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My Married Life: Can Men and Women Ever Really be Friends?

On the Nest boards this week, the ladies were talking about whether or not men and women can ever really be friends.  Most of the posters (all married women) were adamant, that they can. I agree and disagree. Here’s the deal. For both Jack and I, having close friends of the opposite sex has always been dicey. First, let’s just call it out -- there is always an element of sexual tension. Maybe no one is ever inappropriate (which does NOT describe the majority of my experiences) but it’s there. The only exception?  When the guy and I already shagged a million years ago -- so it’s totally demystified (but you know what? It’s still kind of there anyway). 

Maybe it’s just because Jack and I are both so unbelievably hot (I’m joking -- c’mon!) but at some point, every serious friendship that either of us has had with a member of the opposite sex comes to a head because said person was secretly (or not so secretly) into us. They either confessed it (awkward), got really touchy feely (creepy) or pulled a vanishing act to “get over it” (drama). In all cases, it sucked.


Am I saying that I can’t be friendly with members of the opposite sex? No. I can think of three or four men who I really enjoy hanging out with every time I see them -- but who I’d never call or hang out with alone -- without a damn good reason. There’s something about chatting on the phone with a man that gets a little weird for me. It feels flirty and boyfriendy.

Now, after saying all of that you should know that of course, I still have a few male friends who I get together with occasionally (all writers). I think Jack gets that it’s about career and shared dreams and whathaveyou, so he doesn’t question it (not that he ever would, we are totally self monitoring in that way). These friends of mine all have serious girlfriends or wives, which helps. But even then -- there’s still sexual tension. It’s long been established that nothing will ever come of it, but it’s there. Maintaining these friendships is a delicate dance. If we started hanging out too frequently, exchanging late-night phone calls or going for drinks alone -- the whole thing would go south  fast.

I’m sure this will infuriate lots of readers. But I’m just being completely honest -- and calling out things other people choose to ignore. If you hang out with members of the opposite sex regularly -- just ask yourself -- “what am I getting out of it?” Maybe for you there isn’t any sexual tension. For me there is. So my answer to that question is usually validation. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of attention here and there, but identifying it helps me get honest about what I’m doing and where I’m putting my energy.

Okay-- bring on the rage. What do you guys think?

-- Holly

See More: Couple Issues , Love & Sex