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Are Opposite-Sex Friendships Okay When You’re In a Relationship? Shannon Sharpe Blasted After Meeting Nicole Murphy

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Analyst and former NFL player Shannon Sharpe has a thing for Nicole Murphy. He’s made that abundantly clear on his Twitter page and on his FS1 show “Undisputed” for months now.

On Saturday (Nov. 18), Sharpe said that he was going to step up his pursuit of Murphy and send her a direct message on social media. Then the next day he told his Twitter followers that he had some big news to share on the next episode of “Undisputed.”  

It turned out, that the 49-year-old met Murphy and took a photo with her, which he shared on the show. He also pulled out a Backwoods cigar before he made the announcement, an official part of his sketch these days. 

Afterwards, a lot of folks took to Twitter and congratulated Sharpe for making his Murphy dreams come true. Others, however, brought up that he’s supposed to be engaged to fitness trainer Katy Kellner.  Kellner’s Twitter page says she’s tying the knot to No. #84, which is Sharpe’s old number as a player.

Other than that, there’s no confirmation that Sharpe is still engaged, but that didn’t stop people from blasting him on social media.

“Shannon Sharpe is iconic,” one person wrote sarcastically. “Not letting a pesky thing like being engaged deter you from finding your soulmate.”

“Shannon Sharpe has a whole fianceé at home, and he’s chasing another woman,” another person tweeted. “Men ain’t sh–.”

The former football star hasn’t responded to the criticism yet, and there’s no confirmation that he and Murphy did anything besides take a photo together. But the backlash still raises a question: If you’re engaged, married or in a serious relationship, is it okay to keep a friend of the opposite sex or meet a new one?

Debra Macleod, a marriage coach, said that opposite-sex relationships will ruin a marriage, and they don’t belong anywhere near a couple at all.

Some people don’t agree with my stance that opposite-sex friendships should not exist within marriage,” she wrote in the Huffington Post. “Some people might say that it is old-fashioned and that men and women are perfectly capable of having platonic extra-marital friendships with a person of the opposite sex.”

“In cases where the friendship involves two people who have absolutely no sexual attraction to each other and who are not sexually compatible whatsoever, that is true,” added Macleod. “But in reality, many opposite-sex friendships involve people who — if circumstances were different — might be potential sexual partners. Indeed, many opposite-sex friendships are maintained because of a simmering attraction.”

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships backs up that claim, especially as it pertains to men. According to researchers, men are far more likely to be attracted to their platonic female friend than the other way around. 

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Dr. Todd E. Linaman, the founder of Relational Advantage, lists a series of questions to ask yourself if you’re in a serious relationship and have a friend of the opposite sex. Such as, “Does your mate know about the friendship? Do you act differently around your friend when your partner is around? Do you and your friend ever exchange highly personal details about each other’s relationship?”

If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions and others like it, the opposite-sex friendship you’re having can kill your relationship.

In an exclusive interview, we spoke to relationship expert Dr. Tiffanie Henry, who runs her own private practice in Fayetteville, Ga., as well as the website My Intimate Details.

Overall, she said it’s important that you and your mate establish your own feelings about opposite-sex friendships and block out whatever society tells you and what other people say.

“When it gets to the point of being disrespectful to a person that you’re in a relationship with, that’s where the line really has to be drawn,” said Dr. Tiffanie. “If the person’s fiancée is the one that feels disrespected, then that’s what really matters. None of this peanut gallery, everyone else, kind of chiming in [matters]. My assumption is that since he is engaged, he (Sharpe) was saying these things tongue and cheek.”

Dr. Tiffanie also said there isn’t a golden rule when it comes to starting or maintaining an opposite-sex friendship while in a relationship. You have to be tuned into who your mate really is and what he or she can handle.

“You have to know your relationship,” she stated. “You have to know what is offensive to your partner. Some people are in very open relationships. Not only can they talk about finding someone else attractive, they’re encouraged to find people attractive. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors with Shannon and his fiancée. Maybe they were both lusting after her, and he’s the one who got her. Who knows?”

“It’s very easy to sit back and say ‘If that was my man, he wouldn’t be talking about her,’” added Dr. Tiffanie. “What do you think he does when he’s out of your presence? You think he never finds any other woman attractive? That’s not true. People find other people attractive all the time … Finding someone attractive isn’t necessarily the crime it’s the action [that’s the crime] … It’s your job to put your partner’s mind at ease and let them know that you are the only one.”

You can see some of the social media reactions about Sharpe and Murphy below.

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