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Friendship with married man


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Hi guys! I was just curious on this group's thoughts on this friendship that randomly came into my life. As many know, I just graduated law school somewhat recently. I recently reached out to a legal writing professor to read my scholarly writing and talk about publishing it. So we met on Zoom and he offered handy advice while I was still a student. He kept in touch by email to check in after that. After I graduated, he invited me to get some coffee. He drove down to where I was living at the time and we had coffee. He is married. He wore his wedding ring. He is probably decade or less older than me, but I have siblings his age so it kind of feels like that vibe to me. 

Anyway. We met for coffee once. Shortly after that, I moved out of that city to another one temporarily. But ever since then, we've been texting like daily. And sometimes it gets personal (at least I can, because I'm an open book) but he doesn't divulge much of his own personal life. He opens up a little more as time goes. But, he has never mentioned his wife to me. I haven't asked about it either although I know he knows I know he is married and he didn't try to hide it or anything like that. 

Anyway. I don't know. We have a lot in common and I enjoy our conversations. But he does compliment me a lot, and even ordered some ice cream for me in my current city for me to pick up. He says our conversations have helped him recently. I have been struggling myself due to a recent breakup and having to move and a bunch of stuff. So I've been enjoying our conversations myself. I just wonder why he wouldn't mention his wife and if that should worry me. 

I don't want to unintentionally cause any drama for someone. Part of me feels like I should just let the friendship blossom and be what it is but part of me is concerned. I wonder if this concern is justified. 

I love getting feedback from you guys about this crap 😂

Edited by moodindigo91
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2 hours ago, moodindigo91 said:

I just wonder why he wouldn't mention his wife and if that should worry me.

What do you feel he should be saying about her? He wears a ring and you both know he is married. What more do you want him to say? 

And I think you already know you're playing with fire here. You like his attention, and he appears to like yours to some extent. But he is another woman's husband.

Keep your distance. Don't text about personal things, especially because you seem to be the only one doing so, by your own description. Why are you doing that? What is it you are looking for from this man? And please don't say you just want to be his friend. It is already clear you like him more than that.  

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6 hours ago, moodindigo91 said:

 I have been struggling myself due to a recent breakup and having to move and a bunch of stuff. 

I don't want to unintentionally cause any drama for someone.  

The only person you may be "causing drama" for is yourself. You're flattered, but misreading it.

Because of the recent breakup and stress, you've latched on to someone and have this imaginary "affair" going on in your head.

Scale back on the texting and person chitchatting. You have the typical "crush on the teacher" thing going on.

Instead, get a good profile and pics on quality dating apps and start talking to and meeting single local men for a low-key coffee .

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Congratulations!! If you want him to read your writing and you want to interact with him about your writing and publishing it this can all be done via email -his professional email - and if needed a phone call to go over things that are too cumbersome to type out.  

It shouldn't concern you if he doesn't mention his wife because there's a bigger concern here. He's not keeping this to professional matters. Neither are you.  It's not professional to have personal conversations and for him to send you ice cream. There is no reason to text daily or even weekly. Certainly if he is really helpful in getting you published and in giving you edits put his name in your thank you footnote in your article.  I've seen that in my field.  Or it's fine to send him a small gift to his home with a card that is specific about the professional reason and enclose a copy of your article so that when his wife sees it it will be totally fine.  

I had a similar experience a year or so ago.  Through a moms group I was contacted by a woman whose husband was looking for a job in an area related to mine and she asked if I could speak with him.  We have many mutual friends and acquaintances.  So -yes- it started out 100% appropriate -through her. We spoke and I did help him -we spoke and also emailed (never met in person, never discussed it other than potentially getting our kids together, the families). 

Some of our conversations veered into personal because we have a lot in common but not "too personal".  However in an abundance of caution what I did was keep in touch with his wife -through messaging - like I'd ask how she and her family were doing (because we have kids similar ages, similar activities), I'd engage her in chit chat (I like her too!).  And we'd talk a bit about her husband's job search. 

I wanted to make it clear that there was transparency, that whatever I spoke of with her husband or emailed about easily could be forwarded to her and it would be appropriate.  He did not flirt at all. Neither did I.  But again this was a married man, our conversations also bled into personal, our conversations were friendly (not flirty!! -about our kids mostly plus anecdotes about places we'd worked), and to me there's never too much caution in that situation.  It all worked out just fine.  But if I wanted to get back in touch I'd first message the wife, not him, unless I had a specific professional question for him.

You don't know his wife so you can't message her - and since you can't it's up to you to put much better boundaries on this.

Please be careful here.  

Edited by Batya33
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I dont really think that its that innocent for him. Coffee, compliments, every day messages, ordering you something, not to bash male-female friendship(heck I got some very long ones), but what you described is more some guy seeking for adventure than some friendship. 

I would bow out before it goes to "I dont love my wife, I would leave her for you" BS teritory. Which it could divulge in time.

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I think the real problem is you questioning it 

He's married. You can only be friends. 

Giving the guy the benefit of the doubt, that he's not a cheating creep, sounds like you're getting too attached and reading into it. 

Work on yourself and your healing from your recent breakup.  recognize you are in a vulnerable state and protect yourself.  pull back on this friendship.  it should not be a primary focus or relationship in your life. 

Focus on other friends, family, your life.  As Wiseman2 said if you want to start dating, find a single guy that is local. 

Save yourself from drama and embarrassment. 

Edited by Lambert
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I had a very good married male friend years ago. We would literally talk on the phone for hours. Nothing inappropriate. But people around us were talking. I knew and was friends with his wife and of course I didn't want her to be the subject of gossip. It was completely innocent but it's important to be mindful of appearances. Now, this man did not send me gifts and although we went out to lunch together a couple of times there were no date like activities. And neither of us has any kind of feelings or attraction to the other.

So I get that there can be platonic male female friendships. But from what you wrote you seem to be enjoying his attention in a more romantic sense. And the best way to deal with that is to dial it back, big time. No more texts, no more coffee dates, no more gifts. You have to be the one to put on the brakes or you risk being in the middle of "drama" like you say you don't want.

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9 hours ago, MissCanuck said:

What do you feel he should be saying about her? He wears a ring and you both know he is married. What more do you want him to say? 

And I think you already know you're playing with fire here. You like his attention, and he appears to like yours to some extent. But he is another woman's husband.

Keep your distance. Don't text about personal things, especially because you seem to be the only one doing so, by your own description. Why are you doing that? What is it you are looking for from this man? And please don't say you just want to be his friend. It is already clear you like him more than that.  

I'm not looking for anything at all except for a job 😂 

I enjoy our conversations and friendship, but in every situation I've been in where I got close to a male friend, he ended up making a move on me. I don't think this is me being vain or me falling for him either. I'm definitely not interested in this guy other than just being friends. Not only do I not want to date right now but I am simply not physically attracted to him. 

As far as mentioning his wife. Idk. I find it odd because he's mentioned his parents, siblings, and his two dogs. He does not mention her when he talks about travel plans, his birthday celebration, etc. Maybe it isn't odd though. 

Either way, I don't really text him personal things. I explained my situation when we met for coffee because I was leaving town like the following week. Texting has been daily since then though and I am typically an open book and I'm not going to try to change myself just to have conversations with this guy. 

I think the dynamic is weird. I have a lot of married friends and it hits differently than this feels.  

"It is already clear you like him more than that."

I'll have to staunchly disagree on this lol in all honesty, I'm living on a couch, have no money, still love my stupid ex boyfriend and if I had a crush on anyone else, it's not this guy, it's another one 😂 either way I'm not in a mindset to contemplate feelings or a relationship with other people. I barely have my life together. I just don't want to continue cultivating a friendship that is going to become either a complicated mess one day or is going to end up being nothing at all. That seems pointless to me and I hate feeling like just a remedy in people's lives. 

Maybe I'm over thinking it haha 

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6 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

You have the typical "crush on the teacher" thing going on.

Instead, get a good profile and pics on quality dating apps and start talking to and meeting single local men for a low-key coffee .

Maybe you are right that I'm imagining an affair like attraction from him because of all the stress but I do have to reiterate I'm not interested in him at all. 

Also, I really don't need his attention. I get a lot of attention and most of it is unwanted. I was asked out on a date from a random guy at the gym the first time I went there. 

I don't want to date right now. But I do want good friends, especially now in my life when I'm feeling extremely low. I do think I am overthinking this now that I've read some of your responses 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Batya33 said:

If you want him to read your writing and you want to interact with him about your writing and publishing it this can all be done via email -his professional email - and if needed a phone call to go over things that are too cumbersome to type out.  

I had a similar experience a year or so ago.  Through a moms group I was contacted by a woman whose husband was looking for a job in an area related to mine and she asked if I could speak with him.  We have many mutual friends and acquaintances.  So -yes- it started out 100% appropriate -through her. We spoke and I did help him -we spoke and also emailed (never met in person, never discussed it other than potentially getting our kids together, the families). 

Some of our conversations veered into personal because we have a lot in common but not "too personal".  However in an abundance of caution what I did was keep in touch with his wife -through messaging - like I'd ask how she and her family were doing (because we have kids similar ages, similar activities), I'd engage her in chit chat (I like her too!).  And we'd talk a bit about her husband's job search. 

I wanted to make it clear that there was transparency, that whatever I spoke of with her husband or emailed about easily could be forwarded to her and it would be appropriate.  He did not flirt at all. Neither did I.  But again this was a married man, our conversations also bled into personal, our conversations were friendly (not flirty!! -about our kids mostly plus anecdotes about places we'd worked), and to me there's never too much caution in that situation.  It all worked out just fine.  But if I wanted to get back in touch I'd first message the wife, not him, unless I had a specific professional question for him.

You don't know his wife so you can't message her - and since you can't it's up to you to put much better boundaries on this.

Please be careful here.  

I mean. How did you think I reached out to him for feedback on my paper 😂 it was all professional until I graduated and he asked me to get some coffee. 

But I appreciate this reply because it's not insinuating that I'm a naive moron who fell in love with some teacher because he got her ice cream lol but yeah I don't know his wife but I am a very transparent person and prefer that type of communication from others. 

I think I'm just going to cool it on responding to texts and see what happens. 

Edited by moodindigo91
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14 minutes ago, moodindigo91 said:

I don't want to date right now. But I do want good friends, especially now in my life when I'm feeling extremely low. I do think I am overthinking this now that I've read some of your responses 

I don't think you are over thinking this and you already know intuitively that his intentions toward you are not 100% pure friendship. Whether he'll ever act on it and start hitting on you is anyone's guess. However, the reason he never mentions his wife is rather obvious - he wants to distance himself from her in your eyes. Yes, he is not hiding that he is married, but he also doesn't want to bring it up to the forefront either.

Affairs start like this - friendship that slowly turns inappropriate.

Listen to your intuition and step away from this man and the chatter with him. Don't try to rationalize that it's OK to carry on with him just because you are feeling stressed and lonely and this is making you feel comforted in some way.

Better throw all your efforts into getting yourself a job and without married men distractions getting in the way. Your friendship with him isn't really completely above board on his end and deep down you know this.

Edited by DancingFool
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Also I feel like I should mention (1) he was never MY teacher but he teaches the legal writing seminar which is why I reached out to him to him. I reached out to several other attorneys for feedback. (2) I didn't know he was married until we went for coffee and I saw his ring. I think I only got uncomfortable when he randomly ordered me ice cream bc men only buy me things when they're interested in me lol in my experience anyway 

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15 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

I don't think you are over thinking this and you already know intuitively that his intentions toward you are not 100% pure friendship. Whether he'll ever act on it and start hitting on you is anyone's guess. However, the reason he never mentions his wife is rather obvious - he wants to distance himself from her in your eyes. Yes, he is not hiding that he is married, but he also doesn't want to bring it up to the forefront either.

Affairs start like this - friendship that slowly turns inappropriate.

Listen to your intuition and step away from this man and the chatter with him. Don't try to rationalize that it's OK to carry on with him just because you are feeling stressed and lonely and this is making you feel comforted in some way.

Better throw all your efforts into getting yourself a job and without married men distractions getting in the way. Your friendship with him isn't really completely above board on his end and deep down you know this.

Thank you for this! 

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34 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

But from what you wrote you seem to be enjoying his attention in a more romantic sense. And the best way to deal with that is to dial it back, big time. No more texts, no more coffee dates, no more gifts. You have to be the one to put on the brakes or you risk being in the middle of "drama" like you say you don't want.

We haven't been romantic in anyway and I enjoy our conversations, but not necessarily the "attention." We only met in person once for coffee. He wanted to after that but I was in the middle of moving so I said no. Since then I've been in another city 10 hours away. I didn't ask for the ice cream but had to graciously accept it. He tried to offer to buy more ice cream last night but I turned down the offer. 

Anyway I agree I think the best way to handle it is to just simply not text him!

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49 minutes ago, moodindigo91 said:

I mean. How did you think I reached out to him for feedback on my paper 😂 it was all professional until I graduated and he asked me to get some coffee. 

But I appreciate this reply because it's not insinuating that I'm a naive moron who fell in love with some teacher because he got her ice cream lol but yeah I don't know his wife but I am a very transparent person and prefer that type of communication from others. 

I think I'm just going to cool it on responding to texts and see what happens. 

You're a transparent person which is fine -doesn't mean it's appropriate to be transparent in all situations -like you wouldn't be at work, right? And if a person who communicates in a "transparent" way is being disloyal or crossing lines you wouldn't want to be part of that would you? 

I agree with your approach.

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On 4/3/2022 at 10:44 PM, moodindigo91 said:

I don't want to unintentionally cause any drama for someone.

I hear. I've had quite a few of the same kind of mentorship-friendships where I'm not always clear about the vibe from him, but I give myself the credit for maintaining the right focus--therefore, I own it.

In my case, I've not only enjoyed the fun exchanges, I've also benefited academically or career-wise.

So, for clarity in my OWN head, I not only hold the image of him as a married guy, but also as one who speaks to a lot of people exactly as he does to me.

Whether that's true or not, it keeps ME focused in that lane.

Most recently, I have a boss who I've known loosely over many years but I've only become his direct report in August after running a complex project together for about a year.

I consider my meetings with him as my 'zen' time. We joke, we laugh, we get a lot of stuff done, AND there is always clarity for me because I credit him with the ability to be this great with many other people in addition to me.

EnjOy safely, and head high.

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On 4/4/2022 at 11:32 AM, moodindigo91 said:

(2) I didn't know he was married until we went for coffee and I saw his ring.

Maybe he's still legally married, or separated, but not in a marriage. Trouble at home. So, you really don't know this man's personal life - nor should you, if a professional rel'ship to further advance your career is what you're looking for. Also, if a friendship that you're comfortable w/does develop, then fine. In this case, the daily communication about non-work related things is a RED FLAG.

Tread carefully...

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  • 1 month later...

Hey guys 🙂 update: I never reached out to him for professional mentorship in any way. I never wanted him to be nor intended for him to be a mentor. I simply asked him if he could read my paper and give me feedback. When he asked to meet for coffee, I thought nothing of it, because I've met dozens of people for coffee in all types of situations. I have married men who are friends. I am also friends with college professors I had in undergrad. I was also meeting with several people in that time period, both personally and for networking purposes. It didn't feel strange to me at that time. There was no line I was straddling.

I didn't feel like it was my responsibility to make him be honest with me about his wife, whether that meant casually bringing her up in conversation or being point blank about it. Whatever his marital status/issues, they're not my place. And the less I know about it, the better it is for me in my opinion. Maybe this sounds mean, but I don't really care about his problems with his wife. I also don't really care about how he feels about me. But it was somewhere along the line (probably when he started buying me things) that I realized this wasn't just a friendship to him. That's when I started feeling uncomfortable. 

I began phasing him out of my life. One time I didn't text him for 48 hours and he tried calling me (we've never spoken on the phone before ever). He tried to write me these very long text messages that sounded like formal letters. He was very careful to use language that sounded romantic but didn't use any directly romantic words. I read some to my brother for some advice from a male perspective. It started to become like a mental crisis for me because I am an empath and I have a hard time being clear about my feelings if I know that how I feel may hurt someone. But eventually, after trying to phase out the conversations and being really distant hoping he'd take the hint, I finally told him I didn't have the emotional bandwidth to handle what this intense feeling he seems to have toward me, that I thought he felt confused about his feelings toward me, and that I have been and must continue to focus on myself right now. I still didn't mention his wife -- that is something he will have to figure out on his own. After that, I stopped replying. He still texted me a few times in the following few days, but has since stopped. I feel much better lol 

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4 minutes ago, moodindigo91 said:

After that, I stopped replying. 

Wonderful news. I'm happy for you. Put this behind you and don't worry about him. You consider yourself an empath or sensitive to others so all the more reason to take care of yourself and insist that others treat you well also. His interactions with you seem very inappropriate.

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35 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

His interactions with you seem very inappropriate.

Thank you! I agree. He kept trying to say that he didn't want anything from me but that was clearly not that case. He wanted, at the very least, to keep on conversing with me on a daily basis. I told him it felt like an expectation now, an obligation. One that I was unwilling to fulfill. 

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