Family, Self

How To Stay Close To Your Guy Friends Even AFTER They Have A Wife Or Girlfriend

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how to keep your old friendships

“Have I told you recently how awesome your wife is?” I messaged my friend J yesterday.

J and I have been friends since eighth grade — best friends, in fact. He was even a “bridesman” in my wedding. We’ve been through a lot together, and we get each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. We accept one another “as is” and we always have.

The thing is, we’ve only ever been completely platonic.

Growing up, some of my best friends were boys. I had plenty of female friends, but I never thought that possessing a vagina was a requirement for being my companion. Why limit myself like that?

As a kid, boys were fun to play with. They liked rambling in the woods and getting muddy like I did. As a teenager, in high school and in college, I found boys less judgmental and demanding than my fellow females. In many ways, they were easier to hang out with, and there were a few years in my late teens when I spent far more time and made significantly better memories with young men, none of whom I remotely considered being physically intimate with.

But then, in my mid-twenties, something shifted. Everyone began to pair off into relationships that seemed more important, more permanent. We began to get engaged and married, and pregnant, and by the time we’d made it to our thirties, opposite sex friendships started to feel different, and suddenly more complicated.

Finally, there came a time when I questioned if these friendships were even appropriate.

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Can men and women safely just be friends, I wondered? The characters in the movie When Harry Met Sally debated this for decades. Harry believed male/female friendships were impossible because someone would always want to sleep with the other. If both people were already in relationships, this only made things worse because it would cause their partners to become insecure and suspicious. This was something I’d definitely experienced.

So what was I supposed to do? End meaningful, fulfilling friendships with people I genuinely cared about just because they were heterosexual men and our platonic relationships would piss off our partners? Absolutely not.

Our friendships simply needed to evolve in a new, and better, direction. That is the key to understanding how to keep your old friendships.

When I looked at it objectively, I’d changed significantly too. Something had shifted and as a wife and a mother. I found that I craved more female camaraderie. I now related much better to other women instead of men. I wanted to be around other new moms going through the same stuff as I was.

The solution was obvious. I needed to cultivate relationships with my male friends’ wives.

It happened organically before I even realized it, but once it dawned on me that I was becoming better friends with my guy friends’ wives and girlfriends than I was with them, it actually made a lot of sense.

You see, the guys I was friends with were great people. They were interesting, eclectic men of solid character, so it stands to reason that the women they’d choose would be equally as amazing. Taking it a step further, if these men and I got along so well, wouldn’t it also make sense that their wives and I would generally be pretty compatible as friends too?

In one case, a good friend from high school’s wife and I were both college English teachers. As mothers of daughters, each of us with a passion for poetry and a love for teaching young people about literature, it turned out my friend’s wife and I had more interests in common than my friend and I did. I now talk to her more than I speak with him. It feels like a natural evolution of our friendship.

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Now that we’re mostly all married off, it doesn’t feel right to me to hang out with my male friends alone, or, under most circumstances, to speak to them too much without our kids and partners around too. It does, however, feel healthy and positive to nurture my friendships with their wives.

Last year a male friend of mine and his wife held a barbecue that I attended. In years past, I could see myself sticking with the guys all night, but the person I am now ended up having more of a blast with the girls, and after that, when I was going through a tough time, it was that friend’s wife who hugged me, wiped away my tears and offered me the best words of support.

The first time I met J’s now wife, it was love at first sight. Yes, I was glad my best friend had finally met his soulmate, but after having breakfast with her one time, I almost kind of felt like I had too.

She was one of the smartest, wittiest, most radiant women I’d ever met. It didn’t hurt that she made me chocolate chip cookies for my birthday either. I was thankful that she was in his life. He deserved someone like her, and this meant I got to know her too! This was a win-win for everyone involved.

As we grow and the circumstances of our lives change, our most meaningful friendships should evolve with us. That is how to keep your old friendships. Because there’s no reason that men and women can’t be platonic friends, but when we’re in a committed relationship with someone else, that person should ultimately be our best friend.

That’s why it no longer felt quite as appropriate for me to be good friends with men. Not to mention, these friendships could unintentionally hurt our spouse’s feelings. The best solution to maintaining our friendships, for me, was to open my heart to my friends’ wives, and to have conversations and activities where everyone is included.

My relationships with men no longer look the way they did when I was much younger, but at this point, I no longer want them to. I’ve found a way to keep people I value in my life, while also adding new ones.

Can women and men have successful platonic friendships? Check out the video below to find out:


Victoria Fedden lives in South Florida, where she teaches writing at Nova Southeastern University. She is the author of the memoir THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE published by Picador USA in 2016. Her writing has appeared in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Gold Coast Magazine, Real Simple, and Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as many other publications.