Maintaining Positive Relationships when you have a friend from opposite gender

By Sandeep Kulshrestha

Positive Relationships maintain optimal levels of well being. The "R" of "PERMA" is about fostering and nurturing Positive Relationships (as espoused by Martin Seligman, the distinguished Professor from of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania who gave us Positive Psychology). Relationships are the hallmark of life and every sane individual is connected to others, from Spouse to friends to co-workers and so on. Many Married people, especially men have affinity towards the opposite gender and they sometimes share a very close and complex relationship (I am referring only to platonic relationships between friends of opposite gender). The relationship becomes complex only in the eyes of the spouse. Nevertheless, if one needs to maintain positive and sustainable relationship with both Spouse and the friend, some of the following tips can be considered:

  1. Do not talk about your friend all the time in front of your spouse: It is better to feel the goodness of your relationship with your friend from within. Tone down your positive emotions (of empathy, compassion etc) that you feel in being connected to your friend (s). Remember that your emotions about your friend is difficult for your spouse to digest. If you praise your friend in front of your spouse, she would not like it and would suggest that it was she (your spouse) who had better qualities than your friend. Also, your spouse in all possibilities would maintain a pre-conceived bias against your friend in the first place.
  2. Reducing conversations with your friend: Do a self assessment and reduce the time spent on conversations, in case those interactions are bereft of new ideas or topics. Time can surely be spent on nurturing your family or spending time on your hobbies/interests
  3. Introduce your friend to your spouse : It is a great idea to introduce your friend to your spouse/partner if they have not met earlier. This is a trust-building idea. It is essential when both of you know your respective friend circle, even if it is knowing and remembering names 
Of course it is all contextual and many people would have different opinions on this subject but to maintain positive relationships, one needs to be empathetic, while focusing more on developing positive relationships within the family.

Sandeep Kulshrestha, besides being a Human Resources Professional is an Executive, Career and Well-being Coach. He can be reached at