‘We’re emotionally cheating and his wife is not taking it well’

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Hey Meredith,

I met a man via screenwriting grad school. Classes had been online for the last three years. I noticed one guy – let’s call him Stu. I was immediately drawn to him. I was intrigued even more after hearing his pitches. Then another classmate asked how he was doing with his new baby. I figured he was married. Bummer. I let it go.

Later, I was struggling to figure out a script I was working on. Stu sent me a direct chat while in class. I reached out via email later to finish the conversation. The emails began. We talked about writing. It got more personal. We talked about our childhoods and family. His wife and baby. Then we talked about our dating lives, past and present. His tone had changed. He was flirting. I tried laughing it off but found myself flirting back.

And I found him zeroed in on my social life and asking questions about my love life or lack thereof. Then he tells me he will be coming to my city for a conference soon and hopes to get coffee and talk shop. My close friends would say he has a thing for me. I kept saying, there’s no way. He’s married. We've never met in person.

He then told me that he and his wife have an open marriage of sorts. They can flirt and have an emotional bond with others outside their marriage. Or have a sexual relationship. It can’t be both with the outside person. We all have profiles on this kind of lifestyle website, so it makes sense. Stu and I talked about wants/needs, which is supposed to be okay since we decided to stay on the friend-emotional bond path. But I got a text that sounded off, questioning if I had feelings or expected to be physical with him. We had already talked about this so I was confused. I apologized, thinking I made him uncomfortable, and said I’m stepping back and letting him decide if he still wants to meet up in person. He responds a couple hours later confused. Why was I sorry? I didn’t say anything wrong. What happened? I repeated my earlier statement but something wasn’t making sense. The next day he calls me sounding extremely confused. I mentioned his text. He said, “What text?” I read it. He told me to screenshot it and send it to him. Turns out his wife sent the text and deleted it so he wouldn’t see.

He was not happy. He told me I shouldn’t be sorry and needed to talk to his wife. At this point, I was just freaked out. What had I gotten myself into? He called me back. “Everything is okay now. She just wants to confirm what path we’ve decided. I still want to meet.” I suggested I bring my best friend. But he said “no, it’s fine.” I said okay. But it’s not OK, is it? I haven’t been able to relax when texting and we haven’t called for a few days. I know myself. I would not get physical with him. But there is an emotional bond. So we’re emotionally cheating and his wife is not taking it well. And honestly, the last month I felt feelings on his part and mine have intensified. I need to see him in person and hash it out or I’ll lose my mind. I want to look him in the face and admit what the truth is, then end it. Sorry that was a lot. Am I even thinking straight at this point?


– Help

Don’t see him, and back out of this friendship.

You want more than just an emotional connection. You want much more than a physical connection. He’s off limits for one or the other, so there’s no future. Everything feels uncomfortable because there’s no right answer.

I know you’ve been talking for months, but you don’t owe him anything – and you owe yourself a lot more. Let him know that the boundaries of his marriage make you the wrong candidate for friendship or any kind of relationship. It sort of doesn’t matter that his wife pretended to be him via text; even if she hadn’t, you were in too deep, hoping for more than you’d ever get.

Of course, his wife’s involvement is just one more reason to call this off. Yikes.

You have friends, interests, and are surrounded by things to do and new people to see. Use this as inspiration for some kind of screenplay. Work it out there. No reason to put yourself through this kind of drama in real life.

- Meredith

Readers? Worth getting face-to-face about this?