I recently wrote an article about this search, first posted on Oprah.com and then on CNN.com, in which I argue that a husband cannot fulfill the role of a BFF. He just can’t. As I explain in the essay, my husband Matt is wonderful, but he doesn’t want to talk with me for hours about the smallest details of my day. He’s not anxious to analyze my problems, small or large, and then do it again two hours later when a new thought occurs and needs to be factored into the equation. He wants to listen, offer support or advice, and move on. He’s a guy.
To say I was shocked when I first read the comments in response to my essay on CNN.com would be an understatement. According to these cyber-dwellers, my marriage was going to devolve momentarily, which might be for the best because clearly Matt was cheating on me anyway. It was my inaugural lesson in how the anonymity of the Internet gives people free reign to behave in ways they never would in person. But once the sting of the nasty notes turned into a detached amusement, I registered some surprise at how defensive people were of marriage. I’m not saying couples shouldn’t be close, or that Matt isn’t the most important person in my entire world. I’m saying that BFFs serve a different and equally necessary purpose. I stand by that.
So you can imagine my sense of I-told-you-so when, while reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, I came across these bits of research: “Both men and women find relationships with women to be more intimate and enjoyable than those with men. … In fact, for both men and women…the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women. Time spent with men doesn’t make a difference.” So, if we believe the studies, friendships are more necessary in order for me to stave off loneliness than is spending time with Matt. I think a nice balance of the two sounds ideal.
The angry mob (ok, there were like 15 of them), said my marriage was failing, but the opposite is true. In the two months since writing the essay, I’ve made a concerted effort to go on friend dates, which come with substantial doses of quality girl talk. Which means I don’t need to force long repetitive discussions on Matt. So we both get what we want: me, lengthy heart-to-hearts; matt, less lengthy heart-to-hearts. Everybody wins.