Sacha Walters-Gregory, Staff Reporter
Introduce your boyfriend to your boyfriend? What? Yes, what do you do when you have a male platonic friend and in walks an intimate partner in your life? Nothing else but introduce your boyfriend to your boyfriend.
According to marriage and family therapist and clinical sexologist, Dr Sidney McGill, there's only one way to create some level of comfort when faced with this situation. "Find a way of getting your intimate partner to know your friend in a social setting," McGill recommends. "If you know your partner is jealous, be sure to spend more time with him while you are out."
But it's certainly easier said than done, especially when there is uncertainty about how your intimate partner will react.
For Charlene30, she never felt comfortable enough to do formal introductions and invite her male friends out to have drinks with her significant other.
"Ideally, I'd like if they feel comfortable enough to hang out together as a group," said Charlene, who has three platonic male friends. Two were her friends before she met her current boyfriend, one has been her friend since she was 14.
But her current boyfriend is not comfortable with her communicating or socialising with these men, and she tries her own methods to combat his uneasiness.
"I try to be open. I don't have a problem sharing things, within limits, that are taking place in my friends' lives to get him comfortable," she said. Also, she is honest about when and where she socialises with them.
"But it doesn't work because there is an element of distrust because he knows that my friends like me." A 'like' she acknowledges, if she wanted to go beyond friendship, could.
"Especially with one; he feels like if he (her friend) could bruk him foot, him would do it," she said.
But Charlene insists her friends know where she stands and she is not interested in an intimate relationship, but she values them enough to move beyond their attraction to her and explore their friendship.
The flip side to her story is that her boyfriend has female friends as well.
"I recognise that people have to have their space and should have friends of the opposite sex," she said, so she doesn't prevent him from spending time with his female friends.
"But I do sometimes wonder if there is anything more because he is cagey at times. I don't know if he goes out of his way or if demands are being made of him that are beyond friendship, but sometimes it seems like it's more than a friendship," she said.
Possible to work
John, who has platonic female friends, believes it's totally possible for these relationships to work, even when intimate partners are in the picture.
"You find that a man who can't handle his woman having a male friend is not comfortable with himself. He's the type that always has to have a girlfriend to reassure him. He can't even be single," he said.
John said he has never prevented an intimate female partner from having male friends. He believes it's a natural selection process, where the woman will choose to spend most of her time with her intimate partner and her friend will occupy the rest.
"If she's not wanting to spend most of her time with you, then you're doing something wrong."
With his platonic female friends, "Once a man start look her, I back off.
"Some guys just want to have control," said John, "But it is possible for your woman to have a man who she is just not interested in sexually and the same for a man."
McGill agrees that in order for these relationships to work in part depends on the persons' security level, which can stem from a history of distrust. This is not necessarily only from betrayal in another intimate relationship but distrust from other women, like a mother.
"So the person can carry that distrust into the relationship," McGill said.
"That other partner then has to determine if that relationship is worth it," he said. This relationship may not be worth it if a partner has certain emotions.
"It's not worth it when you feel your wings are clipped and you are restrained and you get a sense that you are a possession instead of an equal partner," he said, adding, "It's not worth it if your intimate relationship is built on lies."
McGill also noted that betrayal in your intimate relationship will also cause the other partner to be uncertain.
"That is a major issue which a couple may choose to mend or not to mend," he said.
But such a relationship can work, especially if friendship is at the base of your intimate relationship.
"It can work if both partners are emotionally mature and have been friends for years before becoming lovers," said McGill.
"You really can't set any rigid rules," he said, but each partners' action will be guided by their moral standards and their emotional maturity.
*Names changed on request.