For over thirty years, my husband and I enjoyed the company of a close-knit circle of friends. When he died two years ago, those friends couldn’t have been more supportive and available to me. They continue to include me in their dinner, vacation, and holiday plans. Recently however, one of the husbands has expressed feelings deeper than friendship for me and has even made advances on several occasions. He offers to act as a ‘handyman’ and will show up uninvited at my house to see if anything need fixing. I have rejected all his advances, repeatedly declined his offers for ‘services’ and made it clear that I do not have feelings for him. He’ll stop for a while and then the behaviors return. I have not discussed this with his wife or anyone else from our circle. To be honest, I don’t even know if they would believe me. Do you have any suggestions on how to best handle this situation?
This sounds like you are in a difficult and delicate situation, and I understand you not wanting to discuss this with anyone, people talk. I doubt you want to avoid your friends entirely, but it might be nice for you to establish relationships outside this circle of friends. Get involved in activities such as volunteering that afford the opportunity to meet new people. When you are with your friends, limit the opportunities to be alone with this man. The next time he shows up at your house unexpectedly, don’t answer the door, or pretend you are on the telephone with someone from the group. The next time he expresses feelings for you, remind him once again that you are not interested. He may not believe you, but it might be time to tell him that you will speak to his wife if it happens again. You could start spending more time with just the ‘girls’, and skip some of the couple outings. If the situation becomes unbearable, then you can either distance yourself from that couple or speak to this wife and hope that your friendship is resilient enough to withstand the truth.
Thank you for writing.
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