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

29 Shares

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.

Join our conversation (104 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 61
    Lorianne

    You know what? If my husband is having an affair with another woman (or on the brink of having an affair, like the OP’s husband), I’m not really worried about pushback or influencing his actions or explanations or anything else. Eff that nonsense. He’s already demonstrated that he doesn’t give a damn about me or how I feel, so why should I worry about semantics? And if that’s being “controlling” or manipulative, so be it. In fact, in the OP’s place I probably already would have packed my bags, or his, depending on whose name is on the lease or mortgage.

  2. 62
    Fishy

    The high-school fling represents his lost youthful, a time when he was free to do as he wishes. And though you rarely know love at that age, you know the most incredible lust – the teenage crush. I’d be worried…

  3. 63
    Ed

    Evan you usually seem to know your stuff, but missed the point here. There is a far deeper issue, a void. He wants her to be his rolling stone not rock and she is ignoring his cries for her attentions. That is pretty obvious.

  4. 64
    Karl R

    Lorianne said: (#61)
    “If my husband is […] on the brink of having an affair, like the OP’s husband), I’m not really worried about pushback […] In fact, in the OP’s place I probably already would have packed my bags, or his, depending on whose name is on the lease or mortgage.”

    Even though your husband had not actually committed adultery, you’re saying that your first resort would be to get a divorce? You wouldn’t consider seeing a marriage counselor?

    Last week on NPR they mentioned that a recent study indicated that 55% to 60% of all divorces were from marriages that could be saved (with counseling or similar measures). I have a sneaking suspicion that all of your divorces will fit into that category.

    1. 64.1
      Farah

      If your husband is in love with another woman and all he dreams about is being with her   would you say you willwant to leave becuase he did not commit adultey. Emotional attchment to someone else is far worse and hurtful them just physical.

  5. 65
    Jennifer

    @Karl R #64- I heard about that too and found it interesting, though I wonder what they used to determine which marriages could be saved and which could not.
    In a fair amount of cases, I think people could do well by divorcing, because they did not choose their partner well in the first place and each would be happier apart. Why go through so much to save what can be only be a mediocre relationship at best? Not saying this is necessarily the case with the OP, just saying that I don’t view all divorces as bad.

  6. 66
    Sharia

    @61: Lorianne (not Lorraine) I agree with you. Enough of “tolerating” and making excuses for bad behavior–which includes one partner placing the right to an “attraction” over a partner’s comfort and security in the relationship.

    My, Karl–snark much? I can easily imagine that Lorianne will have a good marriage (if she wants one) because she’ll be able to size up b.s. from a mile away.

    Further, a lot of women and men both agree with her. Even Dr. Phil has weighed in–an online flirtation is cheating behavior and can only lead to trouble. I remember him saying why: “Because while you’re on the computer getting all excited by a stranger, your partner is in the next room, alone.”

  7. 67
    Karl R

    Sharia said: (#66)
    “I can easily imagine that Lorianne will have a good marriage (if she wants one) because she’ll be able to size up b.s. from a mile away.”

    News flash:
    Every person comes with their own set of b.s. I do. You do. Evan does. Lorianne does.

    My parents have been married for 53 years. They’ve both had to deal with the each other’s b.s. It wasn’t always easy. They easily could have decided to pack their bags during one of the bad years. But both of them value their marriage enough to put effort into it even when they weren’t happy.

    From what I’ve seen, that’s true of every marriage that lasts.

    The lady in the original letter doesn’t need to sit silently and accept what her husband’s doing. (I recommended that they go to marriage counseling.) But if she decides to bail, she guarantees that it won’t end up being a good marriage.

    If the b.s. involves some form of abuse, then you ought to leave immediately. If the b.s. involves infidelity (not just the potential), then leaving may be a reasonable first step. With anything else, I believe in putting effort into solving the marital problems first. The option for divorce will always be available at some later point if those efforts fail.

  8. 68
    bob

    @Sharia #53
    How is not tolerating different from forbidding? How do you not tolerate something without engaging in controlling behavior? Even explaining that someone’s behavior is unacceptable, as you put it, is a controlling behavior judgmental, patronizing, and superior.
    That you can’t see the difference is disheartening. Jennifer #55 said it very well:
    “Forbidding implies that you have enough dominion over someone to tell them what they can and can’t do”

    It’s a subtle, but crucial difference in how we interact with each other, how we demonstrate respect for each other, and how we get what we want from each other.
    All we can do is ask of each other. To demand is to define a different type of relationship – a dictatorship.
    Now, you can ask something of your partner, and have a clear idea in your head of your behaviour/path based on what they choose…but to tell them “if you don’t do X I’m going to leave you” you change the dynamic of the relationship, and make it a power struggle, rather than a partnership.
    In the end, ultimatums always fail, because even if you get the desired results, it’s at the expense of trust and caring.

  9. 69
    anette

    I hear what you are saying Karl, and I agree that the response to both statements might be different, but the result is really the same.

    I once read a comment by a man, on his sex life. He tells his partner, that if there is no sex for longer than 2 weeks, he will not complain, he will not nag, he will not appear desperate, he will just get it from some-where else. In other words, he would not “tolerate” no sex.

    I was as revolted by this, as by the man that say’s You MUST have sex with me(or I FORBID you to say no).

    The result is still the same and the feeling when some-one say’s that is pretty much the same.

    I wouldn’t do either. Forbid or say I wouldn’t tolerate it. I would talk about it, but this issue, geez it’s a tricky one. I’d be hurt by it if I was the OP. I guess all I could do is tell him and see what he does.

  10. 70
    Helen

    Karl R #56: “Tell your partner, ‘When you do ____, I feel ____.'”

    That’s the standard line taught in any communication course. Most of the time, it works better than any alternative, for how to deal with someone who hurt you. However, this line is highly unlikely to work if the OP uses it on her husband. Why? Because his actions have made it clear that he doesn’t care at all how she feels. He is exhibiting a level of insensitivity toward her feelings that is staggering.

    So in THIS case, I would agree with those who say that her action should be stronger. She cannot trust her husband to care about her feelings. She has to put it to him very plainly what she will not tolerate in a marriage. How can I say this for sure? Because 11 years ago, my boyfriend (now my husband) requested it of ME with regard to an ex-boyfriend. And I respected him for it, and put the kibosh on actions with my ex.

    There’s a way to be firm without being belligerent. It is up to her to find that balance.

  11. 71
    bob

    @Helen #70
    There’s a way to be firm without being belligerent. It is up to her to find that balance.”

    I don’t think it’s been said better.

    However, to say ” She cannot trust her husband to care about her feelings.” assumes he knows how she’s feeling. It’s pretty clear to all of us that his behavior demonstrates how oblivious he is about his wife’s feelings. But to assume he doesn’t care goes too far. As Hanlon’s Razor says: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
    Remember-she went along with talking like a couple of school girls about his former flame. And someone as oblivious as her husband obviously needed her to say something then, otherwise he’s been getting the green light. (Not that it makes it right-he should’ve known better – but should’ve never really helps.)

    Now, I’m not blaming, just acknowledging the dynamic that occurs in relationships. For example, if every time I go have beers with a buddy, and I never complain when he always eats the last potato skin, how’s he to know I even care?

    Granted, this is not a potato skin, and her husband should be self-aware and introspective enough to be cognizant of what’s meaningful to himself and to her.

    But apparently, he has a blind side that’s causing a rift between them (a rift he clearly isn’t aware of). If she approaches this in a confrontational way, that rift will only grow, because he’ll think she’s attacking him for no reason. Again, he doesn’t realize he’s doing wrong, because she’s tacitly sanctioned his behaviour. (Never mind that he should know what he’s doing is not good, the fact remains he doesn’t know).

    Until it’s clear he knows, any decisions are premature.

    I tell ya, Dog Training 101 was the greatest eye opener – people respond much like dogs.

  12. 72
    Sharia

    [email protected]: Anyone can forbid anything they want. And the other person doesn’t have to give in to that. We’re talking about interpersonal relationships between two autonomous adults, not political systems where violence is used to enforce dictatorial rule. I can’t think of an interpersonal scenario where the word “dominion” would apply.

    I never read what Karl writes. I just skip over.

  13. 73
    Karl R

    Sharia said: (#72)
    “I never read what Karl writes. I just skip over.”

    This made my day. Thanks.

    For any who missed Sharia’s subtle humor, compare the date/time stamps (#66 and #72).

  14. 74
    Joe

    I actually find Karl to be one of the most reasoned (and reasonable) posters on this blog…

  15. 75
    Selena

    Re: #74
    Me too.

  16. 76
    Sharia

    [email protected]: You’re just parroting what EMK says. Karl just expresses EMK’s POV and so he gets that label.

  17. 77
    bob

    @Sharia #72
    “Anyone can forbid anything they want. And the other person doesn’t have to give in to that.”

    And there’s the problem – to believe you have the right to demand anything demonstrates your lack of respect of your partner. And it shows you’re more concerned about power than partnership.
    As for the use of the word “dominion”…that you choose to not see it’s application doesn’t make it any less apropos.

  18. 78
    Liz

    @74 – Agreed. I don’t always agree with Karl’s assertions, but he does make the effort to be rational and explain his reasoning. And for that, I enjoy his contributions.

  19. 79
    Just me

    There is actually a lot more to this than you’ve written here. I think you should check out the research by Dr. Kalish on lost lovers.  http://www.lostlovers.com/

  20. 80
    splash

    I just want to know how this turned out…please enlighten me.Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *