He called me to confess and I was completely blindsided. Help!
You can’t guarantee a good outcome, says our elder. But you might be able to limit the damage.
My best friend is like a sister to me. We are super close. We both have families with children around the same age. Our husbands get along. We often all get together to hang out. Our families are quite intertwined. She has a very successful career that has her traveling almost every week. I know that her travel among other issues has caused stress in her marriage. We have had a lot of conversations about our marriages so I have some insight into their struggles. Today (while my friend is out of town) her husband called me and told me he wants a divorce and is in love with me. I was blindsided. I do not feel romantic feelings for him but have grown to love him because of his role in my best friend’s life. I told him that. I think I was clear. I have a feeling that their marital troubles are making him look for validation outside of his marriage and that he isn’t really in love with me. My dilemma is that I don’t know how to go on with this information. I am scared to tell my husband and I don’t want to ruin my friendship with my best friend. I can’t imagine hanging out all together again and pretending everything is normal. And if I tell my husband, I’m afraid he won’t support my friendship with my closest friend. I don’t think I should say anything to my friend. What do I do? What do I say to my husband?
I am so sorry this happened to you, not least because despite what happened not having been your fault, there’s probably no course of action you can take going forward that does not involve some risk to your relationship with your best friend. As far as I can tell, you did everything right. Blindsided though you were, you made it clear to your friend’s husband that you did not return his feelings. And if you could be sure that this was the end of it and he’d never breathe a word to your friend about his declaration of love, I’d say chalk it up to a single moment of insanity and forget about the whole incident. But, of course, the problem is: you can’t be certain of this, and you can’t live to wait for the other shoe to fall.
I think you are right not to have taken your friend’s husband’s declaration at face value. It’s very possible, after all, that what you suspect is true: that he is looking for validation outside his troubled marriage and is not actually in love with you. It also may be that he’s taking the chicken’s way out of his marriage by putting you in a position to “tell on him” so he doesn’t have to. But here’s the thing: making that phone took some courage — or nerve — and, in order to have made it, he must have believed at some level that the feelings he was expressing were real. The problem is: you aren’t the person he should have told. His wife is. Maybe he hoped or imagined that you reciprocated these feelings. But you didn’t. So where does that leave him — and you — now?
What if he decides to tell your friend what he did? How do you think she will feel about you not having said anything? And how do you think your own husband would feel if the truth came out?
It pains me to say this, but I think both your husband and his wife have to know. Your friend has to know that her husband not only has feelings for someone else, but he actually confessed them. You aren’t just some random acquaintance, after all. He knows how close you and his wife are. So the lack of loyalty he showed in telling you and not her that he was in love with you is huge. But if you tell your friend, and her husband either denies it or makes up a story that makes you look complicit, there’s a chance your friend may side with her husband. It depends on their relationship, and yours. Your relationship with your friend though will probably be changed regardless of what she decides to do. If she decides to leave her marriage, she may, however unfairly, blame this on you. If she decides to stay, she may not want to associate with you and your husband any longer. And once your husband learns what happened, he may not want to hang out together anymore either.
It seems to me that there is no way to handle this situation that assures a good outcome. But since your friend and your husband both have to be told what happened, I think that you should tell your husband and that you should tell your friend’s husband to tell his wife. If your friend’s husband refuses to tell her, I think you should do it yourself. Choose your words carefully (perhaps not quoting him directly if you can get the point across without getting into too much detail), tell her in person, and then offer to give her space to process. No matter how gracefully you try to handle things though, there’s a good chance of things going south. But that became a possibility the second your friend’s husband opened his mouth. You should know that nothing that happens is your fault. Your friend’s husband caused this mess and not you. You are essentially an innocent victim. And all you can do now is try to control the damage.
I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back to let me know what you decide to do. I will be thinking of you.
Letter #: 454909