Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What I Think About--Men and Women Being Friends {Guest Post}

This is Sarah from The Munchkin and Little Miss and I'm guest blogging today so Reagan can write a paper for her Advanced Instructional Strategies class.  I think she is actually taking a nap or shopping for her trip to Vegas but whatever.
Today I'm Pouring My Heart out over an old question that has been very hurtful and confusing: Can Men and Women be Friends?

Society tells us that if men and women are friends it will ultimately end up in a sexual relationship. I don't believe this is true. I believe that men and women can be friends. I believe that there has to be honesty not only between the two friends but also honesty with the spouses of the friends. I am going to tell you my story and in turn you can tell me what you think.

I have been BEST friends with a guy for 15 years. "Sam" and I met at the bus stop when I was 12. He is 2 years older than me so we only had one year of Jr. High together before he went off to high school. We still remained friends and when I started high school he drove me to and from school until I got my license. He became a rock for me.  At one point during the school year I was was having a really hard day and I couldn't stop crying. My mom called him and asked him to come over. He just sat there with me while I cried on his shoulder. 
When "Sam" graduated, he went into the military and we drifted apart but still remained close. From then on we had one of those friendships where we could always pick up where we left off the last time we spoke. We could always count on each other to be there when it mattered most. 
He was the first person I called when I decided to divorce my first husband. I was the one friend that he warned his girlfriends about. We watched out for each other when it came to who we dated. He wanted my approval and I his. 
After my husband and I got married and I became pregnant with our first daughter, I met Sam's new girlfriend and I honestly liked her from the beginning. This was rare as there were only a few of his girlfriends that I liked. But this one was different. I could see how happy they were together and that's all I needed to be happy for him. I think the other thing too was that she never seemed to have an issue with Sam and I being friends.  Our friendship continued like normal. Talk every once in a while. Get together for dinner.  "Jill" asked me to be in their wedding after "Sam" proposed.

After the wedding Sam and I started hanging out more. You see, Jill was sick and after the wedding spent most of her time in bed or at work. Sam was becoming angry and needed someone to talk to. Since I have been the sick wife, or rather am the sick wife, I knew where Jill was coming from. 
As an outsider I was able to get Sam to see what life is like for Jill. I was able to help him get to a place where he wasn't angry with his wife and could go home and talk to her. 
During all of this my husband was well aware of the time I was spending with Sam. My husband understands how much Sam means to me as a friend. I was open and honest with him from the beginning and I thought Sam was being the same way with Jill. 
Little did I know. 
I later found out that Jill was not happy about us hanging out or that Sam talked to me about what was bothering him. So we decided to sit down and figure this all out like adults. I apologized to her because I thought she knew and was okay with us hanging out. 
After we had our talk we all agreed on a certain amount of time Sam and I could hang out. We also agreed that I wasn't the issue. The issue were her insecurities in her marriage. We ate dinner and the next day they watched our girls while we went to Denver. I thought everything would go back to normal. 

The following weekend Sam and I were supposed to hang out. It was the last time. Jill decided that she still didn't like us hanging out. By this time I just wanted her to make up her mind. She went from giving me a key to their house to not trusting me around her husband despite knowing that Sam and I have never even kissed!

The final straw was when she decided that she wasn't comfortable being around me in any setting. I told Sam I couldn't take it anymore.  He would always be my best friend but I needed to take a huge step back from all of his wife's drama.

I felt like I was being portrayed as a home wrecker, which I'm not. He needed to work on his marriage.

That was November 17, 2010 and we have not hung out since. There have been two instances when we have spoken since then and other than those two times there has been no communication but that's it!

There are days that I miss my friend, but this has given me new insight to the whole men and women being friends. 
What I think is that men and women can be friends.  However, marriage changes the dynamics of that friendship. I think that it's okay to hang out just the two of you as long as your being honest with yourself, your friend, and your spouse. 
But then I think of this experience and I don't know; maybe I am just deluded. Maybe all of this is a shining example that men and women can't be friends. 
Can men+women=friends?

What do you think?

18 comments:

  1. I agree! My husband and I are very close with another couple, however, I'm good friends with the husband and he is good friends with the wife! We have all been friends for 10 years and the thought of dating the other has never even crossed our minds.
    I am so sorry that you and your friend had this problem. Unfortunately, some people let their insecurities get the best of them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is absolutely not ok. You married your spouse saying you would share the best and worst of yourself with him, not your best friend (whether male or female). If you wanted to have that relationship with Sam then you should have married him. And Sam's wife shouldn't be the bad guy or labeled insecure for wanting her husband to share himslef with her, not another woman. Emotional cheating is just as real as sexual cheating. I don't mean to sound harsh. God designed us to crave that relationship with the opposite sex, but he designed for us to be married and share everything, mind and body, with the other.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I got married, I dropped all my guy friends, including one of my closest friends. I wanted my husband to know that he was the man in my life and he never had to worry about me pouring out my heart to another man. I believe it has made our relationship stronger and better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Matt and I have couple friends we are very close with; however, Matt does not have a rival in the "best friend" department. He is IT for me--period. I don't want to share my inner thoughts, secrets, etc., with anyone but him. And I want to give him the best of my time.

    We decided early on--because of past history--that we would not spend "alone" time with people of the opposite gender and that we would refrain for "too close" relationships just so there were never hurt feelings, doubts, or confusions.

    I guess what I can say is that YES men and women can be friends--my husband is my best friend. Period.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think that once you get married, it's important, for the sake of a healthy marriage, for your spouse to become your best friend. Sure, both my husband and I have friends of the opposite gender but they aren't our best friends by any means and when we do spend time with them, it's always in a setting where both of us and our spouses are included.

    I do have best friend relationships with some of my female friends but the ultimate BFF spot is always reserved for my husband. Having him be the one who I talk to/call/text/e-mail whenever there's any exciting or interesting or scary thing going on in my life continues to build and strengthen or our marriage on a daily basis. I want my husband to know me (and know that he knows me) far better than anyone else because he is the one who I've committed to spend the rest of my life with. Khale is the only person in this world who knows all my secrets, all my fears and all my hopes and goals in life.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it's hard for men and women to just be friends. Which is really hard for me b/c until I got married, almost all of my friends were guys. But, suddenly, it looked weird for me to hang out with them. And to make a new guy friend after being married? Nope. We have couple friends where I might get along with the husband better than I do the wife, but those aren't friendships apart from my husband.

    My best friend from college is a guy and we are still friends, but his wife doesn't like me. Even though I love my husband and wouldn't ever do anything with BFF, I can understand her feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think men and women CAN be friends. The problem with your situation is that the other woman, this "Jill" person, was uncomfortable and insecure enough to let it bother her. I'm sorry you lost a best friend because of it.

    For me, I've had close guy friends my whole life. Yes, some became boyfriends, but they were based on flirtations to begin with, and others, well, they're still my close friends. It's different, I guess, as I live in NC and they're in NYC, but one of them became really close w/my husband, and my hubby got him a job and then we all hung out, etc. He hasn't been with anyone that I've met, so that's likely different, as well, but my closest guy friend? He's married, three kids, and I love his wife. We've been great friends for YEARS, and if I were still in NYC we'd be hanging out, the four of us, the two of us, whatever. I honestly struggle when people say it cannot happen, but I also say to each their own. And wow, this is a strong topic for me, isn't it? ;) I may have to write my own post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm with Shell. I think friendships like the one you had with Sam is an anomaly. Most men, regardless of what is said, truly are interested in other ways.

    All the friendships with my male friends ended when I got married. I was ok with that, because I could understand that marriage had changed the dynamics since we were now in different places in life. There was one, that I sorely missed. He was like your sam, a shoulder I could cry on, and a man I could rely on. Unlike you two, we had kissed once, but there was nothing there. It was platonic, and I trusted him wholeheartedly. In college during a crisis, I had called him, and he had driven 6 hours to come be by my side for just a few hours before heading back out to be at his college.

    My grandmother always thought he and I would end up married. She really liked him. He called me on my birthday the first year we were married, and then our emails kept having more time in between them. We lost all touch until a few years ago. I let him know I'd had a baby, and he let me know he had gotten married. Then no more contact until Christmastime. I saw on his fb fan page (he's a photographer) that this past summer he had a little boy. He had named him the same name as my first child. I emailed him near Christmastime to congratulate him on Fatherhood. He said he had thought about me for years and wondered how I was doing. I thought it would be fantastic to skype. He asked for my username, and here we are in March, and not a peep.

    So all that to say, I do not think women and men can remain friends-especially if they are married. It will cause jealousy with the spouses, regardless of whether or not they say they are jealous.

    It also can be a breeding ground for an affair. Especially when a spouse is substituting their friend as their confidant. It develops heartstrings, and a level of intimacy that should be reserved for the spouse.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you all for your thoughts, they are truly appreciated. I think there are a few things I need to clear up...

    Anon- "Jill" was the one who said she was insecure, not me. As for the emotional cheating, I of all people understand it, but I know that I wasn't cheating on my husband in any form. Emotional cheating for me is wanting "more" and not acting on it. I don't think you were too harsh, and I appreciate your thoughts.

    Reagan & Sarah- I think using the word best is not the right word. Chris is my best friend, He is IT for me and I him. "Sam" is the equivalent to being a "best" female friend. Chris gets the best of me. We both made sure that anytime I spent with "Sam" didn't take away from our time together. Chris knows me better than anyone, but because "Sam" and I have a 15 year history, we do know each other pretty well. I think most importantly Chris knows that he is the only one for me. We've talked about and came to agreements with all of this and we've both stuck to those agreements.

    Shell- For me it's hard to understand her point of view because she kept changing it. Which is her right, it's her marriage. The other part that was hard, was I wanted to be her friend too. I went out of my way to be her friend.

    Andrea- Thanks, I am sorry too, to a degree. I'm glad that you have been able to maintain your friendships. You should blog about it :-)

    My Beautiful Life- I agree that it is an anomaly. I am sorry that you have lost your friendship. I can say that at least for my part I wasn't substituting my friend as my confidant. Chris will always hold that spot. I do know that Chris isn't the jealous type and that if there were issues he would tell me.

    Update: Since writing this post my views have changed some. I think that it was best that I walked away when I did. I feel that I was being used as a scapegoat so that "Sam" and "Jill" wouldn't have to deal with their marital issues. Which they both agreed was the underlying issue. Since telling "Sam" that I wasn't going to be in contact with him anymore, I do know that they have worked on some of their issues and things are better for them. Which makes me happy. Will things ever be the same for "Sam" and me? I don't think so, and I am ok with that. After all of this I can say, I do think men and women can be friends. But I think that once you are married it becomes the 4 of you hanging out, not just the two of you. I can also say that I appreciate the friendship I have with my husband so much more. Thanks again for all of your thoughts and feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sarah ---I hope writing this has helped you to grieve the friendship and become even more solid in your marriage.

    I do think your situation was a childhood friendship that was pure...and was a rarity. I honestly wouldn't be okay with Matt having a close friend that he hung out with that was female.

    Matt & I have been blessed with several "couple" friends where I feel close and fully trust the male in that friendship too. But we hang out with those people as couples only. Well...I hang out alone with the girls and he with the boys...but I wouldn't hang out alone with just the guy. I would just feel awkward and really wouldn't want to deepen that friendship without our spouses being a part of that. I actually take it into social media too. I don't email/txt/or private FB message any guys without carbon copying it to Matt or their wife. Not that everyone has to do it...but for me it is just another safeguard to protect my marriage.

    Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your story!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Shelly- writing this and several journal entries has helped to grieve my friendship. I think part of me wanted it to stay like the childhood friendship, but now there are just too many variables. It would be nice if we could be "couple" friends, but I don't think that is going to happen. I never even thought about those safeguards. Thanks for your thoughts and you're welcome.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for letting me be your guest blogger!

    ReplyDelete
  13. For me, it isn't so much about doubting that men and women can be "just friends". But that when there are problems, or problems develop later, in a marriage, women and men alike tend to seek comfort from someone they trust and comfort often makes them feel "things". When you think about it, if your marriage is happpy, who do you turn to when you need comfort? Your husband right? But what if you are unhappy? What if you are so unhappy and very impatient and you turn to your opposite sex friend who, at this point in time, seems like the perfect guy because your actual guy just proved he ISN'T perfect and he DOESN'T understand you? Then you feel understood by a man not your husband and those feelings of security and closeness often lead to other things. Because sex can also be comforting when your feeling unsteady,. I hope you understand what I am trying to say here.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Bella- I completely understand what you are saying. I never looked at it that way. Good point.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have three male best friends. One of course is my fiance, my rock, my world. The other two are friends I made at uni, one on the first day who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts and then carries on making me laugh and the other is a wonderful guy who I adore, he's also my fiance's friend so there is no awkwardness and his girlfriend is my friend so we get along fine.

    I think men and women can be friends, society will tell us that if a man is friends with you he wants in your pants but honestly, society is so f-ing stupid I can hardly stand it.
    Andrew has never hit on me, he was there for me when I was upset over a bad grade, he celebrated with me when the next one was much better, he celebrated my engagement and his girlfriend and I have watched films with the guys and my other house mates and there has been nothing but fun times. We've hung out in the pub alone and our partners have asked if we had fun. They trust us to be loyal and we'd never even think of being anything else.

    I feel so bad for you, you and your friend did nothing wrong yet she doesn't trust either of you which is not a good basis for a marriage. I hope for her sake she realises this before he calls it a day.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I do not mean to sound harsh but I am siding with Jill on this one

    When a man is pouring out his heart to another woman he isn't likely doing that with his wife. It isn't the threat of physical intimacy that bothers Jill. It is the emotional intimacy that the two of you have.

    My thought is that she was not trying to be a drama queen but doing her best to be a "good sport" and not deny you and Sam your friendship when all along she didn't like your closeness. She was perhaps denying her feelings to keep him happy even though doing so made her sad and anxious. When she was honest with both of them she flip-flopped.

    I don't think it is just my husband, I think it is many men, who only tell a story or share a moment once and then are done with it. Sam should be pouring out his heart to her not to you.

    I am sorry because I know this hurts you both but he is supposed to forsake all others in all ways not just sex. She needs to be his emotional support, you don't.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Bella said what I was trying to say but she said it better.

    ReplyDelete

{Reverse Psychology}
I DO NOT like comments. Whatever you do, don't leave me a comment about this post or your thoughts or any connections you have to what I wrote. Seriously, I don't care.
(Did that reverse psychology work???)