Dear Amy:

My friend "Jim" is 40 years old and has been married for 15 years. He and his wife have three daughters.

He recently confessed to me that he has been cheating on his wife for the past two years. He has been seeing a married woman and has been having sex with her several times a week.

Jim hasn't told anybody else. Because we have been best friends since childhood, I'm the one he's coming to and asking for help. He says that he is in love with this other woman.

What should I do? I'm afraid that if Jim's wife finds out that I know something she'll go crazy on me.

I haven't told anyone what I know, not even my wife. I believe in following your sacred marital vows, yet I don't know how to communicate this to him when he asks me for help.

Friend in Need

You don't mention what your friend needs your help with. He is having an extramarital affair, not building a barn. If your friend comes to you for advice about whether he should carry on this affair, then you should be honest with him and tell him that what he is doing is despicable and that he should stop it.

If he comes to you and asks you whether he should leave his wife and three children for this other woman, then you should tell him, "Jim, I'm sure you know that what you are doing is wrong. You should follow your sacred marital vows." If you are disgusted by his behavior, then you should tell him so. The fact that your friend has known you for so long and undoubtedly knows your core values means that he is seeking you out for a reason.

If there was ever a time to find your voice and be completely honest with him, this would be it.

I don't think that you should tell his wife about his extramarital affair; if she learns about this, then she should go crazy on her husband, not you. However, because having sex is a health risk, his wife has a right to know that her health is endangered by her husband's behavior. You need to give this snake an ultimatum -- he must notify his wife of this, or you will have to.

Dear Amy:

I want to make sure I am doing the right thing and get your advice on my course of action, or your opinion on how else to handle this matter.

I used to like person "A" and "A" was well aware of this but didn't say one thing either way. I was just ignored.

Now "A" has developed the hots for me. I've lost interest over time, and I'm looking for something else and would just like to keep "A" as a friend.

He has called several times, comes up to me and holds me (even though I don't let him, return his calls or show any interest). He keeps coming on to me! I would just like him to formally ask me out so I could say, "No thank you," but I don't want to be harsh about it. I can't keep waiting for him to ask so I can say no.

A friend has told me that I should confront him the next time he tries to come on to me and politely say something like, "I'm not interested." I would really like to figure out what I am going to do before school starts again.

Just Want to Be Friends

You aren't a character in a Jane Austen novel, dear. In this millennium, young ladies are permitted to initiate conversations, especially if they wish to clarify a situation that would otherwise cause continuing embarrassment.

At any time, you can say, " 'A' -- I want you to know that I like you but I don't like like you. I'm not interested in you romantically."

If "A" says, "I don't know what you're talking about -- those phone calls and holding episodes don't mean anything," then you can say, "Sorry -- I was mistaken; I just want to make sure there isn't any misunderstanding between us."

If you don't like this "holding" business, then you really must tell him. If this attention feels sexual and it is unwelcome, then he needs to stop it.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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