Some things are built for two. Teeter-totters. Loveseats. The Porsche Boxster.
Marriage is another thing that’s built for two. It’s the tandem bicycle of relationships. Adding a third wheel is only going to throw the balance off. That’s especially so when that third-wheel is a spouse’s opposite-sex friend.
Say what you like about men and women being able to be “just friends.” If there’s no attraction between them, it’s true enough. But if there is some level of attraction between them, and if one or both are married, platonic friendship is both impossible and disrespectful to their respective spouses.
No, they might not end up having sex; however, the simmering erotic tension between them – hey, who wouldn’t get a kick out of that! – is a form of conscious betrayal all the same.
If a married person is having a sexually-charged friendship with another woman or man, they’re cheating. The classic defense, “We aren’t sleeping together!” just doesn’t hold water. Why not? Because sexual penetration is not the sole determining factor for whether a person has violated the intimate, exclusive connection that should exist between a husband and wife.
Nonetheless, overly intimate opposite-sex friendships in marriage continue to happen. They also continue to wreak havoc in marriage, leading to countless arguments, frustration and hurt feelings.
When a spouse notices that their partner is excessively texting an opposite-sex friend, perhaps setting up yet another “lunch date” at work or sharing yet another inside joke, they’ll at first gently express their concerns. After all, nobody wants to come across as the stereotypical insecure wife or husband, right?
At that point, their partner will typically dismiss their concerns. They’ll insist they’re “just friends” with the other person. They’ll then proceed to guard their phone more closely, change their password and delete their text history.
If their spouse presses the issue, they’ll defend their opposite-sex friendship – sometimes quite passionately. They’ll accuse their spouse of being paranoid, controlling or even crazy. They’ll say, “You don’t want me to have any friends!” They’ll say whatever it takes – however insulting or berating or belligerent – so that they can continue to enjoy the erotic buzz and ego boost of their opposite-sex friendship.
In fact, that’s one of the ugliest parts of these friendships. A partner will deliberately lie to their spouse’s face, will continue to insult or ridicule or bully their spouse into silence, all so they can continue to exchange those hot little texts or electric eye gazes with someone they know full well is up to no good.
As time goes, the strain on the marriage increases. Hard feelings build up between spouses. The concerned spouse tries to explain, again and again, why the friendship is inappropriate or why they feel hurt or threatened by it.
And the texting spouse continues to feign bafflement, innocence or outrage. Relations continue to sour and eventually even their kids begin to notice the tension in the home.
Of course, the texting partner will then share this information with their “friend.” They’ll complain that their wife or husband is controlling and that they aren’t happy.
And their friend will console them. She or he will say, “That’s awful! We’re just friends. Your wife/husband should trust you!” Eye-roll.
It’s right around this time that the sharing escalates to the point of a full-scale emotional or sexual affair. After all, nothing brings two people together like a common enemy. And when it comes to affairs that begin as opposite-sex friendships (which almost all of them do), that common enemy tends to be somebody’s exasperated wife or husband.
Honestly, I’ve seen it play out this way so many times that I could narrate it in my sleep.
But back to the title of this article – Is your spouse’s opposite-sex friendship an emotional affair?
If you’re worried enough about your spouse’s opposite-sex friendship that you’re actually asking that question, then I’d say it’s definitely possible. Or if it isn’t an affair just yet, it’ll probably get there sooner or later.
So instead of endlessly arguing or explaining or crying about how your partner’s opposite-sex friendship hurts you or the marriage, bite your tongue. Move your spouse into the guest room or move in there yourself. Show them you’re not “all talk” and that you’re simply not going to live like that.
And if that doesn’t work, my on-demand audio/video crash course Prevent Infidelity // End Their Inappropriate Friendship offers strategies that can help turn the whole situation around so that your spouse willingly, and enthusiastically, rolls that third wheel off into the ditch where it belongs. This other person needs to be deleted from your spouse’s phone, and your marriage, ASAP.