Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Have Feelings for My Husband’s Best Friend”

From the forums:

My husband and I have been married for a little over a year. We met junior year of college, and we both graduated in 2016. Our marriage is happy and full of love and laughter. A mutual best friend of ours, Jacob, has been my closest guy friend for years. He and my husband were freshman roommates, and the three of us lived together our senior year (with one other guy friend of ours). We always have fun together, make each other laugh, and know a lot about one another.

I’ve had romantic feelings for Jacob for a while now, but I have never acted on them or told anyone, fearful of jeopardizing my relationship with my husband. I always just push them deep down and ignore them. I’m not sure if Jacob has the same feelings towards me, but we flirt with each other often. That’s just kind of how our friendship has always been, and our relationship dynamic has never bothered my husband.

I love my husband so dearly and don’t want to hurt him. I’ve always been honest with him, but if I tell him or Jacob about how I feel, I know our friendship will never be the same. I just want these romantic feelings to go away. Help! — Three’s a Crowd

Your friendship with Jacob is never going to be the same, and the faster you accept that, the faster you can get on with figuring out where your marriage stands and where you stand in your marriage. It doesn’t matter how long you and Jacob have been friends or how close your friendship is; your relationship with your husband is — or should be — way more important. Jacob’s existence in your lives is interfering with your marriage. Your husband may not be aware that this is happening, but it is. When you have feelings for someone else, and that someone else is prominent in your lives, that person is interfering with your marriage.

The best thing you can do to save your marriage is to cut Jacob from your life. Your husband will want to know why you no longer want to spend time with him. I think you should tell him the truth. It’s going to come out one way or another anyhow. It’s either going to come out when your marriage implodes because the feelings you have for Jacob grow and grow (and potentially lead to something between you) or you can choose to tell your husband the truth now before a marriage implosion. To be clear: A marriage implosion may still happen, but it won’t be because you lied to your husband or kept a secret from him or let yourself get carried away by your feelings for a friend.

Here’s what you can say to your husband: “Lately, I’ve been developing what I think are more than platonic feelings for Jacob. Absolutely nothing has happened between us and it won’t — I don’t even know what his feelings are for me — but these feelings I have for him are scary and uncomfortable. Because my top priority is you and our marriage, I think the best course of action is for me to cut Jacob out of my life and for you and I to seek marriage counseling.”

I suggest marriage counseling because having intense feelings for another person while you’re in a monogamous relationship is sign #1 that things are amiss in your relationship. I mean, it’s normal to have crushes or be attracted to other people, but to have genuine feelings that threaten your relationship is an indication that there’s something missing in your relationship. If you have an open marriage or an open relationship, this might not be such a problem. But you don’t. And even if you did, it would not be advisable for your secondary partner to be your husband’s best friend!

I suspect this is a case of marrying before you were ready and then feeling a little itchy in your monogamous, committed-for-life marriage. You may discover through counseling that the love you have for your husband isn’t enough to sustain a long-term marriage — that you are more like friends than anything. Or you may learn that he really is your best match and that marriage often requires an effort of continually re-committing as you face numerous distractions throughout your life. One thing is for sure though: The friendships the three of you have shared together are surely changed forever. Trying to hold a grip on what once was is going to keep you from becoming who you’re meant to be, whether that is wife to your husband forever or another iteration of yourself.

From the forums:

I met my father when I was around 19 or 20 years old. He left my mother when I was an infant and I never had positive male figures growing up. It shaped the way I viewed men and how I engage in relationships. After a series of bad decisions and relationships in my 20s, I took some time to work on personal growth and healing. I am now 31 years old, in a great relationship, more confident and pursuing my career, financial and personal goals.

My father periodically reaches out to me with superficial and sometimes vague messages. Our phone conversations are typically one- to two-minute exchanges, with empty promises, and then we don’t speak again for months. I attempted to develop a deeper relationship with him. I have even expressed how I feel, but all of our interactions leave me feeling like he is only trying to clear his conscience but has no real interest in getting to know me as a person.

I am ready to cut him off for good. I need to protect my peace. I’ve made great progress over the years; yet, every time he breaks a promise, quickly shoo’s me off the phone, or just disappears, I’m left having to repair the broken pieces within myself. Yes, family is important to me, and some of my close relatives tell me I should not cut my father out of my life. I get their point, but at some point I must take control of my healing. Would I be wrong to cut him off? — Daddy Issues

 
Nope, not at all. If you were able to have a very casual relationship with your dad through brief, mostly superficial interactions, then it would be fine to continue doing so. But you crave more meaningful relationships in your life, particularly from a father-figure, and when the relationship falls so far below what you crave, even if you have come to expect a certain superficial level of interaction, it upsets you. More than that, it sets you back, forcing you to re-repair broken pieces within yourself. No thanks. What’s the point in that? There isn’t one. Cut him out and tell family members who argue that they’re wrong, that this is your life, and that you don’t have room or energy or interest for a relationship that creates an emotional deficit you have to work to fill on your own.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

13 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie October 19, 2018, 9:19 am

    Repeating my comments from the forums (with some paraphrasing):

    LW #1 – I think marriage is different than you expected and this flirtation is an easy way to avoid your responsibilities, unmet expectations, whatever. Agree with Wendy. Move this guy to a lower rung in your life. Something is missing in your marriage and you need to deal with that.

    LW#2 – You owe this person nothing. Protect yourself, advocate for yourself. Do what is best for you.

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  • avatar

    Ruby Tuesday October 19, 2018, 9:32 am

    # 1: This is why I am getting married at 34, not 24. 24 year old Americans are barely even adults now. Your 20s are for dating/screwing around to see what works.

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  • Copa

    Copa October 19, 2018, 9:40 am

    LW1: I’m curious how long you’ve had these feelings for Jacob. If you walked down the aisle knowing you had real feelings for another man, I think you made a mistake marrying your husband. People change a lot in their 20s, and that’s why it’s better to date longer when you’re younger.

    LW2: Don’t listen to people who tell you what kind of relationships you should have with your family members. I think most people who say this kind of thing are well intentioned and their comments are colored by their own positive family relationships. If the relationship upsets you, it’s okay to cut him off, even if he’s your dad.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 19, 2018, 9:47 am

    LW1: I posted in the forum, but why not do it again? First, stop flirting. It’s hard to take it seriously that you actually want to fix your marriage when you’re still flirting with someone you have feelings for who isn’t your husband.

    What’s also concerning to me is that the implication is that you’ve had feelings for this guy prior to getting married, which means that you should have postponed the wedding. When someone is married and they get a crush, that’s one thing. But if it started before you got married (you know, during the time when you were supposed to be SUPER into your husband), then I have to wonder if you were really as in love with your husband as you thought.

    Either way, I think that if you are trying to handle this based on not screwing up the friendship with Jacob, then that’s a really bad sign. You need to put your marriage first, not a friendship with some other guy you like. Additionally, you’re saying you don’t want to hurt your husband, but you need to also admit you don’t want him to get angry or upset AT you. I’d be mortified if I knew that my spouse had feelings for my best friend for a long time, didn’t tell me, continued flirting with them, and instead told the internet.

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  • avatar

    keyblade October 19, 2018, 11:12 am

    Wendy gave good advice on both letters.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    csp October 19, 2018, 11:33 am

    LW1: I was a young bride and I remember in the premarriage counseling, they talk ed about crushes and flirtations and that they will come up throughout your entire marriage. I have been with my husband for 13 years and it was very true. I had several male friends that had the flirtation aspect to them when I was younger and I had to get rid of all of them. It actually wasn’t that hard and I realized that they were from a different time in my life and not about the marriage I was building. There have been other times at work or even once at church that this happened again and I had a choice each time to lean closer or move away. I firmly believe that being attracted to other people does not mean anything about your marriage, but leaning into those attractions does.

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  • Miel

    Miel October 19, 2018, 3:16 pm

    LW1, I’m just thinking: is it possible monogamy is not for you? Do you truly feel an equal amount of compassionate love (mutual respect, trust, and affection) for your husband and Jacob? Or do you just have a silly crush and/or sexual feelings for Jacob?

    I’m just thinking that for some people who are deeply monogamous (“their brain is wired that way”), developing feelings for Jacob would automatically mean they are falling out of love and neglecting their relationship with their husband. But the way you are describing the situation, I’m wondering if your brain is simply programed in the “polyamory” way, and that you naturally develop romantic feelings for more than one person at the same time.

    If it’s the first case: yes, as others have said, you need to focus on your husband and distance yourself from Jacob. You need to prioritize your marriage.

    But if it’s the second case: I’m wondering if you would be denying your natural romantic orientation by forcing yourself to be monogamous. Can you be happy being in love with only one person for the rest of your life? Some people can’t do that. Some people naturally love more than one person at once and are unhappy when they have to repress those feelings.

    Of course, the only way to open-up your marriage, if that’s what you want, is to do it with the full consent of your husband. So don’t cheat on your husband with Jacob, that would be wrong. But you know… maybe starting a conversation about non-monogamy with a therapist could be beneficial.

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  • avatar

    brise October 19, 2018, 4:15 pm

    LW1: I am still convinced that speaking of this crush to your husband would be a terrible idea. You are responsible in managing your feelings. Try first to take a healthy distance from this friend. If your husband asks why, just say that he is too present and you would like to have more intimacy in your marriage. This is what adults do anyway. Don’t ever say to your partner that you have feelings for an other man. This is a recipe for disaster.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 19, 2018, 4:38 pm

    As I said earlier in the forums, I fear this LW merely loves her husband — but is IN LOVE with Jacob. To me, this is not something one can just wish or counsel away on a couch somewhere. LW — you need to sort out your true feelings here. STAT! Were you even in love with your husband when you got to play pretty pretty princess for a day? Hmmm, I wonder…
    .
    At any rate… Whatever you do… DO NOT HAVE KIDS!!! Not until you have sorted all this out and actually been IN LOVE with the father… whoever that turns out to eventually be… for AT LEAST two or three years.

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    • avatar

      ron October 19, 2018, 7:35 pm

      And it’s bad squared when your bf, the guy whose shoulder you would cry on, is the guy your wife has an affair or runs off with. He loses a wife and a bf all at once. You’ve really messed up her,e, LW. You should still be in the honeymoon phase of your marriage. That suggests you never felt strongly enough about your husband to marry him.

      The standard answer on this forum when a man or woman says they are attracted to and can’t choose between two possible mates is that neither is right for you. There is a lot of wisdom in that, because if one of these guys was a great match for you, you wouldn’t have doubt. You’d either not have an attraction to husband’s bf that you obsessed over or you would have decided to leave your husband for his best friend.

      Therapy! But I think the answer is going to be that you have to tell your husband that the marriage isn’t working, ignore the best friend, and leave that friend to help your husband put himself back together. Then restart your life and next time don’t marry, unless your are SURE.

      BGM is correct. If you want this to turn into a real clusterfuck, just get pregnant.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    ele4phant October 19, 2018, 4:58 pm

    Not to rub salt in the wound, but this is why you don’t get married so young.

    Its normal and natural to be attracted to others when you are in a long term relationship. I don’t think it matters how late you get married, that’s still going to happen on occasion.

    The difference if you get married later though is you’ve had experience dating other people. You know the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, even if it appears shiny know. You know that infatuation always fades, and you know your marriage has a strong foundation that makes the trade-off worth it. You know your spouse is the right person to be with because they’re not just the first and only person you’ve been with.

    I’m not saying everyone should wait until they are in their late 30s to settle down, but wait at least until you’re more than a few years out of school and have had some live experiences on your own first. Date a few people first. Or even if you are with someone starting young, wait to get married until later. Make sure its right before you legally bind yourself to one another.

    Anyways, LW, the way to get over this is to not indulge in flirtation. Its fine to have feelings, but don’t entertain them. They’ll probably pass.

    Or not, maybe you and your husband aren’t the right fit, you got married too young and without enough experience to recognize it, and ultimately you would best be served moving on.

    But even if that’s where you guys are headed, don’t throw a napalm bomb into the situation by starting an affair (emotional or otherwise).

    Distance yourself from Jacob, and let yourself evaluate your marriage without distraction.

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  • avatar

    CET October 20, 2018, 8:16 am

    I’ve been with my husband 26 years. I think you need to take the bull by the horns here…you have total control over your actions. Stop flirting. This is not out of your control. Stop hanging out with this guy so much. Invite over other people instead. He is your husband’s good friend…let them do things together without you. Pull back. Stop letting yourself have these thoughts. You will meet men you are attracted to all through your marriage…and it’s up to you if you will handle this kind of situation with integrity or not. Work on your marriage. Focus on your husband. This is not out of your control. Stop with the flirting 100%.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 20, 2018, 8:45 am

    One thing to ask yourself is what you are getting out of the flirting with Jacob. You wouldn’t do it if you weren’t getting something from it. Then see if you can find a way to get the same thing from your husband.

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