I am a great believer that men and women can be friends, I personally have a fair few male friends. I feel that these guy friends are so laid back and provide a completely different type of company than my girl friends. I do, however, think it is important to establish boundaries in these relationships. If one member of the friendship is married, make sure the ‘banter’ is appropriate (I am well aware that there are different levels of acceptable banter, but find what works for you). Do not blur the line between friends and something more, it’s a messy road to go down, and someone will get hurt – most probably any and all girls involved. If things aren’t great in his home life, step back, still be a friend, listen to his problems, but do not, whatever you do, speak negatively about his partner. Try to point out positive things, ‘if you can’t say nuffin’ nice, don’t say nuffin’ at all.’ – Thumper, Disney’s Bambi.
Unfortunately, lines can still be blurred even when you’re careful not to give the wrong idea about your friendship. A few of my friends are married, mostly happily married, but every relationship has troughs and peaks. A good friend of mine was in the midst of a particularly bad trough and turned to me for a friendly chat to cheer himself up. We bitched about people we knew and threw insults at each other, it was like so many of our catch-ups before, until he decided to tell me that he liked me. Me being naïve, I said, ‘I know, I like you too, you’re a lovely bloke.’ I thought he was trying to thank me for my efforts to cheer him up. Alas, he was not, he was in fact referring to the fact that he would like to engage in a sexual relationship with me, behind his wife’s back. His wife who I was also friends with. Moron.
After giving him the benefit of the doubt that the few beers he had consumed had clouded his judgement, I shot him down. Take no prisoners. He crossed the line and he needed to know it was not ok. I very tactfully, but with blunt honesty told him that was never going to happen and he needed to go home to his WIFE.
It got pretty ugly, he insinuated that I wanted him and was playing hard to get, that I wanted this all along. So in the spirit of ugly comments, I told him to take a good look at himself in the mirror and then take a good look at me. Then tell me the biggest problem with his theory. He stumbled and stuttered and in the end couldn’t answer my question, so I took the liberty of doing that for him.
‘I will never be interested in a balding, fat, middle-aged married man, who is so far from having his shit together its embarrassing. Its no wonder your wife resents you. You are pathetic.’
We haven’t spoken since, I know what I’m worth. He broke the first rule of our friendship, trying to make it anything more than that. Sure I was perhaps a tiny little bit harsh, but no one, and I mean no one, turns something like that around and puts it on me. I did not cross that line, I knew my place and I, unlike certain people, remained in my little friendship bubble, until he burst it. I think he must regret that now, after the verbal smack down he received.
I’m a little saddened by the whole thing, because overall he was a fantastic friend, but it was a risk having him around. Even though I didn’t pursue his affections, I think being around each other would give him false hope that eventually something could happen.
I suppose I’m not happy to take that risk.
Single in South Essex