I wrote last week about the pitfall that is the Emotional Affair – when you get far too attached to a platonic friend and it becomes somewhat of a betrayal to your partner, even if you’ve technically not crossed any lines.
But it’s these fuzzy lines of friendship that really interest me. If they’re so easy to cross, how is it that we don’t know exactly where they are?
Where do they begin and end? Or, if they’re completely up to us, where do you draw the line in the platonic friendship sands to keep everyone happy?
Confusingly, of course there’s no one answer.
Everyone has their own version of what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to themselves, their partners and their friendships.
One male friend of mine refuses to come out drinking with me if it’s just going to be the two of us. Just the suggestion of it makes him visibly uncomfortable. Hard limit.
Meanwhile, other male friends will happily come out to bars, or even to dinner for two, which may present a sticking point in some people’s minds.
Ask around, and you’ll find everyone seems basically okay with the concept that their partner has friends of the opposite sex. That’s a win for our modern generation.
But when you start probing for where that line kicks in that starts to worry them is when it gets interesting:
What if it’s a friend your partner talks to every day? Exchanges multiple texts daily? Someone they talk to every night on the phone? Someone they have lunch with every day at the office?
What if they go out to dinner together? The movies? Go drinking? Crash at each other’s houses?
There are different and completely arbitrary answers from everyone for each of these – some might not begrudge dinner between friends but by the same token maintain that going out on the town together is not on.
Others say drinking is fine, but a night at the movies alone reeks of a date.
One tweeter is an actress whose job demands she kiss mutual friends in front of her husband sometimes. Meanwhile, their line in the sand is bed-sharing with a member of the opposite sex.
It seems we all agree that bed-sharing is a no-no. Glad we could concur on that, at least.
“I think the line is about where you are putting your energy. Who are you investing in?” says R.
R makes a good point. Another indicator is how transparent you’re being with your partner about it all.
H stumbled across a plethora of emails between her boyfriend and another woman.
He insisted they were just friends, even after she told him how uncomfortable those emails made her. In a stroke of genius, H sat her boyfriend down and made him read every word of every email out loud, to her.
By the end, he was crying as he realised how deep he had gotten, and how inappropriate their correspondence was in light of his relationship.
Ask yourself if you would be happy for your partner to be a fly on the wall in this friendship of yours, privy to everything said and done between you. If the answer is no, you may have just crossed a line.
The second you start putting up walls, you’re dividing a couple. And the secrecy is what will start to kill your relationship.