A woman who has been with her husband for six years was pushed to her limits when his longtime friend moved into their neighborhood.
Redditor "LikelyAhole" was always aware that her husband's female friend has been carrying the torch for him.
But now that they're neighbors, that flame of hope started to burn with more intensity to the point where the Original Poster (OP) had to tell her to back off.
Introducing the troubled love triangle:
"My husband Jake and I have been together for six years, and he has been friends with Carly for two years longer than that. I suspect that Carly has feelings for Jake, but he has never had feelings for her."
"I've never been thrilled about their friendship, but I trust my husband and have total confidence that he would never cheat."
"A year ago, Carly moved into our neighborhood. She lives alone, and she picked up the habit of asking Jake to help her with house work and maintenance."
"When her water heater broke, she called Jake. When she needed help setting up a TV, she called Jake. When her trees needed trimming, she called Jake. Etc. Etc. You get the idea."
"Jake and Carly also work near each other downtown, and a few days a week she'll ask him for a ride to work when she doesn't 'feel like driving.'"
"She's also started dropping by our house unannounced, usually when she's having a bad day and wants to vent to Jake about it. She relies on him heavily for emotional support 24/7."
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After Carly became a regular presence in their lives, the OP finally had enough.
"While I've tried to be patient and respectful of my husband's friendship with her, I have become less and less tolerant of Carly in the past few months as I feel she's become a constant presence in our marriage."
"The final straw came yesterday. As a medical worker, I've been pulling insanely long hours at the hospital. Yesterday I finally had a day off and I was very excited to spend some time with Jake."
"Just after breakfast, he received a text from Carly asking if he can help her move some furniture around because she decided to redecorate."
"He told her he can't because it's my day off and we're spending the day together. She then calls him and explains that it shouldn't take more than an hour, and her living room is a mess and she really could use his help getting things in order."
"At this point, I snapped."
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It was time for Carly to hear the harsh truth.
"I took the phone and told her that Jake had said no and she needs to respect that he wants to spend time with me, his wife. When she started to argue, I said 'I'm sorry Carly but I think it's time for you to find your own husband,' and hung up."
But Jake was not amused and thought the intervention went too far.
So the OP asked, "Am I The A**hole" (AITA)?
"Jake was shocked and thought that I was far too harsh. He thinks that I should have some compassion and said 'How would you feel if you were 35 and alone and without many friends? I feel sorry for her.'"
"At that, I questioned whether or not I was actually in the wrong here. Reddit, AITA?"
Redditors were not quick to side with the OP.
In fact, this user called ESH (Everyone Sucks Here).
"ESH You don't have a Carly problem. You have a Jake problem. You're the a**hole for not seeing that and mainly blaming Carly, also for insulting her appearance for no reason."
"She's the a**hole for being so pushy, stopping by unannounced, etc. The biggest a**hole here is Jake for not setting proper boundaries with Carly." – SoMuchMoreEagle
This person empathized with having a significant other who spends too much time with another person regardless of their gender.
"Personally, it can be very taxing on a relationship when a partner spends so much time and energy 'helping' this friend with xyz, when friend does not need to have EVERY LITTLE THING involve your partner."
"And I say this irregardless of sex/gender/sexuality of friend and/or partner."
"Obviously, partners should support friendships and not control one another's time and energy but when a friend starts becoming a constant (almost daily) presence in a relationship?"
"I think partners need to address this, and I think OP's issue is that they wanted Jake to figure this out a lot sooner, and Jake did not think having Carly involved in their life so much was an issue, and OP did."
"Not to say that I think Jake is the BIGGEST AH, but I seriously wonder at his relationship with Carly if she is over that much and contacting him that much and now lives in his neighborhood on top of working in the same area as him??"
"I mean, if Carly was a Carl, I would still be ticked if I was OP. I would not want to have to factor in 'Carl' time every time I wanted to think about my week with my spouse."
"IDK, I feel like they all kind of suck, but this could be solved with a serious talk between OP and Jake, so really communication would help a lot." – robertsba2011
But let's not get too hasty about lumping Jake into the ESH category.
"If OP has a different set of boundaries than her husband she has to communicate them before we can call Jake an a**hole."
"Although I think your questions about Jake and Carly's relationship is the real reason people say Jake is the a**hole. And that seems pretty unfair given how certain OP is that he isnt cheating." – WeBuiltRickCity
To clarify, the OP did not establish boundaries within their marriage for Jake to violate.
"Hang on...was it ever mentioned that OP wanted specific boundaries set and actually communicated that to Jake?"
"I'm not seeing anywhere where he did something that violates standard boundaries or that OP asked him to set extra ones they had discussed. Helping out the local single mom isn't by itself crossing any boundary."
"Now...Carly is clearly overstepping. Maybe in a more overly dependent on a neighbor way than a trying to steal your husband way."
"And not taking 'no' for a quick answer herr was rude. But I'm honestly not seeing where Jake is already the a**hole for being a nice but maybe pushover neighbor."
"In fact...he was in the middle of setting a boundary when OP cut him off and yelled at Carly." – cflatjazz
Not everyone can relate to the OP's reaction towards Jake's friendships.
"As far as I can tell, Carly treated Jake like a friend. I call my guy friends with questions about cars, I hang out with them one on one at the gym or get lunch together."
"I drove my guy friend to pick up his new car. Friends help friends, doesn't mean we wanna f'k."
"Know what my boyfriend had to say about it? 'Have fun, text me if you'll be late.'" – 30minutesofmayo
Still, Carly should be respective of Jake's private time with his wife.
"Ehh, the same friend constantly asking with help for every little thing on what seems like an almost daily basis is more then meeting for lunch or driving to pick up or get to their car."
"OP did make it sound more excessive then your partner just having a really good friend. She shouldn't have blown up but people get tired of that sh*t. You know when it's going too far." – keepeasy
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One of the more lengthy responses came from Redditor "PaleHero," who detected potential issues inherent in the OP's marriage.
"I do agree that ESH, but I would like to respectfully disagree that Jake is the biggest AH and their issues are inside their marriage alone."
"Here is my reasoning:"
"Carly is TA for being very pushy and invasive of personal space. I'm sure she also realizes that she can use her position as a long time friend along with being single to make ridiculous demands to take advantage of Jake having his guard down around her (seems like he doesn't realize she is asking a lot)."
"OP is TA for not setting boundaries earlier or bringing this up earlier. This situation does not seem to have developed in a short period of time but rather as a result of a long period of complacency and not drawing the line (thus giving Carly the idea she can push it further). This should have been a civilized discussion long before it was a heated yelling at Carly. That being said, I have sympathy for OP due to the unusual circumstances placing strain on something she probably did not care too much about previously."
"Jake is also TA for not drawing lines with Carly earlier (similar to OP). However, as someone else said we can not see what he would have done due to OP interjecting too early so it's hard to judge though if anything."
"PaleHero" went on to say that Jake and the OP remain as the victims and explained why.
"Jake is a victim of being between a 'rock and a hard place.' Whether you think its justifiable are not, we can't neglect that for some people more than others choosing between pleasing a longtime friend or your wife is difficult."
"In some cases, they try to please everyone which is often not possible and seems to possibly be the case here."
"OP is a victim of wanting to just plainly be a good partner (for lack of better wording). She does not want to come off to Jake or Carly as overprotective/clingy."
"These two things cause them to stretch themselves quite thin, and due to the current situation the stress Carly placed on their relationship is what seems to be the root of their problems."
However, their relationship does seem salvageable.
"Besides that, it seems like OP and Jake are able to listen and communicate effectively (is there a problem yes but relationship problem sounds a little harsh to me like their marriage is built on a flawed foundation)."
"That being said, it is difficult to say Carly is TA alone due to OP and Jake never explicitly drawing lines with her."
"So in conclusion, due to the reasoning above I reach a similar judgement to you, but slightly different."
"I hope you find my analysis fair and clear and that I am not reading into it or making any incorrect assumptions!"
"ESH. Carly - No boundaries OP- Lashing out Jake - Not drawing boundaries/being mindful."
"Jake + OP = Victims of Carly + COVID"
If a spouse starts to feel like they're the third wheel, then the couple needs to hash things out and set some boundaries if they wish for a healthy marriage.
The book No Guilt, No Games, No Drama: The 7 Keys to Smarter Boundaries is available here.