My best friend’s husband has been sexually inappropriate with me

Tell Me About It: He made advances, then denied it and now I have lost my best friend

My best friend of 30 years and I have been through all of life's ups and downs together; we know each other since secondary school, have seen each other get married, have children and go through illness.  

Our families are close. We holiday regularly together, particularly in recent years as our children are now friends.

Her husband and I are the primary caregivers for our children. We have been friends for 22 years and often take trips with the children without our spouses while they are working.  

On a number of occasions recently, I have felt uncomfortable with my friend's husband when we were in each other's company alone. He had become quite "touchy feely" with me, offering foot, neck and shoulder massages and putting my feet on his lap.  


I didn’t say it to him in case I was over-reacting but did tell my husband who thought it was a bit out of order. He suggested maybe we should just keep an eye on it.

More recently my friend's husband mentioned that he had been interested in me before he met his wife – my friend – all those years ago. I didn't know how to react so I made a neutral response and tried to change the subject.  

When I look back it all seems kind of an obvious lead up to what happened next. I realise I should have nipped it in the bud but again I have constantly second-guessed myself and ignored my gut because I didn't want to make a fuss and was afraid of reading too much into things. I badly regret not speaking out sooner.

Later, we were on a trip – our spouses were not there at the time – and he made an unambiguous pass at me while very drunk. It involved inappropriate physical touching and hugging, an attempt to pull me to lie beside him on a sofa and eventually an attempt to kiss me. I was upset but clearly told him he was making me feel uncomfortable, that he should stop, that I was going to bed and he should too. He then suggested coming to bed with me! It was awful.   

I confronted him the next morning. He said he did not remember the incident and later said t he does not believe what I said happened, suggesting I misinterpreted his actions or that it was drunken humour.

My husband agreed the incident was without question inappropriate and that I was right to confront him . My friend's husband offered a qualified apology by text later – he was sorry I was upset but would never do what I was suggesting – which I rejected.

My friend (his wife) did not answer my calls, or offers to meet but in an email said that she did not think there was any hope for our friendship. I cannot believe a friend of over 30 years is willing to just cut me off in this way. 

I feel betrayed, hurt and upset. Her reaction hurts me way more than anything her husband did.

It seems that your early non-reaction to the advances of your friend’s husband was based on the possibility that your close friend would drop you without question. This is a friendship that you have built your life around and the loss of it is a huge grief-filled hole in your life. Is it possible that this was an incident waiting to happen for years and finally your friend let you go without the least fight? There might be an opportunity here to look back at this friendship and see if there are any patterns where you gave in to her in order to keep her in your life. It might help with coming to some understanding and acceptance of what has happened.

That you are the person who is somehow in the “bad” position is a common one for women who face unwanted sexual contact. This is why so much effort goes into managing these situations through ignoring it, or moving away without challenging it. This is now beginning to be tackled with the promotion of “consent” as a core aspect of sexual encounters. You have a right not to have unwanted sexual approaches of any sort and it seems you were clear on this a number of times through non-verbal behaviour but you have been scapegoated as exaggerating or making it up. That you tackled it is to your credit and take solace in your courage to do this.

You are consumed by the loss of the greatest friendship of your life and by the injustice landed on you by your dearest friend. The need is to come to an acceptance and a letting-go of all that has happened.  Your husband never doubted you and your relationship is strong so you have the support to begin this process.