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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Can Men and Women Be Friends?

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 5th 2007

Are you friends with people of the opposite sex? To clarify this question let define what is meant by friendship. According to the Oxford American Dictionary (2nd edition), a friend is defined as "a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, exclusive of sexual or family relationships." Please note that the definition excludes sexual relations. Men and women experience mutual sexual attraction. Because of the fact of sexual attraction is it really possible to have a friendship with the opposite sex? Let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls that accompany male female relationships. In looking at pitfalls or obstacles I am not providing any answers to the question nor about my own opinion. In fact, I invite the readers to let us know their own experiences and opinions about this issue.

Pitfalls to Male Female Friendships:

1. From the time of adolescence onwards, males and females are drawn to each other because of sexual attraction and curiosity. How do friends draw a distinction between mutual affection and sexual attraction and romance?

2. To make matters more complicated there is an excellent likelihood that if young and newly married spouses befriend someone from the opposite sex jealousy, suspicion and doubt are liable to infect the marriage.

3. Another complication is that those who surround the friends are likely to wink, make jokes, report to the spouse back at home, and otherwise act as though something more than friendship is occurring. What is more damaging than the rumor mill at work or in the neighborhood?

4. How do opposite sex friends behave when they meet each other? Do they embrace, hug, kiss or shake hands or none of the above? If male female friends hug and kiss is there a risk that, at some point one or the other will misinterpret this behavior?

5. If these friends go out to lunch how does the woman behave with regard to the check once the meal is over? The traditional role of the woman is to be passive, allowing the male to pay the bill and lead the way. Is this appropriate behavior for friends?

Although these may seem like silly questions the fact is that the world has changed and social roles have changed and are continuing to change for males and females. For instance, women are now a major force in the work place so that men and women have many more opportunities to meet and interact today as compared to thirty years ago. Women are now in the professions as psychologists, medical doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. On every level and in every way, women are the equal of men both in the work place and at home.

Your Opinions and Experiences?

Everyone is invited to write in about this topic. After all, we now have a rate of divorce in the United States that exceeds fifty percent. Does the opportunity for male female friendships and co worker relationships drive this divorce rate? What do you think?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

It depends.... - Marie - May 8th 2013

Hello,Dr.Schwartz.I'm glad I found this artile.

My husband developed a friendship with two women online.We were having marital problems at the time.

One friendship almost caused marital break-up due to it becoming very inappropriate on all levels.The other became inappropriate due to the female friend had an interest beyond friendship toward my husband.

During this time he was sharing our marital problems,personal information about me,inappropriate comments were made with both women.

The most threatening relationship was ended by my husband.She was the woman he was considering leaving me for(she was also married).The second he started backing out of when he realized she had an interest in him beyond just friends.

This second woman was actually DEMANDING friendship from my husband when he ceased talking with her.She also told me I needed to go be the wife he deserved after I asked her REPEATEDLY to STOP.

She would not take no for an answer and her selfishness and sense of entitlement toward my husband was very disturbing.She would email,txt,send music video's,etc.

This woman is also married and has marital issues.She depended on my husband to help her through her tough times and be there for her.What he didn't realize was that is not my husbands job.She also admitted to me she did,at one time,have an interest in my husband and told me she owed me nothing in regards to what she said to my own husband.

I admit during this time frame I also turned to one male friend and it did become an issue when feelings developed.I was hurting,seeing things my husband was saying to other women online and sought emotional comfort where I should not have.I will never make that mistake again.That frienship has ceased as well.

It's a double standard because my husband will not allow me to have male friendship nor wants me conversing with men(even before my own mistake).

Now these issues are past(recent past)and I am of the mindset men and women should not be friends with the opposite sex unless the spouse is included and there are firm boundaries in place.Including no discussions of marital problems or personal,private information about the spouse.It is a betrayal.One of,if not the worst kind, of betrayal.

Respect Issues - Smitty - Sep 13th 2012

It is interesting that the first thing that the person that has a friend outside the couple's relationship screams is "jealousy".  I submit that it is also or could be an issue of respect.  We are all suppose to be adults and I believe that you should ask oneself, is this the way I want to be treated?  It is simply but complicated that humans that scream that you are being unfair, jealous, rediculos are the same individuals that scream when it is done to them.....  Respect is earned and is taking away by ones actions.... Remember respect is the bases for healthy relationships.....

surprise about current friends after married - John - Mar 25th 2012

my wife and i talked about our padt. only recently she has been hanging out  with two friends who are in a relationship that invited her in to have sex.  then we got msrried. her friends dont want me to know....  she has told me already.  im really confused if these people are good for my wife to be around


insecure,confused,the not knowing - mary c - Nov 15th 2011

hi mr Schwartz i never thought that it could be possible that the internet could be my best friend in helping to solve issues relating to marital problems as i have one myself my husband of 13yrs has been working in bussiness for 35yrs building relations with other to strive toward a successful bussiness I have never doubted my husband as he has been a great husband friend and father we do all the things that make a good healthy marrage i have even been told from people that he works within the company how he talks about the things that he loves about his wife and how much it has made him more positive about his love for me.we were fortunate that an offer to work for another company was offered to him we were smittened by it my husband has great peoples skills and people look up to him for advice on there busnesses and has built fantastic relations with busness partners,co-workers and people that help contribute to the successes of the company about 1year ago having started his new job he was asked to work between two branches untill the company built his own during this time he had to learn the new computer systems and was getting some help from a co-worker.after five months my husband come home and asked me if i was willing to help the staff with stocktake I willingly said yes on my first day he introduced me to everyone we all got to know abit about each other and things felt great the second day after doing set out jobs for the day i asked a worker where my husband was and directed me to a closed door to my supprise this same co-worker that has been helping my husband understand the companies systems her attention towards me after opening the door was not welcoming this seemed abit odd from a co-worker  i was abit uncomfortable but brushed it off my shoulders and not saying anything to my husband as i\\\'m sure he is not a stupid man on the third day i believe she purposely bumped into him when she didnt need to as he was already at the computer standing and in front of me i did not her her say sorry to him which prompted me to believe that that action was not an accident then when he asked her a question relating to the computer system and she replyed with an angrily body response merely as if she couldnt be bothered with it but proceded to help him in my presence thats when i new i had to ask him if he noticed anything  he replied by saying his focus was his work and that sort of stuff is in the back of his head after many discussions relating to my incounters i had to ask myself could it be something that hes doing and not realise the effects his gentle side has on some people emotionally.or am i just a jeolous wife because my husband has many women in his circle that are in busness.he said that my encounters have tort him alot of things he never thought he needed to look out for and that this such behaviour would be in the front of his head from now onhe says shes just being nice towards him so i dismissed what had happen weeks later we went shopping and this same person approched us she seemed very cherpy and bubbly which i havn\\\'t seen from her at work so i moved to be nice so she could be near my husband and chat not once did she say hello to me nor did she include me in the conversation at any time then she had the nerve to stroke my husbands arm in a  soft and slow manner several time i was pissed. me saying nothing i watched as she continued to control his attention and noticed she had some affect on him as he stared on at her during this long talk and him aware of my feeling did not say or do anything to make it clear to her or to me that his interests in that relationship are not sexual or physical if thats her intentions seemd like that at the time cause when he finally gave his attention to me she keept on staring at him even though he was looking at me and then she turned towards to look at me with a negitive look but what suprised me was her husband was shopping with her as well so im wondering if she spotted us and walked of from her husband but after meeting him he didnt seem to inpressed with what he saw her do to my husband it was then that i decided to walk away but noticed she quickly was beside her husband after that episodewhen i asked my husband how offen does she ring he said not offen and the talks have been about work but i think there is some thing happening that he doesnt wont to confront her about he say its all innocent and that she is a really nice person I think she is flirting with my husband but not going over the boundies i think she is working on building this working relationship with my husband very carfully and not rushing anything but using the relationship built on work as a decoy when i asked my husband why he didnt take the oportunity to clarify things to her he said he felt very uncomfortable and shocked that she did thatand since that was not normal he says hes concious about things now the thing is he said to me that if anything like what i had seen prior to this event that he would say something now i feel insecure about our marriage i wont piss around with lies i dont know what i should do if any i cant make things right only he can please help is all that i have seen just an illustion or am i facing a marriage crisis

MALE FRIENDSHIPS - ann - Sep 19th 2011

I  have a male friend. We began talking on the commuter bus. At that time he was married, but has since gotten a divorce.  He came in and out of my life, very casually, which was okay with me. Then he came to see me at work. He was homeless and I found out he is an alcoholic. At this point, everything changed. He said he was in love with me and wanted to marry me. My jaw dropped because he never ever gave me a hint that we were anything more than friends. No matter what I say he keeps insisting  we will be together. I have let him call me, but that was a mistake as he calls all the time. I live with someone who I once had a relationship with, but this person has fallen on hard times and I will not throw him out. Now there is a huge male jealousy trip on his part, although he has no claim on  my life, love or affection. I am ready to give up as he just won't accept my friendship alone, which to me is more valuable than a thousand lovers. I don't know if men and women can just be friends. At least in this situation.

My Comment - Kavita Pandey - Aug 25th 2011

Friendships come in all sizes, shapes and complexities, but nothing confuses this important life relationship as much as sex. A man and woman can indeed be just friends, but friends don't (or shouldn't) express themselves through sex. Simplify your life by learning to separate the two.

Men and women being friends co workers - Roberta Northington - Feb 27th 2011

It is possible  for men and women to be friends,set the ground rules first in any friendship..If your married,it's not going to be a huggie kissy relationship,because you cant its inappropriate behavior.If you are married or in a relationship,keep the friendship at work,no texting,emails,phone calls unless its work related.This is harsh but safe.cause if you open the door and let it in your life,people can disrupt your home ,call text anytime...Set the tone early in your relationship,because everybody's not truthful /honest..My husband told a co-worker in front of me she could call anytime,but  i thought that meant,any decent time,that hefa texted him at 4:00 in the morning .we stayed up til 5:30 talkingand she dont call or text late no more.I told him dont cross the line,if you dont want to be here,go now while i'm still young..he still careful who u allow to dictate your relationship,outsiders dont get to make no calls at

My Experience - April626cjuuv - Jul 1st 2010

I am a male approaching sixty,a prof,well read,philosophical,well off,settled children and great wife. I have women friends and school time male friends as well. I consider a part of my mind very free,like an atenna of a TV/radio, receiving all sorts of thoughts;good,bad,sexual etc, etc. My friendship with women has been praised as well as looked at with usual doubt. My wife has loved/sort-of-felt-bad- sometimes about these friends as well but still they are family friends. Sex has been kept out thoughtfully but communication is open and free; keeping respect for each other.In fact I have never ever gone to any woman so to say; furure is not going to be different. I hope we all will live through our lives quite sensibly and maturely creating no harassment for anyone in our small group. Having even this much is enough to make us fortunate.Long live our nice relationship of need but not of greed.     

My significant other out of Control - - Jun 1st 2010

I will be 65 yrs old June 28, my boyfriend will be 67 yrs old Sept 27, 2010. We havw been togeather for 11 yrs. The first 5 yrs. were great i completely trusted him, the he started lying abou where he was going and was meeting this woman we bothe knew, at a bar 5 or6 times< I do believe he was intimate with her at least twice if not three times, them he started call ing afriend of ours that I worked with behind my back,(she was 300 lbs. and young enough to be his daughter) for two and a half years on my cell phone that I let him use, then he ran into an ex-girlfriend of his and got her phone no. and started calling her behind my back. I put a stop to all of that. But, then, he told me for 11yr. that this female friend of his could not understand or speak English, He is Mexican and I cannot speak or understand spanish, then I called her up one day and found out that she can speak english and of course understand it and she always talks in English to my boyfriend. SWo one day my boyfriend was returning her call and I said he had to talk in English to her when he called her he said "uh, uh I don,t know if she can understand English and I said sure you do I spoke to her in English earlier that day and we had a good talk and she understood me perfectly and can speak it also. I told him from here on out he needed to talk to her in English in front of me and he said I will not speak to her in English in front of you, so i know he is hiding something about their relationship, however I know he is not seeing, he doesn't have the time. Then then this past Christmas (2009) I told him all I wanted for Christmas is for him to talk to this woman in English or get me nothing for Christmas, he said then I am not going to get you anything for Christmas. he didn't even get me a Christmas card or tell me Merry Christmas I am trying to learn Spanish and so my boyfriend has a phone number hidden in his wallet so I believe he is calling his friend at work behind my back, he is not allowed to take his cell phone to work, Company policy and then there is a woman that is very busty or has large breasts that him and her are carrying on personal conversations and hugs each other at work but yet when I keep the car and take him to work he gives me a kiss and says that it doesn't look right for him to give me a hug outside where he works and him and her makes sexual remarks to each other that is suppose to be innocent and one day when my boyfriend's daughter was with us and he was off, we needed something from where he works and we were leaving my boyfriend told this Busty Woman O.K. Sweatheart, we'll see you later. So NO a man and a woman cannot just be friends, A man should not call another woman sweatheart.

I'm the third party, female friend...and I'm changing my opinion - -Jen - May 25th 2010

Ok, I admit I’m researching this issue because I think I’m causing problems for my good friend in his marriage.

I am a business colleague of t he gentleman in question and consider him a dear friend. We have worked very closely for a number of years.  We have a common history, likes, dislikes, similar sense of humor.  We have a mutual admiration and respect for each other grounded in our work ethic.  We do go to lunch or meet for breakfast…usually to discuss business. But we also take personal time as well just to chat.  I have known his wife and children for several years, but have only gotten together with them at social events.   We exchange txt messages or play on-line games. We’ve exchanged gifts, get each other morning coffee, etc.  There has never been a physical connection, but there is a platonic affinity.  Recently we have connected on a more emotional level due to some hardship in our lives…  I no longer work with him but we do keep in contact and check on each other’s welfare and the welfare of our families.   

Did I mention that I am no longer with my husband of 22 years?  We split about 5 years ago.   I have known my colleague for about 3 & ½.

I don’t have any conscious desire to take this relationship any further than friendship.  I find his conversation refreshing and engaging.  It’s nice just to talk to a man…no fuss, no muss, just straight forward and uncomplicated. He doesn’t harass me for the competitive edge I bring to a game or at the workplace. He challenges me.

I had always believed men & women could be friends. I have had close male friends all of my life and had many male friends during my married life. It did not seem a problem for the women in their lives. It never occurred to me that women would see me differently now that I’m divorced.  It seems jealousy is creeping in and he has to make a choice about our friendship.  I would love nothing better than to get to know his wife and actually become a friend of hers. I don’t think that will happen…and now I’m wondering, can men and women be friends especially if one of them is single and the other is not?   I will walk away rather than cause problems in his marriage, but I’m not going to say that it doesn’t hurt…a lot.  Because of this acute sense of loss, I am now questioning myself and the true nature of my feelings. I felt this same loss when a long time female friend of mine passed away.  Because this friend is male and not female, does the hurt mean something different? Can I only have female friends now that I am divorced?  It’s just too complicated…


Spouse/significant other not best friend??? - Mel - May 13th 2010

A spouse or significant other cannot meet all relationship expectations for anyone.  Having other healthy relationships is good for everyone and gives us a chance to grow as individuals, making us more attractive and interesting for our mate.

However, it is unfortunate that someone claims to have a BEST FRIEND who is not their significant other, that it has to be someone from the OUTSIDE who is a better friend.  It seems to say that closeness/intimacy is lacking, in which case I would HOPE that the person looking for more intimacy takes a good look at their current partner and strives to improve things.  Looking outside may seem more exciting, new, fun.  Just leaves a huge gap and hurts the other person tremendously.  If you are the one having your mate look elsewhere, try spicing things up, taking a more active interest in your mate, improving yourself to where you attract him/her to want to be with you more.  Being jealous and insecure may just deepen your rift.  Letting someone have the freedom to be with others also gives you the freedom to be with others or else is more controlling, which is not healthy.  Honesty, integrity, loyalty, character traits of you and your mate will play out in how well you can adjust and be okay with other friends of the opposite sex in your lives.  Melanie

Marriage Breaking Up - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Mar 22nd 2010

A feeling is a feeling and, therefore, it is neither right or wrong. You feel betrayed because your husband has not been honest and above board with you. It is understandable, in my opinion, that you feel jealous and suspicious. Marital infidelity is as old as the ages.

It seems to me that your husband should take your feelings more seriously. I suggest that you let him know how hurt you are and how suspicious, as I am sure you have. Meeting this woman is OK, I suppose, but it is not the direction he should go in. He should stop this for the sake of his marriage.

Do I sound old fashioned? I guess I do but it makes sense to me. I have serious doubts that men and women can be friends in the way men and men are or in the way women are with women.

Dr. Schwartz

My marriage is breaking up because of my husband's female- co-worker friend. - - Mar 22nd 2010

I am in a situation where I have been married a little over 20 years and have trusted my husband implicitly throughout our time together. He started a new job and started van pooling as we live out in the country. He started talking about a certain woman who rides the van and works at the same office as him. He always talks about all of the people, male or female, that he works with and I have never even thought about feeling threatened. Something about the way he kept on and on about this woman for months started to give me a bad feeling in my stomach. He seemed obsessed with her.

I confronted him about it and he got mad at me and swore she was just a friend. I let it go but he continued to seem fixated on her life so I finally told him I was uncomfortable with this friendship he had and he told me that she was not important and promised me he would stop all interaction with her that he loved me and it was no problem for him if it made me feel that uncomfortable. I believed him and a year passed and we happened to be on his computer together looking something up last week. Well, he walked away and I noticed he had left his email up and I saw her name on several emails. I have never felt the need to look at anything of my husband's because I trust him. Well, I could not help myself because I was shocked and hurt. The emails were him asking her to have lunch and how much he was going to miss her when she transferred, etc. I felt betrayed and confronted him and he lied at first then said he had lied about it because I wouldn't understand that they were just friends. now he wants me to meet her to see they are just friends. I am deeply hurt and do not trust my husband anymore. I do love him and do not want to leave so I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and agreed to meet her (though I am very nervous about it) I keep having second thoughts about this and feel that he knowingly ran the risk of losing me to continue his friendship with this woman.  Am I wrong to feel betrayed?

A FINE LINE.......... - - Mar 11th 2010

My gentlemen friend of 17 years developed a relationship with the director at his bridge club.  Because the game of bridge can be almost an 'addiction' I had a hard time separating the game from his seeming attracting to the female director.  He spoke of her so often and with so much fondness.  Initially, I wanted to believe it was mostly about the game, however, after a period of time, it appeared it was equally about 'her.'  Of course, he then accused me of being jealous and insecure.....MAJOR PROBLEMS DEVELOPED.

I don't know for sure if it was an emotional affair or not.  Ten years have past and the situation has been a 'roller coaster ride' for both of us.  I'm in the process of ending the relationship permanently as it just isn't worth the 'hassle' any longer. 

My idea of male/female relationships outside of marriage is that it is usually detrimental.  If you really value your 'significant other' keep your outside friendships within your own sex.  If you really need the company of a woman, make your wife your best friend!

A research question - Matt - Mar 9th 2010

Is there any clinical research or surveys that ask the question - What is the percentage of male and female friendships/acquaintances in which at least one of them want to OR would(given the opportunity,free and clear of any consequences) have sex with the other? 

heart started to break - cihuahua - Feb 23rd 2010

This will be the second marriage if God permits, we are different nationalities, and our relationship is long distance relationship, he has several friends that he named "friend", a cousin, or whatever, at the beginning when he introduced me to them, I'd rather surprised because to them is normal to give hugs & kisses, he says this is their culture so I adjust myself about it later I was fine, but now there is another problem, in facebook he wrote her single status, I do not mind but the arriving I was feeling uneasy, suddenly  I check his status was changed to be in relationship, I was not thinking but after seeing the comments from  his  "cousin", there she wrote that since when they are in a relationship, she doesnt  know, that comment from his "cousin", my heart was right was devastated, I  trust him , when he came home i  asked this question, but he said he never wrote it, and he also says he's cousin could not do that, now who else can go to his account   without knowing his password, which also made me wonder why he even accuse me not trust him and disappointed in m thinking to leave him but i love him so much, so does he, but my heart start to break

Meeting someone - - Dec 31st 2009

It is all very well but how are you supposed to meet someone and build a trust if you are not friendly with them first? No matter if they are men or ladies? Where do you go to meet this person or do they just fall out of the sky? It is the hardest thing to pursue in life when you have nothing in common with the other person

Where do you go to meet your soulmate?

You are headed for trouble. - - Dec 30th 2009

  Maybe you can read the book "Act like a Lady, but Think like a MAN" Alot of comedy but also alot of truth.

Correct not all guys think of sex ALL the time. But any Man or Woman can and will be tempted in certain conditions. The key is to not put yourself in a direction that would allow those conditions to "evolve"

love and lust - arvind sharma - Dec 25th 2009

Love gets reward when it turns into lust. But friendship is a ralation of love without falling in lust. and I like it. arvind

Iwant a Friend - NURUR RAHMAN - Dec 23rd 2009

I want a friend about age 40. I always communicate with herand sharing all matter

Better say hello to friends of same sex - Ephrem - Dec 5th 2009

I am a married man with two children. My oldest son started school this September and my wife drops him at school in the morning and picks him up after school. My son has a friend in his class who has a father who drops him and picks him up after school. My wife and this child's father see each other and they started talking to each other while my son and his son are playing in the park after schoo. My wife told me that the father asked her to give him her cell phone just in case one of them need help with giving ride the kids to school......I said it is fine. Then after school they started spending time at the park. One morning we had a meeting with my child's teacher so I had to go with my wife and we meet the father I said hello to him.....he hugged and gave my wife a kiss in her chick. Since that day I started feeling uncomfortable about their friendship. I even mentioned to my wife that she has to be careful as rumours can spread around because we have so many friends in the school who have their kids in the school. She said I am just insecure and that she does not care about what people think as far as she is honest and faithful. I said to my wife " I trust you 100%" but rumors can be damaging she does not agree and they continue to spend time at the park after school. she claims our son and the guy's son like to play together after school. Am I over reacting ? Should I talk to her again ? I love my kids and my wife that I don't want any thing to happen to our marriage.


confused - Rach - Nov 18th 2009

My partner is friends with a girl and her brother and had been before we meet. He knows im not keen on him going out to party or drinks with her as he had mentioned he thought she was attractive!!! He still mantains he would never do anything but still openly tries to organise time for them to catch up. Im not happy about this as every male frined i have had has always tried to hit on me and i would feel uncomfortable in spending time with a man other than my partner. I fear this causing a confronattion and i dont want to be controlling of him but i just get a bad feeling about it. This may just be jealousy but it could also be intuition. Is it possible for a man to be friends with a women i just dont think it is!!!

CAN I be friend with a woman??? - Aeroh - Oct 26th 2009

You missed the topic. Now i ask: is it possible to develop friendship with a woman AT ALL? I start do belive this it is not possible. ARE you friends with a woman? can you talk with her about everything? etc ...I met many women had many relationship, now we are lovers not friends.... but still I *dream* of being friend with a woman, but I have strong doubts that its possible....... sad

NEVER - cheryl - Sep 30th 2009

i dont think its possible. im in the same situation. i live with my boyfriend we have been together for over a year. recently he has started back talking to his friend. he claims her as his best friend. drawback?? before he met me they had sexual realtions. which bothers the hell out of me knowing she has screwed him on more than one occasion. i try to be cool with it. hell i even sent her a message stating that since she is his best friend me and her should be cool and she agreed. but in the back of my head if they ever hang out ima always wonder. especially since he works an hour away from our place and she just so convienently lives down the way from his job. anytime i hear a IM WORKING LATE my mind will forever wonder...i guess i have to be cool about it until further notice..i dont wanna dictate his i guess i'll deal with it until he proves me otherwise...

opposite sex as friends - tammy m. - Sep 28th 2009

For me, I think that there is nothing wrong with man/woman having a true friendship. However, when man/woman are in a committed relationship with another man/woman, then they should be part of the friendship. Secret friendships can and will hurt the committed relationship. It has nothing to do with the confedence one has in oneself, it has to do with the love, respect and trust one has for his/her spouse.

Nurse Wife and Male Doctor-Just Friends? - Bill - Jun 30th 2009

My wife and I are having a marital problem concerning another man, a seperated/divorced co-worker.  My wife is a surgical nurse, and she has worked alongside one particular surgeon one day a week for ten years.When she started working with this doctor in 1999-2000, she used to come home and just talk about this guy all the time.  It got to the point that I knew too much about his personal life.  He was a married family man that had a mistress.  I told my wife that perhaps she got to close to this gentlemen on a personal basis, that it bothered me, and to cool it.  She told me that she would just maintain the professional relationaship, and that perhaps she had gotten too close.  In 2003, my wife started working late Fridays, the day that she worked with this doctor, going to happy hours, and markedly changing her behavior on the day that she worked with this guy.  At one point, she said that she was going to Happy Hour with her friends, I decided to swing by the hospital and found her car in the lot.  As I stood by the car, I called her on the cell phone, and she claimed that she was at Happy Hour, and that she was on her second beer.  I asked her if she got a ride, and she said no, that she had driven.  I became very upset after this incident, called a private investigator, and explored whether he could get information.  I backed down from this, but my wife and I once again got into fights concerning her relationship with the doctor.  After we had an incident, we went to a marriage counselor, she claimed that they never had sex or did anything inappropriate, that they were just friends.  She also promised that she would not carry on a personal relationship anymore.  Last week, I was looking over our cell phone statements, and found that my wife and this doctor had over 100 cell phone conversations in the past year.  This is a man who cheated on his wife for years, is now in the process of her divorcing him, and is living with his mistress.  Some calls were as early as 5:00 in the morning, and as late as 9:45 at night.  It would appear that my wife initiated about 40% of the calls.  I work away from home Sunday nights until Friday nights, and had no idea that the personal relationship had begun again, and I wonder if it ever did end.  She always claims that it is not a sexual relationship, but that they are just good friends.

Now that I know that they have once again struck up a personal relationship, we are back to square one.  I don’t trust or believe anything she tells me concerning this relationship.  She has betrayed my trust in her.  I believe that the relationship is at best inappropriate, and at worst immoral.  I don’t condone this type of behavior, and practice that morality.

We sat down with a priest over the weekend, and based on his observations, felt that she may be "addicted" to the gentleman or the lifestyle.  He also said that married male/female "friendships" can't work, that it will almost always lead to a sexual attraction, and far bigger problems.  He knew because he had experienced it himself, a priest and a married woman trying to be only "friends."

my husband is doing this now - - Apr 28th 2009

My husband has a "friend" that is a women. He said that is all there is. He left the house at 6 am to go see her and I rode by and called to ask why he was there. I have never met her but I did call her on the phone to ask what was going on. She said nothing but friends. She said she would always answer the phone when he called because he is her friend. She tells him that she loves him and he even calls her baby in their texts to each other. She said she does love him but she is not in love with him. Her dad died a year ago and he is helping her deal with that a lot. They have been talking for about three months now. He is upset that I found the text from them on his phone and then called. He said he wants separation papers now.  We have been married for 12 years and have two kids. This women has a horrible track record. She was preg at 17, then has two more kids by first marriage, and while she was still married got preg again by a married man. Her oldest child who is 16 now has a 1 year old son.  So I don't know if it is really a friendship or more. He said we have no friendship and that he is not in love with me. But then he tells me that he loves me. 

Friendships - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Apr 1st 2009


I cannot assure you that your marriage therapist will convince your husband of anything. In fact, I cannot assure you of anything about your therapist or your husband. All I can assure you of is that I would be as upset as you are right now. In fact, given that he has a history of infidelity, why are you bothering with therapy at all rather than going for divorce. After all, marriage is about trust and there is nothing about what he is doing that can build your sense of trust. At the very least, you should see an individual therapist for your own emotional support AND a good divorce lawyer. That is my opinion.

Dr. Schwartz



I am still on the fence about the long term ability to stay "just friends" - valorie - Feb 22nd 2009

I have been married for 20 years, and I love my husband dearly but about 2 years ago he discovered a woman who has changed him inside and out. He loves her with all his soul and he calls her "his best friend".  It has been a grueling ordeal for me.  He says he is faithful, but that she is a kindred spirit.  They spend most days together and we even moved to the city she lives in to be closer to her.  Her husband is starting to have problems with their relationship also.  I do believe it is platonic but I think that there is more to being faithful then not screwing another person.  If someone else occupies your time, your mind and your dreams they are not "just" a friend no matter how much you try and justify that they are.


women being a male freind - kahty - Jan 5th 2009
I think that a woman can be a male friend just as he know that they are just friend but as for me I have a male friend but before we was friend we had a relationship  we had sex then he got married so I didnot see him in three years then night I went out with my friend and he was at the club that we went to and we strated talking again but now I fill all the feeling that I had when we was date so do I keep being his friend or stay away from him so being his friend will not be good for me and I am married

Well....yes and no - Mac - Jan 1st 2009

It depends on the level of that friendship.   A man should never, ever go out with another woman or even small group of women without his wife being present every single time without fail ( and vice versa).

Can a married man (woman) be friends with another woman (man) outside of that marriage? Of course, if it is kept within healthy boundaries. By that I mean, no going for a beer, no lunchs/dinners, generally no socializinng without the spouse being there.  Honestly, what can another woman or women give me that my wife can't? And considering that every (and I mean every) healthy marriage has problems big or small at some point, why would I ever allow anything to potentially come between my wife and me? How is that friendship more important than my wife?     It's not......

As a young married (just under 2 years now), I can tell you that my wife and I are right in the middle of this exact situation (thus me finding this article). My wife went out and had drinks with a guy and his business partner. My wife works for our church. And the guy is a friend that she does some accounting work for on the side. It was not a business meeting sort of get together...purely social.  What if someone from our church staff would have walked up and said hello? 

"Hey Kathy, what's going on?" they say.

"Hi! Just having a few drinks with a friend," says my Kathy (my wife).

"Cool, where's Mike (that's me)?" says the co-worker.

"Well, he's at home I think....." says my wife.

We are to avoid even the APPEARANCE of impropriety because in the worst of times in can be disasterous. In the best, may cause scandal and rumors.

Our marriage is not on the rocks. We will be fine. But I can tell you this has been like a virus that has infected our relationship. We will eventually work it out because we are in love and will be forever.

This pain and heart ache was just so avoidable...


Guys and girls can be just friends - guy with girl as best friend - Dec 30th 2008

guys and girls can be just friends. my best friend is a girl. in fact, my good friends mostly are girls. on the same note, most ppl i be friend with are girls. i am straight and married.

faith and trust in marriage is very important. if you lack any of these, dont get married. getting married and into bed with someone you dont trust and have faith, for me, that is as bad as cheating your partner. in a worst possible way for me to say this is, i dont trust you but i wanna F&*K you.

ppl who wink and tease, they are just silly, childish and not open minded. ppl may think way too far, but what for? if you are that curious(busy body), walk up to the person and talk in private. dont be the person who starts nonsense and break friendships and marriages. never under estimate your actions, no matter how small.

as friends, there are no expectations of who pays. everyone pays their own and occasionally buys for the other. just like guy guy or girl girl relationships.

curiosity and exploration are mainly for young adults and ppl who never had sex before. alternative, if really you are so curious/eager, get a call girl or guy. get the professionals to be safe. they can realise your fantasy. end of story.

men and women can be friends - - Dec 7th 2008

I think it depends on the people involved.  I grew up surrounded by boys since there weren't many girls in the housing developments where we lived.  We were transferred a great deal.  My best friend growing up was a boy and I still have men friends; always have had.  Takes some straight talking, being honest, that is, and firm boundaries that both parties abide by.

I've had a number of gay friends, also, and appreciate there not being as much of a sexual tension or possibility that the gay friend would come on to me.  It's a relaxing kind of relationship, however, not what I would want in a gal friend, who is a woman and understands me as a woman would.

I love my male friends. 

To MP - - JR - Sep 24th 2008

Should I sound a "Bill's Bull" alert ?  This sort of comment, in these particular circumstances, call to mind the indefensible "To Wives" and "The Family Afterward" chapters of AA's "Big Book", and their implications for "outside" relationships.  But, I suppose, they may not be indefensible - all one needs to be, to defend them, is an AA True Believer ...

Boundaries - MP - Sep 23rd 2008

I think it depends on the people and if they have healthy boundaries. In the world of recovery from alcohol & addictions and the length someone has "clean and sober", the trouble would be focusing on another and not on oneself, therfore not taking care of themselves and leaning to much on the other. Also sex being a substitute for addictions.

Yes, men and women can be friends - - Jun 22nd 2008

Yes, Men and women can be friends. It depends on how confident each of them are. However, they will be confronted with other people thinking that they are more than friends and that may lead them to become akward to one another. This they will need to nip in the bud. Further, old school co-workers will think men and women cannot be friends. But if you enjoy each others company and as long as you don't cross boundaries, what's the problem? They have to determine why they are friends, it should not be for a sexual goal, but more from the heart; to grow as humans. They should like the same hobbies, have had similar life experiences, and similar values. They should also not keep their friends a secret from their spouses or partners. The friend should never use up time their friend should be spending with their spouse or partner. A friend should never be a threat, or negative in a person's life. It is refreshing to have friends from both sexes. Women can talk to other women about female things, I would not feel comfortable talking about these things with men. I like talking about sports, family, and guy talk with guys other than their conversations about women, yuk! Sometimes women like men friends because men are not so complicated. Women to women friends sometimes start off as good friends, but women can be catty and competitive and the friendship becomes toxic. Women tend to read and over analyse everything. Men do not over analyse. Some people think that two good looking people of the opposite sex cannot be friends. I don't think that is true, because a true friend is suppose to bring only goodness out of the friendship. I have a tendency to make friends with people that appear to be on the outside. I have been employed at my workplace for many years. I remember when I first started, I was not welcomed with open arms by the people that worked there. They seemed to have clicky groups that they didn't want to open to a newcomer. Therefore, I decided that I would put an extra effort to introduce myself to new co-workers to help them feel welcome to our company. I am a very approachable person, and the men in my company feel comfortable speaking about family issues and things that may trouble them. Don't make the mistake about talking to other women about your guy friends; most of them don't understand women and men friendships, they will confuse your mind. Not all guys think of sex 24/7! I have many positive men in my life that are not womanizers, such as my father, father-in-law, son and my great husband. Men are fathers of daughters, and brothers of sisters, we should give them more credit!

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