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Is it perfectly all right for a woman to be friends with a married man ... just as long as they don't have sex?

It takes two to Tango

To say that the only thing that constitutes infidelity is illicit sex is actually an insult to marriage. It suggests that what cements marriage is sex and nothing else; that the only thing worth having, which an "other woman" can take from a man's wife, is physical intimacy. Yet we know that in any half-decent marriage there's plenty more worth having; in fact, worth stealing.

You can see what's in it for the girl. A married man, perhaps feeling the weight of domestic routine, comes alive again at the prospect of the new companion. A man will splash out with wit, charm and flirtatious, full-on attention (she's so bright, so interesting, so funny!). All this is what the other woman gets, without once having to nag about a gas bill.

And you can see what's in it for the man. His old jokes, dusted down, cause laughter again. His passions, be they related to work or whatever interest led to him meeting the girl, are going to be better understood than by the wife who does not share them. His views will be taken flatteringly seriously by someone who honestly gives a toss. All this he gets, without once having to be nagged about a gas bill.

But you cannot see what's in it for the wife who, as time passes, grits her teeth every time she hears this girl's name or knows that he goes to meet her. Problem, what problem? They're just good friends, aren't they? Nobody's cheating here; no cause for guilt.

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