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Come and talk to me about the protocol for single women being friends with married men

(132 Posts)
Panoramic Sun 05-Sep-10 14:55:04

... and help me get out of a mess I seem to have obliviously ambled into. The mess is too wearisome to explain in detail, but the short version is that a woman in my village who I have been friendly with in the past but less so of late, but whose husband I do get along well with - and have got up to no funny business with - has been gossiping about me getting too friendly with her husband and telling people that she thinks there may be something going on between us. There isn't.

This had never occurred to me before now, because I have a handful of male married friends who help me out or come over for a meal and a chat with their wives' blessings, but is there a protocol that I'm missing, for how single women generally should and shouldn't interact with male friends who are in a relationship?

Please tell me, as a rule, are greeting hugs/pecks on the cheek OK? Them helping unblock a drain or fix a burst pipe? Can I have a drink with them? Can they pop over for an impromptu chat and meal (that I'm cooking for myself anyway)? What does and doesn't look OK from the outside looking in? Because I have obviously got something wrong somewhere along the line - even if that's just been being nice and friendly and not looking like the back end of a bus.

I really don't rate being gossiped about as a morally bankrupt husband predator (which I'm not), and want to make sure I know The Rules moving forward so I can make sense of why this has happened, and make sure it doesn't happen again.


said Sun 05-Sep-10 14:57:38

I don't think there are any Rules that apply to you as the single person. I'd think it was up to the couple to establish between themselves what behaviour they're comfortable with. You've done nothing wrong by being friends with someone.

Beethoven Sun 05-Sep-10 14:58:53

I suspect everyone knows there are no rules. Could it be that these male friends are a little more into you than you suspect?

Hassled Sun 05-Sep-10 15:00:55

Well it shouldn't be an issue, but people are people and to be frank, I think if a single woman invited DH round for a meal and din't invite me as well, my first thoughts might be a bit dubious. I would certainly do a double take.

But it would depend on the single woman (are you jaw-droppingly attractive? Are you happy single or are you actively looking for someone - and is that something you talk about?). And of course you don't necessarily know the husband's previous form, if any, whether the couple are happy etc etc - all of which would affect the wife's reaction.

trefusis Sun 05-Sep-10 15:08:48

Message withdrawn

sorrento56 Sun 05-Sep-10 15:10:44

I think the only rules and protocol hmm there should be is to respect the fact he is married and treat him as you would want to me treated.

I am friends with a man who is with someone and I am married. Don't care what people think. Both couples know it is innocent.

sayithowitis Sun 05-Sep-10 15:18:54

on the face of it, none of what you suggest is out of order. However, if DH decided to go and help 'unblock a drain', 'fix a burst pipe', or any other kind of household maintenance work for a single female friend at the expense of stuff he needs to do here, for his family, I would be hmm. Likewise, the impromptu meal. If he decides to accept the offer of a meal from you when he knows very well that I have cooked a meal for us to share, either as a family or just the two of us.

I would also find it harder if the friendship was a comparatively new one and one where I felt I was excluded, especially if there had been a previous friendship between the woman and me. I would wonder whether there was an attempt at distancing herself from me in order to test the waters further with DH. Whilst I absolutely trust DH and have never had any reason to doubt him in all the years I have known him, there are somethings that would ring alarm bells for me. And of course, you are not to know whether the Husband in question has given his wife cause for doubt in their past.

dignified Sun 05-Sep-10 15:18:57

Are you being serious ?

If a single woman invited my H round for a meal , or out for a drink , or greeted him with a peck on the cheek or a hug, i would think exactly what this woman thinks. Come on, your not that naive sureley.

There are no " rules " as such , there are various couples im freinds with, i might enjoy the male freind company more , but i wouldnt see him on my own , nor hug or kiss him or invite him round for a meal, effectiveley excluding his wife.

BarefootShirl Sun 05-Sep-10 15:42:12

This is an area that should be simple but in reality is full of problems because some people will always make 2+2=5.

Before I met DH I went through a period of being "single". During this time I was very friendly with a couple and, because she was a nurse working shifts, the husband often came round for dinner after work. Also, I am quite a "touchy feely" person so I always greet people with a hug or peck on the cheek. His wife, who was and still is one of my best friends, knew that the friendship was totally platonic - although I admit I "would have" had he been single grin - but we both knew that there was a lot of gossip among other so-called friends behind our backs. Fortunately it was never an issue for any of us but I can easily see how this could be misconstrued and is probably best avoided.

MooMooFarm Sun 05-Sep-10 15:54:36

Panoramic If you were married or in a serious (ie live-in) relationship, would you be happy for your other half to pursue a friendship with another attractive woman, without you being involved too? Wouldn't you ask yourself why he wants to?

I'm not a jealous person and I trust my DH 100%, but the only female 'friends' he tends to have are wives or girlfriends of his friends, or my friends. If he fancies going out for a meal or a drink without me, its with his male friends, so they can bang on about football, women, whatever.... Call me an old cynic, but I think the old adage is generally true that men only want to make 'friends' with a woman if they fancy her and hope it will lead to other things.

Maybe you genuinely want to make friends with these men for truly honourable reasons, but I suspect the men don't, I mean, what man will unblock drains/fix a burst pipe for nothing if they don't have to, without some kind of motive - come on?! And what man will go round a single woman's house to be 'friends' when they know their wife is getting upset about it, therefore risking trouble at home anyway?

Maybe you really want to just be friends with everyone, but this is the real world and men will always be men unfortunately (or fortunately wink

LunarRose Sun 05-Sep-10 16:28:47

Depends on whether you respect the marriage or care about your female friend!!!

grin If you don't there really aren't any rules as to how you shoud behave, although Kissing him may be frowned upon!!!!

However If you do respect the marriage and also your female friend; impromtu meals and drinks out with just the husband are very wrong. IMHO time to start including the wife or gently letting the friendship lapse. If these 2 options seem abhorrant perhaps your own feelings need examination???

Agree with MooMooFarm about questioning the mans motives...

ib Sun 05-Sep-10 16:37:23

I think the rue is only do it if their wives are reasonable....I wouldn't mind one bit any of the things you have mentioned.

bluejeans Sun 05-Sep-10 16:41:31

I'm a married woman with a close friend who is a single man. He is a couple of years younger than me and I see him as the little brother I never had. I sometimes meet up with him for a drink or meal, just the two of us and we hug when we greet eachother. Like Sorrento don't really care what people think. My DH is not worried. I suppose the only problem is if someone saw us and jumped to the wrong conclusdion! My friend has no ulterior motive - we often discuss his lovelife (or - at the moment - lack of sad)

IseeGraceAhead Sun 05-Sep-10 16:42:20

My weirdly SWF-like ex best friend had loads of these friendships. At the time I wondered if I was doing something wrong: I put my own curtain rails up; she gets some bloke to come round, like a well-trained puppy, to do hers!
On the whole these friendships didn't cause problems - but, if a wife tried to cut down her H's contact with SWF, she'd try hard to get him to meet her in secret. It was all a power game to her.

I wonder if your friend's wife feels you're playing a bit of a power game, too? Either way, the simplest solution is for you to mend your friendship with her, then go back to normal.

Patienceobtainsallthings Sun 05-Sep-10 16:48:43

I think WWIFN' s phrase about"are you a friend of the marriage" is useful in this situation.If you support their relationships and would never do anything to jeopardise the marriage ,then i think friendships are ok and your conscience is clear.If either party is attracted to each other and it is detrimental to the marriage ,then hugs,dinners etc are not on.Kisses i wouldnt be cool with just asking for trouble/gossip IME ,take care hope you get things sorted.

taintedpaint Sun 05-Sep-10 16:50:44

Women who won't let their husband's be alone with female friends? How insecure are they?! Bloody ridiculous. I have male friends, I even hug them (oh the horror). Some are with partners, some aren't. No sex with any of them!

A wife or partner who is so paranoid she wouldn't let her OH spend time with other women....well unless the H has form and history for dry humping anything that stands still for more than four seconds, she's got issues, clearly.

OP, you're doing nothing wrong.

Patienceobtainsallthings Sun 05-Sep-10 16:57:03

I think im just too independent and also go by the rule if i talk nicely to a bloke he thinks i fancy him and want to sleep with him LOL!.Ok i understand that is completely irrational and probably no use to you at all on this thread Panoramic but just sharing that with you grin

trefusis Sun 05-Sep-10 16:58:49

Message withdrawn

ScaredOfCows Sun 05-Sep-10 17:00:08

panoramic it bothers me that you accuse the wife of 'gossiping' about you. Do you really think of it as that? Or could the woman be hurt/frightened/upset/angry and looking to her friends or neighbours for support or advice? Which really is not the same thing as gossiping at all.

talie101 Sun 05-Sep-10 17:00:56

The woman who was so called 'friends' with my exhusband is now married to him....... I think she had an ulterior motive for being his friend in the first place even if it she thought it was purely innocent at first! She sought out a man she knew was married, started up this so called 'friendship' (behind my back because THEY knew it wouldn't be acceptable to me) and ten years down the line ended up together!

I know this wont apply to everyone having friends of the opposite sex but it can happen hence the insecurity of these kinds of things happening.

You should be able to be friends with who you want to be but it's just not what happens in todays society is it.

taintedpaint Sun 05-Sep-10 17:05:53

I think it's down to the individual circumstances because in some of them, there might be compounding issues, but if there genuinely is nothing going on, why pamper to the whim of someone who is basically being a posessive idiot? If the H is prioritising the friendship over the marriage and real time that should be spent with the W is being sacrificed, that's one thing, but if we're talking the sole annoyance of the W being the fact that the friend is female, there shouldn't be a need for steering clear. Could be a need for the W to get a grip though!

stickylittlefingers Sun 05-Sep-10 17:07:08

yes (to scaredofcows), it occurred to me too that if I thought dp was playing away I wouldn't be gossiping about it with friends - I would be absolutely gutted, probably find it difficult to talk to anyone and if I did, it would be to seek support (hopefully confidentially).

Seemed more likely to be other people talking, if anything - in which case I would be making sure I wasn't the cause of someone else's relationship breaking up, and keep out of it for a while.

Personally I'm of the opinion that life's too short for jealousy, but I wouldn't want to hurt someone else, however innocently.

trefusis Sun 05-Sep-10 17:19:21

Message withdrawn

ZZZenAgain Sun 05-Sep-10 17:32:15

if you live in a village, I think you might want to de-escalate the situation.

Look, it bothers the wife so I would say from your list : don't hug/kiss him on th cheek. Yes, ask him for help with a blocked drain etc if you cannot ask someone else. No, don't invite him over for a meal withut his wife/family.

Obviously she is hurt and worried and if you don't want that, I would step back a bit from her dh.

Maybe you find it all above board but you don't know his thoughts. I am saying this because I misjudged a nice friendly husband of a woman I worked iwth. We got on like a house on fire and I never thought for one minute there was anything in it - certainly not for me. The wife was bothered but never liked to say it (she told me later). One night he drunk a great deal when we met up after sport for a drink and a meal and then he tried it on. It was on his mind the whole time he told me.

Since then I am very careful.

Headbanger Sun 05-Sep-10 17:41:18

I would very much think that this is an issue for your friends and their wives, and not for you, provided your intentions are completely friendly, and nothing more.

I say this as someone married, and who has 2 or 3 very close male friends (some single, some married) who very often come over to see me alone. Indeed, I insist on it, and so do they. One of them very often sleeps on my sofa when my husband is on a night shift. No-one gossips and my husband is if anything delighted that I have company, because we're very happy and secure together, and it's obvious to everyone that there's nothing to gossip about.

As to greetings - they greet me with immense hugs and one of them (being a Northern) kisses me on the mouth confused, largely when pished I admit.

I realise my position is basically the reverse of yours - you are my 'boyfriends', they are you, my husband is wife (I'm confusing myself now). All I mean is: you can be a little sensitive of course, and there is no need to consciously cause offence, but neither can you take responsibility for someone else's marital insecurity, or village gossip.

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