A few months ago, I heard a story about a woman working at a Christian summer camp who needed a ride back to her cabin. Her co-worker (a male) was there and also needed a ride. Her boss (a male) had a car with one seat available.
The co-worker suggested (rightly, I believe) that he could walk back by himself and the woman should take the safer option and be driven back by the boss.
The boss refused to drive her.
His response included the phrase, “… it would be inappropriate for me to take you back since I am married and you are a female, so I am going to have to take [co-worker] Joel instead.”
But it happens more often than you think.
Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like faced a similar predicament:
A few weeks ago I spoke at a conference that required me to fly. In arranging rides to and from the airport with the conference staff, I realized they had me scheduled to be driven back to the airport for my flight home by a lady.
… I decided to request that a guy drive me to the airport. I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea of spending an hour in LA traffic alone with a girl. That just didn’t seem smart to me and the conference was completely cool with that request. They found a guy, everything was good.
To me, that sounds ridiculous.
Acuff makes it sound like this type of scenario is often the beginning of a slippery slope that will ultimately lead to an affair.
… But of the two camps, “Jeez you’re such a Puritan, loosen up” and “Better safe than sorry, can a dude drive me to the airport,” I know which one I want to fall into. Because no one ever wakes up and says, “Today I’m having an affair.” Affairs are slow burn decisions, with a wick a mile long made of little steps and little compromises.
His last line makes sense, but it seems very possible to me that you can have close platonic friendships with the opposite sex (or whatever sex you’re attracted to). To say otherwise sounds like you can’t control your own emotions or feelings or sex drive. Are some people that weak? Isn’t it possible to be around other people and not think about jumping them? Should we give up possible friendships because other people might think there’s something going on between you two?
There’s a difference between spending time behind closed doors during a business meeting with someone of the gender you’re attracted to and staying in a hotel room with that same person. (Hell, I’ve done the hotel room thing with female friends, too, and it’s never been an issue.)
There’s also a difference between catching a ride with someone and working on a project together in isolated areas.
Acuff’s situation is different from my own, of course, because he’s married. But I would hope there’s enough communication between the couple that, if such a situation arose, his partner would just trust him to make the right decision.
I would hope if you just explain the situation to your partner and not try to hide it, most of the hypothetical problems he discusses could be worked out before they escalate into anything bad.
Am I being completely naïve when I say all this?
Or is Acuff right and we’re better off playing it safe and keeping a distance at all times from people we could theoretically have an affair with?
Reading through many of the comments on his thread, it seems like a lot of people are overly cautious about everything. (e.g. If I get into a car with another woman, I text my wife and let her know.)
As one friend said to me, “If you can’t control yourself, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship.”