Can men and women be friends?

homepagecouplearguingAnother one bites the dust.  Governor Sanford of South Carolina had an affair with a married mother of two.   I really do not understand why politicians find it impossible to keep it zipped…  or do most men cheat, but we only hear about the politicians?  But here’s the part that particularly interested me:

“I have developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently as I expect many of these things do, just casual email back and forth,” Sanford said. “But here recently this last year developed into something much more.”

Few people wake up one day and say, “Hey, I think I’ll destroy my marriage, trash my integrity, and break my spouse’s heart today.”  They drift into it.  What baffles me is how otherwise intelligent people fail to take steps to protect themselves from it.  With regard to “casual emails,” for example, my husband and I normally cc: each other when emailing a personal note to an acquaintance of the opposite sex.  We maintain good boundaries with other people and we don’t invest our emotions in friends of the opposite sex.

Can men and women be friends?  Certainly.  My husband is my best friend – the ultimate “friend with benefits.”  But it is unwise in the extreme to invest your emotions and build an intimacy with someone with whom you can’t complete that intimacy.  Even if you are never physically unfaithful, is there any way to have an intimate friend of the opposite sex without depriving your spouse of the emotional investment to which they’re entitled?

[Welcome, Anchoress readers, and thanks for the link!  Click through for a thoughtful rant about Sanford and which critically important matters this scandal is distracting us from, and great link roundup.

Also: Michelle Malkin goes off. But I can't say I disagree; I certainly understand why she's angry and frustrated. If profanity offends you (and obviously it doesn't offend me, but I heard from an acquaintance yesterday who tried to make me understand why he's bothered by it...) then don't click through.]


  1. …or do most men cheat, but we only hear about the politicians?

    No, most men do not cheat, but it certainly is a lot easier to catch those that are brazen about it.

  2. M. Report says:

    Not all women, and not many men, are as sensible,
    and practical, as you and your spouse; Mostly they
    do not see the danger – in their case – until too late.

    Politicians, and other power-players, are mostly
    motivated by darker emotions than unwise love,
    or honest lust; In many cases their spouses know
    this, and accept scandal as a player’s risk.

  3. Let’s state a few facts:

    * Most men do not cheat
    * Most women do not cheat
    * More and more women are cheating as they are more of a presence in the workforce and in positions of power
    * Cheating is not a “man” thing. It happens on both sides of the aisle. If you check of “”, you’ll see it pretty much happens 50/50 male/females who cheat.

  4. As to the original question, “Can men and women be friends”, I will speak from personal experience in the context of marriage. My experience has shown me that when married, you cannot have a close friendship with a member of the opposite sex. It can only lead to trouble.

    My wife of 16 years, had always had a few male friends throughout the years, mainly from work relationships. They had always seemed harmless and she had never given me any reason to be concerned with regard to it being something other than friendship. However, the day came a few years ago, that one particular “friendship” turned into something more. I happened, by sheer chance, to catch it before it turned into a full fledged affair, but they did engage in inappropriate behavior for married people.

    Part of friendship is the idea of attraction to the other person, typically attraction to their personality. But that can easily transform itself to emotional and eventually physical attraction. For married couples, friendships need to be friends of the marriage.

  5. Men and women can be lovers or acquaintences, but not true and platonic friends. Exceptions include situations where one or both are highly unattractive to the other, or perhaps if they’re both really old. Even in these exceptional circumstances, you often see one that one desires the other whereas the other just strings the desirer along — in which case the couple would be properly labled “acquaintences.”

  6. Richard Cook says:

    Men and women cannot be friends and not be married. You can be associates, co-workers, train passengers, but, you cannot be friends. Anyone that thinks so is engaging in self delusion.

  7. Men and women can be friends.

    As a woman in engineering, there aren’t many gals around to meet. The ones who are around are older secretaries.

  8. Hi,

    Yes, I have many men friends. After I got married however, they became more telephone friends, than people I saw weekly or so. When I do see them, I make sure I am never alone, and taking my son doesn’t count.

    There are three of us in this marriage, my husband, me, and our father above. Plus, we have a beautiful son. I would never betray them or be in private with another man, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

    I won’t be friends with a man who isn’t also friends with my husband. It is a tough road. Not always is marriage a cake walk and sometimes the grass appears greener elsewhere, but straying one time is one time too many. It’s even a sin to stray in one’s mind.

    But, yes, men and women can be friends, as long as a woman is open and honest with herself. The best men friends I have are those that are also married. Their wives don’t worry about me and they like having me to watch out for their men.

    After not getting married until age 39, I am so blessed to have my little family. I wouldn’t do anything to mess this up! Thank you God for giving it to me.

    Katy´s last blog post..Natl News: Dems Rushing Energy Tax! Help Stop This NOW

  9. Katy, I’m curious… you state that it’s a tough road, that marriage already is not “a cake walk and sometimes the grass appears greener elsewhere” so I can’t help but wonder why you’d add additional challenges to that.

    Also, for you and Geek – when you say “friends” do you mean a close, intimate relationship where you share confidences, or do you just mean acquaintances where you casually chat?

  10. charlene says:

    Another female engineer here agreeing that men and women can be friends (with boundaries!) — but when I say “friends” as a female engineer, it means something a little different. Very little talking about emotions or internal matters. A lot of talking about ideas, work, external matters (politics, books, amusing family stories, etc.). No talking at all about how I feel about my husband (except very obliquely). No confidences. And no physical touching, of course! One can actually develop a close friendship that way– in the sense that I’d do a lot for my close men friends if they were in trouble or needed me, and I know they’d stick up for me the same way.

    Now, my closest women friends are another matter entirely — we talk about our emotions, analyze how we think internally, and talk about relationships/our husbands ALL the time. THIS kind of relationship (which I agree is closer than what I describe above) I don’t think I could ever have with a heterosexual male other than my husband.
    .-= charlene´s last blog ..In which Dag finds out that those cool mathematical objects he came up with are called "matrices" =-.

  11. I guess it all depends on how you define the word. :-) I would call men “friends” like that “acquaintances.”

  12. charlene says:

    hee. Don’t tell my husband that! (I think that describes all his relationships with other men, including his best friend and brother.) I think it depends a lot on the quality of ideas we talk about, because yeah, with very little variation that could also describe a lot of acquaintances I don’t really care at all about.

  13. Not sure how you mean the quality of ideas, but I’m reading it as the level of personal information you disclose; intimacy as described in your previous comment. As opposed to a debate over whether Chaucer was more raunchy than modern entertainment. :-) But men are strange birds, and seem to define friendship quite differently than we do.

    I had an acquaintance I was very friendly with, cordial with might be a better way of phrasing it, who ran in the same business networking circles I ran in. Nice guy, similar industry so we’d have some very interesting conversations. Not really on the same page as me in terms of faith, so that led to more interesting conversations. But when he started to complain about his wife and ask for advice about how to deal with her, I steered him toward my husband for advice. I wouldn’t touch that situation with a ten meter cattle prod, and the truth is, I lost a lot of respect for him because I saw it as disloyalty to his wife and an appalling lack of judgment to say those things to me when he only knew me in the most superficial way. But again; back to your point about men and friendship – maybe he thought we were really good friends. ??


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