Ask Lynn-Am I Going To Cheat?

One woman wonders whether hanging out with guy friends is a slippery slope to unfaithfulness…

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I have a few male friends that I talk to once every three to six months or sometimes longer. They suggest that we hang out sometimes, and they know that I am in a serious relationship. I feel like I will be somewhat cheating if I hang out with a male friend. I haven't slept with any of them, and I am not planning on it. How can I tell them that I am not interested in meeting with them in a nice way without sounding nasty?
– Just Buddies

Dear JB,
If hanging out with a friend of the opposite sex were "cheating," we'd all be unfaithful. All, that is, except those of us who could probably use a
You are well within your rights to hang out with a male buddy.
few more friends. In other words, you are over-thinking this. You are well within your rights to hang out with a male buddy. You really are. (If your boyfriend doesn't agree with me, he should consider treating you as an adult, because two things adults do are (1) make their own friends, and (2) trust each other to make their own friends.)

That said, it's not clear whether or not these guy friends are worth going to the mat over. I mean, it's more common for me to hear from people who feel pressure, direct or indirect, not to hang out with opposite-sex friends they were very close to since before the relationship in question. You and these fellows, by contrast, do not seem exactly inseparable. That, and maybe you do have a hunch that "We should hang out sometimes" means "We should find out exactly how committed you are to this 'serious relationship' of yours." (However, it's also possible that "We should hang out sometime" means "Let's totally do lunch!" or "Email me!" or, in other words, "Let's end our infrequent friendly conversations with the empty promise to 'hang out sometime!'" In which case this is all totally moot.)

So, fine. If you don't want to hang out with them, don't hang out with them. And you don't really have to make any official pronouncements, you know. If they're inviting you only every few months, you can always be "really busy" every few months. Honestly, to offer some kind of "You're a great guy, but I'm just not comfortable" explanation would probably be more awkward than just letting it slide. Meanwhile, I do hope you're really busy—with your serious relationship, and with some serious, nurturing, fun friendships, too.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
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