wedding ringsA recent conversation in a CafeMom discussion group got me thinking: Would I feel comfortable with my husband having a straight, female friend? One who wasn't attached to a guy friend? Hmm. I feel that it's very, VERY rare that two straight people of the opposite gender are truly, 100 percent "just friends." There's more often than not some sort of complicated feelings harbored by at least one of them, during at least some part of the friendship. I have not just personal experience, but science on my side in the matter of whether platonic relationships truly exist

Yet, yet, and yet again -- in anticipation of all the comments I can imagine this post getting about what great guy friends you have and how you LOVE your husband's best friend who happens to look like Cameron Diaz ...

I do concede that there are always exceptions to the rule. For example, I'm not talking about when you and your husband, as a couple, make friends with another couple; or you make friends with your husband's guy friends; or he makes friends with your girlfriends. That's a horse of a different color, to quote that guy at the gate of the Emerald City.

I now count two men among my dearest friends, both of whom are among my husband's best friends. I spend a lot of time with these guys; we've all been through some major life stuff together, and my husband and daughter and I consider them family. I also adore my best friend's husband -- he's someone I could call on under any circumstances if I ever needed anything. But still, the relationship I have with these men isn't really independent of my coupledom, or my best friend herself; it's not like I'd ever hang out with these guys without our respective mates.

Then there are the friendships that get "grandfathered" in. It's one thing to meet and make a NEW friend of the opposite sex while in a relationship; it's another if you and your mate already had true opposite-sex friends when you met. When I met my now-husband, he had one pretty good, unattached female friend, and I couldn't have cared less. I grew up in a very liberal part of Northern California, where this sort of things is very common (too common). Ergo, on my part, I had a handful of guy "friends" -- but most of them were ex-boyfriends. (See previous note about liberal Northern California!)

My hubby, an old-fashioned guy from New Jersey in some respects, was understandably more than a little uncomfortable with this. I've come to agree: exes really don't make good friends (though of course there ARE EXCEPTIONS to this rule!), and over the years, I've stayed in close contact with the one guy who was really, always just a friend, and lost touch on purpose with the others. Or rather, would have lost touch completely, if not for Facebook, which brings us to a really gray area ...

What about online "friends"? My husband and I both have Facebook friends of the opposite sex; some are, indeed, exes, some are old high school pals, and still others are people we've met along the way through work or what have you. Probably most of them are not people it would be appropriate for us to spend time with in person (alone, anyway), but somehow it's okay that it's a connection through Facebook, probably because we trust each other.

Ultimately -- whether talking about Facebook pals or friends in real life -- I think it does come down to trust, and to making decisions based on circumstances. Sure, it's possible that my husband could meet a woman through, say, a work project, and find that she's a real kindred spirit. Platonically. But for me to feel okay with that, I'd have to meet her, spend time with her and my husband together, and feel totally comfortable with her intentions. Also, let's face it: it would help if she were about 75 and not as pretty as me!

Do you think it's acceptable for married people to have friends of the opposite sex?


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