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20-40-60 Etiquette: Why can't we be friends?

20-40-60 Etiquette weighs in on whether a woman should be exchanging friendly texts with a man who isn't her husband, with Religion Editor Carla Hinton as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: December 23, 2012

The best way to deal with these relationships is to include your husband in all dealings with your friend. That way, he is included in your friendship.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Carla Hinton, Religion Editor: The fact that you are asking this question makes me wonder if you feel, deep down, that these exchanges are inappropriate.

Now, they may not be inappropriate, but the truth is that they could lead to something inappropriate. Remember that old saying “It's a slippery slope”? Well, this catchphrase perfectly fits the situation you describe. It's easy for one thing to lead to another and statistics bear this out ... a text or two here, an email or two there ... before you know it you have established a close relationship with a man other than your husband.

There is nothing wrong per se with married couples having friendships with people of the opposite sex but spouses have to be careful that these friendships don't somehow undermine the marital relationships.

To safeguard against this, one must be vigilant about what topics are discussed in this platonic friendship and boundaries must be established, like no discussing marital problems, etc.

If boundaries are not set forth from the beginning, there could be problems and that slippery slope could appear on the horizon.

I have some questions for you: How would you feel if your husband was on the receiving end of another woman's emails and texts? How do you think your husband would feel if he knew that you are exchanging emails and texts with another man?

If you would feel uncomfortable with your husband exchanging such emails and texts with another woman that he happened to meet, then you should respond the way you would want him to respond if he knew you would feel uncomfortable with such exchanges.

A good way to end these exchanges is to stop responding to his emails and texts. Or you could simply text or email him to say that you are uncomfortable with the exchanges, however innocent they may be, and plan to stop responding. Wish him well. Period.

Callie Gordon is twenty-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. You'll also find a guest answer. To ask an etiquette question, email For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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