Illustration by Chris Gash
Dear Wisdom Circle,
I've been good friends for 11 years with a couple who live in my condo complex. I've looked after their home while they vacationed, and they've done the same for me. I've also played golf and tennis with the husband, Ted*, many times. Recently his wife, Carol, asked me to come over because their garbage disposal wasn't working and Ted was out of town. It was an easy fix, and she thanked me. As I started to leave, she asked me why I had never made a pass at her. "Because you're married," I said. "Married, yes," she replied, "but not dead." Then she let her robe fall open. Shocked, I told her that wasn't right and hightailed it out of there. I haven't spoken to her since. But should I tell her husband? Or pretend it never happened? — Freaked-Out Friend
See also: Why long-married couples split.
The Circle Says
Response #1 I think this is a lose-lose situation for everyone except the wife, who wants to use you to stroke her ego. I say do nothing: Don't play her game. Don't tell her husband. Avoid their company. If he eventually asks you why, then tell him. You'll probably lose a friend, but you'll keep your self-respect.
Response #2 I've experienced similar situations before. One thing I learned is that once people try something like this, they'll try again until you confront them or you tell their spouse. I'd tell the husband. I don't think she's finished with you yet, so good luck.
Response #3 I wouldn't mention it to the husband, but I'd avoid being alone with the wife. A sad situation, especially since you'll never feel comfortable with either one of them again.
I didn't tell Ted. In fact, I recently played golf with him. We met at the course instead of his home and had a good time. I didn't mention Carol at all. For now, I'm sticking with the do-nothing option. But I'll keep the spill-the-beans option in my back pocket in case I ever need to protect the innocent — namely, me!
* All names have been changed.
Adapted by Karen Westerberg Reyes