By Paul Roman
Have you ever had thoughts of intimate acts with a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger?
One study* has shown that the average number of sexual thoughts per day – most of them surely come without any intention of acting on them – is 34 for men and 19 for women. This indicates that even platonic friendship between individuals of the opposite sex involve some sexual thoughts and desires, and can be defined as a cross-sex relationship where sexual desires always remain in imagination only.
If both spouses give each other a lot of attention the probability of forming an extramarital cross-sex friendship is minimized. If one spouse does form an extramarital platonic friendship, it is possible that the attention given to the friend might deprive the second spouse at least of some attention he or she would get otherwise.
Most marriages originate by a period of intense love, sometimes called infatuation, which is easily reduced by ordinary everydayness of a long marriage life. This doesn’t apply to extramarital platonic friendships. That is why it is likely that friends are seen in idealized light that makes friends compare the spouse’s weaknesses to the friend’s strengths. This unfair comparison can hurt the marriage even more than the lack of attention.
In marriages where fidelity is taken seriously, it seems obvious that extramarital cross-sex friendships must be conducted carefully, if at all. It is up to platonic friends to create and maintain an atmosphere of absolute confidence, to assure their spouses that nothing inappropriate will ever happen in the friendship. Platonic friends should never have any secret hidden from their spouses. Ideally, when one spouse has a platonic friend, the second spouse should become a part of the friends’ relationship and form a friendship triangle. The atmosphere of absolute confidence might not be possible if the extra-marriage friend is not liked by the second spouse.
* The study by Dr. Terri D. Fisher, professor of Psychology at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, of 283 students between the ages of 18 and 25.
Paul Roman is a retired architect. Now he teaches downhill skiing and writes books on subjects of natural science and society development for adolescent youth (his grandkids, really) and interested lay adults. He escaped the communist terror of then Czechoslovakia in 1968 and lives in Canada ever since.