The question: My friend’s boyfriend came on to me. She has no idea. I shut him down, but I think I’m hot for him too. What should I do?
The answer: Stop and ask yourself one question: If the roles were reversed and you were in your friend’s shoes, what you would want her to do? Think long and hard about the answer to this question.
Romantic relationships will come and go, but true friendships can be lifelong, so I would not even consider temptation.
That being said, you have a few options: do nothing (always an option); pursue the relationship with your friend’s boyfriend (bad idea); or set some boundaries and ensure you do not betray your friend in any way (best plan).
Think about how would you friend react if she knew that not only had her boyfriend disrespected her by coming on to someone else, but that her friend also entertained thoughts of getting involved with him.
Being “hot” for someone can be the result of a number of factors. It can be pure physical attraction, which is totally normal. It can be the secrecy of the attraction and the fact that it would be taboo. It can also be alcohol induced. See the attraction for what it most likely is: nothing more than a fleeting sensation.
If you find yourself fantasizing about a possible relationship you could have with this guy, ask yourself whether you would want to be in a relationship with someone who hits on his girlfriend’s friends? The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and likely his pattern would continue.
In terms of how to approach this, I would suggest one of two things. Since you already shut him down, you could ignore the boyfriend’s behaviour altogether and just ensure that you establish very direct boundaries moving forward. Do not give him any direct or inadvertent verbal or non-verbal clues that you are interested in him – and then wait and see. Perhaps it was an isolated event or other factors such as alcohol contributed to his behaviour, and he realized what a mistake he made. If, however, he continues to hit on you, I would speak to him assertively. Let him know in no uncertain terms that you are not interested, that you do not appreciate him disrespecting your friend and that if his behaviour continues, you will tell her.
The issue of speaking to your friend about the situation is a more complicated one, and you really need to navigate this matter carefully. Whether you speak to her is going depend upon a number of factors: your relationship with her, the amount of trust you have in each other, how long she has been with this guy and whether she has any sense of his behaviour or doubts about his trustworthiness. It is also going to depend on what he did. Was he simply being friendlier than normal without crossing any real line? Was he flirtatious, but not overtly inappropriate? Did he directly proposition you?
If it was a one-time situation, if he his behaviour fell in a grey zone and if he has regret and changes his behaviour, it may be best to not hurt her feelings by bringing this up. On the other hand, if his behaviour continues or if it clearly was in a category that surpassed certain boundaries, you may need to speak to her directly.
Ultimately, you need to act in a way that is consistent with your values and make decisions you will not regret.
Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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