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October 12, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I recently got married. I love my husband a lot, but I still feel a need to go out alone, without him, with some of my friends. Well, in particular, with one friend, who happens to be a man (a very gay man). I don't like to bring my husband along when I go out with my friend, because my friend and I are very close, and having my husband along changes the dynamic a lot (my friend feels kind of uncomfortable around straight men, and the two of them don't have a whole lot in common). The problem is that I feel that now that I'm married, it's not really appropriate for me to be socializing without my husband. All this is made a lot more complicated by the fact that I'm very close to my friend--in some ways, I'm closer to him than to my husband. My husband isn't thrilled about my relationship with my friend, but he tolerates it. The bottom line is that on some level, I feel like I'm cheating on my husband, but obviously, there's nothing sexual between my friend and me. Am I just making myself feel unnecessarily guilty over this whole thing?

-- Just Married

Dear Married,

I don't have the citation in front of me (Paul's off today), but a recent study showed that, when asked who their best friend is, married men say "my wife," while married women cite a third-party pal. It's not weird -- nor, God forbid, inappropriate -- for you to have extra-marital ... friends. Nor is it weird for you to have a particular friend with whom you deal on a different (not higher, not lower) level from your husband. Nor is it all that weird for your husband to be a little humanly weird about it, especially 'cause you're friend's a guy, even a gay one, go figure, whatever. Bottom line, some of my best friends say that some of the best marriages include plenty of friends who are not entirely mutual. And a little huffy, harmless, I-know-this-is-silly jealousy.

My main concern, therefore, is that you're so concerned. Part of it, I'm sure, is your getting used to the brand-new courtesies and obligations of actual marriage. And maybe you have an ittybitty secret platonic fizzy end-in-itself crush on Gay Friend. No big. But ... "cheating?" Are you "unnecessarily guilty?" Yes. Why? I don't know. Do you feel like your marriage is this delicate new sprout in need of constant, unerring care -- that it will wither if you turn away for a moment? (Not that having a friend is turning way -- au contraire.) Do you feel the same way about your self-esteem? Do you feel like your husband's love has to be earned and incubated and defended? Again, I don't have enough data. But think about it. Actually, if I were you I'd, um, ask your gay friend.

-- Love,
Breakup Girl



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