Can the Unfaithful Wife Ever Have Male Friends?

can an Blog-Elizabeth-Can-an-Unfaithful-Wife-Ever-Have-Male-Friends-survivors blog-elizabeth

When you begin sorting out the mess of infidelity, life gets complicated. As an unfaithful female, I started to question all interaction I had with the opposite sex following D day. I honestly considered at one point, that it might be easiest to just convert myself into a nun so I could avoid men for the rest of my life. If that is what would make me safe, I would do it!

Some of the questions we wrestled with early on were:

  • Can I work with men?
  • Is it safe for me to have a male therapist?
  • Can I be alone with men?
  • Are phone conversations safe with men?
  • What if the neighbor or UPS man comes to the house and my spouse isn't home?
  • How do I respond to one of my children's male coaches if he texts me about practices?
  • What do I do with the preexisting male friendships I had prior to my infidelity?

The list of questions and nuances go on and on.

I will offer my perspective on what my own failure is teaching me in this area. As a community, I hope we keep asking and struggling with hard questions. I don't pretend to have the answers, but this topic comes up in different forms through my recovery groups. The basic premise is what to do with men (other than my husband) and what does safety look like?

For me, a necessary starting point is to define "friendship". Good ol' Webster says "a friend is someone that we can bond with over mutual interests." Mutual interests can be our kids, our education, our jobs, our neighborhoods or our hobbies. We share ideas, thoughts and our lives with them in a very pure, yet limited sense. Friendship, ideally, is free from obligation or sexual undertones.

Sexual undertones.

Yikes. If I look at myself honestly, it is apparent that I have a problem with this and I lack discernment in this area.

The way I used to deal with male friendships was arrogant and naïve. The arrogant part of me told me I knew better. I could be friends with men based on my own willpower and judgement. I thought I could control myself in a manner that was safe. The naïve part of me did not see that my heart can be deceptive and my judgement can sometimes really stink. With enough time, loneliness and alcohol on one's hands. . . any male and female interaction can result in crossing the line. I am living proof of that.

Now, the only real male friend I choose is my husband. Not in a puffy-heart letter, Facebook "you are my best friend" kind of way, because that seems fake and pretentious to me. But I honestly need to ask myself what need am I trying to fill by even wanting male friendships? I am a woman and I get to be friends with GIRLS!

However, men are all around me. I work with them. I even have a male therapist (which has been incredibly healing). I interact with men every single day. I did not become a nun. Instead, I just use the wisdom someone else bestowed upon me and I aim to live by it, with the help of my accountability partners.

A good rule of thumb for any interaction or conversation with a man is choosing to interact only in a way that I would if my husband were standing right beside me.

My personality is extroverted and I am an encourager by heart. Without even realizing it, my encouragement can be mistaken as seduction. What I think is basic kindness can easily be misunderstood. I may think I am just being funny, but I must look through the lens of how others may see that. My humor, jokes, encouragement and time belong to my husband first.

Other men in my life have specific roles, but they are not my friends.

If you have been unfaithful, how do you interact with the opposite sex?

I have to keep my communication strictly business like. No emotions. This can be difficult for those of us that are not inherently wired that way. I am not saying I can't be funny or be myself. But I can't tell you how many times I respond to texts from colleagues, my kid's coaches, or the like, and I have to edit and then re edit my responses. My first instinct is to use an exclamation point, overshare, or add humor. I know this sounds basic, but I have to work hard to be professional and to the point. It doesn't matter if I come across seeming like a witch from an icy tundra. My job is to keep my marriage safe.

I grieve now for all I didn't know then. I am so sad for how unsafe and how careless I have been. The devil is indeed in the details and the seemingly unimportant decisions at the time. I remain heartbroken for my husband's pain.

Can I ever be friends with males again? No. It's not because I don't want to. It's because I now see that I choose my husband and my marriage over anything else.

If you want to read more about this, I recommend "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass. It is a lengthy book that tries to tackle a lot of information, but it is a good start. Another great resource is our betrayed spouses. What do they think? What do they need? Transparency and willingness to give up any rights in this area can speak volumes towards showing them you are safe and you mean business.

Elizabeth

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Friends

I wonder if the same applies for men. I have never really seen my husband act
Inappropriate with women but he is needy and broken after being raised by two controlling women and an emotionally distant father. The therapist all agree that he is looking for validation. Sometimes I feel like his mother!

Opposite Sex Friendships

No way can my husband EVER have female friends again. He crossed so many boundaries and burned so many bridges that I don’t trust him alone around my relatives or his! He’s never made a pass at them as far as I know, but he’s done too much with so many others that he can work with women because that may not be helped.He tries to avoid hugs and hellos when possible and keeps it on level when he must. Having realized just how much his serial infidelities affected me, I’m careful with other men as well.

Good for your boundaries and

Good for your boundaries and trusting this need for safety. I love how direct you are. I don't know your story, but I'm sorry for all of the multiple infidelities. I hope you both can continue to figure out what to do with "others" in your life. The second I think I can be friends with men again is a serious lapse of judgement for me. Just curious what your husband's accountability structure is? I know my having accountability is helpful for us. Thanks for the comment.

I just realized Peach was

I just realized Peach was probably already responding to you. (My notifications don't necessarily come in order!) My two cents....it definitely applies to men as well as women.

Male friends and other things

Elizabeth, you sound so much like me...your description of yourself could be a description of my personality....extroverted, encourager, funny. I am probably much older than you also...in my 60’s. It has been 13 months since my affair started and there have been several “D-days”. The last one being 10 days ago. There have been 5. I am ready to sign up for HFH. I thought I could repent, gut this out with willpower ect and I have failed every time. I have faced that I have had an addiction to this relationship...It was a man I had a relationship with in college and we connected on social media. I have been in counseling for 3 months and my husband of 45 years has chosen forgivness and wants to stay married. You are the only unfaithful female blogger here and just reading your blogs today has given me a feeling of not being so isolated. So much of what you write has mirrored my feelings and experience. You spoke of realizing that your spouse may never trust you again...I too have come to that realization. My family has no hope for me not relapsing yet again. That is discouraging because I so want to be that person of truth and integrity I used to be. I realize I have not done enough to facilitate my recovery by taking advantage of the resources available. Individual counseling has not been enough. So I will continue to follow you and you will most likely see my comments again. Thank you for using your experiences and wisdom you have gained to help!

Well first off, I am so glad

Well first off, I am so glad you found AR. HFH will be an enormous place of healing for you. Sign up right away! I am sorry your life has been so full of pain and for the place of your marriage. Clearly your husband sees your worth, even if you don't quite yet. I could write a novel of encouragement for you, but please choose healing. Willpower won't work. You are worth the truth and every minute and penny spent on recovery. I would also encourage you guys to go to an EMS weekend, if you can. I hope you can start to see your AP as someone who is very selfish. You aren't alone. I promise...!

thank you

Thank you for this timely post. I so appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your journey with us.

Your post helped me to see that my formerly unfaithful husband is working towards that right balance in his existing relationships with the women, but is just not quiet there yet. I read a quote this morning that lines up with what I just said, "it's not what you see, but how you see it"! You have helped me look at our situation in a different light.

Thanks again for your transparency and keep up the good work!

Thanks for the comments and

Thanks for the comments and the encouragement. It always means so much to me to know that we can help each other grow and that being vulnerable and transparent (things I haven't always been very good at in my life) are worth it. I hope you and your husband continue to figure this area of life out too...it is indeed tricky but doable.

Can the unfaithful wife ever have male friends?

Thank you again for your honesty on such an important subject for us unfaithfuls. It’s such a profound truth once you get it into your heart and mind. I am thankful that the truth has set me free in this area finally. I wish I would’ve had this truth in my heart so long ago…I did not realize until this journey that what i desired was validation from men. Now that I know this a lot has changed in my life. I am almost paranoid About interaction with men. I’ve put a lot of changes in place and I’m sure I’m going to keep learning. I realize now that the Lord is the only one That can fill All the empty places in my heart and life. No person on this earth can do that. Thank you again for your openness.

You are certainly welcome.

You are certainly welcome. Amen to your words! I hope the paranoia becomes less but I also know that it sometimes serves me a good reminder to always be diligent and aware of how I much I can slip into a tricky place. I am happy to hear you are still growing and that God's got you.

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