Someone recently asked me how you deal with friends of the opposite sex once you are in a serious relationship. I wrote an article a while back which discusses how I was in a relationship where the woman had problems with any interaction I had with other women. Regardless if the relationship was purely platonic, close friends, or work related, it was all an issue to her. The question made me think about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for relationships of the opposite sex when we are married or serious. Here are three important points to consider:
1. You Should Always Consider Your Mate’s Feelings
In my situation I mentioned above, her opinion was priority #1. The problem I had was that for me (and you have to make that distinction—what does or does not work for you), she had zero level of trust. It wasn’t my fault she couldn’t trust a man, it was left over baggage from how she was treated before. Although my example didn’t have a perfect ending in our relationship, it doesn’t change the fact that your mate’s opinion has to be your first priority when it comes to peers, friends, co-workers, any relationship with the opposite sex. You have to hear them and what they may have experienced in the past or learned growing up will impact their concerns. You have to discuss this topic and be on the same page on this going into marriage or it can become a problem after you are married.
2. Friends Don’t Sleep Together
We have to define what a friend is. If you look up the definition of friends on google, the first one that appears is: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. “Friends with benefits” is an oxymoron. By definition a friend is not a jump off or former jump off. In my experience those people are not friends. Once you have taken the relationship to a sexual level, you will notice unless you start dating and/or progressing in your relationship, you often lose the friendship outside of the bedroom you once had. Women will often tell men once they have sex it can’t go back to being like it was.
Both in the relationships around my life and my sessions with clients, sex changes the nature of the relationship. You need to be aware of that when you have ex bootie-calls around as “friends” when you’re trying to have a serious monogamous relationship. You’re not helping yourself or your relationship. You are unnecessarily tempting fate and it’s understandable why your mate doesn’t want that part of your past around their relationship.
3. If You Say He’s Just a Friend…Then Bring Him Around
We’ll thank Biz Markie for that line, but it’s real talk. You say he’s (or she’s) just a friend…so bring them around. If your friend of the opposite sex is just a friend, then there’s no reason they can’t interact with your mate. If you don’t bring them around purposefully, then you are giving the appearance of impropriety by being a little shady. Give your mate reasons to trust you!
4. Set Ground Rules for Your Relationship
Every relationship is different and exists with its own dynamics and set of ground rules the couple imposes. Each couple has to actually SET those ground rules. True friendships are important, but my wife’s happiness is most important in my life. If that means my single female friends have to be kept at a distance because that was the agreement for OUR specific relationship, then that’s what it means; it may be different for each couple. Honor the boundaries you set and by doing so you honor your mate.
BMWK – what are your tips on keeping friends of the opposite sex when you are married or a serious relationship?