Can married people of opposite genders be friends?|
This is a question I've thought a lot about as I wrote this novel. I personally have never had a close male friend since getting married, so it's not a personal issue. I have male friends--other writers, book people, spouses of friends, friends from high school. We email, we have lunch or dinner (in groups usually), we chat on the phone. But no one close enough to consider a confidant or best friend. My motivation for writing this story was simply my interest in the clash of two different people who find a common friendship.
One thing I've loved is whenever I mention to people the premise of this novel, opinions fly. At least a dozen times during the writing period, I was privy to passionate conversation where a group of women debated this question. How would they feel if their husbands had a close woman friend? What would happen if they had a close male friend? Where are the lines?
Some believe that it's absolutely not possible and is way too risky. Some believe that it's completely okay and in fact have successfully kept both spouse and friend for years. And there are a thousand opinions in-between. My hope and delight in this book is that it might spark similar conversations everywhere. In no way do I intend for this novel to answer that question definitively--this is the story of just one friendship and cannot explore every scenario. Ultimately, I think that question can only be answered by each couple in their own situation.
One conclusion I've come to personally is that infidelity is not just about sex, but about betrayal. The definition of betrayal will vary with each relationship. For example, a man may feel no problem having lunch alone with a female co-worker. But in my opinion, if his wife is uncomfortable with it, then it's a betrayal, and if his wife is fine with it, then it's not. Problems can arise when both husband and wife are not in agreement with what's okay. Even more trouble ensues when people outside the relationship judge the couple's choices by their own set of rules.
People who have experience with such a friendship outlined the following red flags, warning that such actions can lead to emotional and/or sexual affairs:
If you've had an experience with such a relationship and would like to share, please email me your thoughts and I'll post some of them here anonymously. [NOTE: I may edit what you send, meaning I may cut out pieces to keep it concise, but I won't change any words or intended meanings, and I won't include any names.]
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