Sunday 28 May 2017

Dear Mary: He says it's just an innocent friendship but I feel so hurt

Mary O'Conor

Q: Where do I begin?

My husband of 30 years meets a younger woman at work and starts a friendship that I consider inappropriate.

They have been texting and ringing each other for three years. I have been told that there is no sex involved and that they are just friends but I think they have fallen in love with each other.

Every chance they get they try to be together. For example, she stored her ice cream in my freezer saying she had no room in hers and then rang him to deliver it to her. She bought him silk boxers for Christmas. She has tried to befriend me. While we were on holidays she rang him, and so on.

If he had a sexual affair I would know where I stood but with this I am at a loss.

Should I say no more and let them be 'just friends'? Do I leave him even though nothing happened between them?

It feels to me like an emotional affair. I feel his feelings towards me have changed and I feel betrayed.

Please help me - am I paranoid or am I correct in thinking that something is not right?

A: You are certainly not paranoid and you may be even a little naive. How can you be so sure that there is nothing sexual between them?

Giving somebody silk underwear is so incredibly personal and has such sexual overtones that this gesture alone has set alarm bells ringing for me.

There is no question of you saying no more - you haven't said half enough.

Even if there is nothing more than a close friendship between them it has to stop because it is hurting you immeasurably and you haven't done anything wrong.

You will have to tell your husband that you are no longer willing to accept this friendship and that you are also going to tell the young woman of your decision.

You cannot stop them seeing each other at work but you can stop the phone calls and texts and you can let her know that she is not welcome to be your friend.

In my experience there is hardly ever a non-sexual relationship between an older male and a younger female - one of them at least usually wants to take things further, even if they don't, and many times these relationships do become sexual.

But it's not all about the sex - there is the feeling you have of being betrayed and the fact that emotionally they are so close.

You will have to tell him that it simply has to stop if he wants to preserve his marriage, and then it's up to him.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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