I went to a party with a bunch of friends this weekend. We are all in our early- to mid-twenties, and were doing a good amount of drinking that night. A good friend of mine’s husband, who I am also friends with, drank way too much and got kind of out of control. He was saying inappropriate things throughout the night, much of which was about me or directed at me – telling me how good looking I am, asking about men I’ve been with, asking other guys at the party if they would sleep with me, things like that.The comments were inappropriate, but he really crossed the line later that night. Toward the end of the night, he got me alone and started coming on to me. He stuck his hand down the back of my pants, grabbed my ass, and tried to pull me in toward him to kiss him. I pushed away and kept telling him to stop. This all was happening with his wife in the next room, and I was just in shock. He and I are friends, and we’ve always gotten along well, but I know that I have never done anything to give him the idea that I would be interested in him in any other way.
Now, I am a very friendly, open, sort of flirtatious person. I joke around and flirt with people all the time, guys and girls, and I’m nice to everyone. Part of me feels a bit guilty, thinking he could have misconstrued my naturally friendly personality as being open to more than friendship. If I had ever been flirty with him, it was always just joking around, innocent fun, and I thought that was understood. I am definitely closer with his wife than I am with him, and I would never even think about doing something like that to her.
After that happened, I got out of there pretty quickly. The next day, he apologized to me. I appreciated that he took responsibility for it and didn’t blame it on the alcohol or pretend he forgot it even happened, but that in no way makes what he did OK. I gave him a piece of my mind, and let him know that he is a bad friend and a worse husband. My heart breaks for his wife, and I feel terrible about the whole thing, even though I know I did nothing wrong.
Now I’m struggling with whether or not I should tell my friend. Part of me thinks she deserves to know. I don’t know if he has done this with other girls before, but it scares me to think that if it hadn’t been for me refusing, he would have cheated on her that night. On the other hand, I just don’t know if it is worth telling her. They’re married, and it was a fairly minor incident, so would telling her be just creating unnecessary drama? I guess part of my not wanting to tell her is selfish as well, because I know that it would put a strain on our relationship. If he were to ever do something like this again, I would definitely tell her, but after I told him off, I don’t see him trying anything else. What would you do if you were in my situation? — Friendly Pick-Up
You are right about several things, the most important being that what happened is not your fault. I don’t care how flirty you are, people are responsible for their own actions, and the only person to blame for your friend’s husband coming on to you is him, period. You’re also right that telling your friend what happened would likely put a strain on your relationship with her. Her loyalty is going to be first and foremost to her husband. That loyalty has very real potential to drive a wedge between you two as she processes the information you’ve shared with her. Even if she chooses to believe you — and there’s a chance she wouldn’t — she could blame you and forgive her husband, she could decide not to hang out with your anymore out of embarrassment or fear that her husband has feelings for you, or she could even go so far as to try to turn others against you. It’s really important that you weigh these risks before saying anything to her.
That said, you also need to consider what you know about her husband. You say you’re friends with him as well as her, so surely you have some insight into him. Was his behavior at the party out of character? Looking back, have there been any red flags that alarm you about him? Have you ever felt uncomfortable in his presence? If you can answer “yes” to any of those questions, that should inform your decision about whether to tell your friend. You also need to consider how comfortable you’re going to feel in his presence in this future. Was his apology enough for you to move on? If not, and if you feel like you simply cannot be around him, your friend may wonder why you suddenly only want to see her without her husband. It may be easier at that point to tell the truth than make up some excuse. Again, you need to weigh all the risks that telling the truth includes.
I know you want me to give you an answer one way or another — should you or should you not tell your friend — or at least say what I would do in your situation, but I can’t. I can’t tell you what to do, and the truth is, I’m not sure what I would do. It would really depend on the context of the situation and how I answered those same questions I posed to you. In the end, I would have to go with my gut. I trust my gut. I hope you trust yours, too.
Oh, and one more thing: please, please resist the urge to discuss what happened with mutual friends, especially if you decide not to tell the friend in question. People gossip — even the nicest people — and if word got back to her, then all the risks you would potentially take by being upfront with her would be tenfold because the news didn’t even come directly from you. If you decide to keep you mouth shut on this issue, then really keep it shut.
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