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Just Friends: 5 Red Flags to Help You Steer Clear of an Emotional Affair

ID-100237782_zpsdc3e4a28A few weeks ago, I asked a question on my Facebook page:

Once you’re married—What are your thoughts on having friends of the opposite sex? Yay or Nay?

Much to my delight, the responses came rolling in—each with equally unique perspectives and degrees of passion.

One contributor offered a simple “Absolutely not. Completely inappropriate”.

Other’s created some wiggle room by way of caveats for prior existing friendships (“He’s like a brother to me!”), or evolutions of friendships (aka: Jack and Jill may have started off as friends, but then Jack married Jane, and Jill married John. Now all four of them are friends and hang out together, but not 1 on 1 across the genders).

Nature vs. Nurture

At the time, I questioned whether my readers, followers and friends (really, I feel like I surveyed just about EVERYONE) felt that males and females were just biologically hardwired for romance, or if it was the way people were raised to socialize with the opposite sex influenced their thoughts and feelings.

For example, young men and women whose only interaction with each other past puberty was in a romantic setting (i.e. dating, dances) might feel differently than those who experienced more casual platonic interactions, such as working on projects together for class or co-chairing committees.

As always, the responses I received were a lively mixed bag.

Facebook Folly or Social Psychology? 

Some folks might be tempted to shrug this discussion off as social media fueled fluff, but believe or not, cross-gender friendship is actually something that has been revisited over and over again by social scientists. Just the other day, I read an article on Psychology Today that extolled men and women, could in fact be friends and outlined four different types of heterosexual attraction.

And a few years back a study was conducted (you can read it here if you like that sort of thing) that looked at the perceived benefits and costs of cross-gender friendship. Turns out that men and women shared many of the same thoughts for why having a friend of the opposite sex was a good and useful thing! It’s probably worth noting here that none of these participants were categorized as being married.

But don’t worry—for every study that argues for the legitimacy of platonic friendships, there are just as many offer the other side of the debate as well.

Apparently in this instance, social science is no less confused than the rest of us.

So what does this have to do with YOUR marriage?

5 MAJOR Red Flags that You’re Crossing the Line from Platonic Friendship to Emotional Affair

1) You Change Your Appearance.

Our friends are the people who are supposed to enjoy our company regardless of a good or bad hair day, right? But when we’re invested in attracting someone to us in a not-so-platonic way, a common change we make is to our appearance. And please don’t think this is only for females. Women may tend to do it with clothing, and men seem to do it through physical transformations. If you’re trying to look more attractive for your spouse and coworkers/friends happen to notice, that’s one thing. But if you’re trying to catch some side-eye across the cubicle—look out!

2) Electronic Communication Habits Change.

My Facebook followers and friends are so brilliant. Nearly everyone mentioned the issue of electronic communication as a good measuring stick for whether or not a friendship was problematic. Simply stated: If you wouldn’t want your spouse reading your texts or messages between a person and yourself—that’s probably not a great sign.

One time a coworker (male) asked my husband if I knew the password to his phone. When my husband answered that I did, the man asked, “Why would you do that?!” Greg’s response? Because I’m not trying to keep her out of my phone, I’m trying to keep you out of it. (Sometimes he really makes me proud!)

3) You’re Comparing Them to Your Spouse…

Ideally, your spouse and your friends shouldn’t even be on the same level for comparison. That being said, some people seem to view the world through the lens of compare and contrast. The problems only really seem to emerge when the comparisons start, and your spouse starts coming up short.

He’s so much more fun than…

She listens to me more, and understands me better than…

I’d much rather spend time with…

If you find yourself thinking these types of thoughts—resist the temptation to allow yourself to be carried away by the fantasy of someone who is exponentially more fun, more understanding and better to be with. Instead, talk to your spouse about what you’re missing and how to infuse more of those things into your lives.

4) You’re Lying… Yes, Even White Lies

It’s fairly obvious why lying to your spouse is a bad idea. However, I always find it equally interesting and frustrating to hear about the messy calculus people try to contrive to make lies seem like something other than what they are.

For example, “I had to work late…” when in reality, you chose to work late because working late meant you could see a certain person.

Or “The team grabbed some food after the game…” when really, only 2 of you went out get something to eat after the game.

If it were as innocent as you claim, you wouldn’t have to lie about it, would you?

5) You Light Up Like a Christmas Tree When They’re Around (and you shut down just as quickly when they’re not).

I’m not sure this one requires a whole lot of explanation beyond the obvious. When the state of your emotions is directly tied to any person, it’s probably not healthiest of habits. However, it’s easy to understand why when your spouse is having a rough day, your emotions might dampen as well.

But when that person isn’t your spouse?

Or if your entire mood for the day is based on whether or not you’ve seen, spoken with or texted this “friend”?

Watch out! That’s a sign of some serious emotional investment.

Your Turn!

I want to know what you think! Can men and women just be friends? Are there any other red flags that you would add to the list?



Wives: Why Being a Little Selfish Will Lead to Better Orgasms

It seems a bit counterintuitive.

a wife's orgasm

This idea of being selfish in bed.  It even — dare I say — seems to fly in the face of that beloved Christian platitude of being self-sacrificial in marriage.

But ladies I gotta tell you — if you aren’t experiencing and enjoying orgasm in your marriage bed, then your marriage bed (and your marriage) is likely suffering.

Big time.

(For you husbands reading this, pay close attention.  I have gems in here for you too.  And hopefully by the end of the post, you and your wife will both run with abandon toward her orgasmic pleasure).

No surprise to anyone who has ever had sex that a wife having an orgasm (statistically speaking) is not quite as sure of a thing as a husband having an orgasm.

The clitoris just isn’t as predictable as the penis.

Yes, I’m painting things in somewhat broad strokes here. The truth remains, though, that if you asked 100 people who is more likely to have an orgasm in every sexual encounter in a marriage — the husband or the wife — I’d bet my last $1 that all 100 would say “the husband.”

Women sometimes ask me how to have an orgasm.  (You just can’t offer a class on that at the local community college, but hey…if I could, I probably would. Orgasm 101.)

In all seriousness, I believe wives who see the value of sex do indeed want orgasm to be a part of it — they often struggle, though, with knowing how to get there.

This is especially true if they have never had an orgasm, but even for wives who have known sexual pleasure, there still can stumbling blocks that thwart their pleasure.

The solution? Enter selfishness, stage right.

Here are three tips I suggest:


1.  Stop thinking that sex is all about him.

This one little lie fuels a wife’s lack of orgasmic pleasure more than anything else.

Somewhere along the way, she bought into the lie that her husband’s need and desire for sex trumps anything the sexual encounter could offer her.  Sadly, this thought seems most pervasive in Christian circles, where wives are subtly or not-so-subtly told “sex is what you have to do.”

But what if you viewed sex instead as something you “get” to do?  Something that is as much about intense pleasure for you as it is for your husband.

When both a husband and a wife are more intentional about pleasure for both of them being a priority, it’s not really selfish.  It’s a true reflection of what God intended sex to be in a marriage.

When God said that a husband and wife should not withhold their bodies from each other, that wasn’t just for a husband’s benefit.

It was for her benefit as well.

2. Stop assuming your husband knows how to help you climax.

In one regard, husbands are at a disadvantage sexually.  A woman’s body is bewildering landscape. What seems to turn her on one night doesn’t really do much for her the next.

Add to this that she often doesn’t know what turns her on, and it is no wonder that her likelihood of reaching orgasm starts to feel like climbing Mt. Everest.  Nice in theory, but completely impractical in reality.

There is a better way.

Wives, you need to coach him on pleasing you.  Husbands, you need to invite her to coach you — and then respond accordingly to her direction.

If you as a wife do not know what it will take for you to orgasm, I will give you a little insight.  Your clitoris likely needs more stimulation than you realize.  Whether it be through intercourse, oral sex or use of hands, you likely need to try different techniques to get the rate and firmness of stimulation just right.

And consider various positions, such as the wife being on top, where she usually has more control over angles and rate of movement.   Missionary position is not the only way to have sex.  I’m not ruling it out, of course, but for a wife to achieve orgasm this way, her husband usually needs to be further forward with the shaft of his penis in more direct and firm contact with the clitoris.

Talk to each other and welcome the opportunity to be teachable.  This principle is foundational in marriages where there is amazing sex. (I have a whole page on my site with links about orgasm, if you want to check that out as well).

3.  Start leaning into pleasure.

This is probably the most difficult one for women to embrace.  Like I’ve already mentioned, if she thinks sex is just for him, she has gone to great lengths to downplay the significance of her own orgasm.

Also, she has like a gazillion details running through her mind at any given time. And unlike her husband, she’s not able to put all of them on the back burner when she crawls into bed — and into sex — with her spouse.

Good news is that you can learn to lean into pleasure.

Spend more time on foreplay. Stop telling yourself you don’t deserve sexual pleasure.  You do deserve it with the man you married.  The clitoris was God’s idea and it serves no other purpose but to allow you to experience indescribable orgasmic pleasure.

When you are feeling aroused — and especially when you feel yourself getting close to having an orgasm — focus on the pleasure.  On the surface that may look like pure selfishness, but ultimately it will do your marriage a world of good.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, my guess is you are either a bit nervous. Or a bit aroused.   Or maybe a lot of both.

A little sexual selfishness goes a long way to better sexual intimacy in marriage.   Sex doesn’t have to be a battleground. And it doesn’t have to be a bleak boring tundra.  It can be a playground of sacredness, oneness and pleasure.

What do you want for your marriage?

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