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Worried about my husband’s friendship with a coworker

November 19, 2015 | By | 12 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels unsettled about her husband’s close friendship with a coworker.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

So I have been with my significant other for 16 years and he has a tendency to save the “damsel in distress.” He is very good friends with a very pretty female coworker who is trying to get over an abusive relationship. She has been in this marriage for 15-16 years and now my husband has become her go-to for emotional support.

She has been texting relentlessly and even called him very drunk one night. Should I be worried this may turn into something more than a friendship? He says he’s not attracted to her and never got any vibes that she is into him that way.

I’m just feeling unsettled especially since he had her over once when I was at work to “talk.” When should I step in and speak to this girl about setting boundaries with my husband as he is too nice to do so?

Signed, Lianne

ANSWER

Hi Lianne,

I’ve written about the challenges of people of opposite genders being “just friends” before. In essence, to maintain a mutually satisfying platonic friendship both the man and woman need to be on the same wavelength (e.g., want the same things from their friendship).

If the two have discrepant ideas (e.g., one wants a more romantic relationship than the other), they must be able to reach consensus on the nature of the friendship and agree to respect those boundaries.

From what your husband says, neither he nor this “damsel in distress” have anything more than a platonic friendship although it appears that their relationship is one that is close and emotionally intimate. In fact, you might feel the same discomfort you are feeling now if his needy co-worker were a male.

Although you are obviously concerned about and/or jealous of his relationship with this female friend, under no circumstances is it appropriate for you to step in and speak to her on your own. I suspect your partner would be very angry and embarrassed if you did.

Instead, your efforts should be directed towards your husband, with the goal of improving your relationship. Do you have any basis, in this situation or past ones, to mistrust him? Is his friendship with her affecting your relationship?

If you are feeling unsettled about your husband’s friendship with his coworker, you really need to have a heart-to-heart with him expressing your discomfort. You can suggest that he establish some reasonable boundaries (e.g., not having her in your home, only speaking by phone in an emergency, limiting the amount of texting). It would also be helpful (to him, her and you) if he could direct her to other resources and supports in the community.

Since he is a “nice” guy, I hope he understands and respects your feelings, too.

Best, Irene


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Category: Opposite sex friends

Comments (12)

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  1. Melinda says:

    I know this was posted almost a year ago, but I will share my thoughts anyway.
    On the one hand, I agree with Amy. On the other hand, I agree with the other ladies (and Country Boy) about how this “friendship” can be viewed as inappropriate for a married man.

    Unlike some people, I DO believe that men and women can be just friends, but it is very important to not cross the line.
    I am friendly with my neighbor who is a married man but there is nothing more to it. At one time he invited me into his home when his wife wasn’t there and I refused because that would be inappropriate.
    We keep it friendly, polite, and no boundaries are crossed. Neutral conversations about the weather and activities in the neighborhood and that’s it.

    At the moment, I will admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable with one of my husband’s female coworkers.
    I only met her once several years ago. She is older than me, a single mom of two daughters.
    He has worked with her for a long time and she seems to run to him whenever she has a problem.
    She goes into his cabinet for snacks at work when she has her own, she calls him way too often lately (supposedly about work-related stuff) and recently he gave her a ride because she had car trouble.
    It sounds innocent enough but I feel like this woman is playing the “damsel in distress”. Not only that, but he speaks very highly of her all the time.

    Country Boy said that if people know each other as professionals then there is no need to worry.
    Well, yes and no. Sometimes professional relationships can turn into something more.
    We all know stories about people who find out that their spouse is cheating on them with a coworker. I think the real issue is trust and boundaries. It’s also about respect.

    Also, since looks/appearance were mentioned…I agree with Amy that it doesn’t always matter what a woman looks like.
    Men will cheat with ALL kinds of women if they want to. However, because beauty is so important in society, I can understand why the wife would be even more uncomfortable with a pretty girl latching onto her husband. The temptation to cheat would most likely be stronger if the woman is attractive and seems needy.

    My husband’s coworker is cute but not what I would call gorgeous. Still, my husband tends to be the “hero/rescuer” type and although I like the fact that he is kind to others in general, I know that some women will take advantage of it.

  2. GraceW says:

    Imagine if it were two female friends and the letter read “My friend left her abusive relationship and I have clearly become her go-to for emotional support. She has been texting me relentlessly and even called me very drunk one night. My friend’s sudden, unrelenting reliance on me for emotional support at all hours is starting to interfere with my marriage.”

    When a friendship starts to interfere with a person’s marriage – and yes, late night phone calls and unrelenting texts DO interfere sooner or later – then there is a problem regardless of whether the friend is same sex or opposite sex. When it is a woman with a woman friend doing this to her, most times the advice on here is that the person is asking too much of her friend and nobody should be someone else’s free therapist. Surely this man can find ways to support his coworker friend that don’t include accepting late night drunken phone calls? Late night drunken calls are a big no-no at my house, “relentless” texting is another big no-no, regardless of whether the call is for me or my husband and whether the caller is male or female.

    Does my husband have a few female friends? Yes. Would any of them be short-sighted enough to call here drunk at 3 a.m.? Do they send him “relentless” texts for emotional support? Hell no. Same goes for the few guys friends of mine.

  3. Maddie says:

    Is he your husband or significant other? Yes, you’ve reason to be concerned. He has made a priority out of “saving ” a very pretty damsel in distress. He is also spending a lot of time texting with her after hours and is allowing her into your home while you are gone. He’s at the very least having an emotional affair.

    This is not proper behavior for a husband.

    Are you actually married?

  4. CountryBoy says:

    I have saved many “damsels in distress”. If talks are held at surface level then it’s OK and since they know each other a long time as professionals at work I wouldn’t worry about it to much.
    The pretty women is vulnerable at this moment and when the two get deep emotional involved which each other then it doesn’t take much to get a fire in the pan.
    When a partner is helping the opposite sexes. Partners who have a good relationship should be able to talk about this and should involve their partner if possible. This avoid jealousy and confusing. Don’t forget males have a hunters instinct.

  5. marinakis says:

    amy, you say to a married woman that you sound jealous of the attention he”s giving to another woman, and that being super pretty does not play a role in a man, are u for real?…sure, one of ur closets friends is a married man for 2 reasons.one you see him as a friend, but him he secretly sees more than that,or 2 your not attracted to him at all..everything else is bs!

    • Amy F says:

      I’m sorry you have such a cynical view on male/female relationships. You’re missing out on wonderful opportunities for friendship. I hope some day you’re able to have platonic relationships with men because the dynamics are often less complicated than those with women, though that’s not a blanket statement of all opposite or same sex friendships.

      • marinakis says:

        it”snot that i have a cynical view, it’s just that i’m not dellusional!..i stated my opinion, i backed it up with facts which are also scientificaly proven,and that”s it!…one thing i will tell u so u can know about us guys and maybe could be helpfull for u in the future, is that we are moreof logical creatures, as opposed to females that are more emotional!…but we need u, u need us, and that”s what makes the world go round (well,also money helps lol)!…this is my last comment, not here to argue, hope this helps and have a nice day!

    • Maddie says:

      Yes, she is missing a lot of nuances here.

  6. Amy F says:

    You sound jealous of the attention he’s giving her. Either you trust your husband or you don’t. This isn’t about how pretty or not pretty she is. Do or do you not trust your husband? She has nothing to do with that.

    One of my closest friends is a married man. He and his wife have a great relationship and she would never question his loyalty with me or any of his female friends. He would never cheat on her and if he was the type who’d consider being inappropriate with me, we wouldn’t be friends. He and his wife are both mature, healthy individuals and they have great communication.

    Since you have questions, asking yourself whether this is about you and your insecurities, your husband’s trustworthiness, your marriage, something else or a combination will help you figure out what you need to address.

    One way to feel more secure might be to embrace this woman in her time of need. Invite her to dinner. Offer to be another ear. Step up and be part of her solution as a mentor then you’ll feel like you and your husband are a partnership with her.

    I think you’re lucky to be married to the kind of person who befriends someone leaving an sbusive relationship.

  7. marinakis says:

    if she”s very pretty i think u should be worried a bit…i don”t beleive there can be a platonic relationship between a male & female, simply because of nature…the only exceptions are if he”s gay, or she”s not attracted to him (sexually!…again, anything is possible, but i highly doubt it!

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