What are good boundaries for married opposite sex friends?
April 30, 2013 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I have a close male friend and our closeness bothers my husband, which bothers me because I care about how he feels. Happy couples, what are things you think are okay and not okay for your spouse to do with someone else?

I love my husband. I adore him. He is my match and complement in every way and we have a lovely life together. Our relationship is solid, we fight nice and we laugh a lot, we spend plenty of time together but also have our own interests. All is well in our House.

Two years ago I met my friend D when our sons became best friends at school. Right from the start, it felt like comfy old friends for both of us. I've never had a friendship like this before. We both just really really like each other as people. There's nothing romantic going on. I know this because we've talked about it. We can talk about anything.

I've spent a lot of time with D but always with the kids around. A couple of times we've taken the boys out for the day together (kids movie, museum etc). I've never done anything alone with D apart from walk to school to pick up kids occasionally. Oh, I lie. We went to Staples together once.

Our two families have socialised and its all very pleasant. The men get along fine. D's wife and I are really good friends. She and I have had dinner and drinks just the two of us several times.

D and I never touch or flirt, never been out for coffee or dinner or anything. Unlike many of the other Asks I read before posting my own, no benefits are involved. We really genuinely just like to see each other and talk about life and art and books and music and kids and everything. Some conversations have been very personal, eg he told me a big secret he's kept for 20 years and we talked daily when he had to face the consequences of telling his family and friends about it. I never complain about my lovely husband to him, we dont talk about our sex lives, he's never looked at my tits.

I want to have my special friendship but i also want my husband to be happy and comfortable and not worried. He trusts me but there's a sweet part of him that just can't comprehend how this guy isn't in love with me. Yes, I am pretty charming so I get it.

I want to hang out with my buddy and not feel guilty that its upsetting my husband. I would like some rules to go by so that maybe my friendship with D is easier on my husband.

I have already cut down dramatically how much time I spend with D and how much other contact we have (texting, facebook etc). i was seeing him almost every day (we were both stay at home parents so it was mostly at school) but the last 6 months, I deliberately made changes to our routines and I've only seen him about once a month. And yep, I miss him. His wife told me he misses me too. I've just been saying to D that I am busy. I don't like doing that. I always want to say yes when he asks me to come over.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
If you have your friend and his wife over to dinner a few times, do you think that would make your husband feel more comfortable about the whole thing?
posted by musofire at 7:57 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would like some rules to go by so that maybe my friendship with D is easier on my husband.

Those rules are going to vary from couple to couple, and 100% have to be written by you and your husband. Data point of one: If I were in your husband's shoes, this would freak me out. I'm an insecure guy by nature, so I would constantly be wondering and worrying about why you don't want to talk about life and art and books and music and kids with me instead of this guy.

And yep, I miss him. His wife told me he misses me too. I've just been saying to D that I am busy. I don't like doing that. I always want to say yes when he asks me to come over.

Again, this might be my insecure nature talking, but this part is setting off warning bells for me. This sounds like the kind of thing that could turn into something later. I think your husband is not wrong to worry that this guy might eventually fall for you.
posted by jbickers at 8:01 AM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]

It seems to me like the only person who can answer the question, "What will make my husband comfortable with this relationship?" is your husband. Unfortunately there is no standards manual for matters like these. Personally, I'm of the opinion that men and women can be platonic friends. I have a few male friends who've been in my life for ages. My husband wouldn't bat an eye if we hung out every day (unfortunately our schedules don't allow it). That doesn't mean that any two compatible people can be platonic friends so it's understandable that your husband is concerned. So what does he want to be comfortable with your relationship? Can you live with that? If not, what are the consequences?
posted by muddgirl at 8:01 AM on April 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

Some conversations have been very personal, eg he told me a big secret he's kept for 20 years

Like, never told his wife? Or only told his wife and nobody else? Either way, I would consider that not okay.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [19 favorites]

Some possibilities:

- Don't do stuff with your friend that is in any way "special" between you and husband.
- Don't do stuff with your friend that husband wanted to do with you but you haven't found time.
- Ask your husband if there are particular things that bother him more than other kinds of things.

- Do make sure you're "cultivating" your relationship with your husband, and that it doesn't only consist of conversations about groceries and kid drama and when you will get the leaky shower fixed. Have quality time together. Preferably more of it than you have with your friend.
- Do make sure your husband knows he's special to you and you love him and etc etc.
- Find things that you only do with your husband, and you wouldn't do with your friend
- Do talk with your husband about the day to day things you do with your friend, to avoid it accidentally becoming some kind of secret.
posted by emilyw at 8:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]

Things that are okay:

talking, even talking about intimate things
being/talking alone with other people

Things that are not okay:

talking negatively about me to anyone he is in any way attracted to
telling someone else important things first
keeping secrets with someone else from me
cuddling with anyone else
kissing anyone else
moving to another room of the house to talk to someone else.

Is your husband worried about him falling for you or you falling for him? Because I think even though he's saying the former, it's really the latter.
posted by corb at 8:09 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Either way, I would consider that not okay.

Yeah I feel like you feel that you are okay with this because you are clearly not in love with him and you are secure in your love for your husband, but your husband feels, rightly or wrongly, that this guy (who he does not have emotional insight into and can just go by what you tell him) may be carrying some sort of a torch. And to me, a few things you said cross a line in a non-red-flag sort of way.

I am one of those people who believes that men and women can be great platonic friends, my SO has a longtime female friend who he sometimes goes to visit and has long conversations with on the phone, I have a few male friends who I have similar relationships with. But, if my SO was concerned by these relationships he and I would talk it out and since he's my first priority I'd find a way to make things okay with him, not letter-of-the-law okay but spirit-of-the-law okay.

So, I totally believe you that there is nothing going on or potentially going on here. However some of the things you mention (the keeping of secrets, the "I miss him" the "we've talked about the fact that there's nothing romantic going on") all sound like emotional affair stuff even if they are not.

I would like some rules to go by so that maybe my friendship with D is easier on my husband.

This needs to come from a discussion with your husband, there's no pre-set list of rules that will do this. It sounds like you've dialed things back from where they used to be and that may take a while for things to sink in. And it may be that your husband is on a different emotional wavelength than you about this sort of thing. Which is fine, you guys can work that out, but he's the one you need to work this out with. With my SO for example, if I felt like he was going outside to make phone calls to his special friend, I'd be weirded out. Or if I felt like he was not being honest/truthful with me about the depth of his feelings for her. Only you can really know what your true heart wants here, but to my read it seems like you want this to work out without you having to compromise this special friendship further and that may not be possible.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

You know, the only thing that feels hinky here is "the big secret" that you helped your friend get through. I do not mind my husband having close female friends but several times those friends came with drama. My husband is a really nice and open and caring person who easily slips into the helper and confidant role which, in my opinion, is a magnet for women who want a cute guy to listen to their problems without a sexual relationship. Who doesn't love that, right? However, I don't like these dramas. I don't like my husband as a peripheral participant in another woman's drama. It feels too intimate to me. The female friends who aren't so drama and leaning on my husband for emotional support? They are more welcome.

So, I wonder if this dramatic secret-revealing felt that way to your husband? Was it around that time that he started getting uncomfortable? Drama in relationships, despite our convictions, can be pretty heady stuff. And he's not inside your brain or your friend's brain so he just has to trust that all this dramatic intimacy isn't leading to something else. And, for whatever reason, you two have flicked that switch in his mind and made him uncomfortable.

I'm also not clear whether this is an ongoing discussion with your husband where he has asserted his line in the sand again and again or if it's something he has mentioned once and you've gone off backpedaling? If it's the latter then maybe you need to relax a little bit. It's okay to keep any friendship at arm's length for awhile for whatever reason. And I think your friendship with this guy in the context of kids' playdates is very safe and should be acceptable. If you can confine it to that arena, I think your husband will come around.

I mean, it's a bummer, I hear you. I had two close male friends in grad school who were the brothers I never had and always wanted. We never discussed whether there was romantic attraction between us because it never needed to come up. They have wives, I have a husband and I adore them and wish I could hang out with them every day. However, both these guys have maintained some distance with me. Sometimes that feels weird to me but in the context of their relationships with their wives, that just is the way that it is. It bothers me that maybe the wives don't like me (I think they do, actually) but I can't force that relationship. I also think one of the guys is just overly sensitive to it and his wife doesn't care. My point being: I don't think you need to give up this friendship necessarily but you need to create the boundary (without adding any drama) for yourself in order to keep a peaceful relationship with your husband. You are doing fine, in my opinion, if creating the boundary itself isn't also making drama.

To keep this drama free: no blaming your husband for your boundaries. When friend's wife says, "He misses you!" Your blame-free answer is: "Oh, I miss him, too, things are just so busy right now -- see you guys out for dinner next week!" Etc...
posted by amanda at 8:20 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

My rule of thumb is, would your husband be concerned about the friendship if D were a woman? If it's just the level of involvement you have with D, regardless of D's gender, then you need to clarify with your husband if he's feeling emotionally neglected in the marriage because of your close friendship with someone else. But if it's D's gender that's the problem, then this is not a friendship problem, it's a husband problem. Unfounded jealousy is not really acceptable just because your friendship involves a man you could hypothetically be attracted to and vice versa.

Really what I'm always stuck on, in these situations, is that I'm bisexual. My husband could, theoretically and on those grounds, disapprove of me being close friends with anyone.

Hang out more as couples, that should help ease any insecurity from your husband.
posted by lydhre at 8:25 AM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]

Find out what your husband would need you to do for him to be comfortable with your friendship, is really the best way to set up the "ground rules". The basics I'd go for at the absolute least is.

No secrets.
Spend more time together as couples
Always meet in public with other people around, and the kids if possible.
No secret texting, IMing, emails or phone calls, if you can't say it in front of your husband you can't say it at all.
Wean off each other a bit, you are adults if you can't go a week or 2 without seeing each other it's a little weird.

A couple of things rang warning bells for me, he was telling you a big secret or things you couldn't tell your husband was a biggy as was the whole having a big discussion about defining our friendship. That to me sets of big warning signs about the fact that the idea of romance has been entertained but look at us being all good and just being friends and isn't it all a bit exciting to be having this thing that might look like an affair. Emotional affairs are a thing, some couples do better with one partner having an outside person to lean on for support the other can't offer, but usually it's not a good sign to look outside the relationship for that support.

If the guy really is a friend, then he's still your friend if you can't see him as much or if you have a few boundaries in place.
posted by wwax at 8:27 AM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

Just chiming in here on the "big secret" thing...maybe this is unusual, but sometimes I've found it easier to confide in someone I trust but isn't necessarily a part of my "network," IE circle of friends or family. Partially because I won't feel the same fear of judgement from them, and partially to get advice on how to deal with my friends and family when I *do* tell them. Does that make any sense?
posted by JMB1138 at 8:35 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]

Talk about this with your husband. You two need to establish your own boundaries and comfort levels.
posted by luckynerd at 8:38 AM on April 30, 2013

But if it's D's gender that's the problem, then this is not a friendship problem, it's a husband problem.

I totally understand where this comes from, and think it is the ideal to shoot for, but not sure if it is practical for many/most couples. I go on week long canoeing trips with a close male friend and thee are periods of no clothes/little clothes, and this works simply because we are both male. If I did the same thing with any female friend, no matter how close, there would be a lot of (rightfully) problems, even if it was meant non sexually. Yeah, that may be a bit extreme an example, but I don't think just shifting it to 'it's a husband problem' just because of the gender involved is entirely fair.

Personally, if my spouse engaged in the everyday, close talks it would make me a bit sad (rightly or wrongly). On the other hand once or twice a month wouldn't bother me much, if at all. Even if it was fairly intense discussions. I guess the difference is the former feels like the addition, or preparation for another partner. You know, non work, non kid/parent everyday or nearly everyday, connections is almost what defines a couple. It really can be a breeding ground for the development of more than just platonic feelings.

Yeah, talk with it to your husband, and there is always the old tired advise to try couple's therapy, not to fix a problem, but to give you more tools.
posted by edgeways at 8:44 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Keep this in mind. You're a SAHM. Your husband may recognize that a lot of SAHMs end up isolated, without adult company while the husband gets that basic need fulfilled at work. He may be uncomfortable with you spending time with this guy at all but not feel he has the right to cut off your daytime adult interaction, not to mention cutting off your kids from their friends. He may already feel guilty about you only seeing him once a month at this point.

It may be a good compromise to limit your texting, emailing, facebook and phone contact to arranging play dates, maybe 2-3 per week. And make sure to do a lot of additional socializing with both spouses.
posted by rocketpup at 8:46 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

If I were your husband, the thing that would bother me the most is the feeling that, while I was at work, my SO was at home hanging out and having fun with another woman who isn't me. I'm getting irritated just imagining that scenario :) But I would be less upset at the possibility of cheating, and more at the feeling that I was missing all the fun.

In our house, workday nights aren't always all that great. More drudge, less fun. So the thought of him rejuvenating during the day would not sit well with me.

What would make me feel better is if you had a routine thing that you did together. Have coffee every day. Go to the park every day. The museum? Not so much.

Also to me, there seems to be a lot of ongoing, daily communication between the two of you (at least before you cut it off.) I mean a LOT. Way more than I am used to with anyone outside of my home, so that too would be alarming to me.
posted by lyssabee at 8:47 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Things that have worked with my husband to make him comfortable with my best friend G who happens to be a guy (I'm female):
Being open with my messages. I've showed him funny messages from G before and read different things outloud. If my husband asked to look at anything I would have no problem with that
If I wouldn't be comfortable talking about or doing something in front of my partner, it doesn't happen
Introducing the two of them a couple years and spending time together as a couple with G and his partner as much as we are able
On the rare occasion where I had to crash on the floor at G's place this year because of it being too dangerous to drive home in the snow, I always asked permission from my partner and his partner first and made sure they were both comfortable with the rare event.

It was important for us to sit down and decide on what we were comfortable with for close relationships with the opposite sex, and being open to ongoing conversations if circumstances change. Good luck!
posted by snowysoul at 8:52 AM on April 30, 2013

It kinda sounds like a Riddell/Partilla thing in the making. Your husband is attempting to be cool about it, but I'm sure he feels hurt.

Why would you want to continuing something that hurts the father of your kids. There are alternatives.
posted by discopolo at 8:59 AM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

This reads a bit like an intimacy suck -- basically nobody wants to tell the same stories over and over so if this is a deal where you're telling this guy a lot stuff you wouldn't tell your husband, even if you think it's not particularly intimate or even boring (like someone at work or a neighbor driving you crazy) I'd be wary.

I think this really depends on how bothered your husband is. Personally, I would not continue this friendship -- it would bother Mr. Llama, it would hurt his feelings, but that's us and everybody's relationship is different. It would just be 'too much'--the counseling and the intimacy and the deep sense of connection. It just seems like there's a lot of emotion here.

I think the degree to which we can be open and vulnerable with people isn't infinite. Like, the first time you tell someone something, that's a lot more vulnerable than the second time. I'd at least take a look at whether it's possible some of that closeness that would otherwise go to your husband is being siphoned off.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:00 AM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]

I've had platonic girl friends since high school, one of them constantly since high school in fact, and my marriage was unaffected by it; my past girlfriends and ex-wife were all comfortable with me having these friendships, never felt threatened by them (generally laughed at the idea, in fact), and the relationships stayed platonic quite easily because attraction wasn't there on either side. However, I've more recently had a girlfriend who was extremely uncomfortable with that aspect of my lifestyle, and despite our best efforts that disconnect was a significant contributor to us no longer being together.

Ultimately, the two people in a relationship have to decide what's best for them as a couple. Do I think it is okay for you to have this friendship? Yes, yes I do. Do I think your husband is okay being uncomfortable with it? Yes, yes I do. Since you're married, you've got more incentive to compromise, so get to it.

for what its worth, a lot of people above seem to think you're doing something wrong, but really, that's for you and your husband to determine, not the internet. personally, if you were my wife, I wouldn't bat an eye at this.
posted by davejay at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Side note regarding the girlfriend mentioned above who wasn't okay with my friendships with women: during our relationship she went to Paris for an extended period of time to hang out with a friend who'd admitted in the past he once had a thing for her, and went on a separate trip to New York to hang out with a long-time guy friend who she was texting and speaking to daily. In both cases she was staying in their homes, and they lived alone. This didn't bother me at the time, and it still doesn't. I don't think for a moment that anything inappropriate went on. Different people are different, and even the same person can be different depending on whether they're the one with the friendships or not. Did I mention this girlfriend was actually repeatedly annoyed that I wasn't jealous? Go figure.
posted by davejay at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

**he's never looked at my tits**

This is the most alarming thing to me. Because first...yes he has. And so what? You seem to be trying to convince yourself there is nothing going on, and even if there were feelings either way, well, he's an asexual chat buddy who's there to fulfill your friendship needs and nothing more.

With that said, cutting back on your meetups is exactly what you should be doing; you should be commended for doing that and worrying about your partners feelings.
posted by teg4rvn at 9:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

yes he has. And so what?

You know, this is a good point. That friend of mine from high school told me (at some point, don't remember when) that when she first met me, her first thought was that we could "really do some damage", heh. But that's not what our relationship was meant to be, so it was never a problem. You're allowed to notice that each other is a full person, including sexually.
posted by davejay at 9:10 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a man, my best friends have always been women.

Is there sometimes something swirling around? sure. I am awesome. I have some hot friends. Do I act on it? nope.

I'm a grown up, so I establish good boundaries and I try to check in with my significant other often to keep a healthy trust balance, I value the connections I have too much to start messing around with casual extracurricular intimacy. I can't say that I was mature about it when I was in my 20's, but after 30 or so, I grew up.

I have definitely been on the giving and receiving end of deeply personal, emotional and often "secret or private" information. It's awesome to have confidants, it's awesome to have other people to puzzle things out with.

I know everybody does it differently, but I think it's ok to not share everything with your partner as long as you don't start confusing friendship empathy for intimacy.

I've said this in other posts, having good strong healthy friendships benefit all parties involved. If there is insecurity, doubt, attraction etc... you should examine it and talk about it with your husband.

When you are in a long term relationship or marriage, new friends bring new life and new perspective. There are also plenty of new complications. You are looking at it and you are thinking about it in a good and healthy way, I think you've got this.
posted by bobdow at 9:25 AM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

You know what, the most intimate relationship you should have should be with your spouse. If you find that you've made a friend and that you want to spend all kinds of time with that person, to the exclusion of your spouse, that's an indication of trouble.

It may not be sexual, but it's a big problem in so many other ways.

You really need to assess what it is that you get out of this friendship that you're not getting from other people, your spouse especially.

One thing I'd point out is that you KNOW that there's something that's not quite right about this, you just can't put your finger on it.

Be completely open with your husband, discuss his concerns and really take on-board what he's saying. I'd also throw in there, work with your husband to get that "comfy friend" feeling with him. Because if Husbunny suddenly started pining for the friendship of another woman, I'd be slightly miffed myself.

I think that for now, that you should see your buddy only in the company of his wife and your husband. Transparency is the watchword of the day.

Your husband may never be comfortable with your relationship, and if that's the case, you may just not see that much of this guy.

Is it so terrible to do this for your husband? If so, why do you think that is?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

The fact of the matter is that, regardless of where things may be right now, these kinds of close, spend-lots-of-alone-time-together friendships with members of the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that's what floats your romantosexual boat) have a tendency to develop into something more. This is especially true when the friendship is relatively new as opposed to, say, your opposite-sex friend who has been your non-romantic best friend since high school 20 years ago. I've known any number of formerly-happily-attached people who developed a close & intimate "non-romantic" friendship that eventually led to romantic attachment and the bedroom. It seems a bit naive not to consider this, and I note that you aren't exactly saying that neither of you would have any interest in a romantic relationship if you were both unattached. This is how these things happen even to the best of people with the purest intentions in the happiest relationships.

If I were in your husband's shoes and you were spending all this time chatting, texting, emailing, facebooking and generally sharing intimate secrets and deep thoughts with some other guy who, by the way, you see almost every day . . . my radar would be going off as well.
posted by slkinsey at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

You might not be into him, but your husband would be daft to deny that he might be into you.
Google "men and women just friends study" and read away.
"Results suggest large gender differences in how men and women experience opposite-sex friendships. Men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends. Women, too, were blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. As a result, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends."
posted by tenaciousmoon at 9:31 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

How can a man and a woman become lifelong platonic friends without first being newly-formed platonic friends?

On the other hand, I thought this comment in a somewhat-similar thread (but rom your husband's perspective) was interesting:
But I wish someone had told me that it's a slippery slope and even if your gf genuinely thinks they're just friends, now, she may be wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 9:35 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

It actually makes me really sad that you and your friend might be forced to miss out on a life-enriching friendship just because of your gender. It sounds like you've made a good effort to make sure everyone has met and there is nothing borderline or flirty happening. This would be absolutely fine in my relationship. If your husband is uncomfortable then I suggest much more group activity time so that everyone can get more comfortable together. This has worked for me in the past.
posted by Dorothia at 9:36 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Lily: Where’s the poop, Robin?
Robin: Excuse me?
Lily: When I was a kid, i had a dog named Bin. Whenever he made the face that you’re making right now, you just knew he pooped somewhere in the house. Where’s the poop, Robin?

Based on your Ask above, I wonder what the problem is? You seem to be trying quite hard to convince yourself that there is no problem, when in reality both you and your husband see a potential dangerous situation.

I can tell when an opposite-sex friendship makes my partner uncomfortable – she doesn't have to say anything, I can just tell. And my response is usually to leave those friendships behind. There are lots of people in the world to be friends with, and having a relationship doesn't exclude having friendships. If, however, the friendship would make my partner uncomfortable, that is not a friendship that is productive to the mutual goal of our relationship. My behaviour then is to find a friendship that both fulfils me and is acceptable to her. I guess that's how I approach it – that it has to be mutually acceptable to both parties.

In the event that every female friendship were unacceptable to her, then that's a different problem, than if a specific female friendship is unacceptable.

In your case, I would wonder a few things. First of all is that your husband is seeing the situation from the outside. He doesn't have a vested interest in the matter of this friendship. Whereas you do. You like the attention and the sharing. At some points, it did sound to me very much like an emotional affair. The sharing of secrets and mutual emotional support.

The biggest concern I had was that you are shifting your schedule and changing your life to put distance in between the new friend and yourself. It seems like you may be harbouring much deeper feelings than you are admitting, maybe here, probably to yourself.

That is why I wonder where the poop is. If this was just a close male friendship that you valued, no part of it would be a big deal. Your husband wouldn't be jealous. You wouldn't be sharing secrets with the fellow. You wouldn't be changing your schedule to avoid him. And you wouldn't be asking us for our opinion.

But you are. It seems that Conscious You sees this as a platonic friendship, and you're just looking for a few simple rules to make your husband okay with the relationship. Subconscious You it seems relishes the attention, feels a real emotional bond, and is actively putting all the distance she can in between you and this other fellow.

Thus, my interpretation is that there is a lot more going on here than a friendship between two married people. Maybe not for your friend, probably for you. If that is the case, then the place to look is with your husband. For whilst you say you have a fully functioning, integrated relationship, you are asking a question here as to how you can bask in the attention of another man without upsetting your husband.

So the final question then, is what are you getting out of this relationship that you are not getting out of your marriage, and what is really driving you toward this man's attention?
posted by nickrussell at 9:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]

I've known any number of formerly-happily-attached people who developed a close & intimate "non-romantic" friendship that eventually led to romantic attachment and the bedroom.

Yes, but you probably know as many who haven't. There's a lot of confirmation bias in this thread - I think this thing, therefore I see it as being more prevalent.

I don't think the OP's friendship with this dude sounds terribly intimate. They hang out with their kids and run errands together.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

...and talk about life and art and books and music and kids and everything. Some conversations have been very personal, eg he told me a big secret he's kept for 20 years and we talked daily when he had to face the consequences of telling his family and friends about it....

I want to have my special friendship

Well, it is a bit more than just kids and errands. I totally get what she wants and I totally believe that she does not have romantic feeling for the guy. But it's not just some acquaintance from the park situation, and I don't think the husband's concerns are completely off the wall.
posted by edgeways at 10:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

The only way you're going to be able to answer this question is to discuss it with your husband. It didn't seem unusual to me until I got near the end, where a couple things strike me:

he's never looked at my tits.

He told me a big secret he's kept for 20 years and we talked daily when he had to face the consequences of telling his family and friends about it.

how much other contact we have (texting, facebook etc)

i was seeing him almost every day (we were both stay at home parents so it was mostly at school)

And yep, I miss him. His wife told me he misses me too.

There is nothing wrong with any of this, but wrong also depends completely on the boundaries you set and agree on as a couple. So, number one - set and agree on boundaries that work for both of you.

Does your husband know all of the above? I would advise being completely open. Hiding things would look very suspicious when there shouldn't be any reason for suspicion. Your husband very likely wants to believe you, but is also probably adding all this up (seeing, daily, talking daily (sometimes), texting, Facebooking, missing the other person) in his head. From a spouse's perspective, it could look like an affair without being an affair. In addition, your first point might be a little naive, and this may be part of your husband's issue - how you see the relationship with your friend, versus how he sees it with you.

Two other things:
* Maybe try cultivating some more friends. That might put your husband at ease in that you're not spending so much time and energy on one person.
* Consider discussing this as two couples (pending your discussion with your husband). If the relationship is perfectly normal, the discussion should be normal.

Good luck!
posted by cnc at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This friendship doesn't sound inappropriate to me. You're hanging out and watching the kiddos together and talking. Being a work-at-home/stay-at-home parent can be incredibly lonely at times; it's nice to have someone else who can relate.

Still, your husband's feelings do matter. He should be the most important person in your life. Maybe you and your friend could also bring some other people into your social circle, so it's not just you two hanging out together. Would that put our husband more at ease?
posted by Ostara at 10:11 AM on April 30, 2013

Dang, if I were your husband I would be REALLY uncomfortable with your friendship with this guy. And I am not even the jealous type. It seems like you are closer to him than to your husband, and that is not good.
posted by LarryC at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I didn't read the other replies, but I can speak from experience. My husband has a very close female friend and had another in the past. When the friendships started, I didn't want to admit it bugged me, but it did. We talked about it and I did and do trust him completely. What finally made me feel comfortable in both cases was getting to know the women myself. She would come over to the house to visit and she and I would also do social things together. In the end, I became friends with both women, although they still remained more my husband's friends than mine. I just had lunch with one of them this week and my husband is going to her house today without me to help her do somethings in the yard that she can't do.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
posted by michellenoel at 10:24 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

From my standpoint, nothing in your relationship with your friend sounds inappropriate at all. My wife and I both have very close opposite-sex friends (ones that we used to date even!) who we spend time with on a regular basis.

Your list of boundaries sounds perfectly reasonable. One thing I didn't see mentioned - any time I go off to spend time with my close female friend my wife knows that she is always invited. She usually doesn't choose to come along, but she knows that she would be welcome.

That's my perspective, though. For your marriage to be happy, you need to work out boundaries that are acceptable to both you and your husband, which means honest communication and negotiation.
posted by tdismukes at 10:30 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Impossible to really say specifically without being in your head or your husband's. But I will say that you sound a LOT like I would have sounded, 2 or 3 months before my "friend" and I totally destroyed my marriage. So, you know. Might wanna keep an eye on that.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:35 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

>> I've known any number of formerly-happily-attached people who developed a close & intimate "non-romantic" friendship that eventually led to romantic attachment and the bedroom.

Yes, but you probably know as many who haven't.

No. . . I wouldn't say that's true. Not if we're talking about a relationship that sustained this level of closeness and intimacy over a period of time. Infidelity of one kind or another is rampant in my field. The nature of the work in which collaborative performing artists (actors, dancers, opera & theater singers, instrumentalists, etc.) are engaged tends to encourage the formation of this kind of close and intimate friendship between colleagues. So my exposure to this precise phenomenon is higher than it would be for most people. It's also a lot easier for us to tell when it's happening in this context, because the relationship between the pair in question is typically forming and evolving more or less in front of everyone in rehearsals, etc. Generally speaking, my observation is that the parties have either pulled back on the intimacy or the relationship has eventually developed some amount of romantic and/or sexual involvement. I've been down that road myself more than once. Since I don't want this sort of thing to affect my marriage to Mrs. slkinsey you had better believe that I take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again. One of those steps is being mindful of the natural desire to engage in close and emotionally intimate friendships with women I would find attractive relationship/sexual partners in other circumstances, and not pursuing the friendship down that particular road.
posted by slkinsey at 10:40 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have already cut down dramatically how much time I spend with D and how much other contact we have (texting, facebook etc). i was seeing him almost every day (we were both stay at home parents so it was mostly at school) but the last 6 months, I deliberately made changes to our routines and I've only seen him about once a month. And yep, I miss him. His wife told me he misses me too. I've just been saying to D that I am busy. I don't like doing that. I always want to say yes when he asks me to come over.

This is the part that makes me feel like it's an unstable situation. You've put distance between you, but for no stated reason, and you have both been pining after one another. Sorry, but it does sound that way. I am fairly certain that he knows "I am busy" is code for "Our relationship has become a problem."

If the distance-putting were really successful you would not be asking this question. Reading between the lines, I think you are worried that you and he will come together again, only this time on a more emotional level. And I think you are right to be worried.

In your shoes, I would admit to him that I had been cooling the friendship for the sake of my marriage-- and then keep it cool. I don't think the relationship was wrong before, and I don't think it is now, but by backing off, paradoxically, the bell has sort of been rung.
posted by BibiRose at 11:02 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think part of this is that he is a NEW friend. For instance if this was an old college buddy he probably wouldn't feel this way.

I completely agree that the most intimate relationship you should have is with your husband. Even when I had a guy best friend who is no longer in my life I still talked more overall with my husband. (I too answered in that *Carrier Lost* Thread linked above.)

In reality my husband is/was/always will be my best friend. Therefore even when I had a guy "best friend" we still knew where he ranked.

I think you husband probably doesn't feel like your best friend right now.

Are you spending MORE time overall with your husband? If not that is probably where the problem is. I'm also not saying time as in sitting on the couch or bathing the kids, I'm talking REAL time - cuddling, sex, talking - REALLY talking like you are doing with this friend.

(Yes, talking with a spouse can be hard sometimes because you really know each other, but if you really try, you can talk to them about anything and even bring up new subjects. Read a book together and do your own book club...)

It's understandable why you can talk more with this friend, but it is also understandable why your husband feels so out of the loop. Try "cutting out" your friend for a few days at a time. Try "cutting back" your conversation by subject. I'm sure your husband would be much less offended if you only texted him about making plans with their family as opposed to "intimate secrets."

You need to talk to your husband. Every marriage has different boundaries, and you may need to compromise. A good saying from couple's therapy that my dad told me is to empathize. Really know that even if you don't agree to his feelings, his feelings are still VALID even if YOU think they are irrational. (Which I don't think they are irrational, imagine if he had a female friend..)
posted by Crystalinne at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

I don't think you are behaving inappropriate with D but I totally get why it would bother your husband. I love my fiance more than anything and I know he loves ME more than anything. We are rock solid. However, if he started developing such a close friendship with another woman I'd be upset. Maybe I'm a jerk, but *I* want to be the special woman in his life. I want to be his best friend and the person he feels the closest too. I know he would probably be upset if I had a really close male friend for the same reason. I can absolutely understand why that would bother your husband because he probably isn't feeling like he is coming in first right now. As platonic as you feel your friendship is, that is EXACTLY how a lot/most affairs start, and I will bet that is what your husband is thinking about. He may believe you that you and D have been totally on the up and up, but he is likely worried about where that could lead. And be aware that these types of things can really sneak up on you. Regardless, I think it is the right call to pull back on your friendship with D. You have to value your marriage and your husband over D. Maybe invest more time/energy/emotion in having that kind of closeness and comfort etc. with your husband.

I agree with everyone else that has said that I think there is more going on here than you think. The big schedule shift is a bit of a tell. You said:
There's nothing romantic going on. I know this because we've talked about it. We can talk about anything.

If you and D have talked about personal things and important things before, why couldn't you just tell him that the level of closeness you and he were developing was taking a bit of a toll on your relationship with your husband so you really want/need to scale it back? Why did it have to be a drop off the face of the earth "I'm busy!" thing? If everything was as platonic and friendy friend I would think you would have been able to level with him.

Platonic or not you're having STRONG FEELINGS for another man. Strong friend feelings can morph into strong love feelings. I can tell you first hand that happens because I'm living it, and I am someone who is deeply respects other people's relationships, I would never cheat or knowingly cheat with someone. I had a good male friend/co-worker and from day one we just got along really well. Like you I never had a friendship with someone where it was so easy and comfortable. He was married so there was nothing untoward at all. Just chats at work, lunches out (as part of a larger group), and the occasional BBQ (again, part of a larger group). I hung out with his wife one-on-one a few times. Then one day I realised my friend feelings for him were very much more. I loved him. It effing sucked. I worked incredibly hard to hide it and deny it because it would have been extremely disrespectful to his marriage to tip him off in any way. I actually tried to help him patch things up with his wife when they were going through multiple rocky patches. Then his wife asked for a divorce (and immediately shacked up with a guy she'd been seeing behind his back). A week after she moved out we went to a BBQ at a friend's house and basically we came to terms with the fact that our closeness was more than friendship. We had our first kiss that night. Exactly zero people were surprised, including his ex-wife who was/is happy for us. All that comfy easy closeness we had as friends translated in to an amazing relationship. We're getting married in September.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]

> I've never had a friendship like this before.

Put me down as one of those who thinks you're playing with fire. Very responsibly so far, but still playing with fire.

Having boundaries, especially not spending time alone together, is good. Longing for his company is less good. You are intimate with this guy. It sounds to me like you have half fallen for him, even though you are being particular about boundaries.

People who ruin their marriages with affairs don't usually set out to do it from the beginning.

I think you ought to keep the distance that you have adopted, even though it hurts. Missing your friend should be an annoyance, not an ache. You like this guy too much. There is no way for you to be best-of-besties with another man without hurting and maybe destroying your marriage.
posted by mattu at 11:32 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Your post has a particular language that is alarming to me: there is a longing tone to it, specifically:

I miss my friend
He misses me
Our friendship is special
I've never had a friendship like this before

Those are all very alarming to me. Replace your husband's name with your friend's name and see if you can say the same thing with a straight face.

Being female myself and having almost exclusively male friends, I would never use this kind of language with my husband, and would never hang out with them alone, no matter how good and platonic I thought our relationship was.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 11:38 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Do you belong with your husband or to your husband?

Friends are necessary, not optional. Any good reason for hacking off 1/2 the total available?

Jealousy is useful, but it's an artifact of ancient biology and under control of the conscious mind. This is not your problem; it is your husband's problem. And the purse-lipped prudes of both sexes who are afraid of what they'd do, of course.

The fear USED to be cuckolding, (back before BC)! You've got healthy and reasonable boundaries and if you aren't doing anything sexual, I see no problem an open mind can't handle. Small minds and closed minds will have a problem with it, but again, 1/2 the planet off limits? Not reasonable. Other people's fears are their fears.

This isn't playing with fire, it's living a decent life. A really decent husband would be glad you have friends and be confident enough to trust you.
posted by FauxScot at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]

It sounds like you have been open about your friendship with this person and have included your husband and your friend's spouse, so that's fantastic. What you may consider is looking back at any unresolved issues you and your husband may have where there was a breach of trust. That may be coming back to haunt him and perhaps needs to be resolved for this friendship to he okay. I am not saying you are deceiving him, but if things are solid between you two, this would not be an issue with how open you have been. Examine your past and anything that may have made him feel betrayed and start from there. Forming a secure bond with your husband is the answer and then you two can create your own rules. Again, good on you for being open about the relationship and trying to work through it with your husband. Work on your bond with your husband first. If he's a friend, he will be there as you work though it.
posted by happysocks at 11:56 AM on April 30, 2013

I had this friendship (I broke it off due to nothing related to sex, my husband, etc), but my husband was never jealous. He's not the jealous type, but I've noticed a common thread in his answers to why he wasn't jealous. And this is going to sound superficial, but:

He never felt threatened by the male friend because he knew he was more attractive than the male friend.

Not just physically, but in every other way. He knew he was a better cook, better dresser, etc. His words when I would ask, "Would this bother you if we went ___" were always some variation on "If you actually screwed up our marriage to hook up with a guy who looks like that, then there isn't much I can do."

He knows he's more attractive to me than male friend because I told him so. And I tell him all the time that he's hot. Specifically hotter than the waiter at dinner or his cousin or whomever. I let him know that he's so much cooler than his friends or better at X than his coworkers. And I'm not lying. I think he's the bee's knees.

Of course he's had a lifetime of positive reinforcement from his family, but start by helping your husband feel good about himself and the rest will be less of an issue.
posted by haplesschild at 12:59 PM on April 30, 2013

OK, you want a boundary suggestion? Here's one:

Don't do or say anything you wouldn't do in front of your spouses.

That should keep you out of actual trouble so long as, you know, you both stick to it.

I have married women friends who are very dear to me, so I get it. One thing you can do to calm your husband (potentially) is to invite him along. He may well decline but knowing he could be there can be an assurance that nothing naughty is going on.

Both of those things work well for me.
posted by trinity8-director at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This might sound dumb, but could you get a sort of "stay-at-home parents club" going? Where you get to see a bit more of your friend but also make friends with other moms, etc.? Because I agree that those friendships are important -- and sometimes that just venting daily stuff to somebody else who's doing it is an important alternative to unloading on your Working Person spouse every evening -- and that that crosses gender (as does just natural chatty click), but this might help "domesticate" the relationships in a way that helps your husband while expanding your friendship/support network at the same time. Dunno. Obviously, it's hard to give up good friendships and hard to balance marital relations, and a lot of being grown up (and especially parenting) is just hard, so another idea for the pond anyway.
posted by acm at 1:18 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention earlier: my platonic girl friends have other successful platonic boy friends, and obviously I have other platonic girl friends. The singular nature of what you're experiencing is perhaps worth thinking about.
posted by davejay at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2013

As most people above have said this is a very personal situation and the answer will vary greatly from couple to couple. Personally if I were in your husband's shoes I would be very uncomfortable with this situation and would be greatly reassured if the platonic relationship was dialled back quite a bit (as you say it has). The most important thing is that you and your husband keep an open dialogue about this situation and work through it together.
posted by Vindaloo at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2013

I know you're looking for explicit rules, but as others have suggested, those don't really exist. What I would suggest is a list of red flags:

- Spending excessive amounts of time with your friend, to the point where you're seeing him more than your husband or any other friend
- Becoming possessive of your friend, wherein you feel jealous if he mentions spending time with other friends without you
- Inappropriate self-disclosure: you shouldn't be telling him secrets you wouldn't tell your husband, and vice versa
- Dressing differently when you're around him
- Acting secretively or defensive when other people (including your husband) ask about your relationship

If any of these exist, you have an issue that's worth exploring.

Also, full disclosure: I'm a nurse, and these guidelines are almost word for word from training I've undergone regarding appropriate nurse-patient relationships. Yours is a friendship and a very different relationship from one I have with a patient, but these red flags are still good guidelines for setting boundaries and identifying when a relationship may have crossed those boundaries.
posted by pecanpies at 1:26 PM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]

You've got healthy and reasonable boundaries and if you aren't doing anything sexual, I see no problem an open mind can't handle. Small minds and closed minds will have a problem with it, but again, 1/2 the planet off limits? Not reasonable. Other people's fears are their fears.

I don't think anybody is suggesting that the OP cannot have any male friends, but rather, there are signs here that suggest this one particular friendship could be trouble.
posted by jbickers at 1:54 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Most important one for me, which has already been mentioned:

1) Don't sell out the special things you have with your husband and do them with your friend. Which means, don't replay your special dates. If your hubby plans something awesome for you two together, don't do the same thing with the other guy the following week. Protect your meaningful moments and traditions, both recent and from your history.

Examples: I once had an SO who had a crush on someone else. (It sucked, we broke up.) One big misstep was when the SO and I were having problems, and I went to the trouble to look up activities in town to do so we could get out together more often. My SO repeated one of those activities, that I had gone to the trouble of finding, the next week with the other person. It sucked. It felt like I was being sold out, and the money I put into the relationship bank was being spent on someone else (metaphorically). Similarly, a decade earlier, I dated someone else who was hung up on an ex. Because it was "convenient and they happened to be in town," that SO took the hung-up-on-ex for an afternoon at the site of our first date together... a small beach in Rhode Island. Lame. Big misstep. Similar with forwarding cool internet links etc that your husband shares with you, sending them directly and immediately to the other guy. Etc.

2) Don't spend more time with the other person. Count it up. If you see the other person more, talk to him more, and have more intimate conversations, more *quality* time, it's too much. You can actually count all these things and pay attention.
posted by htid at 3:37 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

My best friend is a man. Our friendship started long after I met my husband. Basic rule: if husband was in the room watching us, would I be embarrassed or concerned? If not, then all is well. Husband is also friends with my BFF and will often read an email or text exchange we've had (not secretly, but I'll show it to him). No harm, no foul.

I do find that MeFites are quick to jump on the ZOMG AFFAIR train or the ZOMG!!1!! STOP EVERYTHING train. If your husband is truly hurt, then there's a reason for it, but your behavior seems totally on the up and up (and if it isn't, then what I'm about to say is moot) and there's an underlying insecurity/issue that won't be solved by YOU giving up YOUR friendship.
posted by mrfuga0 at 4:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know everybody does it differently, but I think it's ok to not share everything with your partner as long as you don't start confusing friendship empathy for intimacy.

I would like to highlight this point, because it's one that I think you'll find considerable variance and comfort level on. On the one hand, it is definitely easier to discuss this kind of stuff with a third party / non-invested individual. On the other hand, yea it could be construed as a breach of intimacy. Here's the thing about that: the only ones that matters to in the end are you, your husband, and your friend. If you would be willing and able to discuss this stuff with your husband, were it to be brought up, then fine - I see no issues with it. If it's oversharing stuff that you think your husband wouldn't be okay with, well... then the lines are a little more blurry.

I have an incredible work spouse. We ride bikes together. We are both married. He has 2 small children. We have ZERO interest in each other beyond our mutual friendship. I mean ZERO. And I know this because not only do we feel no mutual attraction towards each other, he and I are also diametrically opposed on some serious life issues AND we are pretty different ages (he's in his early 30s, I'm mid 40s). But the insights he has as a sober, conservative family guy with kids are really grounding for me. And he seems to vicariously enjoy some of my crazier hipsteresque exploits (or maybe he's just being nice, who knows).

What I do know is that my husband trusts him completely and it's because I can always answer freely when I'm asked what we're chattering about on IM, or hashed out on a 3 hour bike ride. We ride bikes a fair amount together, and of course we work together, but most of our other "together time" is mutual couples-nights-out and team related stuff, so less intimate together time than your situation, I'd say.

The bottom line is that in order for this to work, you have to be completely frank and comfortable with sharing whatever your discussions are with your husband, if and/or when he asks. And yeah, maybe limit your intimate together time to be more group or couples oriented for awhile until you unpack where your own feelings are on this.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:16 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have very close friendships with women and always have my whole life - my partner is fine with it, but we are not a very umm "jealousy" kind of couple.

Few things you mention make me raise an eyebrow though: "Special friend", "Uniqueness" etc. I am not going to jump to any conclusions like some others have done, however I would say that it can be unhealthy to get so much from any one relationship (excepting, only sometimes, marriage).

Is it possible you are enjoying his company because you are both stay at home parents and can understand and empathise with each other about that role and parenting etc? I know that once we had our daughter, everything was just easier with other parent-friends because they "got it". Looking after an infant at home can be a very isolating experience - especially if spouse is working and may not have insight into how long those days can be.

I think you should talk to your husband, and also make an effort to make him friends with this guy and his wife. Instigate more 2-on-2 family activities on weekends etc. Having family friends with similar age children is the best!.

Are any of your more established friends that live nearby parents as well? If not, it's possible this lack of informal support network may be channeling a lot of your emotional needs into a friendship with this guy. The fact you say you've never had a friendship like this before - if you are old enough to have kids, you should be old enough to have had at least a couple of very intimate friendships. It makes me wonder if you feel that a lot of your existing friends aren't in a position to understand or "get" you like this guy does, not because of who he is, but what he is (stay at home parent with kid of similar age). I advise you to broaden your circle of parent-friends, do more stuff with your husband and this couple, meet this dude in larger groups with other parents, i.e. establish a larger informal support network. Could be good for everyone. Best of luck,
posted by smoke at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying that they would also be concerned if they were in your husband's shoes.

And I know I would be because I have been. My wife could have written an AskMe very much like this one back at the beginning of the year.

One thing I would note is that if your husband is a decent man, his being bothered by your relationship with this other man is a source of pain for him. When my wife was building and maintaining a relationship with another man similar to the one you describe, even as I was hurt by her actions, I was also deeply disturbed by the thought that potentially "petty" feelings on my part were robbing her of emotional fulfillment.

"I get it," I would say to myself. "With me, she has to talk about bills, school for the kids, chores, her job and mine and all other kinds of not very fun things. With him she gets to talk about interesting and diversionary topics and do some fun things. Isn't it wrong of me to deny her that outlet?"

I also wondered if I were over-reacting to the various signs that emerged from her interactions with him and the way she spoke about him.

Ironically, it took a conversation with a longtime female friend of mine to convince me that I was not over-reacting to things and that I was not in the wrong to be concerned about the way things were trending. This friend is not someone who ever bullshits or holds back with me or just tells me what I want to hear. She pointed out that as one-off's, much of what my wife was saying and doing was perfectly okay, but that strung together as a pattern, they were very worrying.

You absolutely need to have a talk with your husband about this. And bear in mind that "a talk" probably means "many long talks." It took my wife and I nearly three months of near nightly discussions, some of which were devastating, to sort things out. Many other feelings came to light during our discussions about her relationship, and there were nights where one of us had to leave the house for a couple of hours to cool down.

I think we kept it all hidden from the kids (a 3 year old and a 6 year old), but I cannot be absolutely sure, and I still worry about how much they were able to discern and how it might have impacted them.

Long story short, we made it through the fog. We're in counseling now, and, in some ways, what happened sort of needed to happen to remind us that we must be friends for our relationship to continue.

I wish you and your husband -- and your friend -- nothing but the best. Good luck.
posted by hope i remember to log back into my real account at 10:07 AM on May 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

I think that for now, that you should see your buddy only in the company of his wife and your husband. Transparency is the watchword of the day.

I think that is the best course of action. I once had this issue with a person I felt close to and I felt if my SO knew everything it wouldn't be a big deal. The thing is, it started to become more time spent together and more personal and I realized, my only concern for anyone is my SO. The most important person in my life whose feelings, considerations, and love matter above all else. It got to the point that I felt the friendship was taking away from my SO and it wasn't worth it. I realized I started telling my SO less and less, however inane or harmless and because I was "so sure" of my feelings, love, and groundedness of my relationship that I couldn't possibly be doing anything 'wrong' and no attraction was involved and it was strictly platonic.

However, was I using my security as an excuse to continue the friendship? Probably, and I realized it wasn't worth the extra negative it added to my relationship, which as I said, matters to me above all else. No matter what. But that's where I may differ, I want to have the happiest, healthiest, strongest and most full of love relationship, and if that means some people have to be let go or some friendships have to be at a distance, to me it is totally worth it because my SO truly is that special and deserves the kind of partner in me that they have always been.

Needless to say, I am much more comfortable with that friendship and so is my SO because I realized a balance is needed and I would gladly sacrifice any day the closeness of a friendship, than the closeness, love and intimacy with my partner. It's hard to see sometimes when minor or mundane things start to create a rift or a distance, but as the divorce rate skyrockets, small transgressions can lead to huge problems. Is this friendship worth losing your husband over? Or even worse, losing your connection as a couple? Is this friendship disrespecting your husband and his trust in you or the meaning of your vows to each other?

Relationships need to be nurtured and sometimes the flame burns roaring bright, and other times is the smallest flame that will whisper out if it is not rekindled. Don't let this friendship distract you from your husband's needs, but you may be able to reach a compromise. Great advice above in setting boundaries.
posted by lunastellasol at 9:05 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

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