Friday, February 08, 2008

Thinking, One woman's story

Oh the Joys wrote this post about the process of making friends with members of the opposite sex.

Bob wrote
this post about Oh, the Joys post.

I was trying to leave a comment on Bob's post, but i realized that my heart was speeding up and i was getting anxious. Because i have feelings about this.

I do.

This will be all jumbled up, i fear, but that's how my thoughts are running.

Both the Mister and i have friends of the opposite sex. (Of course, mine are gay, but whatever....)

But there does seem to be a process, a procedure that should be followed, at least in this house, for making those friends. At least for the Mister. Because he trusts me. And yes, that is a one way statement.

I trust him, up to a point. And if you would like to criticize me for that you can fuck off. Because i knew, in a heartbeat, when he would start talking about a new "friend" which ones were trouble, and which ones weren't.

And i was right. My mistake at the time was not saying anything, not voicing my knowledge that this person was not a good choice for a friend. I don't make that mistake any more.

The Mister is......suggestable. He wants to be admired and flirted with. Even if it humiliates me, and it has.

Ouch. That hurt.

And i married him. What does that say about me? All those many, 26 to be exact, years ago? I will say that The Mister has learned a few things over the years. One of which is how valuable i am to him, and one of which is that he needs to honor my feelings about people.

So it's not that he can't have friends of the opposite sex, he can and does. It's that i need to meet them and see what my spidey sense has to say.

So shoot me. This is what i need to do in order to be comfortable with these friends. This is part of the healing process.

Infidelity, the gift that keeps on giving.


furiousBall said...

I don't blame you, I feared a friend of the opposite sex and was right on the money.

i have my own bitter, bitter feelings about relationships and marriage right now, ergo, i'll just say it's fine what you fear.

Liv said...

nodding my head. can me, you and furiousball just hug it out?

Gordo said...

Whew, my wife and I had a huge discussion about a new friend of mine several weeks ago. I didn't realize she had such trust and jealousy issues. To make it worse, this is an online friend that I've never met.

One good thing came of it, though: lines of communication that we didn't realize were closing have been blasted back open again.

Anonymous said...

I've never stopped reading you, you know. And now I have yet another reason why. My silence lately has been over just this issue, and our struggle to understand it. This helps, and perhaps it can help someone else I know and love very much......

QT said...

I guess one thing that struck me about that post and the resulting comments was the "NEVER!!!" tone that so many people took.

I think opposite sex friendships are possible, and I think they need to be evaluated on an individual basis, like you suggest.

As someone who has been cheated on too - and been a cheater - it makes me laugh that a woman could say to her husband "you can't ever have any female friends EVER" and that will magically keep him from cheating? Gimme a break.

If your relationship is healthy, both people are happy, and *there is trust* (you have stated that there *is not* for you, so right away, this does not apply to you)then you shouldn't have to worry about it.

If a person is unhappy, they don't need a friend of the opposite sex to cheat with. They will find someone, somewhere. Keep your friends close, but potential enemies closer, I guess is my motto.

I am not trying to diminish your experience meno, AT ALL. I hope you see that. If I got a sex vibe from a potential female friend of my mate, hell yes I would bring it up and say it made me uncomfortable. I think fully vetting the situation is the right of any spouse. I'm just saying give your spouse a CHANCE!!

flutter said...

I think you are fair, Meno.

QT said...

That would not be "you" personally, but the collective "you".

Princess in Galoshes said...

I believe that taking care of your partner's feelings is your #1 priority in a marriage. I think that's why you get married, so that you have someone you can depend upon 100%, and vice versa. And if that means that you don't get to be friends with X because your partner is uncomfortable with it, then I think you need to forego X. Period.

Certainly, jealousy can get out of hand, and some emotions are irrational and need to be overcome. But first things first, is your spouse's welfare.


I say. From the wisdom I've gathered in my whole three months of marriage.

Princess in Galoshes said...

And I will add that both The Funasaurus and I have friends who are members of the opposite sex. But I would drop any of them in a heartbeat, if my husband said he wasn't comfortable with it. And I think the same goes for him.

Marshamlow said...

We have only been married for 7 years and we trust each other, are happy, have good communication, bla, bla, bla. I have had that spidey sense a few times. My husband has lots of female friends, most of the time I don't mind or even think about it. A few times there were things that made me uncomfortable and I spoke up. I have a tendency to be insecure and jealous, so maybe it is all in my head? But, my husband listens and respects me enough to take a step back when I ask it of him. I don't know if my spidey sense adverted hazardous situations or if I was just being a crazy jealous pot.

I do know that due to the fact that my feelings we respected, I tend to let him have his way on a lot of things without any complaints. I don't have to have my way so much anymore.

I have also complained about him spending too much time with male friends and for doing too many activities away from the family, I don't know if that is relevant, but sometimes you just need to have them around more especially with little ones in the house.

meno said...

furious, so many of us. It's that feeling that you ignored, because you didn't think you "should" feel this way. Because we all make a huge deal about trust. But despite what we say, we don't all have it.

liv, another one of us. Dammit.

gordo, does she usually have these feelings? Maybe she is intuiting something, maybe not. I can't say. But good for you for listening.

mamalujo, i'm sorry for your struggle. But i can say that it is possible to come out the other side. Changed forever, but still together.

qt, exactly. Forbidding friends will not work. They will find a way to meet someone. It's just what i need to do in order to be comfortable. And now he listens to me when i don't like something. There is trust for me, but not total trust. Maybe in another 10 years.

flutter, thank you, but fair or not, this is the cost of survival. Is it worth it? For me, yes.

qt, i knew that. :)

princess, you are smarter than i was. Also you should be smart enough to SAY when you are uncomfortable, and not keep quiet so as to not seem jealous or controlling or whatever.

Lynnea said...

See what I love about your way is that you keep a certain balance. Even when you don't completely trust him, for you that doesn't mean cutting him off completely from those opportunities but to be able to give your sense about them and have him listen to you. God that listening thing is so important isn't it?

Wayfarer Scientista said...

good for you for knowing what works for you and keeping the communications with the mister open. I think that's the most important thing of all and as usual, everyone has to find out what works for them, there is no one size fits all.

Julie Pippert said...

I'm glad you weighed in. I think you make a good point.

I did go over and comment to Bob, too, to hopefully share that it's a matter more of needing ANY friend to respect the marriage first and foremost.

I think keeping the spouse involved in the friendship in some way, respecting where your spouse's comfort level is, and most of all respecting your own marriage is a very reasonable expectation.

Mrs. Chili said...

I've been thinking a lot about this topic lately. A friend of mine found out that her partner was being unfaithful (for a long time, right under her nose). It makes me realize how much I trust my husband, and how vulnerable it makes me. When I think about it, it scares the hell out of me, but I can't live any other way....

TTQ said...

I have never given this any thought. Which means down the road I may be in for a major kick in the ass. Maybe not. Maybe I'll be relived because somebody else is putting out when my health is down yet I win the love, admiration and attention that he shows so well.

I hate to say it but my Honey is getting anywhere near as much sexual activity that I think he deserves.

TTQ said...

ISN"T getting. Freudian slip?

Girlplustwo said...

Ah, Meno love. i so hear you. we've all got to find the groove that we can live with, right?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted this, because you explained it better than any of those 70+ comments that Jess got.

OhTheJoys said...

Who knew I was going to stir the pot?

I have been down this road too - not with K.

xo, my friend.


Em said...

If you have reason not to trust, then seems reasonable that you'd want to be involved in some way in the friendships.

meno said...

marsha, i am glad that you spoke up. It's not all in your head. That's the trap we fall into, thinking that way. Your spidey sense was tinkgling for a reason, even if you don't know what that reason was.

maggie, well it wouldn't work to go all psycho on his ass, or i might have done that. :) To have him listen to me is all i ever needed, now i have it.

wayfarer, it took a while and a whole lot of pain to figure it out. But i do catch on eventually.

julie, Bingo with that. And not all people respect a marriage.

mrs.chili, my guess is that you have no reason to worry. But watching other people go through something like that is scary. To be vulnerable is to be strong. I'm not that strong all the time.

ttq, that Freud is a sneaky guy. :) I doubt if you are in for a major kick in the ass, your honey seems like a great guy.

jen, we do what we can to protect our families, because that's what's important to me.

de, i explained my reasons for being cautious. Glad it made sense.

jess, i know! But really the answer is different for each couple. Obviously.

em, it seems reasonable to me too. It's not like i am telling him what to do about it, that's his choice.

Anonymous said...

Four years ago, O ran a sale at the store. He hired an outside marketing company to design and implement it. 'B' was the rep who came out to do the actually running. She and O spent up to 12 hours a day together, 7 days a week at the store, and talking about the store, and planning, and and and...

He'd come home and say things like, "No one can light up a room like B." "Everyone needs a B in their lives." Etc.

His parents loved her, adopted her as a 'second daughter.'

When the work was done, she went home to another state. And quit her job. And tried to find one in Colorado. Because she missed everyone so much.

She didn't. She's still many states away. And she sends O three or four emails a day. She calls his mom regularly.

But I'm not jealous. I don't know. Maybe I should be?

But then I think of the friendships I have with guys, and how I'd feel if O asked me to terminate any of them. And that it would just make me angry. So I don't do it to him.

I don't know.

Anonymous said...

I think you are a wise woman Meno. Male, female relationships are very difficult to have without sex getting involved. It happens, it's just how we're made. So better to not go there.

ms chica said...

Hello friend,

I believe in you. You made the decision that best suits your situation (an outcome we can all hope to achieve). Isn't it a shame there isn't a one size fits all solution for betrayal?

Maybe I should consider this further too.

luckyzmom said...

Wow! My husband and I recently had a huge discussion about trust. Not in the fidelity department, just generally. It is pertinent to this discussion, none the less. I have huge trust issues from childhood as well as from my first husband who left me and my one year old daughter,for another woman. My husband of 31 years has been paying for it. Consciously I trust him, subconsciously I am suspicious of any opposite sex relationship he has. I was trusting of my first husband for seven years and look what happpened. I don't share,with my husband, when my subconscious thoughts pop to the surface because I realize it is my problem, not his failing. I have, however, shared with him a few times that a female friend of his would like to jump his bones, because I have that radar of which you speak. He is very naive(spell?)and always shocked to hear it. I am always up front about any male friendships I've had. I'll get to the point, and I do have one. As we've seen in all of the comments so far, there is no cut and dried answer or rule. As usual though, Meno has it about right!

crazymumma said...

It makes sense to me hon. I'd want to meet any of my man's friends, male or female.

meno said...

nancy, i can see no reason why you should be worried, why you should make yourself jealous when you aren't. You know the people invovled, and if you aren't jealous, there's no reason to invent it.

deb, i don't think that we shouldn't go there. I am just sure that, as someone above stated, that we go there with people who honor our marriages as we do.

ms. chica, Thank you for that.

luckyzmom, thank you for telling that story. It stings like a son-of-a-bitch to be dumped like that, alone, with a small child. It makes you wary. And it sharpens your belief in that radar.

crazymumma, Sometimes even just the invitation to meet them is enough.

tt said...

I don't think anyone in a 'healthy' reciprocal( key word here)relationship should have friends that the other person isn't comfortable with. It doesn't matter the reason. If we see that a relationship we have with xyz is making our spouse uncomfortable and talking it our doesn't lead to a meeting of the minds where both are comfortable then unfortunately xyz has to go. Why? because of that oh so important vow we took. That's just my thought anyway.
Plus I think that women are much more intuitive about some things than men are. yeah, men can be 'stupid in public' but women can be 'coniveing bitches'.
Sad but true ...

SUEB0B said...

It makes me so sad. I have always had better guy friends than girlfriends, and when women can't understand that I am not going to have sex with their spouse, it feels so insulting to both me AND the husband, like we are just some damn animals who can't control ourselves. I can; I do; I will always.

Bob said...

I wrote a follow-up post in which I address trust.

I am sorry that this caused you unnecessary angst.

Ortizzle said...

Sometimes a spouse will appreciate you more when they have a little leeway with "friendships." If they don't, then it's not really about trust at all.

Neither of the above statements makes it any easier to bear when infidelity happens. I wonder if it would all be as important if sex were not involved.

lu said...

I think its human nature to be flattered by flattery and to get sucked into a kind of denial that things could go terribly when married people start friendships that exclude ones spouse-regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Balance--I think it's important to have some level of involvement with each other's friends.

meno said...

tt, i agree with that. Often it's not even about sex either. Like a friend who drinks too much, or has too much drama, or borrows money all the time.

suebob, when someone is like you, and i am like that too, i would NEVER violate anyone's marriage, including my own, then i am comfortable with whatever friendship my husband has with them. The Mister used to have this beautiful blonde admin. She didn't bother me a bit, because she was solid.

bob, i read that. I liked it. Very thoughtful.

ortizzle, there's emotional infidelity too. I think that's almost worse.

lu, it's human nature, true, and sometimes willful blindness about what's happening. Because it feels good to be flattered.

Joan said...

When Hubby and I first met and then moved in together, he had many female friends from his running group and was such a flirt. When I left him for a month to travel through Europe with a friend, I spent most of that time worrying about what I would find when I got home. Thankfully, I learned early in our relationship that his flirting was just that and nothing more. I know what a lucky and relieved woman I am.

Schmoopie said...

Trust issues that spill over from childhood do suck. Stucco has been patiently enduring mine for years.

As a teacher of young children, I see many children form strong bonds of friendship with those of the opposite sex. Why should those friendships be terminated just because they grow up? Why should we discount the fact that we as adults could form those same friendships when we get older?

Every woman needs a gay man in her life. You are lucky to have some!

Lynn said...

I have never heard the term "spidey sense" before, but I assume that it's the same as intuition. I have always trusted mine, and so far...I'm glad I have. Trust and the betrayal of it...are powerful. Using spidey sense is not only's wise.

Your Old Holly said...

Hey, Meno. Intense post. Me likey.

I like the Biblical definition of adultery, which is adultery contemplated equalling adultery committed. What I like about that is the divine refusal to sort folks into the pure and the impure. By the Bible, we're all sinners. The wife who watches a Brad Pitt film to behold Brad's abs is as guilty as the husband who rents a Motel 6 for a tryst.

Now, whereas I don't believe in God, I do believe in integrity. So, a spouse who asserts that they're pure, just because they didn't drop their drawers for a non-spouse, passes neither the Biblical test nor mine.

I also believe in getting on with the partnership that is marriage: beyond transgressions. It's not just that people lie. We all lie. And those who assert otherwise are lying about their veracity and duping none but themselves. We all reshape stories to suit a momentary purpose or an inveterate purpose and one isn't purer than the other.

And Meno, thank you so much for your "straight person for marriage equality" thingy. More and more, I'm ashamed to live amongst people (and especially divorced people and remarried people) who oppose marriage equality.

meno said...

joan, the man is solid! You are lucky, and you found that out early.

schmoopie, you and i have discussed this in person. An intense and interesting discussion. I love my gay friends. It amazes me that they would want to hang out with a middle-aged straight woman, but they do.

lynn, it's from Spiderman. It is the same as intuition. One thing i regret is that i didn't laern to trust it earlier.

holly, Holly? is that you? How i love to hear your unmistakable voice. I don't equate thought with action. Because god knows i have lusted "in my heart" But that's where it stayed. I am not pure, but i see a line and i never cross it. That's integrity, to me. I feel very, very stongly about marriage being between two people, without regard to sexual orientation. I know if i were gay that this would piss me off every day. As it is it only pisses me off every other day. Fucking hypocrites!

Your Old Holly said...

Yep, it's your old Holly! I have a cyberstalker now, so I use a new moniker.

Now, I took an impractically pure position to consider the impurity that's practically everywhere, but, of course, I recognize that there are gradients of infidelity. And I think that marriage is a commitment to fidelity, as it's a commitment to loving and honoring and in sickness and health. There are so many ways we can fail each other. However, failings of omission, such as omitting tenderness and forgiveness, are less spectacular than sins of commission, like comitting adultery, and therefore garner less airtime.

Again, thanks, Meno, for supporting your gay fellow Americans and your gay neighbors. You are our sister.

Andrea Frazer said...

We all do what we need to do. I have always admired your surety on things. Really.

Anonymous said...

It is a slippery slope, male/female friendship outside of marriage. The other night, I was at a party where most of the single women ended up gathered around the host's husband at the end of the night. I went over there too (because he was sitting behind the bar and a girl needs a refill, unnerstan?) and felt a little uncomfortable with all the flirting. But he is in a very secure, stable marriage and his wife is da bomb and if it bothered her, you couldn't tell. So much of it just DEPENDS. I have one friend who I KNOW my husband thinks is fab (she IS fab), and I don't like to think about it much. But it's not like I really believe he would ever do anything to betray me. It's that fear that lurks though, the fear that one day he will announce that he doesn't love me anymore, he loves someone else. It happens. Why, it happened to my very own mother!

Dick said...

I guess I am safe from this what with being an old guy now. I don't think anyone would be interested in me. Although, I did find Pat and we married after both loosing our long term spouses to death. Maybe it is more that I now have no outside interest in friends of the opposite sex except in the sense of friends. And having a wonderful relationship sure helps.

Scott from Oregon said...

Like Reagan said. Trust, but verify...

Anonymous said...

You know, until other people bring it up as an issue, it's not something I ever even think about, on any level. I'm not sure why. Surely, the fact that I have never been burned is one reason, and the fact that I've never been inclined to burn, another. We both have friends of the opposite sex, and it's never caused me a moment's anxiety, if I'm being honest. They're just people. Of course, I could be just naive, too.

meno said...

holly, you have a cyberstalker? WTF? Someone needs to get a life. To tell you the truth, if i thought it were a choice, i might choose to be gay. Although i recognize that would bring it's own issues.

mamap, i do what i have to so i can stay.

capacious, for those who are susceptible, it can be that slope. I believe that susceptibility is a choice too.

dick, you are so cute.

scott, that takes me back. Scary.

jennifer, i don't think you are naive. There is no reason to be wary unless you have some intuition otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, babe ...
it does have to be approved, in a sometimes-unofficial-sometimes-very-official-and-loudly-voiced sort of way, before Man can just "hang out" with a chick the way he hangs out with the guys...

gary rith said...

you know, there is banter here online between women and men, and chat and such, but either in-person or online, I think there is a line that a married or committed person doesn't cross. I know the line and can feel it, but how do you describe it to others? Bascially as a person who tries to be polite but who is awfully shy anyhow, I find it easy to keep women friends in the category of acquaintances. But I grew up with a sister and went to a college that had all women students, and my wife is sweet, I guess I am more comfortable with women than men, but that's the end of it. I'm married, and happily, and wouldn't jeopardize that.

Gordo said...

Meno, she's always had insecurities about our relationship. Her self-image isn't great and with a massive stress-load lately, it got out of hand. We had a good talk and we're all good again. We actually talk more than we have in years, actually. :-D

Gary, I'm the same as you. I've ALWAYS had non-romantic female friends. I'm just not a man's man, I guess. Who really cares, the women smell better. :-D

Jhianna said...

It sucks that this stirred things up for you, meno.

I guess I read things into Joy's post that not a lot of other people seem to have read. I thought that she was essentially telling us that her spidey senses were tingling. I mean, she had to have some reason for her stance in the first place. It seemed to me that she was looking for validation and backup in her discussions with K.

Maybe I was wrong, but there's usually so much unsaid (and sometimes the person doesn't even know that they have underlying reasons for misgivings or caution).

Better safe than sorry is what I was trying to say over there.

Also, it always surprises me when potential concern over not harming someone else becomes a cause for such anger (like in Bob's first post).

Mermaid Melanie said...

i understand wanting to meet the other person before they hang out with them, sorry you got hurt.

i am the kind of person to be friends with both. sometimes you get along better with the wife, sometimes the husband thats just how it rolls.

Magpie said...

My husband has no friends...but your line "of course, mine are gay, but whatever...." could be me talking.