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Can Married Men Have Female Friends? (Friendships with Women)

Marriage is hard enough on its own. But sometimes when 1 spouse starts spending a lot of time alone with someone of the opposite sex, it can create a lot of headaches in their marriage. So, should a married man have female friends?

As a general rule, it is OK for a husband to have female friends. However, they ideally should not be single. Also, their spouse should always be included or invited when meet-ups occur. And the husband should also avoid talking negatively to the friend about his wife.

Clear boundaries, communication & empathy can help all of the individuals navigate the friendship without it causing problems.

But that’s just 1 example.

There are a lot of ways a spouse can opposite-sex friendships (or the same gender if that’s how their attractions align). And, more importantly, there are a lot of things that a spouse can do to really damage the marriage by having a friend they are potentially attracted to.

Even though times are changing, the idea of a married man and woman having close friendships can still be a touchy subject for a lot of couples out there. Indeed, being friends with the opposite sex can sometimes be difficult to navigate with your partner.

But with precautions, awareness, proper boundaries, and good communication, friends of the opposite sex can enrich you and your partner’s lives exponentially. In fact, it would be an absolute shame to dismiss the idea.

A person of the opposite sex can offer perspectives and advice that we can’t get from our partner. They’re key to growing an understanding of how to maintain relationships, needs, expectations, and communication styles of the opposite sex.

Table of Contents:

Can a married man and woman be just friends?

Yes, they can.

Let me type that again just to clarify. Heterosexual men and women absolutely can be just friends and have healthy relationships without the thought of a romantic relationship ever entering their minds. At best, this is an issue of trust in your partner vs. protective instincts. In this best case, an honest, open conversation could be enough to ease your mind.

But for the sake of this article, let’s take a look at the worst possibilities. This may be an issue of:

  • Ignored red flags
  • Miscommunication
  • Unclear expectations of your partner
  • Unset or no boundaries with your partner

If you’re reading this before marrying your spouse or are still somewhere in the dating phase, and there’s already drama about a platonic relationship with women, then now is the time to iron out these concerns. Let’s start with the first.

It’s the biggest and worst.

Let’s say your man is meeting a female friend very often, going out with her alone, or texting her during the time spent with you. By themselves, even these drastic behaviors could be entirely innocent. This is especially so if your man doesn’t realize this behavior makes you uncomfortable.

But, if you’ve voiced these concerns and nothing changes, that’s red flag city.

A healthy relationship means hearing each other’s worries and finding a compromise. And most of all, it’s following through with promises to change hurtful behavior.

If any man doesn’t try to understand your perspective or empathize with your worries, you may need to ask yourself some hard questions. If you’re feeling like your marriage is in a stalemate, it may be time to get some help.

Marriage counseling has helped my marriage and hundreds of thousands of others. 

And therapy doesn’t mean you’re weak or incapable. It is simply a way for a neutral 3rd party to help you and your spouse figure out how to communicate better.

But if you’ve never done it, you probably have a lot of questions about how marriage counseling works: Cost, insurance, what they do, and how many times you need to go. If that sounds familiar, check out the facts in my recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can guys have close female friends?

Absolutely, yes.

In fact, everyone benefits from a close friendship with opposite sex friends. You can learn so much about relationship issues from the other side. You gain a new perspective from someone who can probably see the situation better than you can. Through platonic friendships, you learn how to communicate in a way that your partner is more likely to understand.

You can even get the bad news that it’s you who’s been the jerk this whole time – information a friend would be willing to share, where a lover may not.

It is more than just absurd to still be asking if cross-sex friendships can still work. It would be stunting your own growth. Besides, all these great things and lessons learned can benefit your man’s romantic partner most of all – you!

 I think some more important questions to think about are:

  • What is the nature of your man’s platonic relationships with other women?
  • Do he and she keep healthy boundaries?
  • Do they have any romantic history together which may compromise their judgment?
  • Is she friendly with you?
  • Is she single?

Let’s look at each one.

1. The nature of their friendship and how they first met

This could be a good indicator of any foul play.

For example, if their friendship came about from a shared interest, as part of a mutual friend group, or started in childhood, there’s probably not much to worry about.

If their friendship is new, based on some chance meeting, or formed without a logical explanation of why that’s a different story.

Ask questions about the friend to get a clearer picture of what you’re dealing with, a genuine friend or something else.

2. Clear boundaries

Second, when you’re good friends with the opposite sex, there is a certain vigilance you need to maintain.

Feelings can come up unexpectedly. And no matter how in love you are with your partner, if your eyes still work, you can and will notice physical attractiveness.

So, it’s important to make sure that both parties have and respect each other’s boundaries.

Cheating is not only physical, so a keen awareness of self and the friend is essential. Couples should check-in and make sure no one is getting stepped on.

Ask before getting yourself into a potentially problematic situation. 

A simple “Looks like it’s just going to be me and her tomorrow. But, I can cancel if that bothers you.” or “Do you mind if I invite her to our plans, or did we want to keep it just us?

Both are okay with me.” is a good start.

3. Is there a romantic history?

The third concern is whether they have any romantic history.

If there is, that adds another layer of difficulty in maintaining a healthy friendship. The person trying to maintain a friendship with their ex should understand this and act accordingly.

If they get defensive, that’s one more red flag.

Even in the case of deep history, not all hope is lost. For example, while it’s 99% a Facebook friendship, I am still friends with my first ex-wife. We’ve been split up a long time, and there’s no romantic interest there whatsoever.

But we shared over a decade together and that means something to me. But not in a romantic way.

4. Is the female friend friendly with you?

If your husband’s new friend of the opposite gender isn’t friendly to you and doesn’t make an effort to connect with you, that’s a very bad sign.

After all, she is spending time with your husband.

There should be respect for you that comes with that. But, instead, if she makes an effort to be friendly with you and takes the time to get to know you, that’s a much better indicator that there’s nothing to worry about.

If she makes an effort to be your friend too and/or invites you out sometimes too; even better!

5. Is the female friend single?

Make no mistake. Married women and men have affairs all the time.

But a single woman wanting to hang out with a married man just has a few extra red flags compared to a married woman. To be clear, I’m not suggesting a married man can’t be platonic friends with a single woman.

I am suggesting that it warrants greater effort on her part and the part of your husband to ensure they aren’t doing things to create mistrust with you. If, as I mentioned in #4, she also doesn’t make an effort to be friendly with you, or has awkward body language, that’s almost a sure sign her motives aren’t 100% pure.

But if we’re talking about single women, it’s just that much easier for their relationship to turn inappropriate or at least turn into an emotional affair.

That doesn’t, however, mean your husband has impure motives. I can tell you, as I mentioned above, that guys are not usually good at picking up small signals. So even if the woman has intentions on your man, he might be totally clueless.

Can a man just be friends with a woman he is attracted to?

As mentioned, your sense of physical attraction to members of the opposite sex does not magically stop once you commit to someone. But acting on those impulses, must.

The common stereotype is that men are powerless against our “little brain.”

But that’s an excuse for a lack of integrity and low willpower. If your man is genuinely committed and respects you, he will maintain boundaries and guard his heart accordingly.

Besides, the emotional attraction is a more serious threat.

It’s perfectly fine to respect, enjoy the company of, or even admire a person who isn’t your lover. It’s even okay to have rogue thoughts of what they would be like as a partner.

But it’s important for their to be clear boundaries. And for the guy, if he’s attracted to another woman, he should ideally cut her off completely. But at the very least he should not hang out with her just the two of them, especially in the evening and definitely not if alcohol is likely to be involved.

How my wife’s “friend” helped lead to our divorce

My now ex-wife has been friends with a guy for 7 years. And he’s been largely single for a lot of that time.

And for the past 5 years, I did see him as a potential threat. Now in retrospect, I should have simply focused on being a better husband and focused on improving my marriage. If you’re married to a person of integrity, if the marriage is good, they’ll never cross that line.

But here we are now, almost divorced, and guess who she’s in a relationship with? 

And while she claims it had only been going on about 2 months at the time of our divorce, who’s to say if any lines were ever crossed or blurred in the past? The one thing I do know is there was an intimate emotional connection going back a few years.

And as I said above, often it’s the emotional affair that’s more damaging that the physical one.

How being attracted to a female friend contributed to the end of my relationship

I still recall having a close friend of the opposite sex named Heather.

She was a female co-worker I met in between my 2 marriages (roughly 20 years ago). I was, however, in a committed relationship at the time with a serious girlfriend. To be clear, Heather, who was also living with her boyfriend, and I never did anything I haven’t done with my male friends.

Not even a kiss. I also have no idea if she had any romantic feelings for me whatsoever.

But I was attracted to her on a physical and emotional level. I kept my boundaries in place and told myself as long as I did that, it was OK. In truth, my relationship with my girlfriend did suffer and we eventually split.

We didn’t split because of my emotional connection to Heather, and they were friends too.

But I can see in retrospect that I neglected my girlfriend in wanting to spend time with Heather. While I kept my physical boundaries in place, I should have recognized how my emotional needs were negatively impacting my relationship with my girlfriend.

Eventually, my girlfriend went looking for a connection elsewhere and found it (with my best friend’s married brother). So inappropriate friendships for both of us contributed to the demise of our relationship.

You can get your marriage back on track! I know because I’ve done it myself.

Check out my recent article where I break down every step to take to rekindle and restore a relationship. I’m not even talking about just making it like it was before, but better than it ever was!

Just click that link to read it on my site!

How do you know if your husband is in love with another woman?

While there’s no surefire way to tell, since as many of those probably involve some deception on your part, there are a few signs you can look for.

Unexplained changes in routine are one obvious one.

Especially if they are recurring and habitual in nature. Sudden late nights at work or social events that exclude you specifically are a sign of something fishy. Showering or washing hands as soon as they get home is another classic example.

Some more subtle cues might be: 

  • A decrease in sex drive 
  • Texting in the early mornings or evenings 
  • Keeping the phone locked and nearby at all times
  • Turning the phone down on its face when you’re around
  • Overall more distant and detached with you 

I mentioned deception above.

Let me be clear. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of doing bad things hoping to catch your spouse doing bad things. 2 wrongs, as they say, don’t make a right.

Hacking into emails, social media stalking, or reading your spouse’s text messages when they are in the shower might give you an answer. But more likely, it will just increase your insecurity and paranoia. If you get caught, especially if they aren’t actually doing anything wrong, now you’re the bad guy.

Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. If they are doing really questionable things, ask them directly. It’s OK to feel suspicious in the face of suspicious behavior.

It’s NOT ok to resort to doing suspicious things yourself.

This is a tricky question that involves intuition and feeling just as much as evidence. But there are some more concrete signs your husband is considering a divorce.

If you think that’s where he might be heading, check out my recent article linked below. I get into all the signs to look for, including the 1 sign that almost assuredly means he’s thinking about divorcing you.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

When does a man texting another woman cross the line?

The question of when a man texting another woman crosses the line can be a complicated one, as every relationship has its own boundaries and expectations.

However, there are some general guidelines that can help determine when this behavior is inappropriate or even harmful to the relationship.

  • Secretive behavior. If a man is texting another woman in secret, hiding his phone or messages from his partner, this is a clear sign that he is crossing a line. In a healthy relationship, there should be open and honest communication.
  • Frequency and duration of texting. If a man is texting another woman frequently and for long periods of time, this can be a sign that the relationship is becoming more than just a friendship. It’s important to have open communication with your partner about your expectations for texting and other forms of communication with people outside the relationship.
  • Flirting or sexual content. If a man is texting another woman with flirtatious or sexual content, this is a clear violation of the boundaries of a committed relationship. This behavior is not only disrespectful to his partner, but it can also be emotionally damaging.
  • Lack of respect for the partner. If a man is texting another woman despite his partner’s objections or discomfort, this is a clear indication that he is not respecting the boundaries of the relationship. It’s important for both partners to have their feelings and concerns heard and taken seriously.
  • Emotional connection. If a man is texting another woman and developing a strong emotional connection with her, this can be just as harmful to the relationship as physical infidelity. Married men (or women) talking about personal problems with members of the opposite sex, especially talking about marital issues, is totally inappropriate. Emotional infidelity can be just as damaging to a relationship, if not more so, than physical infidelity.

Ultimately, the decision of what behavior is acceptable in a relationship is up to the individuals involved.

However, it’s important to have open and honest communication about boundaries and expectations in order to avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings.

How would you know if your husband was texting another woman inappropriately?

Discovering that your husband is texting another woman inappropriately can be a difficult and painful experience. While every relationship is different, there are some common signs that may indicate that your husband is engaging in inappropriate texting behavior:

  • Secrecy. If your husband is being secretive about his phone and his messages, this may be a red flag that he is engaging in inappropriate behavior. He may hide his phone or be reluctant to let you see his messages.
  • Excessive texting. If your husband is spending a lot of time texting and seems preoccupied with his phone, this may be a sign that he is engaging in inappropriate behavior. He may also become defensive if you ask him about his texting habits.
  • Emotional distance. If your husband is texting another woman inappropriately, he may become emotionally distant from you. He may seem less interested in spending time with you or talking to you, and may become defensive or angry if you ask him about his behavior.
  • Changes in behavior or routine. If your husband’s behavior or routine has changed suddenly, this may be a sign that something is going on. For example, he may suddenly start working late or spending more time away from home.
  • Flirtatious or sexual content. If your husband is engaging in inappropriate texting behavior, he may send flirtatious or sexual messages to the other woman. He may also use language or emojis that are inappropriate or suggestive.
  • Guilty behavior. If your husband is feeling guilty about his behavior, he may become defensive or irritable when you ask him about his phone or his messages. He may also become more affectionate or attentive to try to cover up his behavior.

If you suspect that your husband is engaging in inappropriate texting behavior, it’s important to address the issue directly and honestly.

This may involve having a difficult conversation and setting clear boundaries for what behavior is acceptable in your relationship. If your husband is unwilling to change his behavior or address your concerns, it may be necessary to seek outside help or consider ending the relationship.

If my husband is texting another woman is that considered cheating?

The answer to whether texting another woman is considered cheating or not can be subjective and may depend on the context of the situation and the individuals involved. Some people may view it as a form of emotional infidelity, while others may see it as harmless communication.

However, here are some factors that may determine whether texting another woman is considered cheating:

  • Intentions. If the texting is innocent and platonic with no romantic or sexual intentions, it may not be considered cheating. However, if there are flirtatious or suggestive messages, it may be viewed as a form of emotional infidelity.
  • Frequency and duration. If the texting is frequent and long-lasting, it may indicate that the person is emotionally invested in the other woman and is engaging in a form of emotional cheating.
  • Secrecy. If the texting is done in secret or the person is hiding their phone and messages, it may indicate that they are engaging in inappropriate behavior and may be considered a form of cheating.
  • Impact on the relationship. If the texting is causing problems in the relationship or leading to a breakdown in trust, it may be considered a form of cheating regardless of the intentions or frequency.
  • Individual boundaries and expectations. What is considered cheating can vary from person to person depending on their personal values and expectations in a relationship. It’s important for individuals to communicate their boundaries and expectations clearly to their partners to avoid misunderstandings and potential cheating.

Ultimately, the definition of cheating may vary from relationship to relationship, and it’s up to the individuals involved to determine what is acceptable behavior in their relationship. However, it’s important to establish clear communication and boundaries to avoid misunderstandings and potential harm to the relationship.

Can an emotional affair turn into love?

An emotional affair is a type of relationship where two people have an intense emotional connection that goes beyond friendship but does not involve physical intimacy. This type of affair can occur between individuals who are in committed relationships with other people and can be just as damaging as a physical affair.

When it comes to whether an emotional affair can turn into love, the answer is complicated and may depend on a variety of factors.

Here are some things to consider:

  • The intensity of the emotional connection. Emotional affairs often involve a deep level of emotional intimacy, which can lead to feelings of love. If the emotional connection between the two individuals continues to grow, it’s possible that it could turn into a romantic relationship.
  • The individuals’ personal values and boundaries. Some people may view emotional affairs as a form of cheating and be less likely to pursue a romantic relationship as a result. Others may be more open to the possibility of turning an emotional connection into a romantic one.
  • The individuals’ current relationships. If both individuals are in committed relationships with other people, pursuing a romantic relationship may be more difficult and may involve the end of the current relationship.
  • The individuals’ level of commitment. If both individuals are committed to working on their current relationships or maintaining boundaries with each other, it may be less likely that the emotional affair will turn into love.

It’s important to note that emotional affairs can be just as damaging to a relationship as physical affairs, and individuals who are in committed relationships should be mindful of their emotional connections with others.

While an emotional affair may not always lead to love, it can still cause significant harm to the individuals involved and their partners.

Ultimately, whether an emotional affair turns into love depends on a variety of factors, including the individual’s personal values, boundaries, and level of commitment. It’s important for individuals to communicate openly and honestly with their partners and to be mindful of their emotional connections with others to avoid potential harm to their relationships.

How to talk to your husband about his texting another woman

Discovering that your husband is texting another woman can be a difficult and emotionally charged situation.

While it’s important to address the issue, it’s also important to approach the conversation in a calm and rational manner. Here are some tips on how to talk to your husband about his texting another woman:

  • Take some time to process your emotions. Before you have a conversation with your husband, take some time to process your emotions and think about what you want to say. It’s important to approach the conversation calmly and rationally to avoid making the situation worse.
  • Start the conversation by expressing your concerns. Begin the conversation by expressing your concerns and letting your husband know how his actions are making you feel. Use “I” statements to avoid placing blame and keep the focus on your feelings.
  • Be specific about your concerns. It’s important to be specific about your concerns and the behaviors that are bothering you. For example, you may be uncomfortable with the frequency or content of the texts.
  • Listen to your husband’s perspective. Allow your husband to share his perspective and listen to what he has to say. It’s important to have an open and honest conversation to understand each other’s viewpoints.
  • Establish boundaries and expectations. Once you have discussed your concerns and perspectives, it’s important to establish clear boundaries and expectations for your relationship. This may involve setting limits on communication with the other woman or seeking counseling to work through the issue.
  • Be willing to work on the relationship. If both you and your husband are committed to working on the relationship, it’s important to be open to seeking outside help, such as counseling or therapy, to work through any underlying issues.

Here are a few examples of the right and wrong things to say:

Example One

“When you (behavior) it makes me feel…”

  • What not to say: I hate you seeing her so often. 
  • Say this instead: When you see her so often, it makes me feel like you’ve lost interest in me as a romantic partner.

Example Two

“I think (clearly stated expectation) would make me feel …”

  • What not to say: You should put some distance between you two.
  • Say this instead: I think putting some distance between you two would make me feel more comfortable.

Example Three

“What do you think about (boundary or expectation)?”

  • What not to say: Can’t you not hang out with her alone at least?
  • Say this instead: What do you think about not hanging out with her alone?

While these sentences are all clear and direct, the first in each example feels like an attack.

This could escalate a civil talk into an argument very quickly. In the third example, framing a request the second way gives the listener a sense of control that opens them up to a dialogue. Asking the first way presents a demand that leads to a reactive, defensive response. Not good for a productive discussion.

Again, if your man does not respect or hear these concerns, it is a major red flag.

That might mean revisiting the issue. If that has failed, it might be time for some hard choices. Don’t let anyone disrespect you or your wishes, intentional or otherwise.

It’s important to remember that having an open and honest conversation with your husband about his texting another woman can be challenging, but it’s essential to address the issue to avoid potential harm to your relationship.

By approaching the conversation calmly and rationally, expressing your concerns, and working together to establish clear boundaries and expectations, you can move forward and work towards a stronger, healthier relationship.

Should a married man go out alone with another woman?

The question of whether a married man should go out alone with another woman is a complicated one.

Some people follow the “Billy Graham Rule,” which states that a married man should avoid being alone with a woman who is not his wife to avoid any potential temptation or appearances of impropriety.

Others may feel that it is acceptable to spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex, as long as they have no romantic or sexual intentions.

However, regardless of personal beliefs or cultural norms, it’s important to consider the potential impact on one’s marriage and spouse when spending time alone with another woman. Even if there is no intent to engage in romantic relationships, it can still create feelings of jealousy, mistrust, and insecurity in a spouse.

While some situations may be deemed acceptable, such as a work-related meeting or a group outing, an evening get-together for dinner or drinks just the two of them is generally inappropriate unless spouses are welcome as well.

This is particularly true if the relationship with the other woman is relatively new or if there have been any previous romantic or sexual feelings involved. In these cases, it’s important to prioritize the feelings and well-being of one’s spouse and avoid any situation that could be interpreted as a breach of trust or commitment.

Ultimately, the decision to spend time alone with attractive women as a married man should be made carefully and with consideration for the potential impact on one’s marriage and spouse. And most definitely don’t look for emotional support from same-sex friendships.

It’s important to communicate openly and honestly with one’s spouse about any plans to spend time with someone of the opposite sex and to establish clear boundaries and expectations to avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings.

By prioritizing trust and commitment in one’s marriage, couples can work towards a strong and healthy relationship built on mutual respect and understanding.

Final thoughts

I hope this article allays some typical fears and instills some confidence that a married person having healthy friendships with people of the opposite sex is not only okay but recommended!

Just remember that above all, good communication is the foundation of a successful marriage or relationship.

If your expectations and needs are expressed clearly, your partner monitors his feelings and maintains healthy boundaries, there should be nothing at all to worry about.

But, if your partner fails to respect your feelings or is unwilling to compromise his female friendships, there is something wrong. It’s not OK to ask your man to be a prisoner and never spend time away from you or work.

I ended my first marriage for that (and other) reason. But you should also be the #1 woman in his life and come before all others.

Respect yourself and don’t ever tolerate emotional neglect or abuse.

Jeff Campbell