Sunday, August 23, 2009

We're Just Friends

I turned on Good Morning America last week and was somewhat shocked that Steve Harvey had joined the crew. His segment on this particular day was addressing "can men and women just be friends?" and his new book: Act like a Lady- Think like a Man. The segment started off by bringing up the classic movie When Harry Met Sally and how Billy Crystal proclaimed early on that men and women can't be friends- because the sex part always gets in the way.

I grabbed my coffee, put my laptop down and settled in to see what would happen on GMA. My girlfriend called me and shouted "are you watching this?" uh huh. I was.

Check it out:

Basically, Steve Harvey said that when considering outside relationships you have to ask yourself "What good does this relationship bring to your marriage"
I think this is an intriguing point of contention. It has been debated by my closest friends and I. It's been an issue in relationships for a very long time What's appropriate? What's inappropriate? Especially when there is a vast amount of gray area on either side.

I work in a predominately male field. When I travel, I'm usually the only female on the trip. When I'm in meetings it's usually me and the boys. I don't mind it. My brother trained me well. So my rules are generally, if it's a business lunch, drink, or dinner- I sort of have to go- but I think there is absolutely a way to be respectful of your relationship with it. Stay for one or two drinks instead making a night of it. Invite someone else from the office to go with you for lunch. But above all I think it's about communication.. when you fail to disclose the plans- you create doubt.

I had a very good friend that I worked with when I started out in the industry. We were close. He mentored me on how to do a deal. We crossed over to being more than business friends. I only ever thought of him as a friend. We would get lunch a couple of times a week. We would occasionally go for happy hour. When I started dating my now ex husband- he let me know that he'd like to be more than friends.. I was taken a back. I didn't think of it like that? It was then that my good friend educated me-- he said "Ashley- men never take a friendship to the level of ours if they don't want something more." I sort of lost one of my good friends. Sure, even after this we still had the occasional lunch and ran into each other at business happy hours, but it wasn't ever the same. He later married and we didn't see each other for the first several years of his marriage (other than at business functions). But he called me last week, and wants to have lunch.. I politely made sure this was something he'd cleared with his wife (because I know and respect her), and if I go- I'll let my significant other know. He's a business colleague and it is all about networking- but some might consider this crossing the line? (Especially those interviewed on the show)

Regardless, I think the key to maintaining or having relationships with people of the opposite sex is to never act in a way that would cause your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/special friend/person or any of the above to doubt your intentions. If your significant other read that text or email- would they have an issue? Could it be misunderstood? If they knew you had lunch,dinner, or drinks with that person would it make them uncomfortable? If you're seeking out situations that are socially okay to flirt with the opposite sex are you really happy and fulfilled in your own relationship?

What's okay with business friendships or friendships with the opposite sex in general? Can Men and Women just be friends? I think so. Especially if it's friend of your "relationship" meaning you both know and have something in common with the person or they are a couple friend.

OR you could take Steve Harvey's approach and just not do it. I'd love to get your comments! Most of my blog followers have had successful, affair proof marriages- so let me know what you think!

Happy Monday! Holla!!


Cathy Hutchison said...

As it turns out, I do have an opinion on this. (smile)

You outlined the challenges really well. There are social things that happen in the workplace (great tips on managing that). And, yes...any time you hide a meeting or wouldn't feel comfortable with your spouse having full access to your e-mail, you've blown it.

But there is something no one ever brings up and that is the intimacy thing.

Anything you share with a friend that you don't share with your spouse is something your spouse isn't getting of you.

Friends are great but if there is any part of yourself you have with them that you can't (or simply don't) share with your spouse then it starts to work like water..."the flow" goes where things are easiest. (Gender not a factor.)

It is hard not to wall up when your spouse hurts you (ignores you, doesn't see you). It takes tons of time to break through your spouses walls. (And we are all broken, walled people.)

But you don't get there without huge quantities of interaction time. And I think most people settle for a rhythm of just making things work instead of actually fighting through the awful parts to get to the better on the other side.

Friends--especially opposite sex friends--can fill gaps you have in your marriage. Which means, you'll never fix those gaps. They are already filled. It occurs to me that couples who are really close, don't have gaps.