A colleague of mine has recently got into a semi-serious relationship with a gal he’s been seeing for about six months. The problem is that his best mate is female and he’s started to feel a bit funny about hanging around with Best Mate Gal on his own because he doesn’t want to upset his New Lady. New Lady hasn’t said anything and she gets along brilliantly with Best Mate Gal but my friend just can’t shake the feeling that it’s all a bit weird. Personally I think he’s being a touch paranoid but it got me thinking about the maintenance of opposite sex friendships while in relationships.
It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me that the date on which you form a friendship can have such a strange impact on your romantic relationships. In my relationship, existing friendships are completely fine. I have several very close male friends that have been a part of my life forever and I casually have private dinners with them on a regular basis. Some of these men are married, some are single. Mr Smaggle has a few female friends from high school and whenever they’re in town he goes off to dinner with them, happily leaving me at home.
However, I suspect that if Mr Smaggle all of a sudden had a new female friend and started having one on one catch ups with her regularly, I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled. I also can’t see him being terribly pleased if I had a brand new man friend that started occupying all my time. There seems to be something about the longevity of a previously formed friendship that provides a certain immunity to jealousy. I guess the unofficial theory is that if you’ve had a seemingly platonic friend for such a length of time then surely the opportunity to hook up with this person has been presented and then either denied or regretfully acted upon. Otherwise you’d obviously be happily married to this magic friend but you’re not, so there’s nothing to worry about. However a brand new friendship has a certain air of the unnecessary about it, particularly if the friendship is exclusive.
Unlike my colleague, I have no guilty conscious when it comes to spending time with my old mates but I tend to tread more carefully with newer man friends. I’m not entirely sure why but it appears that any truly meaningful friendships that I have with men were almost exclusively formed years before I even met Mr Smaggle. It’s all a bit interesting isn’t it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, particularly if this has ever been an issue for you. What do you think?
Is it harder to maintain opposite sex (or same sex as the case may be) friendships when you’re in a relationship?
* I apologise for writing this in hetero-normative language. I always make an effort to write relationship articles with neutral sexual orientation language but it just got too damn messy in this one.