Here is some wisdom from Karen Swallow Prior. I’ve always been worried about having good friendships with women, while married. Worried that the friendship would be a form of cheating on my wife or that it would be the first step on an inevitable road to adultery. Hearing this 20 years ago would have spared me a lot of fear and uncertainty
The modern companionate model of marriage so emphasizes friendship that when a spouse inevitably fails to fulfill all of our friendship needs, and we seek fulfillment of those needs elsewhere, the resulting friendships are conflated with sexual relationship.
In other words, perhaps because we have overlapped marriage with friendship so much, we don’t know how to have opposite-sex friendships that aren’t inherently sexual. A spouse ought to be a friend, to be sure. But “friend” — even “best friend” — is a demotion from “husband” or “wife.”
Wide, varied friendships of varying depths and lifespans are healthy and good — and biblical. I have book friends, movie friends, theology friends, author friends, news junkie friends, funny meme sharing friends, childhood friends, social media friends, dog friends, “Wordle” friends and work friends, to name a few.
Some of these friends are men. Some are women. None of my friends share all of these interests. My husband shares some but not all of these interests.
For me, this is another example of “your brain on evangelicalism”. I’ve been so indoctrinated into thinking of women as dangers and temptresses, that I haven’t been able to think of them as “people” with whom I could share a friendship built around a handful of common interests. Even though I would have sworn that I treated both genders equally, I didn’t. The indoctrination was lurking in the background, affecting how I thought, worried, and acted.