Should I be worried or am I acting jealous?
November 12, 2016 6:29 PM   Subscribe

My husband has a history of having not-great boundaries with women. He has cheated in previous relationships, and while he had not (to my knowledge) cheated on me, he has pushed boundaries in the past. He has recently started a new job. A woman who he works closely with has recently broken up with her long-distance boyfriend. My husband has apparently talked to her about this quite a bit, and now wants to include her in some of our family activities.

I am not in the greatest place right now emotionally for all kinds of reasons, and I can't tell if I am uncomfortable because of my own issues or if he is doing some knight-in-shining-armor stuff that is really not okay.

Could anyone lend an outside perspective?
posted by LittleMissCranky to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Can you give more clarification on what you mean by "pushed boundaries in the past"? That could make a big difference. On surface, I'd say I empathize with your worry, but I'd take it as a good sign that he wants to include your family in any outside-work socializing. Obviously, it'd be a red flag if he was planning one-on-one hangs.
posted by witchen at 6:39 PM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


You know your husband better than anyone, and if you're getting a bad vibe, you should trust your instincts. That said, as a woman who spent a long time single, working in a male-dominated field, and having a lot of guy friends, the fact that both he and the woman want to include her in activities with you and his family tells me that there is probably nothing nefarious going on, at least not now. One of the signs that such a friendship is entering the danger zone is a reluctance by one or both parties to engage with the spouse, partner, or family of the other.
posted by rpfields at 6:41 PM on November 12, 2016 [22 favorites]


On preview, exactly what witchen said.
posted by rpfields at 6:42 PM on November 12, 2016


have you spoken to him about why you are uncomfortable with this, or why you are uncomfortable with the idea of him being this woman's confidante during her breakup, if that is the case? if so, what was his reaction? why does he want to include her in family activities? what activities? whose idea was that initially, his or hers?

looks like a good sign that he wants her to meet his family, as that is not a helpful step in initiating an affair, and is in fact for a lot of people a way to prevent one from happening.
posted by zdravo at 6:47 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Does he do similar things with men? Has he brought a few male friends home from work? If this seems like the kind of guy he is with both sexes, I'd try to be alright with it. If not, nope. No.

(I don't like the sounds of this though)
posted by ReluctantViking at 6:48 PM on November 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


To me, him wanting to invite her around and include you (and possibly kids? not sure what "family activities" entails) implies that he does not have any untoward intentions here. In my experience, it's the opposite type of behavior that is dangerous: withdrawing, spending a lot of time one on one with someone else, not inviting you to things, wanting to be alone a lot, walling off their phone and social media, etc. "Can Shelly come to the zoo with us and the kids, she's having a rough time and doesn't want to be alone" seems fine.

Unless this is how he has transgressed boundaries in the past/is a cheating M.O. for him, in which case ignore me and nope nope nope
posted by Sara C. at 6:49 PM on November 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


As a married woman, I can't imagine confiding in a new, married, male colleague unless I liked him too much. It's too intimate for any new work friend.
.
I've had the dodgy "we're just really good friends" friendship and chucking in the occassional group/family thing was just a hiding-in-plain-sight tactic.

I would not like this one bit. If it got to the point where he wanted to invite her over, I'd agree just so I could see what their interaction was like. It might be perfectly fine but I'd want to see to either give me reassurance or something concrete to bring up with him if they're too touchy or whatever.
posted by stellathon at 7:11 PM on November 12, 2016 [51 favorites]


He might dig her and be hoping you might dig her too, if you get what I'm saying.
posted by vrakatar at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Either hiding in plain sight or what vrakatar said. I have first hand experience with this.
posted by jbenben at 8:08 PM on November 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


The hiding-in-plain-sight thing is a less common MO than the only-spend-time-with-the-person-alone scenario for cheating, but it exists too and it's more insidious.

I'd let her join in one thing to see what's going on, but don't be afraid to put your foot down if your spidey sense tells you to.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:40 PM on November 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


I am not in the greatest place right now emotionally for all kinds of reasons, and I can't tell if I am uncomfortable because of my own issues

Your own issues are reason enough for him to back off and not pursue a friendship that makes you uncomfortable.
posted by the hot hot side of randy at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2016 [25 favorites]


He has cheated in previous relationships

Cheating once in a prior relationship may be an immature reaction to that specific relationship/context. Cheating in multiple relationships means that is his standard coping strategy/sense of entitlement unless he has done hella work in individual and couples counselling with transparentcy and accountability to you so you have a super strong foundation of trust. I don't hear that in your question. This twitches my nose as creating plausible deniability/gas lighting.

Your needs trump here, he needs to drop her aquaintenceship immediately (since he has shown from his past that he has weak character and finds it too easy to fall down that slippery slope) or face the consequences of not making you his priority.
posted by saucysault at 8:59 PM on November 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


I've had cheating exes who did this and even thought me and side-piece would make great friends! There was a really strong desire for me to meet and get on with these women, not sure if that was hiding-in-plain sight, sadistic trolling intended to humiliate me in public or in front of the new girl, or the fantasy that everything's fine because we get on, like one big happy family where one person gets absolutely everything their way at the expense of literally everyone else but we're all OK with it.

Does he form these friendships with other men or is it just the women in the office who come in for this special attention? Is he capable of forming these kind of attachments with someone you know for certain he's not attracted to like his mate Dave, or are these problems magically more compelling if they're being experienced by a distressed young woman?

You shouldn't feel obliged to have her over, (though I might, and see how the dynamic goes - not just flirting between them but stuff like ignoring you to speak to her or otherwise signalling his priorities) and you should trust your gut re: your observations. I am only just now learning to listen to mine, and it has never done me wrong.
posted by everydayanewday at 12:27 AM on November 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


My partner has a sterling history with women and relationships in general, and if he told me he was getting on well with a female colleague and etc, etc I would say "Great! Let's have her over for drinks!"

BUT

there is no dodgy history, it would be no less remarkable to me if the new work friend was male or female, I have no reason to worry about being cheated on

AND

I know if I said "I am not in the greatest place right now emotionally" and said that I needed as much of him as was available and could we please put meeting new people/devoting time to others outside the relationship right now, and we'll have a visit with her when I'm more myself again, I would get "Sure, sorry, forget I mentioned her, is there anything specific I can do for you...?" &c

The short version of this is that it doesn't sound like he has quite earned the privilege to do this at this particular time. Or at least that's my knee-jerk from the information presented here. Have you told him "I'm not up for this right now" and so on? What was his reaction if yes? If you've told him you're struggling emotionally and he still wanted to push past that and blah blah you'll just love this great lady from work, I'd metaphorically throw up at that.

Also: "I can't imagine confiding in a new, married, male colleague unless I liked him too much." Yes. Where are her friends, the sort that are appropriate to confide in about her love life...?
posted by kmennie at 1:32 AM on November 13, 2016 [19 favorites]


For whatever it is worth-- since my divorce I have been the single female friend at work who was befriended by a male colleague. (I was on a work trip with him when I found out my ex was cheating on me and he was kind enough to pick me up like a kitten and take me out to get really really drunk. We got to be friends after that.) Luckily, his wife is secure and I always make a point to see them together and not to do things one-on-one with just him unless it was clearly work-related. I'm still good friends with both of them today. But he doesn't have a history of cheating, so there's that.
posted by frumiousb at 4:26 AM on November 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think you are perfectly justified in saying no thanks to including her in family activities if you are not in a good place emotionally. Having a stranger joining in will mean a bunch more effort and work for you. Will he be preparing the extra food if she joins you for meals? will he be making the house the extra clean that one does when guests come over? If taking care of her is going to take away from the amount of care and attention that you are getting, then he should putting your needs first, not adding to your stress.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:42 AM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think having her over one time can actually be a really good way to prevent something from happening, if nothing is already going on. If she's been "into" him, she will see his family and be like "omg these are real people". If she acts clingy / jealous / into him, you'll have a much better view of how he's really acting with her. And if she's just looking for friends, you'll probably be able to tell and you'll be helping someone who is hurting. I don't know how your current emotional fragility plays into this, but unless you have reason to believe he's cheating on you, I don't think you should play into any insecurities you have about your husband's past.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:58 AM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


A kind gesture to her would be to connect her with other sympathetic single people. Maybe your husband could focus on that instead of trying to connect her with your family.
posted by amtho at 7:36 AM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe your husband could focus on that instead of trying to connect her with your family.

No. Your husband shouldn't be the person helping her with her personal life.
posted by stellathon at 10:56 AM on November 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Spidey senses generally don't like so I'd follow yours and see what's going on.
posted by Mysticalchick at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know if I said "I am not in the greatest place right now emotionally" and said that I needed as much of him as was available and could we please put meeting new people/devoting time to others outside the relationship right now, and we'll have a visit with her when I'm more myself again, I would get "Sure, sorry, forget I mentioned her, is there anything specific I can do for you...?" &c

Yes, this 100%. I know that if I felt down or insecure about a situation or generally anxious/ miserable, my husband would drop everything to comfort me. Because I am number one in our relationship.
posted by moiraine at 6:18 AM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've had to talk to a partner about his not great boundaries with women. In his case he wasn't a cheater, but he framed himself as a "nice guy" who was "just trying to help out someone who was down". Basically he was framing himself in his own mind as a hero, due to his own insecurity issues.

The situations he was putting himself in were ripe to become "it just happened" type of situations. I put my foot down and said as long as we're in a relationship no "helping" single women, with anything, full stop. Sorry, you can call me crazy, controlling, jealous, I don't care what you label me but I get to have my feelings and this boundary is firm for me.

You get to have your feelings and your boundaries too, regardless of what someone may want to label you. Honor your feelings.
posted by vignettist at 10:23 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


« Older O Say Can You Not Nazi   |   What should I put in the Christmas hamper? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.