Wedding Woes

Emotional affair? What?

Dear Prudence,

My best friend and I have been close for about 20 years. We’re both artists in our 40s who sometimes collaborate. There has never been anything even remotely sexual or romantic about our relationship. I am happily single, and he is very unhappily married, with toddlers for whom he is the primary caregiver. His wife is brilliant and has a very high-pressure, time-consuming job. She and I are friendly but have never been especially close. I socialize frequently with him, regularly with the whole family, and sometimes just with her.

He’s very unhappy in their marriage (as is she, I think). He talks about it with me a lot. A LOT. I try to steer the conversation to other subjects, but it seems like it helps him to talk about it, and he’s so very, very sad all the time now. When I’m with her, she sometimes talks about it, but not as much. If it matters, I have never thought they were well suited—they do not share core values. While they are both beautiful people whom I adore, I have no desire to date either of them, even if they were single. I would not even consider being involved with either while they’re still married. But are he and I having an emotional affair? If yes, am I morally obligated to stop?

—Triangulation Problems

Re: Emotional affair? What?

  • Does she know about your friendship? Also, it sounds like you’re close, and that’s fine I wouldn’t consider that an affair, but I would be suspect if she didn’t know you were close or if he was lying about some aspects of your friendship. 

    If you don’t feel good about the nature/tone/depth of your friendship then it probably means something is wrong. 
  • I'm in shock.  LW has some internalized something-or-other, since we don't know LW's gender for real.  But LW is this man's BFF, he's supposed to talk to his BFF.  If you're uncomfortable knowing or something, that's different, but an emotional affair?!  Get over yourself, LW and be a damn friend.
  • Wait what?

    So you'd consider dating both of them?  

    FFS, these are people who are stressed OUT.   They  have young kids and she's working long hours while he's home and without his spouse. 

    You are a bad person if your first thought after listening to these people is, "Well I wouldn't date them NOW..."  You're obligated to stop because you sound like an asshole.
  • I don't think this is an emotional affair, but I find it weird that LW is talking about whether they would or wouldn't want to date either of these people. I thought this was going to be more about whether it was appropriate for the BFF to be speaking about his marital problems with LW as much as he is. 

    If LW is indeed uncomfortable with being consistently told how miserable BFF is in his marriage, they should encourage BFF to talk to their spouse and to seek individual and/or couples counseling, as well as gently explain that while they're there for BFF, only talking to LW will not solve any of these problems.

  • So it's possible that LW is having an unintended emotional affair, but clearly they are uncomfortable about that position and needs to tell friend to stop.
  • Since the core question was "is this an emotional affair", I think that is the real reason why the LW went out of their way...multiple say there is nothing, never has been, and never would be anything romantic with either person.  I'm taking that at face value, though it was "off" how much they felt they needed to drive that point home.

    My definition of an emotional affair is having romantic and/or sexual discussions with someone else, ie not a person's SO (assuming a monogamous relationship)...even if nothing physical happens.

    So, by my definition, no they are not having an emotional affair.  But, if the LW is uncomfortable having such in depth conversations about the friend's marriage, then they should start putting limits on that.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I think what she's trying to say is that she doesn't see a romantic relationship with either of them, throwing out the idea that she is having deep conversations with them both just because she would want to date them. 
  • Like you've said, you and your friend have known each other well for around 20 years now. Talking to him about his relationship is fine, the two of you are friends for god's sake. Friends are there to give each other advice and be there to take a stressful load off of each other, so no I don't think you're having an "emotional affair" with either of them. 
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