Is having a guy friend cheating when you would talk to them about your problems with your husband?

I had a friend at work that I would talk to at work and then it turned into him saying weird things to me and sexually harassment. And I didn’t report it. And now I feel guilty. But my husband makes me feel like everything I do is bad and I’m a horrible person
Asked by Harley
Answered
11/29/2021

Hi Harley,

You bring up a couple of questions/points that could be helpful to take a look at. As for your original question of what constitutes "cheating," my definition of cheating could be very different than another mental health professional's definition. It wouldn't be my place, nor do I think it would be helpful, for me to tell you what I consider to be cheating. What I think is more beneficial is for you to examine what you consider cheating, what your partner considers cheating, and to explore factors related to any guilt you may feel. 

As for talking with a friend about your husband, in general, I feel it is very important for people to express their feelings on a regular basis, and because your husband is certainly an important person in your life, you will have feelings about him and should have an outlet to share how you feel. Whether your male friend is the best person to talk to about your feelings, I don't know. I could imagine that if he has feelings for you, and especially if you also have feelings for him, that talking with him about your husband could at the very least make things complicated. You may want to ask yourself why you have chosen this person with whom to vent about your husband. Is it because he has had similar experiences, because he is a good listener because you have limited other support, or because he pushes you to have these conversations. Just try to examine your motive, and remember that everyone needs to talk about their feelings. Of course, what can be more productive than talking about your feelings associated with your husband is talking with your husband about how you are feeling and working through those problems with your husband. You may want to look at whether you feel you can be open with him. Therapy has a number of advantages for those who are experiencing problems in relationships--for example, you can talk about these problems with someone who is a third party and who will maintain confidentiality, you can know that the therapist has no motive other than trying to help you, and you can look at solutions for the problems in the marriage and possibly, if your husband is willing, invite him to join the process at some point, which may yield the best benefits. 

I don't know to what extent the next part of your question (your coworker making uncomfortable comments to you) relates to the first part. I'm not sure if you are talking about the same individual with whom you are expressing your feelings about your husband. If so, I do suggest considering establishing and maintaining strict boundaries with this person. You should never feel guilty for someone being inappropriate with you, but you may want to look at whether this is someone who truly respects you and wants the best for you. Anyway, no one should feel sexually harassed at work, and you may want to talk with someone you trust or a therapist about whether it would be best to report this. A concern is that it could continue to escalate. 

The last sentence is also something you may want to explore further. Does your husband make you feel inadequate, or do you feel unappreciated, unwanted, or disrespected in the relationship? If so, I strongly suggest talking with a therapist about this relationship. If your husband is treating you as if you are "horrible" you can internalize that and begin to develop poor self-esteem. If you do have difficulty recognizing your strengths and appreciating yourself, therapy can also help you develop self-love and self-acceptance. 

Anyway, I really hope you will seek support. You shouldn't have to feel uncomfortable with a coworker at work and then additionally feel persistently guilty and a failure when you are at home with your husband. It sounds like therapy could be very helpful, and I'd be happy to work with you. 

Nick 

(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)