Me and My Married Men.
Let’s be perfectly clear that I’m not sneaking around with a married man. Nor do I want to seeing as they’ve already got a wife, and kids that I definitely didn’t make.
This is about me having male friends who happen are now married and treading lightly around the boundary of a couple’s marriage. “Can women and men truly be friends without any romantic interests between them? Answers range from “it’s no big deal” to “we ain’t sleeping together so what’s the problem?” My current favorite response is “as long as you carry yourself in the right way, a man’s marital status doesn’t matter.” As if to say if I carry “it” the wrong way and things get crazy it’s going on me my fault because of what I’m carrying???
Now that most of my male friends are marrying off, I’ve had to clarify my standards. Ever get the feeling someone’s husband is flirting with you? Do you ignore it and brush it off or giggle and respond since he’s stroking your ego? Or, maybe they ask to hang out when you come into town, but you’ve never met their wife and if she walked up on you, you wouldn’t have a clue what her first name was? Crickets, right? I’ve had friends who have cheated and been cheated on and it’s painful to watch. Call me old-fashioned or knowing the power of a scorned woman, but I choose to treat others how I would want to be treated if it was my man. Applying the “Golden Rule” keeps me from becoming the woman in the middle.
I asked a couple of friends about married + single friends to pick their brains. My dear, married gal friend politely said sorry, but YOU can’t be friends with any married man. In her marriage, the rule is all friends are mutual. No side friends or “inviting temptation to dinner” as she put it. My single and happily dating guy friend laughed at the question and ended up saying no as well. In his words, ” too much opportunity for confusion” and “what’s he need single girlfriends for anyway?” He’s been on both sides of the fence so I guess he has to know the reasons behind keeping “friends” around, right? Yet, my close girlfriend says it’s not a big deal as long as you’re not interested. Huh? And, in the same breath, remarked, “men don’t stop flirting just because their married. If they do, it’s because they choose to honor their wives.” Interesting. Finally, I asked my single gal friend and she immediately babbled out three questions. “How do you know each other?” “Did yall go to college together or date at one point??” “Have you met his wife?” That last question nearly punched me in the face because more often than not the wife is NEVER brought up. And lest you think I am completely naive, when my coworker recently asked me to dinner, I said, “Oh okay, you and your wife right?” His face said it all. Not his original plan apparently.
Honestly, I had to check myself first and admit, I welcomed the friendships because I considered them harmless. I wasn’t trying to date these guys and I got my kicks being complimented about how nice I looked every once in a while. But, I stopped and thought about if I’d be okay as the wife with the flirting, the social media communications, and the dinners when in town. Most women say they are secure with their hubby’s having friends and aware of their husbands flirtatious nature. But most women also admit anger and disappointment when finding out their husbands have cheated or cross the line. So, where’s the balance?
What I’ve learned over the years is my response is my responsibility. In other words, erring on the side of caution now is more important than confusion later. I do my best now to use the work hours standard for communication. If I have something to say, I say it before 7pm so that I respect their home and family time. I also stopped IM and Facebook chats late at night unless I know both spouses.
I can see a couple of eyes rollin’ as they read this sayin’ girl, please, that’s too much. Maybe, but nothing is more uncomfortable than watching a friend trying to explain to their spouse who “SHE” is or trying to explain why you have more Facebook chats and texts with her than your wife. Nothing is wrong with a short get together with a guy friend as long as the intentions are clear. But it’s interesting how the details get left out quickly when a couple is fighting, separated, and someone steps out just to fantasize about what life would be like if they were free. I’m single, no kids, and I’m easy on the eyes. But more importantly, I respect others relationships and want the best for them. Since I don’t always profess to know what my male friends are thinking, I’ll set the tone. My goal is to respect all parties involved. Whether or not I ever meet their wife.