Woman And Men – in Friendship

All of my life, I have had an abundance of friends. I am a giver, a loyal friend and attract people easily. I am well liked and was always in the “popular’ group at school, but never one of the “mean girls.” Of course, acquaintances and friends are obviously different, and the true blue ones I can count on one hand. Some of my best friends are men. I have had a male friend since kindergarten, who coincidently was roommates with my ex-husband in college. (That is not how we met, though). One of my closest male friends, I dated 3 times from an internet dating site, and we choose to be remain friends since romance was definitely not in the cards for us. He is a great guy. We are very close, and any relationship he becomes involved in, his date is immediately made aware of my presence. I am part of the package. The hardest thing for me, is the participation (or lack of), my male friends wives. I am extremely ethical, would never sleep with a married man, nor be involved with one in any romantic way. I lived through that in my marriage, and although I did not discredit the woman my husband was having an affair with- I would not do that to someone else. Shortly after my separation, an old boyfriend contacted me. He told me that he was extremely unhappy in his marriage, and wondered if I was interested in getting together with him. I have had contact with him through the years, and knew he was unhappily married. My response to him was to leave his marriage because he was unhappy, and once he did, perhaps we might try, but there was no guarantee, so he best be sure he was making the right decision. It is 5 years later and he is still in his unhappy marriage. I think the most difficult thing is to maintain my relationships with men who are married. I constantly am seen as a threat and I don’t like sneaking around when there is absolutely no reason to do so. One of the my closest friends is a male, married with a lovely wife and 3 children. He has been an unbelievable friend, and I really love the guy. I met his wife once at his home for dinner. That was the one and only time. For some reason, she felt I was pursuing her husband and felt very uncomfortable with my relationship with her husband. It began as a professional relationship and escalated to a very emotionally intimate friendship. I was incredibly upset that I was causing such strife in his relationship, but in no way was agreeable to giving him up. He is a rare find, and a very good friend. We meet for lunch, email, but I am mostly kept a secret as to not muster up any thoughts of questionable motives on my part. I am very sad about this – for two reasons. One, I have nothing to hide, and two, I am causing difficulty in their life. He is not the only one. I have been friends with another man for 40 years. Although he has a terrible marriage, where intimacy does not exist, she, as well, is suspicious of me and refuses to allow him to see me. We have gotten together a number of times and he has kept it from her, although I have made him promise to be honest about me. So, the real question is- what do I do about this? These are not run of the mill relationships where it is just someone tiptoeing through my life. Some of these men have left footprints on my heart, and in no way would I like to give them up. But, being an empathetic, sensitive woman, I do not want to hurt them or have them be hurt on my account. It’s not that I don’t understand how these women feel. I do. Yet, I believe if they were more secure in their relationships, I wouldn’t pose such a threat. My husband drove to work every day for years with another woman. I never felt any jealously. The only problem I had is when I would ask my husband if an outfit made me look fat (don’t we all?), and he would say, “I had to listen to Harriet ask that in the car all day today, now I have to hear you?” Alyssa came to me after her first husband left her after secretly having an affair with her best friend. He eventually left Alyssa and married her best friend Cheryl. They lived across the street from one another. Alyssa’s children call Cheryl, “Aunt” Cheryl. Now she is their stepmom. Alyssa suffers terribly till this day. She remarried several years ago, and is incredibly suspicious of her new husband. Fortunately, he understands her dilemma, and is overly conscious of not making her feel that he has any interest in anyone but her. On the other hand, Laura came to me after marrying her best friend’s husband. She explained to me that she did not plan for this to happen- it just did. I am not a believer in that, since you certainly can control what happens to you and what you do to other people. But, I chose not to make this of my therapy with her, as she was already married to her best friend’s husband, and did not think it would be beneficial to point out the lack of integrity she had in pursuing the husband of her best friend. They moved to a different town, with their 4 children- 2 of hers and 2 of his (joint custody for all). After a few years of marriage, they had one more child together- so baby makes 5. It should serve as no surprise that several months ago; she left her second husband, found someone else, and is again engaged and getting married to someone else. All this makes sense to me. I don’t negate the feelings and concerns of the significant others of the men I am friendly with. But, maybe if they got a chance to know me, they might feel differently. Unfortunately, I know that is not going to happen. I can only hope that one day they can feel that I am their friend, too. If not, I will continue my very important relationships and hope for the best. The bottom line- if it comes to choosing between me and their wives, I will be big enough to let them go- very sadly. Kate http://www.eastcoasttherapist.com

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