Dear 100 Hour Board,
Sorry, this is a weird question, and I don't quite know what I'm asking. Anyway, I've been trying to make more friends at school, because lately, everyone I know has graduated, but my major is very female, and I just got married, and some of my new friends always seem to be very flirtatious(or at least if I was still single I would think they were flirting with me, maybe I've read signals wrong my whole life). I'm pretty sure that's just their personality, because they know I'm married, but I'm trying to find some kind of balance between becoming friends with all of these very outgoing girls so that I actually have friends at school and not feeling like I'm flirting back when I know I'm not. Does that make sense? Do any of you have advice on what one should do in such a situation?
-My Name Here
I have guy friends who are married and they are some of my favorite kinds of friendships. It's all the perks of being friends with men without having to worry about the dating stuff. It's possible that the only reason those girls feel they can act so encouragingly is that you are married and they don't have to worry about leading you on. If you were single they would maybe never act like that because it would send a very different message. That being said, I do notice myself being careful about certain things in my friendships with married men. I'm going to define that care in a few rules. Honestly, I have never had to use them or even define them like I'm about to. No one has ever gotten close to being a concern in these areas.
1.) It is not appropriate for a friend to complain about his wife or marital relations to me. Actually, if he were bringing up deep issues about his life at all I would have to be sure he is also discussing them with his wife.
2.) All event invitations are equally and emphatically extended to both the friend and his wife.
3.) If my friendship is more than casual work/school association, I make an effort to have an independent friendship with the wife.
4.) If the wife seems uncomfortable with the friendship at any point I try to address it openly. If it can't be resolved I will totally disengage. Even if that means zero contact.
Basically I just operate knowing that their relationship is the most important thing in the equation and that it's also none of my business. I expect them to operate under the same knowledge. If it ever seems like that is not the case I will disengage.
Marriages are the most most important but they don't have to be the end of all other friendships with the opposite sex.
Live your life. I'm an outgoing person, and I guess maybe some people could think I'm being flirtatious, and I don't want to be seen as being unfaithful to my husband or whatever, but at the same time, I am not trying to flirt AT ALL. I don't think it's my problem if someone thinks I'm flirting if all I'm doing is talking to someone, and they clearly know that I'm married and love my husband very much.
The thing is, there are so many different ways to flirt that no matter what you do, someone could think you're doing it flirtatiously. Do you strike up conversations with people? Do you laugh and joke a lot? Are you really awkward and never initiate contact? Basically any type of social interaction you can think of, I guarantee you someone has probably tried to flirt that way. That's why context matters, and if part of the context is that one or both of you is married, probably normal friendly interactions aren't very suspect. I don't think it happens all that often that people actively try to flirt with married people, and if they did, you would probably get some sort of weird vibe, not just, "This is a person being a normal friendly person."
Obviously there are some real boundaries that shouldn't be crossed, and if your spouse, or the spouse of one of your friends, is ever uncomfortable with your behavior you should step down, but for the most part, just be a normal human. You don't have to stop enjoying your friendships with people just because you're married.