Carolyn Hax: ‘Great friend’s’ wife makes a pass, but must that friendship suffer?

06/24/2014 12:00 AM

06/23/2014 7:52 AM

DEAR CAROLYN: I have a great friend who I have kept some distance from, and sitting in my inbox is an email from him asking why.

The truth is that his wife made a pretty blatant pass at me that I deflected and, well, there is a level of awkwardness around them that I just don’t want to have in a social setting, and it seems like inviting just him out doesn’t work.

So is this one of those situations where lying is the less painful road, or do I really have to engage in “he said, she said” when she’ll just deny? I am thinking writing you for permission to lie is probably weak sauce, but the truth seems like a bitter pill.

– Level Of Truth

DEAR TRUTH: Until you know the bitter pill is necessary, I suggest suck-it-up sauce.

A pretty blatant pass at one’s spouse’s great friend is a big violation of trust. I won’t argue with you there.

But it’s a violation of her bond with your friend. Your bond with him, technically, is unaffected; you deflected the pass as your duty to your friend required.

By avoiding your friend in response to the pass, though, you’re making him pay; this friendship he obviously values is the price of (presumably) a problem in his marriage. Possibly a problem he doesn’t even know about. How is that right, or fair?

Awkwardness alone is not an excuse to avoid somebody. You see your friend, you acknowledge his wife politely, and you keep as much distance from her as you can. For all you know, she’ll never cross that line again.

Wouldn’t you rather fail at protecting the friendship than succeed at protecting yourself?

DEAR CAROLYN: So my brother is constantly making out with his girlfriend in front of everyone. Whether it’s groups of people talking, watching a movie or just the three of us, they are always kissing. I mean always.

Based on other conversations with him, I think she has insecurity issues. (One example: He drove a friend who was a girl home and she said, “If I ever catch you driving another girl in your car, we’re over.”). As a result, she gets very angry if we ask them to stop kissing in front of us.

Any advice?

– Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Be ready to be the supportive, forgiving, attentively listening rock for him to lean on. This is not just about constant making-out.

Guide him toward the person you know him to be, and toward thinking about himself and his own needs in this relationship. Give him room to conclude for himself that whatever false sense of importance her smothering attention gives him, it isn’t worth life as a pawn.

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