Navigating Opposite-Sex Friendships While in a Relationship

Happy friends taking a selfie

Opposite-sex friendships are great and even necessary to have because this world isn’t only consisted of men or only women. But once you’re in a committed relationship, they’re gonna change, whether you like it or not.

If you’re really serious about protecting the relationship you have with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you’ll be serious about being careful about maintaining the friendships you have with people of the opposite sex.

My boyfriend and I have friends that are men and women and we have no problem with that. But we have discussed which boundaries we need to set so that we can protect the beautiful thing we have and are still building on together.

You shouldn’t ditch your guy or gal friends because you’re in a relationship but there are some things you should keep in mind so that these friendships don’t damage the relationship you have with each other.

1. Affairs sprout from friendships gone too deep.

No relationship is immune to affairs, and I’m including dating, engaged and married couples. Most affairs don’t happen out of nowhere. It’s usually a build-up of deep conversations and consistent one-on-one time with a friend of the opposite-sex.

There are certain things that you should keep to yourself and keep between you and your S.O. because it’ll guard your heart, protect your relationship and will only strengthen the bond you have with your S.O.

My boyfriend and I welcome each others’ friends that are a mix of men and women, but we have discussed and are aware of lines that shouldn’t be crossed and to not play with fire to get in the danger zone.

2. Setting boundaries will help protect your relationship.

There are so many articles out there about how to navigate opposite-sex friendships while in a relationship so I’m not going to repeat them here. But they all come down to this: setting boundaries and enforcing them. It’s not being controlling or strict, it’s putting your effort into protecting your relationship because you genuinely care and respect your S.O.

Be careful to share your deepest secrets and be cautious to share any problems that you and your S.O. may be dealing with. It’s dangerous waters because you’re essentially sharing a part of your heart that belongs to your partner. This is called emotional cheating.

It’s wise to discuss and set these boundaries in the beginning rather than later, but it’s never too late to set and enforce them with your S.O. These are preventative measures worth taking and if you’re not willing to take them, maybe it’s time to reconsider staying in the relationship.

3. Share your relationship problems with a mentor, therapist, pastor, or friend of the same-sex.

So what do you do when you need outside counsel or guidance on a conflict that’s been brewing in your relationship? Seek help from a therapist, a trusted unbiased mentor, pastor or a friend of the same sex. They are great resources and people to turn to without jeopardizing your relationship.

Most of the time, I talk to my boyfriend about any concerns I have on our relationship before turning to someone else for insight and counsel. But the few times I do want to get an objective opinion about a situation, I turn to a couple of amazing girls to talk it out.

Turning to someone who can be objective, for additional insight, not only protects your relationship but it shows that you care and respect your S.O. to keep boundaries with the friends of the opposite-sex. It can also give you an accurate opinion because there’s no conflict of interest with an unbiased source.

4. Avoid putting yourself in tempting situations.

I believe that it’s best to avoid tempting environments and situations altogether. That way, there’s no chance for anything bad to happen, or something that you’ll end up regretting at the end. Taking precautions and preventative measures will keep you from being in a situation or place that is crawling with temptations to cheat.

Such preventative measures that relate to this point include but aren’t limited to: going out to dinner with a group of friends instead of with a friend of the opposite sex one-on-one, not being alone with them in a private space, and sympathizing but not being the consistent shoulder for them to cry on during the tough times.

If you don’t think your S.O. will be comfortable with what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, stay away and instead, suggest or advise them to seek help from a therapist, pastor or a trusted friend of the same sex.

Featured Image: iStock

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