In April 2011 I wrote about how exclusiveness kills healthy friendships in the name of monogamy: The Curious Perplexity of Attachment. Curious how history repeats itself. This past weekend a very dear female college friend and I talked on the phone, updating each other on the past year since we spoke last. Allow me to give some background.
Both of us make each other laugh a lot, always have. During our rough times — each going through very difficult divorces — we were there for each other speaking brutally honest about anything, often saying things that the listener didn’t want to hear. Over the past five to seven years of our close friendship, we had always confessed “what if”…how greater the closeness could be if we were dating. Fun natural flirting came easy between us. But the 400+ miles and each of our separate families and kids kept us apart. The last time I had spoken with her she was madly in love with a new man. Fast forward to this weekend. Now that man was way out, even psychotic in her words, and now there’s a new “keeper”. What is so important or different about all this you ask? It is this: when I spoke honestly with her and flirted like we have always done over our 29-year friendship, strangely she did not respond. In fact, it seemed awkwardly BLAND. I thought to myself something is weird, out of balance, or something. When is she going to explain this?
If you have read my April 2011 blog The Curious Perplexity of Attachment, then you will know that the women to whom I was referring are past girlfriends, i.e. intimate relationships over multiple consecutive months. This good college friend of 29 years has always been a platonic friendship; never any sexual moments, not even any temptations except over the phone, long distance when her divorce had been filed by her husband. She was in a lot of disillusioned pain, struggling with 17 years of a dying marriage which sadly involved their four children. Her soon-to-be ex-husband was intentionally pitting the children against her. Innocent bystanders of a man’s anger.
There are several significant factors involved in the demise of her marriage but suffice to say for this article, infidelity was the root cause of the divorce. However, getting engrossed in the ugly mismanaged details of their marriage and divorce is not the purpose of my article today. Honestly, what happened between my dear friend and her husband or its complexities is ultimately none of my business or anyone else’s business. What is my business is how her “new” relationship with Mr. Keeper has now affected our 29-year friendship.
After our phone conversation my dear friend explained why she was not being her old, or usual self with me and our fun flirting. “As much as I love you” she explained, “…I feel loyal to [Mr. Keeper]. I never want to EVER cross the line again. You were playing like we always do (which made me smile), but I want to honor him and not flirt with anyone.” I must be honest, I was bothered by this explanation.
She and I have always, always been ourselves with each other. We have always been very comfortable in sharing all of our unedited, undiluted thoughts and feelings with each other. We could do so because we passed no judgement whatsoever on each other. Our 29-year close friendship is genuinely a wonderful healthy friendship. Why on earth should that ever change? An easy question to answer, right? No, it seems I am incorrect…again. Why?
When are good principles bad? What do monogamous boundaries really protect? When does a 2-month dating relationship have any more value than a 29-year platonic friendship? I am honestly not a wild-cannon that fires off randomly around new spouses or boyfriends with no impulse control. On the contrary, I am quite respectful of other’s relationships or marriages. I really struggle with this ‘pinch-off’ decision from my female friends when a new lover comes around for them! I hope one of my good female married and polyamorous friends (O.M. Grey) comments on this topic. From a woman’s perspective, she is a wealth of wisdom and experience on this subject.
I would very much like to hear anyone’s thoughts and comments about this because it happens way too often. Please tell me what your thoughts are.
This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://professortaboo.wordpress.com.