Is it ok for a married man to have dinner with a woman who is not his wife?

Dear Liz,
My friends and I are in a heated debate over whether or not it is cool for a married man to have dinner with a woman who is not his wife. I say that this is 2017 and that married people can have friendships with members of the opposite sex, but my friends are saying that those sorts of friendships only work in theory. What is your take?
– Dinner For Two

Dear Dinner For Two,

WOW, did your question open a can of fired up energy here at the BDN! When I first read your question my immediate response was, your friends are right, married dudes shouldn’t be out having dinner with women who are not their wife.

But then about 700 different scenarios got brought up, so OF COURSE, this answer will have some varying degrees of ‘yes’, ‘maybe’, ‘probably not’, and ‘Oh, wow, that was a stupid decision.’

These are a few questions that a married person should ask before accepting that dinner invitation.

  1. Is your dinner date attractive to you? And would you hide that fact from your spouse? Because if you answered yes, then there is a certain level of deceit happening and even if you don’t intend on acting on physical attraction, the clear answer, in this case, is “don’t be dumb, stay home.”
  2. Does your spouse care? Sometimes a spouse will have strong feelings about their married partner going out to dinner with a member of the opposite sex.
  3. Is this for business or pleasure? If dinner is sort of an obligatory thing because of your job then jealousy from a spouse seems to be misplaced.
  4. Is alcohol involved? Follow up question, do you make stupid choices when you get your drink on? I think you know where I am going with this.
  5. Have you ever had a romantic or sexual relationship or desire for one with this person? Because, HELLO, McFly!

See? this gets super complicated, super fast. In a fantastically written Slate.com article, writer Ben Mathis-Lilley explores the question, when is it ok to be alone with someone else’s spouse? And like my conversations around the office and my convoluted answer to this seemingly easy question, there are many layers of complexity to the answer.

As to who is right, you or your friends? Well, none of you. It depends on the couple in question and what they are comfortable with.

But seriously, you tell us what you think because WHOA NELLY this question set off some fiery debate. Would you be cool with your spouse having dinner alone with a member of the opposite sex…without you?

Good luck!

~ Liz