day I was having a phone conversation with a friend of mine in California.
In the midst of that long distance call, with the noise of screaming
kids enjoying themselves in the background, she said something about
a guy who she once knew. She mentioned the fact that she believed
that as a married man he was wrong to have so many female friends
that he spent time with.
Her sentence was not a point in itself, it was part of a wider conversation
about what had happened to some of our mutual friends since they
left college way back in the early nineties. The guy that she mentioned
was married to someone we both knew but had not kept in touch with.
We talked for a while longer and made vague plans for an upcoming
visit of mine to California. She would say things like
"Do you remember the tower district?" to which I'd say something
vague while I tried to recall that part of the town. "It's where
the Java Cafe used to be?"
"Oh yeah, that was a cool place. Mocha Mondays when a mocha was
a buck, I remember!" Fragmented memories now clicking into place.
"Yeah, well Java Cafe isn't there any more. It's changed so much
since you were here Simon." She said.
"We'll I guess it would in ten years huh". I replied while still
piecing together old memories of evenings when we would all head
out to that part of town and spend all night sitting in the Java
Café drinking flavored coffee and listen to Josh speak in
what he though was an excellent English accent.
Eventually the screaming kids in the background reached fever pitch
volume. An unnecessary explanation was offered.
"Some friends of ours are getting married near by and people from
out of town have come, so we offered to have the kids."
"Oh okay." Like I said, an explanation wasn't required but I'm getting
used to allowing parents to validate their good parenting to me
in situations like this. These days I have grown accustomed to the
sound of children in the background of my telephone conversations.
"I'd better go Simon. I need to make these guys dinner."
Dinner time in California equates to a completely unreasonable hour
of the morning here in the U.K. We say our goodbyes and I make my
way to bed.
The next day that sentence about the married guy with female friends
finds its way into my idle thoughts. The rest of the conversation
has long since evaporated but this sentence has managed to linger
as if it were embossed and visible above the rest of the now faded
Why is it wrong for a married man to have female friends? Is it
wrong for a married woman to have male friends? I suppose so if
their rule were to be applied across the board, and there is no
reason to suspect that it wouldn't be. But even though I feel like
I understand the reasoning behind the 'rule', I'm not sure I understand
Okay, so there's the obvious attraction issue. But just because
one person is male and the other female that doesn't mean there
will be an attraction. And are we then saying that it is wrong to
have friendships with people you may at some point find attractive?
In fact taking that question one step further, is it wrong to have
a friendship with someone you presently find attractive? How practical
is this rule in reality? And what happened to trust?
On reflection what my friend had said seemed strange. After all,
here she was a married woman excusing herself to another room so
as to chat on the phone to a guy in England who has never once met
her husband. I'm no threat to her marriage of course, we both know
that, but what about the other guy, the husband? How does he feel
about me? If he had a problem with his wife and I being in touch
would our friendship of all these years simply be over? That hardly
seems fair or right or reasonable to me.
I'm of the opinion that if I'm in a relationship with someone then
I simply have to trust them. If they're going to cheat on me then
they're going to cheat on me. No amount of rules and barriers will
prevent that or help address the far more serious underlying issue
that must surely be there in the first place. And if they did cheat
on me would that be the end? I know plenty of people say it would
be, but how far can forgiveness go? How broken does something have
to be before it simply can't be fixed?
I suppose the question is an age old one. Can men and women really
be just friends? I'd like to think so. I have lots of friends
who are women, I would think nothing of spending time with them
just as I would with any of my friends. I don't think I dramatically
alter topics of conversation or the way I am based purely on the
sex of the company I am in. I'd like to think that I deal with people
simply as individuals.
I've said before that I'm not a beer drinking, football watching
'mans man'. I'm not ashamed of that and neither should I be made
to feel so. I have a lot of very good friends who are women, that's
just the way the dice have landed. I meet people and their friends,
then their friends and so on.
Truth be known I'd like a few more guys to hang out with. To look
at cars and talk about computers with. To be able to make a 'male'
comment without the obligatory slap around the head! But at the
moment, that's just not how things have worked out. However the
friends I have are good friends, many of whom I know I can rely
on. These are qualities that matter, and if someone told me I should
give that kind of support and friendship up just because they happened
to be the opposite sex to me, well, then that would be a very hard
pill to swallow indeed.
I think maybe it comes down to how secure you are in your relationship.
If you're worried that your partner is at risk of cheating on you
then that is a tough place to be. However, perhaps the problem isn't
that your partner is about to embark on some secret sleazy relationship,
but more the fact that you think they would do so?