(Long) Dealing with guilt
I’m writing this post as I’m looking for constructive advice about how best to deal with feelings of guilt I’m currently having, and in a way that does right by those involved and doesn’t dodge my responsibility for what happened. As such I’m going to be open about the situation, which is mainly to do with sex (though I won’t go in to graphic detail). I should also point out that I’m a man, and that the person I’ve had encounters with is as well – this is the internet, so sadly I need to state that if your response is going to have a homophobic edge then save us both the time and don’t post it. All that will happen is that I’ll immediately discount everything you’re saying. I would also suggest that religious responses are not appropriate in this case, as all the individuals involved are secular.
I have a friend (not a particularly close friend, but a friend nonetheless) with whom I’ve had a couple of sexual encounters. There is no emotional connection, and it’s not a frequent occurrence at all. There have been three times in which we’ve had sexual contact, and it’s always been just an occasional aspect of our friendship. Not a big deal to either of us. The last time was two days ago, and it left me with the impression that it kind of is a big deal.
Since I’ve known him, he’s had a partner. She was his girlfriend, then his fiancée, and is now his wife. However, they’ve always been a bit on the kinky side, and this whole thing started as they wanted to have a threesome. I went over to their place, we chatted and hung out, but it didn’t really get started. She had to go, so me and the guy hung out a bit more, and eventually stuff started happening. In conversation some time later he said how she was OK with the two of us fooling around, so long as we filmed it. I rightly or wrongly took this as a joke, but also assurance that what had happened wasn’t a problem.
Some time later, and by that I mean around 3 years, we were hanging out and again one thing sort of lead to another. I probably felt slightly more on edge about this, as by that time they’d gotten married and moved in together, but my understanding was still that it was fine given previous events. I always got the impression that there’s a distinction in their relationship between their love and these purely physical acts, which are OK given that they’re just the occasional bit of fun with a buddy. I still think that’s how he sees things, but my issue is that I’m no longer sure if that’s how she sees things.
The other night I was a bit drunk from a barbeque I’d been to, and was texting and messaging around. The two of us got talking, and he mentioned how he was also drunk and at a friend’s place but his friend had crashed out. The flirtatious element that can sometimes come into our conversations escalated, and long story short he came over and we fooled around. It was fun, very much just friends, all the same as before. What’s different is that the next day I saw one of their Facebook interactions, and he said he’d stayed at his friend’s place that night.
At our previous run-in I picked up that he didn’t want her to know we’d fooled around, but I brushed that aside based on what had gone before. I think I told myself that he wanted to avoid her getting jealous from lack of involvement or whatever. But seeing that lie about where he was the other night has created a different set of feelings in me. Perhaps it is that he’s avoiding kinky jealousy, but what seems more likely is that, whatever her previous position, she would now be upset at the thought that he was having sexual encounters with someone else, however he might perceive them.
I’m therefore feeling very guilty at the moment. I feel that I’ve done a great wrong by her, and I’m disappointed in myself as I usually try to be as considerate as possible of other people’s lives and feelings. I think a lot of people who know me would describe me as friendly and kind, and while I know that no-one’s perfect I’m afraid that this reflects a not so nice core underneath. After all, while I might have had misperceptions that allowed me to ignore my slight concerns, I still ignored them. Maybe, to be crass, I was too horny to care.
But I’m not saying this to try and shirk off responsibility or play the victim. Whatever the weighting of responsibility may be (after all it takes two to tango and I’m not the one with vows), I’m still a responsible party and there’s no escaping that. I’m also willing to concede that the picture may not be clear cut for him – perhaps he has identity issues, or the fact that he’s in his early-mid twenties and is married to (I think) the only romantic partner he’s ever had has created some kind of tension. Yet however you spin it, if this girl truly isn’t aware that he’s been doing this and would be upset to find out he has, she’s been wronged, and I feel pretty crappy about my involvement in that.
So I guess my question is this: how can I deal with these feelings of guilt in a constructive and responsible way, whilst doing right by her and not making things worse? Guilt can be useful for growth and I definitely won’t be sleeping with him again, but what else should I do to allow me to move on and to try and heal any damage that I may have caused? I feel like this is the sort of thing that will come out sooner or later, and that I owe it to her to give her an explanation and offer a sincere apology. But then again, if it’s probably not going to come out and since there are going to be no more incidents, would it be best to not say anything and deal with it on my own? I’m afraid that my instincts to come clean are putting my own feelings before her happiness, as I already have in one way or another. Either way, I’m thinking that I should at least talk to him about it – my question is where, if anywhere, should I go from there?
If you’ve managed to make it all the way through that, well done and thank you. I’d be very grateful for any advice you may have.
This couple friendship is over. Cut the ties. No need to explain anything to her. Most likely she knows what's going on.
He is cheating on her with you. You were used and yet, YOU feel "guilty by her.'
You also say that you were "too horny to care."
You need to direct this "horniness" to another available person.
Walk away from your friend completely in every sense. He can't be much of a friend to do what he did with you regardless of your feelings at the time. You're right, you're still a responsible party whether you knew he had a wife or not..but you're only responsible for your own actions. Going by your post, he has damaged his marriage with his actions...but in this case, he's used you in the process. If he has ID issues, then they are his issues to sort out...but you don't have to get involved. Frankly, he owes an apology to his wife and therein lies his next challenge and that's to discuss things with his wife. It's their business to sort and nobody else gets to have a say.
You mention her happiness, but it was in jeopardy long before you came back on the scene because if their marriage was rock solid, he wouldn't have had the need to keep things secret from her regardless of what went on before they were married. They would have accepted each other as they were. Marriage vows shouldn't change one's sexual orientation, rather, it should embrace it and the marriage needs to be based on trust and openness which should be developed before the marriage. If 100% trust hasn't developed, then the marriage is basically over before it started.
You're not the first person in the world to experience guilt after you've ignored your gut instinct because of alcohol and other factors. You've basically damaged yourself and it's yourself you have to deal with. One's things for sure, until he does sort his issues, he'll most likely keep on going behind his wife's back, but again, you don't have to be involved. Instead you should distance yourself completely and get on with your life.
I think I'm going to take your advice and distance myself from the situation. I can't see what good can come of it now I know the true dynamics, and whatever my responsibility I think it's up to him to step up to his.
Thank you for your responses and your kindness.