Woe Is Me! “My Husband’s Friend and I Crossed a Line, Now He’s Ghosting Me. Can Our Friendship Recover?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“My husband’s friend and I connected instantly, and the three of us would often spend time together. My husband travels a lot for work — I started meeting this friend even when he wasn’t around. Initially, it was simply the comfort of each other’s company, but gradually we started getting attracted to each other. Once, he stayed back home and we cuddled to sleep. We met after that, too, but did not feel the need to discuss the other night. But soon, he started distancing himself. He stopped texting regularly and started avoiding me. When I confronted him about this change in his behavior, he said he is too preoccupied with other things. I confessed I liked him, but that I only want his company and the comfort of our friendship. However, he has stopped talking to me. I feel so hollow emotionally, all of a sudden. Am I expecting too much from someone who has, perhaps, already ghosted me?”
AB: I think that you have too many expectations of someone with whom you have already been unfaithful — emotionally, if not physically. He might be trying to let you down easy instead of outright hurting you, but since the lines between friendship and romance have seemed to blur in this situation, taking a step back might be the healthier option in this case. While there is obviously nothing wrong with friendships between heterosexual adults of the opposite sex who are married to others, there seems to be more happening here — especially from your end. If I were to guess, the friend has reassessed his priorities and the situation, and is letting you down easy. I understand and can sympathize with the need for emotional support, especially when your partner is constantly away. But I would recommend discussing this with your husband first. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to stop being friends, or even close, with this man; you just need to create those mental boundaries first. If you’re truly unhappy in your marriage, that’s a different conversation altogether.
HK: I think some aspects of your relationship with the said friend might come under the ambit of micro cheating, or emotional cheating — which also explains the hollowness you feel. But regardless of that, the loss of a friendship is always painful, and even more so, when the circumstances are strenuous I see no mention of your husband in this, and it makes me wonder if your feelings for the friend have developed only due to the absence of the husband in the narrative, and whether they are strong enough to consider extreme measures, because your attraction may point to potential weaknesses in your own marriage. Some boundaries have been crossed in this friendship, and I respect his decision to step back. I think you should, too. I’d suggest reprioritizing your marriage, and reassessing your own emotions.
AS: Maybe he feels like you both crossed a line that he’s not comfortable with — anymore, at least. If he’s placing some distance between you two, it could be a product of him feeling guilty for the attraction brewing between you both or a concern for how this may all end. I can’t say what’s actually going on in his mind but if he needs space, I think you should give him that. One can’t control who they’re attracted to. But I don’t know if your husband’s absence has been affecting you and if that has any role to play in your attraction towards this friend — that might be something you could look into and address, for yourself. Even if that’s not the case, he does seem to want some time away at present, and I think it’s best for you to accept that. Hopefully, you two can grow to be friends again once you each deal with this in your own way.
DR: Here’s my radical take: instead of being concerned about your friendship with this guy, I think you should worry about what this fixation of yours means for your relationship with your husband. Also, I’d urge you to introspect why you have any emotional and behavioral expectations from this guy at all. The two of you crossed a boundary together; he got uncomfortable and withdrew. He’s made no promises to you that he needs to keep. You, on the other hand, have made some vows to your husband, and nothing that I’ve read, here, speaks to your keenness to honor them.
Look, I get that it may be unfulfilling to be in a marriage where your husband is constantly away. Maybe, you’re also exasperated that you’re being asked to fulfill your role as a partner to him while he’s, seemingly, failing in his duties to you. Either way, I think it warrants a conversation with your husband to either work out how he could be more present in this marriage, or to figure if you need to set some rules together to ensure your needs are also met.
If you’re not able to have that discussion because you fear how he’ll react to it… Well, that’s another reason to worry, don’t you think?