There’s a woman I know, let’s call her Lauren.
Lauren is funny and sociable and interesting. And she also happens to be single.
This fact doesn’t bother her in the slightest. She is entirely content and loves her life just the way it is. There’s just one small problem that can be nutted down to three short words: Making male friends.
Lauren’s been in relationships in the past. She knows how it can feel when your partner, who you love very much, suddenly develops a new and exciting friendship with another woman who you know nothing about.
What are her… intentions?
Does she even know he is in a committed relationship?
What if their friendship is actually something more?
So now, Lauren has found herself in quite the predicament.
This week on Mamamia Out Loud, we spoke about how to navigate these friendships carefully, as to not upset anyone in the process. How can Lauren develop meaningful friendships with new people, when in popular culture the ‘Single Woman’ is often represented as a threat?
We put this conundrum to our listeners, and here was their best advice.
First – gauge his intentions. Even if you are sure you just want to be friends, make sure he hasn’t misread the situation.
Next, include the girlfriend. If you want to get coffee or dinner, make a point of saying, “Would Sarah like to come? It would be great to meet her!” That way she doesn’t feel unnecessarily excluded, and you are clearly establishing boundaries from the get-go.
Ensure that you always – in any interactions – have the utmost respect for her position as girlfriend. Do not expect him to keep odd secrets or develop private jokes for the sake of it. Be considerate.
If you are in the company of her, or you're interacting on social media (which should be kept to a minimum) don't make comments about how well you know him. Don't ever let the friendship become competitive.
Ultimately, men and women should be able to develop friendships, whether they're in relationships or not. Of course, in an ideal world, partners would implicitly trust each other, but it's important to acknowledge this isn't always the case.
The general consensus so far seems to be that Lauren can pursue her new friendship, so long as she's self-aware and considerate.
What's your advice?
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