“Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Dear Precious Readers,
I’m not what the repercussions for placing a Futurama-themed meme with a Gandhi quote are, but hopefully it’s all good.
As most of us know, life is complicated. Tack on adolescence, dating, breakups, school, jobs, adulthood, marriage, kids, taxes, home ownership vs. renting, taking care of aging loved ones, etc.
What do you choose when someone places you in an impossible situation? A complete lose/lose? One where due to someone else’s actions, it sticks you with a moral and ethical dilemma, that will potentially make you the bad guy?
A friend of mine was placed into one of these no win, practically impossible to solve, situations. I won’t even provide this person a nickname, to give my friend and the other people involved their much needed privacy on this issue. However, it is weighing heavily on my heart and in my mind, and I propose the question to you as well. Although I’ve already nicknamed this friend in prior posts, for today, we will leave this friend as Friend X.
X spent several years studying for her hard-earned, and well deserved degree. As with many college students, X met others in her chosen field. This included a significant other we’ll call “Guy.” X and Guy grew from friendship during school, and briefly dated. This relationship included X meeting Guy’s family. Fairly serious. As time went on, X and Guy realized they were not destined to remain in a romantic relationship, opting instead to maintain a platonic relationship.
Over the next two years, X and Guy remained friends, Guy found a girlfriend who soon became Wife. X, Guy, and Wife all stayed friends with each other, and even kept in touch. X and Guy graduated, X moved back to Washington from school, and Guy stayed in their alma mater’s state with his Wife.
Fast forward eight years: Guy and Wife have two children, X is comfortable in a successful career, and periodically they all contact each other to see how life is treating them.
Guy had an opportunity to travel to the West Coast, and in doing so, called up X to reconnect after years of not hanging out face-to-face. X, being the friendly person X is, said “Sure!” and they decided to meet up for coffee. They arrive, had great conversation, laughed about life and love, all of the normal things a person does when reconnecting with old buddies.
As the conversation flowed, X was feeling like life was pretty darn good. Apparently, so was Guy, as he proceeded to then hit on my friend, X, inviting X up to Guy’s hotel room.
Yes, you read that correctly. Guy is still married, and still has a family of two kids with Wife.
X is a highly moral and ethical person. At Guy’s (indecent) proposal, X immediately said “No,” and things turned awkward. X got up from the table and left. All the while, Guy is apologizing and begging X not to tell Wife about Guy’s indecent proposal.
I was sitting at home, vegging out for a typical Friday afternoon to settle in for the weekend, when I received a text from X asking if I could meet up with her. After sorting out time and location, I met up with X and fell subject to X rehashing the uncomfortable events with Guy.
Thus came the dreaded question…
“What do I do? I feel horrible. Do I tell Wife? Do I let it go?”
I told X the following:
- This is not your fault.
- This is GUY’S fault.
- I’m so sorry this happened.
- I’m sorry Guy didn’t respect you, Wife, or his family enough to make such a poor decision.
- He’s an asshole for attempting to step out on Wife.
- He may even be a “nice guy,” who decided he had an opportunity (temptation) and decided to see if he could get away with it. Even though he loves Wife/kids. Just thought this “one time” he’d see if he could have a secret to himself.*
*He may even be a great husband/father. He may have just been too tempted to see if this one time he could do something out of character. Either way, it was a bad decision whether it was a continual habit of his, or a one-time thing.
As far as what X should do? Well, this gets tricky. As a woman who has been in a long-term relationship and marriage with someone, I had to basically ask myself the following questions and gave my opinions as such:
Would I want to know?
For me, the answer is YES. I would want to know.
What was my significant other like before we were serious?
Was that person a player? Have they been flirty their whole life? Have we recently gotten bored, angry, upset, resentful of each other? Has the other person shown lack of interest in me? Have I shown lack of interest in them?
What about our kids?
This doesn’t really apply to me, specifically, as I don’t have kids. However, I would be lying if I thought that having children as part of our lives wouldn’t have any impact on how I move forward after receiving news that, according to an outside party, my significant other attempted to get some physical attention outside of our relationship. If we stayed, would we get counseling? Would we separate? How would we create new lives for ourselves? How do you talk to your children about it? Should you mention it to your children? I’m not an expert and have no basis for providing advice.
Was it a one-time thing, or a long-term affair?
Now, I can’t speak for myself for either of these situations how I would react, as I have not had to face this particular situation before. Not belittling one betrayal over another, a betrayal is what it is, no matter how long it has been going on. That being said, there are relationships that are able to move past a discretion (or several). Each relationship is as unique as a fingerprint. I can’t say for myself.
And the overall question that everyone has to ask themselves:
Do I believe it?
I would take what was said, say thank you to the messenger, and end the conversation. After walking away, I would have to take in the messenger’s character into debate. I would have to take Pilot’s character into debate. Then, make a decision about our future together.
Pilot and I have a mutual understanding that we’re not just “desperate to not die alone,” we’re not “staying together because we’ve been together for so long,” it’s not “we’re together because I didn’t want to break up with you,” and we’ve agreed to never, “stay together because we have children together.” We make a daily conscious effort to choose each other as a life partner because we want** the other person.
We choose to say to each other:
- I care about what happens to you.
- I enjoy spending my time with you.
- I value, treasure, and celebrate your existence as a human being.
- How you feel has an effect on how I feel.
- I feel better when you are happy.
- I choose to support you emotionally because I want to.
- I choose and make an effort to prove that I should be the person you can count on, because I want to be that person.
- I find you continually, and increasingly, incredibly attractive and enjoy being around your divine buns.
Ok, that last part might have been TMI.
**Note, I said “want.” I did not say “need.” I never want to be needed or need someone else. I only need God. It’s up to God, Pilot’s choices, and my choices to be sure that it’s right to share our lives with each other.
SO, WHAT DO I/YOU DO?
All of these thoughts ran through my mind as my friend patiently waited form me to gather my thoughts and work them out in my head. The added factor was, since Wife was in a faraway state, there was no way for friend X to be able to talk to Wife in person. It would have to be via phone or email. This isn’t verbatim, but this is a paraphrased version of what I said to her:
“Well, friend X: If it were my significant other (SO), I’d want to know. I don’t know what I’d do with that information after I was told, but it would depend on who told me, what the circumstances were with my relationship with SO and the situation SO was in when the incident occurred. It gets tricky since Guy and Wife have children. You definitely should tell her. It sucks and is horrible that Guy didn’t respect you enough and forced you into this rock and hard place. He’s an asshole and needs to be held responsible for his actions. I think you should tell Wife that you are in no way interested in him, that you refused him immediately, that you left right after it happened, and have made no contact with him since.
“You should be mentally prepared for one of the following reactions from Wife, and be able to live with it:
- Wife blames you/freaks out and she cuts ties with you. You must be ready for that kind of reaction. It sucks, but it’s true.
- Wife doesn’t believe you, calls you a liar, and she cuts ties with you.
- Wife believes you, but she blames you/freaks out/harasses you. You need to be prepared to cut ties with her.
- Wife believes you, thanks you for the information. She still cuts ties with you because it will be painful.
- Wife believes you, thanks you for the information. She keeps in touch. (This would be highly tricky to navigate, and probably most unlikely.)
- Some combination of the above.
“No matter what, however Wife reacts is on Guy and her. It has nothing to do with you. Guy’s terrible choice is what causes Wife’s reaction. Not you. Also, however she chooses to move forward with this information is between Wife and Guy. Whether they stay together or not, that’s between them. Either way, you are just the messenger, and it is not your fault. It’s GUY’S fault. We can only hope they choose to get counseling, or choose to be happy apart. Either way, it’s up to them to decide how to repair their own hearts. Not you. You did nothing wrong.”
I further offered that if X decided to write Wife an email, I’d be happy to go over it with fresh eyes to ensure nothing could be misunderstood.
Now, Precious Readers, as I said, friend X is an incredibly ethical and moral person. So much so, she tends to blame herself for things that are beyond her control. I’m sure if I asked her today, she’d still feel guilty. This is victim blaming. It is not her fault. Friend X: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
So what happened?
A few weeks later, friend X and I got back together and had coffee. X shared that she ended up calling Wife and had a phone conversation.
It turned out this was not the first time this had happened between Guy and Wife. This asshat had tried to hit on one of his/Wife’s friends a couple of years earlier. At the time, they decided to work through it. Looks like another decision will have to be made.
Wife ended up thanking X. X had luckily adhered to my advice that no matter how much Wife wanted to further discuss the situation or require guidance of how to proceed, the decision should ultimately be made between Wife and Guy, and that X was “just the messenger.” Going any further into decision making was ill advised.
Did Guy and Wife stay together, you may ask? I have no idea. Their relationship direction is between them.
What would you have done in that situation? Leave comments*** below.
***ANY comments deemed victim shaming will be immediately removed from this blog. While I believe in healthy debate, I also believe in respectful debate. ANY comments deemed hurtful, shaming, blaming, or otherwise may and will be removed. Let’s keep it kind. When in doubt, be kind.