Can Men Have Female Friends In Relationships?
Last week I wrote about some of the worst behaviours of women who sabotage relationships and drive men away.
Since then I’ve had a couple of people ask me about point no. 4, in which I basically said: “Don’t forbid your man from having friendships with other females.”
I remember writing that and immediately having the same worries some other readers had when they read it, which was “Yep…that’s right…sort of” and then proceeded to think of a bunch of questions whose answers could render his platonic friendship totally unacceptable.
Questions like: How close is he to that female friend? How often do they hang out? Do they spend time alone? How sexy is she? Is she single? What do they do together? Does she flirt with him?
One female friend read my previous article and said to me: “I just don’t know about that point. If my guy is hanging out with another woman, frankly I wonder why he would rather spend his free time with her and not me.”
And I have to say…I get it.
The idea of your boyfriend having platonic female friendships on the side of your actual relationship will always be tricky.
It’s one of those areas of life where we all want to be liberal and gender-neutral, but when faced with the reality of watching our partner spend ‘alone time’ with someone of another gender, we just can’t help but feel an instinctive jealousy.
When you think of your boyfriend sharing popcorn at the movies with another woman, or I imagine a girlfriend heading out in her adorable summer dress to relax in the park with another guy, it’s impossible to stop that primal knot of unease working through your stomach.
Although you don’t really believe every woman is out to seduce your partner, you also can’t help but feel a little rejected: Why would he choose to spend time with some other girl instead of you?
You get that feeling of:
- I don’t feel respected
- I feel like he doesn’t value me
- Maybe he finds her more fun
- Maybe he secretly wants her to be his girlfriend
- He must be attracted to her to want to hang out with her
- She must be interested in him…at least a little bit
Are these irrational thoughts? Maybe and maybe not. This just isn’t a simple issue.
Unfortunately, there’s no set blueprint or rule for whether male/female friendships are ok when you’re in a relationship.
Of course, there are some people we just know are dangerous to spend time with, because they spell danger to our new relationship: old ex’s we have lingering feelings for, that work colleague we have sexual chemistry with, or that friend who can’t stop flirting with us no matter how much we bat them away.
Matt has a great YouTube video on the question of male/female friendship, in which he advocates The Whiskey Test for whether a guy can ever be ‘just friends’ with another woman.
Basically, if you can both drink ten shots of whiskey and still not want to tear each other’s clothes off, you can safely be friends.
6 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before You Let Him Have Platonic Friendships
What really matters here is how you are made to feel whenever your guy hangs out with a female friend.
1. Does your guy go to an effort to make you feel safe and loved at all times, and never give you reason to doubt his loyalty?
2. Does he always put you first, and never actively choose other women over you?
3. Does he only hang out with women with whom he has no troubling romantic or sexual history that would give you cause to worry?
4. Is he completely open and free when he talks about other women (i.e. does he tell you about the woman he was talking to at the party, or the ex he bumped into recently?)
5. Does he feel happy chatting to a girl on the phone while you’re in the room so you feel comfortable with it?
6. Does he ask if you’re ok with him having a specific female friend?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then at least you know you’re with a guy who makes an effort to never exclude you or make you feel less than his priority.
If the answer to any of those is no, then you may have a right to be concerned about his female friendships (and vice versa, if you’re the one with guy friends and don’t do him the same courtesy).
These are just questions to think about.
To be frank, this is an issue for which I would never offer a concrete prescription because I just know that so many couples vary wildly in their rules for platonic friendships.
For some couples I’ve met, it’s no real biggie, and both partners trust each other so much that it’s unthinkable that their partner would cheat behind their back. They have friends with whom they see movies, drink cocktails, go to music concerts, and even whose house they sleep over.
For others, it’s considered a heinous betrayal to even speak to another woman or man and not immediately report back with a full transcript of the conversation and set of reliable witnesses to testify about what happened.
The friendship that turns one woman green with envy, another will shrug off and even happily encourage. I don’t think either is better – it’s about how it makes you both feel and whether it matches your own standard of loyalty you expect from a partner.
When Healthy Concern Turns To Dangerous Jealousy
That all being said, there are some behaviours, no matter who you are, that show an unhealthy level of destructive jealousy and intrusion into your partner’s life.
These might include:
- You freaking out any time he gets a Facebook wall post/photo like from anyone with a female name.
- You asking to check his phone messages (without any good reason to do so).
- You getting weird if he talks to a woman in your presence, say, at a party, and you make it awkward for him by staring daggers or being passive-aggressive towards her.
- You making him delete girl’s phone numbers (if you’re at the stage where this is necessary, you probably already have a bigger problem in the relationship).
- You stop him having a friendly coffee with a friend who is in town that he hasn’t seen in ten years.
Now, even as I write that final bullet point I know already that will have its detractors.
Some will ask: Why does his old friend have to have coffee with him alone? Why can’t she just hang out with him in a group with his buddies? Shouldn’t he invite me along too?
My answer to all of these…yep, maybe, fair enough.
I can’t dictate your standards.
What matters again is that:
- He makes you feel safe
- He makes you a priority
- He understands your standards and wants to meet them.
And make sure he doesn’t forget to mention how ugly she looks in that dress.
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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.