By Richard Bleil
A couple of weeks ago, at the Siouxland Renaissance Festival in Sioux Falls, I had the opportunity to reacquaint myself, albeit all too briefly, with a friend of mine. She is a charming young woman, and marvelously unique and charming. Before I go on, no, there was never anything romantic between us. Not that I don’t find her attractive, but I also know that she could have (and did) done better than me. I knew that she had had a child with her husband, but I didn’t realize that she had a second.
So, just for fun, I looked her up on my social media page. I was rather surprised to find that we were not “friends” on the social site, especially since I know we had been friends on the site in the past. Then it occurred to me.
That was before my marriage.
Yes, gars and goyles, this post will be, yet again, about my narcissistic ex-wife (or “nex” as my new support group would refer to her). This time I want to focus on how such significant others strive to isolate their partners.
Before we go on, though, I really have to “give props” (see? I’m hip! I’m no square, y’know) to my friends who have stuck with me through my marriage. My ex did insist that I go through at delete my female friends and sever ties with them, a demand to which I, shamefully, acquiesced. Two short years later, when we were separated with divorce pending, I tried to reconnect with as many of them as possible, tail between my legs, ashamed, and prepared to beg for them to resume the friendships we had had. I cannot expressed how happy I am to say that no begging was necessary. They accepted me back, we resumed our friendship from where we left off, and, well, frankly, I have the best friends in the world.
More than once I’ve had to bite my lip when a friend insists that “he shouldn’t have to be told to give up his old female friends”. One of the signs of emotional abuse is not allowing the victim to have friends. On the other hand, though, there are also men who hold onto some female acquaintances to “keep their options open”, a rather sleazy but all too common practice. So, am I right that it is acceptable for men to remain friends with female acquaintances, or am I wrong?
Honest, I think it depends on the reason for the relationship. It is wrong to drag women on, and certainly unfair to cheat. I’ve long believed that when someone forgives their significant other for something like infidelity it’s really just training them that it’s training them that they can get away with it. But not every relationship is intended as an inroad to infidelity.
Keep in mind that I do believe that flirting is okay, provided of course that the parties involved are honest with each other about their situations and intentions, and know the appropriate bounds and limitations. I have friends with whom I periodically discuss kinks. They are happily involved with men other than me, and because I love them dearly, I would rather see them happily involved than try to interfere, but we have similar kinks and as such we can talk with each other without fear of shame. But, in the end, we would never actually cheat, so it just amounts to talking. I think it’s because we both know that the other knows and respects the boundaries that we have been able to maintain our friendships.
Now I need to figure out how to wrap this up. Trying to stop a significant other from having friends, even of the opposite gender, is a form of abuse. But it is simply inappropriate, and hurtful, to hang on to former flames in the hopes of rekindling something on the side. A relationship that is not based on faith is doomed to failure. So, as you can see, I’ve explored both sides to the point to be unable to give advice. I will tell you this, though. When my ex asked me about my friends, I always answered her honestly, but she did not believe me. I guess if something feels wrong it is always fair and a good idea to ask about it openly, and to have an honest explanation.
As for me, I look forward to catching up with my friend, and I’m ashamed that I let my wife drive a wedge between us when our relationship truly was, and still is, innocent.