I'd known my friend and her husband for about twelve years. I had always got along with her husband and we went on a group holiday about three years ago and that's when her husband and I became friendly. We had a lot in common and could laugh and joke about things. I thought we were genuine friends.
After we came back from holiday I admit that there was an attraction that had built up but I never would have acted on it; I really did love my friend. I knew he was slightly attracted to me as sometimes we flirted in banter. I couldn't always tell if it was innocent touches or accidental but the point is: Yes, I knew there was an attraction but not one I would have ever acted upon.
Time passed and we all did a lot of group things -- went diving, hiking holidays -- and I had boyfriends on and off throughout it all. I have never ever been alone with her husband, and I don't want you thinking I'm a harlot for having an attraction to a married man. We're all human and unfortunately, sometimes you feel attraction to the wrong person but you don't have to act on it or allow it to ruin things. It is possible, well it was for me.
However, the point is that my friend stopped speaking to me and then told mutual friends that she thought I fancied her husband. Now, of course, I feel sad about the loss of her friendship. She was dear to me. My issue is that her husband has said that I made a move on him and that's why they feel it best to cut me off. Keep in mind that neither of them have had a conversation with me. I have tried to contact her and say I'm sorry that he and I might have flirted but I would never have hurt her.
I respect her decision to not be in contact with me if she finds it troublesome but what I'm annoyed about is being painted in a manner that isn't true. I never ever made a move on him, in fact once I think he groped me a little and said he was drunk but I never made a thing about it. I have tried telling mutual friends that this isn't true. I accept responsibility for an attraction but feel hurt that they think I'm the wrong one. He gets away with it and plays the victim and I'm the one ostracized.
I sent a text to my former friend and said I wish we had been able to talk. I think she doesn't have the full story but respect her decision. But what do I say now? That your husband was just as much to blame? Or she doesn't care that her husband was flirting too? She sees him as some innocent person and I was the predator? I'm really not. I have moved on but there is a friend's New Year's party that we are invited to. I want to go but think maybe I shouldn't in case I get the scarlet letter painted on me!
Has anyone been in a similar situation? What was your experience? How did you clear your name? Or you never did and the husband got away scot-free? Is there ever any point in telling a married friend that you need to trust people more and if you feel threatened by every female who is close to your husband then there is something wrong in your marriage rather than friendship? I'm moving to another country for a year soon for work so it all won't affect me so much and we all get on with our lives but I'm just curious.
Signed, Painted the Villain
Dear Painted the Villain,
Losing two close, long-term friends at once leaves a void that has to be upsetting, especially since you are being blamed as the one solely responsible for the breakup.
I agree with you that there's a big distinction between feeling attracted to someone and acting on those impulses. However, as you describe this situation, you may have been too flirty with a married man who sounds like he's a bit too frisky with his wife's friends.
His groping you, whether drunk or sober, clearly crossed the line and should have given you reason to pause and question the innocent nature of his previous touches. After that, you should have stayed clear of any situation that might even appear to be compromising (touching him, flirting with him, being with him when he was drunk, etc.). My guess is that this isn't the only time he's done something like this or that you are the only person he's done it with.
Your post isn't clear about when, or after what, your friend stopped speaking to you. Being married to a husband she doesn't trust has to be very painful for your former friend. If she felt uncomfortable about your relationship with her husband, she may have found it easier to blame you than him or if she discussed her feelings with him, he may have denied the nature of his involvement and blamed it on you. Yes, this is unfair but their marriage takes precedence, to them, over their friendship with you.
While you aren't the problem between them, per se, and I don't think you deserve to be cast as a "harlot" or home-wrecker, you should have been more aware of your male friend's wandering ways and your female friend's feelings.
In terms of the New Year's Eve party with mutual acquaintances, perhaps you should miss out on this one (if the ex-friend couple will be there) in deference to your ex-girlfriend's feelings. Your friendship with her probably isn't repairable. If they have assassinated your character with mutual friends, there is little you can do. I would try to minimize discussions about this situation with all but very close friends. The friends worth keeping know you and will be able to assess the situation for what it is.
Read many reader points of view about this friendship dilemma in the Friendship Forums section of The Friendship Blog.
Read prior posts on the blog on the topic of friendship and flirting: