The Boston Globe article from Friday's early edition post (read it before you read on) starts out innocently and logically enough:
"There are rules for interacting and having platonic relationships with friends of the opposite sex once you're married."
(For the purposes of today we'll use "married" and "in a serious relationship" interchangeably.)
The advice comes from Rabbi Shumley Boteach (not a typo) -- the host of TLC's new lifestyle show "Shalom in the Home." (what I would give to meet -- date?...be?? -- the show title savant responsible for brilliance like that...).
Rules? Fine. Yes. Agreed.
But -- "You can't have late-night dinners with a friend of the opposite sex. Lunches are OK, but you shouldn't order alcohol."
It's right around no alcohol at lunch that I start to cut and paste this article link into gchats with a Read this!! WTF?! proceeding.
The article back peddles -- "Essentially Boteach (Google: Did you mean Bo Peep?) believes that any situation where a married person is sharing secrets or alone with friends of the opposite sex is a "no-no" that can lead to temptation."
Okay first -- Sharing secrets with and being alone with are two very different things...
And then: "Where his points are posted on the MSN Lifestyle website, several people have questioned his rigidity. However, on poster, 'literallyjane,' agrees that friendships with the opposite sex are nearly impossible when you've tied the knot: 'Now that we're married, to avoid problems we just don't have any friend. We're happy this way because we are each other's best friend.' "
Is there an option for a colored flag more bad news than red? Black flag maybe? Or how about just road flare; those red fire rocket things you shoot up when your car breaks down on the side of a deserted road. Yeah -- that's good. That -- Jane -- is god damned road flare -- literally.
Maintaining strong friendships with members of the opposite sex once you're in a relationship is tricky, yes. You never want to behave as if someone else holds your attention and affection more than your chosen partner, of course not. As such there are behavior guidelines you should follow to keep everyone feeling as unthreatened as possible, agreed.
I don't know exactly what they are, and I don't want to define them because they're eventually going to F my life, but they're out there. Use your judgement, or some of mine.
But this "any friends are a problem so we have none at all" is a sign of an unstable relationship. It's a sign that someone -- for whatever reasons -- is too threatened and too insecure about themselves or their partner. If a marriage is too fragile to withstand the inclusion of opposite-sexed friends (and I mean one's with which appropriate interactions are maintained) then it's too fragile.
Do I think no one has the right to get jealous in these situations? No. Do I think it would/will bother me if I find myself with a female Dupree on my hands? Of course it will. We want people all to ourselves so we can feel as certain as possible that they're not going to stop liking us or leave us. That's all this is about.
But I love you and so I want you only and all to myself is one form of love.
I love you, trust you and know this other friendship is important to you so I'm going to sack up, shut up, and learn to live with it is another form. And in my opinion, that's the better one.