Hello, world. My name's Stephen LaConte, and this is Hey Stephen — a cozy little corner of the internet where BuzzFeed readers like you can DM me for advice.
Today we've got this woman whose friend's husband keeps sending her increasingly flirty messages on Facebook. Should she tell her friend or stay out of it? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:
I think you should tell your friend what her husband is doing. It would be one thing if his messages were frequent but totally innocent — maybe you could chalk that up to some social ineptitude on his part and shrug it off. But there's no ambiguity about his intentions when he's asking you what you're wearing, telling you you're gorgeous, and saying he wishes you were with him. You should let your friend know about all this, for three reasons.
First, to protect yourself. You shouldn't have to spend time around this guy when he's making you uncomfortable. You would be well within your rights to cut him off at this point, but it's hard to communicate that sudden new boundary to your friend without explaining why.
Second, do it to protect your friend. She deserves to know that her husband is attempting to flirt with another woman — let alone someone so close to her. Frankly, I doubt you're the only one who's received messages like this from him. If he's not cheating on your friend already, he's sure to keep trying. Give her a chance to GTFO before his behavior gets worse.
And third, do it to protect your friendship. It's very possible that your friend will discover those Facebook messages on her own someday. You haven't done anything wrong just by being the unlucky recipient of them. But if she were ever to find out that you hid them from her, it would likely spell the end of your friendship.
So yes, please do tell your friend what her husband's been up to. Do it privately, when this guy isn't around to argue over your points or make excuses. Do it as tactfully and gently as you can, knowing that this news will likely come as a painful shock to her. And do it without any apology on your part — again, you haven't done anything wrong in this mess. You're a victim of the husband's actions, just as she is.
Of course, I can't guarantee that your friend will take this incident seriously. It's possible she'll deflect the conversation away from the situation or deny that it happened, or even defend her husband's behavior somehow. And ultimately, it's not your job to convince her to do anything. All you can do is present her with the facts and let her make whatever decision she will with them. The only thing she owes you in the process is respect, trust, and a promise to honor whatever boundaries you need moving forward.
And speaking of boundaries: Please do set some with this man ASAP. He's already shown that he's willing to cross lines with you on the internet. I worry that eventually he'll start crossing those lines in person, too. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is create as much space from him as possible.
Tell him to stop messaging you (or, better yet, just block him). Avoid seeing him socially, especially in settings where you might wind up alone with him. Turn down any invitation that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable. Listen to your gut and prioritize your safety above all else. You don't have to be polite. You just have to be firm.
I hope your friend listens to you and takes these messages seriously. But no matter how she responds, you'll have done the right thing by telling her. You deserve relief from this man's behavior, and she deserves the truth about who he really is — whether she's ready to believe it or not. Good luck. I'm rooting for you.
Last week, we heard from this woman who's cheating on her boyfriend — and doesn't want to stop. Can she keep dating her boyfriend while sneaking around with her (married, and much older) coworker? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:
Your question essentially boils down to, "How do I navigate this mess without getting hurt?" But the thing is, you will get hurt. Your boyfriend will too. That's an inevitable consequence of cheating; people get hurt. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you can actually deal with it and start the painful process of making things right.
And here's the good news: Heartbreak isn't a death sentence. It sucks, but you will survive it, as millions of others have before you. Your boyfriend will heal in time too — and he'll certainly be better off in the long run, knowing the truth. There are far worse fates than being heartbroken. You happen to be living one of them right now.
So my first piece of advice is to tell your boyfriend the truth, apologize sincerely, and break up with him. You're not in a position to try to repair things with him. By your own admission, you're willing to risk your relationship with him for a chance to be with your coworker. That's a good sign that it's time to walk away. Your boyfriend deserves a partner who doesn't view him as a plan B.
You write that you don't feel like you're leading your boyfriend on because you really do love him. But loving this guy isn't enough to justify a relationship with him. If you can't be honest with him, if you can't respect your relationship's most basic and fundamental boundaries, then having love for him is actually not that useful. Let your boyfriend move on. Accept that any pain this causes you is a reasonable consequence of your actions and it will pass in time.
My second piece of advice is to end the affair. By which I don't mean convince your coworker to leave his wife for you — I mean stop seeing him. Cut him out of your life. Change jobs if you can. I don't know much about this guy, but the little I do know tells me that he's not the right partner for you, either. He's two decades older than you, he's married, he's got three kids at home. I understand that you love him — but just like with your boyfriend, the love you have isn't enough to overcome the reality of what this affair actually is.
So yeah, if you wrote to me hoping I'd tell you which man to pick, I'm sorry to say that my answer is neither. This is not The Bachelorette; there is no final rose. You're in two bad relationships, when you should be in none.
And hey, maybe some time spent as a single person would be healthy for you. One thing that's clear from your DM is that you're pretty focused on yourself right now. I don't mean that to sound shady; there's nothing wrong with deciding that you don't have space in your life to consider a partner's needs. But singlehood is a much better solution to that than cheating.
That brings me to your last comment: "I know that I'm a terrible person." I actually think that's an unhelpful way of looking at this. You're not a terrible person, but you are doing a terrible thing — one that you can stop doing at any moment you choose. Don't resign yourself to being a bad person. Try, with everything you have, to be a better one. I believe that you can.
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