When does intimacy between friends cross the line?
In a previous blog post, I explained that the best way to avoid having an affair is to be wary of people who don't care about the happiness of your marriage. Many people worry that the only solution to this problem is to avoid anyone of the opposite sex — but that's simply not true! Think about it: If you were to follow this advice to the extreme, half the world would be off-limits to every married person!
Men and women interact all the time despite the reality that a sexual attraction could spark between them. Well-dressed women sit at the boardroom table with dapper men, stylish female sales representatives drop in on male doctors during lunch breaks and well-built male physical trainers gently place their female clients' body parts in the proper positions on the elliptical machine. Moreover, men and women interact in work cubicles, university lab benches, art, acting and yoga studios throughout the world.
Friend Or Foe To The Marriage?
Can people who are potentially sexually attracted to each other form friendships and still be true to their marriage? I believe they can. It is possible to be open to spending time with, work, study or create side-by-side with someone of the opposite sex (if heterosexual) or of the same sex (if gay or lesbian). But as the friendship evolves, it's the responsibility of the married individual to pay attention to the nature of the relationship. Feeling comfortable around someone is a blessing. But if you or they are starting to feel very close emotionally, it may be a big warning sign.
When you are with someone who could tempt you to compromise your commitment to your spouse, ask yourself one question: Is this new person a friend of my marriage? If he or she is a great buddy of yours, but doesn't care to know about, or interact with, your spouse, then that could spell trouble for your marriage. I discuss this in detail in my new book, The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity.
Drawing The Line Between Friendship And Something More
If you're not sure about what kind of friend this is, it may take some soul searching on your part. There are instances when it's not clear whether someone has crossed a boundry and become a threat to the marriage. In those cases, you must seek the opinion of the one person who matters most: your spouse.
If your friend is someone of the opposite sex (or of the same sex if you are so attracted), here are some guidelines to help figure out whether that person should be considered a true friend or someone who will put your marriage at risk:
1. Your partner must feel comfortable around this person. He or she doesn't have to necessarily have to feel spiritually bonded to your friend, but there should be a sense of comfort about your spending time with him or her. Keep reading...
More infidelity advice from YourTango:
- How To Save Your Marriage When You Feel Hopeless
- How to Move On From A Painful Breakup
- Understanding Infidelity: Why We Cheat