“Ask a Priest: What If I’m Attracted to My Friend’s Husband?”

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Q: I am a single woman in my 20s and recently started developing a deep friendship with a woman in her 30s. She’s married and has kids. I spend a lot of time with her family, including her husband who has become my friend as well. The problem is that I’m attracted to him. I am not worried that anything will ever happen between us physically, but I worry about emotional intimacy becoming sinful. He is a sweet person, and he and his wife have a good relationship and trust each other. I don’t drive, and sometimes she helps me run errands. She has sent him a few times to take me because she was busy. He texts me and asks me how I am doing. We are all very close. I am just not sure if it’s OK for me to be around him or for me to be texting him. It’s important to my friend that her close friends be a part of her family, and I am close to her kids. At this point there’s no rewind button. I can’t just hang out with her alone all the time. We have a good friendship, and I don’t want to throw that away. But I just feel dirty and wrong that while they trust me so much, I am battling thoughts of attraction to her husband. I am confused and just looking for some answers. Thank you. – D. 

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good that you are honestly facing this situation and recognizing your feelings in all this. You acknowledge that you are attracted to the husband and that you “feel dirty and wrong.”

It is understandable that you find him attractive. He sounds like a nice guy. He sounds stable, wholesome — the kind of man that a lot of young, single women would find attractive.

This should be a warning. The texting is also a warning sign, since you are communicating with him outside the immediate presence of his wife.

This isn’t to say that the texting is necessarily sinful. But that, and the attraction you feel for him, can be a prelude to something problematic. You say that you aren’t worried about anything physical happening between you two, yet you and he occasionally share a ride together alone.

Your confidence that nothing “will ever happen” between you and the husband might be ill-advised. Human nature being what it is, the ingredients for big trouble are already coming together.

If cutting off the relationship with the family immediately isn’t practical, you might consider two options.

First, limit your visits with the family. Go only when the wife is present. And think about stopping the texting with the husband immediately, as well as the solo car rides with him.

Second, try to cultivate other relationships with single people. It might help to start networking with others through church groups, volunteer organizations, Bible studies, etc. Can’t find any? Then think about starting one, in your parish or place of work or neighborhood.

The idea here is not to use this family as your main source of socializing.

You will do them a huge favor in the long term if you yourself can find other people to spend time with. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize the well-being of this family.

In the meantime you might want to intensify your prayer life and sacramental life. You need the help of the Holy Spirit. Don’t presume that you can let things continue on the same path with no troubles. I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.

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