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Emotional infidelity

Painting
Community Member

My wife and I have been together for over 8 years, though only recently got married. Our relationship has been very strong over the years and on the surface it appears strong to this day.

Earlier this year she became friends with a man from the same social club we belong to. She had previously remarked about his good looks and she had also mentioned to me when he was drunk one night, how he thought she was very beautiful. Having had a very stable relationship up to this point, I had never felt threatened in any way.

My wife and this man continued to grow their friendship (always hanging out together at social club events and the like). One day I decided to do something I had never felt the urge to in the whole time we had been together, which was check the messages on her phone. There was a torrent of communication between them, flirty and familiar in nature but nothing sexual. I told her right away how I had breached her privacy and was sorry, but also asked her if she had feelings for this man. She said she didn’t and that they were just friends.

Months went by. Our marriage was seemingly healthy (regular sex, many dates, lots of fun), but something in my gut was telling me all wasn’t quite right. I decided to have a look at one of her social media accounts and saw hundreds of messages back and forth between the two of them - all hours of the night and day; all of them written when we were not in each other’s direct company. I’ve asked her about their friendship again, which only angers her and leads her to accuse me of being jealous and possessive. I did not tell her I had secretly accessed her messages. I know if I were engaging in a ‘friendship’ in the same way she is, she would be very upset. Indeed I have let so many of my friendships with female friends over the years wither away out of respect for my wife and her feeling of security within our relationship.

I am currently in an awful cycle of my wife telling me she loves me to my face, but concurrently having this secret intimate friendship with this other man. It’s been incredibly draining putting on a brave face when I know all the lies she’s telling me. I feel depressed and at the same time have no one to talk to, as I am so ashamed of breaching her privacy the way I have.

I feel I am a good man with many good qualities and I would rather my marriage end so I can try and move on, rather than live in this situation which I can only see ending in physical infidelity.

16 Replies 16

quirkywords
Community Champion
Community Champion

Painting,

Welcome to the forum and for sharing your story.

I think with all the social media available now there are lots of chances to contact people.

Privacy is very important and being trusted by one's partner on one hand ,of course on the other hand is the question of secrecy, is the partner being secretive and not being open.

Do you feel you can't trust your wife's friendship even though she maintains they are just friends.?

Having friends with a person of the opposite sex is fraught with difficulties when one is married. I have always had male friends , as I had brothers and not a sister so I found it east to talk to men. When I am in a relationship I know it is difficult to maintain a relationship with a male. I have had my partner look at my emails without my knowledge and misinterpreted a conversation where I was cheering up an old friend after his partner left him. I saw how hurt my partner and he does not believe that men and women can just be friends.was so I never contacted my male friends again.

Have you tried speaking to her without asking her questions, just saying how you feel about her friendship with the other man? Breaching her privacy is obviously not going to help things.

It is an important issue for you both and it would good if you could discuss it.

Thanks again for sharing your story.

Quirky

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion
Dear Painting~
A difficult situation, but one that needs resolving because it is obviously eating at you.

When talking about the sort of situation you are in it is just about impossible not to apply my own standards and expectations, so I’ll start by admitting they are just mine and may not suit others.

From my point of view any partnership involves loving, caring for and trusting the other. There should be an inbuilt desire to make the other person happy and secure. I also think that this means honesty.

I have a fair amount of correspondence and contact with members of the opposite sex - and members of the same sex too come to that - but never do so in isolation or secret. I consciously include my partner in all aspects of my life precisely so she can feel secure and not left out. As a result she is fully aware of what I'm doing and saying. I mention this to show I think personal contact with others is fine. It is secrecy and lies that poisons relationships.

It looks to me – if I have a proper understanding of the situation - as if there are two separate actions going on here that need to be straightened out. Your insecurity and distrust of your wife and snooping in her accounts without permission. Her not being open and keeping you informed, and further that she seems, on what you have said, to be content to leave you in an anxious unhappy state.

The question you are no doubt asking yourself - or at least I would be - is if there is some shortcoming of mine which leads her to want to correspond so heavily with someone else.

Like Quirky above I think that the pair of you need to sort out what has happened in the past, and set out a plan for the future that involves more openness at least. To remain as you are is corrosive.

I do have one other worry, you said you would prefer the marriage to end rather than live in a situation that might end in physical infidelity. Do you think that could be an overreaction? From what you said no such thing has happened, it is just an assumption, and your 8 year relationship, apart from this, has been strong. In my case I’d consider that a prize well worth fighting to continue – what do you think?

Croix

Juliet_84
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
She has remarked previously how good looking he is, and confided that he mentioned that he thought she was beautiful, so there is attraction there. That coupled with the fact that they are friends and you have seen flirty messages - I think you should trust your gut on this one. It's not like you are some controlling and jealous husband, by your own admission, you've been very secure in your relationship up until this point because you've had no reason to doubt her, up until this point. You need to make her end this now, she won't respect you if you don't.

Thanks Juliet_84, Croix and quirkywords. I appreciate the time taken to write your responses. I feel that confronting my wife with an accusation based on evidence unethically obtained would be far more damaging to the relationship than the potentially questionable friendship she is engaged in. Perhaps a little bit of flirtation is ok in a friendship. I don't think she would be comfortable if she were to willingly hand over her phone and invite me to comb through all of her correspondence. I know in my younger years I would also not have felt particularly easy having my partner read through my messages (maybe a bit too flirty/friendly here and there). The thing is, I have realised the importance of conducting myself in a way where I would be happy if my partner were to read through anything I wrote. If I have to hide something from her, there's probably something wrong with what I'm doing. The fact that she hides things from me (at this stage in our relationship) is what's probably more bothersome. I know she would likely say the only reason she would hide this correspondence from me is because we had discussed it before and she knows I would probably take it the wrong way. But that's exactly the point - I don't think I wouldn't mind at all if she were out in the open about it. Everyone needs and deserves friends.

Hi and welcome Painting;

How brave you are! It's risky business dealing with a suspected infidelity and feeling more for her than yourself; trust works both ways as I see it. I do respect your decision though.

Guilt is traditionally a useless emotion on this forum; it causes more grief than need be. The only way to address guilt is to speak up and take the hit. I figure your relationships worth it? You did actually invade her space yes?

The difference between her and you is being caught; the how's and why's are irrelevant because at the end of the day, suspicion breeds contempt. You can't un-know something. There's nowhere to go except Hades in your mind and heart until it's out in the open.

Priorities mean working out what you can live with. I've seen and heard more than I'd care to remember about what 'secrets' can do to people. Not only on here, but in my life as well.

I wish you luck P; I also hope you have the constitution to keep your secrets and not fall victim to them.

Respect;

Sez

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Painting~

OK, you have made a decision to which has Sez above says: I also hope you have the constitution to keep your secrets and not fall victim to them.

Actually you say yourself: If I have to hide something from her, there's probably something wrong with what I'm doing

Well you did say that and in the same passage said you were not going to mention you had gone though her phone -um.

Obviously as the person on the spot you know the circumstances and your partner best. It does seem to me that you are not sorting the matter out and as time goes on you may feel more and more insecure and maybe even resentful as a result, plus the contempt Sez mentions. This cannot be good either for you or your marriage. Your partner should really be given the opportunity to have here input into the matter. If there is care and love then understanding that someone can be insecure and make a mistake as a result is not that hard. True she may be angry, but justifiably so.

I know it is easy for people here to offer advice, and to seem to disregard the risks involved. All I can say is that any relationship has to be robust enough to stand telling the truth and the making of mistakes if silence means one or both persons are going to be badly affected.

Maybe in the end it all comes down to confidence, confidence that you are a partner worth having, and confidence your wife knows that.

Croix

Apollo_Black
Community Member

Listen to Juliet_84

You are completely justified investigating this matter so don’t feel bad going through her phone. Your wife is reacting in this way because she wants to shut you down so you she can keep getting her dopamine hit from this man.

If you have evidence that she’s having an EA then you need to use it to shut it down and shut it down hard. And if you have to go there, she also needs to agree to you having open access to all devices. If you don’t have concrete eveidence then she’ll take it underground and you won’t know what’s going on.

So in essence you have to be completely sure she’s having an EA. If that means checking her phone/email then so be it, including making sure it hasn’t gone physical.

Their relationship is completely inappropriate

Is this guy married?

Hi Painting,

I definitely feel the same way as Apollo Black and others; as much as your self worth and sense of security is shaken, I believe you need to somehow get your wife to end this friendship. And after that happens, you need to have full access to her communication/phone/email, for as long as it takes for you to feel secure in your marriage again.

Perhaps something you could try is to stay away from accusations for a little while, and instead focus on communicating your feelings of pain and hurt to her?. Tell her that whether she intended it or not, her secret friendship has caused you to feel a loss of trust and security in the marriage, and shaken your sense of self worth. Tell her in pain adn feeling depression.

If your wife is worth anything at all, she will care about your feelings. You're the man who has invested years of your life into her. Mr `hot and shiny' has invested nothing.