Husbands vs. BFFs

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.

14 Comments

Filed under BFFs and Marriage, Everything I Know I Learned on TV, The Hard Facts

14 responses to “Husbands vs. BFFs

  1. Rachel

    I read those comments on CNN… my first thought was NO WONDER you can’t find a new friend. If that is what people are like (not the meanness, per se, but the strange, defensive, lack-of-perspective, humor-less, boring, take themselves too seriously…) you’re looking for a needle in a haystack! I think this Sara girl sounds like a really great BFF and even if she is 800 miles away you might just want to stick with her. Maybe there’s a way to virtual video chat something or other while you’re getting a pedicure…

  2. I remember when I moved back to New York. I had a really hard time getting those “meet up with them anytime about anything” friends. There is something so isolating about having to pick up the phone when you want to talk to a close friend, instead of being able to go grab a glass of wine (or 3 depending on the day) with them.
    But you’ll find Ms.Right! I know it.

  3. Sue

    I don’t think there is such a thing as a BFF. (It’s the last F part I don’t think really exists) Men have a maximum word limit they are allowed to speak and/or hear each day. For that reason it is imperative a woman have a best friend to share thoughts/dreams/complaints. However, I think the best friend is going to shift in and out of your life depending upon what is going on in your life.

    marriage, kids, divorce, jobs etc etc lead to changes in friends…….nothing is forever….

  4. Suzie golub

    You are so dead on about this! I love reading your blog!

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  8. Lorrie Paige

    I’m not sure one person can be one’s only best friend forever. That’s a huge responsibility for just one person to fulfill all the needs that a person would look for in a BFF, and a male gives a fresh and different perspective in best friendships…I think more than one BFF is health and necessary and I think a husband should be up for consideration as a BFF.

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  12. Reblogged this on isisasylum and commented:
    YES!

  13. I know you wrote this 2 years ago and I’m just seeing it now but I had to post my hearty agreement. I think that anyone expecting their spouse to be absolutely everything for them is both unrealistic and unkind. What a huge burden to place on someone – for them to fulfil every emotional need of your life. It’s impossible.
    Even in communities where the women don’t have a choice in their spouse, they are usually happy in their lives because of the relationships they have with the women around them – thereby reducing the expectation of the spouse to fulfil them.
    I’ve come to your blog late, but I am really enjoying it.

  14. Even though you began this blog recently, like Shaggygirl I’ve only just stumbled across it as well. And I completely agree, boyfriends/husbands are NOT BFF material. Most of my close friends have dispersed in the past few years (I’m 23) and I’m probably the worst offender, since I left Canada to spend the past year in Australia. My relationships with my girlfriends are possibly the things I’ve missed the most, since I haven’t made close friends while I’ve been here. Good for you for taking matters into your own hands and being so proactive!
    Looking forward to reading more about your friendship quest – and I’ll be keeping an eye out for your book the next time I’m browsing through bookshelves!

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