Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Friend’s Husband Wants to See My Boobs”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

I am a 36-year-old divorced single parent. My ex-husband was abusive (I moved away 8 years ago). I have a great life but have not been able to move on romantically and have a relationship. Two years ago my friend’s husband started working in my office. We really hit it off. We just seem to understand each other and I now consider him to be my best friend. He and his wife have been having marital difficulties and I have talked to them both separately about how talking to a counselor may help them.

The last six months he and I have become much closer and share almost everything with each other. He started asking me to wear different shirts because when they were low-cut and bothered him. Then last week, when he was bugging me about my clothing again, he called me in to see him and he had his erect penis out. I asked him what the hell he was doing, and he said he thought I was curious so he decided to show me. I was having a terrible time being around him, and then this week he asked to see my boobs. He said, “I showed you, now you need to show me.” I said no way, not ever. He promised that he just wanted to see and there was nothing sexual about it.

Do you think it is possible that he is just curious? How do I stop this from happening? It has taken me years to trust a man to get me to open up again and now I don’t know what to do. — Not So Curious

It may have taken years for you to trust a man to get you to open up, but you have chosen the wrong man to trust. He is a sleazeball, and I’m afraid you are in a very bad position having trusted him and opened up to him as much as you have already. Obviously, he is LYING when he says there’s nothing sexual about him showing you his erect penis and asking you to show him your boobs. I mean, come on, he’s a grown man, not a toddler who is wondering how a girl looks different from him. And the idea that you would even entertain his argument of being merely “curious” speaks volumes of the vulnerability and naiveté you must exhibit. This is clearly a man who has been preying on you, and now it’s time for you to stand up for yourself and put a stop to it.

The fastest and, hopefully, most surefire way to put an end to this is to go to your HR department (or boss, if you don’t have an HR department) and file a complaint. What this man has done to you is clearly sexual harassment. If you have anything in writing, please save it and show it to your boss/HR officer. If you don’t have anything in writing — a text, an email, a post-it note — see if you can get him to send you something confirming his behavior. You could send an email saying that you were uncomfortable with him showing you his erect penis and his request that you show him your boobs and that you don’t ever want him to behave that way toward you again. Then, see how he responds. If there’s anything in his language that conveys confirmation of his behavior, you’ve got him.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid your friendship with this man’s wife will be a casualty in this whole incident. I’m not sure how you can call someone out for showing you his penis at work and expect to still remain friends with the guy’s wife. I hope you’ll take this as a lesson and, in the future, don’t “share everything” with a married man, let alone a man who is married to your friend and discussing his marital difficulties with you. And since you seem to have questionable boundary issues and questionable judgment when it comes to men, I hope you will consider therapy to help you work through these issues. To go years and years without trusting a man, because you’re still reeling from an abusive marriage, only to finally confide in a man who sexually harasses you, points to a larger issue that I’m not qualified to address, nor could I in a short advice column. You need professional help, and I urge you to seek it out so that you can begin to properly heal from the transgressions and betrayals made against you and can start making healthier choices going forward.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

20 comments… add one
  • avatar

    jlyfsh February 16, 2015, 9:27 am

    WWS! (When I first read this I missed the friend in the title, much different letter with that word included!) You can’t really think he just wants to see your boobs for a non sexual reason. Hopefully you listen to Wendy and deal with the aftermath of your abusive marriage and don’t let it ruin future friendships. It’s possible to be friends with women and their husbands and maybe you just had terrible luck. But, it’s sad that you say you consider him to be your best friends after this. He’s not. He wouldn’t put you in this position with your other friend, HIS wife, if he was.

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    • Monkeysmommy

      monkeys mommy February 16, 2015, 10:14 am

      Seriously LW… You cant really think he “just wants to see them because he is curious”. He is a douche canoe. Seriously. You will lose your friend over this, because most women refuse to believe their man is such a POS, but whatever. Expose this lying, manipulative asshat. He knew your issues, since your were bright enough to “share everything”, and he used that to get to you. PS- Do NOT be a man’s “ear” for his marital problems! Jeez.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray February 16, 2015, 10:45 am

        Although now, admittedly, I am curious to see this LW’s boobs too.

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties February 16, 2015, 9:52 am

    This dude is a major creep. I’m friends with lots of girls and my best friend is a girl, and I recognize that they’re attractive, but I’ve never felt the need to whip my boner out in front of them and indicate that I thought they would be curious to see it. After doing that , I certainly wouldn’t be like, “now you have to show me your boobs.” That’s messed up and it’s not just out of curiosity.

    On a side note, there are some boobs that men do want to see out of curiosity. But usually its when you’re walking down the street and you see someone who looks like they have a funny shape under their shirt, and you wonder what they look like. Or maybe that’s just me.

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  • avatar

    Hannanas February 16, 2015, 9:58 am

    Perfect response! WWS!

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  • avatar

    booknerd February 16, 2015, 9:59 am

    It’s alarming how naive you sound. Could he just be curious? Could it be non sexual? After he showed you his erect penis? Please listen to Wendy.

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  • call-me-hobo

    call-me-hobo February 16, 2015, 9:59 am

    Oh my god. You need to go to your HR representative IMMEDIATELY. The government’s literal definition of sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” That is a word for word quote off the government’s equal employment opportunity website. Your situation is LITERALLY TWO OUT OF THREE.
    .
    Please use everything you can to protect yourself. You can stop this! This man is terrible, and I’m sorry that he’s taken advantage of your friendship. Do everything you can to protect yourself and employment, and don’t worry about if reporting this will affect him. He made his decision to harass you; you have a child to look out for- do what’s best for you and your kid and report this!

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    • avatar

      pamplemousse February 16, 2015, 1:33 pm

      I concur. It is not normal for a married man (or any man really) to expose himself in the workplace unsolicited. You have to think about it from another perspective – if he is willing to expose himself at work and try to coerce you into doing the same, he is probably doing other things that are not okay (such as exposing himself to or groping women on public transportation). The reason you need to tell HR is so that he knows he can’t get away with this behavior with you OR anyone else.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes February 16, 2015, 10:28 am

    LW, Im so sorry you are in this situation. But you need to get out of it, and fast. Dude is a MAJOR CREEP. Were you a bit too naive here? YES. But this man, from what you have written, knew you were susceptible to being preyed upon, and groomed you. Like the shirt stuff. Ugh, Im kinda sick to my stomach right now. You think this guy is your best friend, but he most certainly is not. Please do get yourself to therapy ASAP. Good luck.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray February 16, 2015, 10:48 am

    I’m dying to know if this guy is the boss or in some position of authority over the LW. That would be even worse!

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  • avatar

    Kaluu February 16, 2015, 11:06 am

    Yuck!Definitely try to get proof before you report him but report him either way!

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  • avatar

    bostonpupgal February 16, 2015, 11:34 am

    I agree with everything that’s been said here. There is one thing I’d like to point out, though. It really sounds like the LW was engaged in an emotional affair with this man, whether she intended to be or not. LW, a man’s best friend should be his wife. He should not be extremely close and sharing everything with another woman. He should not be discussing his wife and his marriage with another woman. Those things take intimacy and energy away from his marriage, especially during times of trouble when the marriage needs him the most. What he did was abhorrent. It’s also clear, as Wendy said, that you don’t have a concept of healthy boundaries and what a good relationship, be it friendship or romantic, looks like.
    Please take her advice and get some help. I’m so sorry for your past, and I know it has affected your choices as you try to move on, but this guy is not trustworthy, he’s not a best friend, he’s a predator and a creep, and you’ve chosen to open yourself up to him and crossed some lines with this man.

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  • avatar

    Breezy AM February 16, 2015, 11:39 am

    WWS and the others. Mrmidtwenties especially!
    .
    I have a lot of male friends. They’ve never asked to see my boobs or anything else, out of curiousity or sexual invitation. If they want to experience sexual stuff with me (including boob watching or intercourse or whatever) they do what men do who want that; they take me out on a date (whether or not they classify it as a date in advance, it’s a date) and flirt with me and treat me nicely and try to hold my hand and kiss me. They don’t invite me in and show me their penis unsolicited. That’s creeper behaviour. I’m really sorry you’ve had such awful luck with men that you don’t seem to realize this guy is a gross, unmannerly perv.
    .
    A couple months back my boyfriend’s buddy pulled a similar stunt on me. My boyfriend went to the corner store to get some beer and out of NOWHERE his buddy asked if he could suck on my boob. Not in a silly self-depreciating frat boy way. Not in a humouring himself nerd way. But in a desperate way, looking at the floor, no happy face even, looking sad and pathetic “Breezy, I don’t mean to offend you, but could I please suck on your breast, just a little bit please, I promise to not touch you anywhere else, or do anything else, and I won’t do it for very long….”
    .
    I was totally creeped out. He’s a lot bigger than me and we were alone and I wasn’t sure what would happen or if he’d tell my boyfriend some nonsense if I went all Hard No on him. So I played Girl who has Been Socialized to Make Nice and told him that I didn’t feel comfortable with that because I was still lactating (I’m not, but he doesn’t need to know that!) and it was just too intimate for me. He apologized and looked at the ground and didn’t talk to me anymore. AWKWARD.
    .
    I told my boyfriend after buddy left. Boyfriend isn’t the jealous type and wouldn’t care if his friends ASKED but he felt this was just fucking creepy. I wanted boyfriend to know, but I didn’t realize that this is considered super duper yucky creepy behaviour, because, well, socialization. I knew it was weird but not that it was THAT WEIRD. And my boyfriend’s like, the furthest thing from a feminist ever he thinks. (Not really; he washes my dishes).
    .
    And that led to Boyfriend cutting off Buddy. A buddy he’s been friends with for over 20 years. Cold. He told buddy that this kind of behaviour is just bullshit (apparently he’s done this to other people too and boyfriend was one of his last remaining friends). I tell you this to let you know if just asking “nicely” (albeit creepy) like that is considered by “regular dude” types to be inappropriate behaviour, the shit this dude pulled on you is WAY OUT OF ORDER. That’s like, predatory behaviour. Totally not okay. You’re not an object and he needs to behave professionally in an office. I feel comfortable saying a man who does something like that in an office needs to spend time on a shrink’s couch discussing wtf on earth made him think that was appropriate or okay. Stay away from this creep, report him. Tell him that’s not okay. Don’t feel bad or “awkward.” This is awkward. HE made it awkward by whipping out his wang unasked in an office, YOU did not make it awkward. That is on him.
    .
    Be prepared: He will likely tell his wife you’ve been hitting on him trying to have sex with him. He probably interprets your talking to him so much as such, for the record. He was never seeing you as a friend. He was seeing you as a woman trying to feel him out if he was up for some sexy times.
    .
    I hate to say this, but really, us hetero women need to get it drilled into our heads that some other woman’s husband is never, ever the appropriate man with whom to privately discuss our feelings about anything. Just no. We need to talk to our girlfriends, our dads, our brothers, our cousins. Not some random man married to some woman, even if the woman is our friend. Caveat: if she’s in the room too, it’s okay.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones February 16, 2015, 12:50 pm

    Definitely sexual harassment. And creepy. It seems to me as if he was grooming you for the big reveal for a long time, by making you his bestie confidant. If there is HR at your job, definitely file a report. And if that does nothing, consult with an attorney and see what your recourse is to feel safe on the job again. And yes, therapy for the boundary issues with men.

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  • avatar

    Lucy February 16, 2015, 1:36 pm

    What… no. This guy is a predatory creep. Most of my best friends are men, and some of them are married. But all of them understand appropriate boundaries, and NONE of them has or ever would whip his stiffie out “in case I was curious.” Run to HR, LW, and then to a therapist.

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  • avatar

    McLovin February 16, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Wow, I’ve never heard of anything like this in a workplace setting. I’ve had to let people go for a lot of reasons, but that would be a complete train wreck from an employers standpoint – which is secondary to the horror that the woman had to endure.

    Does this stuff really happen? Not just in shady bars, or peoples living rooms(see above commenter), but at work?

    I’m a firm believer that men and women can be friends. But this sounds like boundaries were probably crossed in conversations way before he thought it would be a good idea to drop trou. I would want to get this on record with HR or a Manager immediately, then find an attorney and get legal advice so that this doesn’t somehow get turned around and somehow a different story comes out.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark February 16, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Ewwwwww. Yikes… Talk about a DICK move, LW. What an total tool this guy is… Start looking for another job, you don’t need to put up with shit like this any longer… Oh, and NEWSFLASH!: Nobody ever is curious about other people’s junk UNLESS it IS sexual… Duh!

    PS — Deliberately CHOOSING to finally open yourself up to a man and have it be your friend’s husband when you KNOW damn well that they are having marital problems is kind of a dick move of your own… Just saying.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope February 16, 2015, 2:49 pm

    My husband recently had to take a sexual harrassment seminar at work (required for everyone). Turns out, you’re not even allowed to ask a female employee to buy you a sandwich. Wonder what they’d have to say about this guy’s behavior! (I’m rolling just thinking about that conversation)

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom February 16, 2015, 3:08 pm

    She needs to find something in writing if she goes to HR or it will be a “he said, she said” thing. I’m not sure about sending him an email in a ploy to get him to respond so she can use that. Is that considered “entrapment”? I do think they were involved in some kind of emotional affair but that doesn’t excuse any of his behavior, that’s just creepy. Even if he wanted to start a physical affair why would he do it like that? Not to mention while they were at work! Yuck!

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  • avatar

    rieux February 17, 2015, 12:38 am

    “He started asking me to wear different shirts because when they were low-cut and bothered him. Then last week, when he was bugging me about my clothing again, he called me in to see him and he had his erect penis out.”

    If you were a child and he was a pedophile I think this would be called “grooming.” He starts with things that are a LITTLE inappropriate (“please don’t wear that shirt because it makes me attracted to you”) and tests you to see if you will recognize it’s inappropriate and push back on him. When he realizes that he can get away with it, he pushes further and starts flat-out sexually harassing you at work and even trying to convince you you owe him sexual favors in return. That’s how abusers work! And somehow, a lot of them seem to be able to sniff out likely targets. People who for whatever reason (past abuse, e.g.!) aren’t secure about maintaining their own boundaries, or trust people even after clear signs that they shouldn’t be trusted. I’m not blaming you at all. You didn’t turn him into a creeper. If you had pushed back against him he would have found a different vulnerable person to be “best friends” with. But yeah, that moment — when he first said something inappropriate — was your first clue. Keep it in mind for next time. :-/

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