Opposite sex friendships are a cognizance part of our lives as humans. Like the popular saying, ‘No man is an island’, we have all had to have friends for different reasons. Friendship is an integral part of the human life, no matter how much anyone think they can do anything on their own, there has still been a reason to relate with others.
I am unmarried, hence I will restrict the content of this post in managing your relationships with opposite sex friends. The first truth is that we all have opposite sex friends and that is very okay. People keep such friends for different reasons and one of this reason is to understand how the opposite sex thinks, behaves and relates.
A lot of relationships has hit the rock because of how we have handled this situation. A lot of tend to be conflicted between pleasing our friends at at the same time pleasing our partners. At the end of the day we end up messing it up and losing both parties.
The most important thing about dealing with this situation and creating an healthy balance between your partner and opposite sex friendships is to set boundaries. To establish this, it is first important to ask yourself some salient questions:
- Is your mate unaware of your opposite-sex friendships?
- Would you behave differently around your friend if your partner were present?
- Would you feel uncomfortable if your fiancé or spouse had the same quality of friendship with someone of the opposite sex?
- Do you have a physical and/or emotional attraction to your friend?
- Do you ever compare your mate to your friend?
- Have you ever entertained romantic fantasies about your friend?
- Do you and your friend ever exchange highly personal details about your lives or complain about your relationships to each other?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, then there is a problem and your relationship is certainly going to hit the rock real soon.
How To Manage Opposite Sex Friendships in Your Relationships
#1: Be sure that your partner knows and accept this friend
This may be very tricky. A lot of times, your partner may be a narcissist who does not want to share you with anyone else but themselves. Relationships like this are quite toxic and you need to be wary of them. However, if your partner genuinely has your best interest at heart and does not approve of such friends, then you should respect such concern.
While this may be hard for you to do and may tend to pose some difficulties, you should try to discuss this with your partner. He may come around on it if he get to know the person and understand what you both share is very healthy. Or he may be able to convince you more on why it is unhealthy for your relationship survival.
#2: Your opposite sex friendships is nothing more than just friendships
Very often, when our relationship is in jeopardy, we are always quick to relay all these issues with our opposite sex. Having third parties opinion in your relationships is really unhealthy and may threaten the longevity of such relationship. Hence, it is important to keep your relationship troubles away from your opposite sex friends. And most times, when we continue to entertain this habit, it draws us closer to these friends and more away from our partners. And before you know it, you have started engaging in emotional infidelity.
Instead, always iron out issues with your partner and confide in them more rather than a third party.
#3: See your opposite sex friends as someone else’s future spouse
Until both of you are willing to pursue the relationship, restrict them to just being friends. Feelings and desire can be quite tricky and the more time you spend with one another, the more intimate you become. With the advent of social media, it becomes very easy to keep a tab on yourselves and stay in touch ’25 hours’ a day. At first, both of you may not have such ideas but the closer you get, knowing almost every single detail about the other person, the more intimate you would become.
Making it even more harder to make a life decision without the other person’s opinion. If you are in a relationship, this is a red flag and would definitely harm your relationship. Rather, shift this focus to your partner and avoid spending too much time either on phone or in person with such friends.
#4: Do not keep secret from your partner especially about your opposite sex friends
A lot of times, we tend to have this notion that what one doesn’t know does not kill them. But we forget that keeping a secret hurts us more as individuals and make us disloyal. We are quick to think if we keep certain things from our partner about our opposite sex friendship, we are saving them from not trusting us. But that’s always the beginning of an emotional betrayal.
The more we keep at it, the more the chances of us betraying our partners and maybe running off into a relationship with our friends or even loosing them both in the end.
Dr. Glass recommends reading letters from a friend aloud to your spouse, for example, and letting the friend you’re corresponding with know that your spouse enjoyed their anecdote about one thing or another to make it clear that you’re sharing it with them. It’s good practice in all your friendships (whether with men or women) to make it known that you don’t keep secrets from your spouse, as secrets of any kind can put a strain on your relationship.
#5: Set physical boundaries
All of the above earlier points are more about setting healthy boundaries between yourself and your opposite sex. It is important however, to not just set emotional boundaries but also physical boundaries. You can state a few things you are not comfortable with which they do. this may include late night calls, very long calls even while you are with your partner or unnecessary public display of affection.
Even while all this may come with good intentions, your partner may get the wrong message and this may ruin your relationship before you even get a chance to explain. Before you expect your partner to understand, ask yourself if you’d understand in such a case too.
On a final note, it is important to know that it takes two to make a relationship works and both parties need to be emotionally, psychologically and physically ready. In addition, what works for couple A may never work for couple B. Hence, never try to compare your relationship with others. Work on yours based on the parties involved and how well you both can deal with your excesses.
What’s your take on having opposite sex friendships in a relationship? Would you encourage your partner to keep them? How far would you go to ask them not to? Don’t be a stranger, join the conversation.
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