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DH and e-mail from work colleague

(133 Posts)
Canthpfeelinglikethis Sun 05-Jan-14 02:28:26

Hi looking for others take on this.

Married 6 years together 20 years. Very happy with two DC. DH very outgoing, the type that gets on well with everyone, very well liked by everyone and a bit flirty by nature.

A couple of years ago he became friendly with a work colleague. I was not fully aware of their friendship at the time. He did speak about her a bit as she had broken up with her bf and was internet dating so he would tell me about this and I would ask how she was getting on etc etc. After a while I started to get a little bit wary of their relationship - not sure why just instinct I suppose. Then one evening I was on his emails (he was fully aware of this) looking for something and came across an email from her to him that didn't sit right with me. It was from her saying "where will we go for lunch sexy". His reply suggested "get something and have it in his office or go to the usual cafe". Then her reply "yes your office as have no money. We can lock the door of your office right!!!!" Then him - "cop on you tart" then followed by lunch arrangements. Now at the time I found the e-mail I was very hurt as I felt very betrayed that he would think that this was ok. I confronted him and he said absolutely nothing going on, just friends, office banter and that was just her personality and how she was with other people. I told him I thought this was completely inappropriate and was not how I thought a married man should act. I asked for full access to his e-mails, phone records etc which he gave me and I looked back over all their e-mails and other than this mail there was very little else. I do have a suspicion that he may have called her once on a night out when he was drunk but found no evidence of this. It didn't stop me from being very upset and I told him to tell her how I felt and to tell her to stop this "banter" with him. He said he never viewed it the way I did but he could see how it looks to me. He did (after he spoke to her) suggest I meet her but I didn't want this as my take is that she owed me nothing and it was him that I was in a relationship with. After a lot of tears and talking I was satisfied that it was just a bit of flirting. Since this we have had another DC and are as happy as ever.

My issue - Since this happened I have to be honest that I find it hard to trust DH. 99% of the time everything is great but there is always something in the back of my mind and I feel like I am always on high alert. Reason being that I had no idea of their friendship. When this happened it turned out that they had regularly gone for lunch but he would never have told me. Every day we would ask each other what did you do for lunch but he never once told me that he had lunch with her. I found this very odd. We bumped into her and her new bf recently and since then it has brought back everything that happened a few years ago. She introduced me to the bf and said DH had already met him. DH never mentioned this. They still work together but he never mentions her and I never ask. I have no reason to doubt him at all. He is a great father and DH. We don't go out separately very often and I have no reason to think anything but I just wonder because I never knew the last time either as everything was happening during work hours.

My question is will the doubt ever go away?? Sometimes I think I am being totally irrational but I can't help how I feel. I have been reading here about EA and how most people are repeat offenders and it has just got me thinking. I hate feeling like this and wish that I could have that feeling of complete trust back again.

Thanks for reading and all comments welcome.

hermionepotter Sun 05-Jan-14 13:42:01

it must have been a shock at the time and I suppose always an eye opener to find any marriage isn't 'affair proof' but it sounds like he's been upfront in offering to introduce you etc - maybe he doesn't mention her now in case it upsets you - could you talk to him about that? I agree about reading not just friends

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Sun 05-Jan-14 18:52:50

I think the first poster is really out of order.

She had trusted her husband, then she found the emails and now she doesn't yet somehow it is because the OP is insecure. hmm.

"Cop on you tart" does not mean piss off and leave me alone I am married, in my world hmm. It is totally flirting.

MissScatterbrain Sun 05-Jan-14 19:02:48

Toffee, that was how I interpreted it too - as in ooh get you, you little minx.

Tonandfeather Sun 05-Jan-14 19:24:22

Me too. Also hate women being called "tarts".

I'm a bit bemused by the poster (Flora?) whose p was moaning to a flirtatious co-worker about his home life and when his e mails were discovered and she got in touch with the co-worker, got ANGRY. What's that all about then? I don't think co-workers having boyfriends new or otherwise is relevant either. These guys have wives or partners themselves don't they?

Canthpfeelinglikethis Sun 05-Jan-14 20:30:21

Tonandfeather - you are right that I don't want to look paranoid however she is not a banned subject I suppose I don't know her so have no connection to her so nothing I would want to know about her iykwim.

Bitoutofpractice - I take on board your point. Getting others take on this is helpful though and ultimately I will make an informed decision. You know sometimes I think that maybe I am way OTT with my reaction so it's good to know I'm not the only one that thinks it isn't right.

I think I will take a bit more time to think about it and then decide whether to speak to him again or just drop it.

Thanks for the help!

FloraSpreadableMacDonald Sun 05-Jan-14 20:33:23

That was me Ton.....looking back i regret emailing colleague as i said previously. It was knee jerk reaction!
I should have been clearer about "moaning about homelife"....he wasnt moaning about me....he was saying that sometime working, short of cash, being a parent, partner, etc can be difficult. I could see from his replies that the feelings for her feelings for him were not reciprocated. His replies were a tactful "thanks but no thanks".
I regret emailing her. But thankful it was sorted out and now forgotten. If the OP is still unsetgled with the outcome then perhaps another chat.

Twinklestein Sun 05-Jan-14 21:28:46

My reaction was almost identical to ton - he talks about this girl, goes into detail about her dating, and then stops talking about her. Then it transpires they're good friends, been meeting regularly for lunch, and he hasn't mentioned this. He has withheld the truth from you.

Then you find a compromising email, which sounds so much like they're having an affair that it can't be true right? He says it's banter so it must be banter. It's too obvious to have got caught discussing sex. Except that if that's just how she talks then there would have been many exchanges like that. If that was the only exchange in that tone, then maybe that's not how she talks.

I worked mainly with men through my 20s and 30s and although there was a lot flirty suggestive banter, there was a line of intimacy you didn't cross - no - 'you & me in your office having sex'. I find that completely bizarre. Now of course she's not me, I can't speak for all women, maybe it was all just talk. But I didn't interpret his reply as turning her down, as others did, but as implying 'obviously we're not going have sex in my office'.

A few years later, after you've supposedly repaired the trust with your husband, you discover that he has at some point met her bf and hasnt mentioned it. Another instance in which he has been less than honest about this woman. Even now he's not being open with you about her.

I think the reason you cannot 100% trust your husband is because you know deep down that you have never had the full truth from him. Even if it wasn't a physical affair, there was still more going on than you were told about.

If your gut is telling you something is not right, then listen to it.

SoSuitablyAshamed Sun 05-Jan-14 22:13:04

OP, as my (NC) title states, I've been the OW under very similar circumstances to how you describe (work colleagues, daily lunches, email exchanges). My MM was exactly as you describe your DH (outgoing, popular, liked by all) - the last person you'd expect to cheat on his wife - until it happened. It wasn't planned and we both fought it for months but but fell in love. This isn't an excuse (I have no excuses) just an explanation of how it happened as we spent most of our working week in close proximity.

I think you should trust your instincts and at the very least maybe keep your eye out for other signs.

Oh, and the suggestion for his wife and I to meet was a tactic to deflect suspicion. Sorry sad

Tonandfeather Sun 05-Jan-14 22:18:22

Hi Flora yes I understand about regretting contacting the co-worker, but although those moans about the responsibilities of family life weren't about you specifically, there's a subtext to them isn't there? "Save me from mundanity" perhaps? Very unwise to do that with someone he knew was interested in him sexually and yet again, you say you 'saw' the e mails rather than him volunteering info about this relationship. Are you still with him?

"Cant" what reasons did he give you for hiding the extent of this relationship with you after you found those messages? I knew you'd say you weren't possessive or concerned before this woman came along, so I'd love to know what possible reasons he came up with for hiding things.

and what did he say about meeting her current boyfriend before? Why didn't he mention that?

It seems so incredibly fishy to me that you went through all this ages ago and he presumably promised more openness but has been found out so recently in such an omission about the very woman this was all centered around.

I'm confused why this is such a difficult subject for you to air with him. Would you get accused of being paranoid or unreasonably jealous?

debtherat Sun 05-Jan-14 22:37:32

Feel vindicated by sosuitablyashamed's post - look see what happens when male/female friendships start - it's a dangerous game - I know people see it as so evolved men and women being "friends" but personally I think for most men there is a sexual undercurrent which if recripocated wreaks havoc. As for the last comment about deflecting suspicion - playing the poor wife - I hope she raged against both of you!! Hope you are all in a better place now.

FloraSpreadableMacDonald Sun 05-Jan-14 22:50:46 we are separated...i discovered he was doing the deed with a girl from the gym, lol. So perhaps the colleague was the start of dipping his finger in another pie?! Needless to say im much happier and about to date a rather delicious single man who thinks Im an angel :0)

TalkativeJim Sun 05-Jan-14 22:57:50

'Cop on you tart' is NOT shooting her down. Quite the opposite.

I don't like the sound of it at all.

Tonandfeather Sun 05-Jan-14 23:52:01

Relieved you're not with him any longer flora and yes i'm sure that was just the start of it. glad you're happier.

Canthpfeelinglikethis Mon 06-Jan-14 00:20:40

Have a strange feeling after reading some of the replies. That nervous feeling that you can't get rid of.

It's funny how people see things differently. His reply "cop on " I saw as dismissive rather than flirty.

Twinklestein - I also couldn't get my head around her comment either. I just couldn't fathom it but it was explained by that was just her way. What I took from the mail was that it was her flirting with him. I didn't really see that his response was flirty (not condoning his behavior for a secMaybe I just hung on to that.

Canthpfeelinglikethis Mon 06-Jan-14 00:35:13

Sorry posted before I was finished.

Sosuitablyashamed - that is hard to read but I have thought that this could be the case - a cover up by saying go talk to her.

Tonandfeather - he didn't see not telling me about lunches etc as withholding information from me - he just didn't think it was that important. I didn't ask about where he met the bf why ? Because I wanted to get things straight in my head first and hence my post. He wouldn't necessarily see it is paranoia but I know he would be upset to think that this is still bothering me. I think he will say that he didn't want to bring it all up again and that's why he didn't tell me.

At the time I was satisfied that nothing happened between them but always was on high alert. Now I did really really want to believe him and that he wouldn't do that to me so who knows.

Lots to think about ....

stealthsquiggle Mon 06-Jan-14 00:49:12


I work in a male dominated industry. In a really male dominated job role. If my DH got paranoid every time I had lunch/coffee with a male colleague (or, for example, when a colleague texted me at 7pm on a Sunday to see which flight I was on the next morning and whether I wanted to have breakfast) then life would be very hard work. Similarly if he demanded access to my email - well, we work for competitive organisations so that would be in breach of both of our contracts, for a start.

I know there are a scary stories aplenty out there. OTOH there are also millions of perfectly platonic friendships between colleagues as well.

Canthpfeelinglikethis Mon 06-Jan-14 01:03:20

Stealthsquiggle - I also work in a male dominated environment but would never speak to a colleague like that. I don't think receiving a text about a flight and meeting for breakfast is in the same league as this mail. Your example is completely normal. The mail is completely inappropriate IMO.

Mellowandfruitful Mon 06-Jan-14 01:09:33

I'm afraid I would also see 'cop on you tart' as flirty. It's not reining the conversation back into a professional arena, is it? If he's said 'Now, steady on, we won't need to do that', or something I would find it more dismissive. Sorry to pick on a small detail but I would agree it's inappropriate.

OTOH, it is a point in his favour that he instantly gave you access to his emails when you asked and there was nothing else. But I can see why you feel uneasy.

Canthpfeelinglikethis Mon 06-Jan-14 01:22:47

Mellowandfruitful - yes a lot of others are seeing it as flirty too so maybe it is. He was completely transparent on the e-mails with full access etc and that was part of the reason that I concluded that there wasn't anything to it. I still made it VERY clear that it wasn't ok.

Tonandfeather Mon 06-Jan-14 01:51:11

Aha! I think I've got a handle on this now.

He didn't admit even to being flattered did he? Didn't even admit that yes she was flirting with him and it made him feel good? Tried to make out that it was just normal behaviour in the office and that she went around suggesting every guy locked his door when she joined him for lunch? That it was par for the course to call a co-worker a "tart"?

There's your problem and is why I absolutely think they had an affair.

If there hadn't been, he would have been so much more honest. Yes, she got a bit close to the wire and yes, he'd been enjoying the attention. No, not everyone acts like that around eachother at work and I'd be concerned if you did with a co-worker.

Then there is the completely deliberate omission about their lunches and how close they'd got. He says he didn't think it was important. Important enough to make darned sure he never let slip in an everyday converstaion with you in the evening that they'd lunched together. Not mentioning an occasional lunch - maybe. Not mentioning any of them when they are happening on such a regular basis? - too fishy for words.

My interpretation of the 'cop on' remark is that it was way too dangerous to have sex in his office at lunchtime and what would people think if they came across a locked door - the tart addition is a friendly put down reference to her not being able to control her sexual desires.

perfectstorm Mon 06-Jan-14 02:03:34

I'm afraid I also find the explanation too thin for the conversation you saw and the relationship you stumbled across, I'm really sorry, but I do.

GarlicReturns Mon 06-Jan-14 02:51:21

If he was having an affair, how much damage would the knowledge do to you?

Reason I ask: I think they are. Way back when, he had mentionitis about her, then it stopped. This usually means an infatuation has turned into a 'something'. The poster who said "men" (that famous mass of humanity, who are all alike) don't talk about their day is obviously talking bollocks, as he talked plenty about her until he didn't! But you found out they were regular lunch buddies all of that time; the only thing that'd changed was the chat with you.

Having had extensive cause to think about infidelity in my own past, I reached the conclusion that, for me, the emotional side of it mattered far more than the shagging. As long as were were having decent sex on a regular basis, I didn't figure I was losing out there. What pissed me off immensely, though, was the transference of interest from me to a Ms Other. Instead of sharing his hopes, jokes, worries, and general chitchat with me, somebody else was getting it. That stuff, to me, is the glue in a relationship and at times we conversed chiefly by post-it notes stuck to the fridge hmm

Where you go from here depends very much on your overall viewpoint and feelings. For now, I'm afraid, I don't feel you're 1% paranoid at all. I think you're missing him, because someone else has got part of him sad

winkywinkola Mon 06-Jan-14 07:22:29

But if the affair is past what can the op do about it now? It's only suspicion.

kittenzzz Mon 06-Jan-14 07:47:16

Speaking from experience, go with your instinct. You have that funny feeling for a good reason. I too stumbled across an email with a telling phrase and when I confronted DH, I was also told "oh, it doesn't mean that, that's just the way she speaks". There was not much I could do and just accepted the explanation like you did. Every so often I'd get that nagging feeling and think to myself that it just didn't sit right. 3 years later I got the truth. Turns out what had been minimised to a friendship had actually been a brief fling.

Not saying that this is the case with your OH, they might genuinely be friends. Just wonder why he wouldn't have told you about all the lunch dates if it was really so innocent? Especially when he has been asked directly what he did for lunch and never once mentioned eating with her! Odd.

I think his reply to her email sounds something akin to "haha, yeah right we're doing it in the office you filthy little minx".

About why he gave you free access to his emails- he was careless this one time- either didn't delete that one along with the others, or they don't usually email each other about non-work stuff.

Come on, he has lunch with a friend IN HIS OFFICE and has never once mentioned it?

As other posters have said, it maybe doesn't matter now. She seems to have moved on and perhaps so has he. If it's a thing of the past maybe you don't need to know. I found out well after the brief dalliance was over and I sometimes wish I never had found out. It was a few years ago and we're now stuck trying to figure out if that's it for our marriage.

Canthpfeelinglikethis Mon 06-Jan-14 09:42:12

Thanks for replys.

One thing that I probably should have mentioned in my earlier posts is that there is no way that they would have being doing anything in his office at lunchtime for two reasons. One - his office is just off an open plan office with lots of people and two - he shares it with someone else. So I suppose when I read her email I sort of think that nothing could have happened. Does anyone think this changes anything ? Like it is not like they actually could have locked the office and done anything.

Hermionepotter - yes I definitely think he would not bring her up because it might upset me. I will definitely speak to him about all of this but need to gather my thoughts first as this is likely to change a lot of things for us. I have to be prepared - probably not ideal leaving it so long but this is how I deal with things.

Tonandfeather - no at the time he did actually say that he was flattered by her attention and that it made him feel good. However, he did also say that it was normal for her - kinda like she carries on like this with others too. Now I was very straight about the fact that I couldn't care less how either she or other male colleagues acted in this situation - It still didn't make it right. And he agreed. At the time he kept saying "I can't believe that this (the e-mail) is causing all this trouble as there is absolutely nothing to it etc etc". I am fully aware that he could just have been saying that to get himself out of trouble but I did believe what he said and his explanations.
Also, on the lunch thing he also said that a group of them often met for lunch in a room in the office. That it wasn't always just her and him. However his suggestion of going to the "usual cafe" tells me they lunched together multiple times. You will see above my comment on the locked office thing.

Perfectstorm - thanks for sharing your perspective on this.

Garlicreturns - it would do a lot of damage. In some ways I feel like it already has. This is not me - looking for evidence, wondering, and all that. I would never have been like this before but like I said earlier I have lost part of that trust I had. I would completely agree that for me the emotional side is worse. I would hate to think that the closeness a couple shares is being shared with someone else. I am a very private person by nature and would hate the thought of anyone discussing things about me.

Winkywinkola- I suppose I will just have to decide if I am wiling to live like this and always have that little bit of doubt or not. The alternative is very scary. Mostly because aside from this our relationship is really great and there are others to think of too - the kids. However I am trying to leave them out of this for now until I sort things out in my own head.

Kittenzzz - on the e-mail access. I know that I saw everything as the system used holds everything including deleted mails. Obviously I know there could have been other modes of communication like another e-mail or text etc but I will never know that. I think I would rather know if there was something but I completely understand why you wish you didn't find out. It's a hard call to make.

A lot of people have said about instincts etc and I agree as I think I am a very perceptive person. However I have had no reason to have any suspicions aroused prior to that chance meeting.

Now for the next step. I am thinking that I will firstly ask about the meeting of the bf and where this was and why he never said anything. Then I think I will tell him that I have been thinking a lot about it again and see what he says and take it from there. I am not sure yet but I may even show him this thread although something tells me that I should keep this to myself.

Thanks everyone your replies are really helpful.

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