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Hmm - there's no level that is inherently too much or too little. This depends completely on the dynamics you share with your husband and the relationship you have with your friend.
For instance, if your husband is threatened by physical intimacy between you and this friend, then I would suggest stopping it out of respect for his feelings, regardless if you think he's being a little sensitive. Is a long hug worth the negative feelings it has the potential to produce in your husband? Is it worth threatening the marriage?
This brings me to the second part of the equation. What exactly is the nature of your friendship with this woman such that it is evolving toward being "more intimate"? What does that mean? Do you have feelings for her that go beyond simple friendship?
I connect emotionally with her more than I do my husband. In general, I think women understand other women better, and there is a relating about similar experiences that I never shared with a man. Not the my husband can't be nice and try to understand. He just doesn't RELATE. So there is a connection there with my friend that is certainly deep and emotionally intimate. My friend is single, and alone right now, and perhaps because of her neediness together with my feeling emotionally connected, it is getting too far.
It hasn't threatened the marriage, and I am not even sure it will. I met this friend in the supermarket and she told me she had a really bad day at work, etc, and I gave her a long hug. Another friend saw this (friend "B") and basically told me that it is SO completely inappropriate. And so I started questioning it.
I know there are no real "rules" (and I'm an athiest, so, I don't believe in god-rules, even while I believe in ethics and morals). And it could be that my husband wont mind at all. I really have no idea. I can't imagine him feeling threatened by a female friend. But if he were, it would certainly bother me because I really don't think there is anything wrong with any of it, even if "Friend B" thinks differently.
I guess I'm just wanting a second opinion on this whole issue.
Ah, gotchya! Thank you for the background. That helps.
First off, it sounds like Friend B may have some issues with perfectly acceptable female intimacy or your close friendship with someone else, or both. Don't worry about what she says. You're right. There are no rules here and if your friend needed a long hug, so be it! Also, I wouldn't question whether or not your husband would be bothered by it unless he expresses something to that effect (I suppose if it bothers you a lot, you could ask him about how he would feel hypothetically?) Either way, you were expressing a true emotion toward someone you are close to - there's nothing wrong with that unless you start to think that your feelings for your friend are interfering with your feelings toward your hubby.
If they aren't, hug away!