November 17, 2017 at 1:08 pm EDT | by Michael Radkowsky
Tell or stay mum?

It’s true that many people act badly in all sorts of ways, but that doesn’t mean you are fated to do the same.

Hi Michael,

 

My best friends Adam and Scott have been together for years and got married a few summers ago. I was the best man. We all met in college when Adam and I were roommates.
 
Recently I started dating Greg. Our relationship is going great. A few weeks back I had him over to my place for the first time and he was looking over the pictures hanging in my living room.
 
When I pointed out the photo of me with Adam and Scott at their wedding, he got a strange look on his face. Then he told me he had hooked up with Adam over the summer (before we met) in New York.
 
Both of them were there for work and met online. I guess Adam felt anonymous up there. What are the odds?
 
I’m very upset. Mostly I am feeling bad for Scott. I’m angry at Adam for betraying him. I also feel betrayed. I thought Adam and Scott were the perfect couple. Very loving, devoted to each other and they always have made it clear they’re monogamous.
 
Now I’m wondering if anyone is trustworthy and if great relationships really exist.
 
The three of us get together all the time and I was going to introduce them to Greg the weekend after this happened. I cancelled the plan and asked Adam to meet me so I could discuss all this with him.
 
Adam didn’t deny hooking up with Greg but claims it was the first time he’s ever done this since he and Scott met 16 years ago and he also told me that he had already decided he didn’t ever want to do this again because he felt awful about it.
 
Then he begged me not to say anything to Scott and said Scott doesn’t need to know because he will always be faithful to Scott in the future.
 
I don’t like keeping secrets and I don’t want to lie to Scott, who keeps texting me about when we’ll get together.
 
Now I don’t know what to do. Adam is pressuring me to act like nothing is wrong so that Scott won’t get suspicious. But I don’t know how I can hang out with the two of them like everything is normal. And Greg doesn’t want to meet them, pretending that he’s never met Adam.

Michael replies:

Yikes! Sorry that you’ve been put in a tough situation. Your job is to figure out how to respond to this in a way that has integrity for you.

You say you don’t know what to do, but you also say that you don’t know how you can hang out with Adam and Scott pretending that nothing is wrong. Sounds to me like you have a path forward. Even if Adam is pressuring you, it’s not your job to help him keep his husband clueless.

Of course, if you did want to go forward with the two of them as if nothing were amiss, you could. Some might judge you for keeping important information from Scott, but there’s a case to be made that this is a matter between Adam and Scott. And I wonder if Scott really has no clue about any of this; many spouses in similar situations don’t want to let themselves see what they really do know.

Next issue: Scott is pressuring you to get together. This is a tough one. Obviously, you can make excuses for only so long. If you don’t respond, you’ll lose your friendship with Scott. But how can you explain to him why you don’t want to hang out with him and Adam?

You can tell Scott why you’ve been keeping your distance so he doesn’t get angry at you or remain mystified about what he might have done to alienate you. However, that move may blow up his marriage. Again, there’s a case to be made that this is Adam’s news to share.

If you do decide to let Scott know the reason for your sudden disappearance, I advise you tell Adam in advance, if for no other reason than to give him a chance to talk with Scott himself.

As for getting Greg involved in any of this, that sounds like a bad idea, especially because he isn’t interested in going near this mess. Pushing him to do something he doesn’t want to do would be a great way to damage this new relationship.

About your hopelessness with regard to true love, honesty and fidelity: It’s true that many people act badly in all sorts of ways, but that doesn’t mean you are fated to do the same. You will always have the option to behave in a way that you respect, just as you do at present, despite Adam’s pressure.  So as long as you can find a willing partner, you’ll be able to construct a loving and honest relationship.

Please keep in mind, though, that none of us is perfect and all of us make mistakes.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

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