Jamie asked a good question in her post this morning:
“Can people in a relationship have friends of the opposite sex?”
I told her that my response to this would be much too long for a comment and decided to make it into a post of my own. I gave her a short answer of: it depends.
I think it depends on the maturity level of the people in the relationship and the trust within the relationship.
A few years ago my best friend was a guy. At the time we were both single and there were no problems. Eventually we both ended up in relationships and it seemed that our SOs hated the idea that their partner had a friendship with a member of the opposite gender. My boyfriend at the time, who I’ll now refer to as “the idiot,” didn’t like me discussing our relationships with my best friend.
He thought that he had no right being involved and didn’t need to know. His girlfriend didn’t like me because I was a girl. I think she felt threatened, which was weird because my best friend lived 200+ miles away from me. It’s not like we could have a secret rendezvous every night of the week. Needless to say that friendship in which we invested two years fell apart. Out of respect for our partners we didn’t want to complicate our relationships any more. What we should have done is said “eff you” to our partners because if they really cared about us, they’d understand that our friendships are important and necessary, no matter the sex of the other person. Hindsight eh?
In my current relationship, it was odd to find out that the boyfriend had two very close girl friends. I felt threatened because they are closer to his age and actually lived in the same state as him. They knew him much longer than I did and had some history (not romantic). I soon learned one was married and that information washed over me like a sea of relief haha. The other I didn’t really know much about until recently, but I began reading her blog and I wish she was my best friend haha! She’s an incredible woman with an amazing sense of humor. I’d hate for these women to not be involved in the boyfriend’s life. Sure at first I had that suspicion, but once I got to know them, I don’t worry anymore. My best friend is a male and the boyfriend doesn’t seem to have a problem. Then again, he’s also in New York. So does distance play a role in all of this? Would it be different if my best friend were in Chicago? What if the boyfriend’s friend wasn’t married?
While I want to believe that two members of the opposite sex can be JUST friends, it’s hard. At some point or another one person usually wants more. Maybe not in all cases, but a majority of them…at least in my experience. I don’t think it would be easy to get into a friendship with somebody whom you had romantic interest in. As Emma said in reponse to Jamie, “you have to pick friendship.”
I’ll admit that I have trust issues ( who doesn’t these days?! ) If the boyfriend met some woman and began spending a lot of time with her, I think I’d get a little jealous. But again I have to ask, is it because I think he’ll cheat or because she’s actually there spending time with him and I’m not? The distance plays a huge role in this. I’m jealous of his male friends and co-workers because they are involved in his day-to-day life where as I’m 1,000 miles away.
I think it also depends on your trust issues and theirs. Are you both pretty good about including your SOs in outings with your friends? Do they know each other or are they hiding you like a secret? Are they lesbians or gay? Where is the threat? It’s a sticky subject and there are so many answers and what ifs that can be thrown out. Is there one simple yes or no answer? I honestly don’t know.
I don’t think it’s acceptable to be asked to give up your friendship because your SO doesn’t like it. Unless there is a good reason like said friend is interferring with the relationship by being inappropriate or diliberately making “moves.” If the boyfriend asked me to give up my friendship with Dan-o…I think I’d laugh. But I know that would never happen. So no worries.