Last weekend a friend from college came to town. A MALE friend.
Oh my gosh, right!
The tension in this story arises when it is revealed that I’m one of the weirdos who doesn’t think close, intimate opposite-sex friendships are appropriate once you’re married. My husband agrees, and so do the people who I asked to weigh in on this via text.
(Exceptions: traumatic, shared childhood experience… childhood friendships… anything established and decidedly non-romantic that happened before you got married).
Spoiler alert? We had dinner all together and a little alone time when JHubbs left early for a church event. Everything’s okay.
** Disclaimer: I think married people can totally be “Let’s grab beers and talk for hours” friends with a member of the opposite sex. I don’t think they can be “long, drawn-out phone calls, constant texting, and day trips together sans spouse” friends with a member of the opposite sex. Regardless of whether or not you would ever cheat, there’s still a level of emotional intimacy that you need to keep a lock on. Or, as Ashley says, “Guard your heart!”
Married People & Opposite Sex Friends
In this case, this hangout was a greenlight for me from the start.
It’s a friend I never dated or got drunk and smooched (two very separate categories in college, amiright?).
It’s also someone I’ve seen exactly none since college, so it’s not like it’s an ongoing, intimate acquaintance.
In this case, it was clearly a “Oh my gosh! It’s been years! How are you!” kind of beer moment (If I drank beer).
But to my husband? This was a capital-C “Conversation” about why I wanted to hang out alone with some dude I knew when I lived a very different life in college. (Past-Sarah was a very different person… but I’m grateful to her for getting me here!)
Forming Spousal Policies to Avoid Jealousy
The answer is obvious: every spousal set should agree on an opposite-sex friend policy. Maybe you’re down with sending your husband on a week-long vacation with female friends (uh…. I might reconsider that, though) or maybe neither of you are interested in investing in opposite sex relationships solo.
Either way, the agreement part is key. Keep talking about it until you have that.
Here’s a particularly sensible list of rules my friend uses in her (happy, 14-year long marriage):
- The spouse knows about the hangouts. Secrets? Boo!
- There’s no history of attraction or intimacy. Playing with dangerous, immature FI-YAH.
- Both spouses are allowed to hang out with former friends of the opposite sex, no double standards. Double standards stinks of controlling behavior, and that’s not a characteristic of a loving and healthy marriage.
So, of course it made me wonder: