Our new dude dating columnist Dater XY wrote a provocative piece about how his best friend is a woman and some ladies he meets online dating can’t handle that. With a few exceptions, commenters on that piece agreed Dater XY is shit outta luck. “I don’t see a way out of this. I think that pretty much every girl, no matter how secure she is, will have in the back of her mind, ‘I wonder what they’re REALLY doing,’” wrote one commenter. ”It’s a red flag,” added another.
Well, that hasn’t been my experience at all. My husband’s two best friends are women and he sees both ladies several nights a week. Their friendships are not suspicious to me at all. In fact, I think it’s great.
It would be easy to be jealous of Emily and Janet. They are both whip-smart, funny, beautiful, kind, good writers, kickass feminists, and successful standup comics. When Kale moved here from Australia, these ladies welcomed him into their large social circle; when I began dating Kale, I saw both of them as insta-new girl friends for me (whether they liked it or not, bwahaha). Kale has friends who are men, of course, but he is closer to these women, whom he describes as being like sisters. In fact, Emily was Kale’s “best man” at our wedding; we socialize with them frequently and have even all gone away for the weekend together.
I don’t see either woman as posing a threat to me, because I see Emily and Janet as reflections of my husband’s good taste. I want a man who respects women as equals, socially and professionally. I want a man who can listen — he listens to Emily’s online dating tales, or Janet’s homesickness for Australia, and he doesn’t dismiss their thoughts or concerns as ‘women problems.’ And it speaks volumes to me that his two closest friends are both feminists; when we were falling in love, he thought my beliefs were admirable, not threatening.
Simply put, Em and Janet are both just great. I love talking and gossiping with them and it’s awesome to have new friends with so many of the same interests as me. Why would I look at his girl friends as antagonists when they are so fucking cool? Their wonderfulness is something to enjoy, not something to push away. I could focus on how each woman is a million times funnier than I’ll ever be, or freak out over their attractiveness. Instead, I see how Kale’s choice of friends speaks well of his character.
I feel strongly about not frosting out good people because they are women, because I’ve been on the other side: in Ex-Mr. Jessica, I had a partner whose best friends — mostly men — were not good people. One of his closest friends was rude and dismissive towards me and my friends; that guy’s fiancee, who was also Ex-Mr. Jessica’s friend, would say things and do things to deliberately antagonize me. (For example, they had pet cats and one time she was holding the animal in an aggressive way. I suggested that she be more gentle and in response, she just upped her aggressive behavior towards the animal. It was disturbing, honestly.) The couple made it very clear that they thought The Frisky was frivolous and stupid and that my feminist beliefs were dumb. I disliked this couple so much that I once stayed home on New Year’s Eve rather than ring in the new year with them. In short: They. Were. Awful.
But it was Ex-Mr. Jessica’s best friend — our roommate for a year-and-a-half — who was the most dodgy. Jeez, what kind of problem did this guy not have? He drank to excess. His on-again-off-again girlfriend was controlling. His car had been booted (meaning we gave him rides everywhere). Still, I assumed we were friends. But when Ex-Mr. J dumped me and asked me to move out of the apartment we all lived in together, this guy began writing mean shit about me on Tumblr. It felt like a slap in the face on top of a slap in the face.
In retrospect, I can see how Ex-Mr. Jessica was more like his shitty friends than I wanted to see or admit. Complacency allowed me to accept a situation in which I was uneasy, even though the red flags were everywhere. I really do believe that if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. So what if two of his best friends were men and therefore there was no chance he would ever cheat on me with them? These people were covered with fleas. (And guess what? He ended up pursuing a relationship with some other woman while we were still dating anyway. She was not a friend, but some random woman. Cheaters will cheat if that’s what they really want to do.) It didn’t matter that my ex’s friends were male because they were assholes. Frankly, I would have preferred awesome women instead.
It’s certainly possible that at this point in the essay, your fingers are hovered over the comment thread about to tell me I’m being naive. Look, I get it: obviously, a male and female best friendship when both parties are straight is going to be a little complicated sometimes. It wouldn’t be honest to pretend that I haven’t felt specific moments of jealousy towards Emily, Janet and our other female friends. I’m only human and I have insecurities just like anyone else. I feel enormously loved and understood by my husband and yet I still have moments where my self-esteem flags.
For me, the green monster pops up at specific times. Usually, I will get jealous at a party when Kale slow-dances with a woman other than me. To me, that’s rational jealousy: I see slow-dancing as something intimate a couple does together. Certainly when we slow-dance, it’s very sweet and romantic. When I see Kale swaying with another woman — whoever it may be— I feel jealous that she’s doing something with my husband that normally I only do. And I think, What is he thinking right now?!
But I take my jealousy up with Kale, not any of his/our female friends. Kale is the one I married and he is the one who is most responsible for respecting my feelings. Ultimately, I trust my husband and have high expectations that he treat me with respect. Other women may have crushes on him — why wouldn’t they?! he’s great! — but it’s on him to handle it appropriately. If we are going to have a lifetime partnership, I have to trust him in this and be rational about the facts. If Kale were to cross a boundary, I would hold him primarily accountable because he is the one who made the lifelong vows. Jealously and insecurity are my issue with myself, which is not something that will change by forbidding friendships or frosting out his girl friends.
I’m not naive that being the wife of a man with female best friends will always be easy. I just try to be honest with myself and with him, and when appropriate, with the women. It’s more important to me that we have a happy life together than I control my husband in order to keep my insecurity in check. While I can understand jealousy issues, I wish other women wouldn’t push their mate’s girl friends away — I wish they would take a look at themselves.