Is it still wrong if it's not physical?
Often when we discuss infidelity, we talk about the physical type where one partner sleeps with someone outside the relationship. However, emotional cheating is a bit more nebulous. “An emotional affair is an affair of the heart,” Dr. Jenn Mann, a licensed marriage and family therapist, writes at InStyle. “The most troubling aspect of the emotional affair, for the person who is in a committed relationship, is that it drains the primary relationship of time, energy, and focus.”
Emotional cheating is also hard on the partner who remains faithful because the situation isn’t as cut and dry as physical cheating.
A case in point is a story posted on Reddit’s Relationship Advice subforum. In this story, a wife is bothered by her husband’s relationship with the babysitter, which he swears is platonic. However, he acts like it’s something more.
The story revolves around a 35-year-old woman who has been married to a 38-year-old man for 11 years and has 2 sons. The kids are sometimes watched by a 25-year-old woman who lives in an apartment up the street. The babysitter was friends with the husband’s brother many years ago, so they’ve known each other for quite some time.
“We always invite her over when we have parties or BBQs, she gets along well with everyone,” the wife wrote. But after a while, the babysitter and the husband became rather close.
A woman in a hoodie.
The first questionable encounter:
“One night, she had come over to watch our sons when our normal babysitter pulled out last minute. … she had been swimming with the boys in our pool and, at one point, said something about being cold. I was going to tell her I would run upstairs and grab her one of my sweaters when my husband took off the hoodie he was wearing and gave it to her,” the wife said.
While giving her the hoodie seemed a little extra, what he did next felt like something a kid with a high school crush would do.
“After he gave it to her, she kept it for a few days, when she brought it back, it smelled overwhelmingly like her, I asked him if he wanted me to wash it and he said no,” the wife wrote.
The second questionable encounter:
“She came over for a graduation party for one of our sons. She got a phone call in the middle of it and left for about an hour. My husband went over to check on her and she came back but seemed really upset and said something was going on with her mom health-wise,” the wife wrote.
“Later on, almost everyone had left. I was putting the boys to bed, the two of them were talking by the fire pit on this swing we have, she still seemed really upset and he had his arm around her shoulders and was clearly trying to cheer her up. None of that bothered me. What bothers me is that when I came back outside, they were both asleep on the swing with her head on him,” she continued.
After the wife woke them up they seemed “genuinely surprised” but didn’t act like they “got caught.”
Third questionable encounter:
After the wife’s initial post, a commenter said she should wash the hoodie and see how he reacts. So, she did and he threw a fit. After it was washed, he threw it on the closet floor.
“I told him I didn't think he was going to cheat on me, but I didn't like his clothing smelling overpoweringly like another woman,” she wrote. He countered that it smelled like her fabric softener because she had washed the hoodie.
That man has a lot of emotional investment in that hoodie.
Later, when the hoodie was no longer on the floor, the wife asked if it needed to be rewashed. The husband responded, “Let go of the fu***n hoodie!” he then slammed the door and went to work without saying goodbye.
“I really didn't need to make such a big deal about the hoodie. I kind of feel like he's making a big deal about me washing it, right,” she wrote.
The vast majority of commenters on the post felt the wife wasn’t overreacting and should be concerned about her husband’s relationship with the babysitter. “I felt awkward reading what you wrote and don't think you're overreacting,” Walkingwalking123 wrote. “If it was a young male neighbor, would your husband have whipped off his hoodie and handed it over? Or fallen asleep against each other? If he would, then perhaps you're overreacting. Otherwise, not.”
A woman puts a sweatshirt in the laundry.
A male commenter made the situation simple. The husband is either an “idiot or a gaslighter.”
“The only thing I can say is that there is nothing more romantic than a girl sleeping on you. It's not something that just happens like, ‘Oh hey, we both just were so tired we fell asleep on each other!.’ No, it's actually a very conscious effort to go to sleep while someone is resting on you. It shows a very deep level of comfort and intimacy between two people,” The HairyBanana wrote. “I would say set boundaries but I can't imagine ever having to tell my [significant other] not to fall asleep holding somebody else. Just common sense, really. You're either married to an idiot or a gaslighter. Don't know which is worse, to be honest.”
When it comes to romantic relationships, hoodies are a lot more than a jacket. According to an article reviewed by dating coach John Keegan, when a guy gives a girl his hoodie, it means a lot. It’s a symbol of his chivalry, a display of affection and a way to show other people she is taken.
For women, the hoodies make them feel closer to the guy and they enjoy that it smells like him.
When you add up the 3 questionable scenarios, giving the girl the hoodie, falling asleep with her head on his shoulder and his obsession with not washing the hoodie, they make a good case that the wife should be wary of her husband’s relationship with the babysitter.
It’s a good thing that the woman ached out to the Reddit audience for some clarification because emotional cheating can be hard to detect. Getting some unbiased advice on the situation was probably a big help in sorting out her confusion.
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