Welcome to ‘Between the Sheets,’ a new series in which we answer questions about sex, relationships and finding happiness in and out of love. Got a burning question? Send it to email@example.com.
“My best friend’s husband and I have a lot in common. We like the same obscure bands, have been texting more often and recently caught a concert solo. My husband has made a few comments about how close we are getting. Am I doing something wrong?”
What you’re describing here sounds like it may be toeing the line of micro-cheating. A quick refresher: Micro-cheating encompasses those tiny indiscretions that can be brushed off as just silly, circumstantial flirtations—like soliciting attention from a guy while you’re out with friends, or getting emotionally intimate with someone who isn’t your spouse.
Let’s be clear: Having friendships with members of both sexes is healthy and reasonable, especially if you share mutual interests or are thrown together by people you love (like your best friend). But just how kosher this friendship is has everything to do with your intentions and the nature of your feelings.
What exactly are your intentions with this guy?
So you want to spend time with your friend’s husband because you have things in common. Great, I’m 100 percent on board. But if you want to spend time with him because you’re low-key developing romantic feelings for the guy, that’s not OK. See the distinction? And if you’re using time with him as a crutch to mask problems in your marriage or to fill a need you’re not getting from your current romantic partner—nope, definitely not good.
So before you proceed further, you need to ask yourself if you are purely pursuing the friendship as just that: two people who have things in common and want to be friends as a result.
If your intentions are good, it’s time to set some boundaries.
You’re absolutely certain you’re just friends. That’s great. Now, boundaries need to be observed out of respect for your husband and friend.
- You aren’t physical or overly affectionate with your friend’s husband in ways that might make others uncomfortable or raise an eyebrow.
- You aren’t in constant contact with each other via text and IM—say, significantly more than you are with your best friend or spouse.
- You do not share grievances with your friend’s husband about your spouse, or allow him to share grievances about his wife with you.
- You do not flirt with each other verbally, over text or in person.
Does your husband really need to worry?
Your husband’s feelings about this growing friendship are significant. Although your question doesn’t state whether you’ve flirted with any of the lines above, you should ask yourself if your husband really does have anything to be worried about. That takes a real, honest gut check with yourself. It’s not easy to admit you’re about to cross the line—I’ve met a lot of women who brushed off early comments about the person they were getting close to, and it did not end well.
Not everyone wants to (or thinks they can) be in a monogamous marriage, which is why ethical non-monogamy is on the rise. But if you want do want a monogamous marriage, it takes work. Be careful and place boundaries around people you find attractive and have things in common with. If you pour emotional intimacy on attraction, it’s like lighting a match over gasoline—don’t be shocked when things blow up.
Jenna Birch is a dating coach, journalist and author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love.