a.k.a. The things we do for our friends
This post is based on a NaBloPoMo prompt: Do you become partially responsible once you definitively know of wrongdoing?
Knowing makes you an accomplice
A few years ago, a friend introduced me to a man and two women – let’s call the women A and B and the man Z. The three of them were quite friendly, but I quickly became friends with A – and count her as one of my best friends to this day. As I learnt early on, Z was in a relationship with B but had previously slept with A; so far, so none of my business. Things seemed a bit tense between B and Z, but I was told that she was completely OK with it.
My friendship with A developed so fast and so naturally that she quickly trusted me with a secret. In addition to sleeping with Z when he was single, she had actually slept with him after he and B had become an item, which he hadn’t told A at the time. Since A liked B, the situation made her uncomfortable, but she didn’t want to be the one to break them up. The way she saw it, B would probably resent her for her actions, but things would be worse if A was the one to tell her the truth.
While I was touched by A’s honesty toward me, I spent the next few months wishing she hadn’t told me. I liked B as well and wanted to get to know her better, but I didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t want to betray A’s trust and felt it wasn’t my place to tell B the truth. That meant I would have to keep my mouth shut, which I felt was the same as lying to B’s face. I thought the truth would come out eventually, but years later, I think it still hasn’t – hopefully they aren’t together anymore.
The next time I met B, she opened up to me despite my best efforts to discuss other topics and I discovered that she was actually anything but OK with what she thought had happened. It was one of the most uncomfortable conversations I had ever had. I thought it would be better to pretend that I didn’t know anything about the whole thing, but I’m a very bad liar and I’m sure she could tell I was hiding something. I just hope she thought I was lying about not knowing, and not hiding what I really was hiding.
But it doesn’t make it your fault
A few weeks went by and I realised that B would probably never contact me again. On the one hand, I was disappointed, as she seemed like a very nice person and we could have become good friends under other circumstances. But on the other hand, I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to lie to her again. This wasn’t a good basis for a new friendship anyway.
Right now, I think the best thing I could have done at the time is make A tell B the truth. It would have been the right thing to do for both of them. As much as I love A, she needs to understand that being a good person doesn’t always get you loved and that it’s OK to tell a friend something that they won’t be happy to hear. If they are smart, you won’t lose them because of it.
I don’t feel guilty about keeping my mouth shut. All I did was keep a secret, and I’m not sure telling the truth would have changed anything. More importantly, I’m not the one who did something wrong here – Z is.
If I had been in A’s shoes, I could have felt guilty, but I think I would have felt betrayed and been angry at him for not telling me he was in a relationship. And I certainly didn’t even keep that secret for him; in fact, hadn’t A asked me not to, I would probably have told B; she deserved better than to be lied to by the man she loved.
Featured image: Confidential by skepticalview on Flickr, resized and cropped by me.