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20-40-60 Etiquette: Why can't we be friends?
QUESTION: Recently I met a really nice man while I was waiting for my child to finish a tutoring lesson. We talked a little while and then went our separate ways.
Over the course of a few months, a friendship developed. Eventually, we exchanged cell numbers and emails. He texted me during the week just to say “hi.”
Is it possible to develop a friendship with a man, who is not your husband, without feeling guilty or creepy? How do I talk to him politely when I am picking up my child as he has done nothing wrong nor have I?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: This is very tricky and sounds to me like you are playing with fire. A friendship can develop, yes, but the texting just to say “hi” I disagree with. Does your husband know him, or know of your friendship? Be nice to him when you see him at your children's events. Is more communication than that required?
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Yes, I believe you can be friends with a man who is not your husband — as long as your husband (and your friend's wife) is in on it, including some details of the texts or your conversations. If you're asking these questions, then deep down, you already know there's something not quite right about the relationship. And if you feel uncomfortable telling your spouse about the texts, then you have confirmation that you are in a friendship that might go awry if you let it. When you realize this and want to put brakes on the friendship without being awkward, try texting him less frequently and mentioning both of your spouses in your exchanges. You could say something like “wouldn't it be fun if our spouses met each other and we all four got together sometime and let our children play?” Or, “my husband always handles this child rearing issue like this.”
Be sure to avoid deep conversations with him about problems at home — if you and your spouse aren't connecting quite right, don't complain about your issues with a third party who seems willing to connect with you. You will save a lot of heartache later and (hopefully) end up with a stronger marriage.
As a single woman, I am thankful for my male friends, both married and single, but if they are married, I always enjoy hearing about their wives and bringing them into any of our conversations.
HELEN'S ANSWER: In today's world men and women can be great friends without the fear of thinking romance is just around the corner.
The problem arises as you really do not know what another person is thinking. So while you know that your feelings for your male friend are purely platonic, you cannot know if he feels the same way or if he is attracted to you.