There are people in this country who believe men who are married to women should only be friends with other men, and women married to men should only be friends with other women. It’s actually a startling number of people who feel this way. Many people I know and have read about who will speak openly against this belief…including myself…practically live this way, because *so many other people* hold this belief that our social lives just naturally shake themselves out like this.
Growing up, most of my friends were boys and men. Then my guy friends got married…most of them disappeared. The ones who stuck around? I have way more contact with their wives now than I do with them. Now, my friends are overwhelmingly women, and I value every one of those ladies. But I miss my guy friends sometimes. They aren’t less active in my life because J dictates that, or because we have fundamental lifestyle or moral disagreements and I chose to withdraw. It just…happened. I know it’s because of the expectation this belief system imposes, whether my guy friends and their wives agree with it or not (I honestly don’t think any of them actually do). But we’re all living by it anyway, because of societal constructs of what types of relationships men and women should have with one another. I don’t like it.
And some people take it really far. They’ve made rules or pledges or something that they won’t be alone with a person who they could potentially be attracted to, or they won’t be around other people they could form a potential romantic relationship with in the absence of their spouse (it’s particularly men who do this that I’ve read about). It has some pretty serious consequences, this choice to segregate yourself from all humans you could potentially have a romance with other than your spouse…
If married men who aren’t related to me in my life adhered to the philosophy that they could not spend any time with me without their wives present, because I was a threat to their marriage:
1. I would not have secured the full time job I worked for 8 years. My boss, the man who interviewed me, was a married man, and his wife wasn’t there for the interview.
2. I couldn’t have worked for about 4 of those 8 years at that full time job, because there was an extended time when my desk was in a pod of 4 desks where I was the only woman with 3 men. Actually, there was a time when I was in a double pod of desks where I was the only woman with 5 men…ALL of whom were married, and none of their wives worked on the same floor of the building.
3. I could never have lunch out with my friends at work, because, as I stated, all the guys I sat with were married, AND even if the other women working in our division were present, none of them were married to those guys, which would have made all of us multiple offenders against this policy.
4. I’d have next to no relationship with one of my longest lasting, closest friends, a man who READ AT MY WEDDING, because he was married and his wife can’t always make the same social engagements with me that he can…*including my wedding to J.*
I know I’m coming across pretty judgmental here, but frankly, the thought that other people you could ever potentially be attracted to are a threat to your marriage, therefore you can’t be with them at all without your spouse present doesn’t say much about the strength of your character or your marriage. And it sets up some underlying, faulty tenets that I’ve been fighting almost literally my entire life: that women are inherently untrustworthy…they are looking to break up marriages, and that relationships between men and women must be romantic/sexual. These things just are not true. They just aren’t.
I understand insecurity about important relationships in your life and things that jeopardize them. Shit, I’M an insecure person. I have serious trust issues. I admit that. But I trust J. And he trusts me. If we didn’t trust each other to be loyal, if we didn’t have a shared definition of what loyalty in the relationship means and trust each other to live by that without one another’s constant physical presence when dealing with other potential mates (based on the crudest standards…our sexualities align so we must want sex with each other), then why would we even have gotten married?
Personally, I suspect the people who purposely live by this policy use the mystical perils of ‘other women’ or ‘other men’ as some fabricated excuse for their own basest desires and penchant for disloyalty and bad decision making. Blame-throwers drive me mad. If a person can’t be trusted, or doesn’t trust THEMSELVES, to be around other humans that they could…maybe…potentially…form a connection beyond friendship with while they are in a committed relationship, then they shouldn’t be in a committed relationship.
Men and women can be friends without involving romance or sex.
Any two people whose sexualities align can be friends with each other without involving romance or sex. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve lived it happen.
Not every relationship between people with aligning sexualities is romantic and/or sexual in nature, and they aren’t desired or meant to be romantic and/or sexual in nature. These are facts. And I try to write solid friendships between people with aligning sexualities into all of my fiction.