Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: One of the people in my group of friends is a man who is married. To me he has never been anything other than a friend. I did once say to him that I would probably date him if he was single, but he wasn’t, so that was never on the table.
Fast forward to a recent evening, when he confessed a lot of feelings for me and kissed me. I admit I did not stop the kiss as quickly as I should have, and I also made the mistake of responding that I liked him too. I regret both those things. But then I continued that he was married, and that nothing would ever happen.
Since then he has been sending me messages about his feelings. I have responded every time by saying nothing would ever happen between us, and that he needs to work on his marriage.
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Most recently, he got drunk with friends, told them he wants to leave his wife for me, and this made its way to his wife. She is now demanding that I stay away from her husband.
I do feel sorry for my role in all this, and I have no intention of being around her husband, but I also feel I am being overly blamed because the only narrative out there is his view that I have been complicit. I am feeling bitter that the group sees me as the villain.
I guess I am happy to play this role if it helps them fix their marriage, but I could use some advice on how to think about it so I don’t feel hurt and frustrated.
The Other Woman
It’s not just his view; your own words say you’ve been complicit:
(1) “I did once say … I would probably date him if he was single.”
(2) “I … did not stop the kiss as quickly as I should have.”
(3) “I also … respond[ed]8 that I liked him too.”
(4) “then I continued that he was married, and that nothing would ever happen.”
(5) “I have responded every time [to messages about his feelings].”
(1) “If you leave your wife, I’m in.”
(2) “If you leave your wife, I’m in.”
(3) “If you leave your wife, I’m in.”
(4) “If you leave your wife, I’m in.”
(5) “If you don’t leave your wife, then I’m OK with communicating secretly.”
Intended or not, your message has been clear and consistent. You recognize this, though, so use that to cut yourself off at the source: Stop hoping he’ll be single soon.
The person “overly” blaming you, for what it’s worth, is the wife — which makes sense. As the one who made and is bending marital vows, he’s way more guilty than you are, but she needs to forgive him to save her marriage. You’re an easy dumping spot for excess blame because wronged spouses aren’t exactly consumed by the need to be fair to their rivals.
So take your lumps and stay away. As in, don’t respond to his messages, of any kind. Let their marriage mend or fail without you.
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