Sex, Lies & Friendship

So, a friend of mine was in town for a conference and we met up at his hotel for breakfast on Saturday. As we get to our table I see, Tom[1], the husband of a very old friend of mine, at a table across the room with an attractive, considerably younger woman (not his wife).

I think nothing of it at first glance thinking they’re at a conference, too, and get up to go say hello. Then I notice they’re sitting right next to each other instead of across from each other. “Hmmm,” I think, making my way over to their table.

Maybe they’re waiting for other people or other people had been there and left already. But they’re in the middle of their meal and there are no other place settings. Then he picks her hand up in his and starts licking the inside of her palm in a distinctly non-work colleague kind of way.

“Hi Tom,” I say, with a look on my face that says, “please hurry up and tell me this isn’t what it looks like.” Tom is all jovial…. Fancy meeting you here…. How’s it going…What’s new?

“Hi,” I say pointedly to his breakfast partner. “I’m XUP, a good friend of Tom and his wife.”  She, at least, has the grace to look a bit sheepish and flashes a worried-looking glance at Tom. “Oh ya,” says Tom and flings his arm around the woman and says, “this is Megan” and then adds, “you know…” and winks at me!!!

“I don’t believe you,” I say lamely (but with disgust) and go back to choke down some breakfast with my friend. I look over now and again and see them rubbing noses and exchanging spit. Their breakfasts don’t get eaten because their hands always seem to be under the table somewhere.

All weekend I’ve been wondering what the hell do I do with this information?

POINT:  If I were Tom’s wife I sure as hell would want to know, if for no other reason than to protect myself against possible diseases.  He was so damn cocky, this can’t be a one-time thing, right? And, I would be very pissed at my friend(s) if she/they knew and didn’t tell me. Especially, if that friend was me, who’s known both of them since before they even knew each other. Me, who was Best Chick at their wedding.

COUNTERPOINT:  I’m not Tom’s wife. She may not feel the same way. They got married very young and he was quite wild at the beginning of their marriage and she forgave him a lot. We all thought he’d settled down. In fact, not too long ago at their 25th wedding anniversary party, several people commented on what a good husband and father Tom had eventually turned out to be. In fact, Tom’s wife was one of the people who made that comment. Also, Tom seemed pretty confident that I wasn’t going to say anything or maybe even if I did, his wife wouldn’t believe me. Knowing her, he could very well be right.

[1] Not his real name, of course, and neither Tom nor his wife read my blog or are even aware that I have a blog as far as I know. They don’t live in Ottawa.

46 responses to “Sex, Lies & Friendship

  1. 3rd point of view: Wife already knows, and bringing it up to her would not only humiliate her further, but seemingly force her to confront something that she chooses not to, for reasons of her own.

    That said, maybe she should confront it. Tom sounds like a real loser. Too bad you didn’t take a picture, since the public scenario didn’t seem to bother him at all.

  2. Wow. That’s tough. I doubt that you’d be one to be comfortable around “Tom” after this. I don’t know what I’d do in the same situation.

  3. Now THIS is a bugaboo. I hate everything about it, especially the palm-licking (really? palm-licking?). And I have no idea what you should do. Sigh.

  4. Maybe I’m just a shit disturber who likes a little drama… but then again you said you were her ‘Best Chick’ ; if you’re not going to mention this to her, then give me her name and number and I will.

    My guess is she already knows, however maybe she doesn’t… either way she deserves to know.

    If she knows and doesn’t care then it changes nothing, if she doesn’t know but does care then you’ve hopefully helper her move forward…

    Seeing as you made a point of making old TommyBoy squirm by mentioning his wife then it seems to me that you’ve already decided … It won’t be easy, but then what in life is… my guess is the last 25 years of her life is worth more than this…

  5. Becky – Ya, I thought of that, too. And Tom really did start out as a real big fat jerk 25 years ago, but we all truly thought he’d put all that behind him. He stopped hitting on all his wife’s friends, he stopped staying out “with the boys” till all hours, he stopped insulting and belittling his wife in public. He turned out to be an awesome Dad, is doing well in his career… The first time she ever acknowledged his previous jerkiness was at the anniversary party. I don’t think I have it in me to tell her this.

    Mike – I’ve never been too comfortable around him anyway since he used to treat his wife pretty badly. I’d still feel more comfortable having a conversation with him about this than with his wife.

    Ellie – Ya. Palm-licking. Maybe she got some ketchup on it or something. I don’t want to speculate. I have no idea what I should do either.

    Kitty – Thing is I really don’t think she’d break up their marriage over this. She’s not the independent kind and has invested 25 years in this. Their kids are grown and out of the house, grandkids on the way, they’ve just bought their “retirement” house. They’ve both got large families and tons of friends that are completely entwined with each other. What I’m guess would happen if I told her is that she’d just tell me I misinterpreted the situation and she’d force herself not to think about it or talk to him about it while it eats her up inside — like what used to happen back when they were first married.

    Monkey – Is it that black & white? Will she thank me for it? I do have friends that would thank me for telling them something like this about their partners, but I really don’t think she’s one of them. And do I make a special point of going to her or wait until the next time I see her?

  6. I think that the conventional wisdom is to say nothing. But I say, bust the creep. I wish someone would have told me.

    Funny twist on this story: my ex-husband’s brother Craig and his wife were out for dinner at a nice restaurant where they spotted my sister’s husband having a candle-light dinner with some woman who was not my sister. Craig went over all indignant under the guise of going to say hi but really to find out who this chick that my brother-in-law Marc was wining and dining was.

    Marc has a twin brother Paul, and it was Paul and his wife Heather out for dinner, all innocent and above-board. This has happened more than once.

  7. You could always go down the route of saying to the friend that you weren’t aware that they had split up, prompting a revelatory discussion. If the other woman is known about then she’ll just say, “We haven’t split up- I let Tom have other women, it suits us!”, if she doesn’t know then the bastard is busted.

    And of course, you make it be known that such behaviour is worthy of a split. What an utter arrogant bastard, continuing to canoodle in front of you like that!

    Tell her and see what happens. I’d want my friend to tell me.

  8. Do unto others… I know if I were the wife I’d want to know and would be pissed if someone knew and didn’t tell me.

    And I agree, it’s not a guarantee that this would end in a divorce, like you say if she’s put up with crap for 25 years, she said ‘for better or worse’ after all – but she still deserves to know and indeed, if he cleaned up his act in years past, this might be a fall off the wagon as it were and with her knowledge she might help him back on…

    But, you know her better than any of us …

  9. Seeing how “Tom” didn’t seem to react – then I would assume he either doesn’t care – or that they have what might be termed an “Open marriage” ?

    If you see him again and he acts all – figity – then you know its option 3 – caught in flagrante delicto.

    Whatever it is – nunoyobidness

  10. Think about your own life. Were you ever fooled for long with a cheater? If she isn’t aware now she soon will be. If she is aware now she is choosing to ignore, or even condone this behavior and won’t thank you for your care and concern.

  11. The thing is that the right thing to do is to tell the wife (your friend). It may well be costly, like it could cost you your friendship. It may turn out bad, like they can’t resolve their problems and split up. But it would be they’re decision to make and it would still be the right thing to do.

  12. Personally, I’d rather know then not know. If you know, then action can be taken, whether it be marriage counseling, divorce proceedings, or a tequila bender followed by a long talk. If she never knows there’s a problem, how can it be fixed/addressed?

    She may not thank you for it right away, but she will eventually.

  13. WOW.

    I agree with Becky that somewhere deep down, the wife probably already knows that DICK…oh, I’m sorry, I mean Tom isn’t faithful.

    But this is a tough one regardless. I think what I would do would depend on how close of friends I was with the wife. Speaking up automatically risks the friendship, but if she was a good friend of mine, I’d feel somehow obligated. I do think if I didn’t say something, the knowledge would just fester in me and eventually end up possibly damaging or changing the friendship anyway.

    Again….WOW. What a DICK…er, JERK.

  14. Well, if you talk to your friend quite a bit, the next time you’re chatting I’d say something like, “Oh! I was surprised to meet Tom and his friend Megan at the hotel when I was at my such-n-such conference!” And, just go from there.

    Tom didn’t flinch. Tom introduced you to her. Tom can’t expect you to keep quiet.

    Personally, I couldn’t not say something…but that’s just me.

  15. Alison – I wish Tom had a twin brother that I could have mistaken him for. Alas, it’s not quite that Dickensian in my world..

    MissyM – Ya, I’d know if they’d split up –we’re close enough that she’d know I’d know that and I know they don’t have an open marriage and you’re right. I’d want to know, too

    Kitty – True, true

    Lebowski – No open marriage. I think Tom didn’t care because he thinks either I won’t tell his wife or if I do, she’ll tell me I was mistaken and that’ll be the end of it. Which I’m inclined to believe, which is also why I wonder if there’s anything to be gained from telling her.

    Bandobras – Interesting that most of the guys tell me to say nothing while the women are all for me ratting the guy out.

    Jazz – Thank you. You’re in the minority, but you’re telling me what I want to hear.

    LGS – If this was a new relationship, I could see a value in telling her, but 25 years and I don’t think either of them are going anywhere. At what point do you have to let people lie in the beds they’ve made for themselves?

    Susan – You know, many of us warned her before she ever married him. We continued to warn her after she was married to him and he’d be hitting on us still. She always made excuses for him — we were mistaken, he was just goofing around, we’re exaggerating, etc., It’s only that which is making me hesitate now.

  16. Lesley – Ya, see my response to Susan above. Most other women and I wouldn’t hesitate, but I have a long history with both of them and it’s a tricky call. I’m very disappointed in him.

    CP – Ah ha — a very good ploy. Just fling it out there like I didn’t actually know there was anything wrong in it? Good advice.

    Erigami – Why not? Causing a lot of heartache? She’ll never leave him anyway, of that I’m pretty damn sure. I’m more inclined to go give him hell.

  17. Why do you seem to be surrounded by so many crappy men? My short-answered opinion? Tell.

    Now, for the long-winded me.
    First of all, who is it about for you? If it’s only about how YOU feel about it, then don’t say anything.
    HOWEVER (and I believe this to be the case, or I wouldn’t bother taking the time to visit your blog), I think it’s because you’re a good, honest, decent person, and you expect the same from others. If that’s the case, then this is about following your heart, going with what feels right to you, and telling this woman that – although it is possible for a**holes to change – her a**hole husband hasn’t.
    You might want to start with asking how their relationship is. By that, I mean PUSHING her to tell you the truth. “You know, I’m aware you just had a great 25th celebration, and you mentioned that Tom is ‘all that a a bag of chips’ these days, but how are you REALLY doing?”
    When she continues to say they’re wonderful, then tell her what you know. Ver batum.
    F*ck Tom – and every man like him – for not being able to grow up and live a decent life with the one woman with whom they promised to do exactly that. I despise people who don’t have a f*cking conscience.
    …and I disagree with you about his little trinket, Megan. Just for allowing herself to be in that situation, it is clear she has no grace, or even knows what the word means.

  18. C.P. at #16 has a good suggestion. Just mention that you saw him and Megan and how they looked like they knew each other really well and let your friend indicate by her response what she feels about it. I think you are right that she is too invested in the relationship to throw him out and if she did end the relationship, she wouldn’t know what to do with the rest of her life. Her choices may not work for all of us but they must work for her.

  19. I’d tell, I’d want to know no matter what. We all have only one shot at life, and well, that is pretty life-altering information.

  20. Yikes. I think I would stay out of it. I’m really drama-adverse, though, I just can’t stand confrontation. I don’t think I even would have had the guts to go over and talk to Tom in this situation — so I’m very impressed that you not only went over, but made your opinion of the situation well known!

    I agree with everyone here that she probably already knows or suspects, and is unwilling to do anything about it or to confront it directly. So telling her will only make her feel ashamed and embarrassed in front of you, and will make her avoid you in the future because she knows you know, and she’s afraid you are judging her.

    Tom’s behaviour definitely made it seem that he doesn’t care if he gets caught — probably because past shenanigans have gone unpunished by his wife, so he has nothing to fear now.

    I would not tell the wife, and just try to be there with a sympathetic ear if she does find out, and needs to talk.

  21. JB – Actually, if I was thinking just of me I’d tell her out of righteous indignation and to not let him get away with it, etc., etc. BUT thinking of her is what makes this so difficult. From past experience, I’m 99% sure she’ll stick to her man no matter what; that she may not even confront him about it; that she may somehow convince herself that I’m lying or misinterpreting things. And, all it will result in is making her feel bad. I’m thinking a good way to approach this is a) to get in touch with him and give him some royal hell and then b) go to her and just say I ran into Tom and a friend and see if she asks any questions and wants to know more.

    Julia – I think you’re right. I said to CP that I thought that might work best — then if she asks more questions I can slowly fill her in, but if she says nothing then I know she doesn’t want to know any more. And you last sentence is absolutely true. I know what I would want my friends to do, but I also know that she and I are very different and in very different places in our lives and from what I know of her, I’m not at all sure that she DOES want to know.

    Meanie – Me, too, but like I’ve said a few times she’s not necessarily like that. (see above). And even if I forced her to listen to the truth, I’m not even sure she’d confront him with it, because I don’t think she could stand the idea of her life altering. They’ve been together since they were teenagers. She’s been through a lot with him and put up with a lot from him. I could see how all I would accomplish is to make her feel humiliated.

    Lynn – I’m inclined to agree with you, knowing what I know of her and their situation. It would be different if she was someone who I know would want to know and would kick his ass for it.

  22. I would call him and ask him straight out what is going on. I would then let the knowledge that I gained from the call guide me into further or no further action.

  23. eesh i hate being in these situations. i always know i have to say something but i have to prepare myself that i may lose a friend in the process.

    you may turn into the bad guy according to tom and if he has that much control over his wife.

    that is what happened to me. i was the awful shit disturber that was jealous my friend was happy. she fell for it and i was out a friend. he won.

    eventually it came out in the wash i was right and he was an asshole and we began talking again.. but it was years later.

  24. Push the bastard in front of a moving bus, and buy her a gift certificate for self-esteem counselling for Christmas.

    Cut and dried, just like everything else in life. Ya just gotta quit overthinking everything.

  25. Oh by the way nice outing of him in front of Megan so at this point you may as well go tell his wife…..

  26. Oh yikes. I don’t think there is a worse spot for a friend to be in. I was once friends with a woman who was cheating on her husband and she confided in me and then swore me to secrecy. I wasn’t sure what to do at first but I ended up keeping her secret. When her husband ultimately found out, I apologized profusely to him for my part in the deception and being the wonderfully kind man that he was, he forgave me. But I have always regretted my whole role in that. In the end, it ruined my friendship with both of them.

  27. ::vomit vomit:: I should read through all your comments before posting a reply, but I had to hurry on down here to voice my opinion. I’m sure the same sentiment has already been shared, but I wouldn’t hesitate to spill the beans to The Wife. Especially since you’re already friends with both. If he had the cajones to be so bold and brazen about the whole affair, sounds like he really doesn’t care if she finds out (or she may already know and just not give a flip which DAMN! my brain can’t handle!).

    Come on down to Alabama and do some investigating for me and TELL ME already! 😉

  28. Woodsy – Ya, I think talking to him is my first step. And then we’ll see.

    Jobthingy – All this input has been really helpful. I’m thinking the main thing is to somehow find out for sure if she wants to know — hint around and see if she picks up on it. I think when people get mad at the messenger it’s because they didn’t really want to know the truth. Truth is a tricky thing.

    Tania – I hear ya. Me too, but not everyone is that ready to confront reality.

    Bob – Yes, of course – murder – the perfect answer to all of life’s problems. Remind me to stay on your good side.

    Lebowski – She obviously already knew. Guys can rarely keep up a double deception for long.

    Debra – Hey, holy cow – long time no hear!! I guess I haven’t had engaging enough topics lately. Glad to have your input. The thing for me here is that it’s impossible to know what’s in a person’s mind, nevermind truly understand the dynamics in a couple. In most situations the best policy is to not interfere in other people’s relationships. If they ask for help or are in some sort of danger – yes, but otherwise? I’ve known these people for almost all of my life and my gut feeling is that this is not something she wants to hear or cope with. Just because in her situation I would want to know doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for her. From what everyone has said, I think 2 things are clear — I need to talk to him and I need to have some sort of conversation with her. Casual Perfectionist, I think found a good compromise: I tell her I ran into Tom and his friend Megan at breakfast the other day and I wait and see if she pursues that in any way. If she doesn’t then she obviously doesn’t want to hear any more, right? If she keeps asking I dole out whatever information she wants.

    OTC – I think he was so cocky precisely for the reason why I’m having such difficulty in deciding whether or not to tell her — because he knows she doesn’t want to know and will not believe me and/or even if she does will not confront him with it. As to your issues, I’ve given you my opinion a few times already even though I don’t really have much of a clue as to what’s going on down there in ‘Bama. You’re a smart cookie. You already know the score.

  29. My good side would be on the inside, away from the curb.
    Besides, no jury would convict you of murder for offing the son of a b**ch and freeing his wife from the slime he has her mired in.

  30. I would call her “just to chat” and say, “I was reading a blog” (the truth if you read your own blog) and someone posed this question: (insert the question) and say, “What’s your take? Would you want to know?” Then go from there. if she says “No, I’d rather not know.” Don’t tell her and visa versa. That’s what I would do.

  31. They just dealt with this on Oprah recently. OK, how close are you and the friend? If you’re so tight she’s seen you naked and knows your sexual fantasies then you can’t even ponder it. You must tell her.

    If she’s not, it sounds to me like she might already know. I don’t know any guy who wouldn’t have panicked when he saw his wife’s friend marching over. There’s no way !

  32. Wow. I don’t envy you – that is a really tough one.

    If it were me, I’d want to know, but I’m happily married. That information would be horribly shocking, but after I’d thank you. But like you’ve pointed out, there could be more to the story. She may already know. They may have an “arrangement.”

    Tom’s cockiness is what’s throwing me here. Does he want you to tell her? Doesn’t he care? Ugh. The whole situation reeks.

  33. Bob – What crazy land of fantasy justice do you live in? Of course they’d convict me. I think you’re just trying to get me into trouble here.

    Nat – I think everybody says that, but to one extent or another we all close our eyes to things we don’t want to see, don’t we?

    Geewits – Like I mentioned to Nat, above, most people would say, “of course I’d want to know”, but then they deliberately ignore signs. But your suggestion isn’t bad. Like CP also said it would be best if I had a conversation with her and somehow felt her out about how she’d react and take it from there.

    X – I guess you missed the stern warning to never mention Oprah on this blog except in a mocking, derisive way… but anyhow, to answer your question, we were best friends for a while when we were younger, but we are very different people and our lives moved in seriously different directions. Nevertheless we keep in touch regularly, visit often, share news, stuff like that. We did see each other naked, but the last time was probably 30 years ago. And no, she’s never told me her sexual fantasies – she doesn’t roll that way. And Tom didn’t panic because he figures I won’t say anything and even if I did, she’d never confront him about it. He’s a cocky bastard from way back.

    Kimberly – Tom doesn’t care. He and I (as part of a group) were friends before he met his wife and we used to get up to all sorts of shit, so he reckons I’m “cool” with anything. He was like this when he first was married as well. He’d actually tell me stuff he was doing thinking I’d never say anything to the wife (hello? she’s my best friend??) and when I did mention it to her she’d brush it off like he was just making up stories to impress me or something.

  34. wow. I would hate to be caught in a situation like this. I think you took it really well. It could have been alot worse. I can’t believe someone could do something like that. It puts you in a such a hard situation. I hope you go with your gut feeling. It can’t be easy to live with a secret like that.

  35. A&J – Thanks. It’s not much fun, but I think after hashing it out here on the blog and all the good advice and comments, I’ve sort of figured out what I’m going to do.

  36. wow is all i can say to this.

    is it possible that given tom’s relaxed or flippant attitude when you came to the table that his reaction was misinterpreted (by you) as cockiness ?

    is it possible that his wife knows about the other woman and he thought that she would have told you?

    just a thought and trying to make sense of his reaction to seeing you in that kind of a situation.

  37. I think just for his flippant attitude, he deserves you having it out with him. The nerve!

    I’m in a similar situation myself and I decided not to do anything.

    I also think that at the end of the day, you have to decide who you support most, him or the wife. If you know the wife would make excuse for him and say he’s such a great guy (which he may be as a front so she’s off his case) and she loves him, then you shut up and try to put it behind you. If you would lose the friendship you have with her by telling her, you put it behind you. You may think it will alter things but if the friendship is with her, it’s going to be easier with time.

  38. I agree with most of your comments but I think you need to tell her. While you may be right that SHE is invested in their relationship and wouldn’t want out, what if HE does?

    (He introduced you to his doxy without shame – seems an argument could be made that he wants this to be above-board)

    And if her house of cards is about to come tumbling around her ears, isn’t it better that she ba (even slightly) forewarned?

  39. that kind of stuff annoys me. once, i told one of my best girlfriends that her ex made a pass at me. she and i were the type of friends that were very honest with each other, friends that would never let something like that come between us.

    her ex, they were always on and off, was known for his wayward ways and he made a living counting cards (gambling).

    she did not believe me, and our friendship kind of ended there. i’m not sure how i would handle it again, maybe i would just ignore it b/c i wasn’t sure it was worth the hassle. not b/c of the lost friendship, more b/c it was just a big hassle.

    it proved to not be as healthy as a friendship and it was good that it kind of left.

    he died a few years later from a heroin overdose.

  40. This is a gamble and will force out the truth but possibly only for yourself. Once you get it you can decide what to do with it.

    next time you see the married couple together ask him who that woman was that you saw him with the other day in a very non specific way.

    If he’s hiding something he’ll answer right away and make something up hoping you’ll go along at which point you can decide if you want to burst the bubble.

    If either of them ask where or when, try to hold back details and you can just say “uhhh, I dunno, it was about a week/month ago?”

    If they ask why and you want to shrug it off, just say she looked familiar and you’re just trying to put the face to a name/place.

    idunno, my $.02 but I think this should come out.

  41. I’m rather late coming to this as it is November 6th. But, I have been cheated on by two husbands and knew each time. But, you tend to “well I think so, but maybe not.” I wish I would have had a friend to tell me the truth so I could have gotten out sooner rather than later. It’s one thing to suspect and it’s a whole other thing to be faced with it.

    And, some day, she is going to walk in somewhere and see it and that will be that much more humiliating.

    My husband immediately said, “She’s gotta tell.” He also suggested you take a picture with the cell phone. It is too late for that, of course, but that is an idea for anyone in that position.

    As far as my advice, I would want to know. I think I would mention seeing him, next time you see her and just slowly see how much she wants to know.