Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.
My wife and I have been friends with another couple, who I will call Jean and Greg, for a few years. We all enjoy spending time together. My wife recently told me that Jean has informed her the two are having some problems and Jean met someone else. Jean is unsure whether to leave Greg or cut this other guy out of her life.
After talking to Greg casually about the issue and offering my ear if he wanted it, he opened up to me. It’s obvious he has no idea what is actually going on and only knows what Jean told him. I want to tell Greg the truth, since I am not a very good liar. Also, if he finds out later on that I knew, I fear losing him as a friend.
My wife isn’t going to care what I do either way, and I feel more loyal to Greg in this situation. I know getting involved could mean we lose Jean and Greg as friends, but I think that might be worth the trouble. What should I do?
It is possibly, but not likely, than you know everything about the life that Jean and Greg had. We often make the mistake of thinking we know what is going on in a relationship, but it is very, very easy to mistake the symptom for a cause.
I had a friend whose girlfriend was frequently quite mean to him in public. Many people commented about how she acted, but it turned out that my “friend” was actually quite disgusting to her in private. Did this justify her behavior? Absolutely.
It is also completely in the realm of possibility that Greg knows about this other guy, but he is hiding it from you to save face. Or maybe it is not just of any concern to him, since he knows that the real problems in his relationship aren’t going to be solved by eliminating a rival.
Even if you tell Greg the truth, he is probably going to hate you for it. If you really want to retain him as a friend, lie and tell him you knew nothing about it when the time comes.
I have been with my girlfriend Nancy for the past four years. We have shared a lot together, and helped each other through so much, and I truly love and respect her as my partner and a human being.
Nancy was married before so it’s not something she has a great deal of interest in at this time. We do live together and share expenses. She recently broached the concept of having children. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I did not want to have kids if we were not going to get married. Then I wasn’t even sure if I wanted that.
I don’t know if my doubts about the relationship now are just because Nancy’s idea about children made me think of things in a new light, or perhaps I am just getting commitment jitters. I don’t know how to interpret what I am going through. I love Nancy, but I also don’t like the idea of never being with anyone else.
You realized that having children with Nancy means that it would be very difficult to bail out of the relationship later on.
If you wanted all these things with her, you would know it. You would be building a crib and convincing her to marry you. There is no woman who is in that kind of love who would really resist marriage if it were put to her in a correct way. It was a happy thing for you that she was not super-pushy about the future, since you did not actually envision a future with her.
Four years is a long time, but it could be a lot worse. Nancy could have adopted a whole legion of children, stopped doing whatever it was to your butt you enjoyed so much a decade ago, filed for divorce, and found out about your affair with Marion Cotillard.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.