Can married women have male friends?

As someone who is new to having ANY friends, and grew up without proper social boundaries, I am having some trouble with the men in my life.

Before marriage, any attention from boys was followed by me having to approve or disapprove a date. I don’t think I had any male friends without benefits at that time. Then I got married, and completely isolated from the social world. My husband was my world.

Now, I’m coming out of hibernation and isolation, and getting a network of friends and contacts. I’m feeling pretty good about the women now, (though my learning curve is huge and I feel so awkward), but having difficulty with the men (way beyond awkward).

I am completely committed to my husband. We have our troubles, but we’re working on them. I have no mental desire to cheat on him – ever. But I keep having these emotional/physical responses when other men pay attention to me that is so entirely confusing. These other men are also married, and not doing/saying anything that other women don’t, but coming from them it triggers some sort of flirty response in me. Especially the tall/cute ones. So I think some of this is normal, but some of it isn’t, and that’s where I get all confused.

The chairmen of a parent committee I joined texts me about our projects. I get a fluttery heart when I see them. The texts are quite boring, like we need to make such and such by so and so date. So why do I get all excited by it? I do smile when the girls text me, happy to be a part of these groups, but I don’t get the excited feeling.

I wonder if the past sexual abuse has left me still thinking that I must be attractive and available to all men? Or would I have this feeling without the past abuse? Do all men/women flirt just a bit? Hmmm, I just don’t know.

There is another husband that dances with me when we go out as a group, and I don’t know if I imagine that hungry look in his eyes. I absolutely love the fun and attention, since my guy doesn’t go out and certainly does not dance. My husband knows I go out dancing, so I think it is ok, so why do I feel a bit guilty? (And why do I also enjoy feeling a bit naughty too?)

Guilt is still a huge part of me for everything, still working on that.

keeping an eye on husband?

And then there is trust – or lack of it. I’m not sure I will ever completely trust my husband, even though he has NEVER given me a reason not to. Other than some occasional porn sites in the history. But I feel angry and jealous when he talks about his female coworkers – they see him much more than I do. I look up restaurant charges to make sure they are appropriate, not strip clubs, and not paying for more than himself. When he works late, I feel better when the calls come from the office, and nervous when they come from his cell. When he leaves his email up, I scan through the senders. I check the internet history after he is done. Sometimes. I don’t go looking for ways to check up on him, but I can’t help it when he leaves it in front of me. Am I still that insecure and think that poorly of myself? I don’t feel like I do.

He doesn’t seem to share this mistrust of me, he is fine when I go out without him. I should be happy about this, but sometimes I take it that he doesn’t care enough about me to be jealous.

I think this will all get easier, at least I hope it gets easier as I get out there more and figure it out for myself. I think some of this is normal, and some is more difficult because of my history. It is like I am a teenager right now. Finding myself and learning about relationships for the first time, but with a healthier outlook, without the shadow of abuse controlling me.

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12 thoughts on “Can married women have male friends?

  1. Wow. You are the first woman I’ve ever “met” who has said she has these odd feelings, too! I thought something was wrong with me. Maybe there is. 😉
    Unless a man is gay, I feel a draw to attract, impress, or dazzle him. Why??!!
    I don’t have physical abuse in my past. Just an emotionally unavailable dad who is now deceased.
    Wa’s up with us?

    • Thank you for owning up to it. I have never spoken of this before. I have no idea if many women feel this way or not. Or if it is a problem. Gay men is a whole different story, I usually think I am attracting them because they are so open and friendly, and find out later they are gay. It doesn’t completely get rid of my flirty response though if they are cute/sweet! I’m just a mess I guess!

  2. Everydayclimb, you answered your own question. What’s up with you and Roots is that, for whatever reason, you both crave male attention.

    There’s nothing really unnatural about that, we all want to feel desired and attractive. It depends on the degree to which you will go to get this attention.

    • Correct, nothing unnatural about craving male attention. But I do think my response is heightened for whatever reason. I an even get a phone call from a telemarketer, and feel a bit tingly if he has a yummy deep voice. There is no thought process here, just a pure physical response. And definitely no actions on my part to ‘get this attention’, other than I allow myself to occasionally leave my house and interact with other humans. Most people can’t fathom how isolated I really was for so many years.

  3. I agree with Carolina … I don’t think there’s anything unnatural about wanting and craving male attention, especially if you are feeling under-appreciated or not noticed within your primary relationship (your marriage). The danger comes when we start crossing boundaries in order to continue feeding this desire for attention. It is one thing to feel flirty; it is another thing altogether to encourage the flame to build.

    I was never successful at having male friends. Can’t think of even ONE instance where a male person remained a friend, without strings attached, one way or another. I don’t know if that stems from my abusive past, or simply from my emotional immaturity in developing healthy relationships. I can say that midway through my marriage I became too involved with getting validation from other men to still feel attractive or desirable, and it created huge problems in my marriage, until eventually I figured out that the attention I was seeking was simply being used to replace my own insecurities about my relationship with my husband.

    Very complicated, isn’t it? Just by asking yourself the questions, you’re probably helping retain some perspective. I guess the danger comes when we lose the ability to separate what is fabricated, from what is concrete and real. It can get weird.

    • Yes, that is how I feel too – nothing unnatural right now, except possibly the guilt I feel for enjoying the attention. And seriously, these guys are not flirting, we’re just working together, and I still get that feeling. Just thought of this, maybe I always feel so judged by women, that it is just easier for me to relax and enjoy the male friends? Or I have such a heightened response to protect myself from men that I’m already on edge, and that guard is actually what I am feeling as excitement? I suppressed my natural emotions for so many years, that I can be almost robotic at times, and have to analyze to re-connect the emotions with the physical experience. I think that part of it comes directly from the abuse, my built-in protection of self along with disassociation.

      And yes, I do not get much attention from my husband. Although he tells me daily that he loves me, he is rarely tuned in to me. He is not poetic or romantic.

      I think I also might be joyful that these men like me -without being attracted to me-. I guess part of my self-worth is still tied to the fact that I used to think my only purpose on the planet was to provide men with pleasure. I still want to be pretty, but I think it is validating to me that I am worthwhile when a man is interested in what I can offer to the committee. (I just figured this part out while typing)

      Yes it can get weird. Relationships are so complex, but I think I’m making some progress in understanding.

  4. Very reminiscent of the “teenage” years…that fluttery feeling when we perceive a bit of admiration in the eyes of a man. Did you know that feeling really stems from the discovery of power? Your power. It is heady to know you have the power to inspire desire, however superficial that may be.
    And, therein lies the danger. That little taste of power, promising so much more than it could possible deliver. Caution, friend. Much caution is needed, especially when you are feeling a little more vulnerable than usual.
    We have the ability to convince ourselves that whatever we do is right. Even if our brains know positively that it is the wrong thing to do. Our powers of self persuasion are at their finest, deluding ourselves we are justified in the end.
    Perhaps, as an alternative to putting yourself in your own way, you could find something pleasurable to do with your husband instead of going out dancing with others. Especially if these feelings become stronger, or more frequent.
    It is a sign that should be heeded.
    A very promiscuous person once told me that if that “sexual” flirtyness disappeared, life would not be worth living! I was saddened by this. There is more to life than sex. Being sexy is the the “be all and end all” of your existence. Nor can it ever replace a true emotional connection.
    Am I sounding like an alarmist? Or worse, like I am judging you?
    I sure hope not. Because I only what is best for you. I want you to be happy with who you really are, not who you were taught to be.
    I know firsthand the dangers of seeking this type of approval. It is not worth it. And it is not real. It is linked to the jerk who changed your true self. With abuse. And it is false.
    I apologize if I sound like I’m lecturing you.
    I feel fearful for you :0

  5. I like that you are lecturing me 🙂 That is basically what I asked for by writing this post. I still struggle with emotional immaturity and healthy boundaries in relationships. Just to be clear, there is a whole group of us that go out once in a while, and my friend and her husband are part of the group, and we all dance together. My husband has joined us on occasion on these outings, but he just does not enjoy them. My husband is not a social being, he prefers to be alone most of the time. I do not. I am lively and outgoing. I guess I did feel a bit judged by your comment, as I feel I must defend myself to you, even though I appreciate your caution and totally agree. I am totally sure that none of these guys are planning any romantic getaways with me, they are devoted to their wives as well. And I certainly have no plans to whisk them away. But it is nice to think maybe they think I’m pretty, that yes – I still have some of that power, even if I have no intention of using that power. It is also that I found that feeling confusing, that I could feel my heart race when I’m not attracted or interested in someone. Still sorting out that bit. I’m just so disconnected from mind and body that normal reactions need to be analyzed by me to go further. I’m so glad I wrote about this, as it surely helped me understand it better and realize that right now it is normal, but that yes, caution is needed. I think I get it.

  6. Wow! I just wrote a post about this happening to me the other day — this ridiculous crush I got on a guy who was wholly inappropriate, yet I felt like a total schoolgirl. I think there is something to being somewhat new in the world as our “true” (or heading towards true) selves and being both vulnerable and surprised with what is out there. Maybe when we figure out how to manage grown up social skills, it will feel less disorienting.

    Then again, maybe we are just more aware of what our feelings are and in tune with our behavior than most. It sometimes seems like society has run amok with people not being mindful of their feelings and behavior and jump into bad relationships and decisions because of this. Maybe, for once, we are lucky in this? LOL.

    • I think you really got what I was saying. Not that I feel like having an affair with everyone man I meet, but that I am in tune with some sort of feeling. Yes, I think it will get less disorienting if I can ever manage to grow up, my social skills base is probably equivalent to a middle schooler. And Yes, I wonder if all this introspection and therapy has us more in touch with our feelings. I think your way of thinking, finally a positive way to look at that.

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