A little over twenty years ago I heard the following question asked on a Christian radio station, “What do you do when friends are of the opposite sex.” Because I was riding in my car I couldn’t write anything down so I listened attentively. I was interested because I had a friend of the opposite gender and we wanted a friendship free of controversy. Since we are both married we definitely didn’t want anything to interfere with our marriages. I especially wanted a Christian perspective.
The radio announcer listed several things people could do to keep the friendship from moving in the wrong direction. I jotted down what I could remember as soon as I could. Some of those things were:
- There are no individual ambitions
- You enrich each other’s life
- Motives are kept pure (no temptations by being alone together)
- You value the friendship more than anything else
- You don’t send sexual messages
I showed the list to my friend and we talked about it and added to it. For example:
- If either of us knew of someone in our circle of friends and acquaintances who was “fooling around” we would not mention it at all.
- There would be no off color jokes or conversation and no flirting.
- If just the two of us are alone in a room or office the door would be wide open and we would be at an appropriate distance from each other. Appearance is important.
- When we meet for breakfast or lunch we pray together. We never meet for dinner. That’s too intimate a setting.
- We always let our spouses know when we have any type of meeting or even just a phone call.
We were both in the financial services (insurance & investments) industry working for different companies, then the same company, then different companies again. Our friendship began when we were with different companies but active members of the Bronx branch of the NYC Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors. Eight of us, members of the Bronx AIFA, formed a study group that met for the purpose of encouraging and motivating each other. We represented different insurance and investment companies. We met regularly at a diner for lunch and discussion. Over time the group of eight dwindled until there was just two of us.
Once while we worked for the same company, there was a sales representative meeting on Long Island (NY). Four of us, co-workers, were going to car pool using my car. Two of the co-workers decided to drive their own cars because of their schedules. So, only my friend and I rode together. There was no car pool for the next monthly meeting. At that meeting a co-worker remarked to me that it was unusual to see my friend and I arrive in separate cars. Actually, only once did we ever arrive in the same car. But, people create stuff in their own minds for their small minded reasons. All he had to do was mention that untruth to one other person and the rumors would begin to fly.
Now my friend and I talk on the phone occasionally but rarely meet anymore since I am now retired and she is busy running her own insurance agency. Before she opened her agency she sought my advice and we talked about it on the phone and exchanged email on the subject. I had opened my own agency a few years before I retired. Our conversations on the phone and in person have always revolved around business.
Having a friend of the opposite gender really shouldn’t matter unless you have impure motives. It can be complicated if one or both are married. If a spouse objects or is uncomfortable with the friendship, then the type of relationship has to change.
Here is my idea. The word sex has several meanings and connotations. Your wife is of the opposite sex. All other women are of the opposite gender. In the final analysis your spouse is your best friend and cannot be replaced. <><