Is Honesty Really The Best Policy?
I had an interesting encounter with a married friend the other night. My husband, our two-year-old son and I went to dinner at “Jack,” “Jill” and “little Johnny’s” house. They’re friends of ours, and we were looking forward to catching up with them after not seeing them for several months.
I should mention now that Jack and Jill have a one-bedroom apartment, so all six of us were essentially in one room the entire night. You’ll soon find out why this is important.
We were having a great time, and the wine was definitely being enjoyed (more so by the men than by the women and kids).
Out of the blue, Jack gave me a look. You know, The Look. I turned around, hoping that Jill was behind me, and The Look was directed at her. She wasn’t, and it was not. When I turned back, Jack was still giving me The Look.
I brushed it off. Really, we’re all married here, right?
Then, he gave me a hug. Or, in the same vein, perhaps I should say, The Hug. Was that his hand sliding down my back and hovering on that no-man’s-land area below the small of my back, just above my butt?
I discreetly moved away, trying to assure myself that I was just imagining things. Perhaps Jack’s hand had slipped. But then, how many times has a guy’s hand “accidentally” slipped when touching a woman? (Don’t answer that, guys.)
I sat on the couch, next to Jill, and started playing with the kids. This had to be a safe zone. But no. Soon, Jack was also on the couch, in between Jill and me. And I found that my feet and legs were ever-so-gently being caressed. My discomfort was now official.
So, what were my husband and Jill were doing during all this? Well, we were cooking, talking, drinking, and following the micro-people around the room. There were always two adults interacting with the kids, so it was actually pretty easy for Jack to be “alone” with me.
At that moment, I couldn’t think of what to do. Finally, I played the baby card. I ratted out my son and announced that he was too tired to continue the night. We had to leave. (I must admit, it’s nice having a kid to blame things on as a way out of sticky situations.)
But what happened really troubled me, and I had to consider my actions. Had I done anything to warrant The Look, The Hug, and The Caress? No.
Still, I was feeling guilty, like I had done something wrong. I have a lot of male friends whom I hug, or put my arms around, or dance with. I’m comfortable with physicality with men who are not my husband. But this was different.
I debated over telling my husband, but I wasn’t sure what that would accomplish. This could be a serious accusation to make against a friend. My honesty could hurt Jill, especially if I was misreading things. And it very well could have just been the wine guiding Jack’s hands. But that didn’t make it okay, either.
If I didn’t tell my husband, I considered how I would handle the situation should it arise again. I’d never had this problem before with Jack (or any other male friend, married or single, for that matter). I thought maybe I could limit my interactions with Jack and make sure I was never alone with him. But then, I remembered that this whole uncomfortable encounter happened with our respective spouses and children in the same room. So that idea went out the window.
I thought of trying to see Jill alone. But on the evening in question, we had talked about the things we were going to do together in the upcoming weeks. Specifically, we had talked about having them over for dinner. In our apartment, our kitchen is in its own separate room, and Jack and I are usually the cooks. Should Jack try something again, I couldn’t very well announce mid-dinner preparation that my husband needed to take over in there.
I mulled about this for a few days, but in the end, I couldn’t shake that guilty, uncomfortable feeling. What helped me make my final decision was the fear of it happening again. I would want my husband to be aware of an existing problem should I find myself in the same situation. And I wouldn’t want to have to explain to him (my husband) that this was not the first time I had had a problem with Jack.
So I told him the truth. I didn’t expect my husband to fly into a rage about Jack’s actions. Nor did he. And after I was honest about my what happened, I felt better. I wasn’t hiding something shameful. But, why should I be ashamed when I tried to remove myself from the situation? At least now, I feel like my husband and I can stand together as a united front, should we ever need to confront Jack.
But I still wonder. This had never happened before, and there’s a good chance it will never happen again. So, was honesty really the best policy? Have I hurt my husband’s opinion of his friend? Should I even care about that? Will our friendship ever be the same? I now wonder about Jack’s commitment to his marriage, since he seemed to have no problem hitting on me while my husband, his wife and our children were all right there. What does he do when the circumstances are a bit more favorable?
I think I did the right thing, but who knows? What would you have done if you were in my shoes?