Family Matters

Investigating how women can live more simply, deeply, and honestly so that they can find more in their lives.

Should a Married Woman Have a Man as Her Best Friend?

Many married women (and married men) insist that having a best friend of the opposite sex is perfectly healthy. In fact, they say that opposite sex friends make better friends because they bring different perspectives to the relationship.

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Men as best friends......

Sorry, but I do find the premises in this article hard to accept. As a woman, I have many good and dear friends who are women, and I have a particularly deep friendship with a male who happens to be gay, a close and very wonderful friendship, all aspects of which are shared between my husband and my friend's partner, a truly wonderful joy in all our lives, something most enriching. I also have deeply respectful friendships with several other men, quite honestly from the head up, and we value each other's joy in getting together in social circles and my husband has friends who are women!. It is a fearful world indeed if we have to consider not reaching out for the interesting differences in perspective seen through the eyes of the opposite sex through fear of causing marital problems.

This seems like the re-hash of the old statement that you cannot have a platonic relationship between the sexes. I've been around for some time, and don't agree with this at all, and I hope many other women reading the article will agree with me.

This piece of advice implies

This piece of advice implies that the married woman is straight. What if she's bisexual? Should she write all of her friends off entirely because they're equally threatening?
No wonder fewer and fewer people are getting married. When I read advice like this it makes me run to far away from what appears to be a rigid, one-size-fits-all institution.
You either trust someone or you don't. A person is either going to cheat or they won't. It could be their best friend or some random person they meet in the bar.

I disagree

I disagree with this. I am a single mom in a 4-year relationship, and my best friend is a man. My boyfriend is comfortable with him, and neither of us feel that our relationship suffers in any way. Also, my 8-yr-old sees that the bonds are different between all of us, but still healthy and supportive, as they should be.

Relationships are strained and tested in numerous ways, but it's when communication fails that problems become serious. As long as both friends are committed to the friendship, as well as each friend to their own romantic relationships, I think the bonds that are formed serve to strengthen each other. And I wish to imprint this on my daughter, as well.

You are an exception, usually

You are an exception, usually this isn't the outcome. Your boyfriend isn't a real man, honestly.

I agree, not a man

I agree, not a man

That's a POS comment and you need to get looser fitting underwear

"Not a real man, honestly" is the biggest POS comment I think I've ever read. Either you live under a rock, or you have blinders on. Maybe the relationship is an exception, but that certainly doesn't mean the boyfriend isn't a "real man". You need to wear looser underwear, or go commando. You've got something waaaaay too tight in your crotch area.

I have 2 issues with this

I have 2 issues with this article.

First is it's hetero-centric.
Second, it should also ask: Should a married man have a woman as his best friend?

Second.....

I think that is CLEARLY implied by the article....

Disagree

I have to disagree with this also. One of my best friends is of the opposite gender and she's married to a friend from high school. She doesn't tell me everything that goes on in their relationship, but I do provide a sort of stable pillar in her life besides her husband. I don't really see a problem with this as long as I (or anyone else) don't come between her and her husband.

DISAGREE TOO

Look, people are marrying older now. Oftentimes they have friendships with people of the opposite sex for YEARS before marrying. The formula you have laid out is not reality for so many these days. Society is changing and I feel like I have just read something appropriate for socializing in the 1950's. What about people who marry in older age? I married at age 48 and have a very good male friend that I met in my early 30's!! No way was I cutting him out of my life. Here is what you do: you tell your spouse about the presence of that other person in your life. You talk about it, like adults.

Can we get to a point in society where we can look beyond sex and see two people socializing for just for the sake of sharing a human, non sexual connection?

And as far as that 15 year old seeing Mommy having dinner with her friend - what can I say here. Is this not even possible? WOW. If Mommy is having dinner with her best friend Sam while Dad is at home, Dad probably knows about it. Don't blame societal divorce woes on people's close friendships - that is not what is breaking people up.

I have a somewhat precarious

I have a somewhat precarious situation. I divorced my wife 4 years ago due to her having an affair with our neighbor friend. I maintain custody of our two children and have since began a new relationship with a younger woman (she is now 21 and finishing up university, I am 34). We have been together for 3.5 years now and we all live together as a family. The kids even started to call her Mommy.

Here is where my issue lies, My girlfriend just came home from a three university trip to Greece where she has formed extremely close relationships with other students. One in particular, is another guy. This guy also has a girlfriend who was on the trip with them. She had expressed her concern that he was spending too much time with my girlfriend on the trip, however, they worked it out.

When my girfriend returned, she spent the car ride home incessantly texting all her friends from the trip, especially the new guy best friend. He had told her he missed her alot seeing her and talking with her, and it had only been 30 minutes. She replied the same to him. I happened to pick up her phone when he was texting again while she was asleep and my insecurity got the best of me and I read a very long thread between. Some of it made me suspicious, but I could have taken out of context.

She is currently have a very hard time adjusting back at home as this was her first time to let loose and party like a 21 year old. she is having a bit of separation anxiety from new friends as well, but the new guy friend has been there for and they continually text throughout the day and evening.

I finally had enough of what appeared to me to be beyond a platonic relationship. I confronted her about it and an argument ensued whereas she felt I did not want her to have any friends or go out discos, bars, etc.. with them and was trapping her at home.

She finally admitted that on the plane ride home she had gotten very drunk and was feeling very upset to be leaving her magical vacation and ended up daring the guy friend to kiss her. She said he refrained and told her that was not a good idea. She says nothing has happened between them and that they are indeed just new best friends.

We discussed it a while and came to the conclusion that they are just friends and I told her I would trust her and try to get used to her having a new guy best friend. I also texted him myself to apologize for thinking he had ill intentions and that I hoped he would care for her as a best friend would and leave it at that. He agreed that is all it was.

My girlfriend has a long history of having guy best friends with nothing ever coming of it. However, given what happened on the plane and the constant sharing of our home life with him, and his comforting texts telling her goodnight, should I be worried that she is indeed playing around behind my back?

Interesting....

There are many defenses here from people who are in that type of friendship.. NOT ONE from the spouse who's on the outside.

Maybe we can hear a heartfelt expession on how they feel about it?

BUT THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE

But isn't that what the two people in the marriage are supposed to be doing? Talking and revealing to each other about their friendships - both male and female? I have already done this with my husband. And then settled the issue between them and either disagree or agree, etc? The author comes from an outside perspective that it is wrong to have the these particular relationships with no mention of a couple working out the issue amongst themselves. For some it won't work, but for others, it will. But to take a position, this one sized-fits all, that mothers should not have friends of opposite sex seems backwards. Once you become a mother you are one for life - does that mean you never can have friends of the opposite sex once you give birth? Or does this only apply to married women who have minor children? This is a very curious article indeed and well worth questioning.

ROFL.women should just stay home

as far as possible and wear burquas when they are forced to step out.

LOL, really?

"Dr. Meeker is the most sought after expert on parenting relationship..."

don't you think that's a little delusional, doctor?

This is unscientific, this is an opinion piece masquerading as fact

I am a happily married man, one of my best friends is female.

I take issue with this article because it makes a number of assumptions which do not hold true.
There is an implicit assumption that a man and a woman will always find each other attractive on some level and this "adds danger".
This doesn't hold true. In my case my female friend and I were involved many years ago but moved past that and now see each other in a purely platonic way, more like brother and sister - the idea of being intimate with her feels just as wrong as it would with a sister.

"The temptation to be physical emerges. In same sex friendships between heterosexuals, natural boundaries exist preventing sexual intimacy from occurring."
You can't generalize like this. It depends on the individuals. Firstly you cannot assume that everyone fits in a box. What about heterosexuals who've occasionally had homosexual thoughts or feelings? And I don't believe there are any such natural boundaries. The natural boundary is the mutual respect for the institution of marriage and the fact that one or both of the friends are commited to another.

"Deep friendship leads to a level of sharing ... others are excluded from the conversations. When a woman shares intimate feelings ... a wedge forms between her and her husband. "
If this is true, then surely it is true regardless of the gender of the friend. In fact I know this to be true from personal experience. My wife has been equally troubled by knowing I have private emotional conversations with both male and female friends.

I think this is a simple reality of life. Having deep emotional friendships outside marriage can put a strain on the marriage. But does that mean we should avoid such friendships? No. To turn your back on your friends is to lose a part of who you are. You have to be open and honest with your partner and trust each other, and find a way to make it work.

In an article making such wild claims as this article does, a little evidence would not go amiss.

agree

I agree with this. I have seen many marriages fall apart over this issue. and am having the same trouble in my own marriage. maybe not everyone fits the discription..but I think it is playing wtih fire.

I think the article is spot

I think the article is spot on.

I am sure there are exceptions, and that it works for some of you,
but I have watched three marriages break up when these friendships go too far.

My wife's male friendship turned into an affair when he was
her comfort while we were experiencing some troubles that all marriages can experience.

I wonder how many of you who think that it is acceptable will still be together in 10 years.

Far longer than 10 years

My marriage has lasted over 20 years, and so has the marriage of my opposite-gender best-friend - a friendship that has lasted 27 years.

Relationships outside of the marriage that turn into something inappropriate aren't necessarily due to the friendship going wrong, it's because communication, love and respect in the marriage have gone awry. My friendship has been a support to my marriage, and mine to my friend's. It's made my marriage stronger because of that support. We know what the boundaries are, and the respect for the other, and our respective marriages, is deep. We have children (all in their teens) and they know about our friendship, and recognize it as a healthy part of our lives. Our spouses are a part of that friendship, and always have been.

The "bad" relationships are secretive - they're hidden from the spouses, and aren't supportive, they're destructive. Real friendships aren't secretive - they are known and obvious, and positive, and supporting. And that's true for same-gender or opposite-gender friendships. Healthy friendships create healthy marriages. Unhealthy ones can wreck a marriage - but again, that's true of same-gender or opposite-gender friendships.

This article is a piece of crap, in my opinion. It's expressed opinion is based in negativity and fear. Any advice based on such things is no better than a bad friendship - it's poisonous. Just because this person has "Doctor" in front of her name doesn't make her right....this is an opinion. Go seek some additional advice, and find one that bases it in positive factors rather than such negative ones.

snake in the grass

i agree with this article, i am currently in this situation. my bf's best male friend is away leaving his wife here in the states. my bf and his wife have been friends for a long time and guess she felt because of their innocent friendship that they could go on a week vacation and share a hotel room with two beds and it would be ok. i think a married woman has no buisness sharing a hotel room with another man, friend or not, especially not my bf. i feel left out and upset and insecure, i mean women can be dogs too.

agree

Now i understand why so many marriages break up.Why tie the knot?
Sounds like some of you still need the connection of the other sex after you get married. If your husband or wife doesnt mean anymore to you to put this kind of strain on either of you.I would pack my stuff and let him or her have there emotional relationship.Say what you want men always have sex on there mind when it comes to women. You can mask anything and call it what you want but you better be prepared to live with the results it might be more than you bargin for.A snake in the grass for sure.

Shallow viewpoint

A friend is a friend - opposite gender or same gender. Why have friends at all? Obviously, with your viewpoint, you shouldn't need any because the spouse is the be-all-end-all of relationships. I think that's preposterous. A great spouse is awesome (I have one!), but a great friend is awesome to have as well (and I have one of those too, and - OMG! - it's an opposite gender person!). What you're talking about is purely from the tired old "A guy only thinks about sex" bullshit that everyone subscribes to but really isn't all that true (if it was, guys would never get anything accomplished). The real factor is communication and respect with the spouses and equally positive communication and respect with the friend - opposite gender or same gender doesn't matter.

friendship and marriage

Any intimacy whatsoever with any person other than your spouse undermines the intimacy between you and your spouse. Have NO friends--that is right. NONE. This is clearly the way to cut the divorce rate. Now homosexuals are different. We can have friends who are not sexual. But as the author clearly indicates about the sexually driven heterosexuals: ANY two heteros of opposite gender will end up in bed!

WHAT A CROCK! What an absurd, formulaic way of thinking. You can keep anything as cheap and superficial and possessive as you describe marriage to be.

friendship and marriage

Any intimacy whatsoever with any person other than your spouse undermines the intimacy between you and your spouse. Have NO friends--that is right. NONE. This is clearly the way to cut the divorce rate. Now homosexuals are different. We can have friends who are not sexual. But as the author clearly indicates about the sexually driven heterosexuals: ANY two heteros of opposite gender will end up in bed!

WHAT A CROCK! What an absurd, formulaic way of thinking. You can keep anything as cheap and superficial and possessive as you describe marriage to be.

I agree whole hardheartedly

I agree whole hardheartedly with this for most cases. Your spouse should be your best friend! Your husband should be your best male best friend. Your wife should be your best female best friend. Mince gay best friends etx. When your best and closest person to you is not your spouse and member of the opposite sex your just asking for trouble. The thought always crosses the mind to see how far this kind of friendship can go which leads too affairs. I'm not saying guy and gals can't be friends. They just shouldn;t be best friends when married.

You're not getting it...

My spouse is most definitely my best friend. The "best of the best" so to speak. My opposite gender "best friend" is my best friend - 2nd to my spouse. You're confusing things somewhat. And if the "sexual curiosity" thought does cross the mind, it sure as hell doesn't have to be acted upon.

When a situation arises and the case is the way you are describing it - absolutely that's a problem. But that's not what is generally being said in this thread. The spouse is definitely #1 in the best friend department - but there can certainly be a close, dear "best friend" of the opposite gender that is a positive support to the marriage.

I can relate

My fiance is unwilling to let go of his best friend of 13 years who is a woman, now married. They haven't spoken in a while, but now she is on the verge of getting a divorce and confided in my fiance! It is frustrating to know that they have been best friends for so long and he feels it is completely appropriate to continue investing emotional energy into their relationship, while ours is still far from perfect. The way I see it, there are only so many hours in the day. A marriage (or any relationship) cannot remain stagnant, it is either moving forward or backward. If time is being taken away from mine and his emotional relationship while theirs is being fed, this is completely unacceptable and will not end well. I am hurt that he can't understand this, and if you take any advice from me, don't have friends of the opposite sex while in a marriage or close to marriage relationship.

have some trust

I disagree with this article completely! My best friend is male, we have been best friends since we were freshmen in high school and we are now in our 30's. What? Should we have stopped being friends after I got married? I don't think so. I do not share intimate details about my husband and mine life. My husband is also a best friend, soulmate, etc. to me. He is the love of my life. But there is no way, and he has never even asked me too, give up old friends because we are married.

This is absolutely absurd in my eyes. Maybe the divorce rate is so high because of all the untrustworthy people out there. Talk to your spouse, include him/her in your life with your BF, allow them to also become friends and live your life.

Fully agree

All of you who have "disagreed" to this very basic piece of advice are either leading alternative lifestyles, haven't had this happen to you, are single, divorced, gay, lesbian or some other disfunctional type of life that casts a deaf ear on the BASIC concept that this advice is really only TRULY applicable to monogamous marriages. When you are married, your spouse should be your best friend. Period. If he/she isn't, you are either one of those odd lifestyles mentioned above or you need to look closer at your marriage vows. NORMAL human nature for a woman and a man is to gravitate to the person that gives them the most undivided attention, love, respect and advocacy. NORMAL human nature is for the person to EVENTUALLY become more and more connected to that person. NORMAL human nature especially for a woman is to now become sexually attracted to that person. IF the husband is not doing his part, this inevitably happens. If a woman deeply loves, trusts and honors her husband, the "best" label would never be applied to a male friend in the first place. BUT if Mr. Hubby is failing, then THAT is almost ALWAYS when outside male friendship can and will become a "best friend" situation. Yes, there are many circumstances that many of you have stated that it "works fine" but those circumstances have CONDITIONS making them possible, Statements like, "My best friend is gay" or "my boyfriend doesn't mind" or "My best friend was my best friend before my husband" All are situations where you all are comparing apples to oranges. USUALLY from people that are predudiced against the article simply because it's "apple" description doesn't match your "orange" lifestyle. In otherwords, you're ignorant. In a normal, monogamous, straight, psychologically stable and loving relationship, a woman developing a "best friend" that is a male is a sign of a deeper problem within the marriage.

Sure is an awful lot of negativity here...

Sounds to me like you have some relationship issues, and aren't very mature in your viewpoint of what a healthy relationship is. Lots of opinion, and very little substance.

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Meg Meeker, MD, a pediatrician, is the author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know as well as Epidemic: How Teen Sex Is Killing Our Kids.

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