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My friend’s husband put the moves on me: Should I tell her?

Published: August 16, 2011 | Last Updated: March 29, 2017 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading

Should a woman tell when a friend’s husband or lover comes on to to her? Short answer: It depends.


Hi Irene,

A few months back, a married man I had known for eight years started verbally putting the moves on me. While I initially brushed it off and/or changed conversation topics in the beginning, his actions intensified via frequent phone calls and cryptic texts (he’s a lawyer, and knew where to draw the line).

I hesitated ending the friendship, as we shared an intimate group of mutual friends, and I hoped it would eventually blow over. Then I found out from an acquaintance that he basically attempted to rape her at his home while his wife was asleep (the acquaintance refused to report the incident to the police). I knew it was a no-brainer to sever the friendship, and my husband called and left a voice message to never contact us again. (I also found out around the same time that two other acquaintances had not-as-serious, but uncomfortable encounters with him.)

Meanwhile, his wife is my friend, and co-worker too. I have not said anything to her. For one, I did not want this to impact our working relationship. I also did not want to be the messenger responsible for triggering a divorce. I began to wonder, though, if she knew on some level what was going on. And given that this behavior/addiction has happened before, she should know on some level what transpired.

I ran into her at a function recently, and her husband was nearby, and she kept asking me to come over to him to say “hello.” I managed to dodge the situation, excusing myself to the restroom. Her behavior made me think she was not aware of his attempted advances after all.

I am simply confused now. Should I approach her? Should I assume she knows in some way, but will never admit to it, because admitting to it means she would have to take ownership in it? Meanwhile, the other friends in our circle are now aware of it, but they will not say anything, and continue to hang out with them, so on top of all of this, I feel like a pariah. And I feel anger towards this man who is basically a walking criminal.

Signed, Jana


Dear Jana,

This is a tough situation. I’m not sure there is any one “right” answer except for the one that feels right for you. This reminds me of a question I answered not too long ago about a woman who suspected her friend’s husband’s was having an affair — and I struggled with that one as well.

If you decide to tell the wife what you know, I don’t think it’s your role to tell her about the incidents that didn’t involve you. The other women have to make that decision. So the question is should you tell your friend/colleague about what happened to you? Given that you reported the incident to your husband and your husband intervened the way he did, I think it is unlikely that the creep will bother you again. His behavior sounds pretty compulsive so he’ll probably try again with someone else.

If you feel like a close friend to this woman, I would probably lean towards letting her know what he did to you and how you handled it. She will likely be humiliated, will probably confront her husband, and may or not be appreciative that you were the bearer of bad news.

If you hold back from telling her, it will create a wedge in the friendship but may make it easier to work together as colleagues.

Although I haven’t provided a definitive response, I hope this helps you think through this difficult dilemma and determine the best answer for you.

Best, Irene

Prior post on The Friendship Blog about dealing with a friend’s husband’s infidelity:

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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely! I always ask myself the following question if I come to a situation where I don’t know what to do.

    Would I want someone else to tell me if my husband was doing that?

    And if Jana doesn’t tell her friend, she should not hesitate to report it to the police. This man seems to be escalating, from a few comments to her to practically raping another woman. Jana should tell the police everything she knows. And hopefully, that will prevent anything further from happening down the road.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am an adult who has always had a few friends, very few time in my life can I remember being part of a group of friends. I am basically reserved, although am not like that at girls night where i have a couple drinks. I love to dress trendy and go out, but don’t like the socialization part that much. I had avoided most of my husband’s work functions for years.
    I had a bad year last year and don’t want a repeat of it.
    I was depressed and did try various anti-depressants but they didn’t really help. It is hard for me to push myself to join things. I have teenage daughters, one has autism, and that has caused a lot of unhappiness for me worrying about her and the other daughter also has friend issues.
    I would love to hcw strong group of female friends.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can’t tell you if this is the right or wrong way to handle things. I can just tell you what I did and what the result was. My friend’s husband made a pass at me. I rebuffed him with no hesitation. This was at a party where we were all sleeping at the same house. The next morning at breakfast, my friend and I were alone at the table and I had decided NOT to tell her, in the hopes it was a one-time occurrence. Well, she brought it up! She was waiting for me to, and when I didn’t, she told me her husband told her that he had “jokingly”said something to me that I had “taken the wrong way” and he just wanted to tell her about it. (Trust me: Her husband was NOT joking. No one in their right mind would have thought he was joking.) Anyway … she asked me why I didn’t tell her. I told her I didn’t want to hurt her and that I was hoping it was a one-time thing. I also (stupidly?) told her I didn’t think he was “just joking.” Well … she acted like things were okay between us. But I got the feeling for a couple of years she didn’t really trust me. He had given her a reason to doubt me. UNTIL she discovered he made passes at a lot of her friends. She discovered a lot of deceitfulness in him. And divorced him. Our friendship completely recovered and survived.When the subject of her ex has come up, and the incident, she says she doesn’t blame me at all. And I believe it. I still don’t know if I was right or wrong to not tell her. But my story has a cautionary ring to it: Her ex was being very clever by jumping the gun and “confessing” to her what he’d done.

  4. EagleWings says:

    Overall, I thought Irene gave the lady some good advice, as did Anonymous.

    I don’t know about this part, of it, though:

    “If you decide to tell the wife what you know, I don’t think it’s your role to tell her about the incidents that didn’t involve you.”

    If the woman is sure that the other women were telling the truth, wouldn’t it be even more important for her to tell the wife about the other incidents, since it shows he has a pattern of sexually attacking/ being inappropriate towards other women?

    Otherwise, if the friend only tells the wife of her one experience, the wife may dismiss it as being a a “one time thing” with the guy, as though the guy just had poor judgment or slipped up just the once.

    If it were me, I’d consider telling the friend that other ladies have told me similar stories, but I’d refuse to go into details and just say to her (if she pressed for more info), “I do not feel comfortable naming names or going into details. You will have to ask your other female friends about all this first hand, and in the future, keep a closer eye on your husband.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    This man, a lawyer, is a sexual predator. Just because the LW doesn’t know of a woman he has successfully attacked and raped, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. If he hasn’t, it means he’s on his way to committing a crime, and if no one speaks up, either individually or as a group, he’s going to do what he wants because he knows his wife’s friends value her more than they value themselves when he attacks them. I strongly suggest that the LW get together and inform the wife TOGETHER what has transpired with her husband. The woman who was “almost raped” but didn’t report the attempted rape should be present also, or at least sign a written report if she can’t face the wife herself. Strength in numbers. Seriously, by not doing anything to a known predator, it’s only a matter of time before he does rape one of the wife’s friends. What happens then? She’ll probably divorce anyway.

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