Love Letters

She hooked up with her friend’s ex

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Q. Two of my best friends have had a long-term on-again, off-again fling/relationship. They’ve both told me things that make it clear they shouldn’t be together. I’ve advised them to end their relationship because they’re often unhappy. They called it off a while ago and said they’d try to remain friends.

I also recently ended a relationship, and a few nights ago, my guy friend came over (from the aforementioned couple) to hang out. I used to have a HUGE crush on him — before he and my friend started dating. That night, we talked about our failed relationships and wound up hooking up. We both agreed it was a huge mistake, and we both feel horrible.

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Two days later, my girlfriend told me that the two of them are still talking and that she still has feelings for him. That made me feel even worse because I hooked up with a guy she’s really into. I plan on telling her — I just don’t know how. I always told myself I wasn’t the kind of friend who does this, but I did. I don’t want this to define what kind of person I am. How do I tell her? And what role can I play in their lives and relationship now?

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Made a mistake

A. There’s no easy way to tell her — and a lot of people wouldn’t. Some commenters on Love Letters might make a great case for you keeping the information to yourself.

But . . . you’ve already made the decision to come clean, so just get it over with, as soon as you’re both somewhere comfortable, without an audience. It will be terrible and awkward, but there’s no easy way to disclose an upsetting truth. All you can do is tell your friend that your greatest fear is losing her. (Also, you might want to give her ex a heads up; he’ll probably want to plan for the release of this information.)

After this gets out, your role in their world might be determined for you. She might not want you around at all, and she’ll probably stop coming to you for advice about their turbulent relationship. To be honest, that might be for the best. You wrote of your crush in past tense, but you put it in all caps. Your feelings for him made it too easy for you to turn into a not-so-great friend.

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Maybe you need some time away from these people. Space might be best for everyone.

Meredith

Readers respond:

If you’ve always had a crush on this guy you shouldn’t be “advising” her about her relationship with him. You are worried about the sleeping together part, but you should be equally worried that you first told her they should break up, then slept with him. From her perspective, that’s likely to look calculated.

MAJORISSUES

There’s no reason to tell your friend about the hookup with her ex. The only reason why you want to do it is to create more drama. You already know what kind of friend you are. Now you have a chance to decide what kind of friend you want to be.

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ADAM ---

I would just say that if you’re going to tell her, prepare for neither of these people to be in your life, at least for a little while — maybe for a long while. Also, be prepared that they might get back together . . . and maybe that’ll be something YOU want distance from.

ELLLEEM

Since your female friend still is interested in this guy, I think you have to tell her that you slept with him — if she had no interest, I would say the opposite. I think the purpose of telling her is that from now on, you need to stay out of the middle of their relationship.

LEGALLYLIZ

Don’t ask, don’t tell, stay out of their relationship should it resume. Though . . . why you’d get crucified for sleeping with a single guy is beyond me. It’s rather sexist to treat this guy like some chick has ownership rights over who he sleeps with when they aren’t even together.

THE_BRIDE

If I understand correctly (from watching “The Real Housewives of New York City”), it’s “girl code” — you don’t move in on a girlfriend’s ex. At least, not without talking to her over a wine-filled lunch at an Upper East Side bistro.

DANGLEPARTICIPLE

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.