How to uncrush with grace?
August 1, 2007 9:58 AM   Subscribe

How to uncrush with grace? What would you do now?

Yes, I am an idiot. I am married and have developed a crush on my husband's friend. Cursed inconvenient chemistry.

For the last few months I've been trying to "cool down" our friendship - not answer his calls, keep conversation light - but now he tells DH he's distressed about it, feels that I'm treating him badly and thinks I don't like him.

Do I apologize and explain myself, something vague like, "I can't be friends with you at this time", or is feeling like a bitch all part of the process?

Anecdotes, opinions, forecasts... all welcome! Thank you.
posted by MiffyCLB to Human Relations (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sacrifice the friendship to save the marriage. Seriously.

You're a bitch if you screw up your marriage.
posted by The World Famous at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2007

Crushes are normal. You shouldn't need to avoid the friend if you have self control. I have had crushes on my SO's friends and I always carry on as if nothing happened. It's just a crush, just like I think ActorX is hot. It's a little tempting because you could act on it, but viewing it as a silly thing akin to a teenybopper's love for Hanson makes it easier to ignore it.
posted by melissam at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2007

Horrible situation to be in. Both for you and your husband. I was in a similar situation once (I was the husband) and I'll tell you that it still hurts to this day.

Quit messing around, it will only cause mistrust and heartache.
posted by chump at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2007

DH? Dearest Husband? Designated Hitter?

Anyway...Being a grown-up means having to act like one. That means reigning-in the hormones and "chemistry". You're a bit vague on what you might have to apologize for, though. Did you act on your crush? Lead him on? Coo sweet nothings in his ear?

Just be an adult and tell him whatever happened before was out-of-line, apologize for it, and clearly draw a line that it can't ever happen again. If he's an adult as well, he'll realize you're right and accept it. If he can't accept it...well...that's his problem.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:10 AM on August 1, 2007

Keep in mind this is the woman whose husband "finds himself" in bed with other women and just doesn't know how that happens! Something very serious is going on in your marriage, girl, if both of you keep becoming dangerously enchanted with others. Please seek counseling.
posted by tristeza at 10:10 AM on August 1, 2007 [7 favorites]

What does DH think about the friend's complaints? I would think if you explain to him that you feel his friend is getting too close, and you want some distance, he'll be OK with your keeping away from the friend.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:11 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

"I've decided that it's not good for my marriage to have profound friendships with other men: I'm sure you understand!"
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:12 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

What The World Famous said. Also, take your name out of your damn profile.

On the other hand, if your husband really does often "find himself in bed" with other women, then maybe what indigo4963 says is worth a shot...
posted by dersins at 10:12 AM on August 1, 2007

only kidding. I think crushes on spousal friends, siblings, and other family is perfectly normal. Keep it playful in reality, allow yourself to explore it in fantasy. If it seems like he's pushing you past your accepted boundaries as a wife, talk to your husband about it.
posted by indigo4963 at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2007

Does the friend feel the same about you? Is it something you've discussed, has their been any acting on the feelings, etc.? Is he married or otherwise involved? Because if this is just a one-sided thing, and he's going to be loyal to your husband, there's really nothing to worry about. No "Oops, I fell on you and we hooked up" or anything. For now you should be sure to include your husband in all of your interactions (he's your husband's friend anyway, right?) and don't say anything. To anyone. You're married, and that's a commitment unlike any other. Don't tell the friend, don't tell your husband, just treat the crush as something that will go away on its own (and it will).
posted by slyboots421 at 10:14 AM on August 1, 2007

You're not an idiot. Marriage, despite the hype, doesn't make you impervious to chemistry you have with others or other such pitfalls of relationships. The thing now is how to deal with it without creating chaos for yourself.

To put this all in proper perspective, you have to consider your husband's feelings first and foremost. It's easier to put crushes in their place once you have firmly in mind where your heart truly lies.

With regards to your husband's friend, take his calls, but keep them brief, keeping them light. Perhaps spend time with other friends instead, so he sees you're not pointedly avoiding him, but are just busy with other people? You'll have to train yourself to think of him as only your husband's friend. It might help to think about a friend of your husband's you don't particularly like and how you treat that friend to help guide how to treat this friend; kindly but without marked preference. I think it's good that you're recognizing this early on before it has a chance to get sticky. I'm a little on the fence about voting to say something vague at all ... vague usually gets me into trouble.

But at the center of this whole thing is the appeal of your husband's friend - ask yourself what that appeal is, and why it attracts you? Be honest with yourself about this and then figure out how to either develop that with your husband rather than his friend. Or if this is not possible, I would then suggest concentrating on why you married your husband in the first place rather than someone else. The qualities of his character, his unique personality, that sort of thing. The way he smiles at you when he's about to surprise you with something lovely or always knows when you really need a hug? It'll come to you.

Hope this helps and Good Luck! :)
posted by blueorchids at 10:17 AM on August 1, 2007

What would you do now?

I'd probably remind myself that the whole promise of marriage is that I wouldn't let simple passions overcome my commitment to the other person even when times were rough. I'd probably also remind myself that being a slave to your passions and not being to control them in light of commitments is generally seen as immature and weak character traits.
posted by dios at 10:21 AM on August 1, 2007 [7 favorites]

think about a friend of your husband's you don't particularly like and how you treat that friend to help guide how to treat this friend

I think that's great advice blueorchids, thank you! Don't worry, there's zero chance anything would ever come of this, my question is only how do I deal with him without completely shutting down our friendship. I have a MAJOR crush on my husband too :)!
posted by MiffyCLB at 10:26 AM on August 1, 2007

On the history of your previous question, it looks as if there's some big issues you and your husband need to work out and asking the advice of internet strangers is probably not the best way to resolve them.
posted by essexjan at 10:27 AM on August 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Normally I would say that crushes are ok, as long as you don't act on them. Seriously, inside your head, you are allowed to have whatever fantasies you like, as long as in the real world you stay true to your principles (which I would assume include not cheating on your husband or leading your husbands friends on). So, I would keep things friendly with your husband's friend, and not feel guilty. Just be careful not to cross the line you know is there.

However, it's really hard to not read more into this knowing your husband's issues with having crushes on other women (and "finding himself" in bed with them). I would do some serious thinking about whether your crush might be either due to your rightful discomfort with your husband's actions and the desire for more attention/affection, or even if it's maybe a subconscious way of trying to get back at him.

Since your husband seems to feel comfortable telling you all about how he finds himself in bed or hotel rooms with other women, it seems perfectly acceptable to just have an open conversation with him about your crush and feelings about this friend. At least then your husband would better understand your distancing yourself from his friend, so you don't get guilt trips from the friend AND your husband. And furthermore, it's payback. He's made you uncomfortable by telling you about his crushes on other women (even if he doesn't call them that, we all know they are crushes), and now it's your turn.
posted by tastybrains at 10:28 AM on August 1, 2007

What would I do now?

I would seek counselling. Preferably with my husband, but alone if he refuses.

You have some serious issues in your marriage, and you need a professional to help you.

Please note: a crush on someone isn't an issue. It happens. Not being able to talk about it with your husband is an issue. Your husband 'happening' to 'end up' laying in bed with other women is an issue.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2007

Yeah, there is definitely something funny going on in your marriage; I think the crushes and "falling into bed accidentally" incidents are symptoms, rather than causes, of whatever the problems are, and that the two of you should (together or separately) visit a counselor.

That said, you ask: Do I apologize and explain myself, something vague like, "I can't be friends with you at this time", or is feeling like a bitch all part of the process?

Do not do not do not apologize and explain yourself, especially if a) your husband isn't aware of the crush and b) the guy in question may not actually be reciprocating your attraction. Can you imagine the looks on their faces when you drop that bombshell at a casual dinner? I once had a married female friend tell me very bluntly that she had become attracted to me and could therefore no longer hang out at all when I was around -- it was intensely uncomfortable because I didn't share that attraction at all and wasn't aware that it had been developing. Because she and her husband were cool people, I really wished she could have just sublimated it into hot sex with her husband, or any of the other things we all do with our unrequited crushes, rather than feeling the need to "clear the air" and force both of us to rearrange our social lives.

There are a lot of arguments for vagueness as a socially acceptable alternative to uncomfortable revelations on the one hand, and outright lying on the other. The best course of action might be to say to your husband, "oh no, I'm not mad at your friend, I think he's ok I guess. But he's really your friend, and I don't want to be in the way of that, and anyway I'm spending a lot of time lately with my work/my friends/whatever."

And honestly, that guy is really kind of crossing the boundaries of good behavior by first flirting with a married woman (or at least, acting in a way that you have taken as flirtation) and then pressing her -- through her husband -- for affirmation and more contact. You probably can't change what he is doing, but do be aware that it is not 100% cool.

Crushes are really normal, they come and go, and if your marriage is going to last you will need to figure out how to contextualize and manage these crushes because this isn't the last one you will ever feel. Some people have open marriages expressly to allow their partners to act on their crushes, and if that makes you and your husband happy then more power to you. But if that is not the case, then you need to find ways to enjoy the feelings of the crush, while not at all pursuing the actions of the crush.
posted by Forktine at 10:42 AM on August 1, 2007

From your post it sounds like this is a one-sided thing. You've recognized that you have a crush and have pulled away without his involvement (i.e. nothing has happened and he doesn't know, hence his confusion). Dropping someone cold turkey like that would definitely raise concern for them, and the "I can't be friends with you right now" is an invitation to a conversation about your crush on him, which isn't wise.

Step up the communication to a middle ground. Keep yourself in control and put yourself in situations where there's no possibility of acting on the crush (i.e. don't "end up" in bed with him). There's nothing inherently wrong with having a little crush, you're still human, but being an adult about it means controlling yourself.

If you want a brutally honest opinion though, here it is: you (and presumably your husband) are hitting mid-life stages. You've been married a long time and you have a bunch of kids. You're (rightly) concerned about your husband's fidelity and now you have a romantic interest of your own. Marriage is hard and all of these factors can seriously impact it individually, together it's even worse. Please seriously evaluate this and have a frank discussion about your husband about the state of your marriage and what you both want out of it. Make time for yourselves as a couple, to rekindle your spark hopefully, and please find a couples therapist in your area, or at the very least a therapist to help you manage all of this. Good luck, I'll be rooting for you.

While you're at it, listen to everyone above me and take your name off your profile.
posted by ml98tu at 10:44 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

You don't want to shut down the friendship, and I can understand that. But first make sure you can let go of those crush-y type feelings first. Focus on the things you don't like about him rather than on what you do when you're hanging out together. For me, that usually does it when I'm trying not to like someone so much. Also, I'd suggest avoiding sharing very personal thoughts with him - problems with your husband in particular. The things that you would entrust with a very good friend I would not share with him, because it would just serve to strengthen your friendship in a very special way. Special + crush = receipe for disaster.
posted by blueorchids at 10:46 AM on August 1, 2007

it was intensely uncomfortable because I didn't share that attraction at all and wasn't aware that it had been developing

That's an awesome answer Forktine and I appreciate the first-hand perspective. As to whether the friend is aware of any of this I have no idea - I hope not because that would make ME extremely uncomfortable too. I think you're right, sublimation into something else is the way to go and it will go away eventually.
posted by MiffyCLB at 10:54 AM on August 1, 2007

Just make sure not to be alone with him. Don't talk to him about personal stuff, i.e. complain about your husband, for instance. If he needs an explanation just tell him you have a lot on your mind.

But NEVER NEVER NEVER tell him you have a crush on him. You have no way of knowing if he might reciprocate and that would be bad.

How my husband and I have always handled this is with communication with each other. We tell each other when we are tempted in this area. It keeps us honest. Because, face it, we are married, not dead, and there will be times when other people look attractive.

BTW a crush has a natural lifespan, and in time IT WILL FADE.
posted by konolia at 10:55 AM on August 1, 2007

I've had crushes while in a committed relationship, and simply ignored them -- I typically find that the crush goes away as I get to know the crushee better - kind of a grass is always greener situation.
posted by ukdanae at 11:07 AM on August 1, 2007

have an open conversation with him about your crush and feelings about this friend

Tastybrains and others... (great answers as usual!) DH knows all about it, has from the start. He thinks it's okay, even a little sweet, but also annoying because I let it impact our (real) lives. My interest in smoothing things over is partly to make things less awkward for him. Yes, he's had crushes too so that helps.
posted by MiffyCLB at 11:21 AM on August 1, 2007

I'm with the "crushes are normal" crowd. A little something that always helps me get past the hormonal phase and reinforce the reality of who I really love: do you get all hot and bothered when you think about the friend? Fine, do that, just make sure your husband is handy, then jump him. Channel that chemistry toward the person you married, and you'll find that other thing fading away.

Uh, note to mefite husband: No, I wasn't thinking about anyone else last time...
posted by frykitty at 11:32 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

If your husband knows all about it, I don't really see a problem. Just tell your husband you feel uncomfortable about being alone with this guy because of your crush. Let him be your advocate. Seems to me that when the guy said something to your husband about being shut out, your husband should have said jokingly, "Well, she is married, you know," and let it slide. This isn't high school, and you don't need to play games to make him feel better.

Calls from this guy to you--well, that's kinda weird, honestly, why does he call you specifically if he's your husband's friend? I would be friendly on the phone, "Oh, hi, how are you doing? Hang on, here's DH..." and then hand the phone over to your husband.

I have a similar situation in reverse; a friend's husband whose crush becomes obvious when he drinks a little too much, and I simply don't put myself in a position to be alone with him, out of respect for my husband and my friend. We usually have the two of them over as a couple or with their kids, or I go out with the wife and my husband hangs out with her husband.
posted by misha at 12:45 PM on August 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Maybe you and your husband are swingers. Maybe you should have an open relationship. Maybe you should get a divorce. Maybe everything is super.

Maybe your crush is a perfectly innocent, natural and human reaction to the inevitable chemistry between two red-blooded beings of compatible sexualities. Maybe it's a sign something is wrong.

Who the fuck knows? The point is, unless you're mature enough to have open, honest, direct conversations about these very natural feelings and concerns with those involved, The Internet has very little to offer you.

You don't have to "OMG SAVE THIS MARRAGE", and you don't have to hide from your husband's friend. Tell him how you feel, and why it's made you uncomfortable. There's no reason the two of you can't still be friends.

Talk to your husband and find out what's up. Either you can renegotiate the boundaries of your relationship, you can decide you'll put mind over matter and stick with the one you've got, or you can end it and move on.

There is no right way to relate, but the wrong way is certainly being dishonest or indirect.
posted by poweredbybeard at 3:39 PM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

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