (look at me trying to be an Aussie lol) on tv and wanted to share it with the other. We were even still able to hang out in social situations. He and my husband (my boyfriend at the time) even used to hang out and play video games together. Some, ok most, thought it was wierd. We thought we were evolved. Sadly, our friendship came to sort of an end when he met a girl who he got serious with who couldn't handle the thought of him being friends with an ex, especially an ex-wife. He tried everything to get her to see that there was nothing between us. We went to dinner at his house while I was pregnant with my son. He had us over a few times after Jacob was born, hoping that if she saw that I had moved on, that I wasn't in any way still hung up on him, she would be ok with it. She and I even talked once about it and she told me that it wasn't me, that she just thought it was wierd and unnatural. Whatever.

The reason I said all that is because I do believe that it is totally possible to be friends with the opposite sex. I think it's rare because of the ideas some of us allow to take root in our brains and in our hearts about what we "think" will happen. Or what "could" happen. I'm not saying that sometimes it can be inappropriate, like if you're sharing more intimate details about yourself with your "friend" than you are with your spouse or significant other....then yeah, there's an issue. But I do believe it's possible. How can we have come this far as a human race, for women to have fought so hard to have the rights we have now, and for all of humanity's other great accomplishments, only to allow such a backwards way of thinking into our lives?



Should we be careful and use our instincts when it comes to our partners being friends with the opposite sex? Most definitely. But should we be so overly suspicious right from the get-go that we immediately say "NO WAY"? I don't think so. To me, that is judging a book by its cover. My husband is friends with a few girls from high school and I have no problem with it. I guess what it boils down to is that I trust my husband. He can be friends with anyone he wants to and I trust his judgement.

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I trust my husband without any doubt. When we started dating, we all hung out with the same gang which was pretty much half girls and half guys... there were no issues then and still no issues now.

Some women will try to get your husband and some men will try to get the wife... doesn't mean everyone is that way.

Tah - posted on 10/04/2010

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let me start by saying that i trust my husband completely, now it's the next chick i don't trust. I know my husband wouldn't do anything to put what we have in trouble, but, why would i even put him in that situation. I had many guy friends growing up, my best friends were guys and to be honest i have been accused by guys i was in relationships of being a guy. I say things like, "it's not you it's me," and "i thought we were just going to try this friends with benefits thing, lets just see where this goes, it's not that i don't like you, i'm just not ready to for a relationship, and you deserve better than that, can i call you back."..and i am so serious.



When i met my husband we were friends, and became best friends and everyone else kinda faded away. I was already in a different state so the friends i had grown up with were still in Pa getting on with their lives and i only saw them when i would visit home. Women are scandalous. They play the helpless role, like they can't change a lock or a tire and goodness forbid they are having toruble at home, i see it all the time. My husband sees things like one guy will deploy and his best friend will start sleeping with his wife and by time he gets home his pics and clothes are packed up and the best friends things are there. My husband does have a issue with jealousy and i think it is funny, but truth is, he's all i need as far as a male friend, i tell him everything, and vice versa, we hang out together, and have plenty of time to miss each other when he goes to work overnight, for weeks and for months. Alot of people are looking for something and to them it's a game, can i get your man, your woman. I know that they would lose miserably, but why even play, who has time. I don't...

Nikki - posted on 10/03/2010

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I trust my husband 100% I just dont trust most other women and I have plenty of reason to, there have been many who have tried to destroy our relationship in the last eight years, women who have tried to convince him I was having an affair, women who act in distress, women who have nothing better to do with their time then try and get into his pants. From the day I met my husband I fell head over heels in love, he is absolutely gorgeous, I am not saying this just because I am his wife, every single one of my friends tells me all the time, everyone I introduce him to say things, I have even had him waiting for me at work and other coworkers gawk and talk about what they would do to him, not knowing who he is. So No I do not like him being friends with most women, but he fully understands why, before he was clueless, but when he started to realize what was going on he finally had enough of other women trying to play games and cause problems, he is very forthcoming and will let everyone know just how much he loves me and if they so happen to even flirt he tells them just how embarassing they are being thinking he will give them the time of day. He has his close friends from growing up and friends at work and I am fully fine with that.And all of his other friends are guys. I also have alot of guy friends from growing up, I played alot of sports , I was a tomboy, I never really got along with girls, nowadays I have all my mommy friends and coworkers and a few old gf's but thats it. Alot of my friends dont understand that being a mom is alot of work and that No I cant go out all the time and No my 16 month old son doesnt want to sit in a highchair for 2 hours while we go out to a restaurant or get my nails done, they just dont understand that my son is my priority not getting myself gussied up. They dont get it.... whereas my guy friends love to go to the park and play with my son come over for BBQs and watch sports, mostly with my hubby bc they are all his friends now too. so it just is much more suiting , but in the end its me and my hubby he is my best friend and I am his and thats whats important and we love eachother wholeheartedly

Angie - posted on 10/03/2010

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One of my best and closest friends is male. We have been friends yrs. before my hubby came into my life. My husband at first questioned what his intentions where but once he met him and actually talked to him I guess he saw that he was a good guy. I am really close with my husband so there is no reason for jealousy. When it comes to him though it is different. There are a bunch of girls that you can clearly see are just way to flirty. He is much more successful now so of course they take notice plus I kinda gave him a make over. He does have girls who are friends but I don't worry because I know my husband and these girls don't talk to him all that much. He knows my friends just like I know his friends so that helps. It also helps that he grew up with both his parents who always give him marital advise.

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It seems in my experience with the majority of women who have tried befriending my husband all had intentions of a sexual relationship with him and/or tried on some level. Maybe this experience with my husband has caused him to distrust that I, being woman, could possibly have any other intention of a male friendship? But when an old HS chum, who stayed w/us for a week when we graduated, wanted to take me out to dinner and catch up a few years back and my husband stayed home with our bub and I got to go out with him...if one of our old HS g/fs came through and wanted to go out w/him I wouldn't mind soo much, but the newbies all seem to have an alterior motive... So I agree w/Sharon, why mess w/it?

Petra - posted on 10/03/2010

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Holy smokes you can write, Loureen :-) Great post.

Same sex or opposite sex friendships are the same thing, in my eyes. Friends are very valuable - why try to stifle a relationship because the friend in question has boobs? It often happens that, in opposite sex friendships, one person may at least be open to hooking up if the opportunity arose, but if no one is out to make it happen, what's the problem? I honestly find it easier to make new friends with guys, though most of my long-term friendships are with women. My partner's two oldest, closest friends are women, both of whom I adore. I'm absolutely certain that when they go out together, without me, the girls are more interested in making sure that T makes it home to me, safe and sound, rather than tearing his pants off and having their way with him. I trust him to form friendships and maintain friendships (with men or women) on his own - and if he ever has any doubts about the earnestness of my male friends, I'm happy to discuss them with him and put his mind at ease. I think a lot of people project distrust onto others because of how they, themselves actually feel.

C. - posted on 10/03/2010

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I agree with your last statement. But I will say this.. With some of my husband's old (female) friends from highschool and the stories I've heard about them.. It's them I don't trust, not my husband. They've done too many things to get what they want, including damn near getting the guy so drunk he didn't know what hit him. Therefore if he's going to be around them, I like to be with him- and he understands that.



With that said, when we were first married, there was a woman who used to twist everything around and try to get my husband to send me back home b/c she was jealous that he wouldn't go over there anymore b/c we were here. He doesn't talk to them anymore b/c of the shit she started.

Stifler's - posted on 10/03/2010

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We both have platonic opposite sex friends, it's a non-issue. That's so true, there's no point in having a relationship with someone if you're worrying whether they are cheating at work, on the way home from work, on FB, wondering who they are texting. It would all be a bit exhausting and I wouldn't enjoy that. I just trust that what he says is true and he doesn't want or need to have sex with anyone else.

Jessica - posted on 10/03/2010

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Did Jeff and I become friends because we don't fit gender typecasts to an unusual degree

You and Jeff became friends because you connect on some level. I honestly think that it is nothing to do with society. I hang around with a lot of guys because I enjoy their company and they enjoy mine and that is all there is too it. I'm quite feminine, but definitely not girly. I have HUH-YOOGE breasts (that I like using to display my femininity in a classy but seductive manner lol), major curvage and wear make-up every day. I am confidant and out going around my friends and quite shy meeting new people. My best friend (a guy, Fraser) is in a long term relationship with the girl of his dreams, is a police officer, plays rugby and goes to almost every Chelsea game possible. We are polar opposites in these terms but get along great and have a lot of fun. Its what you put into the relationship that makes you friends.

[deleted account]

I have some great male friends, hubby has some female friends. Neither of us are jealous in the slightest. We trust each other and I have no interest in destroying my marriage, and hubby feels the same way.

Joanna - posted on 10/02/2010

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My husband is friends with a few women from work but doesn't see them outside of work functions, and he's friends with some of his male friends' girlfriends but doesn't see them outside of gettign together with said male friends.

I was the same way, had male friends through work, or was friendly with my couple girlfriends' boyfriends/husbands. I used to only have male friends when I was in my late teens/early 20's, because I hated the drama that came with the girls I knew. Unfortunately I started straying from having male friends because I had 3 of them confess they were in love with me after awhile and it just ruined it. I believe in platonic friendships and know they work, but my husband and I just don't really go out with friends of the opposite sex alone. No real reason, we just like the same-sex friends we have now.

Carolee - posted on 10/02/2010

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My husband's best friend is a woman. Her and I go and get our nails done together every two weeks. She comes over and we role-play (Star Wars role-playing game... kinda like Dungeons and Dragons) after Jason and I get the kids in bed. Now I'm just as good of friends with her as he is. I love her to death, and trust them completely.

Rosie - posted on 10/02/2010

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chad's 2 girlfriends-one of them is beyond hot, lol! and i admit i was a little jealous at first, but i realized that just cause she's hot doesn't mean shit. they go out to eat every now and then (by themselves) and other times she'll come over to our house-usually when we're having a gathering. other times we'll go out on double dates with her and her man.
the other friend he dated before we started dating. everyone at work knew how chad just wanted this girl. and yet, after all these years i know the dynamics of their relationship, and hwo it worked and how she works. i don't care if they do anything together either. although she moved to arizona 2 years ago, but still they talk often.
there was this one girl at his work that he started talking about a little. i was a little jealous at first, and tried to brush it off. we ran into her at walmart once and i could just tell that she wanted him. he didn't think so, but i was, and still am convinced. there was too much interaction going on between them for him being married, and me not being comfortable. he talked to her more than me. this was a MAJOR issue a few years back that almost broke our marriage up. so i do get both sides to this.

Charlie - posted on 10/02/2010

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There are a few women i do not trust at all having said that i trust Jamie not to act on anything , i think it comes down to personality really and i dont mind Jamie making new *girl* friends although he is a blokes , bloke i trust him to have the right judgment when it comes to people regardless of gender so i doubt he would befriend a person with bad intentions in the first place .

In my circle its not unusual for one of my male friends ( all of who are friends with Jamie too ) to come over home and hang out even if Jamie isnt home , we have a chat , they play with Coop , we watch a movie or beat each other up on PS3 and there is nothing strange about it at all not in my circle not in any circle in my community so i am always stunned and a little amused when people ( usually foreign ) act as if merely being in the same room as a guy alone is akin to cheating .

Rosie - posted on 10/02/2010

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my husband has a couple of girlfriends that i have NO problem with him seeing or doing things with. i think it's cause we all worked together, and i just know these girls, ya know? if someone NEW were to come along, i wouldn't like it because i wouldn't have the opportunity to know this woman and what her intentions are. i trust my husband, i don't trust her, and i don't need the added complication in our lives.

Sharon - posted on 10/02/2010

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I don't allow it because every time the woman has turned out to be a bitch. Telling tales from one of us to another. He doesn't allow because he's jealous. Frankly, I like tweaking his strings now& then just see him react.

Then there the situations taken out of context. Happenstance or sabotage? Why fk with it?

[deleted account]

I don't really have any male friends. All my friends at school were mainly girls and those are who I've kept in contact with. I'm friend's with my husband's friend James but we don't hang out just me and him. I don't have a problem with male female friendships at all! If you trust your husband/partner/wife then what's the problem? If you were that paranoid surely you wouldn't let them go to work because they may have female/male collegues?

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