Shayne on You: A harmless flirtation?

Dear Maggie:

†I have a friendly relationship with a relativeís husband.† Heís very bright, well traveled and interesting.† Iíve become uncomfortable because heís now confiding that heís unhappily married.† At first, I was flattered by his flirtation ... but I donít want to have an affair with him.† He knows that, but still persists in making suggestive comments.† He invited me to join him on a business trip last year.† I didnít.

I donít need to say anything to†my relative†because sheís a very bright woman who Iím sure recognizes that sheís married to a philanderer.† Is it disloyal of me to continue a platonic friendship with him knowing that heís interested in an affair?† Iím not comfortable listening to his complaints about my relative but if I tell him that is off limits, is there anything wrong with continuing the friendship?† I enjoy talking about other things with him immensely.

Thank you for your time,

†Befuddled Relative

Dear Befuddled,

This one isnít as complicated as it seems, so letís dig into it a little and see what we can come up with. I wonder, first, if your relative really does know sheís married to a philanderer. You say sheís a bright woman. Would a bright woman stay married to a philanderer? I have to wonder. I kind of doubt it. So maybe she doesnít know.

Now, whether I think itís disloyal to stay friends with this guy, or you think itís disloyal to do so, letís ask ourselves this: would his wife think it was disloyal? Thatís probably where youíll get your answer.

You say you enjoy talking to him about other things. That heís bright, well-traveled and interesting. This sounds dangerous to me. It sounds like, whether you intend it or not, there might be a hint of attraction to him lurking beneath the surface for you. By continuing the ďfriendship,Ē you run the risk of it becoming more than you intended. Itís a harsh reality, but a real possibility and Iíd be lax in my duties if I didnít point it out.

But hereís one thing that really hits me. Is it really a friendship at all? Would a friend, hit on his wifeís relative? Would he put you in that position if he really were a friend to you? Would he really do things that put you in the horrible spot of having to choose between telling your relative, or not telling her, or whatever falls in between?

I donít think this guy is interested in friendship with you at all. I think heís got one intent where youíre concerned, and one intent only.

So if it were me, Iíd tell him to take a flying leap. And Iíd probably tell his wife about his ďinvitationĒ on that business trip, as well. Though to do that, you risk losing her friendship, so use your own judgment there. You know her better than I do.

I know that freezing him out is probably the toughest choice off all your many options. But I think it would be the most empowering one for you, and the most healthy thing you could do for the wife and for their marriage.

Besides, if you donít put him in his place in short order, whoís to say he wonít be hitting on some other, more willing, female in the not too distant future? And wouldnít that end up in his wife, your relative, ending up with a broken heart? If you can prevent that, maybe that would be the thing to do.

Whatever you decide, trust your gut and your instincts. The best way to make these decisions is to think of yourself acting out each option, and then imagine how it would make you feel. Your emotions are the key. The action that makes you feel guilty, or bad or remorseful is the wrong one. The one that would make you feel strong, and good, and powerful, is always the best.

Good luck! This is not an easy one and I donít envy you this task.

As for him, on the other hand, if I knew who he was I think Iíd kick him in the ... uh ... well, weíll save that for another column.



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