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Is this an emotional affair?

(133 Posts)
QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 17:27:33

Man and woman had on off relationship for 2 years 7 years ago.

Man moved away, married and had children. Woman married, had children and then divorced and is single. They have kept in contact but no as frequent when she was married.

They speak at least one a week through email and at length. Messages are quite personal. Quite open that they miss each other. He sends songs that remind him of her, most indicating that at the least he has feeling for her but more along the lines that he loves her, she's the one that got away etc. Her response is usually a bit jokey such as "another one added to the playlist".

He had openly told her Mum (publicly and will say jokingly) that she is his future MIL.

What would you think?

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 17:29:03

Should also add mans wife doesn't like this woman and requests her husband doesn't see her when he is visiting the town he's from. He ignores her and sees the woman anyway.

badbaldingballerina123 Tue 02-Sep-14 17:34:44

Yes it is. If a married man said that to me about my daughter I'd tell him to fuck off unless he wanted to discuss it in front of his wife.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Sep-14 17:35:53

Being charitable that's an inappropriate level of intimacy for a married man to have with a female friend. Being less charitable, it's an emotional affair, he's lying to his wife and he's attempting to keep the friend warm so he can pick up where he left off.

The female friend sounds less keen but, if she had any sense, she'd tell this guy to take a hike and drop contact. She's not really doing anything wrong but she's going to end up getting the blame.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Sep-14 17:36:34

So which of the players in this little drama are you OP? smile

Mama1980 Tue 02-Sep-14 17:38:31

As cognito says at best he's being inappropriate but tbh I would probably call it a emotional affair from what you posted here.
The friend sounds wary and wisely so.

venusandmars Tue 02-Sep-14 17:43:51

The timescale doesn't matter. The term 'emotional affair' doesn't matter. The history doesn't matter.

What does matter is that he is emotionally engaged in a relationship which will impact upon his marriage. How it impacts on his marriage is something we can't know.

It would be very easy to call him all the scumbag names, but it could be that this 'fantasy' is what keeps him afloat and sane in a difficult place and enables him to stay in his marriage, or it could be that it distracts him and stops him from committing to his family.

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 17:52:22

I am the friend.

I wanted to canvas a few opinions without giving my personal point of view.

He doesn't lie to his wife. She knows we talk and knows we see each other when he's here even though she doesn't like it he does tell her.

To be honest I've always thought she was overreacting slightly and it's only recently that his messages have taken a turn. It was after one specific message over the weekend that I started to question his intentions/feelings. I then had a read back and saw that the tone of his messages had changed entirely since we last saw one another. I was assuming it was all tongue in cheek and just a bit of a joke but now I'm not sure.

I class him as a friend and only a friend and reading back I knew if I was his wife reading it I would be hurt. Probably more than hurt.

I need to pull back on the friendship. Do I tell him next time he messages that I think they are inappropriate or just ignore? I would 100% never want to hurt his wife and have only just realised that if she was to stumble across the messages that would be exactly how she felt.

whitsernam Tue 02-Sep-14 17:56:03

Trust your instincts here. Your last message here is quite wise and on the mark. I think I'd tell him where to take a hike.... but please use your own words. Cutting contact entirely sounds like the best solution.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Sep-14 17:57:03

I've been in exactly the same situation as it happens, only his DW didn't know he was in touch. I told my 'friend' that I thought it would be best if we didn't contact each other for a while. I wasn't really bothered about his DW tbh but I could see what he wanted and I thought I could do better than a chubby middle-aged saddo. smile

Mama1980 Tue 02-Sep-14 18:00:00

Given that you are such good/long term friends, I would tell him that he is being inappropriate, and say what you said here, that he would hurt his wife if she read his messages. Emphasis that you are in no way Interested. Instinct is usually spot on with these things
How he reacts will tell you a lot, hopefully he just got carried away and will be embarrassed and apologise.
If he reacts any differently cut contact.

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 18:06:15

I could absolutely cut contact if need be. I'd miss him a lot though. He's been what I thought of as my best friend for 7 years.

I would still have to see him when he visits due to family/friend connections. It would be near possible for our paths to not cross.

I think I'll respond to his next message and see his response. As you say it will no doubt say a lot and tbh if his response isn't that of a decent husband and even a decent friend then I guess he's not really the friend I thought he was. Not to even mention he's not the man his wife thinks he is.

I'm genuinely confused as to how I didn't see this over the last few months.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Sep-14 18:15:39

It's a question of perspective. You're joking when you're flirting and you assumed he was doing the same thing rather than pretending to joke as a way to cover up that he still fancies you.

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 18:16:42

I kind of wish I could post the last message to make sure I'm not
Completely overreacting, which I don't think I am but it could definitely out me (not that I think he reads mumsnet but you just never know) grin

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Sep-14 18:22:45

The other angle is that it's a nice ego-boost to think that you're the one that got away etc. If you're not in a relationship at the moment, there's a vacancy, let's face it. I'm really not judging - been there, done that... smile ... but it's easy to convince yourself that it's all a bit of fun & not want to read more into it.

sonjadog Tue 02-Sep-14 18:25:11

I think if you aren't looking for it, it is easy to miss clues. I don't know if it is necessary to cut him off completely, but it might be a good idea to make it absolutely clear that nothing romantic is going to happen between you.

I'd also stop meeting him in situations where his wife has asked him not to meet you. Did you know she had asked him not to see you? Why did you then meet him?

I have male friends who are just friends and nothing more. I am very careful not to give their wives anything to talk about. We meet and do only stuff that they are okay with and if they weren't okay with it then it wouldn't happen. I have no interest in causing strain in my friends' marriages. Are you really okay with the strain you have been causing his marriage, and if so, why?

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 18:27:03

Nah, it just feels wrong. I haven't his wife and children, I attended their wedding and I know his family very very well.

I also just couldn't get past how she would feel if she saw them. I guess previously when there were still feeling there I may have been swayed into thinking it was harmless fun but I view it as a purely platonic friendship these days. Have done for a long time.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Sep-14 18:27:53

She's not causing the strain... he is... hmm Please let's not go down the route of painting the OP as some shameless siren, luring a pathetic man onto the rocks.

sonjadog Tue 02-Sep-14 18:30:36

Let's not get caught up in hyperbole either.

Personally, I think it is fair for a single female to consider the feelings of her married male friends' wives.

Mama1980 Tue 02-Sep-14 18:31:02

It's not always easy to see what is in front of you, or interpret someone else's words. I think we have all got it wrong one time or another.
As I said how he reacts when you respond will tell you all you need to know. If he is wanting to make you is 'bit on the side' then he is not the friend you thought he was.
I hope he apologies and feels awful.

kaykayblue Tue 02-Sep-14 18:31:04

Well first off I think it was quite decent of you to canvas other views on this, rather than assuming that the wife must be just overreacting.

If my partner was doing this, I would seriously question our relationship. I think it goes very firmly into emotional affair territory.

Whilst you aren't actively encouraging his behaviour, you aren't discouraging it either. If that's genuinely because you didn't "see" it until recently, then fair enough, but please do make it crystal clear to him that what he is doing is completely disrespectful to his wife, and you aren't interested.

To be honest, if you have been close for a long time, then I think he can take a bit of brutal honesty. You could say something like;

"The sort of things you are saying to me are making me extremely uncomfortable. For example, calling my mother your future MIL, etc. I have always considered you to be a good person, but no decent married man speaks to other women like this. How would you feel if I forwarded your messages to me to your wife? I would like to continue our friendship, but as a friend. If you are incapable of doing that then, very sadly, I don't think we can speak any more. You're a grown man. I shouldn't be the one having to patrol your behaviour."

Whatever you do, don't say something wishy washy and fuzzy to try and protect his feelings. He needs this to be spelt out.

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 18:33:55

We have met alone once in the entire 7 years. Every other time it is in a mixed group. Could be friends, could be family could be both. I've never had any qualms with meeting up with him against her wishes because as far as I've been concerned her problem with me stems purely from our past relationship and to me it was her insecurity that had zero foundation as our romantic link was to my knowledge ancient history.

I don't think that I should have cut out someone who has been involved in my life for almost 12 years because someone else demands it. If he had chosen to end the friendship then that would be his call.

I don't think that because you are dating/engaged/married to someone you have the right to dictate their friendships. I wouldn't allow a partner of mine to tell me who I can and can't be friends with, therefore I won't make the decision based on a friends partners feelings. Like I said if he had I would have accepted it but it's never come up.

sonjadog Tue 02-Sep-14 18:35:04

I think kaykay is right. If you are that close then you can give it to him straight. Hopefully he will back off and you can continue your friendship on a more suitable basis.

QuietBeforeTheStorm Tue 02-Sep-14 18:38:19

Sorry should have made it clear I wouldn't make the decisions on a friends partners feelings unless I felt it did have foundation to it. Like now, which is why I am now considering how to handle this based on her feelings and also my own (those being friendly feelings)

sonjadog Tue 02-Sep-14 18:40:56

Once in seven years is nothing. It doesn't sound like you have done anything wrong at all. Maybe your friend has got a bit too caught up in a daydream and needs a good dose of reality to sort him out?

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