Yes, You Can Remain Friends With The Opposite Sex After You Get Married
It seems as if one of the biggest and most interesting debates has been about the existence of a platonic friendship between a man and a woman. In fact, one of my favorite movie scenes comes from the film When Harry Met Sally…, and it touches on this very topic.
During this scene, Harry Burns, played by Billy Crystal, tells Sally Albright, played by Meg Ryan, that men and women can’t be friends. “Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can… This is an amendment to the earlier rule,” he said.
Every time I see that scene, the same question enters my head, “Can men and women just be friends?” My answer is always yes, of course, depending on the people involved and the situation. Now that I’m married, my thoughts on the matter are the same – I still believe that men and women can have a platonic relationship, even after getting married to other people.
I stumbled upon an article in The Huffington Post by Debra Macleod, couples mediator and author, titled “Why Opposite-Sex Friendships Will Destroy Your Marriage.” The direct and cynical title piqued my curiosity and I found that I disagreed with a few of Macleod’s statements, solely based on my personal experiences.
Macleod wrote that she understood that people have said and continue to say that their relationship with their opposite-sex friends should not change just because they got married. “They will say that only insecure people or weak marriages would shy away from opposite-sex friendships.” Macleod wrote. “In my opinion, this is a self-focused and naïve way of thinking.”
When my husband and I first started dating, we discussed the idea of having friends of the opposite sex, mainly acquiring them after already being in a relationship. We both agreed that there wasn’t a reason to fraternize with new friends (now that we are married, the same logic applies) of a different gender, unless there are special circumstances. For example, I work with majority of men on various projects. Each man has met my husband, and likewise, we’ve met his significant other or wife. In all cases, this has been a conscious effort on all of our parts to ensure that there are no blurred lines in our working relationship.
But Macleod pointed out that that there is a strong correlation between having friends of the opposite sex and indefinitely.
“Not only are opposite-sex friendships within marriage risky, they are a form of betrayal,” Macleod said. When a person gets married or enters into an exclusive committed relationship, that person expects to be his or her partner’s lover, closest and most intimate confidante, and priority.” She mentioned that eventually, the spouse might begin to leave the room to text and even share intimate details about their marriage to that specific friend.
I don’t think that having friends of the opposite sex will automatically lead to infidelity, but if a person is confiding in their friend about marital issues, that’s the beginning of a slippery slope and clearly should never happen.
I believe that maintaining boundaries with your friend, of a different gender, could help you retain that level of respect you should have for your marriage. When it comes to boundaries, I utilize the 9-to-9 rule. I never call or text my male friends between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. and they adhere to the same. That has been an unspoken rule, and fortunately, the friends that I keep around never have to be reminded of such. The same goes for my husband. I know his women friends very well and actually talk to them more than he does these days.
I would be remiss to say that Macleod’s claims are completely bogus, as we have all seen two friends of the opposite sex “hook up” or eventually enter into a committed relationship. In my opinion, if you don’t want any issues in your marriage, be smart about who you let in and keep in your life. If there are any signs that your friend is disrespecting your relationship, cut it off. No friendship is worth ruining your lifelong commitment.