What to do with all these emotions
April 4, 2012 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Help. Extra-marital infatuation, what can I do?

Help me folks.

Here is my situation.

I have been married for a few years. I love my husband deeply and we have always had a great marriage, including great sex. We are very compatible and communicate well. We have one small child who makes us both very happy. Basically my life is pretty awesome and I love it. I feel blessed.

So my husband works full time and I am a full-time mom. I have had a bit of a hard time with this, because I find days spent in the company of a toddler can be ...long. I love my son but I need adult conversation. I love to hang out with other people, (I'm very social) but I am kind of picky in my social interactions – I have no interest in hanging out with other moms just because we are all in the same boat but with nothing interesting to talk about. I like good, conceptual conversation, lowest common denominator conversation (ie kid talk) makes me want to weep with boredom. So I have a couple of great mom friends in my city, but they are busier than me or less up for hanging out than me.

Recently my husband made a new friend who is currently a stay home dad while looking after his toddler, and his wife works full-time. So this friend and I, both looking for good company and interesting conversation while taking care of our toddlers, started hanging out. We found the perfect parent-buddy match in each other. We have great conversations while our kids play. So we found ourselves spending every day that we could together. It has been very fun and exciting and a great relief from the challenge of trying to fill the day with shit to do with our toddlers. (Also it works better for them because they get to run around together.)

So you can see where this is going, right? Me and this guy have completely fallen in love with each other. We discussed this about a week ago, after amorous feelings and sexual tension had been simmering for a while. We are in love and in lust. Now it has become all crazy. We have not kissed, or been sexual, though we have had some lingering embraces... he has made it clear to me that he would gladly “go there” with me, despite his wife. He says that he has been unhappy in his marriage for some time, and being around me makes him less resentful of his marriage/wife. He was sad and down, now he is happy.

I, however, am experiencing exactly the opposite of this. This distraction is making me feel distant from my beloved husband. My marriage has always been so great, and now I am finding it hard to feel the same love for my husband, because that energy is directed elsewhere.

So, right now I am feeling extremely conflicted and messy. I love my husband and am totally committed to our marriage, but I am quite seriously intoxicated by this other man. I find him to be a very dear person, and I cherish our connection, which is not the kind of thing you come across very often. I completely adore his company. He is so unique and interesting to me, and I know that, had we met when we were both single, we would certainly be together. However, that is not to say I love him more than my husband. I don't – I am just intoxicated by it because it's new and exciting. Did I mention we are painfully attracted to each other? I think about sex with him all the time.

My husband and I are not of the “monogamy or death” attitude, we both agree that a transgression on either of our parts would not bring the end of the relationship. We don't exactly have a “free pass”, just an acknowledgement that temptation exists and our relationship is not dependent on total and absolute monogamy-for-ever.

So it's possible that I could sleep with him and my marriage not be doomed, I could maybe discuss it with my husband and come to some agreement. But the problem is I don't think it would be a one-time thing, because of how we feel about each other. It's not just about lust. The emotions are intense.

So, I'm in a total quandary right now. I guess the obvious thing is to stop seeing this guy, suck it up, get over him, and direct my energy back to my husband. But the thought of this seems so tragic, because it's so rare to connect with someone so deeply, and when you find a friend like that you want to hold on to them. So it really seems a shame to let go. I guess I just want it all. I know it's selfish.

The other thing is that this would mean no more fun hanging out with our boys during the day – back to boring days spent alone in the park. I am so reluctant to give this up, because it made my daily life SO much better.

So there are a lot of factors here.

Has anyone been in an experience similar to this? How did you deal with it? Did you have an affair? How did it play out? Did you resist temptation? Did you have to cut it off with the other person and was it hard? I would love to hear about happily married peoples' extra marital infatuations and how they played out.

(email - c9609074@uon.edu.au)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (92 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
So, I'm in a total quandary right now. I guess the obvious thing is to stop seeing this guy, suck it up, get over him, and direct my energy back to my husband.

Yes. Do this. It's difficult and it hurts. You're an adult. Many things about being an adult are difficult and hurt.
posted by xingcat at 8:03 AM on April 4, 2012 [74 favorites]

If you and your husband share the opinion that "temptation exists" then TALK TO YOUR HUSBAND. Tell him how you are currently facing that temptation. Tell him how it is making you feel. Whether or not you don't think it would break the relationship, he at least deserves being told. Even in poly relationships I'm pretty sure other people aren't included without all parties being informed.

Regardless, I think you need to keep your distance until you decide what you want to do.
posted by gwenlister at 8:04 AM on April 4, 2012 [27 favorites]

This sounds really, really dangerous--it's not just a physical thing, but an emotional thing. I have not been in your position, but if I were, I would stop seeing this guy immediately. Your self-control is commendable, but I can't see things getting any easier with this guy--especially given that he is not committed to his marriage. You'll only torture yourselves.

I would also look into getting a part-time job that pays for part-time childcare. Your dissatisfaction with all-kid, all-the-time would be mitigated a bit. Good luck.
posted by smirkette at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2012 [14 favorites]

...he has made it clear to me that he would gladly “go there” with me, despite his wife.

This guy is not a "dear person." This guy is "bad fucking news." The guy is miserable and his plan is, hey, why not just drag your ass down with him and make you miserable? Because you will be miserable because the sort of one-off monogamy break that doesn't break a relationship doesn't tend to include a person you can't stop thinking about all the damn time and think you're in love with. An affair with that sort of person is practically a death knell for your marriage.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure your husband would have some choice words for his new friend when he finds out his new friend propositioned his wife. And, if you need a reason, getting propositioned by a married person while married is a perfectly good reason to stop hanging out with someone even if you probably don't want to.
posted by griphus at 8:07 AM on April 4, 2012 [125 favorites]

I'm not and have never been married, but as a child of parents who divorced over an affair, I think you should consider the fact that is practically impossible to "have it all".

Telling your husband is going to hurt nearly everybody involved, but it's going to be far, far less painful than trying to keep whatever it is you have with this other man going in secret until it all implodes.
posted by fight or flight at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Quit this and start looking for a paying job to relieve your boredom.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2012 [35 favorites]

The grass is always greener; the issues you and your husband might have now are amplified when another, seemingly "perfect" fit comes along.

The best advice I ever got was to never start a relationship by cheating your way into it; if the relationship doesn't progress, you damage your current one, and if it does, you are now tied to someone completely untrustworthy. How do you think that goes?

So yeah, the guy has expressed the fact he's willing to take it further. That's your cue to either end your marriage or end your friendship, but keeping both will be impossible. So, look at the issues you have now, the issues you will have then, and really think hard about which seem more damaging long term. It seems pretty clear to me.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

(also consider: if this guy would cheat on his wife, it doesn't seem completely unlikely he'd cheat on you too)
posted by smirkette at 8:11 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]

Monogamy is a choice. Keeping monogamy agreements is choosing to keep your word and fulfill your responsibilities.

If you want to open your relationship, talk with your husband about opening your relationship. I think Tristan Taormino's book Opening Up is a very helpful resource.

But honestly this all sounds like toxic drama cooked up between two people who are frustrated with their lives as primary caregivers for children.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:14 AM on April 4, 2012 [23 favorites]

I love my husband and am totally committed to our marriage

If this is true, then ditch your playmate* and find another way to occupy your time. Your description of your temptation exists ideas about monogamy does not sound like it extends to what you're talking about here, but you could be honest with your husband and see what he thinks.

*I note, without comment, that what recommended this guy as a companion seems very close to what you have rejected as a basis for companionship with other moms.
posted by OmieWise at 8:15 AM on April 4, 2012 [18 favorites]

(also consider: if this guy would cheat on his wife, it doesn't seem completely unlikely he'd cheat on you too)

I would venture to add that he's probably playing the "my marriage is terrible but now I met you and the clouds have parted" game all over town.
posted by griphus at 8:15 AM on April 4, 2012 [14 favorites]

Even in poly relationships I'm pretty sure other people aren't included without all parties being informed.

Yes. Polyamory is "responsible non-monogamy," not cheating, and all the parties involved need to work out agreements that make everyone comfortable. "Cheat and obtain forgiveness" is a relationship strategy that works for almost nobody.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:16 AM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

So let's see... You don't see your husband as much anymore, but you have this other nice, compatible and wonderful person right next to you all day. It's perfectly human to feel what you are feeling.

But.. This may be the first time you've felt this, but understand that over the course of a married life (to whoever), it will not be the last.

Think about that.

These are grown up decisions you have to make, and keep making for the rest of your life.

Also consider love vs limerance, and which lasts longer.
posted by volition at 8:18 AM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

Another thing to add on to griphus' excellent comment: something to consider is whether you are willing to endanger your great relationship with your husband over relieving your boredom with a guy who would willingly go behind his wife's back to cheat on her, and would willingly go behind his friend's back to carry on a sexual affair with his wife. I'm guessing the answer is no. I would cut this guy and his self-destructive behavior loose before this hurts your family. Stop talking to him completely and start talking to your husband completely instead. This is where the rubber hits then road in terms of your commitment to your relationship.

There are plenty of ways to meet new people and stay occupied that won't turn your marriage into a train wreck. The part-time job idea with part-time child care is a great one! Or, could you afford to have a sitter or nanny a few hours a week so you can join a class or a club that meets regularly?
posted by anonnymoose at 8:19 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]

In this situation, I would come clean with my husband, not in a confessional manner but in a problem solving way: "Look, I love you and I love our life and the chance to be a full-time mom to Toddler Anon, but having so much less adult interaction has made me really vulnerable to this crush I developed for Mr X. I 100% don't want to do anything I would regret so I've cut off all contact with him. I need you and I to work out a plan that gives me a less stifled life, whether it's a full time job or part time day care or whatever so that this doesn't happen again."

You are a really bad candidate for open, responsible non-monogamy in my book. While it might be OK with your husband, it's unlikely to be OK with his wife, and then you're just having an affair.

And to answer your questions: no, you cannot have a one night stand with this guy and just move on - you are way too drunk on this guy. Yes, you have to stop seeing him, 100% and right now. Yes, it will be brutal and you will spend a lot of time crying.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:21 AM on April 4, 2012 [74 favorites]

Hi! I think you have a pretty good grasp of the situation; you've clearly thought about this a lot. I've also had intense crush-friendships while otherwise committed. I do think a large component of your feelings is a matter of proximity - you see this guy quite often and probably have more quality time spent with him. See propinquity. I've been there.

I know you want to stay with your husband. So here is my advice.

1. Tell your husband; it's important to keep communication open and honest. Don't tell him in an I'm-going-to-have-an-affair way, but in a this-is-how-I've-been-feeling way. Be open with him. Telling him is a good decision. And you are not a bad person.

2. You're right in that you're going to have to direct more energy into your marriage. How you'll do that is up to you. I actually don't think you'll have to drop new guy like a hot potato (whether I'm overly optimistic or naive is another story), BUT you're going to either have to find new energy from within or at least divert enough energy from this guy back to husband. You and your husband might have to make more time for each other.

3. A vacation (like a month? more?) away from new guy might help mitigate the crush somewhat.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 8:21 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Please don't do this. I don't know you, you don't know me. I've been where you are. Please don't do this. I feel for you both; being married is hard, kids take it out of you, being lonely sucks. Please don't do this. I hope things work out for all involved.
posted by littlerobothead at 8:23 AM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

My husband and I are not of the “monogamy or death” attitude, we both agree that a transgression on either of our parts would not bring the end of the relationship. We don't exactly have a “free pass”, just an acknowledgement that temptation exists and our relationship is not dependent on total and absolute monogamy-for-ever.

Yeah, this? This is bargaining. You know that you are running the risk of bringing about the end of your own relationship. Maybe you guys have had intellectual discussions about this, but it's pretty much an entirely different story if and when it comes to pass.

While you're not married to this guy's wife and have no obligation to her, you are very likely entering into a situation where you might ruin many relationships and explode many sacred comfort zones. Your husband's. Your own. Your friend's. His wife's. Your child's. Your friend's child.

Think about the worst case scenarios. Let's replace the word "hurt" with "traumatized" - because that's what a betrayal of trust and an explosion of your family home is. It is traumatic. Stop seeing this guy now. Completely. Cut it off. You are not going to be able to stem the tide of your desires and you will be weak and it will snowball from there. It will hurt and it will be hard, but you know it is the right thing to do.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2012 [28 favorites]

By the way, I'm happily married and non-monogamous and I still agree with griphus 100%, this guy is bad news.

This would also be monumentally cruel to his wife, who trusts him while she's gone all day. If their marriage is bad, they should work on it.

And then there are two innocent children involved here. That this guy is willing to break up your child's HAPPY home for his own dalliance does not speak well of his character.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:29 AM on April 4, 2012 [13 favorites]

I'm going to come from a different angle because everyone has about everything else covered.

You say you don't get along with stay at home moms because they don't have anything to talk about because they are just stay at home moms. This guy is "just" a stay at home dad.

Open yourself up to the possibility that there might be another woman out there that is just as interesting, or more so, as you find yourself.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:32 AM on April 4, 2012 [27 favorites]

I agree with a lot of what was said here, including that what you're feeling is totally natural and understandable. I will say though that parents frequently experience a feeling of my-life-is-like-this-now after having kids and that passes. Your kid will mature and be less needy and you will need to be less hands-on and you will have more time for your husband. So just hang in there. This is a trial but it will pass.

It sounds like you know what the right thing to do is. I think you should tell your husband because it'll be easier to deal with when it's not a secret and it might take some of the fun out of potentially having an affair (because part of it is I'm-doing-something-I-shouldn't-be-doing). Then when it's not a secret anymore, you can lean on your husband a little to come up with a game plan, whether that's getting someone to help you out at home a few times a week or only doing double dates with this guy so you can still see him and your kids can still play but it's safer. Best wishes - I know this is hard but you can do what's right for your family.
posted by kat518 at 8:32 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tell your husband and cut the guy off.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

To quote De Niro, "You can have the money and the hammer, or you can walk out of here. You can't have both."

A fling with buddy, and the (likely) attendant damage, or you can just walk out of there.

If I were you, I'd remove myself from the source of temptation, as shitty as that prospect is. Don't wait for the situation to explode and decide matters for you.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

"And then there are two innocent children involved here. That this guy is willing to break up your child's HAPPY home for his own dalliance does not speak well of his character"

And the idea that you would be willing to break up his child's home (whether it is happy or not so happy) to satisfy your own self-indulgent desires does not speak well of your character.

You are being honest and you are very clear headed about all of this. You know the parameters. That should make your decision obvious. NO! You can't have sex with him. Walk away and work on your relationship with your husband who you profess to love. End of story.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

True friends are really hard to find; you're right about that.

I'd think about whether a true friend would ask you to jeopardize your relationship with your husband because it would benefit them.

It's sad, but this man doesn't sound like true friend material to me, despite your connection.
posted by k8lin at 8:44 AM on April 4, 2012 [13 favorites]

I think the (very very healthy) attitude about monogamy that you share with your husband means that you can have the conversation with him without anyone freaking out. Tell him that you are in a situation where you can either sleep with him or cut off contact, but not stay in the squishy area in between. Let it be a mutual decision. Honestly it sounds like, even though you feel an emotional connection, you're not ready or willing to pursue this relationship if it means blowing up your family. So you might end up getting exactly what you want out of it.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:50 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get a hobby. Volunteer. Get a part-time job. There a thousand other ways to fight your boredom other than having an affair with a guy whose more than happy to betray his marriage vows while his wife is out providing for him and their small child.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to emphasize the power of the "grass is always greener". My friend moved away from Boston, and is constantly complaining how she misses it. She has two young children and a self-absorbed husband, and never has a moment to herself. Her fantasies about coming home are very powerful, and keep her going, but she knows deep down inside that her problems would not go away if she were to move back. Whether it's a place or a person, the objects that make us forget about our troubles are very powerful.
posted by Melismata at 8:52 AM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

Why play with fire? You have a good thing.
look to get a job, some hobby, something, but dont fuck up your family, and participate in fucking up someone elses.

This guy is nothing short of trouble. You are not a life preserver for his depressed, pathetic self. Seriously, cut off contact, and find something positive and new.

Please think and behave responsibly. You have a lot to lose.
posted by handbanana at 8:56 AM on April 4, 2012

I should add that this guy is not a horrible person that you need to get away from. He's a stay at home dad who is unhappy in his marriage. I would not listen to the people here who are calling him "bad fucking news" and hypothesizing that he makes a hobby out of seducing housewives. It's just as likely that this will end well as it is that it will end badly.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:57 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I guess the obvious thing is to stop seeing this guy...But the thought of this seems so tragic, because it's so rare to connect with someone so deeply, and when you find a friend like that you want to hold on to them. So it really seems a shame to let go.

Oh girl, that's just the hormones talking. You're dealing with new responsibilities, loneliness, boredom, all sorts of terrible complicated feelings, and this little affair has you all jazzed up- something fun to deal with, weeee! Once you're more stable, you'll look back and wonder what you were thinking. Hormones are cruel that way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:57 AM on April 4, 2012 [19 favorites]

...hypothesizing that he makes a hobby out of seducing housewives.

Considering the OP's question can be summed up as "I am a housewife and this guy is trying to seduce me," I'd think it's less a "hypothesis" and more of "the thing that is happening."
posted by griphus at 9:00 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]

I know you've probably considered polyamory as a solution. However, it is a choice that couples make together. To avoid immediately stirring up jealousy and resentfulness, couples should never open up for the first time when there's a particular, potential partner in mind.

Next time you see this guy - if there is a next time - get a good look at his kid. Realize that if you go through with this, this kid would be hanging out with Dad and the woman with whom Dad is having an affair. Do you want to be that person?
posted by theraflu at 9:01 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I just wanted to come in and expand on what zephyr_words pointed out--that the existence of someone you find interesting in this man may absolutely be found with other parents (or perhaps with an activity/vocation).

I'm guessing that at least for a bit, in the very new beginning with this guy, as you were getting to know each other you talked about your kids--parent stuff. What it was that brought you together as caregivers. The exact same conversations that you labeled as mind-numbing when you started them with women caregivers. Small talk among parents tends to be about the small ones, for a while, then someone cracks the other one up or drops the f-bomb or rants about access to birth control and you're off to the races.

So be fair. You spent a lot of time in the post telling us about your awesome marriage and husband and boss married lovin', but I don't think you're being fair, there, either. Crushes typically tell us more about ourselves and our own lives then they do about the object of our fascination. What do you need from your marriage? From yourself? From friendships? Give those things a fair fucking chance.
posted by rumposinc at 9:04 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]

he has made it clear to me that he would gladly “go there” with me, despite his wife. He says that he has been unhappy in his marriage for some time, and being around me makes him less resentful of his marriage/wife.

He's being a dick to his wife. Don't help him do that.

I love my husband and am totally committed to our marriage, but I am quite seriously intoxicated by this other man.

Well there's your answer then, and you recognize that it's intoxication (infatuation, chemicals, excitement, new-ness, etc.). Cut it off 100% with this guy and find the stimulating intellectual interaction you say you're looking for by seeking out other adult humans. Most SAHMs (and principled SAHDs) are looking for that too, it's just that you have to make the effort of getting past the smalltalk with them, like you did with this guy.
posted by headnsouth at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

If you were to go through with this, your marriage failed, and this new Mr. Amazing didn't work out- then you would have to go back out on the market... and single moms, who have cheated on a good guy, don't have the pick of the litter.
posted by misspony at 9:08 AM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

There is no grey area - if you continue to see this person it will lead to an affair and likely then eventual collapse of your marriage.

Stop seeing this person. Find a job. Even if the job is solely to pay for daycare doing this is for your sanity and marriage.
posted by doorsfan at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know that, had we met when we were both single, we would certainly be together.

I kinda doubt it, actually. If you were single you wouldn't have been in this super isolated world alone with your toddler. At the very least you would have had a job. When you're starving, the humblest meal looks like a feast. You seem to feel like it is super rare to connect to people in the way you've connected to him, and I think your perspective is really skewed because you were so lonely and isolated. And it would be this situation where you felt like desperate for someone to come along and save you from your life and here's a candidate to fixate on who will just magically make it all better.

And for his part, without a wife to cheat on, I really doubt he would have this much interest. Ironically that's the crucial thing that makes this interesting and thrilling for a lot of cheaters.

What would happen if the two of you got together? The two of you wouldn't both be able to be stay at home parents. Instead of long, endless days of sparkling conversation and sexual tension, you would not be seeing each other for 9 to 10 hours per day, and then the rest of the time you'd be trying to fit the needs of two toddlers into the amount of time you had before passing out.

Right now you both are in this kind of quasi-fantasy land. I would bet thousands that if you left your partners and got together with each other and were self-supporting, your relationship wouldn't last a year.
posted by cairdeas at 9:12 AM on April 4, 2012 [53 favorites]

The guy is miserable and his plan is, hey, why not just drag your ass down with him and make you miserable?

Considering that they're both in love and she's trying to figure out a way to sleep with him and keep her marriage, this isn't a black and white "He's all bad" situation. Both of them are at fault here, if blame is to be assigned.

But blame and casting aspersions really shouldn't be what's going on here. This situation has occurred. Terrible things could happen you both decide to sleep together, because there are intense feelings involved. It would be thing if this was just a simple fuck. But both of you are in love and have declared it to each other.

That's the key part, imo, you're in love. With your husband's new friend. Who is married. It's possible that everything could work out ok, that your husband and his wife are fine with you two being alone together all day and fucking, yet your respective marriages not being harmed by this.

But this is highly unlikely. Yes, he's awesome, yes you're in love and yes, it will physically hurt to break off contact. In many ways it isn't fair, that you can have these incredible feelings and be restrained from acting on them.

But you have your marriage to think of and your son and yourself. If you fuck your husband's new friend, will you be able to look back in year and think "That was great, I'm pleased with myself"? Will that affect your husband's relationship with his friend and you? What will the kids see happening between you and this guy? What have they already seen?

It might be really difficult, but you need to think this through. There's virtually zero chance of this situation ending well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2012 [15 favorites]

Maybe you can take this as a strong warning that your life has been out of balance in an unsustainable way: too much time alone with your child and a pronounced lack of other things that you really need. So, in the short term, your goal might have to be to resist temptation with brute will power, but in the long term, maybe you should think about ways to change the structure of your life: have your husband shift into doing more parenting, look into work or school for yourself, look into daycare options, take vacations with your husband, hire a nanny or babysitter (if you could afford it), etc., whatever ideas feel good to you and could shift the balance in your life.
posted by Paquda at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

Oh, and could you imagine how stressful it would be if you left your spouses and got together, but you were the only one who could find work? (Or what if he told you he could not or did not want to work outside the home?) What would you be thinking every day as you were commuting, slogging through each day, coming home frazzled and drained, while he was by himself all day with a coterie of moms?
posted by cairdeas at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2012 [25 favorites]

Sorry to reply to much but I just have seen this happen so often in life. He said he is resentful of his marriage/wife -- why? Do you know? Being a working mom, is she often too tired for sex? Does she come home stressed out or irritable after all day at work? Does he expect her to come home from work and then do a second shift of taking over all the childcare and housework? I don't know why he is resentful, do you?

I just find that in the beginning, so often people like this project that you will be the magical being with no needs who will do and be everything that they want. But then when you turn out to be a human, they start resenting you and getting really pissed off. I just think if you ended up getting together with him, in all likelihood you would find yourself on the receiving end of that resentment with a quickness.

It may all be moot anyway, because take note he said this is making him LESS resentful to his wife even as it makes you want to leave your husband. I think he is hinting to you that if you expect him to leave his wife for you, you're playing yourself. And when your marriage implodes he will tell you, I NEVER SAID I was ever going to leave my wife for you, so don't blame me.
posted by cairdeas at 9:28 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I just watched the movie 'little children', where almost this exact same thing happened. Worth a watch for you, maybe.
posted by whalebreath at 9:28 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

First of all, I am proud of you. You have resisted physical temptation so far with this man. That is no small feet. I honestly think that is impressive. Many people would have had an affair by now.

Good for you.

But this 'exciting new intoxication' is exactly that--intoxication. It will grow stale after a while, just like it has with your husband, and you need to replace it with a healthy stable and loving marriage. That you need to always work on.

Stop entertaining these fantasies about your husband giving you a thumbs up, and your having sex with him, then moving on and everything being great. That's a harmful fantasy.

You need to ex-communicate him. Like any drug you will go through withdrawals at first, and then it will subside. You know you need to. Do it for the sake of your family, and most of all, yourself.
posted by jjmoney at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Finding a job isn't a panacea, either. "Office spouses" are a fairly common thing, though I guess less likely to end in sex, instead of just an emotional affair.

You're going to have to come to terms with the fact that there are LOTS of people in the world that you can have these feelings with. You already picked one to spend the rest of your life with-- or at the very least-- raise children with. Unless you want to keep doing this every couple of years, you're going to have to stop chasing after every guy you get a crush on (And there are a million out there.)
posted by empath at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm sorry you're lovesick, because that's horrible. It really is like a sickness, and is tempting you right now.

I do actually think this guy is bad news. Anyone can get lovesick, but he's the one suggesting that you deal with it by betraying his wife, his children, your husband, and your children.

My suspicion is that he's done this before, not that it matters. He may think it makes him happy, but he doesn't actually know how to be happy. It is commonplace to frame this in terms of deprivation, e.g. "you can't have it all," but refusing to walk into traps like this is most emphatically not about deprivation, it's about fulfilment. Happy people say no to themselves more often, and about more important things, than unhappy people do.
posted by tel3path at 9:47 AM on April 4, 2012 [30 favorites]

Stop entertaining these fantasies about your husband giving you a thumbs up, and your having sex with him, then moving on and everything being great. That's a harmful fantasy.

Yes. Polyamory and/or open relationships are hard work, just like monogamous relationships are hard work.

Polyamorous and/or open relationships are not about "anything goes"--they're about creating rules and boundaries and agreements that everyone involved respects and is comfortable with. It's having to manage more than one relationship in a respectful way. It's having to balance the needs of the different relationships you're involved in, and the different relationships your partners are involved in, and making sure that everyone feels taken care of and understood and treated with courtesy and respect.

It is the very opposite of the "zipless fuck" (TM Erica Jong) scenario that you seem to be cooking up in your head.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:53 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

The age old excuse that he is unhappy with his wife. Oh please. You should not fall for that. Like someone said, he is probably used to this and has not really respected his marriage vows.

You have two options
1. sleep with him since your marriage is open (or something to that effect)
---You and your hubby are open to transgressions, but what about his wife? Has anyone asked her how open she is to her husband sleeping around? And yes, that is exactly what it is, sleeping around.
---would you be able to deal with all the emotional stuff and the logistics that comes after that? It could wreck havoc on your life, marriage and child
---have you considered that this could break your marriage up? i.e. you may find him and your feelings towards him more stronger that those towards your husband. Then what? your hubby will never be able to live up to your expectations. A slow drive into divorce
---Your child most likely will have a broken home

2. Stop all contact with him get a hobby
---you are lucky to get this time to yourself and are not part of the 9 to 5 grind. Do somethign worthy of your life, there are many many reasons/causes you can devote yourself to, even if it is to distract yourself.

There are always temptations and something better out there, so what? If you can manage this lifestyle without emotional side effects, good for you.
posted by pakora1 at 9:57 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of potential pitfalls here you may not be thinking about.

Neither you nor your crush has a job. If you wreck your marriages to end up together, one or both of you will have to pay the bills. If you also get custody, this would be a nightmare. Working full time would probably completely change the dynamic of attraction to each other you have going on right now, and it might turn into a situation just like what you have with your husband now (meaning safe, comfortable rather than fireworks) - only worse, because this guy’s personality might be ideal for a fling on someone else’s tab, but is less suited to a working family than your husband’s.

I don’t doubt that you are sincere in your feelings of love. If he was also happy in his marriage, and a little less enthusiastic about pursuing you, I might feel that he was sincere as well. As it is, alarm bells are going off. It is very unflattering to have to think of yourself this way as a woman, but absolutely necessary that you force your way past the cognitive dissonance to do so- to be blunt, he may just need sex and you’re present and acceptable. Something in the way you describe him makes me suspect that his marriage is sexless and he’s just horny and doing what some men have done for thousands of years by dressing it up as love to you- and it would be horrendously tragic if it were true, because you’d throw your life away because you were duped into thinking his feelings were more meaningful. Please scrupulously consider this. For you, he’s intellectual company and a friend. For him…he may get that elsewhere.

Your husband will find out. If you don’t tell him now, he’ll find out later. There’s no other option. And your kids will find out. They will. Trust me. This is not the kind of thing anyone realistically takes to their grave. Guilt will eat at you if you try, anyway.

If you truly love him for his personality, can’t you have a sexless friendship? This is dangerous and if you don’t think you can, it’s far better to be physically separated. But I don’t think emotional infidelity is as bad as actual infidelity in all cases- it does require a firm decision that you will give up any idea of sex, and make a real effort to deescalate- but sometimes, a deep and meaningful or even romantic friendship can be sustained, at least for a little while. It can even be just as meaningful, if not moreso. If you’re thinking in all-or-nothing terms, don’t. That’s how bad decisions get made. It may be possible to deescalate this without giving up your sense of having someone to talk to- even if not physically- via email or something safer like that. At least, telling yourself that may stop you from having sex just to preserve the friendship and company- a poor decision in any relationship, but especially in an affair!- and one that women make too often.
posted by quincunx at 9:57 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

There's almost nothing I can say here that hasn't been said. Except that I have a friend whose husband was the SAHD, who was poly, whose marriage was not great, and her husband took up with a nanny and close friend of hers in secret, and it collapsed their whole marriage in a truly horrifying way. The divorce was one of the worst I've ever seen, and it nearly bankrupted her and traumatized their child very deeply. It was hard being her friend through all that, just because of the unbelievable pain she was suffering -- I can't imagine the emotional wreckage it would cause to know that I was the foundation of that pain.

Quit him. Stop. Tell your husband why you have to stop. If the guy is going to ruin his marriage, don't let him make you be the reason why. Everyone involved is extraordinarily lucky that you are thinking so clearly, but it looks like you're the only one doing so, so make it count.
posted by KathrynT at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2012 [12 favorites]

I like good, conceptual conversation, lowest common denominator conversation (ie kid talk) makes me want to weep with boredom.

I know nothing about affairs, but the isolation of being a full-time parent is an area I'm an expert in. You need to find more full-time parent friends, male or (ideally, perhaps) female. I know those playgroups with people you don't know can be excruciating, but if you stick with them you might find some women you can have more interesting conversations with. Look for the other people who are trying to steer the conversations away from potty training. As my mom pointed out to me, they don't have to be your friends forever; they're your friends for now.

I found the women who are some of my closest friends through co-op preschool, which I highly recommend.

Book groups, exercise classes (stroller classes where you can take the kid?), hobbies, coffee shops, playgrounds -- there are so many full-time parents out there feeling just as lonely and bored as you are. Be aggressive about making contact with them.

I made up business cards (cheap at Vista Print) with my name, my husband's name, our kids' first names, and our phone and e-mail on them. If I hit it off with another mom at the playground or in line at Costco or wherever, I would give her one and ask if we could get together for a playdate (yes, it's a cringeworthy term, but so what). I made some good friends that way.

There are plenty of "unique and interesting" women out there being full-time moms, and I'm a bit miffed that you've given up on us. You don't have to go "back to boring days spent alone in the park." Spend some of that energy and free time looking after yourself by finding the social support you need.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:00 AM on April 4, 2012 [26 favorites]

So you are basically dismissing every single female potential friend out there because they're all too boring for you to have a conversation with? Really? Now you must know yourself that just can't be right. I think you should drop this guy and reexamine your assumption. There are tons of smart, interesting stay at home moms out there who would love to have a friend like you.

Please drop this guy and keep looking for a true friend, i.e. one who won't try to ruin your life and two childrens' lives just because he can't keep it in his pants. There is nothing good that can come out of this situation. Your life sounds pretty damn great right now. Don't ruin it.
posted by hazyjane at 10:03 AM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

There are tons of smart, interesting stay at home moms out there who would love to have a friend like you.

And tons of smart, interesting full-time dads who would also like to be real friends, not whip up a whole romance scenario in order to make life more "exciting". My brother-in-law was part of a group of full-time parents, mostly women but I think there was one other man, who had regular lunches together where they talked about all kinds of interesting stuff while the kids played together. The primary caregiving dad of the kids who were once my eggs made some amazing friends with his fellow parents in playgrounds, etc.

The problem isn't that you made friends with a fellow parent who was a straight man--the problem was that for whatever reason one or both of you turned this into a whole melodrama.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:08 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Something I have noticed about my own mindset about love and marriage and stuff is that after being married for a while and having a kid, people who leave their marriages because they've fallen desperately in love with other people kind of make me laugh.

I mean, I get it. Hormones are powerful. That first burst of falling in love, though, it's a biological trap. It's your body trying to get you to make babies with someone you get along okay with with.

But that part of love or infatuation or whatever, it doesn't last. It doesn't last for ANYONE. It's a temporary phase designed to get you to make more humans. So the thing where your brain is telling you: "Well, it would be different with this guy. The sex would be amazing forever! We understand each other on the deepest possible level! It is totally different than all other crushes. We are the perfect match. Songs would be sung about us forever." is just straight-up a lie. Totally, totally a lie. That thing doesn't exist! What you have with your husband is the best possible version of long-term love, and you already have it.

So... that's what I would maybe try to attack in myself. I would really examine my own breathless "Oh, but this is different, our love is written in the stars!!!!" feelings and try to work myself into remembering that you once felt exactly that way about your spouse, there is no magic person that makes everything perfect and dreamy, there is only quiet partnered love and a willingness to be good to each other for 50 years at a stretch.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:08 AM on April 4, 2012 [117 favorites]

I have a friend whose husband was the SAHD, who was poly, whose marriage was not great, and her husband took up with a nanny and close friend of hers in secret, and it collapsed their whole marriage in a truly horrifying way

This is a sad story, and a perfect illustration of how people can cheat in open and polyamorous relationships. Cheating is breaking agreements, whatever those agreements might be. The consequences can be terrible.

I could not agree more with theraflu's comment that "couples should never open up for the first time when there's a particular, potential partner in mind." This is the second surest way to disaster in opening up a relationship (the surest way is to cheat first and then announce that your relationship is now open and your partner will just have to deal with your ongoing other relationship).
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:14 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I know next to nothing about polyamory, but based on the little that I do know, you are in a terrible position to be even considering approaching this possible relationship from that viewpoint. I mention this because you seem to be floating this as a way to make what you want to do seem alright.

You haven't talked to your husband about it. The other guy hasn't talked to his wife. You both have young children. This has trouble written all over it. I'm an expert at justifying things, and even I can't do anything here.

If your marriage or his marriage is going to fail, let it be because you or he don't love your spouse any more. You're having these feelings, and it's natural. But don't let acting on these feelings be the card that collapses the house.

It sounds like you have a great relationship with your husband, and as others have stated, the odds of you acting on your feelings and having things come out alright are infinitely small. If I were you, I'd do whatever I have to to prevent acting out on your feelings from happening.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:15 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Neither of you are great candidates for poly here.

Hard though it may be, remove yourself from contact with him. Get other friends. Find a job. Or a hobby. Take up some study. Devote some time to your intellectual self - this is what is crying out for attention the most. You may - may - be able to go back to him as a friend at some point, but once you sort out your intellectual needs you may not find him so interesting after all (and this is really all just about sex and physical intimacy for him - so his needs may not change but the way you see them might).
posted by mleigh at 10:24 AM on April 4, 2012

I think this is one of those AskMe questions where you know what you need to do, but you need a push in order to do it, and you knew that we would give you that push, so you came here to get it from us. Happy to oblige! Stop seeing this guy immediately. Tell your husband (but don't tell him that you're in love with this guy - just tell him that you're more attracted than you're comfortable with). Then go out and find some groups of parents that you can hang out with during the day.

I know this is hard. But I would really encourage you to try not to look at everything through such a heightened emotional perspective - I think that's what's causing a lot of your problems. You met a guy, and you hit it off with him. You have a crush, and you want to fuck him. It's ok to feel this way. But I think some part of you that thinks it isn't ok to feel this way is romanticizing your feelings into something else. That's why you're saying things like it would be "tragic" to let this guy go. Tragic would be blowing up your marriage because you have a crush. I guarantee that if you stop having contact with this guy, you'll look back on this and not be able to believe that you thought you were in love.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:30 AM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

New Relationship Energy is a powerful drug. Neither of you are in the wrong here, right now. Demonizing one or both is the easy way out. People are more complicated than 'predator/prey'.

Have a conversation with your husband about it, in the abstract. Don't go in to it with the attitude of 'asking his permission to fuck this guy'. Just talk about how you're feeling about your life right now, and reaffirm your love and commitment, but life is pretty strenuous and tedious and you're feeling like you dont get that much adult attention and theres this guy who's been giving you this attention and now you're confused and dont know what to think.

If you are both as open as you say, he will understand that these feelings are NOT a referendum on the state of your relationship or your marriage, and you can communicate appropriately and figure out a compromise that works for both of you.

Good luck.
posted by softlord at 10:30 AM on April 4, 2012

You have a crush, and you want to fuck him. It's ok to feel this way.

I wanted to comment again to re-emphasize this. It IS OK to feel this way! It's normal even! This happens to lots of people, possibly even a majority of people! You are not a bad person for having these feelings!

But you are having these feelings, they are not having you. You are a creature of reason, and you are in control of your actions. It is not ethical to move forward with this relationship without getting the consent of all four of you -- this is a situation where it is emphatically not easier to get forgiveness than permission, because even if the forgiveness might be eventually forthcoming, it will be a long process with years of consequences. You need to pull back from this ledge, and if you can't do it yourself, you need to get your husband to help you.
posted by KathrynT at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2012 [14 favorites]

"But the thought of this seems so tragic, because it's so rare to connect with someone so deeply, and when you find a friend like that you want to hold on to them."

But he's not a friend; he's a romantic partner.

"I like good, conceptual conversation, lowest common denominator conversation (ie kid talk) makes me want to weep with boredom. "

So do lots of other bored stay-at-home-parents, such as myself. Try starting some of those conversations. Or start a book club at your local library. Or join a meet-up. As another commenter above said, "I note, without comment, that what recommended this guy as a companion seems very close to what you have rejected as a basis for companionship with other moms." I shall comment. The only thing that's different here is that he's a dude and you're carrying on a romance with him. He's not deeper and more interesting than every other stay at home mom in your orbit. He's penis-ier. That's it. If you are starving for other interesting moms (or dads who don't hit on married women), you need to make an effort and search them out. Or meet other interesting adults in a non-parent setting. Take one night a week where you go do something for YOU. Try different things -- I thought library story time would work out really well for meeting other interesting moms, but it turned out to be cliquey and judgy. Mommy-and-me music class, however, has been great for meeting fascinating parents. Not for any reason, I don't think; it's just happenstance that those are the people at each group. So try some stuff.

Your relationship with this guy is born of boredom and seems destined to end in heartbreak -- Even if having an open relationship with him and your husband at the same time did work for a while (and I don't think it would), one or the other of these relationships seems destined for a break-up, which would either "break your heart" when the affair ended (worse than it will now when it's just emotional), or break your heart when you lost your husband. He could also lose his wife. Two of three of these breakups end in broken homes for the children involved. Pick door number three, where you break up with Affair Guy and nobody's kids have to have custody arrangements. But break up with him NOW so it lessens the heartbreak and eliminates the risk of destroying marriages.

(P.S. -- I did what The Corpse in the Library did with baby business cards to give to other parents I met at the playground or mommy-and-me class or whatever. I had mine printed at moo.com. They are useful.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on April 4, 2012 [13 favorites]

I have been in your position, except that I didn't have kids. Like you, although I was happy in my relationship, I didn't feel that my needs were being met overall in my life. In retrospect I can see that I was looking for someone outside of myself to make my life fun, special, and interesting. My husband wasn't doing it well enough so I let someone else step in.

If you want to save your marriage, stop seeing the other man. You have to go complete no-contact, or the texting and emails and phone calls and lingering embraces will just keep building up the tension until you actually physically cheat. And it won't be any easier to quit him then, either.

This is going to suck. You're going to grieve a very real loss, and you won't be able to share or show any of those grief feelings to your husband. You're going to feel much more alone than you did in the first place. Consider therapy so you have someone to speak with about these feelings, and for help with what comes next...

Let the grief and suckiness be your motivation to make other, positive changes in your life. Take responsibility for your own happiness. Find a way to make time for yourself, your platonic friends, your hobbies, maybe a part- or full-time job that fulfills the non-mommy side of you. Making space in your life for yourself is NOT shortchanging your family. Having an affair so you can sustain being a full-time mom is.
posted by TrixieRamble at 10:51 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Or, do what DarlingBri said.
posted by TrixieRamble at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2012

Something that's helped me when I've been sorely tempted to do something destructive is remembering that memories of failure tend to last far longer than memories of success. Your remorse and guilt will last far longer than the affair will.

It's not easy to cut him off, but it will be easier than living with yourself if you don't. I hope things get easier for you soon.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

Instead of just telling you to ditch this guy, I'd rather suggest that you do whatever you can to strengthen your marriage and be present with your husband and child. This would mean telling your husband that you and Mr. SAHD have admitted that there's sexual tension between the two of you, and that you don't want to make a huge mistake. Ally yourself with your husband so you can both do the right thing for your partnership.

I'm sure you do believe that lying to your husband or keeping secrets is bad for your marriage. Bring this attraction out into the open now. If you wait, he's going to feel terrible when he does learn that two people he trusts have been deceiving him for too long.
posted by wryly at 11:17 AM on April 4, 2012

In your situation, I'd cut off contact with the guy and I'd tell him why I was doing it. I wouldn't say it in an angry or confrontational way - I'd tell him that I enjoy spending time with him and all that, but that our mutual attraction is causing problems and that, for my own sake, I need to be out of contact with him.

What I wouldn't tell him - though it's true - is what you've said here: that it would not be a one-time thing if we hooked up, and that, even if it were, I'd be relying on the belief that I could do it and only cause lots of damage to my relationship but not completely destroy it. That's not a gamble I'd be comfortable with.

No contact sounds harsh, I realize, but I've been in situations like this and the best approach is to think of this like an addiction. It consumes you, and other joys pale in comparison. And even though you know it's bad for you and you shouldn't do it, you still maybe allow yourself to be in the way of temptation. And I don't see a huge difference between that and an alcoholic who tells himself he'll just have one drink, or he'll go to the bar with his friends but not drink anything. You already know how badly you want this and you already know it would be a bad idea - or at the very least it would really not be a good idea.

This next one's up to you, but I'd tell my husband what's going on, too, after I initiated no contact. It sounds like you're able to communicate with him about these things and if you're gonna handle this, you could stand to handle it as a team. That's what commitment is.

You'll be okay. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:31 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Recently my husband made a new friend who is currently a stay home dad while looking after his toddler, and his wife works full-time. So this friend and I, both looking for good company and interesting conversation while taking care of our toddlers, started hanging out.

What bothers me about this, so so much, is that your husband has behaved as a mature, trusting spouse would be expected to do. He trusted you to hang out with his new friend without any impropriety. And guess what, here we have his new friend making it clear that he would like to have sex with you.

Please put your husband first, and terminate ALL interactions with this guy. Tell your husband what happened. Don't throw in your husband's face the whole "but you said you understood that monogamy was hard!" thing, because I guarantee you he will not be okay with his "new friend" propositioning or sleeping with you.

Start over. Repair the relationship. Ditch the friend.

I just hate that your husband has done everything right -- a good, loving provider, with whom you have a great relationship, and TRUSTS you with another man that he regarded as a friend -- and this is what happens. You really need to put a stop to all this, and getting rid of the friend needs to be mandatory and non-negotiable.
posted by jayder at 11:34 AM on April 4, 2012 [26 favorites]

Everyone else has already covered your options and potential outcomes pretty solidly, so I'll just chime in to say that I, too, think the feelings you are feeling are completely normal and natural. However...

My husband and I are not of the “monogamy or death” attitude, we both agree that a transgression on either of our parts would not bring the end of the relationship. We don't exactly have a “free pass”, just an acknowledgement that temptation exists and our relationship is not dependent on total and absolute monogamy-for-ever.

Maybe it's just me, but I didn't read the above statement as a conversation between a couple who might be open to poly relationships so much as I read it as a conversation about not letting a single transgression (i.e. one-night-stand, as opposed to a prolonged sexual AND emotional affair) immediately mean the end of the relationship. My interpretation could obviously be entirely mistaken, though.
posted by postpostpostscript at 11:38 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Just seconding that the "monogamy is flexible under extreme circumstances" doesn't apply to this situation. He meant that a one-time, emotionally unimportant, physical slip up didn't have to kill the relationship permanently. An ongoing emotional attachment is the opposite. This is a betrayal, make no mistake. Asking his blessing to have an affair would *itself* be damaging to the relationship.
posted by sockratties at 11:57 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]

It just seems so, so clear to me from your question that you want to be happy in your new-ish role as a full-time mom moreso than you want a romantic relationship with this other guy. You hit on the latter because if you squint it might be a way to the former. I think you could be way happier in the long run by tweaking your life to get more of the stuff you need- adult interaction during the day, more appreciation for your parenting (and for what you have to offer AS A PERSON) than a toddler can provide, stimulating conversation, etc- than by starting a fling with your friend.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:14 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Can you have sex with your husband and think about this other guy? I'm not joking. You know you need to be faithful in reality for all of the reasons others have listed already, but inside your mind, you are free to explore.

Also, someone else said it, but I'll repeat it--try harder to find stay-at-home-mom friends. I work at home part time and I'm with my kids most of the time, and I joined our local moms club. I've met a lot of moms, and while most are just acquaintances, I've made two friends who I actually really like and care about.

You can also pick up other moms by joining a mommy-and-me class, or just going where the moms hang out. One of my best friends is a woman I picked up in a children's shoe store.

Good luck. I commend you for being tough enough to resist this so far!
posted by tk at 12:17 PM on April 4, 2012

I'm also a SAHW and I feel you on how boring, lonely, and alienating it is. The first chunk of my advice will be on improving your boredom.

1. You need to get over yourself where other moms are concerned. It takes effort to get to know someone, and to get beyond LCD conversations. For whatever reason, you were willing to spend that effort to get beyond those convos with this guy. Part of you redirecting back towards your partner will be being willing to make more safe friends (which don't need to be female, but DO need to be people who respect your relationship) with other parents who are stay-at-home.

2. Start participating in a club, meet-up, knitting circle, sports thing, volunteering, or SOMETHING one night a week. I'm not sure how your child care arrangement works, but if you're whiling all your time away being the primary caretaker of a toddler, that's TOTALLY not fair. Ask your partner to take over for one night and day (one of my girlfriends has her partner do this Friday night and Saturday so she can do roller derby and not have to wake up right away) so you can make friends who aren't SAHP.

3. Talk to your husband about your lonliness. He needs to know.


4. STOP HANGING OUT WITH THIS GUY. Seriously, he's a creeper. You know, because you've heard this story or one like it before, either from your own experience in dating or from a friend. He's saying he's unhappy... but not unhappy enough to leave. He's saying he no longer loves his wife... but what he means is he no longer respects her. He's saying you make him feel good... what he means is that you're new and interesting. He's saying he loves you... but what he means is that he thinks you'll fix the void in his life. You KNOW this is a bad idea.

5. You KNOW friends are hard to come by. Finding someone you click with takes effort. You need to put some effort into finding a new friends though, and that needs to be a priority to you.

6. Start reminding yourself that someone who would put your relationship in danger like this in such an exploitative, predatory way is NOT your friend. Every time you miss him, remind yourself that he's put you, your familial happiness, and your relationship in danger. That's not what friends do. He flirted with you and is willing to have sex with you, while your kids are playing or napping in the next room, while he lies to his wife and you ruin your marriage. That's not what friends do. You just have to keep reminding yourself that he is NOT your friend.
posted by spunweb at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Sever all contact. Tell your husband why, so that he can do the same. Now.

Do it for you, so you don't ruin your life. Do it for your husband, so you don't ruin his life. Do it for your child, so you don't ruin their life. Seriously, there are lots of people out there to have conversations with, and unless you want your relationship to be over, and your kid to always wonder why you and daddy aren't married any more, you need to end this. Now.

The thought that you will be able to continue with your marriage after this is a nice one, but unlikely. The fact that you know you have feelings and still insist on seeing this person shows a complete lack of respect for your husband and family. This is something you can fix and end now, and if you don't, the fault will be yours.

So, if you feel that ruining the lives of your child and husband is worth you getting a little extra on the side, please feel free to continue.

This will not end well unless you end it now.
posted by markblasco at 12:27 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe you can take this as a strong warning that your life has been out of balance in an unsustainable way: too much time alone with your child and a pronounced lack of other things that you really need. So, in the short term, your goal might have to be to resist temptation with brute will power, but in the long term, maybe you should think about ways to change the structure of your life

This is awesome advice.
It many ways, your situation can be read as analogous to someone struggling with untreated depression: they're cruising along, until the middle of January, when everything is cold and snowy and dark, and they wake up to recurring feelings of hating everything and being suddenly irritated by the loving, awesome thing their partner does. And they keep obsessing over how, maybe, they should just break up, until their therapist/depression screening/close friend points out that they are unbelievably depressed.

And then, after a few months of antidepressants/SAD lamps/vacationing in Florida/whatever, they can't believe they almost came that close to ending their awesome relationship, and how that urge was soundly rooted not in the relationship itself, but in their depression.

It would probably suck to jettison your relationship, only to realize that you did so not because you wanted to, but because you were dissatisfied with your working/scheduling/living arrangement, and could have easily fixed it after a few months of work.
posted by vivid postcard at 12:40 PM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have so, SO many things I want to say about this but most everyone here has covered the important points so I URGE you to read and re-read the responses here. Look at the the responses that have been marked as favorites, print them out, read them out loud even!

I posted here annonymously asking what I should do about a similar situation except in my case I am your husband. I knew there was more going on than my spouse was telling me about his "new friend" but I didn't know what to do about it. The posters here had the situation nailed. They said watch out, he is already having an emotional affair and it will go to the next level unless he cuts the other woman out completely.

I didn't listen.

I wish I had.

Eventually, he couldn't manage the gulit and lies anymore and told me that he was indeed seeing her romatically and they had become physical but that it was me he truly wanted to be with. It was, in a way, more devestating than the death of my first husband because at least my first husband didn't make the CHOICE to do something that would traumatize me and cause me grief and so many other emotions I cannot even put into words.
I do believe that it is natural to be attracted to other people as our bodies and minds are built to do that, but it is what we do with that attraction that becomes the important issue. Do we acknowledge it as something natural, have a daytime fantasy about it for a few minutes and let it go, staying with the person we love and have made a life with/have made promises to? Or do we pursue the new attraction?

It comes down to being honest. With yourself and your husband, with what ever choice you make.

As the person who was lied to my life will NEVER be the same in an incredibly negative way. My trust in him (and as an extension humanity as a whole) is so broken I am not sure it can be fixed although I am struggling through it.

I am literally scared to go to work each day because it means I won't know for sure where my spouse is or what he is doing. I recognize that my spouse lost a "good friend" and that "sucks" but honestly- compared to losing my trust in the person I love I think the choice is clear. If you do truly love your husband you won't want to hurt him this way.

At the point I am at now I wish my spouse had just told me in the beginning that he had feelings for someone else and was going to move on with the other woman because that would be easier to heal from than the broken trust.

I wish you luck and I hope you won't be like me and ignore the advice you have received here!!
posted by blubutterfly at 12:56 PM on April 4, 2012 [37 favorites]

He says that he has been unhappy in his marriage for some time, and being around me makes him less resentful of his marriage/wife.

Yeah, 'cuz the fantasy of you is better than the reality of whatever. I'm not saying he isn't unhappy, I'm saying he wants an affair and he's justifying dis-satisfaction for the temptation. The problem with affairs is that they hurt people- there's nothing wrong with being sexually promiscuous, but putting your cards on the table with people is a matter of courtesy- imagine a relationship where you agreed to split the money fifty-fifty but you decide you're not quite happy with how it's being spent, so you start skimming a little of your share and let the other person keep paying in. Maybe you'll never get caught, but if you were really unhappy, an affair won't fix a problem spouse, it discourages you from acting to fix a situation because you can have your cake and eat it too.

Stop seeing him. Make it difficult for yourself to justify putting limits on a friendship and working with that (which generally feeds into the narrative of forbidden love), because love is a state of mania and it makes people irrational. Tell your husband that your friend made a pass at you and you're uncomfortable and do your damnedest to find a hobby that puts as much distance between the guy who wants an affair and you. If you're greiving you can share the truth with your husband- you got kinda close and he filled a void in your life but why the hell did your friend fuck you over by letting his lovey-lust get in the way of a supportive friendship? I mean obviously he should have seen that it makes it too awkward to continue as friends, right?
posted by Phalene at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sometimes the AskMe universe feels like it asks the exact questions I am struggling with or have recently struggled with. This is one of those times. I had a whole essay written up about my (very, very recent) experience and what happened- which I'd be happy to share with you if you think it would be helpful- but I think the gist is this:

Ending our friendship once it started sliding into emotional affair territory was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and it feels unfair on some small level (why can't we just ignore the feelings and maintain this awesome friendship?!), but it was absolutely the right choice and the only one that was respectful of his wife- emotional affairs are just as devastating as physical affairs, if not more so. I only wish we had cut it off earlier and stuck to it a little better. You can't help your feelings for people, but you can avoid intensifying them by not engaging in contact or discussion about those feelings. You also get to choose whether you act on those feelings. I'm still torn on the appropriate degree of explicit honesty with the partner, so I would listen to those with more relationship experience than me. It seems to me that you are not obligated to share every attraction you feel towards every person who is not your partner (since, as Dan Savage says, a relationship is not a deposition), but you should see a big honkin' red flag if you feel that you need to hide an attraction. Those involved will find out, and it will get ugly. Don't let it get to that point.
posted by quiet coyote at 1:13 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

When I was married I was very tempted to have a sexual/emotional relationship with someone I was super into. I didn't do it. I sure as hell wanted to like it was my job, but I didn't do it. I stuck with my finish-the-task-at-hand-before-beginning-a-new-one rule for relationships, which has always made a lot more sense to me than messing with someone else's self-esteem and sense of place.

The marriage eventually ended, and I have still never cheated on a partner in a committed relationship. I'm grateful to myself that I didn't do it. I've been cheated on since then, and I gotta tell you... it feels fuckin' great to be able to say I've never caused someone that brand of pain. I'm really proud of myself. Take it where you can get it; you can't buy that kind of peace of mind.
posted by heyho at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2012 [14 favorites]

Talk to your husband about your loneliness. He needs to know.

I think this is almost more important than telling your husband what's going on with the friend.

I mean, I do think that it makes secret crush feelings a lot less exciting to mention them to your spouse. And I think that for that reason, and also in the interest of honesty, you should tell your husband what's going on. Right now it's secret and therefore kind of escalated to this sexy and mysterious place. De-escalate. Make it un-sexy. Bring it out into the open as the challenge it is to your marriage--a challenge for you and your husband to address together. (I'm assuming that your husband is someone you can trust with this information without fear of emotional blackmail or another negative outcome. I could be wrong, though I think your conversation about the normalcy of temptation is a positive sign.)

But it's also really important to mention that your fixation isn't a matter of destiny. You're not having these feelings because this guy your true soulmate. It's a matter of being lonely and bored. So lonely and bored you're taking risks with your happy marriage and your family's future. I'd want to know--and would want to help--if my husband were that lonely and bored.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

But it's also really important to mention that your fixation isn't a matter of destiny. You're not having these feelings because this guy your true soulmate.

I would favorite this a million times if I could.

And I actually know a couple who are "soulmates" if there ever was such a thing--an extraordinarily happy and warm couple whom you just love being around, and who have been married for 30+ years and have wonderful kids together, and who run a small business together and work with each other every day and seem to take constant joy in each other's presence even when some idiot security guard has locked the van in the parking garage at 3 in the morning and everyone is exhausted (I was there for that one)--who met when they were each married to other people.

Guess what they didn't do? Have an affair. They told their spouses that they thought they had met someone they couldn't live without, went a year without any contact while working through this disruption to the existing marriages (in couples therapy in at least one case), each chose to divorce, and then they started dating. Dated for a while, moved in together after a while, and got married.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

My husband works full time and I used to have a full career as a lawyer but am now a SAHM to a three year old. It's a roller coaster of fun and exasperation and loneliness, and emotionally it's harder than my previous job.

But you know, your husband doesn't really have it easy, either. He has the pressure of being the only wage earner, plus he has additional childcare after he gets home from work and/or on weekends that he didn't have before you guys had a kid, and he has to help negotiate the terms of whatever household work arrangement you guys have and stick to that, plus you're probably having sex at least a little less often than you did before the kids because of napping schedules or tiredness or what have you. You are probably a little depressed, and sometimes that might get taken out on him. I'm just saying, I know your side of the story here because it's hard and isolating to stay at home with your toddler, but your husband's point if view is important, too. He is busting his butt for you to have the luxury of being a stay at home parent, and look what you are giving back to him.

Whatever you and your husband have said in passing before about infidelity not necessarily being a deal breaker, if I was your husband and this went any further, I would be furious and hurt and could probably never trust you again. I would be very hurt just by what has already taken place, since you guys are talking about cheating, and since you want to cheat. This is really hurtful stuff to your husband, no matter how lonely and isolated you are.

This guy is not the answer to the difficulties of being a stay at home mom. He is going to break up your marriage unless you cut off contact. You will feel so much better about yourself, as heyho said above, for not having this guilt on your conscience. Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

no interest in hanging out with other moms just because we are all in the same boat but with nothing interesting to talk about.

This sticks out to me. Because, y'know, he's in the same boat too. What makes him different?
I don't think it's internalised misogyny, but it might be internalised dislike. Of yourself, of the mommy role you're in, and so much of not wanting to be one of 'those' stay-at-home Moms, that you're avoiding anyone who reminds you of that, and isolating yourself in the process.
You're probably freaking yourself out about suddenly cutting ties between your two toddlers. Ok, you don't have to do that, but you do have to make sure, at the very, very least, that you're never alone with him.
I'm thinking maybe you could make a little rule with yourself, that you can only have 3-parent playdates with him occasionally, and only with parents you've already had a solo-playdate with the time before, then you've got a motivator to get out there and meet other parents, lots of other parents, in order to still have your kids see each other.

And, you need to tell your husband, at the very least, that you have a crush on him, and that's why you're only having 3-person playdates. And, if your husband knows, that kind of takes some of the secrecy, the *exciting* secrecy away, it normalises it, and makes it so you're not quite so breathless with him, and instead you have a secret you are sharing with your *husband*.

Best of luck.
posted by Elysum at 2:53 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

To me, there is an enormous difference between saying your husband is not a "Monogomy or death" kind of person and believing that you have some sort of "open" marriage. The first sort of sounds like how I or my wife would react if one of us slipped and got drunk and had a one night stand (and was appropriately horrified at the harm we had inflicted on the other)... It may be the killer blow to the marriage but not automatically. A prolonged affair would be an automatic visit to the lawyers office for either of us. Knowing that you have a small bit of grace in case of an enormous screw-up is NOT the same as having a licence to drop your pants for your husbands "friend" while your husband is hard at work providing for you and your child.

Only you really and truly know which one of those situations you have, it sounds to me though like you know the answer is probably not the one you want but you're trying to talk yourself into it so when your husband finds out about this you can say "I thought you wouldn't mind" and play the victim.

I'll +1 the advice to really truly investigate whether or not someone who would screw around behind his wifes back and with his supposed friends wife is someone you could be interested in. Forget about your husband for a second and imagine if your friend told you that she was thinking about sleeping with a man who had a wife and kids what would you think of this guy? What would you think of your friend?

I don't know that you should tell your husband you have a crush on his 'friend'. If my wife told me that one of my friends propositioned her... It would not end well. Push this other person out of your life and focus on your family, tell your husband you're unhappy as a stay at home Mom and get a part time job or volunteer, or get a hobby that gets you out of the house several days a week.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 3:13 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I want to point out that there's a big difference between you and the other guy.

You have found yourself drawn to him and perhaps have given in to some over-long embraces with him; not good, but not utterly terrible. And interestingly, you acknowledge how wonderful and fulfilling your marriage to your husband is. You're not making any excuses for your attraction by blaming it on a failing marriage.

He, on the other hand, started hanging out with his FRIEND's wife, and has made it clear that he wants to have sex with his FRIEND's wife, and as justification is talking about how terrible his marriage is. That is such a weak, cowardly justification for an affair. If your marriage sucks so much you want to sleep with your buddy's wife, just LEAVE THE MARRIAGE! (And for me, it is especially slimy for a man to be a stay at home dad while his wife is out being the breadwinner, and rather than just being responsible and solid, he's jockeying for some poontang with his "friend's" wife. Just the thought of his trusting, hard-working wife thinking her hubby is just at home taking care of the kid while he's trying to get his freak on. It's really vile. That's the ultimate betrayal of his friend and his wife.)

So, how can you even respect this guy? You can acknowledge your temptation, but by my estimation, you really have not completely betrayed your husband. You're here seeking advice because it's tearing you up. Your husband's friend is not. What he's doing seems so crappy that it seems perfectly reasonable to cut him off --- you don't have to feel that you have been complicit in this.

You say that you are intoxicated by him. Consider that in any other realm of endeavor, if you catch yourself wanting to do something imprudent while you're INTOXICATED, the only smart thing to do is to sober up and not do the imprudent thing. You're exactly right. Chemicals are urging you to do something you shouldn't do. This intoxication could very well cost both of you your peace, your security, and your family.

If you cut him off, as you very well should, you will be doing both of you (and your respective families) a huge favor.
posted by jayder at 3:17 PM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

I was personally have known four situations very similar to yours where two of the parties elected to have a secret affair. In all cases the primary relationships were destroyed. I have never heard of a situation like this ending well. You already know you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want to try you have to start by opening the whole thing up with your husband. If you don't want to do that you are creating a house of lies and I think you are perfectly aware that it will end up doing egregious harm to your marriage.

I don't know what the other guy is really at but I suggest you think long and hard about the kind of friend he is being to your husband. As far as I can tell the motives he has revealed are entirely selfish. I mean think about a good friend of yours telling you that the guy she is thinking about having an affair with is assuring her that it is helping his troubled marriage. You'd be nodding and saying "sure that makes sense"? Come on.

As a long term stay at home father who has had my own struggles with my identity (though not with this particular issue) I think your main problem is that being a full-time parent is not feeding your personhood sufficiently and I think this emotional affair is just a substitute for dealing with that fact. What you need is a plan for what you want your life to become outside your role as a mother.
posted by nanojath at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with everything Sidhedevil has said here. This is a bad scene that won't transition to poly safely, and you've got kids and uninterested partners involved. If you need to take your marriage apart -- if this is the realization that you're with the wrong person overall -- do so thoughtfully and carefully over the next few years, while having no contact with the man in question. Making the move you're imagining will be much more painful and destructive.
posted by ead at 9:30 PM on April 4, 2012

Here's a comment from me to someone in a similar situation. I was once in a similar crush (though not married). I broke up with my then-BF for the other person. It went really badly. I bet it's rare that anyone pulls it off. Breaking up for someone is such an intimate and serious thing to do. It's hard then to transition into a new relationship with someone you don't know nearly as well as you thought you did. The people who took a six-month break and then dated anew were wise. But you don't want to end your relationship and break up your marriage and family for this guy; that's so obvious from your question. It just seems like you're feeling alone, unseen, in need of support, and not known as you currently are. It makes sense that you'd fall for someone who is helping all this make sense and be bearable, in fact helping it be part of a new and sexy persona for you. I hope you and your husband can find ways to become emotionally intimate and true partners again.
posted by salvia at 11:03 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, on a random note, divorce and having two households are super duper expensive, I am told. So if paying out of pocket for therapy, taking a college class, having a nanny take over for you once a week, doing yoga teacher training, or flying your mom out and putting her up at a hotel for two weeks would make this whole thing feel doable, don't be afraid to throw a little money at this if you have it available.
posted by salvia at 11:08 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

So, you think you may want something with a person who is willing to pretty openly say that he would not hesitate to cheat on his wife, sleep with his friend's wife, and cause lasting emotional damage to both children? Let's see... shitty husband, shitty friend, shitty father. This guy does not sounds like a winner!

If you were to go down this road and end up with him, odds are pretty good that, once the bloom is off the rose, he will do the same thing to you he's trying to do to his wife right now. Also, even if that does not occur for quite some time, please picture yourselves explaining to both of your children, as they get older, how it is that you two are together and not with their respective other parents. Icky, no? Trust me, even if you manage to put some happy, romantic spin on it, your exes are unlikely to do the same.

You seem to still see some value in your marriage. If you don't want to lose that, you cut off contact with the friend and turn a light on this whole situation before anything worse happens, and then you start addressing how you can get your needs met (more social interaction, less boredom, etc) without stepping out on your marriage.
posted by scandalamity at 5:08 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love my husband and am totally committed to our marriage

Well, no, you're not, actually. Because if you were totally committed, you wouldn't have allowed it to get this far. You would have pulled away the first time you felt an inkling of something more than friendship.

I'm not saying this to condemn you, but to point out (as others have) that what's really going on here is that you're unfulfilled. My advice is to cut off contact with this guy, and figure out if you can feel happier about your life by way of other things.

But you know what? It might not be possible. It's possible that you may just have to tough it out until your child starts school and you have time to go back to work or whatever. This is part of the commitment you make when you have a child: to put aside your own needs in favor of taking care of your child. Raising a child involves making many sacrifices, and if being lonely and unfulfilled for a few years is the worst sacrifice you have to make, you will be doing better than most parents. I'm sure your husband is making sacrifices, as well. Talk to him about your unhappiness with your life, but don't blame him; ask him what parts of his life right now make *him* unhappy. Make this part of your shared experience as a committed team of parents, rather than something that you have to face alone. Let him be there for you emotionally, and of course do the same for him. If you approach it this way, this time in your life has the potential to make closer, whereas a having an affair will most likely push you apart.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:29 AM on April 5, 2012 [8 favorites]

Sigh... Make _you_ closer.

My queendom for an edit button....
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:07 AM on April 5, 2012

First of all, this guy sounds exactly like the stay at home moms you claim bore you to tears. The only difference is the anatomy. There are plenty of SAH moms that are bored silly, too, and want meaningful conversations about things other than their kids.

Just because it won't necessarily be the end of your marriage doesn't mean it won't hurt your husband and the relationship you have with him. It sounds to me like you're looking for someone to tell you it's okay to do this thing you want to do. It's not. It IS okay to be attracted to and even infatuated with other people. It happens. We're human. But it's not okay to act on it. If you love your husband as much as you say, you owe it to him to cut off contact with this guy. Otherwise, you are going to hurt him, big time.

Talk to your husband, and then find something to entertain, amuse, and fulfill you that isn't an extramarital affair.
posted by metaphorik at 4:37 PM on April 10, 2012

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