Emotional Affairs vs. Friendship

If you suspect your partner is cheating, how can you tell the difference between an emotional affairs vs. a genuine friendship? We’re “just friends” may be the oldest cheater chestnut in the mindfuck playbook. But perhaps they really are just friends and you’re an insecure, controlling banshee who needs to take a giant step back. What are you, the Friend Police?

So which is it: An emotional affair vs a friendship? 

It can be either one. This isn’t a court of law, and you don’t need to marshal your evidence. If this relationship doesn’t feel acceptable to you, leave it. A person doesn’t have to be a total scoundrel for you to conclude it’s not the right relationship for you. You can break up because you don’t like their haircut OR their friends. (Or their covert fuckbuddy.)

I’m sorry, I need a more definitive answer! Who goes there? Friend or affair partner?

Here’s a field guide to discern the difference between a friendship and an affair.

Friendship is inclusive.

Friends welcome their friend’s partners — at their homes or in their activities. When you’re coupled, the circle should widen, not constrict. A friend of Bob’s is a friend of mine! Not “Bob” is secret code on their cell phone for Meredith and you’re not invited to their stamp collecting conference.

Now, of course your partner is entitled to his or her individual interests and friends. Not everyone shares a love of stamp collecting, for example. But you shouldn’t feel forbidden or shut out. Even if you have zero interest in stamps, (maybe you’ll learn to love stamps!), it isn’t a secret stamp collecting cabal.

Friends talk about their shared interests. If those interests are vague, or never discussed around you, or if you’re swatted down when you ask? You may conclude stamp collecting is a pretext for other activities.

Friendship respects boundaries.

Friends recognize that other things take precedence over them sometimes. Your sick mother. A child’s dance recital. An impending deadline. Real friends respect that you have a life. Sometimes a friend has a crisis. And people in crisis need help. So if your partner has a friend in crisis who needs a LOT of hand-holding — ask yourself why aren’t you coming along to help too?

If a friendship is so demanding that your partner is skipping the sick mom, the dance recital and the deadline — it’s fair to ask about the nature of the relationship.

“Hey, your friendship time seems to be continually trumping our family time — where would you rather be?” Pay attention to actions.

Friendship brings out your best self.

Time with friends is relaxing, joyful, comfortable. It should elevate your mood. If your partner hangs out with their pals, but then is curt and sullen when you’re around, I’d ask: “Why don’t I get the best of you?”

Healthy partners are congruent. They don’t become different people in different settings. As a spouse or significant other you should enjoy coveted BFF status. Does it feel that way?

Emotional affairs are secretive.

Friends are introduced as friends. No one introduces an affair partner as an affair partner.

“Hi! This is Jill who I sext behind Dianne’s back!”

Nope. Never happens.

Emotional affairs are probably physical affairs.

Adults have sex. It stands to reason that anyone who spends weeks, months, or most improbably years, sexting and sharing intimacies is going to consummate the act. Often cheaters will only cop to the lesser offense, and chumps are inclined to believe it, because… bargaining stage of grief. There’s only so much pain a person can chew at once.

What chumps thought it was, (an emotional affair) versus what it really was ( physical affair/s) is deeply documented on this site. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. An emotional affair is just another flavor of abuse. It means your partner is checked out and is investing their energies elsewhere.

That’s either acceptable to you in a relationship, or it isn’t.

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Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago

Thank you so much. I think a lot of people need to read this article. Friendship is important, and everyone is afraid of being the crazy jealous partner, so it makes the perfect shield for FWs.

My ex/FW used this excuse. He was friends with his toxic ex – the ex/OW, as I refer to her – and I spent the early days of our relationship in this exact same panic. Unfortunately, I had very poor social skills and little experience with irl friends, so I was easy to fool. Even more unfortunate, I didn’t leave him when he admitted to the cheating, because he “wanted me” and “chose” me, and he promised me smooth sailing from then on. Yeah, guess how that went?

I’ve brought it up before, but a while afterwards, he threw fits because part of the agreement was that he couldn’t be friends with ex/OW after she physically assaulted me and tried to come after him. He accused me of trying to control his friend group, saying I can’t stop him, I was unreasonable… The ONLY one I had a problem with was ex/OW. Ugh. Foolish, foolish, foolish!

Last edited 1 month ago by Chump-Domain Cleric
OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago

I had not heard that part of your story. Was she charged for the assault?

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  OHFFS

No – he didn’t want to press charges, and I was scared and just wanted to be done with it. We did file a report, though, which apparently ticked her off. She left an apology gift at the door, but only for ex/FW. She still resented me.

She had forced her way into the apartment by hiding where the peephole couldn’t see her and barreling her way I when I opened the door. I thought maybe a family member had left something for me on the doorknob. Should have known better, given how late it was. She immediately charged at ex/FW, who drug her back to the door and threw her out.

The why is even wilder. I made ex/FW block her because I saw texts from her about them hanging out at our apartment earlier, which I wasn’t okay with. I said they could hang out (because I’m the world’s biggest chump, and he said that it doesn’t matter if he cheated on her with me at one point, she’s still his friend and our coworker) but never alone after he admitted to the cheating. She also texted me insults through his phone once she realized it was me. Two years of my life became a Jerry Springer episode thanks to those two. And my general suppression of my own common sense, due to the surrounding circumstances.

So yeah, that’s that saga.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

She should have been prosecuted for this. It’s obvious she resented you because she wanted him for herself. Your ex slimeball handled his triangulation of 2 women pretty well. If only she had realized that he didn’t care for her any more than he cared for YOU or he wouldn’t have pit you two against each other.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I think, in a way, he did care for her – more than I, at least. But it was an immature form of romance, an extension of their drama-filled, toxic high school romance. He literally kept one of her hair ties in his wallet for YEARS after they broke up. But even he admitted, the two did nothing but fuck and fight when in a relationship.

How sad is that?

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago

Yeah, “the bitch assaulted me” is definitely a deal breaker. I’m so sorry that happened to you!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Aww, it’s no worries now. I’m alright nowadays, relatively! And yes, “that bitch assaulted me” SHOULD be a deal breaker, but we know how FWs operate. Especially when kibbles are involved. Wish I had understood it at the time…

kangajen74
kangajen74
1 month ago

I have male friends in my social groups, but I do not spend time alone with them. Anything I do would include my husband or at least a group of people. I don’t go to lunch by myself with male coworkers, tell them intimate details about my marriage, or engage in lengthy, private Face Time calls. I don’t go to a married couple’s house if the wife isn’t home. There are just certain boundaries I have so that I’m not giving off even the appearance of impropriety.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  kangajen74

Like some others in this thread, I don’t agree that a straight woman can’t safely build a close but un-flirty friendship with a straight man. At various times in my life, I’ve had a close male friend I would have lunch or even dinner with, without its turning into something romantic. The key, though–at least for me–is an unspoken rule but firmly held rule that neither of you starts confiding things to your friend about your relationship with your significant other. (Also, as Tracy says, of course the friendship can’t be a secret you keep from your mate.) Anyway, that’s been my experience.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leedy
LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Leedy

I think that’s a good rule. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your own happiness and well-being because loneliness, unhappiness and dissatisfaction can open the door to leaning on friends for affection and validation you should get elsewhere.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
1 month ago
Reply to  kangajen74

I have *always* had male friends, some of them really close. I have never hidden anything about them or our conversations from my ex-FW. I never made plans to meet with any of them alone. I never needed special messaging apps to talk to them.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  kangajen74

That’s the best way of handling it – avoid temptation, don’t spend time alone, don’t tell each other about your person problems, esp relationships etc. This used to be common sense when I was a kid but people think they can handle anything now and most of us can’t. Feelings develop quickly.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  kangajen74

Same. A girlfriend and I were talking recently about what a red flag it is to us when women our age (we’re 40) have close male friends: “We left that crap behind in our 20s and guess what, it didn’t work back then either. We were just in denial about it.”

People in real life seem to get it, but oh man, the screams and flames I get on the internet when I dare say this stuff.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

I think a man who is a close friend of a woman probably has some level of romantic and/or sexual interest in her even if it isn’t obvious at first. I’ve even seen this with some gay friends who actually had some interest in female friends although they wouldn’t act on it, we could tell there was still some romantic interest. It’s built into us as humans.

Chumpcat
Chumpcat
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I have to disagree, I am a male in a profession with mostly female colleagues. They are my friends and none will progress beyond that. Even before the events that led me to be a member of the chump community I have personal standards. I have clear boundaries, I don’t have secret or private chats, I don’t meet anyone privately, and I absolutely don’t discuss any marital problems. My male friends have similar views. I truly hope if the predatory male “friend” has been your experience, you meet some different men.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

This. I had sooooo many close guy friends for sooooo many years and inevitably, every single one tried to start something. The better ones disappeared when they got girlfriends or married and I never heard from them again. The worst ones faked friendship for years hoping to get into my pants or assaulted me when I let my guard down.

This was not one or two bad apples. This was chronic among dozens of men, classmates, friends of friends.

I’ve experienced some inappropriate behavior from gay women but nowhere near as bad. And my closest girlfriends are straight anyway so there’s no conflict of interest there.

Really, it comes down to pattern recognition and not wasting my time on the equivalent of a lottery ticket. Who is the best investment of my time and energy? Who tends to recognize my humanity first and foremost and not view me as a potential conquest just because? The answer is clear.

hush
hush
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Cam, I couldn’t agree with you more! Women especially (Gen X and older) in this patriarchy don’t seem to grasp just how opportunistic men are – they thrive on attention from women constantly. If we look hard enough, the men in the friendship are hardly ever genuinely reciprocal. Most men see friendship with women as either some type of a placeholder/maybe she’ll sleep with me someday if it doesn’t work out with my gf/wife, and/or a free mom/therapist. Harsh truth!

Bluewren
Bluewren
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

In some cases that’s true.
I have a male as a close friend- and we are definitely not getting it on and never will.
The boundaries are known and that won’t change.
Opposite sex relationships can be as valuable as same sex – it’s the person, not they’re chromosome make up that matters.

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Bluewren

I work with a group of men. Some have been married and my age, others younger, but I think our relationships work because we all have good boundaries and a focus on our goals.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  Bluewren

I agree!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

I wouldn’t go that far. Mainly because if we’re going with that logic, I can’t have any friends, since I can be attracted to any gender! Bi/pansexuals are banned from friendship with this line of thinking. But, as well, I think friendship can and should surpass gender. And FWs don’t cheat because they have friends of whatever gender they’re attracted to – they cheat because they’re sexually entitled.

However, I think there are red flags. Lack of boundaries in friendship is a big one. I should have noticed this one, and I didn’t. I have boundaries with my friends. I won’t let my friends walk all over me as an individual. My significant other and loved ones (blood related and found family) come first. And if my friends get too clingy, I back away, instead of pandering to them. Another one is when the friend is… off. When the behavior is super unusual around you. For example, ex/FW’s ex/OW was cold, distant, and catty with me, and got weirdly possessive with ex/FW. But I’ve heard it can swing the other way… with APs being really, really clingy. I haven’t experienced this one, but it happens. I think the lack of boundaries is the bigger clue, though. If they drop everything for their friend’s whims seemingly without considering you, and you’re in a serious relationship with them, that’s a problem.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago

Well put, Cleric!

Cam
Cam
1 month ago

I’m bi too, and it sounds like we’re basically saying the same things (boundaries are important).

Personally, I’ve found men and women are socialized very differently, gender blindness is a nice ideal but unrealistic in practice, and my life got a million times easier when I prioritized female friendships and moved men to the outer rung of my inner circle.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Well, I’m glad your life got easier! That’s super awesome for you – you have to do what works for you and makes your circle as healthy as possible.

I personally feel the difference in socialization doesn’t change much for me nearly as much as the person’s personality and character. But, my innermost irl circle is made mostly of trans and nonbinary people, too… and I’m nonbinary. So perhaps, I’m doing something similar already. A lot of my online friends have been men, though. May be another “your mileage may vary” thing.

hush
hush
1 month ago

Non-binary/trans friendships really couldn’t be further from how cis het men operate in patriarchy. I’m with you and Cam, totally there.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

I wish people would understand that once you stop dating someone or you do not want to date them, they don’t owe you a deep and prolonged friendship. I am not going to meet with you one on one, especially if you’re dating others. I will always be cordial and kind if I see you, but I am just an acquaintance at that point.

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

In general, many people don’t seem to understand that friendship is not a group activity and dating within a “friend group” is like dating a work colleague–you are potentially screwing up both your dating life and your friendships with others.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

I also wish more people understood that friendship and romance are 2 firmly defined tracks and once you jump from the former to the latter, you’re never going back.

People on Reddit argue with me about this til they’re blue in the face and always claim they know exceptions to the rule. I’m like, well, good for you, but I’m not basing my retirement plans on winning the lotto or hitting a grand slam on the next Apple stock, so there’s no point bringing up unicorns you allegedly know.

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Redditors are often very young.

Chumpcat
Chumpcat
1 month ago
Reply to  LovedAJackass

Young, naive, and “internet confident” where they speak in absolutes.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

I also don’t get the dating multiple people thing; I can see talking with people on an app or something to see if you would like to date them. Once I meet a person IRL, I focus on them. If I find you’re dating multiple people, I’m out, I am not going to compete, I know my value and worth. To me at least, dating multiple people tells me you can’t be alone and you’re possibly looking for validation outside of yourself, just my opinion.

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

I really couldn’t be doing with that either. I don’t know if it’s because I live in Ireland and spent most of my life in England, but multiple dating just hasn’t been a thing at all in my life, nor anyone that I have known. If you start going out with someone, you’re going out with them and no one else. If you want to go out with someone else, you finish with the first person or if you keep seeing both, you’re cheating. I don’t know if that’s changed for the younger generations. I’m 63 , but as far as I’m aware, my son and his mates only go out with one girl at a time and multiple dating isn’t done here in this a part of Ireland now anymore than my generation did it in England in the 70s , 80s and 90s!

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Are you from North America? I am, and have gotten blindsided because the dating culture here has gotten so muddled in the last 20 years.

It’s crazy that I even have to ask you, “What do you mean by dating?”, but sadly it’s a reflection of the times.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Haha, yes. Definitely has been a fish out of water experience and a lot of relearning the whole process.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Same. I don’t believe in staying in touch with exes, unless you’re co-parenting kids, and I wouldn’t date a guy with a female best friend.

It’s nothing I wouldn’t demand of myself either. I don’t keep male best friends.

Men I’d invite (with their wives!) to my wedding or the summer cookout? Sure. But I’m not calling these guys every week to discuss my private life.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago

Yep, why do you feel the need to meet a divorced man for wine after work, or anther male friend for coffee multiple times and never give me the details, or the need to cut it off after flirting with them? Again, I have to make peace with these questions as I was too naive to ask them.

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Mine often told me that was getting together with a male friend. I never thought to verify that because I trusted him.

After D-Day, the wife of the male friend informed me that he hadn’t been meeting with him at all.

I’m still struggling to come to terms with all the lies. CL is right that they are guilty of the theft of our reality. It’s tough to move on from that.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Not naive… trusting. It’s normal to trust our partners and give the benefit of the doubt.

Plus people are quick to jump down our throats and accuse us of being controlling when we have reasonable boundaries around partner’s behavior.

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

I’m not a “benefit of the doubt” person. I pay attention to when I feel “doubt.” Giving the “benefit of the doubt” means that you push aside the doubt and assume that things are OK. It’s blind trust. For me, “doubt” means something is amiss, either In me (I’m have a kind of flashback to something in the past, I’m not getting what I need so this behavior piles on top of that) or in the other person (taking advantage in some way) or in the relationship (we are not on the same page). It’s worth sitting with that doubt to figure out what is involved and then acting to figure out what to do about it.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

I hate the word controlling in those contexts. Controlling is abuse, asking for healthy boundaries in a relationship is not.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Yup, 100%.

Deeply Chumpy
Deeply Chumpy
1 month ago

For anyone reading this please contemplate the peace that comes from no longer being in a relationship where you are tormented by your partner’s unacceptable behaviour!

I remember commando crawling on the floor around the bed to get Dr Ex Dickheads phone so I could try to work out his access code and find out what was going on. I was loosing my mind trying to decipher his actions. Their madness is not worth your well-being….

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
1 month ago
Reply to  Deeply Chumpy

Deeply Chumpy,

Either it was you that shared that story re “commando crawling” for the phone previously or someone else did the same thing and shared it. I read that comment early on in my chump journey and it really stuck with me. I thought about that every time my grief wanted to convince me that we could rec. I will never forget that story.

In fairness, my FW had his phone on lockdown from the minute he had a smartphone which was at least 2 decades before D-Day, so getting my hands on his phone was never going to do me any good. But your story struck such a cord with me. I could so easily picture trying to do that, slinking out of the bed, heart in my throat, sweating bullets in my nervousness, crawling on the floor like the boogey man to try to get the phone in hopes of finding out the truth of my life/marriage, because I could no longer trust my husband to give me the truth. It made it crystal clear to me that I could never sign up for a stint as the marriage police. Either you or a fellow commenter said “no way, let the AP have his FW self, she can be the one crawling on the floor for the stealth phone ops”.

It’s interesting how we all share these stories and the most random examples will be SO helpful to others.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Deeply Chumpy

Marriage police as Tracy said, means you already lack trust and without trust, you have nothing.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago
Reply to  Deeply Chumpy

I mark my progress in healing by the amount of time in minutes between when I wake up and realize that monster is gone. Sometimes it’s a gut-punch; other times it’s the quiet serenity of “no more emotional abuse and gaslighting.”

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

It’s been almost 4 years since my divorce, and yet, last night, I had the most frightening nightmare. I heard footsteps, and the door to my apartment opened. In walked my ex! It seemed so real. I panicked. My entire body seized up. It was truly terrifying!

Of course, I woke up and realized it was just a bad dream.

I’m so glad to be free of that selfish monster. He was bad for my mental and physical health.

I was married for 35 years.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

I was married for 32 years. I have dreams and in those dreams I am running and hiding, running and hiding. I wake up so afraid!! Sweating. Then I look around and say to myself. 2xChump, you are OK, you live alone and I for one love you. You will never have to run away again. The peace is heavenly and worth my divorce and move and loss of my church family and friends and loss of my step family with cheater #2. It is WORTH IT ALL to wake up and calm down. I am safe now.

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
1 month ago
Reply to  Deeply Chumpy

I contemplated getting a taser and hitting my FW with it to get his phone away! But I didn’t! The phone was glued to him, which is almost always the first clue of cheating, especially when they were never that way before (and he never was). That was my first alarm. Then came the nastiness to me, ignoring me, not doing all the little lovey things he used to. They make it pretty obvious, but we are in denial at first. We tend to see others through our eyes, as in, WE would never do that, so of course, they wouldn’t either, right? And we trust them and they know it, so they weaponize that trust (and love for them) against us. Repugnant behavior from people that don’t seem to mind being repugnant. Disgusting.

MotherChumperNinetyNine
MotherChumperNinetyNine
1 month ago
Reply to  Deeply Chumpy

I feel VERY seen…. I thought I was the only one…..thank God I found ChumpLady and told him to GTFO, divorced, left that madness behind.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Good one!!

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
1 month ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Oops, I already spilled the beans on my idea then, which was buying a taser to zap him and get the phones away from him! Lol. Glad I didn’t, but man I daydreamed about doing it a lot!

FuckWitFree
FuckWitFree
1 month ago

Life is preferable without being the marriage police trying to figure out why my alarm bells were going off incessantly. Even though I’m alone and lonely most of the time and have no hope of another relationship, it’s still better than feeling like all I was good for was washing the skid stains out of fuckwit’s underwear. The degradation was horrendous.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  FuckWitFree

I’m so sorry, Free, but you are so right! Anything is better than being with a FW. Do you think you could get a pet, though? I find that furry companions can ease loneliness.

Big hugs to you!

Last edited 1 month ago by Chump-Domain Cleric
Celene
Celene
1 month ago

It means your partner is checked out and is investing their energies elsewhere.”

This is basically my whole marriage to the ex! He worked so hard pleasing other people outside the marriage that he didn’t do anything in the home and complained when I expected him to care. He still puts his friends’ needs before our child’s leaving supervised visitation early (or not showing up for visitation) so he can play the good uncle to his friends’ kids. The same friends who enabled -and didn’t tell me about- his affair with COW at the workplace.

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Celene

I get the “OW” part of “COW” but what does the “C” stand for–co-worker? crusty? carpool? Cuervo? crappy?

Celene
Celene
1 month ago
Reply to  LovedAJackass

It stands for coworker, but their actions also make her crappy.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  Celene

Yes! Constantly pleasing friends, and pushing me to the wayside. Ugh, I get it.

I’m so, so sorry to hear about your kids. That must be so painful. You deserve better, and so do they. Big hugs, if you would like them.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago

My kids are working professionals, and we’ve had discussions about this because sure you have work friends and friends from other contexts that could cross the line, but you make sure that it doesn’t unless you are truly prepared to follow through with that in a healthy way.

I worked in a male-dominated field and certainly had male work friends. But certain topics were off limits, and I watched my one-on-ones with them. I disagree with the Mike Pence approach. I most certainly rode with them in cars and went to alone to lunch with them. But that was it. The car trips were for work, and the lunches were completely public. Meetings behind closed doors were for work, period. I still follow that approach. No emotional affairs.

Much of what my ex did was obscured, but he certainly accused me of affairs. I would mention something funny a male co-worker said, and it automatically meant I was having an affair. If I talked to our long-term mail carrier for a few minutes at the box, I was having an affair. If a male college friend called to catch up and get an address for Christmas cards, I was having an affair. It got to the point that I avoided any mention of any conversations with men.

I had an excellent relationship with my divorce team. We joked and kidded, and my older attorney offered hugs at times but always asked before doing that because “my staff tells me I have to be careful.” He was just that kind of person. At signing, he said he would miss me, and I said I would miss him. He was about to retire and went his own way. I went my own way. Nothing weird. I’m sure ex would say I was having an affair with my divorce attorney. Not even close.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I disagree with the Mike Pence approach too.

Mr Wonderfuls Ex
Mr Wonderfuls Ex
1 month ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I personally think if any married couple wants to operate under the Pence approach, whatever floats their boat. As long as the couple wants to operate that way and it makes them happy, I try not to judge. I might not do the same but if they are being transparent with each other and that is how they want to operate, all the more power to them. I say the same for polyamory couples and so on. It’s not what I would do but it’s none of my business. 🤷🏼‍♀️

FYI_
FYI_
1 month ago

The difference with the Pence approach is that Pence will not have lunch or a meeting with a woman at work. It blocks women that he works with from opportunities, information, valuable networking. It’s sexist. It holds women back, just because they’re women.

Going out on a limb here, but no one wants to sleep with Mike Pence. However plenty of people want / need to talk to the vice-president. Women were not allowed, not without a hall monitor. It’s ludicrous.

In that case, it is no longer just between the couple.

Braken
Braken
1 month ago
Reply to  FYI_

Like FYI_ said. If you do do the Mike Pence approach, then you shouldn’t be having out of office one on ones with any gender of staff. It’s not fair to spend time mentoring young men but not young women or NB folks.

Mentor them as a group or in open office settings or whatever your boundries are. It’s not the worst idea for everyone to keep work/peronal boundries, especially with staff you supervise. But if men get a closer relationship with the boss it’s also a bad look.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  FYI_

Yes, if I had followed the Pence approach at wor or worked for someone like that, my career would have stalled. Most certainly there were coworkers that I had to be more cautious with, but it was manageable. I had a “handsy” boss when he was drunk, so I kept that in mind and made sure someone else came along.

I know someone whose wife insists on the Mike Pence rule, and it’s created awkward situations in his corporate job. If he and a woman are going to an offsite meeting, he has to drive separately and eat his lunch in his car. My son said he would be humiliated if a partner insisted on that.

Divorce Minister
Divorce Minister
1 month ago

When Cheaters prioritize their “friend’s” comfort above yours, you can tell that they are NOT “just friends.” A friend should NOT take precedence over a spouse. When that happens, you can know that they are no longer “forsaking all others” in their hearts (and possibly in bed, too, sadly).

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
1 month ago

Divorce Minister, that’s the correct assessment: When the ‘friend’ takes priority over the spouse or the spouse’s comfort level, that’s a clear indicator that more than a ‘friendship’ thing is going on.

I think this is why the line “I’m allowed to have friends!” irks me.

Yes, we are all allowed to have friends. Friendships that cross boundaries, or friendships with questionable people should be avoided. The same way you might tell someone that they don’t need a friendship with the drug dealer down the street, you should also be able to tell them that the constant text conversations with the cute and needy little co-worker can only be bad.

MollyWobbles
MollyWobbles
1 month ago

This is true for children of FW’s too. My dad had special “friendships” with women all my life. I remember once, as an adult, going to visit my parents and while I was there I caught the flu. I ended up in bed, very sick. My dad was really upset because he had a BBQ planned and his “friend” Deanna was coming. He marched up to my old bedroom where I was vomiting into a bucket and demanded that I come downstairs to meet her. When I dragged myself down he actually said “This is my daughter. She usually looks much better than this”. I was furious. But god forbid I didn’t look presentable for the latest piece of ass he was parading around in front of my mother. She was my age by the way.

hush
hush
1 month ago
Reply to  MollyWobbles

Wow!! That’s some shocking behavior your parents modeled for you. I’m so sorry!!!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  MollyWobbles

That’s genuinely horrifying. I’m so sorry, Molly. If you want them, I’m sending big internet hugs your way. A good parent takes care of their child and helps them recover, not uses them to appear sparkly to APs while insulting them.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 month ago

I would say the biggest thing is TRUST YOUR GUT. I ignored how uncomfortable his “friendship” made me, even though on paper it met most of the criteria for a real friendship that CL outlines. OW came to my house, we did things together, I knew who she was, I thought she was my friend too, etc. But it just felt WRONG. And FW had had lots of female friends during our relationship that gave me no such feelings. He was a film director surrounded by actresses, directed nude/sex scenes, etc. and none of it ever gave me the ick or made me question what the relationships were, so I KNEW I wasn’t a paranoid, controlling girlfriend/wife. When he accused me of being jealous, paranoid, and controlling, I asked him when I had EVER said anything about any of his other female friends, and he had to admit the answer was “never”. Yet I ignored my gut and glossed over things. Truth was it wasn’t only an emotional affair, it was a physical affair.

The things I did notice:
— he started hiding his phone
— he started “working late” a lot
— the two of them seemed to have inside jokes
— I saw occasional touches (play “fighting”/pushing, or when he passed through a tight space behind her and put his hand on her lower back rather than on an arm or shoulder that you might with a regular friend)
— OW saying “we” a lot when referring to things they did or places they went (he did conventions and so did she)
— she showed up to a lot of places we went to do family things
— he stopped telling me about his day or what was going on in his life
— he got nasty and picked fights with me
— I was never invited to HER house for the kids’ playdates, but she came to mine
— he was always helping her out (I guess this one was on Tracy’s list)

Later there were more obvious things, like clothing or shoes in his car, in our dryer (also another time there was a condom wrapper), a hairpin in our bed (I don’t wear hairpins), and stuff like that, but FW always had some innocent explanation for it all, and I was stupid enough to believe him (and was trying my damndest to save our “marriage”, pick-me dancing like it was a reality tv show).

FW copped to the emotional affair (eventually) but said he decided to end that (newsflash – he didn’t). But he NEVER admitted the physical affair til the divorce discovery almost 4 years later when my lawyer got the tea from his lawyer. After FW died, I found a bunch of OW’s letters, which confirmed that the physical affair had started years before, right when I thought it did.

It has taken me a long time to learn to trust my gut again, but it turns out the EVERY time I felt “weird” about something, or that something was going on (he said he was one place but he wasn’t, he said he was going somewhere alone, but he was with her), I WAS RIGHT.

TRUST YOUR GUT and don’t let the FW tell you you’re crazy.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

“Trust your gut” is the best advice — and don’t let the FW gaslight you! Once I admitted to myself that the Cheating Abusive Douche would cheat, I began to find that he had actually cheated all the times I thought he did. All those times he told me I was “crazy,” overreacting,” “jealous” or “crazy,” he really was doing what I thought he was doing. I wish I had learn to trust (instead of quash) my gut decades ago!

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

I am so sorry you were treated in such a demoralizing way. But all of us Chumps are treated the same way, so you are not alone, and it was nothing that you did wrong, other than love and trust a rotten person. None of us deserve to be treated with so little civility and cruel disrespect by someone who “loves” us. But I was so glad to hear you are on the other side of it and came out strong. Way to be MIGHTY!!!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

Yes! My gut was my first sign as well.

All chumps should have that mantra: TRUST YOUR GUT!

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

Trust your gut is so, so important; in most everything but especially in the case of liars.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

We need a banner for this:

TRUST YOUR GUT and don’t let the FW tell you you’re crazy.

There were some positives in the delay, but there was a whole year of that after my ex left before I finally got it together and said NO MORE!

I still can’t believe that he convinced his family that I was a crazy, psycho woman that he had to flee. Good story for dates too.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

I’ve never been a chump, but I always trust my gut. It doesn’t speak up very often, but when it does, I listen.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago

I think Mike Pence’s approach is fine for him, that’s his choice. By the time tail hook and the metoo movement was on the scene it was not uncommon for folks in DoD to use that approach, male and female. Meetings most always had at least three folks in attendance.

I suspect it was more about protection against false allegations. Lets not pretend they don’t exist.

I think my boundaries and actions re work were good. I managed to keep boundaries with little to no awkwardness. If other folks didn’t like it, that was ok; they could do them.

My fw likely had no boundaries, he was a master at hiding his secret basement for years though.

FYI_
FYI_
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

It wasn’t fine, because it wasn’t only his choice. He was unilaterally making that choice for every woman working in the White House who deserved the same opportunities to work / network / talk as the men who worked there. His delusion gave greater access and preference to men who needed to meet with him.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  FYI_

I agree

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

“I suspect it was more about protection against false allegations.” The same with Billy Graham who used this approach. Many high profile people, esp politicians probably should use this approach because they are open to attacks and there are unscrupulous people out there who do make these claims. I’ve seen it. So even more than affairs, I think the element of being wrongly accused may motivate some people with a lot to lose, esp in certain professions. For me own interactions with oppo sex friends (before I was married) I would have to consider if my interactions with them alone would be any different if there was any other person(s) there and that might be true. IMO, best to avoid temptation.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

There were rules for it at our facility. I have no issue with solid boundaries and there are plenty of ways to make sure no one is excluded.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago

My FW spent years with an OW who had ceased to be interested in sex with him and fucked other guys. Just the fact that she was a skank was enough for him. So I would not call it an emotional affair, as he was hoping it would be physical again. I don’t believe in emotional affairs. A chaste emotional connection, without sexual attraction or interest, is a friendship, not an affair. Why would somebody hide that? It’s not neccessary to be having sex for the connection to be of a sexual nature. If they are hiding it, it’s sexual.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  OHFFS

If it’s not sexual yet…..they’re hoping it will be that way.

Orlando
Orlando
1 month ago

I got the “we are just friends, she’s having problems with her husband & I’m helping her”. The guy who wouldn’t help me figure out which type of tires I should get on my car but he’s out there acting like a marriage counsellor?? Sure. At that point I was done. I enrolled to get my Master’s degree straight away. He d-day’ed me with the NEXT OW, one class away from graduation. It was frickin hard, but I finished. I wasn’t going to let that asswipe disrupt any more of my life. I hope any one put in these friendship “twilight zone” scenarios starts making backup plans.

Last edited 1 month ago by Orlando
hush
hush
1 month ago
Reply to  Orlando

Good for you for getting that Master’s degree & getting out of there!! 💪

I was married to the guy who, at the very end, wouldn’t go on a trip with me and the kids, but had all the time in the world for honeymoonish trips with the OM. His married male coworker.

Turned out we moved for that guy. They were fucking.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
1 month ago
Reply to  hush

“Turned out we moved for that guy. They were fucking.”

This is an aspect of cheating that I always bring up. It’s not just that the FW sleeps with someone else. It’s the choices the chump makes for their lives, without having all the same info the FW does. I don’t know if you were thrilled to move, or hated the idea but did it for your partner. But either way. I’m sure if you knew the REAL reason, you would not have done it.

Mine kept telling me that we could afford for me to get a lower paying job if there was something I would love/that would be less stressful. I never did because the idea of giving up financial security was completely unpalatable to me. He was suggesting this WHILE having an affair and planning to LEAVE me. I will never fully understand why he was so set on this. I suspect that he wanted me more financially vulnerable, so I’d be more reliant on his good graces.

Even just choosing to wash their dirty underwear for them becomes unfair if they are having an affair and you don’t know. A more serious example would be a chump having unprotected sex with their FW spouse, not knowing they are sleeping with other people.

All that is so much bigger than JUST the betrayal of physical cheating. It’s a much bigger lie than non-chumps usually consider. It’s not just that a FW puts their private parts somewhere they shouldn’t. It’s everything ELSE too.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago

I think this article should just be required reading for anybody in any sort of adult relationship.

Gods know I could have used this about a year ago and helped me lose the rose colored glasses.

I appreciate that the distinction is the boundary that YOU(oneself) has set. One blurred boundary inevitably leads to another. Mine definitely tested limits and saw what she would get away with. I was definitely too trusting-something I am working on for the next prospective Mrs. Washington(definitely has her work cut out for her, even before I got chumped!)

I was always very forthright about my comings and goings and who I interacted with and in what way. She wasn’t. Guess it was all the hopium again.

One last time
One last time
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Exactly like my story. I could tell something was up, but never in a million years would have thought she would betray me. Looking back I now realize how obvious it should have been. That’s what you get for being a genuine person committed to the marriage, and your wife isn’t

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

Of course, once again CL hits it out of the park., What I would add to the equation is the element of TEMPTATION. People don’t think of temptation anymore – or certainly avoiding it. The best way to avoid many of the pitfalls of life is to avoid the issue entirely…..don’t have temptation around you. On a minor level if you know chocolates and potato chips are your weakness (as they are mine) don’t have them around you and try to AVOID THEM. Opposite sex friendships, unless they are with people who are much older or not attractive to you for some reason, are a MINE FIELD. Even if you don’t start off thinking of someone “that way” with enough time together and shared interests, you start talking and laughing and having fun together and chemistry kicks in because if you didn’t have ANY chemistry, you wouldn’t even be friends. This is to be seen as a TEMPTATION by most people and something to be avoided. Don’t think that you are the strong one and you can ignore this or overpower it. So many people make this mistake, innocently enough at first, and then when the marriage hits that rough patch, as they all do, this is the person you turn to, your friend, to talk about your problems, and it evolves into something else. Both Billy Graham and Mike Pence (I have nothing against Graham but I do LOATHE Pence so I’m not saying this out of affinity) had the policy of avoiding being alone with women who were not their wives. It’s kind of extreme but I can definitely understand it – it avoids temptation and scandal (accusations). They were both aware that this can be a real problem, and that is simply…..the truth. I’m not saying to avoid the opposite sex, but be aware of problems that might come up. Don’t…”embrace” it. When I see that a man might be interested in me (I’m a woman) and I STILL see this happening even at my age, I cool it off right away, I stop talking to them at length, I become unavailable, I make sure that nothing goes any further including MY possible feelings. It’s always nice to see that you are (still) attractive to someone, it’s an ego boost. BEWARE THE EGO BOOST….AND NEVER ASSUME YOU ARE STRONGER THAN TEMPTATION….the best way of handling it is to avoid it.

If you see this happening with your mate….you should be wary and keep your eye on it. If your mate is spending too much time with a friend (and it might even be same sex if it seems…too close) I’d inquire about it and possibly demand that it be shut down. The primary energy for the relationship should be IN the relationship….not going to a “friend” outside it. You should be talking about your problems with each other, and spending most of your time with each other or the rest of the family. Always be wary of “friends”, exes, and co-workers – the 3 most common sources of affairs.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

So I guess, I, a bisexual, can’t have any friends, then?

I think such an extreme position is a bit untenable. I completely understand how a public figure, such as Billy Graham or Mike Pence, might go to such lengths because of the opportunity for scandal or the potential for even a false rumor to impact their careers.

For the rest of us, it comes down to personal integrity. As I said, I’m bisexual. My best friend of over 12 years is a woman, also bisexual. We are very close, we share a lot, but I’ve never for a minute considered her someone I could have feelings for beyond friendship because she is married. It’s basic respect. For her, for her husband (who is great), for their marriage, for myself. She and I do things together and talk for hours on the phone, but I also do things with the two of them and sometimes he chimes in on our phone conversations. There’s no hiding anything we talk about. I would have no issues with her husband reading any text I’ve ever sent her.

I’ve had male and female friends aplenty, both single and coupled, and never once cheated on my spouse (when I was married), nor even felt the temptation to do so. Because I loved my husband and I promised fidelity and no fleeting pleasure, whether of my ego being stroked or sexual, is worth jeopardizing that. Because I respect my friends, their partners, my coworkers. It involves not justifying dancing on the edge or crossing lines (however small the step may be). It’s tragic that people have forgotten respect for self and others.

I thought it wasn’t a problem for me because I used to think I was greysexual (rarely experiences sexual attraction) or demisexual (needs an emotional connection to have sexual attraction). But really it was just because I was a sheltered/repressed young person (very religious upbringing) and then I was in an abusive relationship. Now that I’m free and in my early 40s and have also realized I’m bi, damn if just about everyone isn’t hot. I am shy, which helps I guess, however I recently danced with a SMOKING hot woman at a party (she asked me), but she had a wedding ring on, so guess what? I didn’t give her my number (which I absolutely would have if she had been unattached). We danced a lovely waltz and then I admired her from afar for the rest of the night.

Here I am, 5 years celibate because it’s entirely possible to keep it in your pants if you want to. It’s not like I don’t have a sex drive. If anything, it’s worse than ever. But I’m a rational human being, not an animal.

I wouldn’t want to be with someone who couldn’t control themselves, whether with a pack of cookies or a person of whatever their preferred sex is. If I have to “keep my eye” on any future partner (I’m happily single at this point), that relationship will be over. My ex husband clearly gave himself permission to cross line after line, as did OW (who was also married). She was also his trainee at work. It was inappropriate in SO many ways for them to start texting outside of work. It has nothing to do with opposite sex friends (lots of gay people have same sex friends, lots of bi/pan people exist). It’s just integrity. If you feel things might be heading into inappropriate territory, you cut it off. End of story. You don’t nurse those feelings, or look for excuses to continue, or flirt, or hide things. Those are CHOICES. And they are the wrong choices.

Whatever happened to honor?

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

Honor frequently gives way to temptation. When choosing between honor and chocolate….I’d probably pick chocolate. I think people in the past couple of generations do not recognize or admit to the strength of temptation, which is the MAIN issue to me. Avoiding temptation is the best thing to do. Most of us aren’t bisexual so it’s usually the opposite sex friendships that are the temptation, but we each have to judge for ourselves. It might be hard to see temptation at the start, but I think the general guidelines are….if it feels REALLY good, be wary (says the Puritan in me) – it can get excessive….if you put more energy there than in other things or other relationships, be wary….if you feel that you have to “hide” it or downplay it, be wary. In general, I think oppo sex friendships are a landmine because if you’re attracted enough to someone to be good friends, you might very well become emotionally & physically involved. Much of the time it starts with attraction. I can’t speak to bisexuals, but if you feel attracted to someone, just be aware of where it can go. As for public figures like Graham and Pence, I think their position is a wise one, one that I would personally follow because – not only temptation (especially that of a powerful person being sought after by supplicants or assistants) but also of untrue accusations, which I think are fairly common. They’re in a special category though.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

Seconded! Cheating is about character. Cheaters have no integrity or honor, no matter what kind of friends they have. Even if they have no friends of a differing gender, they still have poor character, and are still poor partners. Simple as!

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

ISawTheLight, I’m exactly like you in this.

Chumpasaurus45
Chumpasaurus45
1 month ago

I found, along with the sensing something is up when we’re told no, we will simultaneously be made to feel less than at home for no apparent reason.
They become mean, nasty, impatient, don’t share their day with you, you can’t do one thing right in their eyes, etc. That was my experience.
You feel lonely in your marriage and you look inward to desperately try to fix it.
Their ‘brain tumor’ starts emerging, which is just another distraction that keeps you searching for answers, while they merrily screw along.

One Christmas I found a box of unwrapped, what I called, “ sex boots” in his closet that were not my size.
I asked about them and was told they were for this gal at work as some sort of inside joke. You are out of the circle of ppl they enjoy now, an intruder in their lives.
Who buys sex boots as a joke for a work colleague?! Only someone who is banging that work colleague.

We were at a work related dinner some months later which the “ sex boots” gal also attended.She sat far away from us but at the same table. She shouted over to him so frequently during the meal, it was so cringe worthy.
They both snickered and laughed at what felt like countless private jokes and it made me so uncomfortable and an outcast. I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I asked once home if he was sleeping with her.
To which I got, am I kidding?!?
What complete absurdity of a question that is!!
How did I become such an insecure person when the girl HE married was never like that?!
It’s next level how they can turn it back on you over and over again until to doubt your own reality. Manipulators are very skilled.
Yeah, of course he was sleeping with her.
But it wasn’t even his main fling I much later found out.
He had some eight year mistress, who he told me he “ loved”, along with assorted side dalliances he picked up in his dodecagon life.
Just impossible to absorb the mental dysfunction that surfaced in a person that was my solid steady rock for decades.
How the hell they manage to find the time or energy to keep that many balls in the air and pull it off is simply mind boggling and always will be to me.
So many side rings in full action in their big top circuses, horses, monkeys, elephants, dogs, who wants to maintain that level of absurdity?!
The amazing spouse, father, friend, employee, son, sibling, I mean a complete superior being of a man was the image he projected for everyone one to see and believe.
I fully understand why it takes us so long to heal, it’s deeply disturbing and haunting, that level of disordered abuse. Like the worse horror movie you ever could imagine and it’s our very lives!!

Trust your gut and look for other signs of devaluing that are not explainable and have been gradually escalating. It is most definitely not you!

There’s no difference in my mind between emotional and physical cheating either. To not know you are not the only intimate partner in your own relationship is deep dark sexual basement level abuse. If it’s not physical yet, it sure is headed that way.

My life is lonelier now but much safer and healthier. I have great gratitude for being able to get out, even if I wasn’t the one to walk away.

I would a thousand times prefer living a genuine simple life that lacks the adventure and excitement my previous one had, to living a life that was a total unknown to me scam.
Abuse, drama, chaos all go together, it’s a narcissist’s favorite little bundle.
There’s great peace in not living that lie any longer.

hush
hush
1 month ago
Reply to  Chumpasaurus45

“Trust your gut and look for other signs of devaluing that are not explainable and have been gradually escalating. It is most definitely not you!”

Well said! Cake eaters are the WORST. They steal labor, money, time, and the dignity, too. Trust that they suck!!

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Chumpasaurus45

With someone like your ex, you never REALLY know what your life is actually about. There are whole layers of things happening that WILL affect you and your kids in various ways, mostly negative, and yet you know NOTHING about them. I also don’t know where these FWs get the energy from to handle all these relationships and sex and other activities with other people….no wonder so many of them seem exhausted at home. They reserve their best FOR OTHER PEOPLE we frequently don’t even know about. People like this should not even be married but I guess marriage is the glue that holds the rest of it together for them. If they weren’t married, they wouldn’t have the facade and home base of acceptable spouse, kids, cleaning, cooking done, social activities handled, family obligations managed etc. The spouse is the REAL WORK PARTNER and the co-worker is the FUN….what makes life enjoyable for them. The problem is…we don’t know our role and they hide it from us. There are some people who might agree to these scenarios if only they knew what they were but hiding all the circumstances of someone’s life, all the factors affecting them, is incredibly destructive in the end. People NEED to know what they are dealing with. The uncertainly and instability are killing.

Chumpasaurus45
Chumpasaurus45
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Yeah, well said Mehitable. You can’t use other people’s lives like this and keep them in the dark to what they are actually dealing with. He liked being the world’s Mr Wonderful, it was always all about his journey. Can’t play games with other ppl’s lives.

chumpasaurusrex
chumpasaurusrex
1 month ago

I had the “she’s just a friend” speech about one of his ex’s after he was caught in his emotional affair with her. Which then got changed to I love her.
I do look back now and see all of the red flags I missed and wonder how I didn’t see them. I should have seen them after the first D-day while I was pregnant, I definitely should have seen them on D-day two, but it took D-day 3 and him staying in contact before something snapped in me.
I never met up with any of my male friends alone because I knew it was going to cause him discomfort, but he couldn’t or wouldn’t extend the same courtesy to me.
Such selfish people.

ChumpDownunder
ChumpDownunder
1 month ago

None of these would have alerted me to the affair. I was in the same rock climbing group, got invited to her climbing competitions, dinners etc, their friendship was never secretive. In fact I’m sure he was ‘hiding in plain sight’ if he HAD been more secretive then I would have suspected a lot more. They did text a lot and I told both of them I was uncomfortable about it. It was then that I got the “just friends” bullshit. I wish I’d seen the texts but I trusted him completely.

madkatie63
madkatie63
1 month ago

I recently had the dubious pleasure of seeing this situation from the other side. I’ve told my chump story here-it was 6 years ago now and I’ve moved on. I was as angry about emotional affairs as physical ones because I was deceived and dumped. I never imagined I’d be the object of an emotional affair myself. Here’s what happened. I recently renewed my love of tennis and joined a tennis club where I met, at a singles event, an attractive man with whom I started playing mixed doubles in various casual tournaments. The group I play with is very social and he started coming to any event (dinner, game night, etc.) I attended and we very clearly had a connection. We both have kids and met each other’s kids because many of the social events were kid friendly. He used the term “her mother” to refer to the mother of his daughter, which most of us consider divorce lingo. One day he randomly told me that “Shirley” (not her real name) was getting a treatment for skin cancer over Christmas break. I intuited that this was his (ex) wife, although he avoided identifying who exactly Shirley was. The next time we played together he was wearing a wedding ring. I had already invited him to a New Year’s party I was hosting (along with other members of our tennis league). I figured he would cancel or bring his wife, but he came to the party, without his wife and stayed until 2AM. He continues to come to every event I attend and I have had to distance myself to avoid appearing to be the woman who goes after a married man. We’re still partners and have a tournament coming up so we have to practice together or we’ll get crushed. I took the approach of telling him how good I think it is that he and his wife decided to put on their rings and work things out and told him how difficult divorce was on my own children-even though he has still never uttered the word “wife” in my presence. What we had was definitely an emotional affair, in which I was an unwitting partner, but I do think the two of them mutually decided to separate and then mutually decided to work on it. It seems I came along right in the middle of that and he didn’t have the guts or the desire to make his status clear to me. Had he been wearing his ring when I met him, or referred to his wife as his wife-regardless of how many events he attended without her-he never would have gotten to know me well enough to become interested in me. I have nothing against someone who decides to go to a singles event because they and their spouse have decided to separate, and I have no objection to that same person later agreeing to work on their marriage. But if you’re going to work on the marriage, work on it. Having been a chump makes me very averse to getting sucked into something like this, but I think that, were I a different person, he would have cheated on his wife. Perhaps he still will.

weedfree
weedfree
1 month ago
Reply to  madkatie63

The first time I had heard the phrase emotional affair was when I had a male colleague turned friend start clinging on to me at work. When he became more and more demanding (e.g.running out of meetings with clients to chase me down the street) I tried to distance myself. Another colleague who I confided in told this man to lay off when I was away on holidays. This lead to him running off for hours to the local bridge, and staff assumed he had gone there to end his life.
When I got back from leave the manager called me in and said if we were having an affair to keep it between ourselves, and when I said we most certainly were not she said he was a victim because I spoke to a staff member about his behaviour.
Another colleague who is still a friend said perhaps we were having an emotional affair because I had once said he was the “perfect husband” (ah no , I met his wife and we went out socially and said they had the “perfect marriage” which they seemed to initially). I was not attracted to this person at all.
Anyway eventually after many attempts by me and then a different manager to stop this person basically stalked me until I resigned.
He then turns up outside my new work, which is in the middle of nowhere, with a CD “let the right one in” and left it with reception. She told him to leave. He loitered outside for ages looking very unwell so I called an ex colleague and told them someone needed to get him. His wife was called and she said it was my fault and I was a trouble maker.
I did everything I could to politely put boundaries in place, including resigning a good job, but was still blamed by various people.
Some years later I heard that this fellow ended up in psych ward, and stalked another colleague. I also saw him in court in the DV list as his wife had applied for a protective order.
He died recently aged about 50 from a “long illness” which i took to mean mental illness.
It was a sorry saga, but the upshot is at the age of nearly 50 I now have no male friends, reduced from quite a few when I was younger.
For me it is not worth the risk.

hush
hush
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

Hugs to you! I had a similar male stalker who was married and tried to mess up a job situation for me years ago. So many dumbass older women at work took his side, too! And blamed me. Yeah, no. I agree it is not worth the risk to get too close to any boundary-pushing cis het married men! Some of them are entitled and enabled beyond belief.

madkatie63
madkatie63
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

That’s a crazy story! I pity that guy’s wife.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
1 month ago

“An emotional affair is just another flavor of abuse.” 100% true.

To be honest, I have a hard time imagining anyone having an emotional affair that isn’t — at least in the back of their mind — already picturing a way to take it to the next step. And that “next step” virtually always happens sooner rather than later. “Friendship” becomes the tried-and-true cover story.

Proof? It’s hard to believe, it’s hard to imagine, but I sincerely feel that we FEEL the proof in our guts. We feel it despite the excuses or stories or promises. Our guts are telling us the truth before our conscious minds ever put the pieces together.

So here it is: If you have the feeling there’s an emotional affair going on…. There probably is.

And if there’s an emotional affair going on, you can bet there’s a physical affair going on or in the works. You can take that to the bank.

Or the lawyer.

chumpasaurusrex
chumpasaurusrex
1 month ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

Mine even told me he wanted it to be physical, so the thought was already there. And yes, that gut feeling you get is so dead on. I can’t describe it but it was there every time.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago

I always figured the difference between a friend and an emotional affair was transparency. If you’re texting and calling in secret because your partner “wouldn’t understand” or “would get upset,” it’s not friendship. You’ve crossed the line into EA or even PA. I kept in touch with my male best friend from middle school for 66 years. I was quite open and honest about it, and would share bits of his emails and letters with my ex-husband, the Cheating Abusive Douche (CAD). I never tried to hide it; and the CAD has been to lunch with Steve and I, to dinner and Steve hung out with us at my parents’ Golden Wedding anniversary and both of their funerals. When I caught the CAD having secret texting sessions with HIS high school girlfriend — between 300 and 800 texts a month for years — he claimed it was no different than me and Steve. I pointed out that Steve and I didn’t text 30X a day. Then he said it wasn’t a big deal because he had not seen the ex “in forty years.” I pointed out that he’d been in New Orleans (his hometown) “visiting his sister” without me on several occasions.

Of course it turned out to be an affair. I found out when his sister (the one he’d been “visiting” told me about it.

I’m divorced now — it will be five years on Valentine’s Day. Steve and I kept in touch until his death in the first year of COVID. Right now I’m making plans to go kayaking on Lake Superior with his widow — who also knew about our friendship, saw the photos, read the emails, etc. Friendship is pretty easy to distinguish from an inappropriate relationship when it’s transparent. If it isn’t transparent, it’s inappropriate.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 month ago

I think you are right on the money. It’s the deception, it’s being secretive and hiding things that you KNOW your significant other (or theirs, if you are the single one) would find uncomfortable or inappropriate. It’s deliberately excluding spouses from the relationship. Not just physically (OW was often around me – she was our coworker, our kids played together, etc.) but even more in the sense that the spouse is not privy to the level of intimacy shared. FW and OW bonded over complaining about their respective spouses, not just over shared interests. I had no issues with him having a friend who loved to talk about Star Wars or comic books or writing (things that aren’t really my interests). What I had a problem with was them talking about me as if I was a problem to be rid of, how shitty I was, how “neglectful”, speculating on what mental health disorder I had, or discussing my personal medical issues that affected how he and I could have sex. All those things aren’t friend conversations. And I wasn’t aware they were happening until much later.

Adelante
Adelante
1 month ago

Enjoy your trip! I’ve kayaked there twice, and loved it.

Adelante
Adelante
1 month ago

I have a really hard time imagining that my ex’s overly close emotional entanglement with an ex-student was also physical, but maybe that’s because he was her former professor, old enough to be her father, and very heavy. I just didn’t think he was physically attractive enough for another woman to desire him. I don’t know, though. He was certainly over-involved with her, and crossed all sorts of boundaries. She definitely had “daddy issues,” some of which he told me he was “helping her with.” I did once tell him that his relationship with her as a former student was inappropriate.

I didn’t know at the time that she in turn was “helping him” with “exploring his gender identity,” which, as I found out later when to my sorrow I participated in his activities, was exclusively focused on the sexual gratification he got from wearing women’s lingerie and acting out his misogynistic and pornified version of “Woman.”

I still have no idea whether they were actually physical. I do know they were engaged in a strange, strange dyad. He kept the gender identity exploration secret from me for three years, before it reached such a fever pitch that, egged on by whatever they were doing, he decided to transition and dropped his trans bomb (he later decided to stay in the closet). But tit for tat: he “helped her” with her daddy issues; she “helped him” with his gender dysphoria and identity. They were both equally fucked up, so maybe it was physical, after all. But it was definitely an emotional affair, with secrecy and a sexual element if not sexual intercourse, and absolutely unacceptable to me.

Adelante
Adelante
1 month ago
Reply to  Adelante

Please know that I don’t want to imply that anyone who isn’t svelte can’t be sexually attractive. I should have been more specific in saying that I didn’t think my husband would be physically attractive to a woman half his age.

luckychump
luckychump
1 month ago

I’d also like to point out that regardless of whether or not FW possibly in a sexual relationship with a so called “friend”, if your FW treats any friends better than you, it is a glaring red flag. My FW had numerous friends from his Marine Corps days, and he would have done anything for anyone of them. Paying $$$ for flights and AirBnB houses to have weekends together was no issue. Guess who was expected to do all the work during and after their weekend fun? Huge red flag.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago

This is so hard because as a huge Chump, I wanted proof,solid proof. I had devaluing, he was every night at the gym and hardly home. I had no babysitter on the weekends since i worked as a nurse on weekends. I had to find one even though he was home? I was perpetually angry but i had no hard evidence, no proof at all except a very mean person who stayed away. I got proof in a hallmark card in his gym bag. So emotional affairs and lies about true affairs kept me stuck for 3 years with each cheater. I have to say that if your man/woman starts to put you down,is irritable in waves, can’t be bothered with the kids or family, is gone for long hours with stories that are sketchy, if they complain about your looks, your weight, you you you. Blame you for all that goes wrong and NEVER HAPPY,.then you’re looking at something serious. My 2nd cheater had multiple emotional affairs and was always flirting and keeping me off balance with lies. He got meaner and meaner. That is the reddest flag for me. Devaluing. So the question remains…for me..WHY? WHY IS THIS HORRIBLE BEHAVIOR ACCETABLE TO ME?????, NOT is this behavior acceptable to me. I do not know how verbal abuse, coercion and devaluing was ever acceptable, Hallmark card or not.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 month ago
Reply to  2xchump

^^^THIS

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago

An emotional affair is a pick me dance contest you cannot win. It will always be your fault

Marco
Marco
1 month ago
Reply to  2xchump

Winning a pick me dance is the worst thing that can happen.

Adelante
Adelante
1 month ago
Reply to  Marco

Yes. For one thing, you never really win it. You’ve been put on notice, and that never ends. From then on out, you’re on probation. So winning is nothing more than accepting that you’ve agreed to a perpetual pick-me dance.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Adelante

It like dumpster diving…you can keep searching for that love by being a pretzel, but you’ll always come up with trash.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Marco

Yep, I didn’t do a pick me dance, no opportunity really; and I am so glad. He was was such a mess. He set his life on fire. I am so thankful to have escaped the residual flames as well as I did.

Marco
Marco
1 month ago

You see this all the time. It’s just an EA. Wishful thinking on the chumps part. They want to believe so badly they do. If there’s contact it’s usually a sexual affair. Denial is a temporary comfort zone.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago

Looking back on it all and reflecting has led me to believe that EAs are just a steppingstone to physical affairs and divorce, it definitely happened that way for me. They are finding validation and emotional intimacy in others, not their spouse.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

It’s a stair -step as they are looking. It might not be the one you think. My former husband said to me….here it is…I haven’t found one of your quality yet!!!! YET!! But he was actually spending time after-work and on weekends looking and shopping for a better one than the cafeteria lady he was doing. OK so EA are a bridge, they are shopping and you are the docking station until they are ready to leave. I had a D day but she wasn’t the woman HE WANTED TO LEAVE ME FOR YET! He told me this! So I got a restraining order and after that he went online looking for a good Christian lady 20 years younger,got her to MOVE from Calif to our state and married her 8 weeks after the final papers were signed. Her English was sketchy but i hear she is really nice. They always land on their feet. Truly.

Braken
Braken
1 month ago

Mechanic Ex had a female best friend. She would hug and “glomp” him, they had late night message exchanges that went deep into the night, went on long walks, she would write notes in a journal and tuck them under his pillow..

We were long distance and texted all day, but I would see on her social media that he spent the day with her and hadn’t mentioned it at all to me. I would tell him that concerned me, and he would make me feel petty and crazy because she was Gay. They were roommates for a time and he complained about living with her and I wasn’t a fan of the setup at all. I tried to be friends with her too but she was elusive, friendly to my face but would cancel or mysteriously have ailments on double dates with her and her then girlfriend. She would compliment me but their jaunts would be spontaneious and at times I was working or couldn’t drive up to join them. I was ‘invited’ in name but not in practice.

I noticed on his days off, he would plan things with her and not with me even though we were the same distance away from him. I was South, she was North and he always seemed ot be going North unless I harassed and meiticulusly planned a visit to me. Eventually he disapeared for a few days and turns out he went camping alone with her. She dumped her girlfriend and a month later he broke up with me but maintained it had nothing to do with her even though I found her bra in his apartment. I was on hopium for a few week of torture as he said he wanted to work on things then ghosted me. He called me toxic, but in retrospect I was upset at things that were legitimate boundry crosses.

She made a long social media post how he was just her friend and she was gay but then she blocked me. It ended up being pure gaslighting.
Exactly two months later they were oficially dating, then married, then had a kid. I was right all along and he was a coward. I am still so angry that this dragged on for Seven freaking years of my life and it’ll be harder to have my own kids at this age. Don’t repeat my mistake of trying to be ‘laid back’ and not ask too much.

Red flags were the level of emotional intensity, the ‘deep’ and emotive conversations they had that I wasn’t included in, how in his own free time he consistently choose to go to her over me, how he would do thoughtful things for her but not me, and my gut feeling. I know that I am usually fine with Partners having close friends of any gender, but I know what a close friendship looks like and it isn’t gazing at each other like Colin Firth’s Mr.Darcy.

I trusted his words, not his actions. Honestly I think they deserve each other, they are both cowards of low character, high angst, and even now don’t have many friends our age.

Last edited 1 month ago by Braken