Is it right for a married woman to hang out with a single male friend? Sure, intentions are pure, but what are the pros and cons, and how do you think husbands feel about it?
Many married women enjoy male friendships, and there is nothing wrong with it per se, but a better question to ask yourself is whether hanging out with a male friend is the best decision for the health and longevity of your marriage.
We’ve all had platonic friendships in the past, and some of us might still have those friendships. Some women grew up in a household full of brothers and are used to being surrounded by men, and some women work in an office full of men, so where do you draw the line when it comes to your marriage?
There aren’t any clear guidelines or rules about being friends with the opposite sex, but there are some things that you can consider to help preserve the health of your marriage.
Having a friendship means you bond over similar interests and you have a connection with that person. But having too much of a strong bond with another man can be risky because it could lead you to make bad decisions. For example, you could start comparing him to your husband and wonder whether he understands you better than your hubby does, which is when you enter dangerous waters.
The truth is, it’s far easier than you think to cross the line from platonic friendship into seemingly “harmless,” flirtatious behavior.
The truth is, it’s far easier than you think to cross the line from platonic friendship into seemingly “harmless,” flirtatious behavior. We see it all the time with people who have chemistry. First, it’s a cheeky text or email, then you meet for coffee, then you’re texting each other until all hours of the night. It’s emotionally cheating.
Research suggests that while we think we’re capable of being “just friends” with members of the opposite sex, the opportunity (or perceived opportunity) for “romance” is often lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce at the most inopportune moment.
More interestingly, men reported being more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. And women were blind to the mindset of their male friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. Of course, it can go the other way, but generally speaking, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends, and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.
Men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends, and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.
We also see examples of this in movies and TV shows. Think Just Friends, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Friends with Benefits, New Girl, When Harry Met Sally…Friends always seem to fall in love or develop feelings for each other.
Protecting Your Marriage
What can you do to protect your marriage so you don’t end up falling into weird love triangles?
1. Establish boundaries. Knowing how easy it is to cross the line, it’s smart to set some protective boundaries. Boundaries will look different for everyone, but a good one could be that you decide to not meet with male friends alone, that way you’re not putting yourself in situations where there could be temptation and you end up compromising your integrity.
2. Think about your husband. Most men aren’t okay with their wives hanging out with male friends, because men know what other men are like. But even if your husband says he’s cool with it, you have to think about how that would look on him and your marriage. Would your family and friends think it’s okay, or do you think it would look slightly disrespectful? You know what people can be like — they love speculating and gossiping — so why give them ammunition?
But even if your husband says he’s cool with it, you have to think about how that would look on him and your marriage.
3. What if the shoe were on the other foot? Finally, how would you feel if your husband were texting another woman and invited her out alone? What if she happened to be very attractive? Would it make you feel at ease if he said, “It’s purely platonic. We just enjoy hanging out.”? The other woman’s intentions could be pure, but then again, they might not be, so are you okay with him taking that risk?
Some people might argue that this is a trust issue, but it’s more than that. Of course, you trust yourself, but you have to think critically and handle these relationships wisely so you don’t fall victim to hidden pitfalls. If you value being in a loving, committed, and monogamous marriage that stands the test of time, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to reduce risks that could potentially harm your relationship.