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How to handle my friend’s engagement?

How to handle my friend’s engagement?
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Hello Cary,

I am writing on how to think about a new situation. Some background: I briefly “dated” a man back in 2005. It was a long distance thing since I met him on a trip in another country, so for better or worse, we were as best friends. When our relationship ended, we remained, and still are best friends. He has recently become engaged, and I am very excited for him. But now I have been dealt a difficult situation.

I don’t know, or need to know, the details of his talk with his fiancée, but he recently told me that she is not comfortable with our friendship. In the end, to preserve his relationship, he informed me that he thinks he must stop speaking to me for “a while.” He did say that he tried, apparently to no avail, to convince her that I am not a threat. Indeed, I am not because there is very little I can do since I moved from the U.S. to Georgia, half a world away from where they live.

When I heard this, I was shocked and didn’t know what to say except for a simple “ok.” We are both adults and he is free to make these decisions. I also know that I cannot control her behavior, but only how I react and feel. At this stage, I feel hurt and disappointed. It isn’t killing me, but I wonder if there is an alternative way I can handle this for myself, besides feeling like nearly 10 years of best friendship was just flushed down the toilet?

Thank you in advance for any insight you may be able to provide that can help me see this in a new light.

Suzanne

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Dear Suzanne,

I can’t tell him what to do, since he didn’t write to me. But if I were you, I would tell him that this is bogus and dumb. He should not cut off his contacts with his old friends in order to make his marriage work. In fact, he’s going to need his old friends. He’s going to need to redouble his efforts to keep his old network of friends and acquaintances together.

Today’s model of marriage places excessive demands upon two individuals to fulfill each other. As families and extended families have spread out, and as work and study require frequent travel and relocation, couples increasingly face the problem of social isolation. Two people aren’t enough for each other. They may have different social needs. He may be more extroverted than she is. At any rate, I just think this is a bad way to start off a marriage.

He and she should agree on some ground rules for his interaction with you. If they aren’t intuitively clear, then let me suggest some obvious things: You and he should not go to bed together.

No, I mean, that’s obvious. Beyond that, you should just do things together that are innocent friend-type things. Going out and getting drunk together would not be appropriate. But having coffee together, and having lunch, and attending certain social events with mutual friends might be OK.

It’s fair to ask that your relationship be appropriate. But there has to be room in a marriage for opposite-sex friendships, especially those that began before the couple came together.

If she doesn’t feel that he is capable of remaining monogamous then she shouldn’t marry him.

That’s what I would tell him. I would tell him that.

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2 Comments

  1. Oh, man. I sure wish my guy could hear this one, Cary. But he seems unable to trust (after experiences with OTHER women, mind you, not me). And I am unable to treat my long friendship with my ex-partner in such a shabby way. So here we sit, two people who would both like our relationship to move forward – one who cannot trust enough to “allow” this opposite-sex friendship, and the other who won’t throw that friendship in the toilet. ARCH!

    • That’s “argh”.

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