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damage control

The question

My boyfriend gets mad at me every time I go out for drinks and/or a meal with my male friend. He says doing that is like "going out on a date" but I see it as just having a night out with my pal. There has never been anything that happened between us and my boyfriend knows my friend well and used to like him. Is my boyfriend justified in getting mad at me every time I want to go out and see my friend?

The answer

Of course, it would depend on the specifics and the character of everyone involved, and I wish, as I so often do, that I had more info (for example, why these two men in your life are no longer friendly).

But in general I think, first of all, of the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The whole movie is essentially a debate on whether men and women can be "just friends."

Billy Crystal: "No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her."

Meg Ryan: "So you're saying a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive."

Billy (warning: 1980s slang): "No, you pretty much want to nail them too."

There's also a viral video on the Internet at the moment of a guy going around a university campus in Utah asking if men and women can be "just friends."

The women all say "yes." The men all say "no."

Then he asks the women if they think their male friends want to "hook up" with them, and, after a little gentle prodding, they admit that, yes, they do. Then he asks their male friends if this is true, and they all say, in effect: "Hell, yes. In a heartbeat."

One guy says it in front of his female friend. Like "duh": "Yeah. Look at her."

Now, it should be borne in mind these are all people around 20. And you don't mention your age, whether you are older and (in Hamlet's words) "the heyday in the blood is tame."

But all in all I have to come down on the side of Billy Crystal and the campus dudes. As one male friend of mine said when I discussed this column and the Utah video: "I'm not surprised the girls say yes. But the guys say no because they know better."

Basically to me, it's a simple, Aristotelian-type syllogism: "All men are dogs. [Your male friend's name here] is a man. Therefore [your male friend's name here] is a dog."

Now, that doesn't mean his inner dog couldn't be kept on a leash. Impulse control is what adulthood's all about, right?

Sounds like you have to work on establishing trust with your boyfriend. Me, I issue a never-ending verbal barrage to my wife, Pam, to the effect of "you're the only one for me."

Try that with your boyfriend, see if it chills him out a bit.

If it doesn't, why not suggest a (platonic) three-way get-together?

If your male friend balks at your boyfriend coming along – well, there's another piece of the puzzle that falls into place.

But if your boyfriend balks, that's his problem. I hate to sound like Justin Trudeau, but in 2016 it doesn't sit right for a man to attempt to dictate who his girlfriend can be friends with.

And I have to say I don't like the sound of him getting "mad" at you about it all. Talk about poor impulse control – that's a red flag. First, he tries to control you, and second, he gets angry when he can't.

I would take a long, hard look at both of those issues before, rather than after you take the next step in this relationship.

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