My Friend’s Husband Hit On Me: Now What?


By Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder, Psy.D., Talking Teenage for

There are times in life when unexpected events happen. Once in a while, a situation occurs that leaves you feeling confused, frustrated and maybe a little guilty or shameful.

You are a devoted wife and mother. Perhaps you are a single mom who has had to work particularly hard to keep it all together. You are grateful for what you have and all that you have achieved. Isn’t it unfortunate that in the blink of an eye, someone else’s inappropriate behavior toward you can propel you in the midst of a difficult and delicate dilemma?

Maybe you were at a party or even a school event when this inappropriate action occurred. Regardless of whether you know your friend’s spouse well or if he is merely an acquaintance, when a friend’s partner makes an unexpected pass at you, it can leave you with a precarious problem to ponder.

There are many things you need to process. First and foremost, it is important to deal with your own feelings. How well you know the other party will certainly impact how you feel. Your own marital status will probably also play into your feelings.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider how to cope with the situation.

Be fair to yourself. When an untoward situation occurs, it is not uncommon to try to make sense of it by looking at how your own actions could have played a part. In this particular situation, self-blame is not unusual. Maybe you find your friend’s spouse attractive. Maybe you even enjoy a good flirt now and then. Regardless of these factors, no one has the right to victimize you. Victimization may sound like a strong word -- if you have been the recipient of an unwanted advance from a friends’ spouse, you are indeed a victim.

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A flurry of emotions may flood you. After such an incident, you may be managing a mix of emotions. Hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, shame, and even apathy or numbness are not uncommon. Given the delicate nature of the situation, you may also feel overwhelmed and anxious. If, by some chance, you have had a secret crush on the offender or simply find him attractive, guilt and shame may consume you.

Seek support. While initially you may want to blow the situation off as ‘no big deal,’ denial will get you nowhere. It is important to tell your story to someone you trust to be caring, kind, understanding, and supportive. If that person is usually the friend who’s husband made the affront, it goes without saying that you will need to seek support elsewhere. Don’t underestimate the traumatization of such an incident. You may want to consider outside counseling to help you process and work through how you are feeling as well as how you intend to proceed. An impartial professional can be a great help in such a situation.

Once you have taken care of yourself, you will probably want to decide how you will proceed. While on the surface the answer to this dilemma may seem obvious, situations such as this are rarely so easy to delineate.

Here are a few of the factors you should be prepared to think about before deciding what you plan to do.

Consider the context. No matter how you try and frame it, dealing with an unexpected advance is difficult. The circumstances under which this event occurred will probably play into how you plan to proceed. Think through the situation: did your friend’s spouse give a quick peck that he immediately acknowledged was inapropriate, or did he touch you in an unexpected and inappropriate way? Did he immediately acknowledge he made a misstep, or did he try and blow it off as if it was no big deal or simply an innocent mistake? Maybe he presented as offended or insistent because he ‘knew’ you wanted him to do this. Did he offer an understanding explanation? Where were you when this occurred? How did you feel right after? Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you are human. Were the two of you caught up in an intense conversation or  did you share a mutual moment of excitement even victory when he impulsively expressed his affection? If so, did he apologize immediately and acknowledge with genuine regret and/or embarrassment that he never should have acted so impulsively? Were you able to talk through this indiscretion and agree that it should never have happened and won’t happen again?

See the situation from your friend’s perspective. When deciding what, if anything, you intend to tell your friend, try to put yourself in her shoes. Would you want to know if your husband took a momentary misstep, or would you only want to be told if he made a no holds bar all out pass? Do you believe you would you be better off not knowing? Perhaps you feel you would want to be informed no matter what happened. How would you react? Can you really be sure you know?

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Her reaction may not be what you expected. No matter how good of a friend she is, you may not be able to accurately predict how she will respond. Prepare yourself for the worst and hope for the best. There is always the chance that she takes it in stride. Indiscretions are often an indication that a marriage is on the rocks. If you are a single mom it may be easier for your friend to turn the blame on you. This may not be fair but people in desperate situations often act in unexpected and egregious ways.

This may or may not be the end of a beautiful friendship. If your friend has an adverse reaction toward you after she finds out about the incidence don’t assume all is lost. This type of news is bound to cause her some embarrassment, shame and yes maybe even guilt. After all, would you want to acknowledge that you are married to a real cad? If she turns the tables and tries to deflect the blame on to you, you may decide you no longer want/need her as a friend. Time and space however, can provide much needed repair and solace. It is sad that the actions of another could spoil the connection you have forged with your friend and confidante.

There is always room for repair. This type of situation can leave both you and your friend feeling powerless. Once the air has cleared, take some time to talk. Keep in mind that your friend did not do anything to you, her spouse did. While her initial reaction may have hurt ask yourself what lengths you would go to protect your marriage and family.

There is no doubt that this is a difficult dilemma. It is important to keep it all in perspective. Situations such as this one can cause a lot of collateral damage. Regardless of the fall out, you must remind yourself that you did not do anything wrong. You did not make this mess despite the fact that you may feel as if it is your responsibility to clean it up.

Be sure to seek out the support you need to make it through this unfortunate turn of events. While you had no control over the incident, at least you can ensure that there is an acceptable outcome. True friends are hard to find. In the end, sometimes we come to learn valuable lessons about people when we are put through trying circumstances.


Has a friend's husband, partner or boyfriend ever hit on you? How did you handle it?


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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.