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Is this really an EA?

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notquitebroken posted 7/5/2013 11:33 AM

WH has been working in a volunteer organization alongside OW for the past year. Up until about mid February, they were friendly at meetings, talked on fb, texted back and forth mostly about the org. WH would often complain about her flakiness.

Within a matter of about a week, there was a huge shift. All of a sudden from the way he talked about her she could do no wrong. They would fb chat on and off all day, her confiding in him about her relationship (which he felt he needed to keep her confidence from me), him complaining about me, joking and flirting. He pretty much only saw her at meetings and they got together for an hour at a coffee shop to do some planning. Then he wanted to start doing things with her and the kids (ours and hers as our dd's had become friends). By this time I was already worried about the friendship, so I tagged along. Both of them seemed excited to have me come along, although I found out later that she was just trying to make me feel comfortable because WH had already told her that I was concerned about their friendship. I noticed that they didn't really interact with each other the same way when I was around as when they were chatting on fb and we would spend the day with her family only to come home and have them chat for 3+ hours.

I confronted him and told him that I thought the friendship was getting out of hand. He said he would back off the friendship a bit, but she was too good a friend to give up. I didn't ask him to give her up, just have better boundaries. Also, I asked that she not be told about my concerns because it was between WH and I at this point. He agreed but failed to mention that she already knew that I was concerned with the time they were spending together.

Things got better, he was more careful with his time. After about a month, he started coming out of his she's so perfect fog and realized that she was using everybody around her. He took a huge step back from the friendship on his own. Well she noticed and assumed it was because of me. They ended up doing a job together for a friend that took up a whole Sunday. WH came home halfway through the day to get a tool and when he went back told her I was angry with him. I was angry because it was a bad day for him to be gone all day, I was overwhelmed with the kids' needs and would have appreciated being consulted before they decided on a day to do this. She assumed that I was angry because they were spending the day together.

She goes home that night and talks with her bf. Somehow he gets the idea that I think something's going on between them. He sends me a message on fb asking if I have something going through me head about his gf. When I played it cool ("Not sure what you mean, do you have a particular concern") he came back telling me that I better not go around accusing her of anything and shit like that can ruin lives. I never accused her of anything and knew that the only way she knew I had concerns was if WH told her. I told WH it had gone too far and I couldn't be with him if they continued to be friends. We went back and forth all day the three of us. At one point WH said he was trying not to take sides, it was a misunderstanding, blah, blah, blah. I told him he needed to take a side and it needed to be mine if he wanted to continue being married. I came very close to leaving, had already made all the arrangements when he finally got it and sent her a NC text. Since then he has avoided contact with her as much as possible, the few times he has had to have contact I was around or a trusted friend and he's made arrangements so there will be no further contact (they will not be in the same org together anymore).

I've told him that I consider this whole thing an EA, but I keep wondering if I'm mislabeling or overreacting. There was no sexting, no I love you's, nothing like that. Was it just a friendship with inappropriate boundaries or an actual EA?

confused615 posted 7/5/2013 11:39 AM

This was an EA. As far as there being no "I love you's" it's likely those were said in person.

And since they spent so much time alone together..the chances that it was also a PA are sky high.

Im sorry.

still2suspicious posted 7/5/2013 12:02 PM


Even if you take out what confused said (which I totally agree with, BTW), YES it is at least an EA.

My FWH had a LTEA (due to distance). No ILY's, no sex talk (all according to them, never saw the emails) BUT the definition of an EA is any relationship outside of the M that he would not have in front of you. Yep, this one qualifies. The fact that she knew about your concerns, that he was bad-mouthing you speaks volumes of the level of closeness between them. She has obviously been gas-lighting her BF too. "NWB is one crazy gal, thinks there's something between MR. NQB and me, can you believe that?"

I am sorry you are here. Best place in the world to be when you are going thru this, tho.

What do YOU want now from WH? Have you given him your requirements? Sounds like he is pulling his head out of his ass, but YOU will go thru all the grief stages.

It took MC for my FWH to understand, and admit, that he had an EA. So your label is 100% correct.

You may need to dig deeper to find out it was more. Usually when there is opportunity WS's hear the knock loud and clear!!

What can we help you with for now? We are all here for YOU!!

Sending strength.

solus sto posted 7/5/2013 12:24 PM

Yes. Your husband chose to divert energy and attention from where it belonged---at home with you--to another woman. It may have started as a "just a friendship with poor boundaries." But friends don't clandestinely text and IM for hours and hours each day. They don't plan day-long "meetings" with no regard for their families' needs. Most of all, they do not encourage one another to do things that are destructive to their important relationships.

Affair partners, on the other hand, don't give a flip about "important relationships," because in their minds, their unicorns-and-rainbows faux "relationship" is the only one that really matters.

And that, unfortunately, is the deluded nonsense you find yourself facing.

It sounds as if there is a measure of gaslighting going on, as well. If you're not familiar, this is a tactic used to make a person doubt his/her own perceptions. (It is taken from the movie Gaslight, in which a woman was slowly driven insane by her husband's subtle manipulative actions over time.) That you are focused on whether you have "mislabeled" or are "overreacting" suggests that there has been, on some level, a campaign to make you doubt your instincts and perceptions.

That is further evidence that this is not "just a friendship." People in "just friendships" have no need to manipulate the perceptions of their loved ones. They have no need to tell their "friends" to behave differently around their spouses, lest suspicions are aroused. Why? Because there is no need.

You don't know the content of your husband's conversations with this woman. You do know that he was spending hours, each day, communicating with her rather than engaging with you, your kids, your family. You have only their word that there was no sexting or declarations of love. Sadly, this may not be the truth.

As real remorse takes the place of damage control, you are more apt to see real introspection and examination of his actions, and may get a more honest assessment of what took place. But right now, unfortunately, "damage control" is the place where he seems to be residing.

Has he terminated all contact with OW? This is a non-negotiable. Has he left the volunteer organization? (If this sounds drastic, I assure you it is far less disruptive than the alternative: a continued, but underground, affair that ultimately ends your marriage.) Has he finally realized giving up this "friendship" is a very small price to pay for your sense of safety and the well-being of your marriage? Is he seeing it as a destructive emotional affair?

I could be wrong, but it sounds like he placed you in the Mean Mom role. This puts you in the position of being the enforcer who "made him" change the nature of his relationship.

This is a tremendously destructive dynamic. In my experience, it all but guarantees continued or repeat infidelities.

Until HE wants nothing to do with this woman, I'd venture to say that he really does not get the damage he's done, and how. And that will place enormous obstacles to reconciliation.

Until and unless he clearly sees what happened, and how---really, truly examines how his choices led to this toxic, damaging affair-- he can't learn from the experience. And if he doesn't learn, history will repeat itself.

The OW's boyfriend's gross overreaction ("You'd better not accuse her!"), and your husband's refusal to "take sides" are both very worrisome to me, as well.

I am so sorry for your pain. I know that "hearing" this type of negative response is difficult---but for me, it was critical. Even though I did not believe what I read here for a VERY long time, I did tuck it away in my mind. It helped, when I reached the point I could no longer deny.

I hope there IS nothing more for you to learn. I really do. But the gaslighting and protesting and denying ---combined with the sketchy behavior--really raise huge red flags, and I worry that you have only just begun to learn the truth about this "friendship."

We will be here for you, and support you no matter what happens. No one will be happier to be wrong than an SI member---we LOVE success stories and happy reconciliations. But we also find it important to give a heads-up---with hopes there is no need for them.

Millions of hugs to you.

[This message edited by solus sto at 12:25 PM, July 5th (Friday)]

catlover50 posted 7/5/2013 12:59 PM


So sorry you are going through this.

I went through something similar. After my first DDay my fWH became "friends" with another young woman at work. I told him it made me uncomfortable and he insisted "just friends". Even when rumors arose at his work of an affair he would not give up this friendship, even when I reminded him that he had promised me the moon after DDay 1. I was closer to divorce about this issue than I was after DDay2; I felt that he was putting this relationship ahead of the M.

Even after Dday 2 (where I learned what he had insisted was an EA had actually been a PA, and not actually much of an EA) he clung to the notion that he wasn't doing anything wrong. This finally ended when I got his cell phone work records and he saw the same call pattern developing that he had had with OW. Finally it hit him how inappropriately he had been behaving.

Bottom line he felt since he wasn't screwing this one he wasn't being bad, and had such control issues that my asking him to stop made him dig his heels in even more. There was no love or sex talk, mostly work, but still way too much contact.

He finally became completely humble, stopped making excuses, developed good boundaries, took a polygraph, truly has given me the moon.

But those months of denial and stubbornness were torture.

Bottom line, IMHO, for your H this was a very inappropriate relationship and he needs to do some soul searching. Energy spent outside the M like that is unhealthy and at minimum a slippery slope.

Good luck to you.

cliffside posted 7/5/2013 13:05 PM

Yes it was an EA. The rule of thumb though is everything they say on D-Day is a lie. Assume that's the case with your husband too.
You need to come up with your rules for staying in the marriage and then he needs to follow them. 100% transparency and NC with OW are two general rules. Then IC to figure out why he did this.

I'd highly suggest you both read "Not Just Friends". I think you'll find it very insightful, I know we did.

notquitebroken posted 7/5/2013 14:19 PM

Thank you. That is what I needed to hear. I know that it is an EA, and I have told him this (he hasn't disagreed) but there's been so much gaslighting about "friendships" in the past and this one in particular that it makes me question my knowledge, yk?

They no longer volunteer together. He originally stepped out of that roll and into a different one that didn't involve interaction with her. Because both of our children were involved in the org, neither of them could walk away immediately. She attempted to manipulate the situation so that he would have to interact with her, but it backfired on her and she lost interest. She will likely not be back in Sept and if she does come back, we will move to a different group.

The day everything exploded (I guess I would call that DDay) was 2 months ago, so I have had time to process and read a lot on SI.

notquitebroken posted 7/5/2013 14:29 PM

Cliffside, that's the thing that bugs me the most. He hasn't told me anything, because he says there is nothing else to tell. Everything I've found out has been on my own.

Shortly after dday I went through his phone and found a contact...just an initial.. with a few texts "can you talk", "can I call", etc. I looked up the number, found nothing. Suspected it was an ex that I had asked him to stop talking to years ago (because he was calling her beautiful in their fb messages), googles her location + the number and came up with a kijiji post by her.

I confronted him about the contact, asked who it was, he lied. I told him I already knew and then he "admitted" it. He's never come out and told me anything.

The next time she texted him, he texted back a NC, and she lives across the country so definitely not a PA there. But he says they only spoke a few times to catch up.

Honestly, unless he tells me something that I don't already know, I will never fully believe anything. I mean, the chances of me stumbling upon everything there is to no is pretty much nil.

tushnurse posted 7/5/2013 19:05 PM

Welcome. Honey, he is only sorry for being caught not for what he has done. I'm picking up on undertones of that this may be a pattern for him?
If this isn't the first go around with EAs or poor boundary friendships then you need to clearly lay out some boundaries and consequences. Then you need to go in stealth mode. You need to hack his FB, put a VAR in his car, key logger on his computer.
I am willing to bet he will show you what he's up to sooner than later.

In the meantime protect yourself. Get tested for STDs and see a lawyer to find out what your rights are. This will give you knowledge and strength and help prevent you from being paralyzed by fear of what if, and DEMAND the respect you deserve.

Keep reading. Keep posting.

(((and strength)))

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