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Dr. Irene S. Levine Headshot

My Friend's Husband "Put the Moves" on Me: Should I Tell Her?

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Should a woman tell when a friend's husband or lover comes on to to her? It depends.

QUESTION

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

ANSWER

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 offered you a definitive response, I hope this helps you determine the right answer for you.

Best,
Irene

Read this prior post on The Friendship Blog about dealing with a friend's husband's infidelity: