• Keeping Friends

Can these two couples maintain their close friendship?

Published: January 9, 2015 | By | 16 Replies Continue Reading
When a friend makes a pass at a woman’s husband, it threatens to unravel the close relationship between two couples.

Hi Irene,

Something happened a few days ago that I am 100% stumped about and cannot tell a soul. I have NO idea what to do. It even took my husband a couple of days to tell me, as he didn’t want to put me in a difficult situation.

We are very close with another couple. I knew them even before I met my husband and have been close with her, her man and her family for years. Now, she is my best friend and he is my husband’s best friend, and it’s been like this for 4 years. We’ve always felt so lucky that we all get along so well in our own right.

A few nights ago we were at a party together but (I will call her Jen) Jen went out of town and my husband had hockey tickets so we essentially all split up. My husband took (I will call him Dave) Dave to the game and I hung out with other friends.

As my husband tells me, after the game he and Dave took a cab to our place. He got out and Dave was to go home. My husband was already in bed when Dave came in the bedroom, laid on the bed very close and tried to put his fingers in him. My husband shoved him away, told him to get out and that it was never going to happen. When Dave left, he told my husband he loved him.

My husband is incredibly upset/angry (not because Dave may be gay but that he crossed a line and, most definitely, because he feels he’s lost his best friend) My husband is very worried about hurting Jen; he won’t even answer Dave’s calls and I now have Jen asking me if my husband has lost his phone.

Though it would not have been odd for him to come back to the house to crash, I think when he came to the bedroom to lay down my husband was confused and didn’t react immediately. I hate to put it in words but I think Dave may have used some force.

I literally have no idea what to do. Jen, my husband and I will be going to a friends this weekend (planned along time ago) and I need to know what to do by then to keep stories straight (if we should tell ‘stories’ at all?).

Please help me I don’t even know where to start.

Signed, Alice


Hi Alice,

What an awkward situation for everyone.

You and/or your husband may feel so violated that you no longer want to maintain a friendship with the other couple. If this is the case, you need to tell Jen to speak to her husband to find out what went wrong. Jen is the only person who is missing a huge piece of information and Dave should be the one who fills his wife in on the events of that evening.

If you and your husband decide you want to move past this incident and remain friends, your husband needs to be upfront with both Dave and his wife. He needs to let Dave know that he crossed a boundary that can never be crossed again, and that he must tell his wife so she isn’t the only one left in the dark. Also, your husband should make sure he never places himself or Dave in a position for it to happen again.

Is there a possibility Dave’s judgment was impaired by too much drinking? Is this likely to lead to other problems for him, his family and you?

Clearly, you and your husband need to reach some consensus and how to handle this together. Even though the four of you were all very good friends, unfortunately, the events that transpired are going to make it very difficult to maintain the same friendship you once had. This 800-pound gorilla will always be in the room. I would certainly suggest delaying the “friends weekend” until you and your husband have had time to process what happened and decide on a course of action.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (16)

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  1. tanja says:

    tough situation to be in. You never know if the wife even wants to know about this. She may be okay being left in the dark. I know with my husband’s family, his family doesn’t want to know any problems, they are okay with not know about us, our family if it is negative. If they ask how we are doing? They just expect the answer to be “good”. Nothing more.

    So, I would first talk to Dave and let him know the boundaries and see if he would be comfortable telling his wife what happened. If he is, and he does, then, the ball is in Jenn’s court as to how she handles the marriage and the friendship and if they decide to stay together at all. But, it should be Jenn’s decision. If your husband wants to break off the friendship with Dave or Dave feels awkward then he breaks of the relationship, the ball is in their court as to what they want to do. Sometimes, things have a way of playing out no matter what, things will unfold and you may not be aware of it yet.

    So, here are your options:

    1. Tell Dave to tell his wife. Set boundaries with him, but it should be Dave to tell his wife, and Dave’s choice if he even wants to. Then, leave the ball in Jen’s court if she wants the friendship as much as you do and if she stays in the marriage at all. Dave may not tell his wife and in that case, I would not interfere and I would not tell her because it is not your place and then the ball is in your court as to what you want to do with this friendship. Chances are if he is gay Jen will find out sooner or later anyway and the marriage will come to an end and there is no need no break off friendship with Jen then, she may need your support more than ever.

    2. Don’t go to your friends party until you have sorted your own feelings out. Don’t say anything to either Dave or Jen and if it makes your friendship uncomfortable or your husbands. Make time to go out with Jen alone and don’t include your husbands. I take it there are no kids in all this, where kids play together etc, that makes it harder. So, if no kids, just try to maintain friendship with her only. Use the I am busy excuse for your husband to hers. So, they never have to see each other and limit your time with them all together.

    3. Stop being friends completely, join groups with common interests to meet people, go skating, swimming, stay active and meet new people and use the I am busy excuse and the friendship will die on it’s own anyway. When kids come in the picture friendships are more based on whether another couple has kids of a similar age anyway and then they play together, so friendship change anyway based on circumstance, but don’t close the door completely because Jenn may call years later and say “I divorced my husband!!!!”. So, you would want to be there for her during that time.

    4. Lastly, you can just tell Jen yourself and see her reaction but be prepared, she may end the friendship and all doors will be closed, so no possibility of resuming the friendship years later because too much animosity and bad blood between you two at this point.

    Good luck. You have a few options. You may think of an option that is not listed but it has to feel right in your gut. At the same time, try to keep emotions aside and think of the best course of action.

  2. Dionne says:

    I would not consider just my husband’s confiding something in me as any indication whatsoever that he didn’t deserve to be believed or trusted. (I’d be deeply insulted if my husband treated me that way and likely stop confiding in him).

    And, I would not butt into another couple’s relationship with prying, demands, or attempts to play therapist. It’s not likely to be appreciated. In my opinion, it’s an unfortunate deal breaker, the same as if one of them made a pass at an opposite sex partner. I might tell the wife, but only if it was okay with my husband (whose confidence I’d be breaking otherwise), and if she asked what was wrong.

    But I would not expect her to leave him over it. Chances are she already knows him better than those on the outside. So, I’d expect the friendships will be over anyway.

  3. DJ says:

    Sounds like you both need more information do help you decide what to do. So the first step is that the husband needs to speak to Dave more about the situation but in a more public place ie restaurant, park. Part of this should involve your husband asking questions such as whether Dave has ever made advanced to other men or whether it’s a once off, how his relationship is with Jen and more importantly what he plans to do about it.
    I do agree it’s messy and hard to know how to deal with it.

  4. Maddie says:

    “Dave” cannot be excused for what amounts to a sexual assault because he was drinking.

    There is also the possibility that OPs husband is not telling the full truth about the situation.

    There could be more than meets the eye here.

    • Laura says:

      That’s always a possibility with anyone that writes to Irene because only half the story is presented.

      • Maddie says:

        I agree and this is the wife going off her husband’s version. These two guys may have consensually hooked up and now the husband is panicked. I find it odd that the friend would let himself back in the house and climb into bed with said friend.

        Also did Dave never leave, have an extra key, or what? If I were this wife, I would speak to Dave alone and get his version.

        Husband may be on the down low.

        • Maddie says:

          Both these women need STD testing. These men could have been hooking up for a while and something went wrong. It happens.

      • Amy F says:

        Laura’s right. Anytime only one person gives a situation it’s going to have some bias, especially about conflict. Everyone sees life differently, even those of us who try to be objective and fair.
        In my very unscientific observations, men who are hit on my men (even when those advances aren’t aggressive and rejection is respected) feel like victims where women often feel par for the course because we’ve grown up being hit on and for me the experience is foreign. Depending on our histories and personalities being hit on ranges from flattering, to tolerated to disrespectful to abusive and everything in between. I don’t think most men have that depth of experience dealing with unsolicited passes. It’s hard for me to differentiate each POV and the cold facts in this situation particularly.

  5. Laura says:

    The 2 women might be able to continue their friendship down the road. Or possibly the husband and wife with the wife of the guy that made the advances if his wife leaves him. Even if alcohol was involved it’s known as “truth serum” for a reason. This guy obviously has homosexual tendencies and it’s possible he’s had other encounters while married or even before. He could be bi-sexual too. His wife should get tested for HIV and all other STDs.

  6. Amy F says:

    I put myself in the place of Jen. She needs to know. Then the ball of the friendship is in her court. To me the incident has nothing to gender, sexual orientation, substance abuse, it’s about boundaries and respect.
    In my opinion, even if your husband is reluctant, Jen is also victim of his behavior, and in my opinion she needs to know.

  7. Linda says:

    How sad for all of you. There are a lot of conflicting things going on in this four-person relationship, not just between the individuals as friends, but between the two couples. There’s so much to be sorted out.

    At the very least, I think there needs to be “time out” from your friendship with this couple. As Irene said, that 800-pound gorilla needs to be addressed, as well as some other serious issues in their marriage. I can’t imagine how the friendship could be salvaged, and again, I believe you need to stay away until they sort things out. If you have access to some kind of counseling for yourself and your husband, I’d think that might help you deal with this upsetting situation.

  8. Maddie says:

    *married to.*

  9. Maddie says:

    This friendship cannot be salvaged. The wife needs to be told that her husband made a serious pass against another man. This situation is too ugly and cannot be repaired. The wife will be hurt and shocked but she needs to know who she is married too. This borders on criminal activity.

    • True! But the alcohol should not be blamed. The writer needs to be sure her husband is not a liar. If she catches him lying about something else, I doubt his honesty. Maybe girlfriend could help find out what is going on in secret!

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