“So is it better to tell and hurt or lie to save their face? I guess the answer is, don’t do it in the first place.” -Missy Higgins
(The Special Two)
Recently a gorgeous friend was telling me about her amazing pal. The friend that is always there to lend an ear when she and her boyfriend were having problems. The friend that answered her stealth texts at midnight after she and her man had a fight. The friend who made her laugh when she was feeling lonely when her guy was working late or went away for work. The friend that told her she was beautiful, funny and smart.
Her friend who happened to be the opposite sex. Who she didn’t catch up with except for text messages or private Facebook messages. Her friend that, as it happened, she never mentioned to her partner.
Her “insignificant other”.
Lots of people tred the dangerous ground of insignificant others. I myself have been someone’s insignificant other! I was the supportive shoulder to cry on when a male friend’s relationship was clearly falling apart. I was single at the time.
He felt his partner didn’t trust him. She thought he was hiding things. He was adamant he wasn’t.
So one day I asked the magically obvious question.
Does she know you’re talking to me?
The answer of course was no. So, I bowed out of the friendship. I had been friends with this guy for years but we lost contact. Years later we were Facebook friends and before I knew it, I was a crutch. While it didn’t bother me when I was single, it just didn’t feel right when I wasn’t!
I wasn’t having a relationship with him, but the reality is that if you are lying to your partner about who you’re communicating with, or completely omitting a friendship with someone you are confessing your relationship details to, you might be on a slippery slope. By default she would have thought I was the other woman. Fuck that!
Now it’s one thing to be a sounding board like this when you’re in a casual relationship. It’s more like keeping your options open. And it’s awesome to have someone who actually gets you but you have no obligation to. It’s slightly flirtatious but safe. Can the same be said though if you’re in a serious relationship?
A friend with a counselling background once said to me that if your partner hides friends of the opposite sex, and they are sharing intimate details of their life, they are pretty much emotionally cheating on you. Even if they never meet up. Even if they are never physical. Even if it’s on line, or via social media platforms.
I think there really is something in that. The reality is, at our age, if you have nothing to hide then why would you be hiding it?
We all have friends we confide in of course and those friendships of deep trust are valuable and necessary. It is the human condition to have dear friends you can bounce ideas off.
Such friends have normally met your partner. Or you’ve talked about them at length. You already feel you know them by the time you meet!
And it’s possible to have Facebook friends for example that are just aquaintenses. You may have similar interests but you’re not sharing anything of a personal nature with them.
An insignificant other is something entirely different. They are a hidden jewel, ferreted away from your trusting partner. They fill a gap you perceive exists in your current relationship. And in confiding emotionally in that person, you may guard yourself from fully opening up to your actual partner.
The partner who shares your bed, cooks with you, cleans house with you, cares for you when you’re unwell. As tempting as the insignificant other might seem, you may be stepping over a line of trust by lying to your partner about a support network in your life?
Are you thinking of your significant or insignificant other when you lay awake at night? Are you texting or emailing them when your partner is asleep or out?
I guess the magic rule is, if you need to lie about it or cover it up, or hide it, is your friendship doing more damage than good? What do you gain from having that relationship that you feel you can’t get from your partner?
If in doubt, ask yourself how you would feel if you found out your partner had a friend that stroked their ego, that they confided in about your fights and your worse moments. Who flirted with your partner and make them laugh?
Many years ago, I found out my ex husband had female friends for years that I was unaware of. It was painful to find out he worked with them for years, confiding in them. They knew everything about me. I didn’t even know they existed.
Of course the attraction of the insignificant other, is the illusion of distance and safety. They aren’t living a daily reality with you.
My dear friend has decided that she’s developing feelings for her insignificant other. Concerned she might damage her relationship with her actual partner, she has graciously stepped out of their friendship, knowing that she is worth more than being someone’s fall back guy.
Knowing she would rather be someone else’s significant other.
Have you ever been or had an insignificant other?