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Man confronts wife for 'flirting' with her co-worker and things escalate. AITA? UPDATED

Man confronts wife for 'flirting' with her co-worker and things escalate. AITA? UPDATED

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"Is my wife flirting with her coworker?"

Here's the original post:

Tldr: is my wife is flirting with her coworker and being inappropriate? Am I being weird by feeling upset by it?

My wife and I have been together 10 years, married for nearly 5 and we have a 3 year old son. We are fairly happy though have been having couples counseling for 6 months as we found being parents very difficult. We've been making a lot of progress with our communication lately but today that all fell apart.

My wife has autistic traits which run in both our families, and I have ADHD so we are a 'Neurodivergent' couple. That's probably relevant here.

My wife recently moved back into our shared office as we both work from home. Today she hopped on video call with a guy from work who she is friends with and I stepped out to take a quick call about something. After my call was finished I just sat scrolling reddit for a bit but could hear their conversation and it increasingly made me uncomfortable.

My wife sounded like a completely different person. She would tut and giggle before she said anything, she was constantly joking with him every sentence, she was energetic and it all just sounded so incredibly flirty. He had called her not for anything work related but to tell her he had taken a new job in the city closest to us - he currently lives far away.

She said things like "do me a favour, when that job contract comes, just rip it up so you don't have to leave", and "as long as you are always available for me on [Microsoft] teams", and they then went on to confirm they had each other on WhatsApp etc. All the while joking about various things and and giggling in a way that I never hear her do, ever.

They were talking for 20 mins and I almost started to record them so she could hear herself back, but they said goodbye just after I started. It just made me feel so gross listening to it.

This isn't the first time I've noticed their flirtyness and I brought it up last year after she started that new job. They were calling each other outside work hours and she added him on the PlayStation and they would sit and game together in the evenings chatting away with the same giggly flirty tone. She was talking about him and lot and telling me lots of really personal things about his childhood and parents and stuff.

It caused issues when I brought up that it made me feel uncomfortable. Especially one night when we were supposed to have time together but she just forgot and spent the night playing with him. She denies flirting at all and just says he's a work friend.

Around that time she travelled to the central office and I know he had invited her for dinner at his place which hadn't happened in the end I think because I said I wasn't comfortable with that. They did end up still going for dinner in the city together though, "as friends".

The thing is, I'm not a jealous person. Over the years my wife has had a few crushes, one of them being my uni roommate who's like a younger brother to me. It's kind of a running joke that they both fancy each other a bit and I genuinely don't mind and think it's funny.

We joke about one day having threesome with him etc. I do know that she is prone to the occasional crush and I don't take it seriously, but have once or twice over the decade have felt like I have had to point out some boundaries.

So back to today, after they finished their call I said hey can I talk to you a min. When I then said that she probably wouldn't like what I was about to say, she immediately got defensive and walked off and said she wasn't going to have this conversation. Since I hadn't even said anything yet that intuitively tells me that some part of her knows that the way she was talking was probably a bit inappropriate?

I got upset and said I was feeling uncomfortable with the way she was talking with him again. That it sounds like heavy flirting to me. That I would feel uncomfortable if I talked to another woman at work like that. Or if a girl talked to me like that, even as a clueless guy, I would be getting a strong vibe that she fancies me. That I feel hurt by it and that if she talked like that to me it would be a dream come true!

She basically dismissed it all very defensively and said she wasn't flirting at all. That I just didn't want her to be friends with him. That she doesn't understand what she's done wrong and that she's fed up with me being like this - even though I haven't spoken to her about this since last summer, and never been jealous in our 10 year relationship.

I felt like I'm being gaslit as it seems like such obvious flirting and she's just dismissing it as all in my head. It caused a massive argument. I'm willing to admit that me getting upset about it is likely some insecurity. But at the same time, I feel like I know what I saw/heard and that I'm an understanding person - I'm ok with crushing but this just crosses a line? I should be able to say that, no?

I think it's likely something to do with my wife's Autistic traits and not understanding the social norms or boundaries. I don't know. She doesn't realize how flirty she's being sometimes, I think that's definitely true. I wish she would flirt with me by accident a bit more! Is it ok for me to feel upset by this? Or am i being controlling or irrational?

What do you think? Is he being unreasonable? This is what top commenters had to say:

turtle_duck4 said:

I'm sorry, OP. This sounds like an EA at best. What is additionally concerning is her total lack of concern for your feelings. Perhaps you two can both read "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass. It is the definitive book on workplace affairs. But honestly, her disregard your your feels says volumes about her investment in your relationship.

reddpapad said:

You’re not irrational. You’re not being controlling seeing as she won’t even have a conversation with you about this. You’re being gaslit and have every right to be upset.

TallBlondeAndCute said:

She is having an emotional affair. I am sorry OP. What she has told him has crossed the line professionally and martially. How she has acted as well is a clear sign of a cheater as well. Dismissing, defecting, defending, gaslighting, lying, hiding, and minimizing.

You need to ask for an emergency session with your marriage counselor and you need to drop this bomb in there and tell her that its not okay and she needs to start individual therapy and look for a new job. She is going to flip and you need the support of the therapist there when she storms out. Please don't be alone and reach out for help and support OP.

Bencil_McPrush said:

It sounds she values her flirting with this guy far more than your emotional wellbeing. Never make long term plans with such a person.

Commenters agreed he's NTA, and most think his GF is having an emotional affair.

Seven months after his original post, he shared this lengthy update:

I ended up showing my wife the post I had written and it was so incredibly validating to feel like I wasn't going insane. We had a really difficult conversation about it all and we were both so angry at eachother until she told me the truth. In a rather heated moment she kind of venemously said something like,

"I like talking to him because when I do I feel happy and relaxed. Like I can be myself. Which is something I can never feel when I'm around you." This really made me sad and I instantly wasn't angry anymore. I just apologized, and told her how that's just what I wanted her to feel around me again.

That feeling of being herself is something she had lost after becoming a mum and the difficult few years we've had in covid etc. We don't have and never have had any help being parents from our extended families. And so never have time together for ourselves.

She didn't have any feelings for him beyond friend and I do think she was genuinely being naive and also a little willingly ignorant about him pushing boundaries, a few examples which came out after we talked about it - He had asked to come back to her hotel room to 'continue chatting' after the work party, for example. This was also due to her autism as well and not fully understanding where the boundary is.

But when we looked at the big picture she could see and did admit that she had unwittingly begun down the path of some kind of emotionally affair, which she didn't really know was a thing. She took responsibility for this and did stop talking to the guy and told him that she would only be talking to him if required to for work purposes from then on.

He left that job very shortly after so that was also easier for us. Funnily enough, it did come out after he left that he had made some advances and been awkward with a few other of my wife's colleagues. People noticed at work that my wife had stopped being friendly with him and was asked 'was it because he was being awkward with you as well?' kinda thing.

We talked a lot in counseling about it. I think a massive problem that I had to acknowledge was that she had got to a place where she expected me to be angry and irritated by things, because that is definately something I have struggled with. So she had begun hiding stuff in fear of how I would respond. She didn't feel like she could talk to me about stuff.

When she did admit to her wrong doing and acknowledge she had begun to push me away and prioritize things above our relationship, she was surprised at how kind and patient and forgiving I was.

I was surprised too! We kinda figured out that a lot of the anger and irritation was often because I could tell that I wasn't getting the whole truth. That's all I wanted, her to be straight with me so I know where I stand. That, and my feelings to be acknowledged, both of which are a massive trigger for me.

We started doing things like having a 'take back of the day' where if one of us said or did something we later regretted, then we could apologize and call it our take back. And we both agreed that we would forgive and forget those, with no exceptions. We found that worked amazingly to develop compassion and understanding for one another.

We also began working on having date nights every Friday, and having difficult conversations with 100% honesty while sat together, looking at eachother, and holding hands, so that we were connecting and feeling listened to. This was prescribed by our therapist because she told us about how when we both get triggered we have a tenancy to disassociate,

and we don't look at eachother and turn away from eachother and get stuck in a place where we can't hear what the other is saying. That was really tricky at times, but we've gotten pretty good at it now, and whenever we start struggling we are very conscious to make physical contact and look at eachother so we can hear and be heard.

We took a break from counseling over the summer holidays because we decided we needed so time to process, and we ended up having an amazing summer. We went back for a therapy session last week which we thought was about starting a second round. We were a bit nervous because we've been so happy and didn't want to stir anything up.

But the therapist could see how happy and good things have been so she told us not to come back! (unless we want to in the future). And it's true, we have been the happiest we have ever been. We are really close again. Our communication is so much better. Our understanding and compassion for eachother and our quirks, triggers etc is at an all time high.

We look out for when the other is struggling and step in where we can. When we miss it and the other has a meltdown or says/does something unkind, we are much better able to forgive and forget it using our take backs and just having more understanding and compassion for each other's strengths and weaknesses.

I think it's fair to say that although some boundaries were being crossed, my wife was only at the very beginning of the path that leads to full blown emotional affair. Nothing had really happened. And there were no feelings my wife had beyond "exciting friendship with someone who is giving me nice attention" - though he definately had alterior motives. So we were lucky to catch it when we did.

That being said, the root cause was definately our bad communication, negative behavioral loops that we had gotten into, and the degradation of our romantic relationship from becoming new parents over the last 4 years. There was a lot to learn and a lot of effort and willingness required on our parts to fix the issue and move forward.

But only in short intense convo bursts outside of which we have been very happy because we feel in control of it. Hopefully some of you can read this and learn a few things to help your relationships. If I had to recommend one thing it would be the 'Take back of the day!'. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

Sources: Reddit
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