Should There Be Opposite Sex Friendships In Marriage?
By Anubhav Srivastava (Register For His Workshop – Super Confidence For Super Success !)
Should you have close friends of the opposite sex when you are married or even in a very serious relationship?
This post is going to be a little controversial and frankly a little old fashioned. Quite a bit of people may not agree with this but I have come to the conclusion that it is not wise to continue to be extremely friendly with members of the opposite sex once you are in a serious relationship or married.
This article is written from a heterosexual point of view, but for readers who are gay, lesbian or bisexual, this applies to any friend of any gender who can create issues in your relationship. In a nutshell, while in a serious relationship, don’t let anyone get close to you who has potential to lead to infidelity in your relationship or cause major jealousy.
When you are single, you live life the way you want without regrets, but when you are not and especially when you are married, you need to take into consideration the desires and wishes of your partner and they also need to do the same for you. If personal desires are the only thing that matter for both of you or even one of you, you are jeopardizing your relationship.
Even if there is nothing going on, the amount of jealousy and conflict it creates is not worth it. Even if you are someone who acts like it is cool, sooner or later there will be resentment and jealousy.
The only event under which this is somewhat tolerable is if the same rules apply for both the parties. And even if that is done, that doesn’t guarantee that one or both the people do not feel upset about it. After all, it is a natural human tendency for people to say “ it’s my choice” when it comes to their decisions but having problems with their partners’ choices!
The second issue with this is that people might be happy and think they have their freedom to do what they want, without jealousy, but eventually what happens is that they start sharing more with their new friends than they do with their own partner. And that’s when cracks start to develop.
In many of the cases once you begin to open up more with your friends of the opposite sex, you start becoming more emotionally involved with than you are with your partner. Is there any wonder, that in today’s world, once couples have been dating for a while, they spend more times with their smart phones than they do with each other, even when they are next to each other! Why? Obviously because they feel their emotional needs are fulfilled better by someone else than they are with their own partner. No wonder these sort of relations crumble relatively quickly.
By the time you realize there is a problem one or both the people are already more emotionally involved with their friend than they are with the other and unless that problem is dealt with an iron fist immediately, sooner or later a break up is going to happen OR you two may continue to be in a relationship or married but the relationship itself may not feel too different from a breakup.
Here are some of the common concerns that people will raise and my answers to that. Mind you, while I use the word “you”, this applies to your partner as well. One sided effort only leads to resentment. So if they are not doing the same, then you are not expected to place restrictions on yourself either. Also, ultimately I believe these are guidelines that are useful in most relationships. But If you truly believe your relationship will not benefit from these kinds of restrictions, you can choose to ignore them.
1) A man and a woman can be just friends. We don’t see each other that way.
Possible, but is it worth the stress in a serious relationship or marriage? At the end of the day you have to decide who is more important to you, your partner or your friend. Secondly, just because you are not attracted to your friend does not mean they are not attracted to you. They might develop and emotional attachment and this might create problems in your relationship, while you go around telling your partner “Oh he or she is just a friend!”
If you relationship matters to you then any friend who clearly likes you or has been dropping signals that they do, needs to be cut off, regardless of whether or not you like them. In the long run, these sort of friends are going to lead to trouble. And certainly you have the right to expect the same from your partner if they have any friends like them. If they don’t intend to do the same in return, then it’s up to you what you want to do.
2) I can’t stop talking to members of the opposite sex, it’s not practical.
Fair enough. In today’s world you simply can’t make professional progress at your job or your business if you choose to not even talk to people of the opposite sex for the sake of your partner. So certainly, this does not mean you stop interacting with members of the opposite sex. Interact with them as much as is required on a professional level, but don’t give them an inch of space when it comes to your personal boundaries where you start engaging in small talk or start discussing your personal life.
The moment things go the informal route, you are inviting trouble. As mentioned previously, you may not be interested in that person but they may consider your informal conversations as a sign of interest. Be polite but maintain your distance so that no wrong signals are sent to the other person and you don’t allow the the risk of an emotional attachment to develop.
3) But I can’t just abandon my old friends.
Fine, some friends are really worth it. If the friendship is quite old and you don’t want to let go of it totally, there are a certain things you need to consider. First you need to make sure that (and you have to be totally honest about it) that you and your friend have never showed any signs of interest in each other. It is extremely important that the friend should also not be interested in you. Because even one sided romantic interests have the chances to mess things up.
If that has indeed been the case then it is better to cease contact with your friend once your relationship becomes serious. Don’t play games by keeping them around as a potential option or shoulder to cry on when you and your partner fight. You are not only being unfair with your partner, you are also using your friend and giving them mixed signals yet again.
If your friend and you have known each other for a long time and neither of you have shown any interest in each other then you don’t have to cut things off, but make sure you keep them at a distance and make sure you keep your partner 100 percent informed about everything so that they don’t feel threatened or jealous.
4) But my friend and I care about each other so much
Now we are beginning to have problems. In this case you two should have been in a relationship with each other or married to each other instead of choosing someone else and giving everybody stress. If your partner matters more to you, then don’t play games with them or with your friend and completely cut off all contact.
But what if you genuinely love and care about your “friend” more than your partner? Here, the situation gets a little complicated and you need to decide what to do. If you care about your friend in a romantic way and they feel the same and you are not yet married yet, then it is better you stop doing injustice to your partner and call things off with them in order to begin a new relationship. This you can have a partner you will hopefully be happier with and you can let them go so that they can find a partner that they deserve.
But what if you are married?
If you are married and especially married with kids, stop. No friend is worth destroying your marriage over or ruining your children’s lives. Even if there is a mutual attraction, it just isn’t worth it. It’s only going to lead to hell for everyone. In today’s modern society we have become incredibly selfish.
We think the world revolves around us and we should quit everything that is not in alignment with our desires. To a certain you do need to take a selfish approach, in order to make sure you are not being used but you also need to be considerate of others, especially your immediate family members, most importantly your children.
Now let’s say if you don’t have kids but are married, then again you should ideally consider the fact that marriage is meant to be a union that is supposed to last life long. If you have entered a union willingly (even if it was an arranged marriage), you should honor that union. Now I am not the one to say that you should never give up on it, but breaking a marriage can be socially catastrophic. If you are facing tremendous torture, abuse and infidelity from your husband or wife, your life is being made hell and you are literally pushed to the point of no return, you can consider separating.
In most cases however, especially in western societies, people separate less for the reasons mentioned above and more because they have simply become bored. Guess what, if this is the reason you want to separate because you find life with your friend more exciting, go ahead and try it. After a year or two you will experience the same monotony and boredom with them. Monotony and boredom are a part of any relationship after a while, from time to time.
Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person
I read a very brilliant article by someone called Alain de Botton which was titled “Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person”
In that article he basically talks about why most of us end up marrying the wrong person, even if we willingly chose them ourselves. The reason isn’t that because the person themselves is wrong, but it is because the ideal person does not exist. Marry anyone (or be in a relationship with anyone for long) and you are going to discover things about them that maybe quite negative or you will discover habits that will make it hard for you to put up with them.
There will be times where you will be absolutely frustrated and even hate your partner from the core of your heart. But guess what, that’s okay because you are not perfect either and it is more than likely that your partner feels the same about you. They hate your habits as well.
Even if you break up with such a partner out of excitement, you are likely to again marry the wrong person because once you do get together with that other person you will realize that most of the times, after a certain period of time, the same problems present themselves. The new person will have a completely different set of habits that you dislike and that will make you frustrated and hate them in whole new different way!
There is no perfect person out there. If you are not married yet, give it time and think over who is it that you can tolerate (that’s right, tolerate!) the most over the long run. If you don’t see a future with your current girlfriend or boyfriend then leave while there is still time. But don’t play emotional games with them or others. Don’t fool them or their family into believing you plan to marry them while you look for options elsewhere. Be straight forward, firm and courageous. End it like a real man or woman.
But if you are married and you are not facing infidelity or extreme abuse or a behavior that’s not acceptable to you under any circumstances, then learn to love, live with and tolerate the person you ended up marrying, because they are doing the same! Give each other space when you are upset with each other, but if you want the marriage to last, make sure a third person never fills that space!
About the Author
Anubhav Srivastava is an author, speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields. It has been seen by over 1 Million People on Youtube. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
For one on one consulting or a motivational workshop at your organization please email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to write a guest blog post on Anubhavsrivastava.com you contact me on the same email address.
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