Kelly Pegg: Is it possible for men and women to just be friends?

Martin Freeman and his wife Amanda Abbingdon.
Martin Freeman and his wife Amanda Abbingdon.
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Sherlock star Martin Freeman and his wife have separated after 16 years together.

According to reports in the media his wife was unhappy about a growing friendship he’d developed with another female.

It set me thinking... it’s different when you start dating someone – you meet their family and friends and there’s an acceptance because they were there before you.

If you have been in a long-term relationship and suddenly your partner starts talking about a “new friend” who happens to be a member of the opposite sex, it’s bound to feel un comfortable.

I’ll happily admit that I wouldn’t be ok if my husband started a friendship with another woman.

Call me old fashioned but my husband is my best friend and I wouldn’t like it if he was spending quality time with a female friend.

I want to be the person he turns to after a bad day, I want to be the person he confides in.

That said I can be a little jealous sometimes and in the past have taken issue with female members of his staff texting him and attaching emojis to the message.

I was speaking to a male colleague about this and his take on it is ‘no man sits around listening to a girl talk, being her shoulder to cry on without expecting something back at some point!’ He believes men never want to be ‘just friends’ (and he wonders why he is still single!).

I talked about this topic on the radio on my Saturday breakfast response and there was a mixed response.

One woman got in touch to say she is THAT female friend and as such often receives lots of grief from her male friend’s girlfriends.

Another woman said going for coffee with male colleagues or male friends was fine as it’s a casual setting but dinner was a no no as it involves making too much effort.

More than two years ago I did develop a friendship with a guy who I used to workout with. We got on really well and I thought a lot of him.

My husband never said anything for a long time. When he did bring the subject up he told me that he felt we got on ‘too well’ and he wondered if I had developed feelings beyond friendship for this guy. I hadn’t thought about having an affair at all but I think I knew that if I had of been single I might have developed a bit of a crush.

Sometimes we strike up friendships with someone when we feel something is missing in our own lives.The new friend can give us a different perspective on life and love.

In my case I had become a mother and my body didn’t feel like my own anymore. I wanted to become fit and strong so I got into my fitness. It was a lifestyle change that didn’t include my husband as he doesn’t like exercise and didn’t care if I had a belly or a six-pack!

I would bore him talking about fitness and food whilst he sat there and stuffed his face with biscuits! I felt slightly estranged from him during this time. There are different types of friendships and I guess it’s about what is acceptable and what’s not.

Leaving your other half at home whilst you go out to dinner twice a week with a friend of the opposite sex is probably not ok. In life though we do need to mix and socialise with more people than just our spouse.

Attraction does appear to come into everything. We make assumptions based on people’s appearances. We can be drawn to someone if they smell nice or are extremely kind or clever.

Is my male colleague right…there is always an ulterior motive from either the man or woman when it comes to friendship?

Perhaps it is hopelessly idealistic and unrealistic to think men and women can ever be completely platonic with each other.

Trump: going back to dark ages

How amazing was it to see thousands of women and men from around the world take to the streets and protest against the policies of America’s new president Donald Trump?

I’ve never taken part in a protest but I do wish I’d hit the streets of Leeds and pledged my support. The people who protested across the UK were showing solidarity to the anti-Trump march in Washington, which featured the likes of Madonna and Scarlett Johansson.

Trump’s display of misogynistic, homophobic and racist views has shaken people from all around the world, including myself. Having him as president is like rolling back the years to the dark ages. It’s undoing all the good work and progress that has been made to promote equality, acceptance and love to everyone no matter what their gender, sexuality or nationality is.

I love America and have always dreamt of living there, but rather sadly I am glad I don’t. I felt sick when I saw the latest pictures of Trump on social media. Surrounded by a crowd of white middle-aged privileged men, Trump is signing an executive action reinstating the so-called Mexico City policy. It bars international non-governmental organisations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding. The skeptic in me almost thinks it could be a convenient excuse to stop funding. The decision will affect women’s health care worldwide. I hope there are more protests to come and I promise next time I’ll be joining in.

Book tells inspiring story

Nothing beats a good book at this time of year, especially if you’re seeking some inspiration.

I’ve just finished Jo Malone My Story, and I 100 per cent recommend it. Her story of the rise from ordinary working class girl to global entrepreneur and businesswomen is remarkable.

Here’s a woman who has grit and determination in bundles. She’s never given up even through her battle with breast cancer she came out the other side and won the fight.

It’s beautifully written and I love the start of the book where she tells heart-warming stories about her childhood and family. If you feel you need a kick or some much-needed creativeness in your life then this book will give you it by the bucket load. It’s wonderful to have such a British icon. Jo Malone is a go-getter, a game changer, and an inspiration. Let’s hope we have many more British entrepreneurs who follow in Jo’s footsteps and achieve the same level of success.