On Being Your Girl [space] Friend

I had a rather awkward encounter with your wife recently.

I saw her from a distance, and hoped to avoid encountering her.  It seems it was inevitable.  In fact, the only real surprise is that it doesn't happen more often.

Your wife and I exchanged pleasantries as we both thought to ourselves, "This is awkward; how quickly can I get away?"

Outwardly, you have the perfect life.

People envy what you have – the material wealth, the beautiful home, the perfect family.

You're one of my favorite friends, and have been for years.

(Platonic friends, of course … I need to clarify that fact for those who are reading.)  

I already know I'll hear from people saying men and women can't be friends, blah, blah, blah … but the fact is, we are friends.

Once upon a time, I witnessed a display of bad public behavior by your wife and she's hated me ever since.  I think, in truth, she hates having embarrassed herself in front of me.  I'm an annoying reminder of how badly she behaved.  She sees me and she cringes.  She treats me coldly.  

I'll be honest, I don't like her much either.

Your wife wins the award for being The Biggest Bitch On Earth difficult.  

It's hard to warm up to difficult.

But in truth, there's more behind my dislike of her than the manner she treats me.  I don't like your wife because I saw that horrible scene incident of extremely public bad behavior, and plenty of subsequent examples of her trashing everyone she knows poor character too.

I would never say that to you, of course.  I will always be polite and cordial to her.  I go out of my way to be polite to her because you are my friend and she is your wife and I owe you (not her) that respect.

Although my recent encounter with her was brief, it left me thinking, pondering, for a long time.

I thought about all the things I know about you, about your life – things your own wife doesn't know.  For one, I know we're close friends.  As far as she's concerned, we're not much more than acquaintances.  We both know how much she dislikes me, so you never mention me to her.  And in truth, there's no reason to.  Likewise, when I do happen to encounter her (which is rare), I don't tell her I know what the latest is with her kids/vacations/career.

Why poke the bear, after all?

I suppose a lot of people have friends who they talk to more freely than they do with their own spouse.  

(You know, a friend you can get together with, share bad and/or good news with over an occasional lunch, and just feel comfortable with minus the complexities of a romantic relationship.)

How many people have secret friends though?

Maybe a lot of people do, for one reason or another ….

I know how much you love your kids, I know you would do anything for them – including stay in a difficult marriage.  You've told me you haven't been a perfect spouse any more than she has been.  (Is there such a thing?)  I know some of the ups and downs you've gone through with your career, with your friends, and with your family life.

I know a lot and yet, I suppose, I know nothing at all.

I don't know what it's like to live with so many secrets.  I don't know what it's like to have to hide things (like simple, casual, platonic friendships) "by omission" from your significant other.  I don't know what it feels like to be striving so hard to keep up appearances.

I know you're a good person, a decent human being, a person with virtues and, yes, faults.

I understand you ….

Like a person understands any friend they've had for many years.

I know you're doing the best you can in a less than perfect world.

And so, maybe I do know what it's like.

Because really,

Life is far from perfect for all of us.

We all do the best we can.

Each of us lives in our own, less than perfect, world.

© Twenty Four At Heart

24 Responses to “On Being Your Girl [space] Friend”

  1. Jack @ TheJackB

    Life is sometimes far more complicated than any of us ever want it to be. Simple decisions are not always so simple and what happens behind closed doors is a secret.

  2. Jan

    This made me smile (wryly, of course) – I have more men friends than women friends, too, and understand your POV very well. There are places on the internet where a post like this would be SHREDDED – husbands aren’t *supposed* to have platonic women friends! It is too much temptation to become *more* than friends! A man should not be sharing details of his life – his interests, news about his career or kids, etc. – with *anyone* but his wife! I actually had to end a great friendship because of that kind of reasoning, and it is probably why your friend doesn’t let on that you’re anything more than a casual acquaintance.

  3. Cathi

    If he had a better relationship with her he’d be able to say your his friend. The fact he can’t is about their relationship and the things wrong there. I too have lots of male platonic friends. A part of our society doesn’t get it, but many of us do.

  4. sandi

    I have goosebumps…. I can see ALL sides of this dilemma and they all suck!

  5. Karen

    Karen here. Dying to know if this is about that one day when we were ….?

  6. Tami

    I have platonic friendships I don’t mention to my spouse. It just isn’t worth the hassle it would cause. And for what … for nothing really. They in no way affect my relationship with my husband.

  7. Mike

    Even the best of relationships are complicated. The bad ones are riddled with trap doors and land mines.

  8. Missy

    Interesting post. We all know of the complexities a relationship with the opposite sex brings.

  9. Rachael

    Personally I think better of a man who can keep friendships with women. I think men who get along well with women (plural) are just nicer to be around than those who don’t. My husband loves the ladies… I’d say half his good friends are chicks. (some of those are lesbians, but still!)

  10. Blondefabulous

    I have him too. Well, not your him, but a him just like him. And we have spouses who are just like her… sigh. We’ve known each other for 23 years. We can only chat over the internet since we live apart, but those are conversations I treasure. I can get a straight male centric answer from him w/no BS. He can ask me anything. It’s good to have the outlet when you need it. It keeps me level in an unbalanced world.

  11. Linda

    I relate to this post on may levels. No one person can be the “all” in your life.

  12. Stephen

    My best friends are mostly women. And no, I don’t want to have sex with all of them. My wife of over 30 years also doesn’t know the extent of many of the friendships. For some reason the depth of the conversations, sharing, empathy, sympathy, etc., of these platonic friendships is enhanced, because while not secret, they have an element of trust and semi-secrecy to them. It’s hard to explain. There’s another aspect to it as well. When a woman knows you aren’t trying to get in her pants, she relaxes and lets her guard down. I believe it’s why so many gals have close friendships with gay dudes. Yes, there are occasional pangs of guilt for “lying by omission,” but those pangs are outweighed by the perspective I gain from my friends. Many, and I do mean many, times, my wife was been the direct beneficiary of some advice I’ve gotten from a gal friend. Something along the lines of…”You’re being a big macho dickwad, and only thinking about yourself and you need to look in the mirror and change some things.” Good advice. Last thought. I find it a little weird when I’m around my friend’s husbands, and I’m thinking to myself, “Dude, you have no idea what your wife really likes or desires.” Nice post Suzanne. Definitely not generic vanilla. Old school TwentyFour and I like it. 🙂

  13. Erica

    Sounds like the prologue of a very interesting novel

  14. Suzanne Y.

    Once again, a thoughtful post that seemed to have hit a nerve with many of your readers.
    When I was young and single I had quite a few males friends and I treasured them all. Unfortunately over the years these friendships became “dormant.” Not because of my marriage, as my male friends became friends with my husband as well. No doubt it was a result of not “working hard” to maintain these friendships. However, I recently got back in touch with a male high school friend and we had a wonderful conversation. I realized how much I missed the male perspective that was NOT my husband’s. It’s too bad some women (and I suppose men) become jealous of what this person offers their spouse. I’m not trying to steal your husband, I just want to be friends.

  15. karen

    No, none of us, no matter how pretty the cover looks, has a perfect life inside. And I suppose there are MANY friendships like the one you describe. Brave post, well said.

  16. Jack @ TheJackB

    I think that many men and women crave this sort of friendship where they can go to a person of the opposite sex and ask questions without fear of all that other stuff that sometimes crops up between us.

  17. Suzanne Y.

    I wanted to ask…does your friend read your Blog, or any chance his wife does? Have you just outed yourself? Hopefully no blow back from either of them. Why do friendships have to be so darn complicated?

  18. Twenty Four At Heart

    Suzanne –
    I asked permission before writing this as I always do when a post involves a friend. He might not have expected quite the level of frankness, but he was fine with it.

  19. Michelle

    I have a friendship like this and it has saved my sanity more than once!

  20. Jenni

    I could have written a few parts of this post. Though many many many moons ago,we did have sex, we were 16. We have been close friends ever since. She knows were are close, but not how close. His wife and I get along, but really I don’t think I would ever speak to her if it weren’t for him. My husband knows about our friendship and how deep it is. Men and women can be friends. It doesn’t speak well of his marriage that he doesn’t tell her. But I guess we all have secrets.

  21. Missy

    I had to pop back in to read all the comments before bed. Great post – like Stephen said, old school 24!

  22. doreenmccabe.blogspot.com

    Here is the difference, a friendship can last forever, there is an attraction to each other, a small chemistry and shared interests or history, but its not good enough to live with on some level … which is why it can last forever… but marriages seldom do. The marriage has expectations and demands and the friendship few or none.
    Who shows your bad side, mad side to a friend if you don’t have to…and if you speak of it, its to gain empathy. Friend ship is the eternal date, marriage is real life.

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