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Honestly. It Was About As Romantic As Baseball And A Butt-Cut.

“So… um… don’t enjoy the game too much.” Justin laughed, but it was the nervous kind — the obvious kind you don’t have to be married for 8 years to hear and know that he’s not really joking.

“Don’t worry, babe — we’re going with a group! Guys and girls.”

“Oh!” His relief, despite the fact that it’d traveled via voice across a thousand miles of space in mere milliseconds, was palpable.

See, the baseball game was my second “date” with Brock, an outgoing, eligible bachelor-type who lives in Norfolk and has a job and a house and all of those things that women who haven’t been married for 8 years might find attractive on the dating scene. But me? I was just using him for s–

–ome baseball tickets.

Baseball

Psyche.

(Do people still say that?)

(Or is it sike?)

(Am I so un-cool that I’m misspelling the slang that’s outdated by two decades?)

Anyway.

I’d already been on a lunch date with Brock, and since Justin is a thousand miles away for work during prime friend-making weather, I feel like it’s up to me to nab us some compadres before the full heat of summer hits and people escape the tourists by retiring to their backyards with their tight-knit buds, Bud Lights, and — if they’re really fantastic — a craft beer or six. So a couple of weeks ago in a pitiable public moment of weakness of which I’m not particularly proud, I published the following status update on Facebook:

“I need local friends. Also, is there a way to delete all of the follow-your-dreams-and-live-life-to-the-fullest inspirational type movies off of Netflix so I stop watching and start doing? Kthanks.”

Apparently I was bored and feeling sorry for myself, which is pretty much inexcusable for a girl with my kind of aspirations, lengthy to-do list, and a subscription to Netflix.

Like, really?

Yet despite my whiny, block-worthy status update, friends came out of the woodwork to platonically hook me up. Brock is a friend of Katie, one of my old sorority sisters — a girl I loved for her no-B.S. approach to life and her incredible spinach artichoke dip — not just the fact that she has a cool name. It’s been ten years since I’ve seen Katie and yet, through the miracles of social networking, she was able to set me up on a blind friendship date. And considering the fact that I haven’t been out for a non-work-related meal alone with a guy other than Justin since 2002, I must have done pretty well at lunch because I got the callback for the baseball game shortly thereafter.

Or maybe it’s because I told Brock I’m a fantastic wingwoman.

Which is totally true.

Yet still. I’ve compared making friends to applying for a job, but it really is like dating, too. It’s going out in public, testing the waters, seeing if there’s compatibility. Which is why it probably seems weird, somehow, when it involves a person in a committed relationship making friends with a single — or married, for that matter — member of the sex to which they’re typically attracted. So in my case, it’s a straight married woman making friends with a straight single guy, but it also applies to straight committed men with straight single/committed women, gay committed women with gay single/committed women, and gay committed men with gay single/committed men. And I don’t care how evolved or polyamorous or openly sexually non-monogamous you think you might be, it’s pretty rare to completely evolve beyond jealousy, insecurity, or irrational mistrust.

Like those circa 1999 photos of you floating around with the center-part “butt cut” and an overdose of Sun-in, it’s out there.

zachery-ty-butt-cut

(Side PSA: Do yourself a favor and never google images for “bleached butt cut.” Just don’t.)

So when I heard Justin’s I’m-totally-joking-but-not-really laugh, I tried to imagine how I’d feel if he was heading out to socialize with a single girl I’d never met. And I’ll admit it — I wouldn’t be thrilled. But I wouldn’t stop him, either. I mean, as long as the romance potential doesn’t surpass baseball and butt-cuts, what would I have to get upset about? And when I tried to pinpoint the cause of my discomfort, I came up empty-handed. I trust him implicitly, and I’m a friend to women.

So what’s the deal?

The fact is, it’s simply harder to make friends with the opposite sex once you’re married because of the societal implications. Throughout this process, I’ve had to make it clear that I’m scouting friends for the two of us – and not looking for some male to fill the void while Justin’s away. And the last thing I’d want to do is make him feel insecure. Basically, it’s a touchy subject, further complicated by the fact that he’s not here to partake in the friendship-making process. When he gets back, everyone will meet, we’ll all get along, and the world will keep on spinning as it should.

In the meantime, if Justin were to become friends with a really great girl who happened to love Star Wars, cheesecakes, the military, and all of the things that Justin and I don’t always agree about, would I feel insecure?

Absolutely.

But, if I’m completely honest, it’s really what other people might think or say or imply that might trigger those insecurities — not the actual people involved. The potential for an emotionally intimate connection would be worrisome as well. I mean, they could go out to lunch, but talking about our relationship would be off the menu.

So what do you think?

Is it taboo to try to make friends with the opposite sex when you’re seriously involved with someone else? Is it okay as long as everyone’s clearly on the same page? Am I making these issues up? I mean, it’s 2014. Physically, we’re no longer living in the era when young women need chaperones lest we risk the marring of their pristine reputations through harsh rumors and speculations, but socially?

Sometimes it feels like we haven’t moved an inch.

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Katie

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Comments

Kat Richter
Reply

Hmm… I’m up to my ears in real estate listings (and really wish you had a “like” button so I could just like instead of trying to put together a coherent sentence) but I would totally be jealous if I was Justin. And would be totally jealous if I was you and Justin found someone to play Star Wars with. But then again, I’m not quite the most rational (or secure) person on the planet. I get the appeal though, for sure.

Katie
Reply

Ha! Have you not picked a house yet?? Are you sure you want one?? They are such a time/money-suck.

Jealousy happens, sure. But is it enough for us to tell each other we can’t have friends of the opposite sex? I guess as long as we’re *all* friends, it’s a lot less complicated. :)

Margaret
Reply

I agree with Kat. Nothing wrong with having friends of the opposite sex, but putting yourself out there also puts you in a position for the relationship to “evolve” into something you might not expect or intend. It’s the “human nature” thing, you know.

Katie
Reply

Very true. Just to be clear, there is no chance of that happening in this case, and I know we’ll all be friends once Justin gets back, but I think as far as *why* it makes people uncomfortable, you’ve hit the nail on the head!

Stephanie
Reply

Hmm. Trying to sort out my thoughts on this one, because intellectually I’m with you, but from an emotional standpoint, I’m not so sure. And it’s not because of other people judging from the outside, because who really cares.

Ok, first off, I think the physical distance between you and your husband adds a layer of insecurity to this scenario that wouldn’t be there if you were together all the time and that you need to be sensitive about.

But leaving that aside, what you’re doing does sound a bit like dating. And if it’s dating with no chance of a sexual element, then instead it’s all about emotional connection, which could be even more threatening, really. I’m not the jealous type, and am very secure in my relationship, but this still wouldn’t make me feel great.

I don’t think you should stop being friends with this guy, but I’d be inclined to do group things with him, not to provide chaperones, but to just take some of the one-on-one intimacy out of the situation.

Katie
Reply

We’ve established before that I tend to put a lot — way too much, in fact — of stock into what other people think. Although in this case I didn’t mean that I’d care what they’d think, but that they might get into my head with their suggestions and implications. It seems like any time anyone does something slightly outside the “norm,” it’s suddenly open to all kinds of criticism.

Yes. The group outing to the baseball game felt much better to all three of us I think. And I say “all three” because I’m pretty sure the last thing my new friend would want to be labeled is a potential wife-stealer. ;)

Meg
Reply

I have to agree with Stephanie and Kat. And it isnt really about what people think. Its more – Why create this kind of anxiety for Justin? Even tho he trusts you, it seems somewhat thoughtless to cause him what is clearly some emotional misery. I understand that you enjoy a variety of friends, but it would be more considerate of his feelings, if you worked on locating couples or some female friends while Justin is away.

Katie
Reply

I think you’re right. Even the friend in question here would probably get behind this comment, because the more single ladies I know, the better wingwoman I can be. And if I have one massive weakness on this earth, it’s my constant attempts to hook up my friends. ;)

To be clear, though, Justin’s not really suffering from emotional misery. It’s one of those things where he *says* he’s totally fine with it, but I know it bugs him a little. So if he’s uncomfortable with me making male friends while he’s away, I can definitely understand it. We’re in this grown-up world where it shouldn’t really matter, and yet, due to that complicated thing called human nature, it totally does!

Katie
Reply

P.S. I’ve officially signed up for my first Meetup! Italian lessons, with mostly girls. And I’m awaiting approval for a women’s professional group. So more female friends are in the works! :)

Katie
Reply

That reminds me – do you keep in contact with Abby Bergreen (Bacon)? She can also provide a Brock-reference, if needed. We all met at the same time.

Katie
Reply

I have her on Facebook — you were both in Utah??

Britany Robinson
Reply

I think it’s perfectly fine… but then again, I haven’t been in a relationship in… uh… a long time. So I might not know what I’m talking about. Do you think this new friend of yours and Justin would get along? If so, it seems like you’ve done some solid leg work in developing a group to hang out with when he returns! If it does feel uncomfortable though, I can come hang out with you and all of your single guys friends. As a favor.

Katie
Reply

Yes. I definitely think they will be friends once he gets back, which is why I’m not too worried about it. I did think it was an interesting question, though. :)

HA! And if he’s still single by the time you come through, we’ll definitely take a drive down to Norfolk. ;)

Colleen Brynn
Reply

I think it’s fine.
I have a story of my own… I met a guy last fall playing a ukulele at a cafe where I was studying. He was nice and we chatted, and there were definitely no sexy vibes. We exchanged emails (because I decided I needed friends outside of school) and we emailed back and forth a bit but nothing too crazy and all very friendly. I got an email from him towards the beginning of my stay in India and wrote back… finally telling him I had a boyfriend. There hadn’t really been the chance to before and I also didn’t want to be the girl who has the conversation that goes like this: Him – “Hey I’m ______, nice to meet you.” Me – “I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!”
Well, it’s been two months and he still hasn’t written back, haha! That was a twist in the plot I didn’t expect, especially given the non-sexy vibes I felt.

Katie
Reply

Wow!! Just goes to show that even if you aren’t feeling the sexy vibes, that doesn’t mean the other person isn’t. Perspective, man. I’m sure he was a little surprised and maybe thought you were blowing him off? Though I’m definitely not surprised that he was interested in more than friendship — you’re adorable and worldly!

Margaret
Reply

Funny, Katie….I was going to say the same thing after reading Colleen’s comment…about the other person possibly having “sexy vibes”! You’re also adorable and worldly..why wouldn’t another man have “sexy vibes” for you? Silly girl! :-)

Katie
Reply

Awww, you’re too sweet. ;) The good news is that this particular friend is well-aware that I’m very happily married. He’s ALSO aware that I have cute single girls in my life, and he plans on using that to his advantage! Ha!

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