Hi, Carolyn: I’ve had a crush on my brother’s friend for years. I invited him to the birthday party I threw for my brother, and I also invited my best friend. Bestie had never met Crush before, but she knew of my crush. They spent the evening together, flirting and getting more touchy-feely the more they drank. She was grinding on him by the end of the night.
Bestie is married with kids but has a desperate need for male attention and has cheated several times. Putting a man in front of her is like putting a drink in front of an alcoholic.
Toward the end of the party when I finally got Bestie alone, I reminded her of my crush and asked her to stop flirting. She apologized and that was that. But the next day I saw that they are now friends on Facebook and feel she might still be overstepping. Now I’m wondering if I can trust her. Could they be talking behind my back? Would she do this with someone I was dating or even married to? And it isn’t the first time this has happened.
I can’t stop her from doing these things (and probably don’t even have the right to tell her not to flirt with my crush), so I’m wondering if I should step back from this friendship. We’ve been friends since childhood and she’s been a great friend otherwise.
Crushed: Of course you can’t trust her — to be anyone except who she has always been. Though that’s a kind of trust, I suppose: You can trust her to choose cocktails and tail-chasing over you or anyone else.
And I think you’re onto a lot more than you realize with the drink-in-front-of-an-alcoholic analogy.
She grabs at male attention even when she knows it hurts her best friend, not to mention, presumably, her husband and kids. That’s the stuff addicts do — prioritize the satisfaction of their physical and emotional cravings above the consequences to themselves and others.
And her drinking lowered and lowered her inhibitions until she was drunk (right?) and grinding some guy who wasn’t her husband and who mattered to someone she was supposed to care about. There may be two dependencies here.
Knowing you can’t trust her is the easy part; she has made it plain.
Whether you choose to distance yourself from her over this, or instead to see her as still your friend in her flawed and compromised and compartmentalized way, is up to you and is much more complicated.
But I urge you to say your piece about her behaving like an addict when male temptation is present — and about your being codependent, which also isn’t just about substance abuse. Ask her whether she can see her role and yours in shielding her from the consequences.
Thereafter, when she does this, say you won’t be a party to it and then disengage. For the night; for as long as you need to cool off; for good. Your call.
Finally, you were available but your crush opted to grind with the drunk married mom friend. I hope he’s looking a lot less crushy today.