Within minutes of my husband passing out, his friend started hitting on me and making inappropriate comments toward me. I was polite at first, not wanting to offend my husband’s friend, but, when he started pawing at me and not taking “no” for an answer, I became rude. I was finally able to get him out of the hotel room and even then he was still trying to give me his hotel room key.
When my husband awoke in the morning, I told him what happened. I was angry and very uncomfortable. We had not planned on spending any additional time with his friend the rest of the weekend, so that was okay. We did see him at breakfast and he acted as if nothing had happened.
So, here is my problem: My husband and his friend are co-workers. They don’t work in the same building, but they do work together. I asked my husband if he was planning on saying anything to his friend about the situation. My husband advised that he didn’t know what to say and didn’t want to cause any problems. His friend caused the problem! Now I am left feeling like he doesn’t support me or have my back. I told him this and he told me I am blowing it out of proportion. I am very hurt by the fact that my husband isn’t standing up for me with his friend. Am I right in thinking that he should say something to his friend — Wants More Support
Let’s back up for a minute to that moment in the hotel when you realized the creepy friend was hitting on you and making inappropriate comments. You said you were “polite at first,” not wanting to “offend” your husband’s friend. First of all, we women need to stop being fucking polite. When a man is inappropriate, don’t wait for your husband or your boyfriend or some other dude to stand up for you, stand up for yourself. (And, for the record, standing up for yourself isn’t being “rude,” which is another term that implies unladylike behavior. When someone behaves in an inappropriate way toward you, social conventions — the rules of the game, so to speak — have already been broken, and “polite” and “rude” no longer matter). I’m glad that you eventually stood up for yourself, but, in an effort to be understanding toward your husband, remember how your initial response was to be polite and to not offend this creep — this friend of your husband — when he started hitting on you and making inappropriate comments as your husband slept, passed out, feet away.
And why was that your initial response? Probably because at first you were confused, right? Why would this guy you’re friendly with, who works with your husband, and with whom you just spent most of the day, be acting this way? Why would he treat you the way he’s treating you? Are you misconstruing his intentions? If you act polite, will he stop and go away? If you’re “rude” to him, will it make things worse? Do you risk putting yourself in danger if you anger him? These are some of the questions women who have been in similar situations ask themselves, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you were going through the same line of questions, too. They are also some of the questions your husband may be asking himself now, too. He might be confused, angry, and worried about making the situation worse and potentially even putting his job (or his reputation at work) in danger by “standing up for you.”
But you want your husband to say something. I get that. But what? What is it you want him to say? After all, he doesn’t know what to say — he’s told you that. Have you told him what you want him to say? That could help. Do you want him to tell the guy that he knows what he did? Do you want him to ask why he did what he did? Do you want him to threaten him? Tell him that, if he ever does anything like that to you again, he’ll be sorry?
Think about what it is you want your husband to say — and why — and tell him. Maybe what you want is some acknowledgement from your husband that what happened to you fucking sucks and he’s sorry that he was passed out and couldn’t be present for you in the way you needed him to be. Maybe you need him to apologize for letting it all happen — for taking you on a weekend getaway trip with someone who would behave the way his friend and colleague did. Maybe what you really need isn’t so much for your husband to stand up for you to this (hopefully former) friend, but to apologize to you and ask how you’re feeling and express concern for you because that was a scary and infuriating incident.
Figure out exactly what it is you want from your husband. If it’s indeed for him to say something to the co-worker, tell him what you want him to say and why it’s so important to you. And if he doesn’t, then ask him why he won’t. Don’t assume you know the reason. Communicate with him. And remember that what happened isn’t your husband’s fault. He doesn’t deserve your anger here. The co-worker does. And he deserve’s your husband’s anger, too. But your husband’s human and, like you, his initial response to all of this may be more confusion and fear than anger. But that doesn’t mean he won’t tap into the rage and express it appropriately — especially with a little help from you.
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Guy Friday July 27, 2015, 8:46 am
I agree completely with Wendy on this. And to extend it further, let’s acknowledge what your husband DIDN’T say to you:
-He didn’t say he was planning on remaining friendly with him
-He didn’t say he was EVER going to associate socially with him (besides when work events force him to)
-He didn’t say he was EVER going to put the two of you in a room together
-He didn’t say HE was going to be in a room with him unless forced to.
He didn’t say (and this may be because he assumed you already knew how he felt) that he wasn’t disgusted by him.
Beyond that, I’m not sure I wouldn’t do the exact same thing he’s doing: not make this a work thing. This guy is scum, no doubt, but we can’t avoid everyone in the world who is scum; we are forced to interact with, associate with, and at times WORK with those people. And because this was an out-of-work social event, it’s not like their HR department really has jurisdiction over it, you know? So I think what he needs to do is limit his contact with him and, if the guy says something about it to him, THEN he brings it to HR, because the guy is making it a work thing. But doing that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love or support you, and I wouldn’t take his “blowing it out of proportion” comment as anything more than an unfortunate choice of phrase when a better one would have been “searching for a fight where it’s not best to have one.”
Sunshine Brite July 27, 2015, 8:59 am
Agreed, I wouldn’t bring this into work myself, but I certainly wouldn’t be socializing with him again if it could be avoided.
Skyblossom July 27, 2015, 9:02 am
Your husband certainly can’t threaten the other guy at work. He shouldn’t mention this at all at work and I assume you don’t want to and shouldn’t socialize with the other guy so I think the cold shoulder is the way to go.
Addie Pray July 27, 2015, 9:46 am
I like Wendy’s suggestion to think long and hard about what it is you want your husband to say. I bet it’s the things you wish you had said/done at the time – call out his scum bag ways, tell him off, etc. … And I’m not saying that’s not warranted. But depending on how the other guy reacts, it could make things really bad at work. And like Skyblossom said, he certainly can’t threaten the other guy at work. That could create a situation where they both get in trouble.
Laura Hope July 27, 2015, 9:52 am
When a friend behaves so inappropriately, it’s shocking– which is why you didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to his advances and why your husband may need a little time to process this.
Texas T July 27, 2015, 3:26 pm
Honestly I think everyone, including Wendy, is overthinking this. You were right to stand up for yourself, yes. Now it is time for your husband to reiterate and close this chapter. It is HIS friend who behaved badly and so it is HIS responsibility. Also, you are his wife and he took a vow to protect you. This “I dont know what to say” is a cop out.
If the guy is not a good long time friend of your husbands then he needs to address this in person; let the guy know that he knows about his bad behavior once once he hit REM, that it was unacceptable and that it had better neverr happen again; that since they work together he is not going to say anything further about this and is going maintain a cordial relationship for work purposes. Then dont invite the guy out again and see him only at work functions.
If this guy is a close and long time friend of your husbands then it is up to your husband about what he whether keeps this friendship; regardless the same kind of conversation needs to take place… the only addition being the foul friend needs to issue you an apology.
SpaceySteph July 27, 2015, 4:20 pm
I half agree. If he is a close friend of the husband (which it doesn’t sound like he is) then the husband should say something, and should break off the friendship.
If he’s just a coworker/acquaintance I think its fine to let it pass without comment, and be as cordial as work requires but no more. And to stop hanging with him socially.
Not totally the same thing, but I have a coworker who is a little creepy when drunk. Not as bad, but definitely hits on all the married ladies in weird ways and even in front of our husbands. Sober he’s a nice guy, but drunk he’s a creeper.
But he’s a coworker so I can’t let him have it or cut him off completely. So we limit our contact with him outside of work, especially when alcohol is involved, and we are cordial when the work circumstance requires us to interact. It’s better not to make excessive waves where work is concerned.
dinoceros July 27, 2015, 7:02 pm
I agree about the overthinking part. I think the standard message for someone in the husband’s position would be along the lines of “your actions were inappropriate and cannot happen again.” And yeah, since it’s his friend, then he does need to address it. Oftentimes, silence represents acceptance, whether the person intends it to or not.
I also agree that there’s a way to do this that’s appropriate for the workplace. If working at a particular place means that it is impossible to stand up for a spouse who is harassed by a co-worker, then I think that indicates some other problems regarding the workplace.
Firestar July 27, 2015, 10:28 pm
What vow to protect? That’s a little too little women for me.
What is a confrontation going to accomplish? The course of action is modified behaviour. Icing him out socially. Limiting contact to work only. If all the lw wants is for the guy to be told off – then that was her purview. I wouldn’t dream of setting my husband on someone who crossed a line with me. I’m a grown up. I should be able to address those issues. Together we can make a plan for after. But that plan shouldn’t be the equivalent of ‘wait till your father gets home’ Sure if the guy asks the husband why he is excluded the husband can tell him but it sounds like the lw wants a duel at dawn to protect her honour.
This letter is rubbing me the wrong way.
bittergaymark July 28, 2015, 12:48 am
Your all fucking nuts, except maybe FIRESTAR on this. What the FUCK is the husband supposed to do? Seriously? You ALL fucking acted like idiots and got absurdly wasted. Learn to fucking drink like an adult. NEWSFLASH! Normal people don’t pass out from fucking booze. Alcoholics do that… Hello? Oh –And this strange, recurring idea that men must protect their helpless little wives is hilariously retrograde. No wonder so many men don’t take women seriously when some post shit like that. Vow to protect? WTF? Grow the fuck up and learn to deal with your own fucking shit and your own fucking problems. You wanted to be liberated — fucking act like you can handle it already.
Skyblossom July 28, 2015, 6:13 am
I think the heavy drinking was the most serious problem mentioned by the LW. Everything else was a result of that heavy drinking.
Addie Pray July 28, 2015, 6:35 am
Honestly, I can’t disagree with BGM here.
Ladyinpurplenotred July 28, 2015, 8:37 am
I concur. Go bgm and firestar. Why should the husband say anything? She’s an adult. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF!
d2 July 28, 2015, 5:53 am
The goal should be to eliminate any social contact with the creep in the future. If the husband is planning to do so, then I think he is being fully supportive. Asking the husband to additionally confront the guy at work doesn’t add to the support.