When my friend’s husband hit on me, I wish I could say I slapped his face, told him to f**k off and stormed away. Instead, I stood there in shock. After a really awkward goodbye, I got into my car and cried. A lot. It wasn’t just the fumbling attempt at a cheap thrill. No, it was his full revelation he had newfound “sexual feelings for me.” How cringe-worthy is that statement?
His confession started with details about how long he’d been attracted to me, dirty thoughts he’d had about me and ended with him grabbing my face and trying to kiss me. All I could think about was his wife, a dear friend, and what it would mean for our friendship. In the end, it ruined it. Because when a married man hits on one of his wife’s friends, it is an altogether horrid situation. Should you ever find yourself with this problem, here are some suggestions for how to deal with it with as much dignity as possible.
1. Don’t Blame Yourself: You can waste a lot of time blaming yourself, and not enough time handling the situation. It wasn’t my fault, and if it happens to you it’s not your fault either. He knows he’s married. When Mr. Husband hit on me, we were circumstantially alone together because his wife was out of town, and my apartment was being fumigated. My friend had offered her place up for the day while mine was uninhabitable. During that time, I was confiding in Mr. Husband about some of my dating issues, asking his advice. In retrospect, I questioned my choice of conversation. If I hadn’t been having a personal, vulnerable conversation with him, could I have prevented the whole thing? But ultimately, I decided that there was absolutely nothing culpable about my behavior. To hit on one of his wife’s friends was beyond lame, it was shameful, no matter what she was talking about.
2. Remember, No One’s Marriage Is Impenetrable: Some couples present the illusion of being a perfect duo. This couple did. Looking back, hanging out for the day with Mr. Husband when his wife was out of town wasn’t a good idea. I should have kept in mind that couples have all sorts of problems their single friends never see. At the time, I thoughtthey had a perfect marriage. I was younger and held (what I thought to be) happily married couples in high esteem. Especially hip, married couples that made it look so much cooler than my parents. Now that I am older and wiser, I see that when you’re single, it’s easy to idolize marriage — and especially the marriages of your friends. As the single friend to a married couple, Mr. Husband became my friend by extension. When I hung out with my friend, telling her about my hookups, dates and makeout sessions, Mr. Husband was often around to hear. Maybe this helped the husband believe that in some way, I’d be interested in his attempt? Uh, I wasn’t. But I shouldn’t have imaged that Mr. Husband was my friend just because she was.
3. Never Be Alone With the Husband Again After He Hits On You: This is key. Being alone with the husband ever, ever again only gives him an idea that you either A) want to be alone with him or B) That what he did was OK. It was NOT. After Mr. Husband hit on me, I made sure I was never alone with him, or even with him and his wife. I told another friend what had happened, and she made sure to always come with me when visiting their place. I would only meet my friend out for lunch or a movie rather than hang out at their house. Eventually, it did put a strain on our friendship when she noticed that I wasn’t around anymore. On a positive note, it gave a clear signal to Mr. Husband that I was not interested in his advance.
4. It’s the Husband’s Responsibility To Fix The Situation, But Never Lie: Personally, I think if you just come right out and tell the wife immediately, it puts her on the defensive and makes both people (you — her friend — and her husband) seem untrustworthy. Even though Mr. Husband was the instigator, all parties involved (me) wear the taint of the advance (even if it was unwanted). The wife, rightfully so, will be upset, humiliated, and angry. When my situation hit the fan, and I had to ‘fess up to my friend, I’ll never forget what she said to me: “You were complicit in the lie.”
As much as that statement hurt me, she had a point. Six months of trying to keep Mr. Husband’s indiscretion a secret to protect my friend backfired. That was a mistake on my part. If this ever were to happen to me again (God, I hope it doesn’t) I would tell Mr. Husband that he is out of line, nothing will ever happen again, and that he should talk to his wife about it immediately, adding that if she ever asks you about it directly, you will tell her the whole truth and nothing but the truth.You don’t want to get in between a marriage, but you owe it to yourself and your friend to be honest. Ultimately, it’s the husband’s story to tell, but honesty is of the utmost importance.
5. Prepare For The Fallout: Acting like nothing happened and hoping that everything will just work itself out is essentially a recipe for disaster in this situation. Why? Because something did happen. If you pretend nothing happened, you can expect of the following outcomes:
- You will feel weird around the husband, and the wife will sense it.
- Your weirdness around the husband may make him even more attracted to you, and the wife may suspect something.
- You will develop a growing resentment towards the husband.
- To protect yourself, you will distance yourself from the couple and the wife will notice.
Any or all of these options will naturally change the dynamic of the friendship. Something big happened, and whether it is dealt with immediately or six months later, there will be fallout. Whether your friend blames you, blames her husband, or is just so hurt by it all that she can’t deal with seeing you, prepare for the friendship to be majorly damaged. Imagine how the wife will feel with you around her husband? If you knew your husband was attracted to your friend, would you really want that friend around? I know this is bad news, but you should understand that realistically, the friendship has major structural damage and will require A LOT of work to save it. Facing the issue directly, you’ll have a greater chance of salvaging the relationship, but it’s still just a chance.