“I slept with my best friend’s boyfriend. The guilt is tripping me out. The boyfriend is acting so normal about it, too. Today he proposed to her! I don’t know what to do. I can’t let her marry him knowing what happened between us. How should I go about fixing this?
“She and I are beyond close, and I cannot throw away 17 years of friendship. Her fiance and I have both agreed to put it behind us and agreed that it won’t happen again. Telling her would only hurt her, and I don’t want to lose her. I just want things to be OK with all of us. Should I tell her?” –S.B.
How much this woman means to you and how you value the friendship is something you should have thought about before you had sex with her boyfriend. Your concern for this friendship is too little, too late. It also rings hollow. You threw out the friendship when you slept with her boyfriend.
The timing of your guilt and confusion over when to confess hasn’t gone unnoticed. It wasn’t the morning after you had sex with your best friend’s man when you realized how terrible this was and wanted to spill the tea; it was the day he proposed to your friend.
Your timing makes me wonder if you were under the impression that the sex “meant something” to him and he had real feelings for you or would maybe even leave her for you. How he acted “so normal,” and now the proposal, have revealed how little he cared about the tryst. I don’t think you want to do the right thing as much as I think you want revenge for essentially being used.
Your motivation here is all wrong, but you should tell your friend anyway because she deserves to know that the woman she’s called a friend for 17 years is not someone she can trust. And she needs to know that her fiance can’t be trusted, either.
You slept with her boyfriend, and you’ve been lying by omission by showing up to hang out with her, calling her to chat and spending time with her and her man as if everything’s fine. I’m not sure you grasp the definition of friendship, but sneaking around with her man, having sex with him and then pretending that everything’s peachy does not fall under any socially adjusted person’s definition of a friend.
You have the opportunity now to actually be a friend—something you haven’t been to her recently—by finding the courage to fess up to what you did and gracefully bow out of this so-called friendship. Telling the truth when you’re wrong and looking out for someone else’s best interests is actually one way of being a friend. Burying the truth because you don’t want to face the consequences of your actions is cowardly and selfish.
You’re trying to delay the inevitable by holding on to this secret. The elders have a saying—“Everything done in the dark will come to the light”—and whether or not you tell her, this information will come out, and when you least expect it. Go on and get it out of the way now. Let her go as a friend, and do not let her walk into a marriage and build a life with someone who she doesn’t know would do her this way.
One more thing: There’s no “fixing this” or making it “OK”—at least not anytime soon. You seem not to grasp the magnitude of what you and her fiance have done. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10. She will be understandably angry when you tell her, which you’re trying to avoid. And she probably won’t speak to you for a very long time, but your actions deserve that.
Maybe far down the line she can forgive you. Let her make that determination when she is ready. Tell her, apologize and walk away. Let her rely on her real friends and her family to deal with the mess you and her fiance have made for her.
My heart goes out to this young woman. I hope you find the courage to do the right thing.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of the upcoming book Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.