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Other woman discussing relationship problems with partner

(29 Posts)
pugsandotherthings Thu 07-Nov-13 16:49:44

How would you feel about this? My partner has a fairly newish female friend who he met at work, they don't work together every day and he has known her about a year (fairly good friends for the last few months). He tells me that they seem to get on naturally well and have a lot in common. I was never particularly bothered by this and I am not friends with her, though I did meet her in passing once in the street. This was until last week when he told me that she had called him to get advice as she thought she had messed up her relationship with her boyfriend and thought he would tell her the truth as to whether she was in the wrong. For some reason this has set alarm bells off in my head as I feel it is just a fairly stereotypical slippery slope into more initimate conversation. I asked him were they that close that she felt comfortable talking to him about this and he said yes. I told him I thought it was a bit weird and he said that maybe I was just lucky that I had people I can talk to. I said it made me uncomfortable and I hadn't realised they were that close as he said they don't see eachother that much or talk that much outside of work, he then took offence saying that he struggles to find good friendships (which he does as most of his close friends are also mine) and maybe I could just be happy for him that he has a good friend, he then listed a large number of things they had in common and why they were friends and said that I should meet her and then I would realise why they are so close. I don't think he is cheating and he said he's upset that I feel uncomfortable about it, but I just feel that these things can easily cross boundaries without people even realising and for me the discussing of relationships is one of them. Am I just being jealous and a bit selfish, please be honest because we all need a slap in the face sometimes (metophorically of course!)

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 07-Nov-13 16:52:47

<KLAXON!!> I think your suspicions are on the money and he's being a wee bit dense tbh. That's the full eyelash-fluttering 'nobody loves me' 'you're such a good listener' convo isn't it. Tell him to grow up.

Jan45 Thu 07-Nov-13 17:10:04

Mmmm, I bet he'd feel exactly the same as you if if was you having intimate discussions with a male friend - he's trying to put blame on you when in fact, it does look a bit ott, does she not have any other friend to confide in apart from him? I'd definitely be keeping an eye on both of them. It would actually really hurt me to hear my partner say I should meet her to understand how close they are - oh how very cosy for them huh...

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 07-Nov-13 17:13:48

He may well develop an attraction for this woman over time.

Why did she call him also?. Surely there is someone else she can talk to.
I think he is also being a wee bit dense (he is not at all good at setting boundaries) and also a sucker for the "damsel in distress". He probably thinks of himself as something of a knight in shining armour.

If the positions were reversed I daresay he would not like you talking to what he would see as some bloke about your relationship problems.

Mattissy Thu 07-Nov-13 17:20:58

At uni I had a relationship which was purely platonic, never in a million years would I have had anything more, he had plenty of girlfriends and I had boyfriends which we openly discussed yet our relationship never faltered. It does happen... But, I would still be wary if dh suddenly struck up this type of friendship, I wouldn't stop it but I'd certainly watch closely.

tribpot Thu 07-Nov-13 17:27:58

I get this all the time with my male friends. One wants to go out for lunch next week and I guarantee it's because something else has gone wrong with his current relationship. I don't necessarily think that aspect makes it instantly suspicious but the phrase 'you should meet her so you understand why they are so close' sounds a bit off. Maybe it was just poorly phrased, i.e. if you met her you'd understand why they get on so well, but it's still a bit icky.

I'd be keeping an eye on things and reminding him that if she's having problems in her relationship she could be a bit vulnerable and able to misread signals.

Fairenuff Thu 07-Nov-13 17:28:29

For some reason this has set alarm bells off in my head as I feel it is just a fairly stereotypical slippery slope into more initimate conversation.

Your instincts are in good working order, this is often the beginning of a more intimate relationship between two people. I think you should tell him that he is in danger of becoming too involved, emotionally involved, and he should cool it a bit with her.

perfectstorm Thu 07-Nov-13 17:31:44

You're not being jealous or selfish. On that "advice when getting married" thread I said that I thought fidelity was not an accident and took both parties boundarying the marriage appropriately, if it was important to you you couldn't just assume neither would ever cheat because it can sneak up on the most unexpected people if they aren't aware of how it happens. Emotionally intimate conversations are a common pathway to transgressing that boundary, as so many miserable threads on MN attest. Friendships are great, but very intense ones than run along the same gender mix lines as the person's orientation are often a precursor to more. Great, when you're both single - it was how DH and I really became close. Really problematic when one is in a committed relationship.

I'd mind and I would try to talk through why with him, were I you. He's not being an arse, just oblivious. Personally I think there are several sorts of affairs - player affairs, where the person will always cheat and looks for opportunities; escapism affairs, where the marriage is genuinely limping along and the cheater just lacked the guts and/or motivation to do anything about it; and ones where the boundaries become so blurred someone who would abhor the very idea suddenly decides their marriage wasn't all they thought it was and look, they're in lerrrve, awfully sad but a lightning bolt hit! The latter kind won't always happen from the situation you describe, not by a long shot, but I do think it's worth being wary when it surfaces. Especially when someone is being a Damsel in Distress and offering knightly opportunities. Emotional intensity like that is very seductive, I think.

I've never read Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass but a lot of people here recommend it - I have got the impression that it explains exactly why this sort of thing can be risky. Perhaps get it on Kindle, so you have the vocabulary to back up the instinct something is amiss here? I don't think it's easy to voice nebulous fears, but those fears are often well founded, and if you can find the words to explain why in a non-accusatory way he may hear you better. It isn't you not trusting him, is it? It's you being aware of human emotional dynamics - emotionally intelligent, really.

perfectstorm Thu 07-Nov-13 17:34:05

At uni I had a relationship which was purely platonic, never in a million years would I have had anything more, he had plenty of girlfriends and I had boyfriends which we openly discussed yet our relationship never faltered. It does happen... But, I would still be wary if dh suddenly struck up this type of friendship, I wouldn't stop it but I'd certainly watch closely.

Yeah, same. I think someone not prone to close friendships who is telling you the other person here is just like him in that way, so the bond is unusually strong, when it's also very recent... I'd be bothered. And I speak as someone whose husband has lots of women friends and is close to the main ex before me, and who doesn't mind a bit. I'd still mind this - the suddenness, intensity and rarity (for them) of such a tie would bother me.

wontletmesignin Thu 07-Nov-13 17:35:50

I dont think you or your husband are in the wrong here.
I think this other woman has hidden motives.
Maybe it is a genuine friendship.
I would have the suspicion of her being at that point of wanting more than a friendship.
.just keep your eyes peeled

Lavenderhoney Thu 07-Nov-13 17:50:08

I think him saying " meet her if you want and realise why they are so close" sounds like trouble to me. What, are they holding hands under the table?

You could say brightly " love to!" And when you meet her, say kindly as you sit down, " dh has said you were having boyfriend trouble, it does sound difficult" But that depends on if he has shared with you her problems. Because being close, and discussing relationships means he is talking back to her, and it may be all about you. She is deconstructing the private intimacy between the two of you.

Its a bit strange a woman doesn't ask one of her female friends about relationship issues. She might not have any in the area, but she could pick up the phone, surely? Instead she picks on your dh as her relationship guru. Is he any good at this?

pugsandotherthings Thu 07-Nov-13 18:34:07

Thank you for all the replies. In between posting this we had another conversation about it so will update...

Pefect storm you hit the nail on the head with the idea that emotional support often leads to crossing of boundaries. I think it is just something that people have to accept, and I said this to him and he said he agreed with me. His response was that he did think it was weird when she called him as he would never discuss our relationship with her. I do believe this as he never really discusses it with anyone except his sister or another mutual friend occasionally.

I said I found it odd that she decided he was the person that could inform her best, he said that at the beginning of the conversation she stated that she thought he would understand it from a male point of view and was simillar to her partner in that sense. He said the reason he talked to her was that there are times in his life where he has been desperate and had no one to talk to and it was awful for him and he said didn't want her to feel like that as she is his friend. He said that he knew his boundaries but at that moment when he called her he didn't feel like he could just say "no I'm not talking to you about this", so he gave her his advice and that was that. He said that at that time he didn't feel she had any other motives, but said he obviously couldn't be 100% certain. He also said that he finds it so frustrating because he loves me and has no intention of doing anything to me and feels that I should trust him to know his boundaries when it comes to other women.

He does have close friendships, in fact his other female best friend also happens to be mine but he doesn't have loads. That's not really why I am concerned here because he does make friends and you can have platonic friendships with the opposite sex, it was more the idea of him being an emotional crutch, though he is good listener and does just tell it as it is.

I asked him why he said the "so close" thing, and he said that he just thought if I met her we would get on well and I would like her so would understand why he likes her also and that he doesn't want to hide anything from me. I am considering it because it does seem like it would just make things easier, but tbh I would rather of just randomly met than have a meeting with awkward underlying tension and secretly wanting to pull her hair out but having to be nice. I do hope that I would like her too and feel better after this.

It is a difficult one because other than this I have no reason to be concerned, but you just see so many people who can talk the talk and I guess I just don't want to have the wool pulled over my eyes.

Joysmum Thu 07-Nov-13 18:42:49

It's only a problem if you are insecure and don't trust your husbanding years gone by id have been worried too, but when I was insecure. Now I'd only be insecure or worried if I was lied to by my hubby about any friendships as that would bother me.

I have friends who are blokes, OH isn't threatened by it as he knows I'm devoted to him and I was badly hurt by my previous partner cheating on me and feel very strongly again cheating either emotionally or physically.

Dahlen Thu 07-Nov-13 18:58:35

I think your suspicions are warranted, although I also think your DP is probably completely innocent of any wrongdoing at this moment in time.

I get the impression that he's flattered by this friendship, rather than aroused. But that's not a healthy dynamic because it can't last. It will either develop into something less heady but more stable (and platonic) or it will cross the line into something deeper (and non-platonic).

Flattery is no basis for forming any kind of relationship. It panders to the ego and pretty soon the flattery becomes a form of validation, which becomes addictive. Most people don't choose to have affairs just because they can and they don't care about the consequences. They have affairs because when they're with the person they're going to have the affair with, they feel good about themselves. That often starts quite innocently, but then they start to to seek it out. Then it takes on a life of its own.

I think if I were you I'd have this conversation with your DP and ask him what he proposes to do to prevent this friendship from crossing the line. If he says it won't because he loves you too much or wouldn't do that to you, ask him how those facts prevent him from crossing the line. They don't. Many unfaithful partners still love their betrayed partners deeply. They end up in an adulterous situation almost without realising how it happened precisely because they haven't considered at what point the line should be drawn and what they can do to make sure it isn't crossed. And that requires detail.

FWIW I believe in platonic friendships and have several of my own, one of which is close and would involve talking about relationship problems.

akaWisey Thu 07-Nov-13 19:05:49

I think Dahlen is spot on with her analysis, esp para 3. It is exactly what happened to my DH and he just wouldn't couldn't stop himself.

If I could go back in time I'd do exactly what she suggests OP. Good luck.

itwillgetbettersoon Thu 07-Nov-13 19:11:25

joysmum I'm not really sure that it's only a problem if the OP is insecure and don't trust your husband. I think many woman will agree with me when I say that I'm certainly not insecure and I would have trusted my husband with my life yet he still had an affair. He crossed the boundary with a colleague in his office. It comes down to the ops husband to not cross the line not the ops insecurity.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 07-Nov-13 19:18:31

She may just see him as a kindly person who is "similar to her DP", (in what sense, male?). Of all the people she knows, of all the men she must come across, he is her choice of confidant. Perhaps if she hasn't already she'll tell him he's the only one who understands her so well, which is either a compliment to his wisdom and sensitivity, or a coded message meaning you are so great, why can't my bf be like you, hey why don't we get closer?

DP may be oblivious to this, hence mentioning it to you; there again, it is never unpleasant to hear someone sing your praises and he may have protective or chivalrous tendencies. Any of this situation reminding you of how you two first met, what drew you to him?

You knew they were friendly and didn't have any problem with it but this has made you sit up and take notice. Something has altered. I don't think you'd have thought any differently about him and her but you've felt moved to comment to him and post this.

It's a shame he struggles to find good friendships, I don't think she is the right answer to that particular concern.

purpleroses Thu 07-Nov-13 19:19:53

I think I'd take him up on the suggestion that you meet her. I think it would be much harder for them to drift into any sort of relationship if she knows you both as a couple. If she's hardly met you she might be able to kind of write you out of her imagination and see your DP just as a single person. Inviting her to meet you would also send her a pretty strong signal from your DP that he is not into having an affair.

It would also give you an opportunity to see how they relate to each other and get a better sense if anything is going on.

Joysmum Thu 07-Nov-13 19:37:02

I just don't see how it's not possible to have a plutonic relationship with a member of the opposite sex? I have a few and like their perspective on things. Hubby and I have certainly benefitted from his friendships with women.

I can understand about insecurities and fears but most people don't have affairs and coming across as untrusting when the hubby hasn't done anything wrong can be damaging in itself.

Fairenuff Thu 07-Nov-13 19:43:02

I think he could back off a bit. Her calling him out of work was a new thing and he says he didn't feel he could tell her not to. Now, having discussed it with you, he could ignore any more calls and let them go to answerphone.

That means he only needs to see her at work and can chat with her there as he did before. If she asks for more relationship advice, he could say, I'm not sure, I'll have a chat about it with pugs and see if she has any useful advice if you like.

Ledkr Thu 07-Nov-13 19:54:24

joysmum I'm not sure what you mean.
I trusted my dh implicitly, we were together 18 yrs and had four dc and I thought a great marriage.
I was amazed when I found out he'd cheated, trust does not stop someone cheating if they choose to.

Dahlen Thu 07-Nov-13 19:59:17

The best time to talk about affair proofing your relationship is way before it's ever needed. That way there's no question of anyone not trusting anyone else because the discussion is more academic than personal. However, the discussion will create an awareness of the issues and the danger signs, reveal each partner's boundaries and hopefully produce some practical safeguarding ideas should they be needed in the future.

Most people, of course, don't do that and explore it only after the fact or when threatened, which can result in accusations and defensive reactions.

However, if I hadn't already had the conversation and my much-loved partner expressed concern about a friendship of mine my first response would be to reassure not attack (assuming they don't have a history of jealous irrational behaviour). I'd be happy to discuss affair proofing at that point. The OP's DP's willingness to introduce friend and partner hopefully indicates he's of this mindset rather than the defensive one.

Good luck OP.

perfectstorm Thu 07-Nov-13 20:01:06

I can understand about insecurities and fears but most people don't have affairs and coming across as untrusting when the hubby hasn't done anything wrong can be damaging in itself.

But... Joysmum you've talked this week on another thread about how you regularly snoop through your husband's emails, phone etc and how you were very upset indeed when he became way too close to another woman before. I'm sorry to raise this, but how is your advice congruent? And how is that your marriage benefiting from his friendships with other women? confused

I'm honestly not having a pop, all relationships function differently and I respect that, but I just don't see how the two statements hang together.

pugsandotherthings Thu 07-Nov-13 20:02:39

I do see Joysmum point and yes being untrusting can do more damage to a relationship than anything so I don't want to head down that route. I'm not entirely sure how my DP views the relationship, other than what he has said in that he views her simply as a friend. I asked him what he would do if she continued to ring him asking for emotional support and he said that if it crossed the boundaries he would tell her that he thought it was inappropriate on both our partners, he also said as he'd already given her advice he didn't really see why she would need to ask him again.

DP and I did strike up a relationship from friendship, but this was a very long friendship from when we were children. I think the reason it has made me sit up is that I don't really know her at all and just thought it was quite an intimate discussion to have with someone who you would not consider close, so obviously there friendship is closer than I had imagined.

I think I will meet her at some point, DP just said next time anything comes up he will say that he is bringing me along, as I said it might be a bit awkward to just randomly strike up a meeting when they don't actually see eachother that much outside of work.

TBF to DP at this point, I don't feel that there is that much more that I can ask of him to do seeing as nothing else has occured since and he has been happy to disccuss the situation. I think I will just keep my eyes peeled for anything untoward and see how the meeting pans out, but try not to worry too much about it.

Thank you all for your wonderful replies, I wasn't actually expecting that many as I am new to posting here x

BetsyIsABadKitten Thu 07-Nov-13 20:02:54

Well, one of my dearest friends came about in this kind of situation really.

He had been a client for a good while, but not someone I'd really come into much contact with. About 18 months ago, he gave me some help on a project I was running, and contact was initially all work based in work hours. However, the more we chatted, the more the conversation got onto personal lives - what we were upto at the weekend, music we liked, films etc etc. Over the course of a couple of months, emails were all personal with an odd reference to work. Then we exchanged numbers, and messages were all personal.

We have 2 things massively in common - same sense of humour and love of music. With music, he filled USB sticks several times over with stuff he (rightly!!) thought I'd like, and I did the same for him with films and some music. We've always liked a bit of banter and taking the piss out of each other etc.

We talk to each other about things in our lives, whether thats work stuff, relationships, family etc. Sometimes I want a male perspective on things. But above and beyond that, I value and respect his opinion and thoughts.

We've been for dinner together, to movies etc - just as mates. Nothing has ever happened, we just don't see each other in that way. For the most part of our friendship, we've been in relationships, and it really hasn't been a threat or problem.

For that reason, I wouldn't be put out by your DH's friendship really.

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