“Just going out for a drink with her, dear”

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As a romantic fiction author, I could not resist addressing this here. This NYT article is primarily about a survey regarding attitudes when it comes to people interacting and socializing with those of the opposite sex . . . who aren’t their spouses:

It being Twitter there as well, quickly matters moved into snarks about old men who aren’t as hip as (“modern”) younger guys who can – of course! – be just friends with women. There are the expected points raised too about men needing to get over themselves; that not every woman is after them. And more.

As examples, I pulled out several tweets:

Issues such as career opportunities are – not unreasonably – noted as well.

However, sadly, those opportunities are beside the point when it comes to his marriage. Your married male colleague’s female wife may feel rather differently about you having dinner and drinks alone with him “post-6pm.”

Assuming you are a straight man, and your best female friend is a heterosexual, let’s see how her male husband feels about you having dinner and drinks with her alone after their wedding day.

By the way, I’m married to my best friend.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the likes of those responses. Perceptions do change with age and with marital status. When I was single into my early 30s, I couldn’t fathom either what all the fuss was about when it came to women and men, and marriage, friendship and work relationships. Only out of touch, lost in the 1950s, “oldsters” worried about who was married and who wasn’t.

[Stock photo. Various business women.]

However, as a married man I’ve learned that there are definitely social boundary lines when it comes to relationships with women who are NOT my wife.

Pre-marriage, regularly I went out after work socializing with single women one-on-one. Why would I not have?

After I married, I know I changed. My personal circumstances had changed, too. Since saying “I do,” I have not been out in an evening alone, post-work or not, with a woman who is not my wife.

Yes, I have also had numerous one-on-one work lunches with both married and single women. However, I remember as well once at the London university where I worked having a glass of wine in a pub mid-afternoon alone with a woman single colleague. She said she wanted to get off the campus to talk over sensitive workplace issues she felt she couldn’t in the offices.

Over the drinks, she drifted from those into talking about non-work stuff – being from the continent, she wanted to know about New York (she had never been there) and what I thought of England. Harmless chit-chat. However, her chosen topics gradually went from acquaintance work-friendly like that to a bit too intimate (in my opinion). Did she think I was perhaps “interested” in her? Or was I misreading her? Regardless, it started to feel too much like casually meeting for drinks as a “first date.” (I did remember what that felt like.) Subsequently, I took no chances: I did not go out with her alone again.

Naturally, the “gay men” issue also gets tossed in:

Are “my rules” the same with a man? Would I socialize with a male colleague, regardless of his relationship status, and sexual orientation, and have a post-work drink? Yes, I would.

The difference: I am not attracted to any man in the way I might be to a woman. That’s why I am married to a woman. So, yes, I admit I do distinguish between men and women.

Do I not “trust” myself around women other than my wife? Well, one never knows when you might find yourself falling for someone; as we know, we cannot easily control that feeling. After all, that is how we end up married in the first place: you fall in love with her, and she does with you.

And, remember, that love may well have started over a dinner and drinks.

Rightfully, women today are often the boss, too. And this is not only a one-way matter of what men may think. Assuming my wife understood and accepted it, if I force myself to socialize with single (or even married) women equally as I might with men – only as friends, only as colleagues – I could indeed perhaps make valuable career contacts.

But I could still just once come across that one woman who mistakenly comes to believe that, although I am married, I am “interested” in her. And maybe she sends me an “innocent” text? And perhaps my wife sees it?

It may take only one miscommunication to damage trust and perhaps undermine a marriage.

As a man, you fell in love with the woman who became your wife, so you know that someone else certainly could fall in love with her, too. Similarly, your wife fell in love with you, so she feels you too could attract someone else – well, at least you could perhaps on your best day anyway. 😉

I have no idea what happened to that woman with whom I had had that afternoon glass of wine in that pub. We change jobs all the time. Work is ultimately just a means of earning money to eat and put a roof over your head.

In comparison, marriage (in my humble opinion) is so far beyond that that they are not even in the same universe. Marriage becomes your family, your world, your eternity. You would DIE for that person.

Just what I think. I suspect we don’t like to confront this issue honestly. If you have any thoughts on this awkward subject, feel free to comment below.

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

5 comments

  1. Great post to the point, dear Robert! I wish more men think like you….And more women too. In fact, marriage cleans our mind and if we respect our family, it will be our spouse & children first and then….some kind of a social life….In case if we need it yet. Besides, I consider that a woman must know her place too: she must be for her husband, keep her beauty & modesty for him as well as be reasonable. It’s so easy to seduce! You know our female tricks. A good woman is the wise one and she always rules the present situation.

    Have a nice week!
    Maria 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Maria. I know some other married men will say they disagree. But if they do, I have a tough time believing they are being completely honest about how they feel when they find themselves alone and socializing with a single woman.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True. In fact, fidelity is the basis of marriage. As well anyone can easily make others understand that he is a family man or that she is a family woman. I think that we must discuss more the point of morality in our own families (it doesn’t exclude even mothers-in-law), for nowadays the world is upside down. Vices are considered to be normal, so people whose souls are corrupted, think that there is nothing bad if they spend some free time with a single woman, when they must be with their wife.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You make it sound so easy to fall in love that dinner/drinks is dangerous because we might fall in love. I think perhaps the truth is more that a man will more often than not, fall in lust.

    So I think if a man/woman have been friends for years, that friendship shouldn’t suddenly have to change because one of them gets married. I mean they didn’t marry each other obviously so they didn’t fall in love. And if they hadn’t after years, they probably won’t now.

    This is just my opinion. But I do see your point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. True, opposite sex friends may well always stay that way – just friends. But once a marriage intervenes, the situation will probably change. For once there is a spouse that spouse may not want the opposite sex friend hanging around – and most likely there won’t be one-on-one dinners and evening socializing any longer that does not include the new spouse.

      As to falling in love over dinner or drinks. I wrote that love may have “started” over dinner or drinks. I did that deliberately. How many of us have been in this situation? “Ooh,” she’s thinking as she finishes eating, “I like him a lot. I wonder how he feels about me? Oh, no, I’m talking too much…” And he’s thinking, “Wow, she’s the best. And she’s in no rush to leave. The way she’s talking. Maybe…” It’s great to feel that way if both of you are single and on a first date. That’s how a long-term relationship leading to marriage may start.

      But that is not what we want that little voice inside us telling us during a one-on-one dinner with someone who is not our spouse. “No, no,” she struggles to remind herself, “am I insane? He’s married. And I love Tyler.” Or he fights to snap himself out of it: “You moron! You can’t feel that way about her! Sally is at home!” In those cases…uh, oh! Not good! 🙂

      Like

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