Can Men & Women Be “Just Friends?”

I am completely irritated with a group of parents who I converse with online.

Somehow or another, we all got on the topic of our friendships and how they’ve changed now that we are all married with kids. I thought about it for a few minutes and I realized that the changes have been minimal. Sure I see my friends less than I used to, that’s a given. But I’m still close with just about all of them and I see them a fair amount. Even my friends without kids. Actually, I ESPECIALLY value the time I spend with my childless friends because it’s a nice escape.

And then someone made a comment that struck me as funny. She said she had a bunch of friends she used to hang out with before she was married, but doesn’t anymore. That’s not so odd until I learned the reason she doesn’t hang out with them is because most of her friends were guys, and she stopped hanging out with them “out of respect for her husband.”

HUH??

And from there, I learned that she wasn’t alone. In fact, most of the moms agreed with her and said it was totally inappropriate for them to hang out alone with a male friend if their husbands weren’t around. And vice versa. Some of them even said it is a rule in their marriage that neither of them spend any time alone with the opposite sex unless it is required for work, or the person is a family member.

Frankly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I have a ton of friends, both male and female. A lot of them are friends with MJ, but not all of them. And because MJ has never been much of a social butterfly and I very much am, I end up going out without her quite a bit. And sometimes, I hang out with female friends. Worse than that, I see no problem hanging out my friends alone or even staying over their house if I’ve had too much to drink and don’t want to drive home.

This was not received well by my fellow parents. They said that’s disrespectful. They said that’s providing “temptation to cheat.” They said that would absolutely not be tolerated under any circumstances. Some even admitted that they go through their husbands’ cell phones looking for odd text and picture messages, and one woman said she had a GPS tracking device put in her hubby’s phone so she could have the peace of mind to know where he is at all times.

All I have to say is I thank all things holy that MJ is so damned awesome. Because if she EVER tried to tell me who I could or couldn’t hang out with…well, I wouldn’t have married her. My friends are my friends, and that’s for a reason. And if I had a close female friend before I was married, there is no reason why I shouldn’t still be friends with her afterwards. 

And to me, marriage is largely based on trust. I will never cheat on MJ and I know she’ll never be unfaithful to me. Therefore I don’t care who she hangs out with and vice versa. If you don’t trust someone enough to feel that way, then what’s the point of getting married? If you need GPS tracking to keep tabs on your husband, then there are way deeper issues in the relationship that have to be dealt with.

But hey, maybe we’re the exception to the rule. Maybe most couples are so insecure that they can’t bear the thought of their husband/wife being alone for any amount of time with a person of the opposite sex. Granted, maybe the person in question has a history of cheating. I’m sure there are extenuating circumstances. But I ask you loyal readers, do you trust your significant other to spend time alone with female/male friends? Do you have a mutual rule or implicit understanding that that’s taboo?

Talk to me people.

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14 thoughts on “Can Men & Women Be “Just Friends?”

  1. The general rule for my wife and I is that we can be friends with whomever we want.

    That doesn’t stop her from getting jealous of my female friends, though.

  2. Well, I have a ‘friend’ who is in this situation. Her husband believes men and women CANNOT be friends because it is human nature for one to always be attracted to the other. Well this ‘friend’ has basically decided to do what she wants to do and be friends with whoever she wants to anyway. I think most people are like that group of women you were discussing. I wish more people thought like you…. I mean people are so worried about their husbands/wives cheating on them it almost makes it feel like they are being pushed to do it? If you are going to spy on your husband and drive him nuts, then he doesn’t have that much to lose anyway…

  3. I used to feel jealous of my husband’s female friends, but I recognized that it was my insecurity that made me feel that way. My husband is a stand up guy that will honor our marriage. He’s a good man and I trust him. I really don’t have a problem with him hanging out with other women as long as I feel he is still putting me first.

    When we first starting dating my husband did have a problem with me hanging out with my guy friends and giving them hugs (even the gay ones!), but it has changed over time as we’ve gotten to know each other and grew more in love. We have a lot of trust for each other.

    I would like to know how those woman’s husbands feel about the arrangement. I wonder if they are just going along with their wife’s wishes to keep the peace or if they really agree.

  4. I am an unmarried female who is happily single for now. I’ve had several boyfriends along the way that got mad at me when I didn’t get jealous or upset with them when they wanted to hang out with female friends. Those same guys got jealous over every man I was friends with, which was difficult because I work in a field that is dominated by men so I have a lot of male friends. (i do have plenty of female friends, though). I am an honorable person and expect any boyfriend or future husband to be the same, and I’m not into playing those kinds of games. So if he wants to hang out with a female friend then it’s fine with me. The only exception might be if she was the type that blatantly flirted with him, because then even though I’d likely trust him I’d just be pissed at her disrespect for me/our relationship. Several of my male friends are happily married and have wonderful wives who are not insecure or jealous that we hang out. These fabulous women also invite me to spend time with them together (cookouts, movies, etc.) One of them even calls me when she thinks her husband is upset to see if I can get him to open up–not with intention to call her back and report, but simply for his well-being. I appreciate these women and will be that kind of wife should I get married one day. I think these relationships where people are super paronoid, checking up on their spouse’s texts and e-mails and/or giving them hell over every little thing aren’t great relationships.

  5. My boyfriend adn I both have friends of the opposite gender that we hang out with on our own with out problems. My best and closest friend is a guy. We’ve known each other for 10 years and my boyfriend was aware of that friendship right from the beginning. For me it all boils down to trust. If a person is in fact doing things like going through phones, emails, and seriously gps devices?? there is obviously a lack of trust for what ever reason and that relationship needs to be evaluated. I have to wonder if the guy seven know the girls are doing that. I know mine would flip a lid if I ever did.

  6. I don’t keep tabs on my husband that way! His best friend is a girl and I will admit that at times I have been jealous of that. Not because I think that he will cheat on me but because of their closeness. I think I would still be a teensy bit jealous if she was a guy. I mean isn’t it normal to wish that you could be EVERYTHING to your spouse and be envious of the people who can give him/her what you can’t? On the other hand, I trust him and that’s really all that matters. I would never get a gps device put into his phone or tell him that he couldn’t be friends with someone! I don’t have time to stress about shit like that, haha.

    Also, growing up my friends were about 95% male and I still keep in touch with (and occasionally hang out with) some of them. My husband is rather antisocial as well and so I often meet up with friends without him.

    The only time I think there is a problem with a person being friends with someone of the opposite gender is if they can’t tell their significant other about that person. There’s always trouble if there are secrets!

    P.S. Sorry I’m always so long-winded! :)
    P.P.S. Your parenting groups suck, dude. ;)

  7. I keep close tabs on my husband. I want to know where he is. But he is the same. We just hang out with friends together. We don’t spend much time apart. But that is the way we like it.

  8. I think the biggest thing is “is your husband/wife friends also with the opposite gender friends” like my bf and i have a lot of mutual friends casue of growing up in same town but they are all genders. but it has never bothered me when he hangs out with them, but we hang out with them in groups. I dont care if he flirts at all. but as far as hanging out alone. If you are in a loving relationship then there is no reason why you would need to hang out with a person alone. Double date, or hae them at the house. thats fine, but i can not think of one reason that Bill and I would ever feel the need to hang out with a friend of the opposite gender alone. thats not the natural order of things. and its not for jealousy at all. im very secure but its just not what you do when your married. go in groups, its usually more fun anyway and make sure that the friend and the wife/husband know each other, because if you hide the friend then chances are your hiding something.

  9. Jesi, I completely disagree.

    The natural order of things? There’s no such thing. What’s natural for one person isn’t for another. So you’re saying that if I want to hang out with a female friend, who I’ve known since middle school, but MJ doesn’t want to come out that night, that I should blow off my friend until my wife agrees to come with me? That’s just nuts.

    Of course you can hang out alone with friends of the opposite sex if you’re married. As long as you’re not lying about who you’re spending time with or spending time with a man/woman who has made it known he/she likes you more than a friend, then there is no problem.

  10. After reading what i wrote, i think it came across wrong. if we are talkign about goign to dinner, or shopping, then yeah its perfectly fine, but i odnt agree with going out drinking to all hours of the night with a member of opposite sex. thats single people behavior, but dinner at a restaurant or something in order to catch up and see how theyve been doing, thats fine,. I agree with you that as long as the person is absolutely honest then it shouldnt be a big deal. But if he came to me and said im going to dinner with so and so, and oh youve never met her, then i would not be happy about it, especially since i have known him for 8 years. there is no one that he is freinds with that i dont know, but if it is a new coworker at work that he just met and i havent met her and all of a sudden they are going shopping and to dinner, yeah, thats not cool.

  11. Nah, I don’t see the difference at all. Whether I’m going out with a female friend of mine to dinner or whether we’re going to the bar to catch up and tie one on, it doesn’t matter. Drinking at a bar until closing is not just for single people.

    And if MJ said she was going out with a new co-worker and I didn’t feel like going…more power to her. I hope she has fun. I know she won’t ever cheat on me so what’s the difference?

  12. You could probably tell if there was an affair-emotional or physical if the activities were frequent and communication wasn’t clear…

    If he says he or she going out with so and so…then he or she is not hiding anything…in MOST cases…in the event that the spouse knows this person doesn’t mean they won’t cheat! Some people cheat KNOWING the spouse and get a thrill out of it!

    I think what Aaron is saying you HAVE to trust your spouse. If you don’t then it’s cheating your spouse from having friends or the social life he/she wants.

    As for me though, my husband rarely goes out, not just because he doesn’t have much time…but when he does I like to know with whom and where and how long (ish). If I am going to be home watching his kids and folding his underwear, you bet I have a right to know. But if he was going out with a group of friends and women were included, I’d still be a little jealous and I might be a bit insecure, but in the long run, I’d get over and do my BEST to not give him a hard time. I am a little insecure about that and I admit it, which helps me and him to get over it!

    I don’t get out really, and I don’t go out with guys at all…it’s not my thing. My hubby and I really enjoy each other’s company and spend most of our free time together as a family and going out to eat all of us, or sitting in front of the boob tube and a “Family Movie” as my 4 year old calls it. Or playing a game, or just window shopping…my husband doesn’t mind it because even though it’s not HIS first choice, he likes to makes us all happy. His number 1 priority. I am careful not to make him feel jealous as well…I don’t hide anything…My facebook account is always logged in and my email is always accessible…if it wasn’t…there would be some worry I bet. When it was just my oldest one when he was a baby, we had more time to go out individually …now we have two and time goes too fast…too, too fast. like your newest post. We skip all the worry and drama and cherish each momemnt together. If he wants to go out then be it…if I want to go out then be it…the question isn’t if there are men or women involved, it’s HOW much.

    We have friends that we share and we have friends we keep in contact with. Also, it helps when you have siblings that are married that are your age also. We spend a lot of time with them and it’s still a family event with fun and socializing! I have two peer sisters and a stepbrother, one is married and the other two in serious relationships. Easy to get a long, have a lot of fun and a ton in common…

    Okay, I wrote a book…sorry! ;)

  13. There is something very wrong with any relationship that doesn’t allow for friendship. I mean, unless you married a rutting animal who has no control over their hormones I think a little trust and perspective should be applied.

    I have male friends, he has female friends. Some are mutual, some aren’t. If I didn’t trust him I wouldn’t be with him.

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