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Platonic Friendships

I met a guy at work and we became best friends. We go places together and have long talks about everything. We are not involved romantically (we even instituted a no-touching rule). In the meantime I’ve been seriously dating another guy and we are even starting to talk about marriage. The problem is that he is not happy about my platonic friendship. This is causing a rift. What should I do?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

There are a few problems, because even though you are not developing a physical relationship, you are developing an emotional one. Therefore:

One potential problem is that in any man-woman relationship, a person is emotionally exposed and vulnerable. When they fail to receive the expected emotional reciprocation in return, the result is hurt. Further, as you become closer emotionally, it becomes easier to cross the lines (even with a “no-touching rule!) and then you are headed for undesirable consequences.

The big danger is that a close, male-female platonic friendship can often interfere with a marriage. A married couple must develop an emotionally intimate relationship, and when one of them already has this kind of a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, the lines get blurred.

In Jewish consciousness a married couple expresses the intimacy between them in a whole range of ways: The way they look at each other, the way they speak to each other, the way they behave in front of each other. If you use this language casually, then when you want to use it later in marriage, it will ring hollow.

It's very common to subconsciously compare the two relationships and be disappointed because after such a friendship, your spouse may not "match up" in every area. It is a primary rule in marriage: Don't ever compare spouse to someone else (e.g. "My mother cooked it this way"). Since every man-woman experience stays in your subconscious, it will make it that much harder to forge a total bond with your spouse. That creates a barrier to your total bonding with your spouse, which is the goal of marriage.

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