Thanks for the words guys. From now on I'll try to use C for my wife and S for my friend. Easier that way. I hope I'm not bothering you guys; it feels so good to have some people to talk with, I don't want to stop, even if I'm just going over things...
@SNeacail: My wife and I are both atheists; we see the world as a brief opportunity to live and enjoy ourselves and experience things. When you believe there is no afterlife (we look at it differently than a belief, of course, but I don't want to offend anyone), you realize that paradise is here, every day we get to be here and be together, and be with our friends, and have fun.
Clearly that perspective matters a lot. Things would be drastically different if we both (or really, if my wife) came from a religious background. We were both raised catholic, and we both came to our atheism on our individual terms.
You might even call us hedonists, *shrug*.
@redpepper: One thing I've noticed and have been comforted by, is how open you guys are to emotional closeness.
A little more background, so, me and S were friends growing up as I mentioned; not as close back then as now. She was kind of quiet and usually in the background. I remember the first time we really connected was way back in high school; long story short I'd just been rejected pretty hard, and she was there to comfort me - that moment has always stuck out, because it was really awkward for me, and I felt like I really didn't have a friend in the world...(so dramatic, I know...)
Anyway, I only saw her every now and then during college; and during college she grew out of her shell, so to speak. After college I moved away for a few years to take a decent job. C and I hated it there, so we eventually saved up and moved back here, basically to be near our friends.
It's since we've moved back that I've had a closer relationship with S. It started slow, I guess - and I'd be lying if I said I didn't make myself available to her. I found she was really easy to talk to, and she became my only female confidant. Now...during this time, I was definitely getting confusing feelings; like I've said, I'm attracted to her sexually, and maybe now it's time to admit to myself that there is an emotional involvement, however it's defined.
So, as this was happening, I was really worried about infidelity. I felt like I was crossing a line, by sharing what I was sharing with her. I read about "emotional infidelity," which, according to most of those definitions, I probably committed. It's hard to gauge; I shared details about my marriage with her, talked about some things that were bothering me. Our marriage was actually doing okay - we were getting along fine, etc., we were just in an odd rut. Odd that, basically we had been getting along 'too' well, if that makes sense, and the status quo disruption was strange at first. It's hard to explain. Anyway...I shared with her, she gave me good help from a woman's perspective, and it helped a lot.
I guess that was a long way of saying, it never occurred to me that it might be okay for me to bond with S more, and to be closer friends than I felt comfortable being, and that could be totally alright. I do care about her; I think trying to deny that fact was a bit of mental gymnastics on my account, and it took being called on it to really realize that.
Pepper, you're right. When it's a friend you care about, it's just different, and I think anything contrary to that is in the realm of fantasy. It's like...if everyone's 'net' happiness goes up because of it, that's a good thing, but you don't want to do anything that would cause a net loss. That's just not what this is about.
So I guess here's where it stands...C is open to the idea, or at least mulling it over. Next time it comes up I'm going to talk to her about how it would effect S, and each of our relationships.
It was a relief that C didn't judge me for my feelings about S, and now it's in the open and I don't have to feel shitty about it. I'm going to just do what feels right - and if "something" were to happen organically, and feel right, then maybe I'll let that happen - but I'm not going to screw S over and fuck with her head - that has to be the number one priority.
Another confession, S "has" regretted some things she's done, and has told me such. She was a hard partying girl in those days. It's shitty of me to have thought that she'd act how I was thinking - sort of just how you described.
I think what's been made clear to me is, when it comes to people that are your close friends, you've already passed casual sex. When you could have it with someone anonymous, when it's a close friend there's just no way around it. You have to consider their feelings because they're going to be a part of you.
So to add to that, what I'm hearing is, "yes, of course it could work, that's obviously what this is about," with the huge BUT it's just not as simple as fooling around - it's entering into a different social contract. And that's a big deal - like a commitment.
We're going to just keep hanging out, spending time with the three of us. We'll see what happens.