Keep Your Opposite-Sex Friendship From Going Too Far

opposite sex friendship at work adobe stockThis marriage article was written specifically with the men readers in mind. But keeping opposite-sex friendships from going too far is something every spouse should be aware of.

You may have heard before that your spouse should know your business and you should know your spouses’ business. At first glance that may seem like a critical way of living, but read on and see if you feel the same way:

You interact with them every day, sometimes up close and personal. You can’t help but be around them. In many cases, they’re women you see more often than your wife.

They’re women at work —opposite-sex friendships —and unless you’re on guard, they can be the single biggest threat to your marriage.

Innocent beginnings

How do you know you could be in trouble? It’s not easy, because relationships tend to be progressive …and almost all opposite-sex friendships begin innocently.

You start at a very basic level of getting to know each other. But before you know it, she begins to open up and express her concerns, hurts and problems (particularly those relating to her husband or boyfriend). Being a gentleman, you give her a sympathetic ear. In appreciation, she gives you attention and caring —perhaps more so than your wife. You find her flattering, and a nice little boost to your ego.

Before you know it, that opposite-sex friendship becomes the most important relationship in your life —surpassing even your relationship with your wife. When that happens, that workplace relationship has become a real threat to your marriage.

Here’s how to tell when an opposite-sex friendship is becoming dangerous:

• You find yourself sharing personal information with her that you otherwise wouldn’t share with someone else or your spouse.

• It becomes common to begin looking for her when you get to work, and find yourself genuinely disappointed when she’s not there.

• You start creating opportunities to be alone with your opposite-sex friend during the workday, such as through non-work related lunch appointments, or lingering too long at her office or cubicle.

• You’re physically attracted to the person, and think about her when you’re not at work.

Now, I know there are many of you thinking, “Look, I’ve had an opposite-sex friendship at work with (insert the name here) for years. Nothing has ever happened, and nothing ever will. It’ll never become inappropriate.”

Okay, then please ask yourself this: “Are you sure she feels the same way?” You might not intend for anything inappropriate to happen. But because of her own issues —ones of which you are completely unaware —she may be starting to drift from concentrating her husband or boyfriend.

She’s not dealing with problems they way she should be with her spouse, and she’s starting to find more fulfillment from her relationship with you. Even if nothing inappropriate ever occurs, you may be unknowingly preventing your opposite-sex friend from facing issues she needs to deal with only with her husband or boyfriend. You can’t risk letting that occur.

Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind.

In the workplace, it’s best to keep a professional barrier between you and others. Frankly, you’re not at work to have an opposite-sex friendship anyway. You’re there to get a job done. That should be your sole focus.

Finally, take to heart this sound advice from Proverbs:

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, and ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. Proverbs 3:21-23

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Demonstrate God-honoring character in all your relationships, especially those with women at work. You’ll avoid the pitfalls that come with opposite-sex friendships. You will also strengthen your bond with the one person that matters most—your wife!

The above article came from an E-mentoring message sent through the ministry of Intentional Living with Dr Randy Carlson, which also includes the ministry of Family Life Radio. This ministry provides many free articles you can read on their web site, as well as Dr Carlson’s radio program that you can listen to.

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Filed under: Emotional & Physical Affair

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61 responses to “Keep Your Opposite-Sex Friendship From Going Too Far

  1. What if your husband has become friends with another woman for 14 years and she knows me too as wife but never call me for spiritual advice? She would alway’s call my husband 4 time a day before coming home from work. This was a problem for me and he say’s he’s having spiritual dreams about her just witnessing to her; so he open the door to call her back again on his job. I was so hurt… I want this relationship with my husband back too. What can I do? I’m praying but it’s growing some bitterness in my emotions badly. I need your response soon. Please email me back. She has shared what she’s been through with her problems and cares with him; she have cheered him on and giving him money after her spouse passed away. What is this woman’s motive? Please I need some truth and insight? I feel he missed her through those dreams to call her just to witness to her at his job on the phone. What do you think?

    1. This is tough. She sounds lonely. Your husband has to realise she has an emotional attachment to him and it needs gently to be removed. He cannot solve her problems, she has to figure it out for herself or with other more appropriate people. If she doesn’t step back, your husband may need to be firmer and say ‘I can’t help you, and it’s not appropriate for you to keep contacting me.” He could encourage her to call you (which she won’t) and say “WE will keep you in our prayers.” It’s a gentler way to let her know he won’t be available because you are his priority. He or you can refer her to someone like a counselor or church member to guide her through her issues. She sounds very emotionally dependent on him and should not be only talking to hm. He has to accept he has caused her over-contact, by continually ‘being there’ for her. It’s kind of him, but not fair on you. You should be first in his life, no matter what this other lady says or does.

      Talk to him and explain that this is a problem for you. If he listens and agrees then good, make a plan together. If he promises change but nothing changes because he won’t do anything, you may have to offer later on a serious consequence. Like a separation and he must move out, if he doesn’t end the contact or face the problem.

      You have to be prepared to go through with it as well. Then he will know he is about to lose something important and make his decision. But no one should come between the spouses. You can also ask someone in leadership who he respects to counsel you both on what to do. God bless.

  2. My husband only works with women. He has time and time again pointed out that they always talk about their personal lives with him and that he cannot avoid it. One in particular has made a point to pursue him and only signs up for projects that include him. He only wants to talk about work and what goes on with his co workers. It has gotten to the point that is all we really discuss is his work and the contacts he has with these women. He says that he has to engage with them so that he can get his job done but all I see is how unprofessional and personal it has gotten. He doesn’t see it and gets very defensive when I bring it up.

    Up to him taking this job we worked together and always talked about everything. Now we only talk about his work and when I talk about mine he is less enthusiastic and yet defensive when I point it out. He completely denied that he did anything to welcome their attention but if I show up at an office function, party or dinner they are either very hostile to me or they all avoid any contact at all including with him. I went to the bathroom at our last function this past week as we were leaving. We had been there for a while and none of the women talked to me or him while we were there. I came back from the bathroom and they were all around him talking to him.

    I mention it and he gets defensive and that I am looking for things that are not there. I really do feel that he appeases them at work all day and plays to the attention they give him and then he comes home and tries to appease me and it is as if he is actively engaging in making sure all the women in his life are happy and I am on the same level as them. One day he said he had been very distant at work with them and they got all hostile and it was not going well. So he went out and bought everybody pizza and dropped one off at my office too. He said he was trying to make everyone happy. He said that they all were then in good moods for the rest of the day and he was able to get his job done.

    Time and time again I hear stories of how he had to deal with them and their drama and that he was there for them, but I am not supposed to be angry or be bothered about it because he tells me that he is doing it all for the family so he can get ahead. He tells me that I can trust him and that he has no interest in them at all. But then he mentions about one in particular who pursues him and that he had to block her on his phone. I then find out that he never blocked her but that he just deleted her messages. So then when he tells me that he is trying to avoid some in particular I find out that he really hasn’t done so and then again, I am the bad guy for bringing it up. I am at a loss of how to handle it. Part of me just wants to stop feeling anything about it and just let it take its course because the more I push the more I send him to vent and get support and comfort from the women at work.

    1. Belinda, I don’t know your husband, but I do happen to be a man so I know some of the things that have caused me to behave in similar sorts of ways in years past.

      When I found myself being tempted to build a closer relationship with female co-workers it was during times when I was craving more emotional closeness with my wife but I was not able to get her attention. In retrospect, I have learned that the emotional distance in our marriage relationship that I was wanting to somehow overcome was the result of our dysfunctional communication at the time. I would try to share what I felt as a need for more closeness, but she would feel pressured to do more so she would explain to me why I needed to be more content. Each time that I tried to share, she seemed to try to explain why I shouldn’t feel the way that I did. I was craving for her to come close to me emotionally, but she always felt insecure in the conversation and pulled away to protect herself instead. That ended up leaving me continually vulnerable to the temptation build a closer relationship with someone else, instead of my wife.

      I’m just sharing this because you may want to consider the possibility that your husband is trying to send you the signal that he wants you closer emotionally in his life. Men sometimes communicate in very odd ways.