Married and Single Friendships

My title is straight and to the point.

I attended Brigham Young University in Provo from 2010 to 2014. I, like many of my peers, started off college single, care free, and ready to embrace all that college had to offer. Fast forward to my graduation in April 2014, a great deal of my friends were no longer single. Fast forward to present day, the vast majority of my friends are no longer single. In fact, out of some of my closer friends, including me, I think only three or four of us are flying solo.

From my solo trip to Montreal!

From my solo trip to Montreal!

But my post is not a “woe is me!” post. No, I enjoy being single. I enjoy being able to take trips to different places without worrying about someone else. Over Labor Day Weekend, I took a spontaneous trip to Montreal and it was perfect exploring the city on my own and just being able to take the trip in the first place on short notice. And selfish as this may sound, I like having and being in control of my own money.

What this post is about are my relationships with my friends who are married (specifically friends I have known pre-marriage and are of a similar age to me; my relationships with older couples and couples from my family ward are a different story and not as complicated).

Just because my friends are married, doesn’t mean I want to stop being friends with them. Likewise, I would like to think that just because my friends are now married, they still want to stay friends with me.

For the most part, this has mentality is shared with my married female friends. There are a few women that I know of that have completely fallen off the face of the earth, opting to attend their husband’s every single intramural sports games instead of taking the occasional night to spend time with girlfriends. There are also those–– thankfully not in my circle–– who believe that once they’re married they have no need for their single friends anymore. No more calls or texts, choosing to “graduate” to likeminded couple friends instead, believing their pre-married friends to be simply placeholders until they find husbands and other married friends. But as I mentioned, I have very few–– if any–– of those types of friends. Those who I consider closest to me and those who I consider best friends do not share this line of thinking whatsoever. Spouses (and children) are their top and number one priority and come first, definitely and as they should be; but they are not the only priority. Friendships and other interests also have a place in their lives.

Male friendships, on the other hand, are a little more tricky. Granted, I don’t have as many male friends as I do female friends, but I value their friendships too. Still I have observed that when male friends get married, their female friends are no longer friends–– they become temptresses. Spending time with them becomes drastically decreased in comparison with female friends. Spending time alone is a guaranteed no-no. Which to a certain extent I understand, especially when exes may be involved.

However, if a man and a woman are simply friends, it tells me there is a lack of trust between couples if opposite-sex spouses are forbidden. I’ve read of instances online where even opposite-sex coworkers are viewed with suspicion by spouses. That is even more baffling.

Do I advocate going to movies alone or having clandestine dinners or secretive conversations? No. But I see nothing wrong with an occasional lunch or museum trip (or something else innocent along those lines), as long as significant others know ahead of time and give approval. From a singles perspective, I don’t even care if spouses come along, as long as I get to see my friend! And when it comes to online chatting or texting, I would never say something or would want a friend (male or female) to say something that a spouse couldn’t see or hear. I want to be trusted by a friend’s spouse as much as the spouse is trusted and trusts me. I want to be just as open–– and even friends!–– with both husband and wife.

But perhaps this is too unrealistic, particularly for Mormons. I realize I am still single and have no firsthand experiences regarding marriage. So here is where I turn to you all.

What do you think? Can married people still make time for their single friends? What about with opposite-sex friendships?

 

East River Lady

24 years old. LDS Convert. New York Native. Mormon Feminist.

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8 Responses

  1. Amy says:

    My husband and I don’t have any trouble with the other one having opposite-sex friendships, lunches, even staying on our couch when they’re in town. As an engineer, I work with almost all men, and I can’t imagine my husband having a problem with that–it would make it impossible to do my job.
    That said, I have encountered men and women who felt it was inappropriate for me to ride in a car with my married, male, coworker. It was exceptionally frustrating (and frankly, insulting) and hurt my ability to do my job. Luckily, I’ve only seen those sentiments among Mormons, and I don’t work with many Mormons these days.

  2. marcella says:

    I think it’s really hard with friends inside the church. We’ve been taught forever that basically it’s impossible to be friends with the opposite gender unless it’s in a couple situation – one married couple going out with another married couple. Heck, our church handbook still says that grown adults that aren’t married to each other can’t carpool together. Crazy but true. So I think it’s hard to get past that cultural teaching stuff.

    In our own lives, my husband and I are fine with opposite gender friends. We work with people and become friends and have lunch with them or whatever and manage to behave ourselves like normal adults. Our ability to keep our covenants doesn’t evaporate 🙂

    I think it might be easier to maintain friendships with those opposite gender friends outside the church more easily than those inside because of that cultural bias so many have.

  3. Carolyn Nielse says:

    Both of our lives have been enriched from our opposite sex friends. Neither of us would want things to be otherwise. Trust and respect are among the foundation stones of our 44+ year marriage. It’s sad that some feel having opposite sex friendships when marriage is involved threatening. Mature love rejoices in rich relationships with whomever brings joy to a partner. Keep those friends and find new ones, too, East River Lady. You are on a rewarding path.

  4. Beelee says:

    Funny but sad story: when my husband and I were newly weds, we used to hang with a group of friends who played board games and watched funny tv shows together. We were headed to one couples’ house after running errands with the wife. We were about 10 minutes away when the wife got a text from her husband. Another friend, a young and single woman, had just arrived and was waiting inside. The 40 year old man who owned the house wouldn’t go inside until his wife and the rest of us showed up about 10 minutes later. For 10 minutes, a 40 year old man could not be in the presence of a 25 year old without his wife present. I’m still in disbelief and that was six years ago!

    I suppose that’s because my husband would not ever be uncomfortable in that situation and would care more that a guest in his home was comfortable. He works in a predominantly female profession (teaching) so most of his coworkers and work friends are women. It would be wrong for him not to make friends, network, or interact in any of the regular work place activities. He also does the very occasional lunch with long time (like 20+ years) female friends who happen to be single. I’m free to do the same. Obviously there is a worst case scenario that you hope never happens, but at the end of the day we trust each other and our relationship. I don’t feel threatened, I generally know when he’s hanging out socially, and somehow we still only want to be intimate with each other.

    The reason: My husband is a convert who was baptized around his mid twenties. He’s pretty good at treating women as people rather than potential temptresses. We could learn a thing or two from “the world” in this area!

  5. acw says:

    Although I sympathize with what has been said, as a married woman with limited time available to spend as a couple together, I wouldn’t want my husband to be having museum or lunch dates with someone else. Perhaps it’s because we’re in the middle of the “busy careers and raising many kids stage” and no longer newlyweds who have more discretionary time, but it’s hard enough to carve out dates as a couple (let alone daddy-daughter dates and father-son outings), that I would be super jealous and frustrated if my husband chose to spend a free afternoon with some single woman instead of his family. For me it’s less of a concern about covenant/chastity keeping, and more of a claim on priorities.

  6. EFH says:

    My husband and I try hard to keep our old friends because it is very difficult to connect with new ones when they have not been with you for some part of the journey. It is very difficult to explain the person you are without that context. However, being at a stage in life where raising little children at the same time as investing in a career takes all the time from our lives, even the time that we should have as a couple. We both encourage each other to attend events with our single old friends but I also notice that we don’t get invited much these days because we have not attended much in the past (due to having little children and paying attention to them after a long day at work). So it is very difficult to have a social circle at this time in life. We both feel disconnected with many of our old friends due to time restrictions because we both work full time outside of home so when we are home the children are a priority. So I really do not know how break this circle.

    I also notice that this situation is very difficult here in USA where people literally live to work. Commute is another matter and so we are emotionally and/or physically exhausted at the end of the day. The way the cities are arranged here with business downtown and suburbs, it just takes too much time to go from work to a bar/restaurant to meet with friends and then home before dinner or bedtime.

    Regarding the opposite sex friends, I have maintained a very close relationship with my foreign male best friends via calls and messages. The american ones though have disappeared from the face of earth and they always make it awkward when I try to reach them. So, I don’t anymore.

  7. Jennifer says:

    An interesting shift of perspective on this issue–my husband is an officer in the military (so, you know, a bastion of morality and maturity) and once, when he first took command he had to take me aside before a function and say “I have tried to spare you from all of this, but heads up–my second in command is a female Lieutenant. So from the first nanosecond she was introduced to the company the soldiers started speculating about when/where/how/how often we are sleeping together. This will, sadly, be the case ANY TIME I choose to promote a female soldier, give a female an award, compliment any work or, basically, exisit near a Y chromesome. Please know that these rumors will ALWAYS be unfounded” I am so glad, at that point, we had chosen to trust and strengthen our marriage, instead of focus on fearing the opposite sex.

  8. Catherine says:

    I’m bi. There is no one who, based on gender, is a “safe” friend for me. My options are either deal with the possibility of being attracted to friends, or have not friends. The warnings I received at church about not having opposite-sex friends made me feel I could never be a safe friend to anyone. I’m still unraveling that damage.

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