Can Married People Have Opposite-Sex Best Friends?

In yet another attempt to answer an age old question that may never be properly answered, CNN takes on the tricky nature of opposite-sex friendships in an article titled, "Should Your Wife Have Guy Friends?"

The article focuses on married couples and how they deal with their spouse's opposite-sex best friend. For Suzanne Babb, her friendship with "Eric" ruined her first marriage, as her husband's jealousy became too much for the relationship to survive. "I told my fiancé that Eric was my best friend, and he was perfectly fine with that," Babb says. "But after we got married, it was like this little switch went off. He decided my friendship with Eric was a slap in the face and told me, 'Get rid of him or I'm out of here.' So I said, 'OK, you're out of here.' Our marriage lasted less than a year."

Projection may be to blame for such relationship disasters, according to psychologist Dr. Bonnie Jacobsen, who explains, "People project onto another person something they would do," Jacobson says. "If Tom says to Sally, 'I don't want you to hang out with Harry,' it's very likely Tom feels he would violate that boundary [if he were in the same situation], so he imagines his wife will, too."

In other words, if you're hoping a CNN article will help you decide who your wife should and shouldn't be friends with, perhaps there are deeper issues going on in your marriage that need to be addressed, namely trust, honesty, and a reminder that your spouse, is, in fact, an individual capable of choosing her own social circle and setting reasonable boundaries. Suspicions only speak to the fact that perhaps there's an unhappiness in the relationship, and one spouse is looking for someone to blame.

The article, of course, goes on to touch on the well-known "perks and pitfalls" of such relationships, including the obligatory, "I just like guys better than girls" comment: "I love my girlfriends, but I've always been closer to guys," Jessica Sabatini says, "With women, I feel more judged. Do I look pretty enough? Does my outfit match? With a guy, it's much more relaxed." (Weirdly enough, I feel the opposite. When I'm around my guy friends, I feel more aware of how I'm dressed.) The trouble of unrequited love is brought up, as well: when a woman reveals her feelings, and a guy friend doesn't feel the same way, the friendship abruptly ends.

So can women and men be friends? Of course they can. But there is a silent understanding that some friendships are meant to be nothing more, and as with all relationships, there are certain rules that need to be followed. However, if it comes down to choosing your spouse or your best friend, it's probably best to consider which relationship is truly healthy, and which relationship you need to leave behind. In a truly healthy relationship, you can have both: the person you love, and the person you just love to hang out with.

Should Your Wife Have Guy Friends? [CNN]