Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

How would you feel if you suspected a male friend wasn't telling his DW about the time you spend together?

(54 Posts)
Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 09:35:09

I've know this man about 15 years, we were colleagues initially, but haven't been for a long time. We still work in the same city and meet for a drink after work maybe 5-6 times a year. A very occasional text in between, maybe a joke or something about the football, but nothing else.

That said, I do count him as a good close friend. When we are out together we generally spend the first hour talking about work/children, then move on to football and once the beer is properly flowing will set about putting the world to rights. There's not much I couldn't talk to him about and we always have a good laugh. We are both football fans and TBH I don't know many people I can share this interest with - DH not interested and neither are my female friends. He has two DSs 7 years older than my 2 and he coached his DS1's football team from when they were 5-18, so he has become my go to for advice on raising boys. He's always treated me with complete respect and I have no reason to suspect the friendship is anything but platonic on either side.

However, something he said when we were arranging our next night out made me think he's not intending to tell his wife who he'll be with. I think because he likes a quiet life and it's easier not to than because there's anything to hide, but even so....I always tell DH exactly where I'm going and who with and if he's awake when I get in, will relate much of our drunken conversation - although I suspect he doesn't listen shock There was one other occasion when I suspected this, but when I challenged him, he just said "she doesn't ask" the evening progressed and I didn't think about it any more.

I've never met his DW, not deliberately, I don't think, we live in opposite directions 40 miles out of the city and have never socialised other than after work. He doesn't talk about her much, but when he does, he has occasionally had a gripe about how her (freelance) work took too much time away from DC, especially when she was making no money and he was working all hours to support them, but he was also incredibly proud when she sold her first work.

So, anyway, what would you think and what, if anything, would you do? I am uncomfortable with it, but he is an important friend to me. I don't think issuing an ultimatum would help, he'd react badly to being pushed into a corner over anything. I also wouldn't expect to be able to tell any of my other friends how they should deal with issues in their marriages

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 21-Nov-12 09:45:08

I have a friend like that. Travels a lot for work, turns up for supper occasionally and I'm sure his DW has no idea where he is. What I say is 'I am uncomfortable that you don't tell your DW you're with me'. Once it's out there, you don't have to press the point. Entirely his decision who he tells about what. His motives are his concern, not yours. You've been honest with him and with your family... your conscience is clear.

LessMissAbs Wed 21-Nov-12 09:59:35

I'd say you were filling the role of occasional platonic girlfriend to him, and he is like a kind of boyfriend to you. If both your partners are happy with this, then fair enough. Its just that you are more open than him. I think to press the issue that he tells his wife about your meetings would risk moving it on a stage further - he would either have to admit to something more than he wants to. At the moment, you are an unacknowledged presence in the main part of his life (which personally would irk me), and he can get attention from you without any risk.

Perhaps he has more than one woman like you as a friend, and his wife has found out before and not reacted well?

needsomeperspective Wed 21-Nov-12 10:12:16

You aren't doing anything wrong. It's entirely platonic and he isn't asking you to be complicit ie lie to his wife yourself. What he tells his wife or how he chooses to comport himself in his marriage is his business not yours. I'd tell you to mind your own if you started commenting on how I chose to manage communication with my spouse.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 11:20:45

LittleMissAbs, sorry, I don't understand your post! Yes, I am a platonic (girl)friend who he sees occasionally, he may well have/have had others, but I don't see why that should have upset his wife (although the secrecy would upset me if I was his DW) I also don't feel at all irked that I don't feature in his "main" life - I wouldn't expect to and can't really say that he features in mine. Neither do many of my friends TBH, only a couple who have DHs that are also friends with my DH really feature in my home life.

As for attention, aren't we all usually looking for attention, at least to some extent, when we meet friends?

I Know/feel that what he's doing isn't right, but I don't know what I can do about it. As I said he's an important friend to me and I'm sure he would feel exactly as needsomeperspective if I tried to lay down the law.

LessMissAbs Wed 21-Nov-12 11:29:37

Well I guess though you may feel that way OP, there are women out there who wouldn't like their husbands to have even a platonic girlfriend that provides them with attention, and his wife might be one of them - or he doesn't know how she would react and simply isn't taking any chances.

But if you don't mind not being part of his main life (or social circle) then why would you mind him not telling his wife about your meetings?

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 11:35:59

How do you feel when your husband doesn't appear to be listening to you about your nights out with your friend? Is that something he does only in relation to this situation, or is listening generally a problem?

Why do you think your friend keeps this secret for a quiet life, as opposed to just wanting to deceive a woman who wuld have no problem if the friendship was innocent?

What impression do you have of his wife? A couple of things you've said indicate that you aren't warming to the image he portrays of her. Have you added to that impression with any female stereotypes of your own?

What impression do you give to your friend about your husband and your own marriage?

How would you both react if one of your partners suggested meeting this friend that their spouse meets up with at least every 8 weeks for a whole evening?

Be honest with yourself about whether it is just discomfort you feel about his secrecy. Any other emotions going on there?

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 12:00:31

Thanks Charnon, I'll answer your points in order:

I don't blame DH for not listening, I can't imagine it's of much interest to him and he probably wants his bed. When it matters he does listen

I don't know, but I think a lot of men keep quiet about all sorts of things, rather than face an interrogation. No idea if he would face one in this case and I don't really know why he keeps it secret. It's a case of not telling, rather than actual lying in his opinion. He says he'd tell her if she asked, but she doesn't and maybe he is a bit put out that she doesn't show more interest in what he's doing on a night out.

My impression of his wife is a woman who had 2 children 10 years apart and spent an awful long time doing menial evening/weekend work so she could be at home with them and look after him and his home during the day, with no family support nearby. It must have been very hard on her as she is an intelligent woman who has always had ambitions in respect of the freelance work she does. I think she has done brilliantly to achieve what she has with her freelancing after such a long time out of meaningful work (outside the home). I have told him this and always take her side in these kind of discussions.

My friend is very well aware that I feel very lucky to have my DH and whilst I will occasionally have mentioned something DH has done that wound me up, he's heard far more about how thrilled I am with DH's promotion, what a lovely surprise he planned for my birthday etc.

I'd be happy to go out as a foursome. Not sure my DH would TBH, as he's not very sociable and I do suspect my friends likes to keep our friendship compartmentalised. Not sure why though, he has never in 15 years made any sort of romantic/sexual approach, even when quite drunk.

I am uncomfortable about being part of the deception of a fellow woman, but I am completely sure that I'm not deceiving myself about our friendship.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 12:03:05

LittleMissAbs, there may well be women that would not like their DH to have platonic female friends, but the general opinion on here is that they would be unreasonable to feel that way.

I'm not sure what you mean by attention - he doesn't the kind of attention from me that he would from a lover. I laugh as his jokes and show interest in his work, just as his male friends would.

EdithWeston Wed 21-Nov-12 12:09:37

If his DW does not know that he is meeting you, then if she discovers it she may well conclude you are the OW in an emotional affair.

It is totally right that you want to make sure that your friendship with this man has clear boundaries so neither he (nor indeed you) slips over into inappropriate intimacy.

I suggest that you make it really clear to your DH when you meet him (perhaps he already knows?) and perhaps involve him (all meeting up? Having him drop you off or pick you up?).

And make everything as transparent to the DW as you can. Perhaps you could arrange meetings by ringing his house phone, rather than by personal text?

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 12:10:53

Thanks.

I was wondering why you put the 'shocked' expression next to your apparent afterthought that your husband didn't listen?

That makes me wonder whether you are projecting some of your own worries about your husband's apparent complacency, on to your friend's wife? Otherwise why would you assume that he would either get an 'interrogation' or feels put out that she shows such little interest? You don't seem to consider other possibilities that show his wife in a better light e.g that he actually lies to her about where he has been, has been untrustworthy in the past or that he likes keeping secrets from her. Or the more obvious one - that she would have absolutely no problem with an openly conducted friendship, but isn't being given the chance to state a view?

I'm wondering why you think a lot of men lie by omission about a lot of things, to avoid an interrogation. That seems to put the blame on women for their reactions, rather than on the liar by omission. Why is that?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 21-Nov-12 12:11:05

Is it deception really? You go out after work for a drink. He probably says 'I'll be late home because I'm going out for a drink after work' and that's where the conversation ends. You seem to chat about football, family and other fairly 'matey' subjects.... not the Kama Sutra. It's not a 'date' set up over a candlelit table. If you were a man you wouldn't wonder why he hadn't mentioned you specifically, I suppose. Are you reading more into these meetings than he is?

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 12:23:09

If I'd been meeting a girlfriend for a night out every 8 weeks for 15 years, I would think it was very odd that her husband didn't know about my existence or that she was meeting me one-to-one on these nights out.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 12:27:35

Charbon, I think you're crediting me with a lot more depth than is actually there. The shock was supposed to be ironic, as in, I'm not really surprised that he's not listening when I get in drunk in the early hours. I am not worried about DH's "complacency". He's not complacent. I will stop using smilies wink

I genuinely do have massive respect for my friend's DW (what I know of her). I don't know why he feels the need for secrecy. I only know I don't like it, but don't know what I can do about it.

He does seem put out that she doesn't ask, maybe not saying anything is his challenge to her to ask? I don't know. That's why I posted. I've seen enough MN, to know that many men would be interrogated in this situation, but I have no idea if that's the case here, I was just throwing our possibilities. I absolutely don't think lying by omission is OK or that it is the "fault" of the woman, I think the exact opposite, which is why I'm uncomfortable here, but again I don't know what to do about it.

Cogito, that's exactly what he says and you're right I wouldn't wonder why he hasn't mentioned me if I were a man.

Edith, that is exactly why I would prefer she knows. I know she has nothing to worry about, but I also know that it would look awful if it came out after 15 years!! DH does sometimes drop me off/collect, everything is completely transparent as far as my DH is concerned.

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 12:33:53

Would you not wonder why you weren't mentioned if a girlfriend had kept you a secret from her partner for 15 years?

Have you told your husband that your friend keeps you secret from his wife? How does/do you think he would - feel about that?

alreadytaken Wed 21-Nov-12 12:34:37

I had a male friend like this, he didn't tell his wife when we met because she was the jealous type and didn't like him to meet friends from his past. He is now divorced, we are still friends. I didn't see it was any of my business what he told his wife, although it was sad she didn't understand men and women can simply be friends.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 12:40:59

Yes, I would wonder why Charbon and I do in this case, which is why I'm feeling uncomfortable about it all and why I've posted, as, at the risk of repeating myself, I don't know what I can/should do about it.

Yes, I have told DH. He thinks that from their point of view it would be better if he did tell her, but doesn't consider it to be of actual relevance to him(DH)/us. His advice is to stay out of it and enjoy my night out.

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 12:58:47

Okay well here's what I would do about it.

I would tell him that I didn't want to be complicit in any secrets from his wife and that it made me feel uncomfortable, especially as my motives for our friendship were transparent. I'd add that I didn't want to lose the friendship but wasn't prepared to have it at the cost of honesty towards another person.

I'm always very wary of making judgements about people I've never met, or of projecting other people's attitudes on to them. I would never believe that someone was 'the jealous type' if I'd never met that person and I don't assume that all jealousy is irrational anyway. I would always wonder what motive someone has for describing their life partner in those terms.

I also come at this from the perspective that women in general are not jealous harridans who submit their partners to interrogation, or who are alternately neglectful or complacent in their intimate relationships. If someone is lying, either by commission or omission, I always scrutinise their motives, ask questions and then make a judgement, rather than excusing their lies by presuming that their partners' behaviour is at fault for the lie.

This isn't specifically directed at you OP, incidentally. I see a lot of posters on this forum whose instant reaction is to blame a deceived woman, rather than the deceiving man.

prh47bridge Wed 21-Nov-12 13:03:16

there may well be women that would not like their DH to have platonic female friends, but the general opinion on here is that they would be unreasonable to feel that way

Agree they are unreasonable but they exist. My first wife was one such. In her mind any contact with a female friend meant I was probably having an affair. Totally unreasonable but that was the way her mind worked - and no, I was not having affairs, emotional or otherwise.

I quickly realised that there was much less grief if I didn't mention any contact I had with female friends (or even female work colleagues). As with your friend I wasn't actively hiding their existence, just not volunteering information. Telling her and taking the grief would have made life unbearable so the only other option would have been to cut off contact with any female friends completely (which is what my wife wanted).

I am not allocating blame here, just laying out the situation. Given her reactions I had two choices:

- cut off contact with any female friends
- don't tell my wife about my female friends

I chose the second option. I take full responsibility for that. If that was the wrong option then I got it wrong.

As I see it you have a simple choice. Either end this friendship or accept the fact that he doesn't tell his wife all about it and stop agonising about it. There really isn't anything else you can do. If you try to force the issue he may well tell you it is none of your business and/or end your friendship himself.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 13:06:56

I haven't assumed that his wife is the jealous type, I've only suggested (among other possible reasons) that he hasn't told her for a quiet life. I too don't like to make assumptions about people I've never met. If my friend were to tell me his wife was the jealous type, I'd be asking what in his past makes her feel like that, but he hasn't told me any such thing and as far as I know there is nothing like that.

I do know my friend though and he would not react well to to being told he "must" tell her (or do anything else). The best I could hope for was that he'd agree to tell her and then "forget". What then?

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 13:08:12

Didn't you have an affair when married to your first wife bridge, or have I mixed you up with another poster?

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 21-Nov-12 13:10:31

I think you've been listening to mundanes and monogamists who can't see the world in any other way than I Must Police My Partner's Interactions So S/he Can't Have Sex With Other People. Plenty of rational people don't get their undies in a bundle about that sort of thing.

You don't want to shag this man, you have no suspicion that he wants to shag you, the two of you socialise very rarely and talk about work and football. The rest of his life is none of your business.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 13:10:58

X-post prh. That is exactly how I would expect my friend to react, although I don't know (or suspect) his wife reacts like, that, just that there is a (unknown) reason he prefers not to tell her. Sadly, though, I note you are no longer married, please tell me it had nothing to do with your female friends.

Hopeisthethingwithfeathers Wed 21-Nov-12 13:13:18

prh47bridge Please don't take this the wrong way, but is there any connection between your choice and why you are now divorced? Just wondering if it always ends that badly....

Durab You can't insist or even encourage your friend to tell his DW. That is between him and her. Just be prepared for the phone call accusing you of being an OW if his DW ever finds out. It's not your responsibility though.

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 13:17:36

Plenty of rational people don't get their undies in a bundle about that sort of thing.

Including most women of my acquaintance. I've met very few women who are naturally suspicious and possessive about their partners' friendships, but a lot of people who enjoy depicting women like that.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now