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MrCleanSlate posted 7/22/2020 10:07 AM

It is interesting how much I have come to understand about EA's over the last few years.

During MC about a year after D-Day I sort of had a moment of clarity about a situation a few years before my A with my BW. My BW started mentioning this one young male lawyer in her firm that would come around to her office and make small talk and joke, etc. Then my BW didn't mention him to me so much, but I would see her texting and reading texts with a smile every so often. Now I was deep in my depression dealing with loss of my brother and father in recent succession and was not really 'present' in my M.

One day we were driving to our summer camp and I looked over to my wife sitting in the passenger seat with a silly grin reading a text. I asked what and who and she quickly closed her phone and said 'oh it was just a funny text from J' (the young lawyer). I said something to the effect that it seemed a bit improper for her to be 'socializing' with a junior in her firm.

Nothing more on that and J not long after left to go to a larger firm.

Fast forward a few years and our M is still on the rocks. We aren't really communicating well. Too many walls built up. I'm miserable. BW is happy to see me off doing whatever hobbies or volunteering as my black cloud is lifted from the house when I'm gone. So between that, running my own business and needing my ego kibble bowl fed I go off and start an affair.

So back to MC. My BW said she was not happy a the time either, but she did not go off and have an affair. Out of the blue I ask about what went on with J. BW admits that yes she enjoyed J's company at work, he paid attention to her, lent her a sympathetic ear, made her day a bit brighter. And yes, she was attracted to J and encouraged his attention, but she would never have crossed the line to an A with him. Even though she did in a non-physical way. And that she had other men show interest in her as well and she could easily have taken them up on their implied offers but chose not to.

Well she did have me there. I did have a PA. So I rugswept as my transgression was bigger.

We talked about it a few more times at MC. I actually stated one time that I could now see that she had an EA. My BW said maybe, but that was because she was lonely in our M at the time and she stopped it before it went any further. There is those boundaries we all talk about. I kind of felt at the time that my BW was saying that she had options if I wasn't all in for R.

Haven't really dealt with it since then. But I think it led to a better progression of our R and fixing how we are with our M moving forward. It led my BW to work on fixing how she was within our M. Maybe it was a recognition that we both needed to change to stay together.

Reading some other recent posts about EA's kind of got me thinking about this again. How many people have EA's and don't really admit it to themselves?

In my case I never processed what occurred at the time, but I guess in looking back my spidey sense that something was not right was bang on. But I was too self absorbed at the time to get what it all meant.

So many missed opportunities to deal with things before I went off and imploded a big old A bomb in our M...

Anyway, just kind of needed to put this out there. It has been on my mind for a while. Thanks.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 11:35 AM, July 22nd (Wednesday)]

Buck posted 7/22/2020 13:22 PM

I have to admit, EAs confound me. They sound an awful lot like friendships to me. Unless you're throwing around I love yous and stuff like that, then it's pretty clear cut, but what really is the difference between an EA and a friendship? Is it flirting? Or the desire to take it further? Attraction that isn't acted upon? Topics discussed?

I recently posted here about a situation I had with a coworker texting me that made my wife uncomfortable. So I may not be the best judge of what exactly constitutes an EA or where that line exists. I also wonder if my wife isn't a bit over zealous in her accusations because of her past behavior. I wonder if there isn't a bit of "hey you fucked up some too, I'm not the only asshole" vibe going on.

foreverlabeled posted 7/22/2020 14:33 PM

but what really is the difference between an EA and a friendship?
The two biggest indicators to me,

1. Are you hiding this relationship, or any aspect about it.

2. Have you said or done anything with this person that you wouldn't say or do in front of your spouse.

I am 100 percent ok with friends of the opposite sex, even though that has backfired in my M (the reason I'm a MH) however there are still subjects and behaviors that should be avoided. JMHO.

I think a misconception about EAs is that they must be overly romantic or must have sexual components. I think it's the "emotional" tag that lends the view (maybe even "affair" too?), if you find yourself becoming attached to someone other than your SO, it's a betrayal and cheating.

Darkness Falls posted 7/22/2020 15:26 PM

I agree with Buck.

godheals posted 7/22/2020 17:22 PM

Just because you donít say I love you donít mean itís not some sort of an A

If she told you she was unhappy and was listing the things about him that made her feel good about herself then yes I would say this was an EA.

Did you know what they were talking about? Did she ever tell you she was texting him or calling for non rated work things?

PA and EA are two different things but in a way itís still some sort of cheating. They might have different consequences.

Is it ok to steal a candy bar because itís only a dollar? No. But you might not have serious consequences to it. But if you go out and steal a car thatís a little more serious and the consequences are going to be more severe.

Her EA wonít measure up to your PA but itís still issues that need to be address in a different way and separate from one others issue.

JBWD posted 7/22/2020 19:29 PM

While I think you do need to address/process, I think itís worth cautioning-

From everything you describe you all are well into R. Just like godheals said, it needs its own space to happen- And in your process of describing the situation, I recommend taking extra caution to not put blame on this revelation. I donít think you are, but the critical mass venting of ďIíve been going over this for a bitĒ is a real hazard for folks like you and me- Mostly because I believe it gives us the time we need to reinforce flawed thinking.
I think itís especially challenging in light of your BWís difference of opinion on the matter- Does she still contend it wasnít an EA?

[This message edited by JBWD at 7:32 PM, July 22nd (Wednesday)]

MrCleanSlate posted 7/22/2020 21:22 PM

I wonder if there isn't a bit of "hey you fucked up some too, I'm not the only asshole" vibe going on

If I were posting this right after D-Day then for sure. But now, time has gone on and we have gone through R, we have worked on our M. I'm sort of seeing more as another of the missed opportunities my wife and I had to deal with things in our M years before my A.

I suppose there is also some relief for me to get it out there. There were a few posts with EA's and maybe not being sure and the boundaries that do come up. I realized the fundamental difference in maybe being in a space where you are susceptible to others advances, realizing it and stepping back - Vs going out and breaking through all the barriers and having a full on PA.

I wonder if I had dealt with some of my issues earlier whether I would have gone down the path to an A. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide - yup today I am going to step outside my marriage. No, it was a long slow descent and a lot of building up in my mind.

JBWD - it is not about blame. Maybe the opposite. We kind of dealt with the EA, but my BW acknowledged that she did drift towards an EA, but she grasped what was happening and put an end to it. She did not engage in anything explicit. It was more looking forward to his visits at her desk and talking to him, and then the texts about all sorts of things, some of which were about the state of our M, etc. I suppose he was fishing. Who knows. I guess by posting here I am trying to stop it rolling around in my head and maybe get some sense of it.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 9:55 PM, July 22nd (Wednesday)]

leavingorbit posted 7/24/2020 16:57 PM

It's interesting how everyone has different definitions re: some topics while other things are more considered universal. Maybe because emotions are thought to be intangible?

It sounds like an EA to me, if only because she admits to attraction and encouraging his attention. I don't think it's about blame, necessarily, but defining your boundaries and communication in the marriage. It does sound to me that you both were turning outside of the marriage, or at least that's what it would've been viewed as in my marriage.

The stuff that kind of piques my radar a little about it is hearing things like she was lonely in your marriage and that hers wasn't "as bad." FTR, I'm not saying that to point fingers. It's reading it as I would any other wayward posting from my own perspective and experiences, so take that from JMO. I told my husband I was lonely, too.

I think EAs are common. My H and I find it more helpful to view it as a turning in/out perspective and remaining connected, because there's a million ways to disappear/avoid/numb and affairs are just one of them.

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