I’ve been doing a little research for a blog I’m writing on virtual reality and the porn industry and… I’ll just say that the future is here and it’s both scary and fascinating. More to come.
Can’t We Just be Friends?
One of my best friends is a married woman. We’ve known each for years. While we certainly don’t hang with each as we used to before her marriage, we do keep in touch regularly and sometimes we even go out for brunch or a movie with her husband’s blessing. Sometimes, when I call on them, he’ll yell out, “It’s your boyfriend, honey.” However, I will readily admit that ours is a rare and beautiful relationship based on mutual respect and love. I would never want to do anything that would result in the betrayal of her (and her husband’s) implicit trust. I think we all get off on the fact that we’re close like that.
I’m sure there are others that have managed to pull it off, but for some it can be risky, and the cynical among us might as, “Why take the risk?”
And there is reason for concern here. Research shows that the vast majority of both men and women cheat on their partners. In a 1991 study, sex researcher Shere Hite found that 70 percent of married women have cheated on their partners; a 1993 follow-up study found that 72 percent of married men have as well. According to a 2004 University of Chicago study, 25 percent of married men have had at least one extramarital affair.
Still, nothing is wrong with people in committed relationships wanting opposite-sex friends. Actually, I believe it is abnormal to have only same-sex friends. I guess the important question here is if you’re able to handle the responsibility that comes with the relationship. We always believe we can handle a temptation until we discover that we cannot.
I don’t believe that having an opposite-sex friend while in a committed relationship puts you in danger of emotional and sexual infidelity. The friendship doesn’t cause the action, if you’re having thoughts of infidelity, they will occur whether you have opposite sex friends or not. What an opposite-sex friendship will do is make you confront that issue at some point or another.
If spending “quality time” becomes a way of relying on a friend in the way that you should rely on your husband or wife, then that can be a problem. Having that emotional closeness to another person at the exclusion of your mate could result in you feeling emotionally closer to your friend than to your spouse, paving the way to an intimacy that might lead to a physical affair. Again, if this is happening, it’s not the friendship that is the cause. Rather, it might be a sign that you’re making certain unhealthy choices for some unknown (or known) reason. Of course, there’s always the chance of becoming physically attracted to a friend. Only one of the two of you needs to initiate the physical contact, and once started, you may not want to--or think you are able to--stop.
I have to add, however, that most people don’t cheat because they have fallen out of love. This is perhaps one of the most tragic misconceptions about cheating. Research shows, for example, that young men don’t cheat because they have fallen out of love with their partners. Rather, they cheat simply because they desire sex with someone else, even if they want to preserve their relationship.
When I was in a committed relationship and attending university, I was surrounded by very young, very attractive women who were beginning to explore the boundaries of their sexuality. I have a rule of thumb with certain situations, it’s called “people, places, and things.” If I want to avoid drinking, for example, I avoid, people, places, and things that might tempt me to drink. One big mistake with infidelity is that we think we can resist the temptation until we realize (often too late) that we can’t. Sometimes we aren’t as strong as we believe, which is how infidelity starts. If you feel that you may be tempted by a relationship outside your marriage, or that you have an ego that you need to constantly feed with attention from the opposite sex, then you can probably guess that if your “friend” is there -- willing and able -- you might not resist.
That’s why I used to practice articulating and maintaining healthy boundaries with college women. My ex and I would laugh at some of the things that would occur -- the attempts at seduction, the propositions, etc. and yes, I would share these things with my lover at the time because I wanted it all to be transparent.
For me, any relationship should be predicated on implicit trust. I like to think that my ex never thought for a moment that I would cheat on her. Our relationship evolved to the point where we took different roads, but there was never any betrayal of trust. And I have many women friends, something my ex handled quite well. In fact, some of my women friends became her friends and I would accuse her of stealing my friends!
Honestly, yes, we (men and women) can be friends, but only if the persons involved are secure in their emotional needs and sufficiently evolved.
On the other hand, so many affairs start with two people who thought they were just going to be friends, thinking that all they were going to do is have innocent interactions -- that as long as they’re not having sex, everything is fine. It is... until it’s not. Or, although society cherishes monogamy, the expectation of exclusive sexual activity is unsustainable for many people. We may need to investigate other relationship models: open arrangements in which couples have flings, affairs, or threesomes. These ways of loving, along with polyamorous relationships and even singlehood, should be as equally valued in our culture as monogamy. Only when men and women are able to make sexual choices free of stigma will people be honest with their partners about their desires.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…