Let’s be Open and Free with our Opposite-Sex Friends

Occasionally, I’ll click on search terms found in Statcounter’s record of my blog hits.  Today, it was “dear prudence having friends of the opposite sex”; my blog post came up #6.

This brought me here, here, here and here, which all sounded very familiar.  (No need to explain; it’s all here.)  My thoughts:

1) Sure Richard got me to trust him, and manipulated me so that I thought his actions (long hugs, snuggling up to me on the couch) were perfectly normal and appropriate expressions of affection between platonic friends.

I had no idea that he was actually using me during a rough time and separation in his marriage, that he was setting me up and lying to me about his intentions, that he would let his wife punish me for being so gullible.

But I also have very open and outgoing friends, especially SCA people, who think nothing of snuggling up to friends of either sex on the couch, flirting with you, or holding your hand–but they absolutely will not have sex with you unless both of you are unattached.

Also, Richard gave me the impression that he behaves this way with all his friends.

My friend Catherine does this ALL THE TIME.  A guy friend does this to me with his wife and others right there.  He does it to others as well.  And his wife LAUGHS.

Because of the example of these and other flirty friends and co-workers down through the years, I believed Richard, and tried to become more open myself (I am normally quite reserved).  Richard also made it sound like this stuff was perfectly normal between friends in the state he came from.

Neither my husband nor I want to put restrictions and rules on these friends.  We just accept them as they are.  Putting restrictions and rules on them would cause unnecessary stress.

There truly is nothing wrong with being cuddly with your friends, as my SCA friends are. 

But at the same time, Richard should not have initiated these things with me without getting his wife’s okay first.  He put me in a very bad, awkward spot, and without making it clear to his wife that he taught me it was okay to do the things she objected to.

He also apparently lied to me, telling me in 2009 that some of these things were okay with her now, when they were not.  Either that, or he told me the truth but she flip-flopped, since she is abusive, and apparently wanted some excuse to go nutso psycho crazy on me.  I had long since stopped doing the things which I knew were verboten, out of respect for her feelings.

(If Tracy ever met Catherine, she would’ve hated Catherine–and seen that I was not so “bad.”)


2) I, too, was in the same position once as the letter-writer above to Dear Prudence, whose boyfriend wanted to platonically share a hotel room with an old college female friend.  In my case, it was my husband and my own college female friend, Catherine, who also knew him through the SCA; they wanted to go to an SCA event some six hours away from home.

I didn’t want to go, and neither did her husband, so they shared a room to save expenses.  I okayed it, but felt so worried through the whole weekend that something might “happen,” that I said I didn’t want them to do that anymore.

Catherine did not understand, and accused me of having my husband on “a long leash.”  I see that Prudie would agree with her.

After dealing with Richard and Tracy in 2008, I changed my mind, and decided I had been too controlling.  But the response to Prudie makes me feel vindicated just the same, because quite a lot of people thought Prudie was wrong.


3) I think the source of the problem is a clash of America’s very repressed culture, with the boundary-pushing of the various countercultures down through the past several decades.

In the past, I’m sure the rules were more clear-cut, what you were and were not supposed to do.  I’ve even read that people simply did not have opposite-sex friends in the olden days, only seeing each other as potential mates.  But that does not seem true, because I have read about such friendships in old books and seen them on old TV programs, made back when people supposedly did not have them.

But many cultures have moved into our country over the centuries, so there is no dominant culture dictating how everyone is to act.  It’s no longer the Native American culture.  It’s no longer the Protestant Puritan culture.  It’s no longer white-bread 50s middle-class culture.

It’s whatever culture you bring to it; many cultures around the world are much freer with expressions of love and caring to friends.

You also have to wonder how homosexual and bisexual couples deal with this issue if it’s so “verboten.”

And we also have the mores of the countercultures: beatniks, hippies, feminism, New Age, the “Cuddle Party,” just all sorts of groups with new ways of doing things and new ideas of what is right and what is wrong.

No longer is there a dominant culture dictating morality.  So you have the repressed ones who say you’re not supposed to cuddle up to platonic opposite-sex friends if you’re married, clashing with the free spirits who see nothing wrong with cuddling up to anybody you want to cuddle up to.

How about, instead of getting angry with each other, we let our friends be themselves?  If one friend likes to snuggle up to your husband and hold his hand (in one of the above linked Dear Prudence letters), let her!  At least she’s doing it in front of you, which shows that it’s innocent!  Who would try to carry out an actual affair right in front of the wife?

Nobody yells at my friend Catherine for doing that to all her male and female friends!  When another friend, “David,” snuggles up to his female friends, his wife laughs, and so do we all, because it’s cute!

Just let each other be, and take away some of the good that came from hippie culture!  (I expect that’s where the SCA freedom comes from, because the SCA started with college students in 1960s Berkeley.)

Just because we disagree with drugs and free love, why should we also get upset over harmless expressions of love between friends?  Why not just let your friend be himself/herself, and not treat him/her like some boundary-crossing sl*t just because he/she does things differently than you do?

Also see this and this post.