Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My best friend “Tara” dated a guy “Pat” for about six months after she had ended a seven-year relationship. Pat fell hard for her, but when he began discussing moving in together and next steps, Tara realized that she didn’t feel the same way and knew it was better to end it earlier than lead him on.
We are all in our late 20s. It’s been about two months since they broke up and Pat is having a really hard time — he texts her incessantly with things like, “You were the love of my life and now I feel empty,” at all hours of the day.
The problem is that my husband, “Eric,” and Pat really hit it off in those six months and Eric was really sad he was going to lose a potential great friend when they broke up. Eric moved to my hometown and doesn’t have his own social circle here.
At first I thought it would be great if Eric and Pat still got together, and Tara had said it was fine. But now I am so weirded out by Pat’s inability to move on that I don’t want him in my life whatsoever. I feel like I’m seeing red flags in how he’s treating my best friend. He has not stopped by her house or shown up anywhere, just contact via texting.
Still, at what point does this go on for me to say, “Eric, I feel uncomfortable with you keeping Pat in your life?” Ideally I want my husband to cut him out without me saying anything, but I think he feels sorry for Pat and doesn’t view anything as threatening.
Caught Between Friend and Her Ex
“Ideally I want my husband to cut him out without me saying anything.”
TALK to your husband like the partner he is. Say you’re creeped out by the way Pat is texting your friend, and you think he’s crossing a line. Ask Eric what he thinks.
Figure out, together, whether Eric agrees there’s a problem, and, if so, whether the best move is for you to talk to Pat, Eric to talk to Pat, Eric to end the friendship, etc. And if Eric disagrees that Pat is creepy or that staying friends with Pat is creepy, then figure out how not to let other people’s problems become your marriage’s problem.
Don’t just jump from a place of complete silence into making absolute demands — and please drop now and forever the idea that waiting for your husband to read your mind is any kind of a plan.
Re: Caught: You want your husband to drop his friend, who texts — but has not abused, as far as anyone knows — someone he still has feelings for, and you think HE’S controlling?
Re: Caught: Why does Eric need to end the friendship at all? If Tara doesn’t like Pat texting her, she should deal with that. There’s absolutely no reason for the letter-writer to be involved in the relationship between Eric and Pat or Pat and Tara.
Except the old-fashioned reason, not liking one’s spouse’s friend. But you’re right: Step 1 is Tara’s to take, in ensuring her boundaries are properly drawn.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.