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Musing about platonic friendships

(31 Posts)
AloeSailor Thu 20-Dec-12 22:28:44

I'm struggling to get my head round this at the moment, and would like some other view points. At the moment at work I have a male and female colleague who I get on with equally well who I met at the same time. Both are single, I've been happily married 15 years.
I've already been out partying with my female collegue outside of work, we text each other when not at work, and she comes to my house for coffee and so on.
My male colleague I've been holding back with because I'm married even though we get on very well and I'm not sure why. If he was female I would arrange to see him outside of work and he'd come to my house and we'd communicate when not at work.
I guess I'm worried about what my husband would think and what other people would think if they saw us outside of work together, but surely it should be no different?

ClippedPhoenix Thu 20-Dec-12 22:45:38

Questions are

How would your husband feel?
Is it purely platonic or is there a spark?

ClippedPhoenix Thu 20-Dec-12 22:48:37

How would your feel if your husband befriended a woman?

Shoe on the other foot.

ClippedPhoenix Thu 20-Dec-12 22:49:36

"you" feel of course.

BOFingSanta Thu 20-Dec-12 23:17:00

With work friends, I have always found it is best to keep them as work friends. Same with neighbours- be friendLY, but not in each other's pockets. Purely because if it goes wrong, you can't really back off gracefully: you're stuck with each other.

With a male colleague, there is just too much extra stuff that could go pear-shaped (assuming you are both straight), so I think it's only sensible to have some boundaries. If you were both single, it would still be risky, but obviously people do meet partners at work. If one or both of you is married, I would say that it is just sensible to keep things friendly without becoming close outside work.

You don't have to be close buddies with every person you click with.There are dozens and dozens of people on here, for example, who I LOVE, in the context that we know each other, i.e. online. It doesn't mean that I have to go and visit every single one in real life. In fact, if I did, I wouldn't have many weekends left for my family or partner. So I'm happy to just say that it is what it is. And that's how I would tend to keep it at work.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Fri 21-Dec-12 00:13:04

Maybe it shouldn't be any different but reality is that people are nosey buggers and you can get trashed really easily. I remember once being the subject of some really hurtful office gossip because 'my car' had been seen overnighting on the driveway of a colleague's house. A) it wasn't my car it was just the same make and B) it was on the path of the house next door!!! And that's someone I'd not so much as shared a sandwich with. Another male colleague at the same place was/is a great friend but we only ever socialised as families, not as individuals.

That's life...

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 00:13:34

That's a really interesting perspective. I think if my husband saw a platonic friend on their own I would find it difficult. We both have former platonic friend that we see as a couple with their partners now.
Some of my best friends are ones I've met through work, it takes a while to decide I like people but then I'm pretty much unwavering in my view of them.
How do you know if there's a spark with a friend or just a really strong friendship?

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Fri 21-Dec-12 00:16:01

That's the trouble, you don't. Really easy to get friendly, start confiding and end up being closer to your strong friend than a partner. Worse, while you can possibly judge the spark level in yourself you can't judge how the other person is feeling being on the receiving end of all this close attention. Have had one or two awkward moments myself...

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 00:17:05

I work in a male dominated environment so fairly used to innuendo being made about me and male bosses/ colleagues. Asking gossips why they are defaming me has been a useful tactic in the past, unfortunately when colleagues want to get at a women, saying she's only successful because if who she's slept with is an easy option.

familyscapegoat Fri 21-Dec-12 01:39:16

I've made several friends of both sexes over the years who've moved beyond just 'work friends' and have become lifelong pals. But I've never fancied any of them and they are all frequent visitors to our home, so my husband's met them and likes them too. For those who are attached and have families, I've met their partners and children too. So on the face of it, it shouldn't matter whether a work friend is male or female.

But my boundaries have always been a bit different if a) there's a sexual spark on either side (and I don't care what anyone says, you always know if there is) and/or b) there's any suggestion of secrecy about the friendship. If you're both heterosexual, that's what makes the difference between a woman friend and a man friend, in that you wouldn't expect physical chemistry or secrecy in a same-sex friendship - and if there is, then a big wall should go up because that spells danger and has 'affair' written all over it and not 'friendship'.

ClippedPhoenix Fri 21-Dec-12 01:49:21

So why do you want to be friends with one of these people?

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 07:44:06

I want to be friends with both of these people and I'm trying to work out why I'm treating them differently because of their gender.

Izzyschangelingisarriving Fri 21-Dec-12 07:48:43

Its not true you always know there is a spark - I was friends with dh for 10 years - when out of the blue .......

Sometimes I still wonder what the hell happened

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Fri 21-Dec-12 08:05:11

You're treating them differently because they are a different gender and there are certain social boundaries and assumptions when it comes to intimacy. If platonic disinterest was our default setting there would never be any need for gender segregation. No male/female loos or changing rooms for example.

BlingLoving Fri 21-Dec-12 08:08:02

This is really difficult. Dh and I have talked about it a lot. We both have friends of opposite gender from before we met and we have both maintained those friendships and think nothing of evenings out alone with those people. But, those evenings out are much less often these days as we all have less time and different priorities. And that's ok.

We agree that maki g new friends of opposite gender now is generally not appropriate. It's not fair but that's how it is. However. We've both realised that work friends are a little different and we've both become friendly with men/women through work. But, the big difference is that we don't see this opposite gender work friends in a one on one situation away from work type events. So I will go for a quick drink with a male colleague friend after work but won't meet up with him in a weekend for one on one bonding. I would, and have, incited men and women from work for parties etc at our house. I think at this point we all have enough in our own lives that making a new really good friend through work is unusual enough and that it's ok to limit those few close friendships to women only.

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 10:09:30

So would it be ok if the male friend was gay?

familyscapegoat Fri 21-Dec-12 10:25:39

Surely this really isn't a problem as long as you don't fancy eachother and you don't have secret trysts?

Is this a genuine dilemma or are you framing a debate around one that is plausible?

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 11:46:55

This is a genuine dilemma, but I'm trying to get the boundaries clear in my head. I want to be able to be friends with my male colleague and not damage my marriage, but I wasn't sure if I could realistic had both but couldn't get my head round why it was OK to have my close female friend.

Still not worked it out yet.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Fri 21-Dec-12 11:59:54

The question is one for your husband surely? If he's secure enough in himself and trusts you, I'm sure he'll be fine with it. If he's got any insecurities or reasons to doubt you, he might not feel so comfortable.

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 12:21:53

Yes, I should discuss it with him. But does that give him control over my friendships?

MrsRebeccaDanvers Fri 21-Dec-12 12:24:55

I think it's fine so long as your DH meets him sometimes and you never conceal any meetings/phonecalls with male friend from DH.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Fri 21-Dec-12 12:26:04

That's kind of the deal when you get married.... taking each other's feelings into consideration and not setting out to deliberately upset each other. Unless there's a back story you're not telling us of him being very unreasonable and restricting your movements, it's not the same thing as 'control'

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Fri 21-Dec-12 16:20:23

I used to have several female friends before I met DP. Nothing in them, purely plutonic (in most cases). DP was the same - she had more male friends than female.

Nowadays, I am a bit reluctant to befriend a woman even if we would get on well. My DP knows I wouldn't cheat on her, but all the same I don't feel comfortable with it now. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea - not DP, not other work colleagues and the friend themselves.

Perhaps this is why you hold back, as well? Your hubby may trust you and you are perfectly confident that you wouldn't be tempted. But most people will be concerned about rumours and, more importantly, you must wonder on some level if this male friend does think their might be something.

Dahlen Fri 21-Dec-12 16:30:25

Well I'm going to buck the trend here and say if there's genuinely no spark on either side, just treat him the same as a female friend.

I have friends of both genders. I trust myself not to cross boundaries and so does my DP. IF he didn't, he wouldn't be my DP for very much longer. hmm

We are not creatures at the mercy of our sex drives. Many of us have good control over ourselves and enough self awareness to use it if necessary.

That said, if you sense a change and a spark on either side, be prepared to disengage quickly. The male friends I have are those where there was no spark. Where I have sensed interest from men in the past, I have been very direct about it and told them it's not going to happen and if that's what they were hoping, now is the time to let the friendship slide. Then I have created some distance and the friendship has settled into friendly acquaintanceship with no hard feelings.

AloeSailor Fri 21-Dec-12 16:59:29

So if I do clear it with DH and do see my male colleague outside of work, are there any boundaries I should put in to place?

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