I know 18 months doesn’t seem very long in the big picture, but we have been through a lot together. About eight months ago, Charles started dating someone. He asked me not to text him when he was out with her, and of course I understood…or, I thought I understood. I figured that he needed some space to get to know this young woman without his female bestie scaring her away. Charles began dividing his time between his ladies, and it worked for a little while.
Then, two months ago, he called me up and told me he was going to ask her to marry him. I was ecstatic for him, but I told him that I had concerns that the timing wasn’t right. Let me explain – his girlfriend has a 3-year-old son, and a few days prior he was venting to me after staying the weekend with them that “the kid” had driven him crazy all weekend. When he told me he was going to ask her to marry him, I congratulated him and then reminded him that he was not only committing to his girl but to her son as well. He became accusatory and told me that I didn’t want him to get married. After I let him cool down for a few days, I asked him why he thinks that, and he said I was jealous. I explained I was not jealous but that I was just concerned, and I asked him to please stop projecting onto me how he thinks I should feel.
One night as we were brainstorming how he was going to pop the question, I suggested to Charles that we could all go out to lunch the following week so his girlfriend and I could finally meet. I literally fell out of my chair when he replied, “That’s crazy – you two will never meet! I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen.” I asked if I was invited to his wedding, and he said no. I warned him that if he wants to spend the rest of his life with his new mate and have me in his life too, he had better find a way to bring me up to her in conversation sooner rather than later. I asked him how our friendship would proceed once he is married and he said we will figure it out, not to worry, everything will work out. That made me start to consider that he may not plan to continue our friendship.
His birthday is coming up, and yesterday on the phone I told him that once this pandemic has gone into remission I would like to take him to get another tattoo as a birthday gift. He said that no, he couldn’t accept it, because tattoos are expensive and he doesn’t want to lie to his fiancée about where he got the money, which is a statement I am so proud to hear come out of his mouth. I asked if he had changed his mind about introducing us, but he replied no. My mind spun off into space. I didn’t want to approach this the wrong way, so I did not say anything after that. All I can think is, okay, where does that leave us? If he is unwilling to combine his two worlds, then I know it’s my responsibility to myself and my friend to gracefully bow out.
I should probably mention that Charles is 10 years younger than I am, and as an only child, I really think of him more like a little brother and not just a friend. Regardless, I am not okay continuing our friendship if his fiancée does not know about it. What could be causing him to want to keep me his little secret? How does he not see that as lying? What should I do now? — The Unintentional Other Woman
This is another example, like the letter I replied to earlier this week, where fixating on the WHY is clouding the WHAT. In this case, the what is that your close friend, whom you consider a brother, is keeping you a secret from the woman he’s going to marry, he has told you that you won’t be invited to the wedding, and you suspect – reasonably so – that he doesn’t plan to continue your friendship after he marries. Even if he does intend to keep you in his life, you are rightfully concerned with how he could do that without his partner even knowing about you. In this case, the how is important, too. The WHY though? While important for Charles as he navigates relationships in his life going forward, it is not as meaningful for YOU.
Let me remind you again of the WHAT in this case: You have a close friend who isn’t going to invite you to his wedding because he doesn’t want the woman he’s marrying to know you exist. If that’s not a very clear and unambiguous statement on the value he places on your friendship, I don’t know what is. Whatever the reason might be here – the WHY – doesn’t change the WHAT. Your friendship is not of high value to Charles. If it were, he would risk whatever discomfort and disruption in peace he thinks telling his fiancée about you might entail. I know it’s painful to think that someone you value so much doesn’t seem to hold you in the same regard. I know that focusing on the WHY dilutes that pain a little, which is why it’s always so tempting to bypass the WHAT and analyze the WHY, to search for some explanation for the WHAT that doesn’t devalue the relationship you share with this person. If only you could find some reasonable justification for Charles’ refusal to introduce you to the woman he plans to marry – something fixable, preferably – the value of your friendship could be restored. But it doesn’t work that way.
Whatever the reasons are for Charles keeping you a secret, they are not for you to figure out or address or to heal and fix. As long as Charles avoids these issues — the WHY — just like he’s apparently avoiding the issue of not tolerating his girlfriend’s young son, HE loses out. He loses out on continuing a friendship with you, and he loses the potential of a satisfying and healthy long-term relationship with the woman he plans to marry (because you KNOW that union is doomed). Unfortunately, you lose out too, which is especially painful, and I’m sorry. It’s not your fault and it’s not something you can fix.
Since Charles is someone you deeply care about, you can certainly tell him you are concerned for him, that you’re concerned the WHY of this situation is going to remain, long after you exit the picture, and will poison his romantic relationship just as it’s poisoning your friendship. You can tell him that you genuinely hope he addresses it, but that you will not condescend to wait in the wings for that to happen as a secret “friend” who is not invited to share in any meaningful part of his life. That’s not a genuine friendship. It’s an insult! It’s an insult to all you thought you shared with this person, and it is a clear indication of where you stand with him. And that is the WHAT that should guide you straight away from him.
***************Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
bloodymediocrity June 11, 2020, 9:17 am
How humiliating. What a terrible friend. Wendy really nailed this one.
Kate June 11, 2020, 9:26 am
Charles sounds like a messy cuckoo bitch. Definitely time to bow out of whatever this relationship was.
brise June 11, 2020, 9:29 am
He is a bit of an opportunist coward. He doesn’t want to have to explain to his GF why he has a close female friend, a potential source of tension, so he erases you. He chooses the path of least resistance.
I would stop considering him as a little brother, speak of tattoo and so on (over-investment, I think). Stop everything. Tell him, next time he contacts you: “When do you introduce me to your fiance?”, like a broken record. And that is it. If he wants to keep the friendship, he will do it. I don’t expect him to… Sorry.
Kate June 11, 2020, 9:56 am
Also, just optically, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get into such a close friendship with someone at work that you’re paying for their tattoos and that it’s even a question of having to introduce to spouses. You’re obviously not a 23-y/o socializing with your cohort at work and going out drinking. It just doesn’t look so great or professional to be your age, married with kids, and this close to a work friend. People are probably going to assume it’s sexual. Frankly the one time I did start hanging out with a guy 10 years younger at work (I was single) we ended up sleeping together. Horrible idea.
But I’ve never had a friend at work that my husband or boyfriend would even think twice about. The whole thing seems a bit too close and personal for a work relationship.
ArtsyGirl June 11, 2020, 10:05 am
They met at work, but no longer work together so it is just a friendship that started at work.
Kate June 11, 2020, 10:38 am
csp June 11, 2020, 10:58 am
I actually agree with this even though they aren’t working together anymore. I think it happens a lot that people get close at work since you spend so much time together but I think he thinks of her as a friendly ex-colleague rather than little brother.
ArtsyGirl June 11, 2020, 10:03 am
I have two possible thoughts.
Number 1. Charles is a shitty friend who only values his relationships from the benefits they provide to him. Before he started seeing his SO, the LW was a source of female companionship. She provided him with attention and friendship and he got to bask in it especially since she mentioned they “went through a lot together”. My guess is she was a surrogate partner even though it was not romantic (at least on her end). He is a barnacle that clings to whichever woman is preforming emotional labor for him and has no loyalty.
Number 2. There is no SO and Charles made it up in the hopes of sparking jealousy in the LW. He hoped that claiming a new, serious relationship the LW would realize that she actually loved him and would offer to leave her husband. Instead, she is excited for him and wants to help him plan out the proposal which is why he freaked out during their phone call.
TheLadyE June 11, 2020, 10:32 am
I’m betting all my cards on your #1 reason. A lot of men are like this. They cling onto female “friends” until they find a girlfriend, because they need someone to be that emotional filler.
I had something similar happen myself: a younger guy at work with whom I was never anything but friends/somewhat a mentor. He left the company and we stayed friends. He constantly wanted to have dinner, go to concerts/listen to live music; I even brought him to see a famous comedian in the next town over. We had dozens of hours-long conversations about anything and everything. I was there for him when his dad unexpectedly passed. I helped him figure out his career path. He was like a little brother to me. Then he met a girl (also at work) and I haven’t spoken to him in over 2 years. He just fell away as he now concentrates on his relationship with her. I often thought “I’m the emotional sounding board for this guy,” and I was right. Friendships ebb and flow over adulthood and circumstance. I’m sorry for this LW that she’s just now realizing it, but it was a hard pill I had to swallow years ago. It’s just life.
Time to move on and find other friends, LW. Let this “friend” of yours take the next step in his life as he chooses. Maybe spend some of that energy you’re spending on him reinvesting in your bond with your husband.
Kate June 11, 2020, 11:32 am
I’m curious as to what (for you and for the LW) attracted you to this type of friendship with a younger guy where you’d talk for hours and be his sounding board. Like what was it doing for you? Was there something almost maternal about it? Did you feel like it could turn into something romantic? Or what? The younger guy I hung out with in my 30s was just a really funny kid who liked to party, and I was at a stage of life where I had been in relationships for almost 20 years and wanted to cut loose and be crazy. Plus I knew he thought I was “hot,” and it was flattering. If that’s not what’s going on, I wonder what the appeal is.
Phoebe June 11, 2020, 11:43 am
That must have been terribly painful. I’m sorry.
TheLadyE June 12, 2020, 12:10 am
@Kate, we really were just friends. Neither one of us stopped dating during that time, and we would talk about our dates. I had a a short-lived relationship and he casually dated a few girls until he met this one who he lives with now. I guess, thinking about it, maybe I liked having someone who was like a little brother to me? I liked feeling needed emotionally, I guess. It wasn’t like either of us stopped looking for a partner. It was also nice to have dinner and go to concerts with someone I genuinely knew I got along with, rather than taking a chance on a date when I was in a real slump with meeting quality guys for a few years.
I admittedly would get a little annoyed when he would meet me for dinner and then leave at like 11pm to go meet a Tinder date, because it felt like he was getting his emotional needs met by me and his physical needs met by 26 year olds from Tinder…but I didn’t want a physical relationship with him, so…meh? If he would’ve asked me out romantically I would have said no. It just wasn’t like that. I fully expected that the friendship would run its course and so when it did, I wasn’t surprised or really hurt. As I’ve moved through my career, I’ve found that most friendships you develop at work eventually fade for one reason or another. It’s just the nature of things.
Jamie Purupati June 12, 2020, 6:53 am
Sometimes people grow apart too. It’s not uncommon for friendships to fade when a new romance begins. Maybe the friendship didn’t feel right to him after a while for whatever reason. You can’t do anything about it if someone doesn’t want to be friends with you anymore.
lovelygirl June 12, 2020, 9:09 am
I had a female friend at work with the same scenario. Her boyfriend was in law school in another state and she and I became great friends. We would talk and email daily, hang out almost weekly, and frequently vacationed together for girls weekends away. We did family gatherings together too (I was invited to her family parties and she was invited to mine since everyone is local). When her boyfriend moved in with her after he finished school 3 years later, our friendship took a backseat. I almost asked her to be a bridesmaid in my wedding (he had moved in with her a few months prior to my engagement) but I could feel her pull away when I got engaged so I never asked her. At that point we stopped talking everyday it was just a slow fade to no communication. She didn’t even come to my wedding and had the lamest excuse. She got married exactly a year after I got married and I never got invited to her wedding. Did she end our friendship because I wasn’t on the guest list? Did she just not have room for me in her new life? I had a hard time getting over the end of our friendship. How do you have a great friend one minute and then watch it disappear after the boyfriend moves in? Now she’s an acquaintance and nothing more, and our friendship ended over 6 years ago. We still work at the same place but I have kept her at a distance, even when she occasionally asks to do lunch or get together. It hurts when people use you for friendship/companionship for selfish reasons.
Anchrige June 11, 2020, 4:33 pm
I had a friend like this at University, although he was a couple of years older than me (I was ~19). I genuinely thought we had a close friendship, and he had a girlfriend who openly admitted to friends that she was only dating him because he was a science scholar and thought he would help get her a similar scholarship. Yet he adored her, so I thought it was perfectly safe to continue what I though was a very close friendship – of course, she dumps him after her second year exams, and he starts dating someone else within a couple of months – drops me like a hot brick, although of course actively tries to hide the fact he’s dating her (even though I knew the new gf) – only then do I realise that he’d essentially split “girlfriend duties” between the two of us, with me performing emotional labour and providing support and friendship, and the ex providing the physical side of the relationship. Felt like a right naive mug and learnt an important lesson, but it does happen that some people really would be that mercenary and strange.
I think (straight) men in particular are also discouraged from seeking emotional intimacy from other men through friendships, but only from a female partner, and so the romantic and the platonic get can very complicatedly interwoven at times if this goes unexamined. Absolutely not the case in all (mature) male/female friendship, but you do come across it now and again. I wonder whether Charles isn’t really capable of separating the two and therefore can’t fully trust that his fiance will either.
Copa June 12, 2020, 10:50 am
Yeahhh, my sister has a faux-beau and their relationship is VERY surrogate partner-ish. Both are, I assume, lonely and want companionship. They met on a dating site a few years ago, but he pretty quickly told her he wasn’t ready for a relationship, so they became friends. At least in their situation, it’s become unhealthy (IMO). My sister wanted to be more than friends (probably still does) and last summer finally told him things needed to change, that their dynamics and boundaries were messed up, etc. They didn’t speak for a couple weeks, then his dad died unexpectedly and my sister was, of course, his person to call and they fell back into old patterns. They’ve been together for our state’s shelter in place and haven’t spent a single night apart since mid-March. I’m sure if he meets someone he’ll drop my sister.
But yeah, other times, people grow apart naturally or with the introduction of a new romantic partner. Some friendships are situational. And it can really hurt when friendships end!
IDK what’s going on with this guy. LW seems over-invested in the friendship and has made some comments that I believe are out of bounds (telling him the timing of his engagement isn’t right as if she gets a say/lecturing about the kid, getting kinda ultimatum-y about being introduced). But he also sounds shady and a pretty awful friend. I don’t blame LW for not wanting to be some secret friend who is just waiting to be dropped for good once he ties the knot. If I were LW, I’d cut my losses, mourn the loss of the friendship, and move on.
brise June 11, 2020, 10:09 am
I agree with Kate. Discussing his proposal is really meddling into “not-your-business” territory. Back off, LW, you are too invested. And that would be reason Number 3: she is too much all over him and he wants to have a break with her and invest in his new relationship. Which still makes of him a douchebag.
Kate B. June 11, 2020, 10:17 am
I agree with others that Charles is sketchy and you’re better off without him, but I want to address this: “I warned him that if he wants to spend the rest of his life with his new mate and have me in his life too, that he had better find a way to bring me up to her in conversation sooner rather than later.” If that’s the actual language you used, you are out of line. You do not get to define his relationship with anybody, and I would react badly too if someone said that to me.
LisforLeslie June 11, 2020, 10:34 am
@KateB. – I think the language the LW used was fine. It made it clear that she had no desire to be his “super secret friend” – either he was above board with his fiancee or the LW was bowing out.
I think this guy is immature and I think there are all sorts of red flags with his relationship – he’s been dating a single mom for 8 months, isn’t crazy about her kid and is moving pretty fast – all while keeping pieces of his life a complete blackout from her.
And on that point, the LW is a friend, but if he’s willing to lie (or at least omit the truth) to his fiancee isn’t it more than likely that he’s got other facets of his life locked away from anyone else? I’m not theorizing he’s a serial killer, but maybe he’s got a secret bowling league or has friends who are also kept at arms length.
But he’s probably either dating someone really jealous – OR he assumes any two women would fight over him. Neither is a good scenario.
Kate B. June 11, 2020, 11:15 am
I get that she doesn’t want to be his super-secret friend. I wouldn’t want to be that, either. But that language is too forceful. “You had better?” Nope, There are nicer ways to say it. Saying it that way makes her sound, well, jealous.
Bittergaymark June 11, 2020, 11:45 am
Really? I didn’t think her language was that forceful. But rather just plainly stating the obvious.
Bittergaymark June 11, 2020, 12:01 pm
Secret Bowling League is a hilarious concept.
“Dear Wendy: I have been Blissfully happy in my three year relationship with Brad. But then he started being sketchy about his phone. And he had been slipping away with vague excuses every tuesday night. (I only noticed this after my tuesday night bookclub fell apart over fights about THE HELP. Don’t ask!)
Anyway, my very first thought was— is he cheating? So i did a bad, bad thing. I snooped through his phone! Turns out he’s NOT cheating but instead has been in this super secret bowling league!
This left me… baffled. I mean, really? Why all the secrecy? And so I confronted him but he told me that the bowling league was like FIGHT CLUB. (Okay, I watched the movie, but still don’t get it!)
Wendy, he even has trophies that were hidden in his trunk! Nice ones! Big ones! Is he embarrassed to be a bowler? What is going on? Please, please help.
— Signed. Bowled Over.”
LisforLeslie June 11, 2020, 12:53 pm
Love it. Hiding shoes in the floorboards. Disguising the ball as a lawn ornament. Using a second dry cleaners across town to avoid your SO picking up the shirt by accident.
Bittergaymark June 11, 2020, 1:40 pm
Dammit! Those added details would have been great!! Ball as lawn ornament! ?
Bittergaymark June 11, 2020, 11:14 am
The only explanation that makes the guy look like he is not a total cad would be that his wife to be is threatened by him having any female friends.
I do think your timing was off a bit on your lecture to him about the three year old. But really — you meant well. That is definitely cause for concern. And will be in the future.
The tattoo birthday gift is… well… to a decidedly non tattoo aficionado a wee bit strange. It’s almost like you are marking him or something. I dunno. Maybe I am way off base here as I am admittedly out of my loop here… but is gifting friends with Birthday tattoos really that common of a thing?
The reality is — yeah, the guy kinda sounds like a dick. One of those people who drop their friends for every relationship only to coming running back once everything goes up in flames. And this relationship will most likely go up in flames once there is yet another kid dragged into this whole mess.
But yeah. I’d cut your losses and move on.
brise June 11, 2020, 11:52 am
The “tattoo marking” makes me laugh. I think you are right, not off base.
taurons June 12, 2020, 12:54 pm
Eh, tattoos among tattooed people aren’t that strange, at least in my experience. I have 13 tattoos and more than one has been bought by friends. Birthdays, celebrations, etc. I’ve purchased tattoos and tattoo shop gift cards for friends more than once over the years. It’s generally only ~very close friends/partners/family, but in those relationships, among “tattoo-people”, it doesn’t seem ~that odd to me. Of course, ~this situation does seem strange.
Phoebe June 11, 2020, 11:41 am
Yow. Could not agree more with WWS. This guy is using the LW for her friendship as it benefits him, and it’s terribly insulting to the LW not to be introduced to his fiancee or invited to the wedding if they’re as close as the LW thinks they are. Sometimes you have to ask yourself what you’re getting out of a friendship, and if it’s always one-way, you have to ask yourself why you’re still in it.
FYI June 11, 2020, 3:01 pm
Eighteen months is really not that long to be friends with someone. Sometimes it takes time for the crazy to be revealed; you don’t always spot it instantly. You now have some data points that indicate that Charles has questionable character, at best. Even before all the crap about not introducing you, not inviting you to the wedding, etc. — he seriously proposed to a single mother after only six months of dating? And he doesn’t like the kid? Awful.
You have roots elsewhere — your husband, your kids. It’ll take maybe a month to stop missing Charles in your life, maybe shorter since he’s acting like a douche. You’re not his mom. Why do you want to be friends with someone who acts like this?
dinoceros June 11, 2020, 4:29 pm
I had a similar situation like this right after I graduated from college. A guy friend I’d had for the past year had a girlfriend who felt threatened by me (and any other female friend), so he’d delete my Facebook posts and stuff. I sort of backed off after that and then when it became clear that he was doubling down on this behavior, I decided I was done with the friendship. I unfriended him and since we don’t live nearby, that meant that I never interacted with him again.
Here are the issues I have with your situation. 1. 18 months isn’t that long. Sure, he’s a good friend, but plenty of people have short friendships that don’t really turn into lifelong things. People move, change jobs, whatever. I think that your’e treating this like a person you’ve known for 30 years, when in reality, he literally didn’t exist in your work 2 years ago. 2. I think you need to spend less time trying to convince him to do what you want and just acknowledge he’s kind of a jerk. He’s an adult. He’s capable of advocating for his right to have female friends, and he’s chosen not to. If they break up and he comes crawling back, you can decide then if you feel like what’s been revealed about his character is worth it or not.
But honestly, as someone who has been there, just let it go. Life is too short to waste time trying to make people who don’t really want you in their life.
dinoceros June 11, 2020, 4:30 pm
Also, it was a mistake to start lecturing him about his engagement. No one wants to announce happy news and have someone rain on their parade and act like they’re smarter than you are. If it’s a dumb mistake, let him make it. It’s not your job to convince him how to live his life.
istrice01 June 12, 2020, 1:36 pm
Yeah, I wouldn’t have appreciated her judging my engagement either. Live, make mistakes, and learn as you go.Who knows what the outcome would be, but it’s his life and his experience.
leahd June 11, 2020, 5:35 pm
Thank you Wendy, you have brought new light to my situation. I fear this “friendship” is coming to an end… all I can hope for is that I made some sort of impression in his life to help him have a more positive future. I see now that it is the WHAT I should be concerned with. And I also see that the WHY I should be concerning myself with is the why someone else’s actions, something which I can neither fix nor control are making me go crazy. I need to look deeper into that part, but that is a whole new post, lol. But, I see that I need to put my foot down and just say, “Look, it’s not healthy to keep secrets from your significant other, it will only cause you heart ache. You need to take some time to decide weather or not you value our friendship. I will be here for you if you decide you want to continue the relationship that we have and be in your life. But, I won’t continue sneaking around with you. If you want me in your life, then let me in, if you don’t, then it has been a real adventure and I wish you all the best.”
Thank you again Wendy, I guess on some level I already knew this and like you said focusing on the WHY he was doing what he was doing alleviated some of the pain temporarily. I just needed someone to say it to me. He is not being a friend to me for what ever reason, and until he shows me that he values our friendship… the reason does not matter and I am done. I am so glad I found your website.
After reading some of the comments from your other readers, I will expand on the situation, not to make excuses, as I have my plan going forward, but to fill in some blanks…. After he left the company, a lot of people did think it was sexual. I will say he is a former professional athlete and not bad eye candy, but due to the fact I am actually happily married and believe me if you will- sex never crossed my mind.
As far as discussing his proposal. After he called me jealous, and we discussed my reasoning for telling him the timing was bad, he felt bad and asked me to come over and help him. It was not my idea. I am certainly not all over him.
I can for sure tell you that his SO exists, they just moved in together yesterday.
As for some of the “went through a lot together”. When we worked together, he did not own a car, and it started out with giving him a lift home once in a while, as it was on my way home. During those car rides we had time to conversate and get to know more about one another. Then when he left the company, it was to go into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Having been through that myself many years ago, I told him my story and know that is a big reason why he chose to go. Shortly after he entered the program, I left the company to work for a different one offering more pay. Almost four months ago, I got a call in the middle of the night, he had relapsed and wanted to know if I could come get him… he said he didn’t have anyone else to call, which was odd to me because he has a girlfriend. So, I picked him up and checked him into a hotel. I told him he needs to come clean with his girlfriend so that she can support him in this. The next morning I dropped him at the bus station and she picked him up and later that week she drove him back to rehab.
Also, during the months after his first rehab experience while he was clean, my husband had a ruptured aneurysm and was in ICU for 21 days. During that time Charles was very helpful to me doing things like grocery shopping for me while I spent time with my husband so my kids had something to eat after school and he would listen to me vent my frustration. My husband had memory issues for several months after he was released from the hospital while his brain was healing. I could not vent these issues to my husband because it wasn’t his fault that he would become angry at me due to not being able to remember a great deal of things, like that he had HAD a ruptured aneurysm and that was why I wasn’t allowing him to drive.
As far as the language I used, what was actually said was, “If you want to spend the rest of your life with her AND you want to continue to be friends with me, you need to find a way to bring up me and our friendship in conversation sooner than later because, the only thing harder for a woman to accept in her man’s life than another woman who is his friend… is another woman whom she does not know about. The longer you don’t mention our friendship to her the more she will wonder why you didn’t mention it before. Take some advice from a woman who is in a committed and long term relationship- If my husband were to have come home a month into our marriage and tell me of his best friend, Jennifer… we would have some issues to discuss that we could have avoided if I had known about and/or even had the opportunity to meet this female bestie before we married… You are entering some dangerous waters my friend”
I genuinely appreciate all of your comments. After I talk to Charles, I will send an update.
Ange1 June 11, 2020, 9:59 pm
Dude sounds like a straight mess. He’s acting like a dry drunk and he shouldn’t be getting involved in any serious relationships while he’s this early in recovery, especially not when there’s a kid involved that he admits stresses him out!
This whole situation sounds messy and sketchy and like way too much drama. I think if you want to be the only one involved showing good judgement I’d be the living personification of that Homer Simpson gif where he backs into a hedge.
FYI June 11, 2020, 10:51 pm
1. Charles is a mess — the idea of proposing to someone in the middle of all that is downright ridiculous.
2. If someone asks you to help them propose to a girlfriend, the proper answer is No. Wanting help with that is also ridiculous.
3. Charles is lying to you. You say you know all about addiction, but you obviously forgot that part. Addicts, especially those in active addiction, lie. Charles has a lot of gaps in his stories, and a lot of things that don’t make sense, ergo — lying.
4. Take off your superhero cape and leave this person out of your life. WHY do you want to say, “I will be here for you if you decide you want to continue the relationship that we have…” Guess what? That statement alone makes this a YOU problem, not a Charles problem. You’re actively fostering a friendship with someone who lies and treats you like shit. Don’t invite crappy people into your life, I don’t care how often they fed your kids.
5. Your husband has an aneurysm and the only person you can vent to is someone you’ve only known about a year? That’s …. odd. Have you no other friends or family?
6. If Charles was clean for four months, relapsed, and then has “no one else” to call, then that means he wasn’t active in recovery. He should’ve had dozens of MEN’S numbers, but he only had yours? Something is off there. Again, addicts and lying.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Something is way off here — with him for sure and also with you. No idea why you would be clinging so hard to such a crappy person, esp when you’re married.
Helen June 12, 2020, 8:03 am
I doubt this guy is sober. If he is, a relapse is immanent. He’s acting like an addict. The lying, secrecy, self centeredness, and neediness are hallmarks of addiction (I’m a recovering addict) He’s not getting help for his addiction, because if he was everyone would be telling him to slow down & not to be in a relationship right now. Don’t waste any more time or effort on this guy, don’t give him a big break up speech. Your feelings will only be hurt when he lashes out at you. Addicts don’t like being told they’re doing something hurtful. They will twist the situation to where its anyone else’s fault but their’s. Just silently put some distance between you two. Right now you’re enabling him. Protect yourself and family from this dude’s chaos. Look into support groups for spouses living with critically ill partners. You’ll find healthy support there. If you’re determined to have a relationship with this friend, go to several Al-anon or Narc-anon before anymore contact. They have online meetings around the clock
brise June 12, 2020, 3:11 am
She is clinging so hard to this guy because she is fragile right now in her family, her husband has grave health issues and she needs a male figure to fixate on, somehow. I was also surprised that she would tell him all that in order to end their relationship. She could just end it, and if he contacts her, explain the withdrawal in a couple of terms. In my opinion, he won’t insist.
mellanthe June 12, 2020, 12:19 pm
I suspect, having seen wonderful kind friends in similar dynamics with other friends, that you’ve fallen much harder into the friendship than he has. Perhaps it’s because of what’s gone on, or perhaps as we all do, you have some insecurities of your own. You’re very invested – probably too much so. It’s been just a a year and a half. Though you can make great new friends, it takes time for true intimacy and trust to develop. I wonder how much you really know about him outside of fate thrusting you some curveballs. You’ve both been good friends and kind to each other, but people often grow apart or don’t make it into long lasting friendships. It sounds like this friendship got more intense than most due to the kinds of things that have been going on (sickness, addiction) but that actually means that perhaps healthy boundaries that should have been there for people who really haven’t known each other, haven’t been. If I’m honest, it sounds like it might be veering towards codependent.
It sounds like you tried to be gentle. But people don’t like to be told what to do with their relationships. I have close friends I’ve known since before puberty, and if any of them told me what to do, they’d still get short shrift. Short of outright abuse, you really have to let friends make their own conclusions about their love lives. Your opinons are well intentioned, but you’re probably crossing a line, and it could be that he’s distancing himself because that’s too much for him. Don’t advise him on relationships, at all – in fact, it’s probably best that your friendship continues at a distance compared to where it was before. Because it appears that you’re a LOT more invested than he is, and you’re going to get a lot more hurt if he walks away. Or if his GF finds out and kicks up a fuss. As others have said, you’re not really winning in this situation regardless of the outcome.
You’re right, his wife will probably find it weird that he has a close female friend he’s never mentioned Not just because it’s a woman, but also because it’s a really close friend you’ve never heard of or met? What kind of marriage intimacy is that? By the time you marry, you sould have met each other’s close friends, or at least know of them if they live far away. This is really really weird on his part. Is his partner weirdly jealous? but then he’d only know she was jealous if he’s already been telling her about his other female friends and she’s reacted really badly. Or maybe he has a crush or complex feelings for you and he doesn’t tell his partner because he’s afraid she’ll see it? But you’d hope LW would pick up on that. Something isn’t right here – this is absolutely a red flag.
Regardless, you’re right LW, keeping a friend secret isnt’ really an option in the longterm. You absolutely shouldn’t get roped into seeing him secretly without his partner’s knowledge. Not because anything is going on (it clearly isn’t) but because that would be encouraging him to be a crappy partner and crappy friend – and if she found out, nobody would believe you weren’t having an affair. A friend who can’t even tell their GF about you is not worth that kind of drama to your life.
As others have said, it’s worrying that he’s clearly being secretive, likely deceptive and all round acting in ways that don’t make sense – as someone with an addiction problem he may be going through something right now that you can’t help and can’t understand. He may need help but this is beyond friends to fix.
You can’t be his friend because he’s made it clear it’s incompatible with him and his girlfriend. He knows where to get help if he needs it – but you have to understand people don’t always want help, even if they need it. You have your own life – other friends, a partner, kids. Please don’t let his issues also destroy your life.
Dbee June 13, 2020, 6:00 am
Stopped reading when you said your husband BECAME comfortable with you going out with Charles. I know Charles isn’t his real name. But I am married and my husband would be the one having the fake name and this would be my dude friend if anything at all. Stop hanging out with other dudes, your married! Leave him alone he’s dating someone else- not you a married woman!- and he doesn’t want to create any issues between them. He probably thinks you’re weird and you’re the only one who thinks you’re friends and are supposed to hang out all the time for some weird reason. Go hang out with your husband, he can be your guy friend too, and you know what, he should be your only guy friend! Jeez Louise this is not rocket science
Rebecca June 13, 2020, 1:15 pm
Wow, that’s a really controlling and unhealthy attitude to relationships. And an awful lot of projecting going on with the “he thinks you’re weird” aspect of things.
Keeks June 13, 2020, 11:18 pm
Nope – I disagree. Opposite sex friends while married is ok. That entails secure trusting partners.
Marybeth March 25, 2023, 12:16 pm
I have a friend of the opposite sex – I’ll call him Joe – and we’ve been close for 30 years. Close as in he will call me once a week or so and we’ll talk for hours – but only when he is on the road and not home with his girlfriend, which of course makes sense because it would be rude to say the very least to talk to someone else for 6-7 hours at a time when you SO is there with you.
My husband of 30 years recently died, but during our marriage he was perfectly fine with my friendship with Joe, and we kept our phone calls to limited calls (time-wise) then. Joe is a well-known public figure who tries to be very private about his family life with the press, which I understand given the fact that he is onstage and on TV or in the media a lot due to his career. Imagine my shock when Joe told me recently that (prior to a concert in our town) that he wanted me to come to the concert, but not approach him because his girlfriend is too jealous of me. I have no sexual interest in this man; we are just great, close friends.
I told him last night how hurtful this was to me but either he doesn’t get it or he gets it and does not care, which also shocks me after 30 years of friendship. He wants to get together for 2 days next month to hang out but told me he plans to lie to his girlfriend about where he is, pretending that he will be taping some press, so I nixed it. It’s insulting to me on many levels, the least of which I am being treated like some kind of sidepiece when I’m not dating him nor have any intention to. I get that maybe she feels insecure about the fact that he and I can talk about anything but I would never try to exclude her; she was not part of the original band where he and I met and grew up together so when I meet other bandmembers’ wives/SO I am mindful of this, and it’s not usually any kind of problem. For her part, other band members (Joe and I used to tour together) tell me she is equally hostile to them to the point that they can’t easily hang out with him, either, with her around. They are male, but at least she doesn’t ban them (or rather, Joe doesn’t go along with her banning of friends) from being in the same room. It is his choice, obviously, to go along with this so I don’t accept that her jealousy precludes me from seeing him. Although he and I often talk about deep philosophical things in our lives, we also goof about stupid things and make each other laugh. And I assume that he’s with her because he loves her and she loves him, although the relationship seems unhealthy to me.
I don’t want to end a friendship that has seen me through many happy times as well as dark days (my mother’s death, my husband’s premature death, etc.) but I really cannot figure out why he has made this choice to pretend to her that I don’t exist at any level in his life. It’s not a competition and I’ve told him so, but he won’t budge on the lying part to her, which makes me lose respect for him. Any advice?