Question: Can men and women be (platonic) friends? More specifically, can a married man be friends with a single woman? Best friends even? And what if he finds her attractive?
Just asking for a “friend”…
I’ve answered variations on this question over the years, and my answers have varied somewhat, too, but I think it all boils down to three components: 1) know yourself, 2) know your spouse, and 3) set yourself up to make good choices.
1) Know yourself
Have you been unfaithful to a partner in the past? Are you a flirty person? How about this one for a gut check: have you ever wished, even fleetingly, that you were with your platonic best friend, instead of with your spouse? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it doesn’t make you evil, or mean that your marriage is in trouble. But it does mean that you need to be extra vigilant. To that end, I think a close friendship with an attractive woman is going to be problematic.
Some “little problems could arise.” Yes. Yes they could. And they ain’t even married.
2) Know your spouse
If this relationship makes your other half feel uncomfortable, well, I can’t say I blame her. She likely can tell that you’re attracted to this woman; even if you’re on your best behavior, it’s pretty easy to read your spouse, and women especially are adept at this. I do believe that men and women can be friends, but the situation you’re describing: a single woman with a close personal connection to a married man who finds her attractive…you’re asking a lot of your spouse. If she’s not down with it, if it’s causing a rift, then you need to step back from that friendship. Your first priority is your marriage.
Platonic besties gone bad.
3) Set yourself up to make good choices
If you do maintain a close friendship with this woman, you should avoid putting yourself in bad positions that will make it more likely that something inappropriate will occur. Don’t drink with her. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions but the slip n’ slide to hell is lubed with 2-for-1 margaritas. Don’t go to her home. No need to be alone in a private place.
Finally, make sure you are being honest with yourself. Do you want to be, or are you, besties with this woman because she understands you, because you share similar interests, because you’ve had comparable life experiences or backgrounds? Does she provide you with support and companionship? And is she truly the only friend you have who does all this for you? Or…or…is it sort of exciting to experience emotional intimacy with someone who is forbidden. That is, is there something appealing about technically not doing anything wrong, but getting as close as you can to a hot woman without actually cheating. Think about it.
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