More like- get hitched, start to ditch!
Ok, rather grey area, I must admit. I have always struggled with this subject most of my adult life.
Not friends you acquired after they had far long established their marital statuses but friends you have known way before they got married.
Friends of the opposite sex (who you may have experienced get married).
In recent decades, people are now getting married or remarry later in life i.e late 30s/40s even 50s. They are bringing into the marriage, long term, (sometimes decades of) friendships with them. And whilst being single, these friendships were often considered healthy, cherished etc. In a marriage, it could potentially pose a threat.
You have two options and there is usually no grey area around this.
Either you stand the chance of being assertive to your spouse about the boundaries or perhaps the possibility of finality to those friendships and sounding like a right moron or a cold hearted fish…
…you man up, be mature about it and accept these friends into the marriage, accepting that there could be a chance of letting these friendships in for the sake of good health of the marriage or on the other hand, risk that it could potentially become problematic to you and your spouse. So this is where open communication should play a vital role, no?
Now, hear this. I grew up with this friend whom I spent most of my lazy youthful days with. He became one of the closest people to me. We also worked together. He relocated to the States. I was in my early 20s. We spent almost every single day together! I met his family, he knew mine. We had lunch together, listened to hiphop together, spoke about our lives and growing up, our past and future, our partners, the idiots in our lives, our careers, life and love, rubbish etc. We would go out together, hang with each other’s friends together; we invested in the same dreams. Yeah? We were like siblings and yes stuff like that still exists in its purity. Fuck off!
He knew my dark sides. He reprimanded me for my dumb mistakes. I was comfortable in my friendship with this human being. He was an excellent friend to me. Notice how I use the word ‘was’?
So now this, a friend who is male, unmarried, single as you are, no feelings of sexual intimacy involved, no sex involved, an innate establishment of the pure fact that nothing will EVER ensue between you two! The friendship becomes precious because it’s unbelievably difficult to develop and maintain a platonic relationship with the opposite sex, right?
Well so society suggests…
We live in a fucked up world of scepticism, man-made standards, rules, should-nots, can-nots, constant suspicion. We are all ethically bankrupt that even the simplest things of life, we negate them and we build them like Legos on a bed of paranoia, doubt, ulterior motive, negativity. There is no longer truth in simplicity. Purity has ceased to exist. All our friends are friends with benefits. Friends that can validate our existence. Friends we can benefit from. Ones who benefit from us.
So with years of a beautiful friendship, bonds, moments lived, most things shared, we walk our separate ways. We geographically separate. We grew up. We moved on – from our lazy youthful days. We left dependency from our guardians and let them depend on us.
With this separation we still cling, (like we were hanging on the side of a cliff) to our friendship. I dated, broke up, got my heart broken (well so I thought) he found love. He lost her. He had a health scare. He struggled with his studies, a job, dynamics with his family etc and all through all our individual and unique ups and downs, we remained present for and with each other, cared about each other (still) ‘kept it real’ with tech- FaceTime, Skpye and all that jazz.
His line was, ‘yo, I will hit you up on FT later’. The American way of saying I will ring you at some point.
He, I understood the value of our friendship and the role we both played in each other’s lives. My sister was his friend. He knew my brothers and they would talk about the latest news on hiphop, football etc
I knew about the condition of his heart when he spoke about the loss of his mum, living without her. Bless her soul.
He was keen to help me build my business when I and my sister set up. We used his address in New York to receive our online delivery parcels.
See? huge part of my, our lives. My best friends still ask of him. We shared the same dumb ass stockbroker!!! We used to laugh about the scruffy little poor man! Not laugh at him but laugh about him! We often wondered how a stock broker looked so sheepish and scruffy on a daily basis with no business charisma whatsoever.
So love comes, well, it did, to him! He finds comfort, friendship, heartfelt love, a safe haven. He bounces back into life. I am happy. He tells me about it all. I, naturally and honestly (but selfishly) saw my friendship with him potentially hitting the rocks. It was threatened but I needed to be happy for him. I was. I am. I envisaged a loss. It happened.
Calls went down from thrice a week to once a week, to every other weekend, to once a month, once in six months and then deteriorated to nothing…
The friendship was silenced.
In that time I never realized he had gotten married as we never really spoke again. You know what they say about boundaries? I kept them. He didn’t only keep them. He breathed them. I learned why later.
We had to recognize these vaguely raised and grey boundaries. We never so much spoke about it or planned to develop them but subconsciously ended up doing so.
So he got married. I recognized a massive wall of China had literally and figuratively been raised.
It’s interesting. Fast forward this to recent days. After becoming buddies with his wife, I then learnt from her that all the time I was gradually mourning my friendship with her husband, she, on the other end had identified red flags re my relationship with him. She couldn’t understand why we spoke that frequently and why he always talked about me as one of the closest people to him. And you know what?. If roles were reversed, I would feel the same way. It would be a massive issue for me. Personally, because I do not see ‘grey’ in these things as she probably did.
But perspective is a powerful phenomenon.
Theory of mind, moreso.
But there were no grey lines. I loved him genuinely, purely and unconditionally. It wasn’t superficial. When I love or care about people, I go all the way. Ask about me. My love is all the way.
So even the birthday wishes stopped, Christmas, New Year, Easter, silenced! I became a paranoid piece of bacon. Wondering if I had done anything wrong but also not being able to communicate because of this thing called boundaries.
She drew closer to me. I became a friend to his wife. She is amazing and I love her for him.
Subsequently, in the girl-code-bid to support a single female-friend -of her -husband whom she had also become quite close to, she decided to hook me up with a friend of hers whom she thought would be great for me.
I met said guy, we talked for a number of months. I subsequently visit. It didn’t work out with said friend.
My lost friendship even became more ostracised.
In that same trip was when I saw my bff after 6 years. It felt quite awkward to even give him a proper hug. Boundaries, no? Oblivion wasn’t here, rather a full sense of awareness, appropriation, purity, heart.
Conversations were minimalist. I saw him twice in a visit lasting about 3 weeks in Florida. He worked in Tampa. We never could catch up on anything after 6 years. That was it!
We spoke at length (about 20 mins) when I returned to England as he is one who checks on any loved one when they travel to ensure they had safe travels. One of his amazing qualities. Very kind.
I just couldn’t salvage it.
And with time zone, geography and distance, wife of bud subsequently withdrew. More awkwardly after said friend and I never worked out.
The tiny bit of link I had to my friend was her. She drifted. I drifted.
So that was it!
In my evaluation of the situation, I didn’t realize that when people say ‘I do’ that this was the end of sustaining old friends. Your spouse becomes your forever ‘go-to’ person. I didn’t recognize that.
I then asked. Do our spouses satisfy all our needs.? Do we bin our invaluable friendships because we become married?
If I have known you for decades and I didn’t end up with you, date you, sleep with you, marry you, divorce you, then what makes you think or perhaps consider that my continued friendship with you could threaten your marriage? Is there something I do not know?
Shouldn’t a healthy marriage with happiness and love be dependent on having a support network outside your spouse? Am I deluded?
I have another male friend who has done the complete opposite here and has integrated me into his family because couldn’t afford the risk of losing me as a friend. I am the god-mother to his daughter. I hang out with his wife. We have been on a few double dates.
Isn’t life beautiful and simple? Same similar amount of years of friendship as the one I described. In fact very similar history but different outcomes.
So in my bid to try to understand life, I believe I have gone through a painful process losing him. Everything, a friendship that meant the world to me is dead.
I think females who make a lot of male friends in their youth (which I did as I have always preferred men as friends) could suffer the risk of losing friendships in the long run- by default as these friends get hitched. It’s an interesting one I never thought about. At least with female friends, it’s safe. You will always have your girlfriends, married or not.
So this is what I tell my partner now and a in a lot of these life situations, common sense needs to be applied:
“I am happy with you keeping your female friends because I want to keep my male friends as long as”:
I am aware of the friendships, the histories and the dynamics of the friendships. If people are friends for a long time, way before I came into the picture of their lives then I think it’s unfair to make them lose their friends. Genuine ones, I must stress.
So my logic and emotional intelligence then makes me ask these questions:
- Is or was there an attraction physically or emotionally with said friend(s)
- Would you act any different with so-called friend if I was there or not?
- Would you feel our marriage is threatened if I had the same level or quality of relationship with the opposite sex (that you have with yours)?
- Do you ever compare them to me (sub) consciously?
- Would you discuss things you don’t feel comfortable about – with me or rather with them?
- Do you always discuss me with them?
- Would you entertain inappropriate flirtatious messages from them even though you don’t text back? Emotional cheating?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions then we could potentially have a serious problem. If it’s no on all fronts, I welcome your friendship into our marriage.
I use it as a yardstick to measure the status of my boundaries with my male friends and it gives me a clear stance of how (un)/healthy my relationships are with married friends.
I scored negative on all points upon reflection on my friendship status with the BFF.