:newidea: I HAVE THE SOLUTION!!! :newidea: (to the ‘problem’ of opposite-sex friends)
Or, rather, the Church does (EO at least, and I’m sure I’ve read about it in Western medieval and Renaissance literature too, so it’s probably an old Catholic thing too).
Bear with me.
My FIL told me about an old custom that was still in existence in his very traditional, patriarchal and no-nonsense place of birth. His own father had a ‘sister-in-God’ - a very close female friend with whom he became a spiritual sibling through a Church ritual, before God, a priest and witnesses. (You could, of course, do this with a friend of the same sex as well.)
Then they were like family. The families visited each other and their children thought of each other as cousins. The idea of anything improper happening between siblings-in-God was even more shocking, disgusting and abominable than the idea of biological incest.
What do you think? Could the reinstitution of this practice solve the problem?
There would be three different possible relationship modes for people of the opposite sex - spouses, relatives (biological or spiritual) or acquaintances. No gray areas. No possibility of jealousy or a friendship leading to adultery.