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Opposite sex friendship: How healthy?

Mitchell Abodi said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a female friend when I am in a relationship. It will help me understand my…

Mitchell Abodi said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a female friend when I am in a relationship. It will help me understand my woman better and if she is smart, she’ll be close and nice to my female friends.”

Ina Ajayi, who was eves dropping, altered this contribution. “If I were his girlfriend would he stand the fact that I had male friends around me even on platonic grounds? He is saying so because it is convenient for him as the man,” she added.

“If you are in a relationship stay there and don’t keep friends from opposite sex in the name of long time friends or whatever. It just may be unhealthy for your relationship,” said Toke Audu.

 For Abel Nyako, “it all depends on how you go about it and the understanding you share with your partner. If both have opposite sex friends you should be open about who they are and what role they play on your lives.”

Sharon Rivkin, dating expert and psychologist said, “Opposite-sex friendships are tricky and can be a direct threat to the relationship you have with your mate, but they don’t have to be. For most people she opines, “fear comes not from the friendship, but in keeping the friendship platonic, which can be difficult given that 90 per cent of the time one of the individuals has experienced romantic feelings for his/her friend. Sometimes this is talked about and sometimes it isn’t, but the feelings are there.”

But sometimes, when you restrict friendship with the opposite sex because you are committed to a relationship, you are not likely to get the richness and perspective that is there to gain from a member of the opposite sex. With some foresight and consciousness, it’s possible to have friends of the opposite sex and keep your love relationship strong and healthy.

The debate now is how you spell out the terms of your relationship. Rivkin offers these tips for such circumstances.


• No secrets! All parties should know each other and know about the friendship. If anything should change in the friendship, your partner needs to know.

• Time spent with the friend should never supersede time spent with your partner, unless there is a dire emergency.

• Never make an agreement that can’t be changed. The agreement should always be negotiable, so that if the friendship isn’t working for your partner, it can always be modified or cancelled.

• Never make your partner feel that he/she isn’t the most important relationship to you. This is basically uncharted territory, so be aware and sensitive of your partner’s feelings.

• Never put your friend’s needs first. By keeping your partner as your number-one priority, the mystery surrounding the friendship diminishes, and your partner will more likely view the friend as a real person and not just a fantasy.


• To ensure comfort and trust, there need to be a high level of maturity and self-esteem with all involved. Evaluate this with your partner and really talk about everyone’s concerns and fears.

• Ground rules need to be established from the beginning, i.e., what’s okay and what’s not for all the people involved. For instance, is it okay for the friends to get together when the partner is out of town? How much time is spent with the friend monthly? What do the friends do together? Is dancing okay? Is dinner okay? Each couple will have their own individual concerns and questions to consider.

• Everyone needs to be in agreement that it’s okay for the friendship to take place. No one should be left out of the process.

• The person having the friendship needs to have strong, clear personal boundaries and open communications with their partner and their friend. They need to be up front at all times with their partner, letting him/her know when they’re seeing their friend.

• If the partner ever feels uncomfortable with the arrangement, he/she can speak up at any time. Their feelings and concerns need to be considered and taken seriously.

In theory, people want their partners to be happy and to have friends of the opposite sex. Truth is, this can only happen by following set rules. There is usually jealousy and physical intimacy. If you can talk about your friend freely and make him/her a real person to your partner, there is less likelihood of having crisis.

It is important for all communications to be always open. Be true to yourself about your ability to have good boundaries, and clarity about what is appropriate in a friendship and your relationship.