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'My wife isn't technically cheating on me, but her friendship with her coworker feels bad.' UPDATED 3X

'My wife isn't technically cheating on me, but her friendship with her coworker feels bad.' UPDATED 3X


There are a lot of ways to break someone's trust in a relationship.

"My wife [25f] is cheating on me [27M] without cheating on me. Let me explain."

My wife and I have been each other's closest (and often, only) friend for the longest time. Both of us are very shy and have a hard time making friends. Recently, she made a friend at her job, who is a guy. She's had guy work friends before and it never really bothered me. But this one is different.

First, she started texting him a lot (A LOT) out of nowhere and I didn't know about it until I discovered she went over our texting limit, which she never ever got close to before. She hid it from me for fear of me getting jealous. She is adamant about him just being a friend, and one that she needs. She goes to lunch with him and goes to get coffee. Once a week or so, they talk on the phone for a couple hours.

They've also been sending pictures of themselves to each other (not racy ones or anything, just normal stuff). They often text each other all day long (literally), even to the point that they have to say goodnight to each other. Now, for the most part, she has been open about it all. Every now and then, I'll discover something she didn't tell me or catch her in a small lie (that she said she was doing to protect my feelings).

But, still, for the most part, she isn't hiding it. I'm fairly positive they aren't spending more time together than I think because there isn't any missing time in her schedule that I've seen. No time unexplained. But I still feel like she is having an emotional affair. I've told her (in no uncertain terms) that this makes me uncomfortable, that I really don't like her having this level of friendship with another man.

But, I also know that it's wrong for me to tell her she CAN'T have this friendship. The problem is, he is also married, and their marriage is going through tough times. And HIS wife has told him not to text my wife anymore. So, they've started "texting" through Hanging With Friends, so she won't know. Which I think is disrespectful and wrong.

People at her work have been speculating that they are having an affair, to the point it spread to the whole store. I've asked my wife, in one of the many fights/discussions we've had about this, if she would tell her mom what she was doing? She said no. I asked if she thought what she was doing against my wishes and his wife's wishes was okay? She said no.

But this is not enough to get her to stop. I'm not even asking her to drop him as a friend, just to treat him like a normal friend from work, no platonic dates or long chats or all day text marathons. She has even told me that if the situation was reversed, she would hate it if I had a girl friend like this, but still, this is not enough for her to stop.

I cannot talk to anyone about it, because every friend or family member of mine is also close with her and I wouldn't want anyone thinking less of her or knowing we're having this issue. So, I have to suffer in silence. I don't know what I should do. I'm trying to respect her and not be overbearing, but this whole thing just feels like it has gone way too far and I feel I am justified in hating this.

It feels good just to write this all out. Sorry I rambled and jumped around a bit. Just so much information. Anyway, what do you think? Am I just being too sensitive/paranoid? Or am I right in being upset?

TL;DR: My wife has a guy friend that she spends way too much time with and energy on, to the point that everyone at their work think they are having an affair. I've been clear that I am uncomfortable with this, but don't want to be controlling, so I let my feelings be known, but stop short of "putting my foot down."

My wife hasn't backed off even a little bit, but she has been mostly open about everything (not really hiding it from me). Should I be worried? And if so, what should I do? I will not be leaving her and she knows that, so that threat is not an option.

The internet did not hold back one bit.

bubble_bathj-nkie wrote:

Hello dear, reading your post had me making a list in my head:

This friend of your wife's works with her, so they already have regular interaction.

On top of this, they started texting all day.

And sending each other pictures.

They are so close the office is gossiping.

Both spouses are uncomfortable.

- Yet in spite of the gossip, the upset spouses, and your wife admitting she wouldn't be happy if the tables were turned...

- She refuses to dial back her contact with this person - not cease contact, just dial back to a normal friendship level.

It's good that she's been open with you, which I take as a sign that she at least partially knows her behavior is problematic, and she trusts you, and wants to change or be called out - but at the same time the extent to which she interacts with this guy says to me that at this moment in time, he's her top priority.

She knows she's making you uncomfortable, she knows he's putting his marriage at risk, she knows the office is gossiping - but she can't help but talk to him constantly?! I would be worried. Especially if she knows you won't leave her, I mean, basically she can do whatever she wants and take advantage of your loving heart with no repercussions. That sounds like what she's doing right now, to be honest.

She can indulge her fixation with her friend, and spend all day interacting with him, having him make her feel special and interesting and awesome, and she knows that she'll still get to bask in your feelings for her and snuggle you at the end of the day. It's a risk-free emotional affair, and it's completely unfair and hurtful to you. You're absolutely right to be upset.

thelostfox wrote:

You are not being sensitive or paranoid, this is over stepping the line and it will, most likely, turn into a full physical affair (this is pretty much how they all start). You have already caught her lying and they are already going behind his wife's back.

There is a chance she is doing the ol' boyfriend overlap which will result in your wife leaving you for this loser.

You have a few options:

A. Sit back and see what happens - could fizzle out, she could sleep with him and realise what mistake she has made, she could run away with him

B. Put your man pants on, tell her this is inappropriate and tell her you are absolutely not going to tolerate it.

C. Get a friend, change his name to a women's name in phone, start texting all day everyday, send pictures etc. give her a taste of her own medicine. This is pathetically passive aggressive, but hey, we can't be adults all the time.

jackwagon25 wrote:

Tell her that you want to talk to the guy. Do not accept "I don't want you to do that" from her, she's gone too far past the point of respecting feelings. Sit this guy down. Tell him it's going to stop, and do not phrase it like there's any other option.

Tell him how much he's messed up your marriage, as well as his own. If he says he can't stop then ask him if he's slept with your wife yet. If he says yes, then tell his wife and consult a divorce lawyer. If he says no, and is actually honest enough to say there have been times where it's almost happened, then you tell him he's going to end the emotional affair with your wife or you'll tell his wife.

You need to show your wife that you're willing to leave her if the situation doesn't change (or gets even worse). Don't make it a threat, make it an action. Stay with a friend for a weekend or have her stay with her parents. If she balks at that then tell her you're going to tell her mother what's going on, so her mother can make sure she's not trying to actively cheat on you while you two are separated.

At this point if the marriage is going to continue you'll need a marriage counselor, and a lot of time. I don't know what your financial situation is, but you can't let her think she's free to carry on what she's doing because you don't want to leave her.

And about that not leaving her thing, the reason why you need to make this a legitimate thought is because if she knows you're not going to leave her, then she'll respect you less and less until the point where she walks out on you (most likely after the other guy and his wife split up).

I don't know what the hangup is (religious belief, personal belief, financial decision or otherwise) that has you saying "I will not be leaving her", but at the absolute minimum you need to make her think you're considering it.

Milphey wrote:

Da Nile isn't just a river in Egypt.

You're in Denial Sir. You really are.

Two days later, OP shared an update.

UPDATE 1: Thank you all so much for your comments and advice. It has all been very eye opening and helpful. I realize now that I am in denial and that, whether she realizes it or not, this is a problem that needs fixing. I left her a letter at home explaining my feelings and packed a small bag.

I'm spending the night in the hotel and have asked to meet with her tomorrow to talk this thing out. I don't know if this is the right step to take first, but I feel like I need to wake her up to the fact that I am not going to be okay with this. I'm sure she'll try and call/find me tonight. Don't know if I'll answer when she does. Not sure what is going to happen, but whatever is going to happen, it happens now.

I'll post a proper update soon. (Also, sorry for the confusion about the gender thing. I didn't even realize I listed myself as a female until someone directly asked me if I was a lesbian. That explains a few other slightly puzzling responses too. Haha. But yeah, I'm a guy.)

The comments kept coming in.

foolin wrote:

I can't be the only one that finds if their SO is sending and receiving pictures from another person, even non-s*xual is a bit much.

fruitysteve wrote:

Your wife is sleeping with him. They are hiding it from you. If you have someone follow them, you will discover the truth.

Please update us when you do find out the truth.

[deleted] wrote:

"But I still feel like she is having an emotional affair. I've told her (in no uncertain terms) that this makes me uncomfortable, that I really don't like her having this level of friendship with another man. But, I also know that it's wrong for me to tell her she CAN'T have this friendship."

Yes, you can. You're her HUSBAND. If you feel uncomfortable with telling her who she can and cannot be friends with, then you need to tell her "Listen, I'm not going to tell you what you can and cannot do, but you know very well what you SHOULD do if you want to keep the peace with me." Plain and simple.

I'm sorry, but my advice to you would be to leave. Just leave. Have her understand that this is the outcome of her actions. These are the consequences to what she's doing. Right now, she's having her cake and eating it oo. If she is okay with you leaving, then leave for good. You deserve so much better than this. Don't play second fiddle to your own wife.

The next day, OP shared an update.

Thank you all so much for your comments and advice. It has all been very eye opening and helpful. I came to realize I was in denial and that, whether my wife realized it or not, this was a problem that needed fixing. As I posted already yesterday, I left her a letter at home explaining my feelings and packed a small bag.

I went to spend the night in the hotel and asked to meet with her tonight to talk this thing out. In the letter, I posted about a dozen of the comments from your folks, just so she could see what other people think of our situation (I also included what I posted, so she would know I didn't exaggerate).

Don't worry, I didn't include your handles, so she won't be coming after you. When she got home and read the note, she called me. I didn't answer, but in her voicemail (in which she was bawling, which is very uncharacteristic of her), she begged me to come home and talk.

She said in the message that yesterday she was at lunch with the other guy and they both had already decided to end the friendship, because they both realized they were developing feelings for each other. After a while, I decided to go home and talk with her.

We had quite a long conversation. She told me that the other day, he admitted to having feelings for her, but promised not to push. She told me that the day before yesterday, she realized she was developing feelings for him too, and it scared her. She said she REALLY thought they were just friends, that she was refusing to believe it was becoming anything more, and then it just happened.

She told me that they didn't do anything physical yet, that it hadn't gotten that far, which is why they decided to end the friendship, because neither wanted to cross a line they can't uncross. I'm choosing to believe her in that. She told me that even though she was already backing out of the friendship with him, that the letter I left really opened her eyes at what she was doing to me and to us.

It killed me to see her so broken and ashamed. I've never seen her like this before. We both cried for a long time, I said everything I had to say and asked the questions I needed to know the answers to. I believe she was honest with me, finally, about everything, including some things that were hard to hear. This went on for a couple hours.

Instead of staying at the hotel by myself, I invited her to come with me. We went out to dinner, went to the hot tub at the hotel, and then had a wonderful night together. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, but this isn't the end of it. We've got a lot of stuff to work through. We're talking about some counseling and it'll take me a while to fully trust her again.

I'm not just letting it slide like nothing happened. But I'm also not giving up on my marriage. I will not. I never will. Some of you may think that makes me a chump, but I don't care. This is the woman I pledged to spend the rest of my life with, and as long as I have a say in the matter, I don't intend on breaking that promise. For better or for worse, right?

Today, I also sent a text message to the other guy, telling him that my wife told me what was going on and that I wanted to make it clear that if I ever see even just a single non-work-related text from him on her phone again, that we will be having a different discussion and in person.

My wife and I have a long road ahead of us, but I'm positive we are both committed to getting things fixed between us and moving forward. I really wanted to thank all of you (at least those of you who offered real advice) for yesterday. I needed to be woken up and I think it happened just in the nick of time. I feel like this dark cloud is finally starting to break up.

TL;DR: I left my wife a letter expressing all my feelings and fears and left for the night. She called and begged me to come home. We talked for several painful hours, as she explained that, while nothing physical happened between her and her male friend, they both admitted that they were developing feelings for each other and decided it would be best to part ways.

My wife and I are going to work on our relationship and move on from this. It's going to take some time for me to trust her again, but I'm not giving her up without a fight. Thank you Reddit for giving me the courage to stand up for myself. It may have just saved our marriage.

Not long after posting, OP shared another update.

Hello again everyone. Thank you all (most of you, anyway) for your wonderful messages of encouragement! My wife and I have been having a lot of deep, emotional discussions over these last couple days. Having been with her for 12 years, I can honestly say that I've noticed a big change in her during these past couple months, but these past few days, she's finally back to her old self again.

I can tell that she's sincere. Found out that the other guy and his wife and moving away soon, which makes me happy. My wife has felt so terrible, she is committing to being transparent, allowing me to be as "nosey" as I need to be, and to check up on her as much as I need to until I feel comfortable again.

We are going to be starting up some counseling with our pastor soon, which I think is going to be a great help. It still hurts that it even got as far as it did. I've been cycling through anger, hurting, disappointment, and hope. I'm sure it will take a long while before those bad feelings go away. But we're going to be okay. I'm sure of it.

People had a lot to say in response.

datsh-tberacyst wrote:

I don't think you are a chump at all. I think a lot of people here are FAR too trigger happy on the "leave her" button. She honestly cares for you and seeing you in pain was all it took for her to end her friendship. Good on you for realizing that all relationships have rough patches, but that does not make them unsalvagable.

[deleted] wrote:

I had tears in my eyes reading this update. I've always been afraid of marriage because I never saw the point in making a relationship legally binding when it seems like everybody gives up so easily, anyway.

I know you and your wife have a lot to work on. But it's really amazing to see that you're willing to do that work when so many people would have seen this as a reason to leave.

She made a mistake, but that doesn't mean it's unfixable.

I think a lot of people assume when they get married, they'll be magically immune from looking at another person and that's how they get in too deep. It's a huge positive that she stopped before it went too far. Again, thank you. You wouldn't think a story about somebody having issues in their marriage would help somebody believe it can work, but yours has helped me.

murphybcm333 wrote:

I truly wish you the best and hope this doesn't come back to bite you in the a-. The one thing I will counsel is that you have a zero-tolerance policy going forward. You need to draw absolute boundaries and she needs to honor them -- that is the price of her indiscretion.

If she says "she developed feelings for him" then she will be having a urge to reach out to him for quite sometime, she cannot just turn that off. If she does in fact do so then that should be a deal-breaker. It's gonna be tough because they are going to still have their time at work together, that's gonna make the two of them achieving a true emotional disconnect really hard.

Even if they try not to talk, they will still be stealing glances at the office and the pressure will still be there. That is a dangerous situation for any SO. If possible you should see if she can get a new job or at least be transferred away from her pseudo/almost boyfriend. I am less optimistic about this whole situation given how she handled it up to receiving the letter.

She had to have known what she was doing and she did it anyway. Its pretty convenient that the day you give her an ultimatum is the same day they supposedly came to an "amicable conclusion" of their relationship. Just be safe brother, continue to stand up for yourself, and don't let your guard down for a very long time.

ashamanflynn wrote:

Today, I also sent a text message to the other guy, telling him that my wife told me what was going on and that I wanted to make it clear that if I ever see even just a single non-work-related text from him on her phone again, that we will be having a different discussion and in person. Dude, they should never talk on their personal phones again, ever.

Sources: Reddit
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