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Saturday, February 7, 2009

whaddaya think?

     One of the blogs that I read faithfully talked about this topic a while back, and the amount of passionate answers that showed up in black and white intrigued me. Everybody seemed to know the answer. Case closed.  And yet, not all of the answers were the same. Funny how that seems to happen.


      Here's the thing, in my business I have tons of different kinds of friends. Male and female, gay and straight, "ethnic" and white-bread American, religious and non...I truly enjoy the relationships that I experience with each person; I learn from them and have grown from them.

     Plus, a lot of them are just amazing amounts of fun. Not to mention kind, hilarious, and compassionate, to name a few other attributes. 

     Anyway, the hot debate was (and might always be) this:

         Can men and women be friends?

     Or do you think the issues of physical attraction, emotional closeness, etc. always get in the way? I am very interested in hearing your opinions on this, so please don't be shy. Also, if you have a system that you have established for setting up and keeping boundaries, feel free to share.

         I value your thoughts...

21 comments:

beingawesome said...

Honestly, I don't think there is one answer. I mean so many couples have such a different set of rules and lines not to cross. I mean in my case, I have a girlfriend who is extremely open-minded and it doesn't bother her if I say "Hey, that girl is really attractive!" However, in other relationships, if I had said that, I would be in the doghouse for at least a week.

So, at the end of the day, as long as you know where things stand in your relationship and know what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do, then things should be peachy.

Just my 2 pennies.

-Rob

jason said...

First of all, why is the font bigger on this post? Just curious.

Second, I think that men and women can be very close friends, even when one thinks the other is attractive or whatever, as long as the people are internal ethics and (assuming one is in a marriage) is honest about their feelings with their spouse. ("Hey, I do actually find so and so attractive so I wanted you to know that.")

I actually don't think it's that big of a deal. Being a "married guy" for so long, I think for many women I'm in the same category as brother or gay dude or whatever - a guy they can be good friends with and not have to worry about potential romantic fallout. And that's cool with me!

kathiek said...

I agree with Jason. I think men and women can be friends. I have a very good male friend (who is married, as I am). I think of him as another brother, in a way. I think you have to be smart about it, be pure in your heart and actions, and be a person of integrity.

Mom said...

I agree with everyone here that men and women can be good friends. However, as a counselor that deals often with marriage concerns, I have seen friendship easily move beyond that into romance because when you share things that are personal with another person you make a bond. If the things shared with the friend are not also shared with the spouse, then problems do occur. And so much depends on what the spouse thinks. The important thing is agreement between the people in the couple relationship like beingawesome said.
That said, I do have some very good man friends (I'm a woman). I don't share some things with them though because I like to reserve some of my thoughts only for my husband.

Interesting topic.

Anonymous said...

I believe that men and women can definitely be friends.
You need to know yourself and your own limitations. If you are secure in your relationship and they are secure, with open communication, I think that men and women can be great friends.
There is also something to be said about having emotional and physical boundaries, but that goes without saying.

i don't think that there is a quick answer because obviously some people can handle it and some people cannot.

I also agree with Lynn...
I don't ever think it is healthy to confide more in your friend than your spouse.

So, I agree with everyone so far.
sorry for being kinda redundant.

Jessica Latshaw said...

these are really great answers, guys! And I have to say--very different from the majority of the answers from the same debate but on a different blog.

A lot of them simply said No--that a male and female cannot be good friends without it becoming complicated with emotional ties and/or physical boundaries being compromised.

I think the whole being honest with your significant other IS extremely important. I have told Drew before, Hey--I am actually attracted to so-and-so, thinking that he would freak out and it would be horrible.

His response? Really? Okay. I don't expect you to be blind now that you are married; also, I know that you love me and chose ME to be your husband.

It was amazing how, after telling him about that and hearing his response, I actually felt really free and LESS attracted to that other person in the first place.

I also know that you really have to guard your heart. Affairs happen all the time, but most people don't begin by aiming for it.

I do however share meals with male friends--talk deeply with them, even, but it is all purely friendship/peer based. And, like you guys said--Drew knows about all of it. If he ever asked me NOT to hang out one-on-one with a certain person, then I wouldn't.

Thanks for posting--any other views out there?

Jessica Latshaw said...

oh and btw, jase-not sure why the font is bigger--it kept confusing me and I kept trying to edit and fix it till I finally gave up and just published it!

The Husband said...

I think it's fine for one to have friends of the opposite sex. However, I think that it is important that, if one is married, he or she is not getting a critical need met by that friend and not by his or her spouse. And no, sickos, I'm not talking about anything physical. :)

As someone who spends a good deal of time away from his wife, I do end up hanging out with other people a lot, some of them are of the female persuasion. The important thing is to maintain those boundaries. Especially if Jess and I are fighting or arguing about something.

Also it makes it much easier if you trust your spouse implicitly, as Jess and I do (otherwise this tour would be MUCH harder). If a husband and wife (or boyfriend and girlfriend) are consistently meeting each others needs and fulfilling what the other person is looking for in a relationship, the risk of someone causing them to stray is almost nil.

I mean . . . why buy milk when you own the cow, you know?

Jessica Latshaw said...

Agreed on most points, Drew. EXCEPT--

Me being a COW.

You owning that COW.

The Husband said...

Just manipulating a common phrase, love. Purely metaphoric.

Though, if you keep eating so many hamburgers . . . :)

Jessica Latshaw said...

ha.

the thing is, you shouldn't knock the hamburger--I DID eat one and my knee DOES feel better...

jason said...

I don't even understand the milk and cow metaphor as it refers to what we're talking about... but I don't think I want to, either.

peaj said...

blogger ate my earlier note, so I'll try again:

Boringly, I agree with everyone here. I find it difficult to even take the other side as a devil's advocate. I'm disturbed by the idea that men and women can't be friends, that there is something fundamentally different about a male/female relationship that means that it can't include friendship. I happen to think that friendship is a great basis for a marriage; if men and women can't be friends, then what is the marriage based on? Romance? What happens when that fades?

In some ways I think that pure male/female friendships outside of a marriage can actually strengthen a marriage, because then the marriage partner doesn't have to bear the weight of fulfilling every companionship desire of the spouse.

But it does depend. If my wife was feeling insecure, I would be sensitive to that. I also try to be smart about my friendships. For example, I don't get into deep conversations alone with a woman that is not my wife; I like to have other people, even my wife, nearby.

Mom said...

I wanted to add something here.....in my experience as a counselor, I have seen many people--men and women--cross over into affairs without realizing they were going down that lane. I have found people incredibly naive at how easy that is. People often don't see the signs that a relationship is heading in that direction until they are already in the strong current and then it is often too late. People often come to me after it's too late really wanting me to "bless" what is happening. Two things I've seen over and over again:

1. For women, it's not about sex or attraction. If a man is just kind, wants to listen, is compassionate and just seems to care, he then is very attractive and women then can slip into a relationship.

2. Women don't usually leave their marriage until there is a man on the sidelines. When a woman wants to leave her husband, the first question I ask is "who is the man?" I'm not usually wrong.

Mom said...

Oh, one other thing that is encouraging:

research has shown (that's a momism, isn't it?) that when there is an affair in a marriage, and the people decide to stay together and work on the marriage, the marriage usually is much better and stronger than other marriages that haven't had an affair.

Now, I'm not encouraging affairs....but it's just like God to work with disaster and bring the couple into a better place than before.

merry said...

I think when people say men and women can't be friends it is usually because those people can't be friends with the opposite sex or have been in a relationship that was wrecked by a "friend" of the opposite sex. I agree with everyone here.It is normal to find other people besides your spouse attractive on occasion but when you are honest about it with your spouse it takes the mystique out of it for some reason. The attraction loses power or at least that is what I have found. Also, yes, you should never tell the friend something that you haven't told your spouse and I think it is dangerous to spend too much time alone with one person of the opposite sex. That is what found to be true.

Jessica Latshaw said...

I love and appreciate all of your insight--thank you, dear friends! You are smart. Very smart.

Pop said...

Hilarious exchange re the cow. LOL indeed.

Michele said...

Ok, I'll be different. I don't think that men and women can generally be good friends. And I think it is because none of us is perfect and none of our relationships (marriages, etc) are perfect, and we live in a fallen world - all leading to possible trouble! There, I did it, I was different!

jason said...

But Michelle, I've been friends with tons of girls and I've only had affairs with 4 of them. How do you explain that?!!!

Jessica Latshaw said...

Aside from Jason's obvious blunders--do you really think that men and women shouldn't be friends, Michele? Or are you just playing devil's advocate?

Aren't you good friends with some gentlemen other than your husband?

Not being antagonistic, just would love to hear more on your thought process;-)