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The Three “Friends” That Will Destroy Your Marriage

Scott Haltzman, MD

It’s good to have lots of friends, but it’s better to have friend that are good for your marriage.

When Edward discovered that his fiancée, Elise, had been flirtatiously texting with old college boyfriends without his knowledge, he was upset. Elise defended herself by saying that they’re just friends, and confessed that she hid these connections from Edward telling him, “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”
“Besides,” she added, “what’s the problem with a little flirting? I just happen to have a lot of male friends.”
Who can blame Elise for wanting to nurture friendships with people? Perhaps to the famous axiom, “You can never be too rich or too thin,” some people would add, “or have too many friends.” For example, when most people hunt down an old acquaintance on Facebook, one of the first things they do is peek at is how many friends are listed. That’s because, in addition to knowing someone’s job, educational level and income, the number of friends someone has is one measure of success. Friendships, like education, job or money, have value.
The more the merrier?
So one would think that, like money, education or job status, the more friends you have the better. But when it comes to marriage or committed relationships, that ain’t necessarily so.
Friends are a source of companionship, sometimes solace, and frequently a great person to hang with for a good time. But being with a friend requires sharing of your thoughts and emotions, and sometimes in intimate ways. A good friend is able to maintain a platonic distance while still being fun and supportive.
A not-so-open door policy on friendships
The moment a couple decides to date exclusively, it begins a process of excluding other people from the relationship. One obvious prohibition is against having sex with other people. But other “hands off” rules aren’t so clear. When two people commit, they rarely open up a discussion of what it means to be “unfaithful.” Sometimes the kinds of social situations that seemed benign when you were single can actually be quite destructive to a monogamous relationship. There is no one solid definition of infidelity that applies to every situation; many things that people outside of marriage can do, even if they are not engaged in full-on infidelity. Here are 3 kinds of people—people who are the same sex as your spouse– who you should be avoided at all costs:
1. The “friend” who doesn’t acknowledge your significant other: Have you ever tried to mention your spouse to your friend and whenever you do, your friend changes the subject. Have you noticed that your friend never asks how your life partner is doing? If you keep referencing your mate, and the other person keeps acting as if he or she doesn’t exist, that tells you this person doesn’t want your partner to exist. Why? Because the dude wants you for him or herself. That’s bad for your relationship.
2. The “friend” who makes sexually oriented comments and jokes. It’s not uncommon for sexually tinged words to be exchanged in conversation, particularly online or in texts. Everyone enjoys a flattering teases or comment about how attractive, sexy, or desirable he or she is. And maybe on a rare occasion, such words from a friend could lift your spirits. But if a friend is continually addressing your sex appeal, even in subtle ways, then it’s time to question his or her motives.
3. The “friend” who paws you. Some people are just more affectionate than others; they love to hug and kiss, even pat other on the butt every now and then. That might be fine for them but it isn’t fine for your relationship. The next time you friend grabs at your butt, remind him or her that, while the love for your partner knows no bounds, there are definite boundaries for love of a friend!