Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are apparently at very different points as to the shape opposite-gender friendships take. He is an avid, hardcore hiker. He met a woman (also married) on a hiking forum and wants to take a week-long hiking trip with her to an extremely isolated location.
He says that since there's nothing there between them, it's fine to take a trip like this. I feel uncomfortable and think it's weird to take an extended, super-isolated trip with an opposite-gender friend. I've never met this woman and probably never will, as she lives across the country. So this isn't a pal whom I know and who knows me. Thoughts?
— Drawing Lines
Drawing Lines: Make sure it's not the Appalachian Trail.
What would bother me most is that my husband put me in this position to begin with. Maybe it's all the most innocent progression ever, from the moment they laid pixels on each other. But he's asking for such an outsize degree of trust that in a way you can't win. You say no and you're possessive, jealous and distrustful. You say yes and you're a rube.
If I presented it to him that way and he didn't see my point, then I'd start thinking hard about what we owe each other in the form of comfort vs. trust. Should trust be absolute? Or can logic come to bear — in this case, on his assertion that "there's nothing there between them"? They don't know that yet because they don't know each other yet. Not in person. And you haven't seen them together yourself, obviously, which is the way people figure out whether they feel comfortable or threatened. He's flying blind, and pushing you to board. No fair.
Re: Hiker: Hiker wife should express interest in going along. His reaction would tell a lot. As a liberal guy married 30 years, I'd never ask anything even remotely similar of my wife for the reasons expressed here. I have traveled internationally with (married and unmarried) women other than my wife for work. I take business-related meals (lunches and dinners, with alcohol in moderation) with women without my wife. Nothing untoward has ever happened. But I'd never take a social-only trip or meal alone with another woman. And my wife wouldn't with another man. Hiker hubby is not being cool.
— Liberal Married Guy
Re: Drawing lines: My husband has a female best friend. She is also a dear friend of mine and he and I talk about everything, and I trust them implicitly. He also has other female friends I have no problem with him spending time alone with. I'd STILL be upset if he said he wanted to spend a week alone in a remote location with a woman I'd never met and probably never would.
Re: Hiking: I truly would not mind if my husband wanted to do that. 1) I trust him, and 2) if he wanted to [cheat], then he'd find a way.
— Would Not Mind
Re: Hiking: It should be with someone he knows he can depend on and has his back. What if he realizes she's a flake an hour after meeting her?
— Backup Plan
Backup Plan: Different but excellent point, thanks.