• Female friends - the fine line?

    1365179978
    minutehand [sign in to see picture]
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    Something that occasionally comes up in my relationship with my girlfriend is our thinking regarding friends of the opposite sex. Sorry about the thread title by the way ladies - I refer of course to the opposite sex or the target of your sexual orientation, not just ladies of course, but that makes a mouthful of a title to write!

    What's your opinion regarding opposite-sex friends (etc) in relationships? What do you consider to be crossing the line behaviour-wise? For context I'm writing from my experience. I am in a loving long-term relationship with a lovely girl.

    The majority of my friends, through no particular reason or doing, are female. I live in China, and I just seem to get on better with women. This has nothing to do with looking for female friends personally or making friends based on attraction, which I say honestly. I have a fairly small and cosy friend circle, and don't go out socialising too often.

    I felt a bit downput today after my girlfriend wasn't happy about me going to meet a female friend I'd first met a few days ago; we went for a coffee on her lunch break. I don't often meet new people but she was curious since her boyfriend was also British and my girlfriend is Chinese, so we met up to have a chat; about perhaps the 4 of us meeting up one day for lunch and a chat about life in intercultural relationships.

    I can understand someone's girlfriend feeling a little uncomfortable about her boyfriend having mostly female friends, but I thought with our relationship so well-built and long she'd have enough trust by now to know I'd never ever dream of doing anything wrong behind her back. I wouldn't have any issues with her finding male friends because I trust her as much as one possibly could. So when it comes to examples like the above, sometimes I question what the fine line between normal friendships and bad behaviour. Do you think examples like the above cross a line in your mind?

    I don't really see much difference between sitting down for a coffee, chatting outside during free time, or having a good chat over the phone. To her, she didn't like it because she felt I shouldn't just go meet up with people I've just met. I don't really know them. But to me the idea of meeting up in neutral settings is to start knowing each other more as friends. We're both clear on each others' relationships after all. I'm not trying to make my girlfriend's reasoning sound silly and thus get an answer I might be hoping to hear, just trying to explain both our viewpoints.

    My girlfriend told me that when it comes down to it, she trusts me and knows I wouldn't do anything behind her back. She just has a nagging discomfort about her boyfriend having mostly female friends, and this sometimes leads her to lash out at something she perceived I did. Why do the classmates that sit next to him all seem to be female? Why do the contacts on his phone have to be mostly female? Why is this person he met with today have to be another girl?

    Talking about this, I always feel there's no easy way to explain. In reality, I just sat down and happened to have female classmates sit near to me. I part-time teach preschool kids English - women are more likely than men to get into English teaching here, so most assistant teachers and therefore my phone book contacts too are disproportionately female. Today's friend is female, well, because she's not male, there's little more I can say.

    But all these together sometimes sound like a long--winded stream of explanations to my girlfriend. Long explanations make it sound like there's something clearly unusual that needs clearing up. Heck, by the end I even feel like I'm doing something wrong meeting friends. Before actually doing anything I find myself running through my head how good or awkward it might sound to my girlfriend when I honestly tell her what I did that day.

    I need a bit of input here, guys. And I trust you lot.

    Lastly, I'd like to apologise if I'm gaining a reputation for being inactive. I know I started a thread or two in the past and took a long time to reply, and I'm sorry about that. It's not deliberate, I just become less active sometimes because of depression (being treated).

    Many thanks for reading this long post!

    1365180523
    Janny [sign in to see picture]
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    Maybe try shortening your question a little?? Gave up after a while. Just ask a straight question, one ore two lines - and you will have plenty of response from the, lovely, community here

    1365181153
    Fluffbags [sign in to see picture]
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    What an interesting post and great questions.

    I too am in a relationship with someone I trust and he has said he trusts me but we both feel uncomfortable with the other going out along with the opposite sex so I have often wondered "Do we REALLY" trust our partners or what?

    Anyway I finally came to some sort of conclusion. I personally think its instinct. Although society tells us it is "wrong" to get jealous or "Wrong" not to let your partner go out with the opposite sex because you "should" trust that they will behave, I still think we all have an instinct to protect our relationship and it isnt something we can control as such.

    I mean, we all have an instinct for sex, so why not have an instinct to be possessive? I mean, for females especially back in the age when we were all living in caves. Having a male to protect and mate with was beneficial and having one who would hunt food for us and therefore help raise offspring was something that would continue our species. So wouldnt it be natural, once that was achieved, to ensure no other female came along and took our male..I also think the same applies the other way round. Males had to find a woman to breed with to pass on their genes and raising their offspring was desireable. Letting another male come alone and take his place wouldnt be good.

    Society has changed but evolution is slower. I personally think it is within our natures to be jealous or possessive to some extent no matter how much we trust our partners. Some people dont feel this way but most people have at least some mild degree of feeling jealous or possessive.

    1365191161
    mrs average [sign in to see picture]
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    I am happily married and have been for 13 years. I have male and female friends and so does my husband. I will go ouf for coffee, drinks or a meals one to one with a male friend or female friend as well as a group of us and so will he and sometimes we get a babysitter and just the two of us go out.

    We both trust each other and associate with a lot of different people we know from different social circles, married, single, older, younger, with kids or with out, straight or gay. I doesn't seem to matter to us.

    However I don't know how we'd feel if we only had friends of the opposite sex, if they were all single, with no kids, and we only ever saw them on a one to one without the wife/husband being there. I usually want my friends to meet my OH male or female, and they're attatched they usually want me to meet their OH too.

    I think with all things as long as you're honest and nothing is hidden in your relationship, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

    1365192907

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    Interesting..... there's the question of culture too. Your GF is Chinese and maybe you socialising with other women is seen as being disloyal.

    Also is there an element of insecurity on her part? If she doesn't feel so great about herself, then you seeing other women is a major threat.... she inwardly fears that it's only a matter of time before you discover someone more attractive than she is, especially with so many women in your circle.

    Similarly she may rate you very highly, and fears that it could only be a matter if time before some other woman is really attracted to you and makes a move.

    It's all very well you giving her reassurances.....!

    1365195032
    KebertXela [sign in to see picture]
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    I properly lost my shit once.

    Me and an ex were going through a bit of a rough patch and broke up, a couple of days later, she met a guy and arrange a date for the next week.

    A couple of days after we split up, and before the date, we made up.

    She didnt see a problem with going out with the new guy, "as friends", when he was clearly poaching.

    **********

    Now, couldnt tell you if the other half has male friends.

    I can see reasons to be suspicious, quite recently, the female in a couple we are friends with was clearly shopping for a replacement, grass is greener syndrome.

    1365200176
    choclover [sign in to see picture]
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    Wow, what an interesting post! I naturally find it a lot easier to make male friends, I don't know why but it's always been like this since I left school. I don't actively seek out men over women, but it just seems to happen, but I can also see where mrs average is coming from that if they are all single and you only meet them on your own without you're GF there, I can see why she gets upset. Lets be honest if the shoe was on the other foot, and my husband behaved this way I would probably think 'hang on what's going on here' on despite the fact that I trust him completely.

    1365200794
    munchkin [sign in to see picture]
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    minutehand I understand where you're coming from. I came out of a long relationship where this was one of the problems. I've always got on better with women than men and have ended up with a lot of female friends as a result. Over time that became a problem in my last relationship. A few years into the relationship I realised that by being honest about planning to meet a female friend for lunch I ended up getting an earful. The effect of that was that I ended up hiding what were actually innocuous meetings with friends. Over time I can count how many friends I lost as a result of that relationship.

    Conscious of the friendships I lost, I make an extra effort to be honest with my OH now and make sure I communicate who that person is and how I know her, over the course of any conversation. I think my OH gets the odd pang of doubt but she trusts me far more than my ex did and I work hard to give her the same sort of trust when she goes out.

    In the end it's all about being able to trust each other. I would honestly say that, as the man, you probably need to go out of your way to reassure her as us men do have a bit of a bad rep when it comes to affairs!

    Once you start having to lie or just avoid mentioning meeting your female friends, it will have a negative effect on your relationship. Come home unexpectedly early sometimes when you say you're meeting friends. It really helps in helping to build some trust, especially if you make her feel special when you get home!

    1365239152
    SweetSubmission [sign in to see picture]
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    This is interesting. I maintain it is perfectly possible for men and women to have platonic friendships. I have some extremely close male friends who I love like brothers no agenda, no ulterior motive, no threat at all to my relationship with my husband or to their relationships with their wives/girlfriends. Inevitably, they've now naturally become great friends with my mister too, as I have with their partners, and now we meet up in all sorts of different combinations. The same has happened with the women my OH has been close to for years - over time, I've grown close to them too, and meet up independently of him, he meets them independently of me, or we all meet up together. It's lovely actually. I hadn't realised that we're maybe quite lucky to have such a relaxed situation.

    That said, thinking about your post MF, I do find I have some sympathy with your girlfriend over the issue of coffee with your new female acquaintance. It's not really very rational or reasonable but whilst meeting up with old friends seems incredibly natural, taking someone you just met for coffee sounds like it could be a date.

    I absolutely appreciate it wasn't, but it is easier to misinterpret this. I trust my husband utterly, but I'd not necessarily trust the motives of the woman he was meeting up with if I didn't know her!

    I'd avoid lumping all these different things together - you have female classmates and coworkers and longstanding female friendships, and you shouldn't have to feel like you need to justify this. Taking a new friend for coffee is of course fine too, but does perhaps give rise to more understandable insecurity in your girlfriend. Like others have suggested, I'd say the easiest solution is just to introduce them.

    SS xx

    1365239813
    KebertXela [sign in to see picture]
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    I wonder.

    Assuming you were single, how many of your "platonic" friends could grow to anything more?

    1365241408

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    Maybe you've hit the classic problem that comes with inter-cultural relationships. Not only do you have all the normal issues that a relationship has, but loaded on top are issues that are rooted in different cultural attitudes.

    That apart, my girlfriend is jealous if I meet up with other women. My strategy is to make light of it, by saying that we went to a hotel, booked a room and had a great time! But I also go to a lot of trouble to reassure her by explaining what really went on when we met, passing on what we talked about, issues in the woman's life, etc. This always seems to work and my girlfriend backs-off.

    1365346208
    Hampshire Hogg [sign in to see picture]
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    I have been married for 22 years during that time, my wife and I have both had friends of the opposite sex though work and voluntary work etc.

    We have always been very honest and open about our friends, which is a good thing, as many of you on here know I can be a bit of a flirt ( as can my oh) but we both know where to draw the line.

    We also have our bit of fun. A few years also I spent a evening out with a colleague looking at hotels for an interview venue.

    When one of my wife's friends asked where I was that evening she just said that I was out with one of my lady friends checking out hotel bedrooms!

    My wife has a male friend who pops round for a bacon sandwich while I am at work, it keeps the neighbours on their toes!

    1365346775

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    LOL ! Bacon sandwich, huh ! There's a bacon sandwich and a 'bacon sandwich'.

    1365346952
    Hampshire Hogg [sign in to see picture]
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    Lifebuoy wrote:

    LOL ! Bacon sandwich, huh ! There's a bacon sandwich and a 'bacon sandwich'.

    Definitely a bacon sandwich especially as my teenage son is usually in the house!

    1365350151
    Georgina71 [sign in to see picture]
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    I've had female friends, but sadly never had one who was happy not to try taking things further. I believe that for most women there is generally an ulterior motive for wanting to be 'friends' with a man, and other women know this, so they're understandably insecure if their other half has female friends.

    I completely disagree with this. I have several of male friends, with absolutely no second motive.

    This said, I fully understand your girlfriend. While I have no problem with my partner seeing old female friends, new ones would bother me. I keep this for myself, though; first of all, I totally trust my partner, because I love him, and because he is a totally straight guy. It helps that as far as I can tell he has not made any new friends, of either sex, since we started dating .

    Of course, I could not stand it if he were to be jealous of my male friends. So, life is complicated, and we have to manage the best we can. I can relate to both of you. The only advice I can give you is to be honest; if you start hiding your social life from her she will sooner or later find out, and it will be much worse. What Lifebuoy does seems like the best strategy to me.

    1365353922

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    It is difficult, you're right Georgina. You need freedom to be yourself and meet your friends. But at the same time, there's always that nagging doubt if your OH shows interest in someone else of your own gender.

    1365355621
    minutehand [sign in to see picture]
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    Many thanks to all of you for all your thoughts and advice! I really appreciate it, especially each of you adding in your experiences in such detail. I understand it was a rather long post, I tend to get lost in the details sometimes. Perhaps a summary for next time.

    I also believe that platonic friendships are entirely possible; after all I have had a few myself whilst I was back in the UK and do now too. I appreciate that when it comes to opposite sex friendships and the like, there is a some truth in the saying that one party may have hopes to take it up a level or would readily so should the circumstances change so, but especially for such friendships that have developed and evolved over time, e.g. childhood friends, there's a very clear feeling of platonic friendship without any desire for it to become romantic or sexual. This may naturally be the minority situation, but still very much exists in my opinion.

    The cases concerned here of course are about newer or more casual friends, so don't really count as so long-term or childhood friendships. As such I see from my girlfriend's point of view too and you've all very much got great points. I think the main reason I feel downput by my girlfriend's reactions is that I don't really have a big circle of friends, and being an introvert I don't go see them much either. I react sort of wondering if I'm 'allowed' to go out with friends at all, which I know is a little unreasonable to say though considering my girlfriend's position is understandable. This is less relevant to the example I made in the first post, but a disagreement we had in the past was about a female friend who lives in another city and was coming to my city for a month's work.

    We got to know each other a few years back, when my current girlfriend and I had split up amiably over future plans (long story, back together now) and met on the street. Neither of us were interested in a relationship. That day she asked me to give her a hand finding a temporary flat to stay in and so I met her and gave some suggestions, went for a walk, no lunch, etc. That time my girlfriend thought we weren't proper friends since we'd only really met once or twice in person. I reasoned that apart from just being friends, I meet up with other friends very infrequently and feel like I'm closed in if I'm met with suspicion whenever I do. What was actually at the heart of her discomfort though was my friendship circle being mostly female, as I discussed.

    I've learned a lot since then, trying to see more from my girlfriend's view, whilst hoping she'd also see my feelings a bit more too, and definitely agree that introducing these friends and explaining what we did does help. Indeed some things just do look a bit off from other perspectives. Whilst there may be some cultural aspects, I think a large part of it is not so much insecurity on her part, it's that she has quite a tough work schedule and due to being tired, she doesn't often go out much. She gets on much, much better with her current colleagues but previously the office relationships were more about quiet competitiveness with it only seeming like friendship on the surface.

    I think she felt a bit closed in and felt that as a student I was so much more free to socialise, so if I was only motivated to go out a few times, why did they all have to be female? Maybe she felt then that I was finding girls on purpose since said friends usually are female, which wasn't the case of course, but I see her point of view.

    I've gone off on a real tangent here and I apologise, I still have plenty to say on the original topic and still need to finish replying to your thoughts and feelings. Thanks very much again! I'll end this post here since it'll get drawn out too long, and be back.

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