Can Married People Have Platonic Friends of the Opposite Sex?
Some people think married people can’t have friends who are of the opposite gender. However, by establishing proper boundaries and communicating openly with their spouses, married people can have successful relationships with coworkers or friends that aren’t inappropriate. The key is for a married person to keep a relationship platonic from start to finish by following a few simple guidelines.
Remaining an Open Book
A married person should never try to hide emails and phone conversations they are having with friends of the opposite sex. If a married person feels like he or she has to leave the room to talk on the phone or delete email messages, it’s a red flag. Married people should never say or do anything that they wouldn’t want their spouse to hear or see. Sometimes people have friends of the same gender who want to talk privately. While, it’s fine to have that kind of intimacy with same-sex friends, it’s crossing a line when married people are that emotionally intimate with a person of the opposite sex other than their spouses.
Keeping it Professional
One scenario in which platonic relationships tend to thrive is when two people work or attend school together. Collaboration is an important component of successful work and school projects. While it’s appropriate to ask general questions about a married colleague or classmate’s spouse or children, it’s important not to get too personal. Some taboo topics include sex, in-laws, arguments with spouses and private or embarrassing information such as a bankruptcy or illness.
Avoiding Alone Time
While it’s fine to have conversations that no one else overhears, it’s not acceptable to spend time alone with a person of the opposite sex unless it’s in a professional setting and can’t be avoided. When friends of the opposite gender get together, it should be in a public setting. In most social situations, the friends’ spouses should be included. Spending too much alone time together in person can lead to physical temptations. One of the benefits of having platonic friends through social networking sites is that it takes the pheromones and physical attraction out of the equation.
Knowing What’s Off Limits
For most couples, there are some relationships that are off-limits. For example, most husbands don’t want their wives being friends with ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends, even if the relationship is now platonic. Also, it’s best to avoid becoming too close with a spouse’s relatives of the opposite sex, especially ones who are physically attractive. Even if a husband’s intentions with his sister-in-law are benign, too much attention given to the sister-in-law can lead to jealousy.
Overall, it’s best to use common sense when establishing a platonic friendship with a person of the opposite sex. Some spouses may become jealous when their mate spends time with any other person, not just heterosexual friends of the opposite gender. It’s critical for married people to communicate that their spouses are the most important relationships in their lives. Never undermine a husband or wife’s role by pitting their opinion or idea against that of a platonic friend. Finally, if a platonic friend says he or she wants to have a sexual affair, break off the friendship.
In terms of relationship bombs, confessing to your spouse about a secret relationship is one of the biggest. Unless you and your mate are already talking divorce court, a confession of this sort will severely undermine the stability of your marriage. While it does not have to be the end of the marriage, there is a high risk that it could be. If you have reached a point where a confession is unavoidable, you will want to do it with a few important considerations in mind.
Why do you want to confess?
This is a big question. You have already been finding ways to hide this from your spouse. What is the big deal to confess a secret relationship now? Secrets tend to become heavy to carry in a marriage. Are you driven to confess by guilt? Is it becoming too hard to keep the relationship secret? Do you anticipate the third party is going to call your spouse? If the relationship has ended, a confession may only serve to hurt your spouse and not really solve anything or remove the guilt. Deal with this question before deciding to confess.
Is discovery of the relationship inevitable?
If your reason for confessing is that you feel the walls closing in on you, it is better to not delay. Confronting your demons before they come looking for you is always the best option. Your spouse may be angry and the marriage may disintegrate, but your spouse will be better off hearing it from you than through the grapevine. Plan you speech carefully and keep it short and to the point.
How long has the relationship lasted, and is it ongoing?
Unless you are one of those people who attempts to have the best of two worlds, you should stop your affair before you confess it. If your plan is to leave your spouse and continue with the other person, you should be prepared to confess this along with your admission of an affair. Do it all in one conversation and move on. Have your suitcase packed and in the car before talking to your marriage partner.
If you ended the long-term relationship to try to keep the marriage, you will have an extremely bumpy road ahead and may not be successful. A one night stand or short fling is a lot easier to deal with than a full blown love affair that spans months or years. You cannot really justify any type of affair, but be prepared to attempt an explanation if it is asked for. Avoid blaming the affair on your partner. It was your choice to cheat regardless of the situation at home.
Do you want to stay married?
Have a sure answer to this question before starting your confession of a secret relationship. The answer to this question will set the stage for how much you are prepared to invest to repair the damage your affair has brought to your marriage. Your spouse will want to know this answer even before he or she can ask you the question. Give the answer in your confession.
What are you willing to do to make amends?
Determine the limits of your concessions before you start revealing your secret. If your spouse makes unreasonable demands, you will know already if you are willing to meet them. This should be a negotiation time. Unfortunately, your spouse holds all of the good bargaining chips.
If he or she wants to save the marriage, it will go a long way toward being able to negotiate your status in the relationship. Try to work with your spouse over the next few days to map out a strategy to rebuild the trust between you. This will probably mean that you will have to be willing to be far more accountable daily for where you go and what you do.
What is your ultimate reason for confessing to a secret relationship?
Be honest with yourself and your spouse. This question gets to the heart of why you had the affair, and why it is now important to tell your significant other about it. Is this an admission of weakness, stupidity, anger, lust, addiction, or some other reason? Confront your own issues to answer this question truthfully and openly. You are going to hurt another person deeply. The answer to this question will tell you why.
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“Dr. Spring possesses a remarkable combination of clarity, wisdom, spirit, and heart. This is an extremely helpful and healing book—a gift to us all.”
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A staggering number of couples in America—about 70 percent—have been affected by extramarital affairs. After the Affair is the only book to offer proven strategies for surviving the crisis and rebuilding the relationship. Written by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., a nationally known therapist and acknowledged expert on infidelity, this revised and updated version brings the groundbreaking classic into the 21st century, with a new section dealing with online affairs in cyberspace. For women who are struggling in their marriage—and for clinicians, psychology academics and readers fascinated by of popular psychology—this newly revised and updated edition of After the Affair is essential reading.
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