My friend and her husband are divorcing. They don’t have children, and they’re no longer in love. Recently, he and I ended up at the same work event, where we had a lot of fun. Then we kissed. It gets worse: He confessed that he’s attracted to me; he used the word love. I feel the same way. I also feel like a horrible person. How do I handle this? Should I become a nun?
Whoa. Stop. I’m happy you’re feeling the exhilarating beginnings of new love (cue the confetti), but I wish deep in my marrow that it was not for your friend’s soon-to-be-ex-husband (soak the confetti in lighter fluid and burn it). You already know this is a first-class betrayal, so how to handle it? From a major, major distance.
No need to get thyself to a nunnery yet. Instead, swear another kind of oath: I will never kiss a married man. And another: I will never kiss a man who is otherwise kissing my friend. The smooch goes CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET this instant. If your friend found out, it would cause her epic hurt. Disengage. When she calls, you’re busy. If she asks why, say you’re going through something private and have to disappear for a while. Apologize that you can’t be there for her. You can’t. You can never again be the empathetic, furrow-browed girlfriend on the couch refilling her wineglass. You forfeited that privilege.
In that kiss and declaration, you made a few decisions about your life. Bad news: Your friendship is finished. Good news: You may have found your true love. But you must stay away from your friend and her husband until they’ve formally disbanded and occupy separate addresses, and until a year has passed. Sorry if that’s an unsparing verdict, but you don’t want to turn their amicable divorce into a messy one. And you really do not want to be the mess.
Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.
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