Can Men and Women Really Be Lifetime Friends?

Updated on June 22, 2014
S.D. asks from Carson, CA
45 answers

So let's say you have a great guy friend. He gets married and his wife says she doesn't want him to be friends with you. Your long-time guy friend is no longer your friend. Would you let your spouse be friends with a long time gal pal? Can men and women ever really be lifetime friends?

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answers from Baton Rouge on

"Let?" Adults don't "let" other adults do things. They ask or request that other adults do things.
I would never ask my husband to end a friendship just because his friend happened to be a woman. Some of my male friends, I have known since grade school. Any spouse of mine who expected me to end those friendships (or any other friendships) would be told where to get off.

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answers from Chicago on

My husband has MANY long time female friends - that he has dinner with 1:1 occasionally.
And I have the exact same. One of my best friends is a man and we have been close for 17 yrs.

It has never, ever, been an issue for us.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Yes I would "let" my husband maintain his friendships, even with women. In fact I just went out with his girl best friend/former roommate from college last night. When I told him I was meeting up with her for margaritas he looked kinda sad and said "she never asks me to hang out anymore" ;)

He and his brother had quite a bustling social group when I came on the scene and it included a lot of girls. I always felt like my SIL handpicked the ones she allowed my BIL to continue to hang out with when she started dating him (the same year hubs and I got married). And you know what, guess who is not really that popular among the group to this day. Unfortunately.

"Can't we all just get a long?" he he.

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answers from Boston on

Yes, I think men and women can be friends. In fact, my husband's childhood female friend married my childhood male friend. They met at our wedding. We are both friends with our opposite sex childhood friend. One of my husband's best friends is a woman (married). Her kids call us aunt/uncle and our kids do the same to her and her husband. I honestly think there are trust issues if you can't be friends with someone of the opposite sex or don't want your husband to either.

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answers from Dallas on

You lost me at "would you let". That would not fly at my house. We are partners with each other, not parents of each other. There is no such thing as "let or allow" in our marriage. We each make our own choices. We've been this way 26 yrs.

That said, why not be able to sustain a friendship with the opposite sex. I believe the only time it would not work would be if a spouse was jealous or so insecure that the other party would have to end the friendship in order to save the marriage. It is pretty sad that some spouses are that jealous and insecure.

Each marriage is different and what works for one may not work for the other.. I do believe in marriage being the priority.

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answers from Raleigh on

I have a male best friend that I have been friends with for over 20 years- long before we met our spouses.
Our friendship caused problems with some of my ex-boyfriends, so when I met my husband, I put it all out there. Basically, if he has a problem with my friend or if there is going to be petty jealousy issues, then let's just call it off now. I love my friend dearly- like a brother- and I refuse to have to choose. My husband was totally ok with it and has never felt threatened. We visit and even vacation with my friend and his wife, and our kids all play together. It's like I told my husband, and he his wife, if we wanted to cross that line, we would have done so long before. We had the time and opportunity to go down that road. It's just not happening- we just don't have that type of relationship. My husband and his wife both get it, and it's never been an issue.
So to answer your question- yes. Men and women can be lifelong friends.

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answers from Phoenix on

I have longtime male friends. We've known each other since college, have gotten married, have befriended each other's spouses, have even traveled together with our kids. I have some longtime single male and female friends too, who my husband also considers friends. My husband has female friends who I have become close with and he's become friends with their husbands also.

I guess what I'm saying is that it would never occur to me to forbid my husband from a friendship (male or female), unless that person has proven themselves to be untrustworthy in one way or another. Even then, I would hope that my husband would pull away from those kinds of relationships on his own, since he's not a child who I lay down rules for. When I pointed out that an ex-girlfriend who he was chatting with occasionally on FB probably wasn't just looking for a friend to talk to when she repeatedly told him her marriage was in trouble and she was planning on leaving her husband because she was "bored", he voluntarily ended that communication.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

His wife picks his friends? Really? Would I 'let' my spouse have long term female friends. I don't 'let' him do anything. And he has female friends he has known since elementary school. We have been to their weddings, their kids' bar/bat mitzvas and likely someday to their kids' weddings. Of course men and women can be lifelong friends.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Sure they can.
(Unless there are jealousy or trust issues.)

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answers from Santa Fe on

Yes. My husband and I (we are both 42) both have long term life long friends of the opposite sex. And now he is friends with my friends and I am friends with his...the benefit of being married is you bring all your friends together. I can't imagine ever saying he cannot be friends with anyone...that's immature. For example, he has a good running buddy at work who likes to do triathlons like he does. I cheer them both on at the races. We are planning a camping trip all together this summer, so I'll get to know her and her husband better. We invite over our friends for dinner so we all know each other. We hire a babysitter and go hang out with friends sometimes. We meet up to all go rock climbing together or skiing in the winter. We meet up with his best friends from high school when we are visiting his parents...both are women. It has been fun to get to know them. So, eventually I get to know his friends really well and he gets to know mine. A person is a person (male or female)...if you click you are lucky to have met someone who is a good friend in life. Sounds like your husband is one of those guys who only hangs out with guys and he expects you to only hang out with women. I have met people like this. I don't really understand them. The people I have known like this never change...they think of the opposite sex only as someone you are involved romantically with.

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answers from Reno on

My husband and I married when he was 38 and i was 32 so we had many friends prior to the marriage. I do not "let" my spouse do things.
I think the biggest thing in all of this is trust.
I would be bummed if my hubby said I needed to get rid of my friends (male or female) so I would never do that to him.
Some of my hubbys closest friends are now my friends and vice versa so that is a huge bonus.
Many blessings to you

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answers from Dover on

I don't think it's a matter of "letting" your spouse do something/anything.

I think that any two people can be lifetime friends, regardless of sex. If their new girlfriend/boyfriend has an issue with it (and it is just a friendship) then it should be addressed right then. It's clearly an issue of the new person's confidence in themselves or the relationship.

My high school sweetheart started the non-sense about 6 months into our relationship. SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE RED FLAG. Anyway, I told him to not make me choose between two of my dearest friends and him because he wouldn't like my decision. It worked for a long while but eventually, the jealousy was our undoing. In fairness, I could be a little jealous too but honestly it was always with good reason (never with longtime legitimate friends).

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answers from Washington DC on

Yes. Men and women can be friends with no sexual relations.

My husband has been friends with a woman since he met her in 1986. She and I are friends. She is happily married to her husband for almost 30 years....and they have 3 grown kids together...we went to a concert together last summer!

I'm not going to tell my husband who he can and cannot be friends with. He's a big boy and can make his own decisions.

Sounds like girl mentioned above is not secure in her relationship. How very sad.

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answers from Austin on

Yes, men and women can be lifelong friends.

In this day and age to have a spouse tell you , who you can and cannot be friends with is a red flag.

I wonder if this "wife" has problems with trust, because she herself cannot "Just be friends with the opposite sex" so she assumes he cannot either.

I am sorry you have lost this friend. I give it (marriage) 3 years..

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

Let him? I don't give permission to my husband. He is an adult. I have no issue with the sex of his friends. Man, woman....I don't care as long as the person isn't off doing dastardly deeds (like robbing a gas station, peddling drugs in a school zone), it is his choice to make.

I think men and women can be lifetime friends, but if a spouse is the jealous, mistrusting sort then it is probably better for everyone involved if the parties go their separate ways. Who needs that added drama in their lives?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

My husband has a lot of female friends that he was great friends with before I came along. I also have many male friends that I was great friends with before him as well. I nor him would ever say the other coudl not be friends with them any longer. We have all just became great friends. So when I met my now husband not only did I get him but i got an entire new circle of friends. I don't understand why people limit themselves or others. I have complete trust in my husband and our friends.

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answers from San Diego on

Absolutely you can have life long friends of the opposite sex!! Just ask my male friends that I have known for more than half my life if not most of my life. Many that I have known for longer than my husband.
My husband has friends of the opposite sex as well. I have absolutely no problems with it whatsoever.
Neither of us feel threatened, neither one of us have said you can't see them anymore because they are the opposite sex. It is a friendship, not a sexual relationship. Yes, you can have a friendship with someone of the opposite gender and not have it all about sex. The vast majority of my males friends I have never, not for a single moment, had any sexual interest in. I can't say all of them because a few of my male friends I did in fact date before my husband came along and stayed friends with later in life or I did have interest but nothing happened. I no longer have any interest in them sexually now though and am perfectly happy with my husband. He knows all my history and isn't threatened by it and doesn't feel that I will run off with any of them at the drop of the hat. It's an absurd assumption!
If you have a relationship like that you need counseling or to run like the wind away from it. A partner that feels they can control your life like that is not a good one to have. A partner that feels that insecure and threatened needs professional help to find out why they are being that irrational. Treating your partner like this is a good way to poison the relationship.

ETA: Forgot to add. My husband and I have been married 19 years coming up this summer and have been together a few years before that. We are more than happily married with 3 wonderful children.

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answers from Cleveland on

Absolutely! Only reason I can see the new wife's POV is if she knows the husband has secretly had a crush all these years on you. Otherwise, I have many close male friends for years. Many times I like guy friends more than women - they tend to be funnier, offer a different point of view, no cattiness etc. I also think they keep me kind of grounded and that only helps my marriage. I've worked in a male dominated field for over 20 years so I think it's natural I have male friends. Some are from college too though. My husband doesn't have as many close female friends bc he's also worked mainly with men...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on


It is unrealistic, to expect that once you get married that you cannot interact with anyone of the opposite sex nor be friends with them.

I have guy friends.
My Husband has women friends.
So what.

The world is full of opposite friendships.
Some have problems.
Some don't.

This is the same jealousy problem that some people have... and it can even get to the ridiculousness of, a Spouse will even get pissed if their wife/husband even looks... at someone of the opposite sex.
Good grief. We all have eyes. We all see people wherever we go.
You can't expect someone to wear blinders.

So anyway, in your post, the Wife does not want him to be friends with you anymore. Well, that's it. That's the verdict. And if you are a friend to that guy, you will "respect" that... instead of making his marriage a mess.
See, if that were my guy friend, well I would be disappointed that the Wife said he can't be friends with me. SO because I am his friend, I would never put him in the position of having to lie to his Wife about you and I would never put him in a bad situation with his Wife. I, would not be the cause of their problems. That, is what a friend is, even if you are not in contact with each other anymore. I would NOT create a soap-opera-drama-problem for my guy friend and his wife. That is what a friend is.
And I would not try to get him to go against his Wife either. That is what a friend is.
Do you see?

You are still friends. Just because his Wife said he can't be friends with you, that does not mean he is now not your friend. Meaning... he is your friend even if you can't be in contact, because, all these years you were friends and you have to remember that.
Thus, in the future, even if you are no longer in contact, you need to respect that friendship, and stay away. You are doing that gesture for your friend. Even from afar.
Do you see what I mean?
Being a friend from afar, is showing respect.
Making it an issue, or making him choose sides, or criticizing his Wife, is not being a friend.
And his marital problems with his Wife, is his. Not yours.

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answers from Washington DC on

i can't for the life of me imagine why not. while a sexual frisson may be part and parcel of many- even most- opposite sex relationships, it doesn't mean it has to present, or that if it is present that it will overpower everyone involved. most sane adults are perfectly capable of appreciating and loving the non-sexual aspects of others. i can't imagine 'letting' or 'forbidding' my husband's friendships, and i wouldn't appreciate him being jealous and controlling about mine.

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answers from Chicago on

I had a lot of close male friends when I got married. For the first 5 or 6 years of our marriage, I remained close to these friends and hubby became friends with them. In the last 5 years, we've lost contact as our lives have changed. Or as in the case of my one friend, his girlfriend didn't like our friendship. Funny, really, because this friend and I are so not each other types, rather, we were great friends with similar personalities and just clicked great as friends. he was like my male girlfriend.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Montgomery on

Yes, they can be. Although in my experience, the friendship will go through some changes due to marriage or relationships. I am still friends with guys I met years ago, but I personally don't feel comfortable talking to them as much as I used to now that they are married. I've found that guys I met after they were already married have no problem calling or emailing me, but it's like if our friendship was part of their "single days", and I do not know their wives, they are less likely to maintain the friendship. It's sad, but just how it is.
I would have no problem with it myself, especially if they were friends for a long time. But if I can't trust my spouse around his friends, then I probably shouldn't be married to him.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't LET my husband do anything and he doesn't LET me do anything. We're both adults. We accept responsibility for our OWN actions and deal with any fall out that might occur if we make poor choices (and if we make good choices).

That being said I personally have no problems with my husband having female friends. And he doesn't have problems with me having male friends. We have this little thing called TRUST. Without it what is the point of being in a relationship?

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answers from Rochester on

I have lifetime male friends that I absolutely adore. Our relationships have changed over the years, though, because as things change, friendships and boundaries should change with them.

My husband has NO problem with my male friends, because they have become his friends as well. I wouldn't have a problem with my husband having a lifelong gal pal if their friendship boundaries were healthy.

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answers from Wausau on

I have a male friend that I met when I was a teen. We're both married, me for much longer than him. It isn't romantic, never was, never will be. We'd be completely incompatible in that way, so much that even imagining it is ridiculous. There is no kind of behavior or preferential treatment that would give his wife or my husband to wonder.

That said, I've also seen plenty of "just friends" where the behaviors of one of both people were just skirting the edge of becoming inappropriate, but still enough to be able to claim it is 'nothing'. Other people can see what they won't admit though, it is usually pretty obvious. If left unchecked it usually leads to affairs and divorces.

Without knowing the parties involved in each scenario, the default judgement has to be in favor of the spouse with the complaint. Wives trump friends. He needs to focus his time and energy on her and his marriage. If the friendship is more important than the marriage, then she has cause to be upset.

Momwithacamera's comment about her husband's friend that doesn't even acknowledge her presence is upsetting. My husband would never stand for that from anyone, regardless of gender. That her husband doesn't take the friend to task about and/or get rid of her is a serious problem that should not be 'shaken off'.

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answers from Houston on

I don't think your issue is whether men and women can be BFFs. I think your issue is being rejected, that your friend chose someone else over you, be it another woman or his wife.

Getting burned is no fun. Sorry it happened and it really isn't fair of any wife to ask her husband to cut ties with any friend. Maybe in time he'll come around and ask for your forgiveness. I encourage you to spend your days not waiting for him nor hating him (or her). The sooner you admit he is out of your life, the sooner you can get on with your life. Should you happen to be faced with being friends with him again, your forgiveness, strength and love will allow you to handle the situation with maturity and wisdom, whether or not you chose to re-establish the friendship or not.

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answers from Kansas City on

My husband and I both have long time friends of the opposite sex. It all really depends on how much you trust your spouse. We don't keep things from each other and I don't mind that he occasionally has lunches with a friend who's a girl. She comes and hangs at our house sometimes, too. Most of my guy friends have become online friends because of distance, but sometimes I still see movies with one when it's one neither of our spouses wants to see.

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answers from Toledo on

Well, that sort of happened to me. I dated someone (very, very briefly) in college. A year later he became a very good friend at a time when I desperately needed a friend. He was dating someone else, someone he had also dated before me. They did marry, and she was not a fan of our friendship. We all graduated and went our separate ways, and I had to deal with the fact that marriage can trump opposite sex friends. I understand that she may have seen me as ex-girlfriend, rather than opposite sex friend. To me it was about the friendship.

It's been almost 20 years since college, and he found me on-line and wanted to do lunch (he was passing through town). We did have lunch, and it was a little weird but also nice. He asked me if my husband knew, and I said yes. My husband really had no reason to care, but I did, in fact, talk to him before I even agreed to lunch. My friend told me that his wife did not know because she would freak. My thought was, that is so sad!

You can't change how she feels, and you can't blame him for choosing her. I was really hurt when I knew my friend was disappearing from my life. Another friend really helped me and reminded me that she was the one who had issues. She was insecure, and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

I'm not saying it isn't possible. But it has to be ok with the wife. I haven't been the wife in that situation, so it's really hard to know how I'd feel. As a wife I do understand a little better. And if my friend is right that his wife is insecure, I really do potty her.

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answers from Portland on

I'm sure this must depend on the individual. My husband and I both have long-time friends of the other gender. Because we know and trust each other, neither of us seems to have any problem at all with this.

I suppose that if he asked me to never contact a certain guy again because he felt threatened, I would probably end contact. But I would wonder why he doesn't trust one or both of us, and see whether that insecurity could be healed.

He's kind of a mentor to several younger adults in our religious community, and a couple of them are attractive younger women. If I felt threatened, I suppose he'd end contact (except during religious services). But I think it would change our relationship into something less satisfying than the mutual trust we now enjoy.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I'm better at being friends with guys. I have guy friends that I've been friends with over 30 years. I've never had the desire to jump in bed with them.

I do think it's odd if a spouse doesn't want them to be friends with their old friends. Surely they met before they got married and could see the dynamics. That sounds like that person is really really needy and insecure.

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answers from Anchorage on

The short answer, yes. I am dear friends with men I have known for different amounts of time, from years to decades. My husband has no issues with these friendships, not even the one I have with the man I almost married before I ever met my SO.

But, if the friendship makes the married partner uncomfortable for any reason that needs to be respected as well. You are making a life with that person and their emotional wellbeing needs to come first before other friendships.

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answers from Norfolk on

It depends.
Sex would ruin the friendship - it just does.
I think a guy can really be just 'one of the gals' and a woman can really be 'just one of the guys'
in no way should the friendship ever eclipse the purpose/place/intimacy of the marriage.
That would be over stepping the bounds.
Boundaries are important and necessary and your mate comes before your friends regardless of what gender they happen to be.
If you've got that straight, and your mate is secure about his/her place in your life/affection, and your friend is not competing with your spouse (can even be friends with your spouse as well)
then in theory things should work out just fine.
In practice, a lot of people don't figure the details out to the necessary degree so it's just better to avoid what they can't help but mess up.

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answers from New York on

My husband has always been in the company of women. He has several women friends. I have no close male friends. LOL, all of them jumped off the friendship wagon when I said I do. Hubby called each and every one of those. I didn't even see it coming.

Late last year I caught my adorable hubby being a little too friendly with one of his lady friends. It was at that point some new boundaries needed to be implemented by him. He crossed lines and was caught crossing them.

To answer your question, I don't treat my husband like a child or like a pet. I treat him like an equal partner. He gets to choose and so do I and there are consequences for actions either appropriate or inappropriate. I still don't have any close male friends and I kind of like it that way. I believe it is a matter of preference and your relationship with your spouse.

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answers from Miami on

Yes, it's possible. I have life-long male friends who I am grateful to have in my life. Do I see them everyday? No. Some I haven't seen for years. That's okay.

But my BEST male friend is my husband. That will never change, and he knows that.

I have never asked my husband to drop a long time friend. Then again, he has not given me cause to.

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answers from Hartford on

I believe they can be but also I believe in protecting your marriage. I am not insinuating anything other than friendship but every marriage is different and the two parties involved in the marriage have to setup perimeters that work for one another.

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answers from Las Vegas on

It depends on what you mean. I am very aware of who I can be friends with and who I can't. My brother in law has three brothers and one sister. I will always be friends with all of his siblings, but am very close friends with one brother. I dated the other brother in junior high school and we just kind of hung out in high school. I can be cordial to him, but never close friends. He has no boundaries.

So one brother has my number and is my FB friend, while the other brother has nothing. It's simple.

I see them all any where from one to three times per year. I would probably be closer to him (friendly one), but he parties too much for me. Just a preference.

And yes, my husband can still have his friends. It is not a problem unless they disrespect me. So far only one lady friend of his refuses to acknowledge me when we bump into her. I just walk off and he is welcome to catch up with her. I refuse to stand there while she acts like I don't exist.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Would I be all right about my spouse being friends with a long-time gal pal? I would, if I could be friends with her, too. But some people just can't do that. And the relationship with the spouse takes precedence.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Yes, it is possible.

But if one of the spouses feels uncomfortable with the friendship (even if it's simply because of their OWN insecurities) it puts a strange stain on the friendship and things will start to feel weird, which then becomes a vicious cycle with the spouse getting more and more suspicious even when nothing's going on. And then a perfectly innocent, good friendship gets ruined.

If there's true trust and security in the spousal relationship, it's absolutely possible to have good, true, lifelong friends of the opposite sex.

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answers from Boston on

Yes but honestly, I would say no dinner and drinks alone w the friend.

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answers from Reno on

I'm 48. I have guy friends that I've known since high school - some since junior high. I treat them just like I treat my girlfriends - I hug them, I say, "I love you," I occasionally see them without their spouse present. My husband has never minded. MOST of the time, their wives/girlfriends have not minded, although I'd respect their wishes if they did.

I think it matters that I am not particularly attractive, and that I've never cheated on a boyfriend or husband.


answers from Erie on

Yes, with boundaries.
If my husband asked me to not hang out with a male friend because he felt threatened, I wouldn't. And I expect the same from him.

I have male friends, he has female friends (mostly at work, though). But in general, my friends are his and vice versa, so we tend to hang out with these people together.


answers from Jacksonville on

I won't say no, never. But I think it is very uncommon.
Pretty much everyone I know considers their spouse their best opposite sex friend. Then, "extra-curricular" (?) friendships become relationships with the couple as a unit, (either the three of you do things, or more frequently, the 4 of you when the friend has a SO of their own, or your respective families), or they fade away.

Just what I've witnessed with the people I know. That isn't to say it is impossible.



answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, they can, with strict boundaries.

After all, while my feelings for my husband will never change, my male friends' feeling could change and start to see me as something more than a friend. This puts me, my husband, my friend, and his spouse in a seriously damaging situation.

Everyone is better off with same-sex friends.



answers from San Antonio on

well there are way to many scenarios for this to be a "yes/no" question.
I guess it depends on the dynamics of the relationship between Husband and Female friend.
I think he should have enough love for his wife and respect for his marriage to know if he should cut the friendship before its too late.
My brother had to make that choice, he chose his wife.
My husband went WAY TOO far into flirting with a friend of BOTH of ours, and SHE didn't discourage it, she let it continue (behind my back) and when I confronted him on it, I was "reading too much into it" and now, She is completely out of my life and he is only in it because of our kids.
I wouldn't tell any husband of mine "you can't be her friend" but I would hope, he would have enough love and respect for me that he would cut out toxic relationships on his own.



answers from Orlando on

My best friend years ago was a guy and when he was dating someone he really cared for we stopped hanging out so much cause she didn't like it, I was like okay since he really cared for her and I love my friend in a sibling love type of way so it wasn't a big deal, Sadly we lost touch years after that and now as an adult and married one of my good friends is a guy and he is now the godfather ozone of my daughters, He is both of our friend now yet closer to me and we call each other etc, He is still single so who know how that would change if he were to be in a relationship and if it does its okay by me like talking on the cell etc, since I know he is now more like family. I am not a jealous person and neither is my husband, I think if there was more to it then a relationship other than friendship would have happened, so I know men and women can be lifetime friends in my opinion,

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