The Truth About Keeping Friends of the Opposite Sex Once You're Married

Adriana Velez | Dec 30, 2014 Love & Sex

friends at lunchOnce you're married or in a serious relationship, do you have to abandon all your friends of the opposite sex? Of course not! Most of us realize that's an unreasonable demand ... but being in a committed relationship does change things.

To find out how different couples draw the boundaries between love and friendship, we talked with several women and men in long-term relationships. Check out what they had to say below, then tell us: What are your rules for maintaining friendships outside of your marriage?

 

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  • Okay ... But I Don't Like It

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    "I will admit, the idea of my husband having close female friends doesn't please me," writer and mom Sasha Brown-Worsham confessed in a previous Stir post. "I'm a jealous person by nature. I wish I weren't, and I'm working on it, but I am." I think a lot of women can relate to that!

  • Were You Friends Before?

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    "I think any kind of platonic relationship that was okay before you were in a relationship should be fine while you're in a relationship," says D, currently single. "Trust isn't made by rules. It's made by communication." A few others we spoke with agreed that being in a relationship shouldn't change your friendships.

  • Just Facebook Friends

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    One woman who has been married for about a year says that she's always had friends of both genders. "But since I met my husband eight years ago, I've maintained platonic friendships with a handful of male friends, some even ex-boyfriends," she explains. "Most of them I've been friends with since I was a kid, and they're also in LTRs/married now. Most of our interaction is confined to Facebook, because they live out of state." She has one exception: "I'm still friends with my college ex, but neither of our spouses seems to love the idea of us all getting together, so at least for now, we just chat online occasionally."  

  • Know When to Dial It Back

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    "Friendships of either gender are a-okay -- for me and for the mister," says a woman married for 15 years. "We both have gay and straight friends of same and opposite gender and it's all good. That said, if I ever felt any kind of 'twinge' or 'inkling,' I would dial it back for a while. I'm guessing my husband would do the same. Doesn't happen very often, however, as we are good at picking friends."

    And yeah, we'd like to point out that we realize the entire question of having friends of the opposite sex is totally heteronormative. Being in a same-sex relationship, in fact, might make this question seem almost silly.

  • I Have a 'Work Husband'

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    "I confess to a work husband," says S, a married mother of one. "And my husband has a work wife." This is common for many couples, and joking about it seems to defuse any sexual tension.

    More from The Stir: 10 Signs You're Having an Emotional Affair

  • The More, the Merrier

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    "I want my significant other to have as many friendships as possible," says a woman in a long-term relationship. "It makes his life richer." And the couple believes this makes their life together richer, too.

  • Not So Close

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    "I don't know," says K, a man in a long-term relationship. "It would make me really uncomfortable if my girlfriend had a close male friend. I would worry about what the closeness would lead to, and whether it would compromise my relationship with her."

  • Use Your Intuition

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    "I feel like there is no hard and fast rule," says L, a married mom of two. "It's an intuitive process to navigate and define intimacy and loyalty." Other couples agree it takes this -- plus good communication and solid trust.

  • It's Tricky ...

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    "It's tricky," admits a married dad of one. "You can meet at Chipotle for lunch, but meeting at an Olive Garden for dinner is a huge no-no!" Okay, we think he's kidding around with us just a bit. But seriously, does it "feel" different to meet someone for lunch as opposed to dinner?

  • Don't Try to Hide Anything

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    A married father of three says that he doesn't try to hide friendships, and he makes sure friendships don't turn into affairs. "The first warning sign that your friendship might be turning into an affair is that you want to hide something from your partner," he explains. "If you don't want your partner to know that you had dinner with your old girlfriend, then you should think about where that friendship is headed. If you have no problems answering all of your partner's questions about the dinner, then things are probably fine."

  • It's About Trust

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    Image © Granger Wootz/Blend Images/Corbis

    "Most of my friends are female," says M, a married father of two. "It's about trust, I guess, and commitment to your partner/best friend." Doesn't it say something good about a guy if he's friends with a lot of women -- that he respects them and gets along well with them? What wife wouldn't want that?

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