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Can men and women ever be proper platonic friends? V. Long, sorry.

(18 Posts)
Otterchocdog Tue 28-Oct-08 14:56:47

My best friend is a man. I'm happily married and have been with DH since university, have one child. Have been friends with BF also since university. DH knows BF, we used to hang out with a crowd at university which we were all part of. DH has no issues with BF, is not jealous, totally understands that the friendship is on the basis of intellectual kinship.

The whole sexual thing just never entered into things, BF had quite a few neuroses about women and relationships and lived in his ivory tower and had never had a girlfriend. What he had was me - all the girlfriendy bits but without the sex. Of course I loved it because we had a level of kinship and intimacy that you'd normally get with a female friend, but better somehow. I'd always been what you might call a tomboy (though I dislike that phrase) and this seemed a continuation of those childhood friendships.

BF met a woman earlier this year and the whole thing is now a complete disaster. I haven't even met the girlfriend despite them seeing each other every day and staying together every weekend. BF seems very stressed and trying placate both of us (though I'm actually not pressuring him - he is just reacting as if I am). I've suggested a casual family dinner to emphasise the non-threatening nature of the friendship, but it never happens. She is very paranoid and controlling (look I know you'll think I'm being horrible about her, but honestly, I don't think it is me, I wish him every happiness and was always encouraging him to be more confident with women etc etc). She is from a very different culture than him and there are issues about this too. What she says is always supposed to be right and anything from his culture is no good. She wants to marry him, he has told her he doesn't want to get married, and seems to have been bourne along into the relationship by a desire not to make a fuss, and probably because he was previously lonely and it's probably nice to be with someone, even if it's not perfect. Which of course is perfectly reasonable.

The thing is, the whole thing has become so embroiled and weird, and sometimes I can feel my reaction and I think to myself, you have no right to feel like that, he is not your brother or anything. I feel like I've given a lot to him emotionally and been there through some bad times with him and now he is just dropping me.

I feel very sad because apart from DH, BF is probably one of the only people I who just "gets" me. Not a lot of people do, I'm a complicated gal really. I suppose I feel a bit abandoned and resentful, since I've managed to keep on being friends with him despite being married, having a child, demanding job etc. But now, the first time he gets a girlfriend, it is like our friendship is in a vacuum. It's not dead but its just not there anymore.

There must have been some dynamic I wasn't acknowledging I think, such as maybe BF was "having a relationship" with me, albeit a sexless one, all the time that I was "having a friendship" with him. sad

So, was I deluded in thinking we could be friends forever and is it true what people say that men and women can never really be best friends because that is not our template?

BloodyStranglingwithBling Tue 28-Oct-08 15:00:26

when did he meet her? If he's like all the best bits of a close girlfriend then you have to let the "new partner" rule apply to him - up to six months for him to act like a complete idiot while getting into a new relationship.

If it's longer than that, then you need to calmly and politely explain to him that as his friend, you would like to meet his new partner. In the same way you would want to meet the partner of a girlfriend or family member. Ensure it's non threatening and casual.

And finally, no matter how good your relationship was in the past, you may have to accept that your friendship will not be the same with a best friend who's a man when he gets a partner. It does seem to be when the man in these relationships gets a partner that it's a problem. But it's a truth and sad though it is, I think you have to accept it. Similarly to how when a good girlfriend marries someone and moves away you have to accept it or whatever.

Good luck though. I know how awful this can be.

Moomin Tue 28-Oct-08 15:04:17

I think men and women can perfectly well be platonic friends: I have a fair few male friends, none of which have ever featured any sex between us.

However, if I read right and your BF's girlfriend comes from a different culture, then it is likely to remain a problem for her and thus you and your BF. My SIL is Indian and even though she has been in the UK for 12 years now, she spent her formative years in a very isolated area of India and she firmly believes men and women cannot be platonic friends. She has accused BIL countless times of conducting affairs with female work colleagues and goes spare if anyone female rings the house. She puts maximum onus on family and doesn't really get dh's and my social circle, and why we would prefer to spend our time with friends over our family.

After 12 years, she hasn't changed her views much, so I don't think she'll ever really change. Cultural differences are a huge issue in some relationships, I think. you and your BF can of course have a platonic relationship, and you do; but that doesn't mean his girlfriend will ever accept it, and that might mean at some point a very hard decision for your BF to make. I know it seems very unfair.

beaniescreamyb Tue 28-Oct-08 15:06:00

As a friend I think this is one of those times when you should be prepared to take a back seat. Don't pressurise him into having a meal together - maybe she doesn't want to and maybe he is happy that she doesn't want to.

you say "She wants to marry him, he has told her he doesn't want to get married" - seems to me like he can stand up to her when he wants to.

Yes it's sad that your friendship might suffer but perhaps he has found a new best friend in this woman, for the time being anyway. Would you ever put your BF above your husband?

Otterchocdog Tue 28-Oct-08 15:22:33

Beany, I think your point is interesting. I don't really get the "putting above" thing. It depends what was necessary doesn't it? I don't really think it is a question of putting somebody above somebody is a different type of thing according to necessity. For eg, I might say to DH, "BF really needs me to do X, which means I can't do Y with you" and he would understand. I think the whole idea of putting someone "above" DH is just weird - it would never come to that because DH and me are a unit, whereas BF is always giving me the impression that he is a bit suffocated by the girlfriend and that he's not in love etc. If they were in that sitation I wouldn't even be posting because love is a many splendoured thing that lights everything it touches. I'd just be happy for him.

beaniescreamyb Tue 28-Oct-08 15:26:40

Sorry - I suppose what I meant was - Is your Husband your best friend? Or is he an equal to your BF in your post?

BloodyStranglingwithBling Tue 28-Oct-08 15:27:12

If he's not in love with her, why is he with her? Maybe he's just telling you that because he thinks you're jealous?

And I don't think saying you can't do x with DH because BF needs you that night is the same as "Putting BF above DH". Presumably you wouldn't go nurse BF if he was sick if DH was also sick? Or if DH had a real issue or problem with BF, you'd have to take that into account when dealing with your relationship with BF?

Otterchocdog Tue 28-Oct-08 15:45:56

He doesn't think I'm jealous at all, it's not like that. Haven't you ever had a boyfriend that you weren't in love with? I know I have. As I explained, when it started off it was initiated by her, at a conference. It was a sex thing. He was half attracted and half repelled (he has ishoos). Then she moved to his university and he felt like he couldn't break it off without unpleasantness and anyway like I said, it was OK, nice to have a girlfriend even if not perfect. I know plenty of blokes who've carried on going out with someone because it is easier than breaking it off, and of course then there's the sex. No point trying to explain it further but trust me on this.

As for the putting above thing- I think I was aiming for a rebuttal of the "wouldn't you put DH above BF thing" because I'm not expecting to be put above BFs girlfriend - being allowed to see your old friend for coffee or a museum or something is hardly putting them above you is it?

honestfriend Tue 28-Oct-08 15:55:07

I think that whatever relationship/friendship exists, it may change if another person comes along.

I had a slightly similar situation- though not quite the same- with an ex. We were together for 5 years but he had issues with sex and for most of those 5 years our relationship was platonic. Eventually I moved on, as I wanted a family etc.but it was very painful as I did love him.

We kept in touch very occasionally, and met maybe once a year. Then he met his now DW. She was very much against "me" and once when I phoned him ( this was before they had actually married) she told me not to phone him. (She was from another culture too.) I was furious that she was trying to put a stop to what was by then a 15 yr friendship.

I backed off and it is only now after another 10 years that I can call him ( though i rarely do) or drop him a line, and feel that it's ok.

I think you have to accept that all friendships, with men or women- are subject to change. This is actually HIS problem, not yours-he has to decide how much grief he will tolerate to see you.
You also have to ask what emotional investment you have in each other, even without the sex- and if that is sustainable over a lifetime, when although your DH understands and accepts, his women may not, and unless you are committed to each other as a couple, then you cannot possess him in the way you want (or even if you were a couple!).

eaudevie Wed 29-Oct-08 00:18:57

Well, I think you can be platonic friends, but I also think you have to acknowledge the underlying dynamics of the relationship.

It sounds similar(ish) to a friendship that I had, where I went along happily assuming we were best friends. I was in a serious relationship, whilst he wasn't, and there was no question of a romantic relationship between us. Then he got a girlfriend (after about 5 years), and I couldn't stand her.

She was really unpleasant, treated him badly, and took advantage of his sweet nature. I had to bite my tongue, because it wasn't my place to criticise and he wanted to be happy and he loved her. But I was seething inside and that made me question exactly what was going on. I felt resentful and inappropriately jealous of her annexing my friend. After all, al that energy he was expending on her usually came my way. (Not my finest hour.)

And then she dumped him and broke his heart, and I stayed around to help pick up the very messy pieces. Which was when he finally dropped the bombshell that it hadn't been particularly platonic on his part over the years and in fact he had been and still was in love with me and he "fucking needed to tell me, just once". To my eternal shame, I got on my high horse and went down the "you've lied to me, how can I feel the same way about you ever again?" route as opposed to understanding just how difficult and painful it must have been for him. And our friendship didn't really survive the shift.

So, a very long-winded (sorry!) way of saying that it could be that the power balance in your friendship has shifted. You have marriage, kids and him, and he had just you. And now he has got someone else and you're not as central in his life - which sucks for you, but might be good for him. And if she's not that nice, then it probably won't last and he'll need you there more than ever. So be the good friend that you are and hang on in there. Be happy for him, even though it might make you sad.

colacubes Wed 29-Oct-08 00:30:24

Hang back, and let it be for a while, if she is controlling at the beginning it will probably end up a failed relationship.

I am having a similar thing at the mo with a male friend, his wife has decided to take to writing abusive emails, even tried to get me to start text sex by pretending to be him!!!! All that happened was I accused him (her) of being pissed, and he must have got the wrong number! We really can be a jealous bunch us women folk! Hope she disappears as quick as she appeared, she is not right for your friend if she can not accept his friends.

solidgoldskullonastick Wed 29-Oct-08 01:10:09

I have lost good male friends (and the odd fuckbuddy) to silly bunnyboiling bitches like this. The good news is that usually the male friend realises that he's dating a madwoman, gets rid, and you get your friend back.
I have also had good male friends (and fuckbuddies) meet lovely partners, who have also become friends, so it can happen.

LemonyAle Wed 29-Oct-08 01:43:27

Defo hang back, I have sadly been out of touch with one of my oldest (male) friends in recent months because his DW got drunk and told me that I had been "cropping up" in her therapy sessions hmm

Decided it was just easier to withdraw than deal with her bullshit. Still miss my friend though sad

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 29-Oct-08 06:54:51

You need to decide whether you can wait for this relationship to run its course or if you need to say something - of course im not suggesting it's me or her lol. At the end of the day if he's being a crap friend then you can discuss that and he should listen, if its about his relationship then no he doesn't ahve to take any notice of you. Could he be avoiding you a little cause he know your right????

AllFallDown Wed 29-Oct-08 20:35:08

As a man ... I had one particular close female friend who, when I fell in love with another woman and started a relationship with her, simply decided that other woman must have been bad news and up to no good, I guess because my friend felt she'd lost something. Because the new girlfriend was not bad news and up to no good. In the end, she broke my heart - which was just the way of things; she didn't love me as much as I loved her - and the original female friend insisted this proved the girlfriend had been bad for me. Now, the female friend had a serious boyfriend throughout this whole thing, so it wasn't her being sexually jealous. But she obviously felt possessive of me, and - though she was always telling me how keen she was for me to get a girlfriend - our friendship never recovered from me having the temerity to fall in love with someone else. Is it possible your friend's new girlfriend isn't as psychotic as you imply, and that you feel angry about suddenly not being the No 1 woman in his life? I am not for a moment suggesting this must be the case - I don't know you or your relationship - but is it possible?

Otterchocdog Wed 29-Oct-08 22:01:58

Nope. In my case, I would be truly happy for my friend to meet a nice woman, and was excited and pleased for him at the beginning of the relationship, it was only after a couple of weeks when he started telling me things that had happened that I began to have misgivings.

Also, I didn't imply she was psychotic. I just said paranoid and controlling, and I didn't mean just in relation to my friendship with my friend. It is also to do with him going anywhere to do anything when she thinks he should be home with her. Male friends included. It's lots of things really, mainly you know that thing that women can do where they try to change things about a man, stop them doing things they used to do in their singleton life, things like the way the man dresses, habits he has like pottering around the house in barefeet, liking ripe bananas not green ones etc. Being a tad facetious I'll grant you (though all true examples) but you get my point.

Further, I saw my friend today and he told me there are other incidents where the women has been "crazily bossy" (his words) that he didn't dare tell me because they were so awful. He also said "when you get a controlling personality type together with a submissive but passive aggressive type, this is what happens". He also called her "a shrew". So I think you can see that I'm not just miffed because I used to be queen bee and now I'm not, as seemed to be the case with your female friend, AllFallDown. The negativity is coming from him.

Dioriffic Wed 29-Oct-08 22:09:02

Message withdrawn

solidgoldskullonastick Thu 30-Oct-08 13:53:43

I think actually you need to try to keep the lines of communication open with your friend, because it sounds possible that his partner is in fact abusive, and he may need help and support to get away from her.

Oh, and yes, before the usual suspects pile in shrieking - I am more than aware that that the vast majority of domestic abuse is male violence against women, but that doesn't make it utterly impossible for a woman to engaged in at least psychological abuse of a man - and this cutting him off from friends, belittling him, trying to change his behaviour etc, does sound a bit abusive.

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