Should I Be Worried About My Husband’s Facebook Crush On His High School Fling?

Just this Christmas, my husband ran into his old high school fling. Since she was starting to see my sister’s brother in law, we spent Christmas with her as well. I noticed that there is still an undeniable sort of chemistry (for a lack of a better word) between them. They had the whole “crush” thing going on.When they talked there were genuine smiles and enthusiastic energy between them. My husband, who normally wouldn’t care about spending time with my sister’s in laws, suggested that we spend our entire Christmas break with them. However, I wasn’t too worried, because my husband was blatantly honest with me about his feelings for her. We talked like two high school girls way into the night about it. He was pretty excited about seeing her again and told me he wished he could’ve talked to her some more. I told him, that it is natural to feel that way about people as long as he doesn’t act on it. I told him that I’d be naive to think he won’t have some sort of chemistry with the opposite sex just because we are married. And then I told him to be very careful and respect our marriage vows.

My wife has a theory about infidelity. Women he’s been with? Not a threat. Women he’s never been with? Threat.

He told me he felt very alive and has not felt this way since his mother passed away (his mom died 5 years ago, 5 months after we started dating). On our long drive home, he went on his Facebook account and requested to be her friend. That night when we got home he went to his Facebook and saw that she had posted a comment on his wall. Normally, he replies with another comment, but this time he sent her a private message and told her he wished they had had more time together. Should I be worried? I walked in on him emailing her, but he didn’t try to cover it up, instead he read it aloud to me and asked me what I thought of it. And I told him it sounded good, and reminded him to be careful with private messages (emails). This morning I got a note from him saying how much he loves me and that I’m his rock and looking forward to another new year with me. I need your help. I’m confused as to whether I should be worried or not. We have a pretty solid relationship but you never know. Should I Be Worried My wife has a theory about infidelity. Her observation, as a serial monogamist who has been cheated on at least three times, is this: Women he’s been with? Not a threat. Women he’s never been with? Threat. I like this theory and agree with it, with one exception, which I’ll discuss later. But my wife is savvy enough to know that if I’ve been with someone and am not with her anymore, it’s because I don’t want to be with her anymore. Thus, there’s no threat to our relationship, no unexplored sexual tension, no ‘what if.’In other words, if you’re a woman who is threatened by his ex, you’re probably wasting a lot of emotional energy on a pointless endeavor. The ex isn’t the threat. The crush is the threat. The crush is exciting, the crush is pregnant with possibilities, the crush is a man feeling young, exploring his virility, fantasizing about a different life. Yeah, the crush is trouble. So while you describe your husband’s woman as a former ‘fling,’she is actually functioning far more as a crush than an ex. And yes, you should be worried. But there’s a caveat, which gives your story a silver lining: you’re an adult and you’re married to an adult.

The crush is exciting, the crush is pregnant with possibilities, the crush is a man feeling young, exploring his virility, fantasizing about a different life.

You’re adult enough to know that your husband is married, not dead, and that he will always be attracted to other women. And he’s adult enough to acknowledge his inappropriate feelings, and put them on the table for you. (Readers: if you fantasize that your man will only have eyes for you, you will be perpetually unhappy. Learning to accept his mindless crushes and tease him about it is a much healthier path. At least that’s how my wife feels, preferring my adolescent crushes more than her cheating ex-husband. Back to our regular programming.) So, really, kudos to you for being able to discuss this like a trusting couple. It’s the most effective way to deal with sensitive issues, not making him wrong for feeling what he’s feeling, but wanting to understand what’s on his mind. What’s on his mind is something that’s beyond his control, the feeling of regret. A date once taught me this, and I never forgot it. She said: ‘Regret is the only emotion that grows over time. Pain fades, sadness fades, but the regret of not having done something only looms larger as you get older.’Which is why I’ve never tried to live life with many ‘What ifs.’Part of my getting married was due to the fact that I’d dated everyone in LA, and was not going to have lingering ‘what ifs’ about the women I would never meet. But even that’s not entirely accurate. It’s human to ask questions, it’s human to wonder, it’s human to fantasize about a completely different life path. It’s Walter Mitty. The unhealthy part is when you give into that notion. And I fear, based on your note, that your husband might be on the edge of tossing away the sure thing for the exciting thing.What he would most likely find is that he has more chemistry with her, but that she’s not in the place for a relationship, or that she is kind of selfish, or that she doesn’t like his work habits, or that they have completely different ideas about how to spend money, or that she’s not as kind and thoughtful as you are, This is usually what happens when we chase greener grass. And your husband seems to know it. Which is why he wrote that guilt laden email to you. He knows he’s on the edge of an emotional precipice. You have to stop him from falling and giving into temptation.

Being on Facebook with your attractive crushes when you’re married is like being an alcoholic who lives above a bar. Not healthy to put yourself in that environment.

When you do, don’t act threatened by her. She’s not a threat to you. He is. Ask him about how he feels about his former fling, what’s truly on his mind, and what good he thinks can come out of his continued conversation with her. Being on Facebook with your attractive crushes when you’re married is like being an alcoholic who lives above a bar. Not healthy to put yourself in that environment. Don’t forbid him from doing anything; but certainly suggest to him that it wouldn’t be wise to go much further down this road. He could stand to lose a lot more than he gains. Please let us know how it goes, and thanks for the challenging question.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Steve

    Evan, great insight about when to judge someone else as a threat.

    I would amend it to say that a 3rd person is not a threat if the SO ended the relationship out of his/her choice. Otherwise, if there were wants that were never had, then there *might* be a threat.

  2. 2
    Steve

    Innocent until proven guilty.

    So far your husband, as well as you yourself have behaved in an exceptionally enlightened and honest way. I would keep an eye on the situation, but I wouldn’t start worrying about it. Your husband still deserves your trust at this point.

  3. 3
    Ruby

    I don’t agree with EMK’s wife. I’ve known of several situations (including a couple of my own ex-boyfriends) where someone got back together with an ex. Who married an ex, including one that THEY had previously broken up with, and one whom they had made unflattering comments about. Suffice it to say, I would not big on ex-girlfriends being involved in my boyfriend or husband’s life, unless they were seriously involved with someone else.
    I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between a “crush” and an “ex” and a “fling” in this context anyway.

    1. 3.1
      amy

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Ruby.  

    2. 3.2
      Karmic Equation

       

      Hi Ruby,
       
      I’m sure that this happens, sad to say. But PROHIBITING a bf from being in contact with exes isn’t going to stop the feelings if the feelings are strong. All anybody is doing is is forestalling the inevitable.
       
      Either trust in his love for you or get out. It’s better for our mental health to believe the good in everyone than to believe everyone has an ulterior motive. Men aren’t that conniving. We women think they are, because we women CAN be conniving. Can we say projection, anyone?
       
      If someone betrays that trust, it’s a reflection on them. Yes, your feelings and relationship may become collateral damage if that happens. However, we women ARE strong and we WILL survive that betrayal. It won’t be pleasant, but we WILL survive. You just can’t let it embitter you or make you distrust the next man.
       
      Women need to take a LONGER time evaluating a man before choosing him. But once chosen, she needs to trust herself and HIM. Unless and until he shows himself to be untrustworthy. If you have no proof, but just niggling doubts, trust that instinct and talk *rationally* and *unaccusingly* with him about it. If he doesn’t give you satisfactory answers, dump him! I dumped my reformed-player-ex because I started not to trust him. And I was in a no-man’s land for a few months when I was trying to decide whether I should accept and deal with the feelings of distrust, trust him, or dump him. That kind of inner turmoil stressed me out a lot. So I finally dumped him to alleviate the stress. I had no “proof” that he was doing anything wrong, but I trusted that my stress was my instincts telling me something. And I trust my instinct. Of course, the NEW stress of missing him took over 🙂 Eventually I got over missing him. It helped that I always knew he wasn’t my forever guy. And truthfully, even if I had believed he was, that fact that he often acted in a way that didn’t foster trust, made him the wrong guy for me.
       
      A lot of women don’t take as long as they should before “choosing” a man because, she won’t have sex with him until she’s chosen. A chicken-or-the-egg thing, right?
       
      The only way around this is to ACCEPT that EVEN THOUGH you’re having sex with him, you’re STILL evaluating him. And if new dealbreakers show themselves, a woman HAS TO have the courage to walk away EVEN IF she LOVES him. The dealbreaker could be his unwillingness to commit even after a few years of dating. The dealbreaker could be changes in behavior that may indicate cheating (new grooming habits and hitting the gym and working late often all of a sudden). The dealbreaker could be he decided to become a Hare Krishna or an abstaining born-again Christian. Anything NEW that is introduced to the relationship that you don’t want to deal with, CAN be a dealbreaker. You are free to break the deal (as is he btw).
       
      I loved my reformed-player-ex. I still do. Once in a blue moon we have a date, which usually ends with us in bed together. We’re both single, so why not? But the stress is gone. I don’t have to worry about trusting or distrusting him. I just enjoy his company when we hang out. I don’t think about him when we’re not. Love is NOT enough to build a forever-relationship around.  You MUST have complete trust and unconditional acceptance of the other person. If you can’t give that (or he doesn’t deserve that) then he’s NOT the one for you. 
       
      “No man is worth your tears. And the man who is won’t make you cry.”

       

  4. 4
    InaccessibleRail

    I’m not sure I agree about exes not being a threat, either.
    Especially since I left my former boyfriend to start seeing an ex from 6 years ago. I was the one who had broken up with him.

  5. 5
    HRGoddess

    All I can say is… big, big trouble. The biggest red flag for me is when her husband mentioned that he felt “alive.” I’d be saying “thanks a lot buddy.” I don’t care how much he shares with his wife. That is a very slippery slope. I know…. I’ve been there.

    1. 5.1
      Farah

      Which means his wive does not make him feel alive.

  6. 6
    BeenThruTheWars

    It would be helpful to know a couple things. One, how old is the husband in question? How many years (or decades) ago was high school? And how long have the two of you been married? Secondly, what does “fling” mean? Did they date briefly? All through high school? Did it become sexual? And most importantly, who broke up with whom and for what reason? The dumpee almost always has more feelings of regret and longing in a situation like this than the dumper. Without knowing the answers to these basic questions, I’m not sure how to advise “Should.” Certainly, the openness is a good sign, especially assuming her husband’s Facebook page is an “open book” to his wife, so to speak.

  7. 7
    Robin Goldberg

    My suggestion is to encourage him to talk about it at every opportunity and maintain a flow of positive energy — be enthusiastic about his new energy for life. I had some trouble in the past with my boyfriend’s therapist being “the woman who understood.” Of course he wasn’t going to get physically involved with his therapist, but at the same time he convinced himself that she was the perfect woman for him. Your optimal strategy is to remain calm and be that “high school gal pal” with whom he can have the long heart to heart. We all feel “alive” and special when someone wants us — someone we are attracted to. However that is not his life — his life is with you. We have all had the experience about being down and disillusioned after a grief experience such as he has had. This spark is real and essential — inspiring — he will find a way to use it in a positive and not destructive manner — to derive new joy from his work, interests – and existing commitments.

  8. 8
    Selena

    The threat is in your husband being too exicited over re-establishing a relationship with this former crush. Private messaging? He’s telling you about it now, I bet he won’t be telling you about it as it progresses.

    He’s on that proverbial “slippery slope”. The alive comments are the dead giveaway.

  9. 9
    Lance

    Even if he has the hots of an ex-gf, it’s not automatic that she would do anything with him. She’s got to make that choice also, which she probably wouldn’t because he’s married. Not saying it wouldn’t happen, but it’s not likely.
    I don’t see anything wrong with this situation. He’s been very open and honest about what’s happening. This could be a good opportunity for growth. Or, what the hell, how about a threesome? I’m sure they’re married sex life could use some spicing up.

    1. 9.1
      Farah

      I think his hots for this other woman is much more than wanting some sex with her, the only i have felt for close to the husband’s feeling were never people I just wanted to sleep with.

  10. 10
    starthrower68

    @HRGoddess, I thought the “felt alive” comment was huge red flag as well. If my husband said that to me, I’d be heading for marriage counseling pronto. This situation does not look good to me. I hope all works out well.

  11. 11
    Shay

    Yup. Agreed that the “alive” is a dead giveaway.

    I would be quite worried. But then, since the couple has shared so openly, they must have very strong bonds to begin with. If the bonds are built on the same values and beliefs, then I suppose there is a very good chance that they can overcome this.

  12. 12
    Grace

    Sometimes the fact that he admits to writing to her so openly is just a way to get his wife’s absolution for doing it. Talking about it doesn’t necessarily mean that the truth is told.
    Admitting to his wife that this woman made him feel alive was not a nice thing to say. By confiding in her- is he treating her like his buddy or was he simply being thoughtless?

  13. 13
    Steve

    @Lance #9
    The threesome is a great idea 🙂

    I disagree with you about the crush respecting the marriage. I can’t tell you how many married people I come across with something on the side and the “something on the side” is usually single. Many people just don’t respect other people’s marriages.

  14. 14
    JerseyGirl

    I agree with the others that the comment about him feeling alive was a huge red flag. And I agree with the person that said he is honest now but don’t count on him continuing to always be honest about every interaction he has with her.

    I think the woman asking for help as done an excellent job of being open to her husband’s infatuation and indulging him husband in part. I feel like he is taking advantage of her for it.

    I wonder how this one ends.

  15. 15
    JerseyGirl

    Evan: (Readers: if you fantasize that your man will only have eyes for you, you will be perpetually unhappy. Learning to accept his mindless crushes and tease him about it is a much healthier path. At least that’s how my wife feels preferring my adolescent crushes more than her cheating ex-husband. Back to our regular programming.)
    ———————————————————————————-
    To me, it seems your saying we only get two choices. Either a guy really cheats on you, or he thinks about cheating on you with other women and you encourage him to indugle in those thoughts. What does a woman get out of indulging her man’s crushes? I see what the guy gets out of it for sure.

  16. 16
    Evan Marc Katz

    @JerseyGirl: A woman who puts up with indulging her man’s harmless crushes gets a devoted man. A woman who cries and complains when her boyfriend acknowledges that he occasionally finds someone else attractive is, in effect, hoping that he doesn’t act like himself. How does that sound to you? Well, for many men, this is reality – a frustrating life with a woman who berates him for turning his head at an attractive woman, or spending a few minutes talking to such a woman at a party.

    I am not defending men who ACT on this flirtation. I’m talking about everyday, run of the mill, meaningless interactions. And you, as a woman, have two choices:

    Tell him that he shouldn’t think what he’s thinking and make him feel judged and trapped, or, take it in stride and laugh at his crushes, since they’re no actual threat to your relationship.

    I happen to think Choice 2 is a better strategy. It’s called acceptance. And it’s exactly what you’d want your man to do for you in regards to your less flattering qualities.

    Sounds to me like you get a LOT out of being accepting.

  17. 17
    Shalini

    I guess it’s true that being accepting helps.. As my boy friend usually tells me when he finds someone sexy and i don’t mind it at all bcoz i can see that he is not even thinking about actually talking to them. In fact if i sometimes say why don’t u go talk to her (of course i m joking) – he’d usually say “Just because she is attractive does not mean i want a relationship with her.” Jealousy would probably just irritate him and make him feel trapped.
    But this woman’s husband seems to be too excited about her ex. And i also agree that he is being honest now.. but he might not always be. Sometimes i have noticed men actually use their honesty about their feelings to cheat. They make you believe they will always tell you when they get attracted to another woman but you later get to know they were not always honest.

  18. 18
    Ruby

    Well, it’s one thing to have a harmless mild flirtation at a social gathering, to mention that her husband thinks this woman is attractive. It’s another to start messaging her on Facebook, and talking about how excited he feels around her and how much he wants to talk to her. This couple haven’t been married all that long. IMO, he is starting to ACT on this flirtation. Will it become a real problem? Hard to say for certain at this point, but I’d be wary, which is exactly how this woman sounds..

  19. 19
    Ruby

    I meant “for her husband to mention to her”.

  20. 20
    Joe

    If you stop looking, you’re dead inside.

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