Girl Code: Having Male Friends When You're in a Relationship

Girl Code: Having Male Friends When You're in a Relationship

It sounds so trite, but I’ve always been a girl who loves having male friends. I adore my girlfriends, they’re my ride or dies, but my dudes have helped me through some pretty dark days too and I cherish those bros.

When I got into my current relationship I was quick to tell my partner about my guy friends (not that I needed to, he’s the most trusting, relaxed person), but I wanted him to know them, to trust them, and, one day, to be friends with them too! Mission accomplished.

Those relationships have remained strong, but there have been changes, to be sure. Gone are the overt flirtations, the movie watching cuddles, the dinner “dates”, those not so subtle validation seeking ventures I would forcibly engage them in when I had been spurned. Even though these relationships never became sexual, I also acknowledge that I depended on these men for more than friendship. Calling a guy “my platonic boyfriend” may have been a joke, but there was truth behind it. While we were single, these guys were the men in my life and I was the woman in there’s.

Now things have changed, but we love each other just as much. I truly believe my male friendships make me a better girlfriend; they’ve given me some of the best advice and steered me clear of some serious attempts at self-sabotage. I can only hope I’m as good of a friend to them as they are to me.

When it comes to making new dude friends, truthfully, it’s tricky. I’m friendly and for many years that manifested as flirtiness that I indulged because, well, it felt good. Now I need to be more mindful of my behavior and how it is perceived, so I’m not sending the wrong message and so that I’m respecting my relationship. That shift was jarring at first, but it’s become my normal. When I meet men it’s not in the context of some singles-centric world, I sort of left that when I quit drinking, but in daily life I meet people (because, life) and I’m not fending off advances. Maybe I’ve lost my charm, maybe it’s a vibe I put out, I don’t really care what, but if it ever does come up, I’m kind in sharing my relationship status and the conversation usually ends (see also: not meeting drunk men, that’s a whole other post).

If I do want to continue a relationship with some guy I’ve met, I need to consider my motives. Again, I love making friends and it’s great to make new friends when you’re in a relationship (IT’S ADVISABLE), but if this new friend happens to be a single person, set boundaries for yourself and if you have any murky feelings for this individual, probably best to stay away.

Honestly, it comes down to honesty, and respect. And if you’re wondering what to do in a given situation, imagine your partner doing the same thing. It’s an easy litmus test for your behavior. This is especially true if you fall into the “oh, they would never do that” trap, because that’s definitely not an excuse. If they wouldn’t do that, is that because it’s the right thing to do? Probably.

Basically, don’t do shady things. You know if you’ve crossed a line and usually you know well before then. So be aware of your actions and your intent. And don’t hang out too close to the edge, it’s clearly dangerous and, it’s tempting.

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