Berna

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But it can also be confusing. All those lines you thought existed start getting blurred.

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So, I'm just wondering Is it unfashionable to do so? Politically incorrect? There must be a reason that so many people have stopped doing it. As a couple's mediator who works with couples trying to overcome infidelity and broken trust, I hear this kind of thing all the time:. He says they're just friends, but he guards his phone like it carries state secrets and leaves the room to text her.

When I tell him it bothers me, he says I'm controlling and accuses me of not wanting him to have any friends.

Now he's locked his phone and won't give me the password. He says I'm paranoid and it's my problem. They're constantly texting back and forth and sending workout pictures of themselves. She says I'm insecure and they're just friends, but yet she instantly deletes her text message history after they've texted. If I ask to read their texts, she says that I don't respect her privacy. Look, I strive to be unbiased, but there comes a point when behaviour becomes conspicuously shady.

And the dialogues above would seem to fit onto that shelf. Yet you might be surprised how many people don't -- or won't -- trust their gut and accept the strong possibility that their spouse and their texting buddy are more than "just friends.

Maybe Why are we just friends just about living in denial. The truth is, many opposite-sex friendships are sustained because of a simmering attraction between two people. Or maybe it's about falling for all the manipulations and insults that a committed person will use so that they can continue to indulge in a "friendship" that they know is inappropriate and disrespectful to their primary relationship.

If circumstances were different, they could easily be sexual partners. And they know it. This underlying current of attraction makes talking, texting and spending time together as "just friends" all the more exciting. It has an erotic edge to it. Of course, it's only a matter of time until a person's spouse begins to notice this increasingly intimate friendship and get worried. They may ask "Who are you texting? And that's when it starts.

The defensiveness, downplaying and deflections. The insults and indignation.

Too often, a committed person who knows that an extra-marital friendship is inappropriate will deny, deny, deny that it is. Instead of respecting their partner's feelings and addressing their concerns, instead of quickly and clearly putting their primary relationship first, they'll do everything they can to ensure their "friendship" continues. Unfortunately, this often involves turning the tables so that their partner's behaviour looks problematic, not their own.

7 reasons to be just friends

To do this, they may employ any of "drop it" tactics. This person will act like their human rights are being violated when their spouse asks them to distance themselves from their opposite-sex "friend. I didn't do anything wrong! Any professional who works with couples will tell you that the vast majority of affairs begin as opposite-sex friendships.

The love or friendship checklist

They'll cruelly dismiss their partner's concerns: "There's nothing going on, it's all in your head. You're paranoid. Another tactic is to basically shame their partner into silence. We all know how public shaming is used nowadays: it allows the shamer to assume a position of moral superiority and simultaneously bully or embarrass another person into withdrawing, usually via a combination of name-calling, humiliation and distortion.

Well, this happens in intimate relationships, too. Ouch, right? That's why this tactic works. Nobody wants to be "that wife" or "that husband. Now all of this begs the question: might the suspicious partner in fact be jealous and controlling? Sure, it's definitely possible.

Some people are like that.

So should you date?

That's why I always encourage my clients to start by self-checking their own behaviour. Are you the problem? Is your partner so sick of your suspicions or accusations that they're finally taking a stand and locking their phone? Because that happens. Yet more often, I see that pendulum swing to the other extreme. I see spouses who harbor deep feelings of suspicion, sadness and worry with regard to their spouse's opposite-sex "friend," but who nonetheless bite their tongue instead of voicing those suspicions. That's because those "drop it" tactics work so well.

Nonetheless, you may need to be "that wife" or "that husband. The more time, energy and affection your partner is spending on another person, the less they're spending on you.

So protect your marriage. Protect yourself.

Trust your gut. Any professional who works with couples will tell you that the vast majority of affairs begin as opposite-sex friendships, especially of the type enabled by personal technology such as texting and social media. These can create a false sense of intimacy that can fast-track a "friendship" into something more. If your partner dismisses your concerns or disregards the impact the extramarital friendship is having on your relationship, then it's safe to say there's a problem that needs to be addressed.

There's a lot you can do to regain control in a good way! The longer these "friendships" go on, the more entrenched they get and the more defensive people get of them. I should know, since this issue is a common one I see in practice. But step one is to get your own head around it. Instead of feeling insecure or ashamed to insist that your partner limit or end an opposite-sex friendship that is causing a rift between the two of you, have confidence in your own assessment of the situation and in your own ideals of what is appropriate within a marriage.

Marriages can be fragile things. Canada Edition. Follow Us. Terms Privacy Policy. This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact support huffpost.

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I wish every teenager and young adult could experience a friendship with someone from the opposite sex with no strings attached.
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