Being friends with a married person shouldn’t be strange, since they need friends just like anyone else. What happens when the person becomes more than a friend, though? More importantly, how do you prevent inappropriate friendships when married?
You know about emotional affairs but what if your spouse doesn’t think that they’re cheating on you? Are you crazy for being jealous because they spend a lot of time with their friend of the opposite gender?
Maybe you’re the one who thinks you’re getting too close to a friend of the opposite sex. Close friendships are one thing but getting too close to a particular friend can be bad.
I’m here to answer all your questions about inappropriate friendships when married! So, let’s start by answering them.
You’re about to read the most common questions about this topic and you’ll later learn ways to prevent inappropriate friendships when married and signs it’s too late for prevention.
FAQ about inappropriate friendships when married:
1. Is it all right for married couples to have opposite-gender friends?
To a general question like this one, the only answer is yes. Married couples are people like everyone else, so they can have all sorts of friends just like anyone else would.
You do need to set boundaries, though, as you shouldn’t become too close to opposite-gender friends.
Trust your partner enough to let them spend time with their friends and don’t be jealous but if you have a good reason to be, they shouldn’t just dismiss it.
2. Is it okay for your spouse to spend time alone with a friend of the opposite gender?
It’s one thing when your husband has a female co-worker he has to spend time with but what if they have too much alone time? Maybe your wife has a close male friend she’s often alone with instead.
Well, you have to trust your partner but again, you should both also know how to set boundaries.
It’s entirely different when your partner is having a coffee with a friend in a place full of other people than when they’re alone with one in an apartment listening to jazz and drinking wine.
Your partner can be alone with their friend but it shouldn’t be in a romantic atmosphere. When they’re just hanging out, it’s okay unless there are signs of an emotional affair.
3. What kinds of boundaries should married couples set for their friends?
It’s possible to become too close to your friends of the opposite gender. Don’t talk to them about your marriage too much and don’t get too personal.
You can be there for your friends but your marriage shouldn’t pay the price. So, when it’s clear that you have to choose, your choice should be clear to you.
4. Is it okay for married couples to spend time with separate friends?
While it’s always great to have common friends, married couples need to have friends they hang out with separately. As long as their partner is aware of and comfortable with those friends, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Having secret friends or friends who clearly bother your spouse is a whole other thing. If they have a good argument as to why you shouldn’t be friends with someone, you shouldn’t ignore it.
5. Can a friendship with someone destroy your marriage?
If you start having feelings for your friend or they start liking you a bit too much, things will get messy. While that on its own can’t destroy your marriage, it can lead to a lot of issues that will inevitably leave someone hurt.
Clearly, it could destroy your marriage if you fall for someone who’s not your spouse. If your friend falls for you, it could either destroy your friendship or your marriage, since you can’t have it both ways.
12 ways to prevent inappropriate friendships when married
Setting boundaries is the most important thing you need to do to prevent inappropriate friendships when married.
The truth is, you’ll probably eventually get into a situation where a friendship crosses the line, so you need to learn to recognize that line and know when it happens.
Only then will you be able to react the way you should and stop your friendship from jeopardizing your marriage. Whether you fall for your friend, they fall for you, or both, you need to be aware when it starts happening.
You can’t stop something from going further unless you’re entirely aware that it’s heading in that direction.
You’ll probably feel the need to pretend like nothing’s going on to save both your friendship and your relationship.
However, this is a bad idea because your marriage needs to be a priority at all times and going with the flow will just hurt someone.
Here are the rules you need to follow if you’re a married person who has friends of the opposite gender:
1. Make your marriage your priority
You don’t want to prioritize your friendships over your partner, whichever kinds of friendships they are.
Is there a friend you talk to every day and share personal details with? Do you stalk a friend of the opposite gender on social media?
These things can be fine but are you overdoing it or has your friend become a priority to you? When you start imagining a scenario where the two of you could be a couple, you’ve definitely gone too far.
Maybe you instead tell your partner that you’ll leave them if they disagree with your choice of friends. This means that your friends have become a priority to you, not your spouse, and it’s a sign of trouble.
You need to know your priorities and your marriage should be the most important one of them all.
If you had to choose one person to stay in your life – your partner or your friend – who would you choose? Unless you instantly know that you’d choose your partner, you may want to rethink your priorities.
When a friend becomes more important to you than your spouse, you’re definitely deep in the danger zone.
2. Don’t get too close to your friends of the opposite gender
When you want a close friend to get even closer, it’s your cue to leave the danger zone. You can of course have close friends but when you’re too close to a friend of the opposite sex, it may be a sign of trouble.
Is this friend close to your partner as well or do you have a special bond that you can’t really put into words? That special bond can turn into more than friendship if it hasn’t already.
How do you know how close is too close, though? Well, compare how close you are to your friend to how close you are to your partner.
Is physical intimacy the only thing that still makes your friend ‘just a friend’ and not a partner? You may already have too much intimacy then, even if physical intimacy is out of the question.
Once you put a ring on your finger, your partner is the person who should be closest to you.
3. Be entirely honest with your spouse
So how can you know when you’ve crossed the line when it comes to inappropriate friendships when married? Well, does your partner know about this friend and the things you do with them and talk to them about?
Rest assured that lies destroy a marriage, so if you’ve been hiding something from your spouse, it’s bad. You’ve already crossed the line if you keep your friendship a secret.
When you start coming up with excuses just to spend time with a friend of the opposite gender, it’s a major red flag.
Instead of justifying your behavior by saying that your spouse would be jealous, ask yourself why you think that. Does your partner actually have a good reason to be?
The truth is, we know when we’re doing the wrong thing and we feel that it’s wrong. Basically, if it feels like you’re cheating, you probably are cheating.
Hiding things from your spouse is a sign of an inappropriate friendship when married. Why would you need to lie to them if your friendship was appropriate?
You probably already know that what you’re doing is not okay, so don’t let it go any further than it already has.
Do you know a sure way to create a strong emotional connection that will lead to something more? Sharing your secrets with this person.
I’m not saying that you have to hide things from your friends but what have you been sharing with them? If you have a friend of the opposite gender whom you tell everything, it’s not a good sign.
Eventually, you may realize that they know you better than your spouse and you may ignore the fact that it’s because you told them more.
You’ll instead think that they somehow know your soul and that you’ve connected on a deeper level.
Sounds a lot like love, doesn’t it? If you also complain to your friend about your marriage, you’re telling them that you’re ready to leave your spouse.
5. Don’t flirt with your friends of the opposite gender
Relationships with friends can get extra personal. You may start engaging in slightly inappropriate physical contact or make unsuitable jokes.
Sure, there is such a thing as ‘innocent flirting’ but will it stay innocent? Eventually, you’re probably going to cross the line and really flirt.
Maybe you’ll explain it as a way to boost your ego or get some extra attention but it’s very dangerous. If you even do it in front of your partner, you’re going to lose their trust completely.
Keep your hands off your friends and don’t joke about hooking up. It may seem funny to you at that time but just think about whether your spouse would laugh or cry about it.
6. Let your friends meet your spouse
Inappropriate friendships when married are probably the ones your spouse is not even aware of. Have they met your friends of the opposite gender?
If you’re hesitant about putting your friend and your partner in the same room, why is that so? There’s probably a reason you want to keep them separate and it’s probably a bad one.
Your spouse should know all your friends and be aware of the kind of relationships you have with them. When you want to keep a friendship a secret, it’s probably because you know that it’s more than just a friendship.
7. Don’t make your spouse hang out with your friends
While your partner should meet all of your friends, you shouldn’t make them hang out with them. Unless they get along great and like each other, there’s no reason for them to be friends too.
If your partner isn’t comfortable around your friends, don’t force them to accept them. It’s okay to have separate friends and spend some time alone with them.
As long as they know about them and they’re okay with you hanging out with them, everything’s fine. Just make sure that they know they can trust you while they’re not around.
8. Don’t spend too much time with your friends
Do you spend more time with your friend than with your partner? If so, that’s pretty alarming.
Sure, getting a coffee with a co-worker from time to time is perfectly fine but texting them in the middle of the night and giggling about it is something else.
If you spend all of your free time with your friend, you’re going to end up doing the latter.
You need to have a life outside of your relationship but your marriage should be a priority. When you spend more time with your friend than with your spouse, you’re developing a bad habit.
Inappropriate friendships when married are often followed by neglecting everything other than the ‘friendship’.
9. Have couple friends
The safest way to prevent inappropriate friendships when married is to have couple friends. While you should have your own friends, as your partner should, you should have common friends too.
These are the friends who should be most important to you and you can have double dates with them. You’ll have friendships with no risk of having inappropriate friendships when married.
Your search for fulfillment needs to stay in your marriage. When you start looking for it elsewhere, you’ll get into a complicated situation.
10. Don’t accuse your partner of being too jealous or even crazy
If your partner isn’t comfortable with your friendship, you can’t just dismiss it and call them crazy. They probably sensed something that you may not want to admit to yourself.
Even if they didn’t, you can’t just call them crazy for feeling jealous. If you’ve been spending more time with your friend than with them, they have a reason to worry.
They need your attention and you’ve been giving it to someone else. Just because you only gave them your time and attention, it doesn’t mean you can call it innocent.
Your partner should be more important to you than your friend and if it bothers them that you’re friends, don’t ignore it.
11. Don’t put yourself in romantic situations alone with your friend
As for spending alone time with a friend of the opposite gender, it’s fine if it looks fine.
Maybe you’re in a café or at a party together but what if you’re alone in a house on a cozy couch, though? Don’t get too comfy and keep your distance.
You most definitely don’t want to be in a romantic atmosphere, so avoid romantic situations.
12. Run away if you think your friend is hot
Okay, so I wrote this in a joking manner but it’s not entirely a joke. Thinking someone looks good and finding them good-looking are different things.
Want to avoid inappropriate friendships? Avoid the friend you find attractive.
Maybe your new co-worker seems friendly but do you think they look very attractive? If so, just forget about being friends with them.
The same goes for your current friends who you may get the hots for. If you think your friend of the opposite gender is very good-looking, you may not be crossing the line but you’re pushing it.
Signs of inappropriate friendships when married
1. Always saying that you’re just friends
You know how people repeat something one too many times so it gets a little weird? Well, how many times have you said that you and this person are ‘just friends’?
Why did you feel the need to say that? If your partner accused you of cheating, don’t neglect it as if it’s merely jealousy.
On the other hand, if you happen to mention that this person is ‘just’ a friend, you may be admitting to yourself that they’re more. Whichever way you try to justify your feelings, don’t ignore them.
2. Complaining about your marriage to your friend of the opposite gender
Friends talk about things so surely the topic of your marriage will come up every once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with that but have you been constantly complaining about your spouse?
Have you been trying to make your friend think that you’re not happy in your marriage? When a married man falls in love with another woman, he often tries to make her think that he’ll leave his wife.
Maybe you’re not willing to leave your partner but leading your friend to think that you will says something about your friendship.
In addition, people bond when they share intimate things. You should talk about them to your partner instead.
3. Constantly thinking about your friend and daydreaming about them
How often do you think about your friend and what do you think about when you think about them? If you can’t stop daydreaming about being with them, you are, in a way, already cheating.
Even if you don’t believe in the signs of an emotional affair, it’s definitely a sign that this person is more than a friend to you.
When you find yourself comparing your friend and your spouse and thinking about who would be a better partner for you, you’re in too deep.
Maybe you’re even neglecting other activities and obligations because you just want to spend time with them.
Are you going to have an affair with your friend? When it gets to the point that you’re constantly thinking about it, you can’t really claim that you wouldn’t do it.
4. Lying to your partner or hiding things from them
Honesty is one of the boundaries in a marriage that you can’t break. Have you been hiding your phone and hoping that your spouse won’t see the texts you send to your friend?
Do you lie about where you’re going to be when you’re about to see your friend? If so, it could seriously harm your marriage and you can’t blame your partner for being jealous.
After all, by doing this, you’re actually acting like you’re having an affair.
5. Wanting to spend a lot of time with your friend and trying to make them happy
This sounds like something innocent but do you want to spend all of your free time with your friend? Have you been buying them presents and trying really hard to make them feel happy and special?
How special is your friendship? Does everything remind you of this friend and have you been neglecting your marriage?
Maybe you even intend to spend some time alone with your friend and just see where it goes, which is fairly troubling because you’re basically planning to cheat.
When you have an affair with a friend, you are ending two relationships – both a friendship and your marriage. Which of these relationships means more to you?
If you’re thinking about having an affair, remind yourself how those things usually end. Maybe you had a little crush on your friend and that’s okay but you need to put that relationship on hold and focus on your marriage.
If you don’t stop having romantic feelings for your friend, the right thing to do is end the friendship.