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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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why does my husband feel the need to seek out other women to befriend I just

Customer Question

why does my husband feel the need to "seek out" other women to befriend? I just don't understand it. We've been married for only one year and together almost 2. we have an 8month old boy together and i have a 3 and 4 yr old from a previous relationship. He's changed since we've been together. He lies about the little things, like going on to craigslist and looking up other women to talk to. He says he just like to meet new friends. I'm hurting., (Hes 31)
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.

Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.


I have to speculate that he is doing more than simply befriending women. If it was simply trying to seek out opportunities to be friendly and helpful, he would be putting equal effort into befriending men or elderly people. Is his pursuit of opportunities to be helpful free of any gender preference?



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
no, just women. He's never really ever had friends that were male. I don't mind that he has female friends. Its seeking them out that bothers me. Why post an ad or respond to "platonic" ads. we clearly defined what cheating was to each other. we both agreed it could be emotional or physical. Now he's just saying cheating is when you intend to do something physical with that person. I found an inappropriate conversation between him and another woman a few months ago. He said it has stopped and he never will do that again. He says its harmless flirting,. But why flirt with other women in that way. He says i need to stop being nosey and that "ignorance is bliss"
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.

I think you and I both know that the explanation your husband is giving you for seeking out platonic friends (on Craigslist I presume and other sites (?)) is a transparent rationalization. Of COURSE he is seeking an emotional affair or more, with these women. he is simply trying to whitewash over his actions. There is no such thing as harmless flirting when you actively seek out opportunities to interact with other women and flirt.


I hate to say this but if your husband is doing this sort of thing and it is only somewhat past year 1 of your marriage, it could well be that you two do not actually share the same, core values about marriage and monogamy. Let me toss out the idea that your husband's version of monogamy goes something like this: "I expect my wife to be monogamous and not ever cheat; and I will promise to do likewise, except if I get the urge, I can quietly act 'as if' I am a single guy, through my alter ego. I am entitled to do this; and if caught, I'll make it my wife's 'problem' by accusing her of making something out of nothing, of invading my privacy, etc." I would speculate that he held this core belief regarding a monogamy double-standard going into your marriage. His honest, deepest belief is in a quasi-polygamous relationship with a woman. I will advance this idea based again, on the fairly shocking fact that he is doing this only a year or so into your marriage.


I wonder what would happen if you told your husband you have given thought to his suggestion about harmless flirting and that "ignorance is bliss". So you have decided that you would like to reserve one night per week to go to some clubs to meet up with some guy friends for a few drinks and dancing; it is all harmless fun of course---just platonic friends having a good time. What do you think?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He said it would be ok if i did go out with platonic friend, He has said that he only talks to them and has no plan to meet up with them. But I know a few months ago he did. She was also married and this confused me as to why she would act that way. It only makes matters worse when he doesn't tell me that he has contacted other women BEFORe he does it , only a week or more after. He said he just likes to have intellectual conversations and I wouldn't be able to understand that bc I'm only 24. So what do I/we do now? He won't go to counseling bc our insurance doesn't cover it.He says I can accept it or not but nothing is going to change. HE will always have women friends. I said thats fine, just don't seek them out. HE said he will and I need to decide whether to stay or not....I feel like he doesn't understand how I am feeling about the situtation bc he gets very upset when I bring it up. I've always been taught that others will only treat you how you allow them to. I'm lost...<br /><br />(Please only, <a href="profile.aspx?PF=28397935&FID=93" target="_blank">DoctorMichael</a> reply) :)
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.

I think people put the principle of a fully monogamous marriage at risk (if this is what they truly value), if each partner spends a lot of time pursuing "friendship" relationships with members of the opposite sex. This is because such friendships can very easily evolve into sexual relationships. What is a rational approach to this is when couples agree to have such friends jointly i.e., you would be included in all meetings or conversations with a mutual, female friend---but no one-on-one meetings. If your husband was TRULY interested in ONLY having an intellectually meaningful friendship, he would have no objection to including you in the relationship. I suspect he would object to including you, however.


So the difficult issue you face is that you did in fact, marry a guy who has different core values than you do regarding monogamy. I would be wiling to bet money that in a year or two or three, you will discover he has cheated on you. This is because behind his rationalizations about wanting 'intellectual" or 'platonic" friends, he is pursuing women rather than men, to satisfy this desire, and this almost certainly implies sexual interest in the women as well. The hard part for you to consider is that his core beliefs more squarely align with a quasi-polygamous marriage, than a fully monogamous marriage. That's it. You have to decide if this is o.k. with you. What will you do if, knowing this value system, you discover he has been or will eventually have an emotional or sexual affair?



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
IMO he has already had an emotional affair and swears he didn't. But telling another woman you dreamed about them and couldn't wait to read their message when you got out of bed in the morning- is not ok. When he first did this months ago I fired back and did the same. But it didn't feel right to me and I have since ended all contact with them. I don't want to do tit for tat. And I just didn't feel like it was ok. Now he's at it again. He's changed all of his passwords to his email and deletes all info in his phone. I don't want to give up on this marriage. I don't want to loose my family, but I need to figure this out.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.

You may want to ask him to get into marital therapy even if your insurance won't cover it. The insurance may cover treatment for something like depression for one of you---and this is normally used as a mechanism to receive couples therapy. You may be able to ask your parents or his, if they can help fund some marital therapy sessions or you may have to take out a short term loan to pay for it. But this isn't a problem you can resolve on your own. Your husband simply holds fundamentally different values than you do regarding marriage. You can keep the marriage together if you are willing to put up with more emotional affairs, and probably sexual ones, down the road. Your husband won't admit that this is where his behavior will lead him, but he is fooling himself and being dishonest with you about it. Again, his values are that being married means that it is o.k. for the guy to have semi-polygamous relationships and his wife must accept this if she wants to stay married to him. You've not been married that long so he held these core values prior to getting married and simply didn't tell you about what his true beliefs and values are. The only other rational explanation for the behavior is that he has discovered, 2 years into this marriage, that he may not want to stay married to you long term and is quietly "looking'" for an alternative relationship; and once he tries out enough emotional or sexual affairs, he will eventually decide whether to stay or leave the marriage. The unfair and selfish part of this of course, is that he may expect you to sit around, remain monogamous, while he figures out whether he wants to be married to you long term, or whether something better might come along during the coming months or years. But he is wanting to hang onto the marriage until he finds out. Again, this is royally unfair to you, if this is what is happening.


Another unspoken value he may hold is that he is doing you a favor staying married to you and has a right to have these exciting 'new' flirtatious emotional affiars on the side. He married a woman who was single and had two kids and he may figure that you need this relationship more than he does and thus, you'll put up with his marital values, such as they are. So he may hold the rather arrogant belief that he 'rescued' you from being a lonely, single parent, believing that other men would likely shy away from you since you already had kids; so you'll likely put up with this behavior, rather than leave.


What do you think?

Edited by DoctorMichael on 11/20/2010 at 1:29 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He knew going into our relationship that I don't put up with bs. I left my kids father because it turned into a toxic relationship and I knew that out relationship wasn't good for anyone. He knows in the past I just left but now I'm married. His first wife had numerous affairs and he was hurt badly. He knows what it feels like to be cheated on. So to me- and emotional affair doesn't seem like something he would do but I fear he has and will. I don't think it will ever get physical. I do think he is using that fact to have emotional affairs bc nothing every physical will come of it. I need him to understand how I feel and stop. Though he's already said he won't. To me that's not what you do in a marriage, especially ignoring the other persons feelings. He boasts about how smart he is.(He has had an Iq test when he was younger) If that were true then why do what your doing, he should be able to see what the result will be.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
As I read your last post, it sounds as though you are prepared to live with his ongoing contact with other women, and tolerate emotional affairs. You don't believe they will ever become sexual, because you hope he will remember what it felt like to be cheated on by his former wife. On the other hand, you also believe he won't give up pursuing other women.

I hope you can get into couples therapy in some way to try to get him to empathize with what you are experiencing and stop his interactions with other women, since these friendships do not include you, right along side of him (i.e., he wants to have them in secret). You can write him a letter to try to explain how you feel. Also, you can threaten to leave him if he doesn't give up these friendships, unless you are included jointly in all friendships. I also suggest you make sure you don't have any more children until this issue of other women is resolved---completely, and you feel the marriage is very solid.

I hope this interaction has been helpful to you. I hope you do not suffer serious heartache before this issue gets finally resolved. Let me know if I have overlooked anything you hoped I would cover in discussing this matter with you.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
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