Trust and Savage Unplugged: Cross-Sex Friendships

I have a close friend who is a girl.

Natalie Trust and I have been friends for just about a year. We talk often, get together when we can, text, Vox, tweet at each other, and generally go about the normal business of being friends. We just happen to be a woman and a man.

Growing up in the evangelical world I heard nothing good about cross sex friendships. They were a taboo thing, known to only lead to impurity and shadowy motives at best. It was as if any relationship between women and men was dictated by sex and erotic desire. You could never be good friends with a women. If you did manage it, well then it was just a “When Harry Met Sally” story waiting to unfold. The only sanctioned relationships between women and men were dating and marriage.

Well, Natalie and I are not dating, and we are not married to each other. We are however close friends. As an introvert, I keep only a handful of good friends. Natalie is someone I wold say is my best friend. I talk to her when I’m having a shitty day, when I have something to celebrate, when I’m stuck writing, or need to talk about my marriage. She will never replace my wife (who knows and adores Natalie), but Natalie and I have a special friendship that you don’t see much of, especially in the evangelical world.

We thought it would be fun to talk more openly about cross-sex friendships, answer some of the questions we think, some questions people have asked us. I am hosting Natalie’s answers here, and she is hosting my questions and answers at her blog.

So, here is a Q&A about cross-sex friendships with Natalie Trust, my friend.

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Questions 1: What topics/feelings/stories/etc. don’t get shared because he’s a guy?

As with all of my friendships, a certain amount of trust and vulnerability must be present before I’m willing to share personal things. However, since Aaron and I became friends online, via blogs and Twitter, we both knew intimate details about one another’s life before we had even met in person. With that said, at this point there aren’t any topics, for me, which are off limits. Of course I could decline to answer something, and I know Aaron would respect that.

Fun Fact: Aaron was the one who introduced me to the practice of free flowing periods. So yeah. We talk about a lot of random stuff.

Question 2: Isn’t your husband supposed to be your best friend?

My husband and I are best friends, yes. The loyalty in our bond runs deep, as it should. Yet, we can’t always meet each other’s needs.

For example, I love talking about theology and writing, and while I do have those conversations with my husband they are not the same as when I talk with Aaron about those subjects. It’s more stimulating to converse with people who are passionate about the things which interest you, you know?

Question 3: Can cross sex friendship really be a safe place?

I think it can be a safe place if you’re aware of the personal boundaries your friend has, and once in a while check in to make sure you’re staying within those boundaries.

Question 4: How do you explain your friendship to others, or is it not worth trying?

People often assume that I am friends with Aaron because we’re friends through the umbrella of a married couple friendship. The truth is, our spouses have never met.

I don’t really feel the need to explain my relationship with him anymore. However, I did experience some initial shame during one of our dinners out, but I’ve since worked through it. 

Question 5: Do spouses get Jealous? What would you do if a spouse asked you to stop the friendship?

My husband has been playfully jealous if he thinks I look especially attractive as I leave the house, but it’s all in fun.
My friendships with other men do not need to cause division between us as long as my husband knows that my heart is not divided by these friendships. These friendships add to the richness in my life, and I believe even add to the happiness I experience in my marriage.

Natalie Trust

Natalie is a lover of Chinese food, independent films, mystics, and toffee flavored lattes. She lives in the Portland area with her husband and son. Her evenings are spent working on her memoir and blogging at natalietrust.com.

  • this is awesome, and I will be sharing it everywhere and with everyone. my best friend Michael is a guy, has been for the past nine years (almost). when I met my husband and we started dating, I told him point-blank that Michael came as a package deal, and if that wasn’t something he was comfortable with, then he needed to walk away now. it was the best decision I ever made. Jon and Michael are now close friends in their own right, and Michael is our daughter’s godfather. Michael and I go to dinner, movies, concerts, galleries, just the two of us. people give me and Jon a lot of crap for “appearance of evil” or “potential for unfaithfulness.”

    thank you for this view right into a cross-sex friendship that I show people and say, see, I’m not alone and I’m not ridiculous.

    • Rachel, I love hearing about your friendship with Michael! Seriously, it is so encouraging to hear of cross-sex friendships being embraced in marriages. You are certainly not alone, and not ridiculous.

  • Lanelle King

    Very important words indeed. I posted a novel on your blog, Natalie, but I will share this here as well. I find that my connections with guys actually works to better my marriage. Much as you said, “it is more stimulating to converse with people who are passionate about the things that interest you” I have had some fantastic and deep relationships forge over the topics that are dear to my heart, topics that Jake appreciates – but isn’t passionate about. This is very important and has been vital to the life our our marriage.

    • You know, I’d like to explore this further the next time we do “Trust and Savage Unplugged”. As you say, outside conversations and connections have been vital to the life of my marriage too.

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  • jewellspring

    I think this is so cool and makes me a little jealous. After being married 20 years and in the church for 40, there just haven’t been many opportunities to get to know “the guys”. And it’s definitely one of the cliffs, as I’ve been talking with other friends, that I have been warned about for so long, I haven’t really gone near it. I’m so glad you’re talking about it and I love it. It feels healthy and good and is just one more way the divine intersecting real life will continue to help “us” not seem so weird and different.

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