Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I now live in a party destination, and I regularly get family and friends visiting to experience the city. This includes “Kathy,” who has been in a long-term relationship for seven years.
When we were out, I came back from the bar to find Kathy making out with a guy who was rounding third base. I hated that she made me an accomplice to her cheating, and ended up mostly breaking off the friendship.
Now two years later, mostly reconciled, Kathy confronted me drunkenly at a birthday party for “treating her like a whore” and “making her feel bad for what she did.” It all came out that Kathy and her boyfriend had made their relationship open before her trip.
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I think she needed to tell me about the new situation, or what else was I supposed to think? Kathy maintains her relationship status is private and she did not need to tell me. Who’s right in this situation?
Certainly it would have helped to know she wasn’t deceiving her boyfriend so you didn’t feel like an accomplice.
Her claiming privacy after she took part in a public mauling is also a bit rich.
I could also argue that your reaction sounds like a judge-and-shun operation where — assuming you have a good friendship history with Kathy — a sober, next-day conversation and forgiveness might have been more appropriate to that history.
All that being said, what bugs me most about what Kathy did isn’t even here except by implication: Now that you’re in Sin City, you’re expected to be the host of everyone’s walk on the wild side? Kathy used you, and that’s not erased by the “I had a get-out-of-jail-free card!” excuse.
Having people come “experience the city” will wear you down fast if you don’t start having a conversation with people in advance about what it’s like to be the chauffeur for everyone’s regression fantasy.
Re: Open Relationship: As someone in a happy open marriage, I just wanted to weigh in — Kathy absolutely owed it to her to mention that she was a free agent for the weekend. I mention it ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be a big privacy invading treatise on your personal rules, just a “Hey, Husband, and I are a little different, so it’s cool.” Most people raise an eyebrow, shrug, and go back to their own lives. They think about it a lot less when they’re not worrying about a giant cheating train wreck exploding in their laps.
Carolyn: Kathy spent most of the trip blackout drunk and living out her Sin City fantasies, so like you suggested, there were other reasons I didn’t want to continue the friendship. I felt extremely used, and she didn’t understand why I was ruining her vacation. I now have “the talk” with people before they come, but don’t judge them for a night of indulgence. I tried talking to Kathy about what happened, but she mostly didn’t remember, denied, and in general was upset with me. I thought it better to just let it, and her, go.
What’s obnoxious in Sin City stays obnoxious.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.