Advice

Miss Information: I found out my friend-with-benefits is engaged — do I have to tell his fiancee?

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I found out my friend-with-benefits is engaged — do I have to tell his fiancee?

Have a question? Email missinfo@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I started an "acquaintances with benefits" relationship with a guy in my office building (different company, same building) three-plus years ago. We met during a building holiday event (okay, drunkenly made out and compared fetishes); we were both toward the end of long-term relationships so we kept it a secret, and honestly don't have enough in common outside of our sexual interests to consider dating. Things had been going great all this time. Discreet, convenient, and hot, right? Well, I discovered he got engaged over Christmas to a woman in his company — in other words, in my building. I feel like a giant, accidental asshole. I thought we'd been telling each other what/who we'd been doing, but apparently it was just me. I immediately stopped seeing or talking to him, got tested, the usual end-of-the-affair stuff. But now I'm wondering what obligation I have to his fiancée? I recently saw their engagement announcement, and she looks so happy in the photo, but if the timeline is correct he was still hitting me up two weeks post-engagement, and I bet he would still be doing so if I hadn't found out. So what do you think I should do, if anything? It's "none of my business" versus an unspoken obligation to my fellow woman. 

Accidental Asshole

Dear AA,

I applaud your impulse to look out for another woman's well-being, as long as it's not just a front for malice or jealousy — which, judging from your tone, it doesn't seem to be. But here's the thing: you're not the asshole, accidental or otherwise. He is. If he was juggling several partners, it's his responsibility to drop the infidelity bomb, not yours. If you contact her, it will likely get messy and the blame will get diffused. She'll be embarrassed, caught off guard, mad at you, and mad at him, and in that condition, she might be willing to shoot the messenger. Then hair-pulling and kicking and screaming may ensue, copiers will get smashed, windows will get broken, security will get called, and the reputation of Women in the Workplace will be set back decades.

Fight scenes aside, you didn't know he was engaged, so you didn't (knowingly) do anything wrong. If you tell her, you're doing his dirty work for him. He needs to own up to his mistakes.

If this is really nagging you, take it up with the guy. Confront him, ask him to explain the timeline, and tell him how it makes you feel (angry/used/worried for his fiancée, whatever). Maybe she already knows and it's cool, and case closed. Maybe he's just a dick who gets off on the thrill of secrecy. If it's the latter, he's the one who should be held accountable, and he's the one who should come clean.

Dear Miss Info, 

I am in love with my best friend, but she says that she's asexual. When I told her how I felt about her, she said that she loves me, too, but that she's not into sex, and wants to maintain a really close platonic relationship like we have. To be fair to her, I've known her for several years and in all that time she has never dated or to my knowledge had sex with anyone, but… really? Is that a real thing? I want to respect her wishes and sexual orientation, but I wonder if it isn't just an excuse for her. What if we really are meant to be together but she's just afraid and in denial? How do I know if I should just accept that I will never be able to be with the woman I love, or if this is just an issue she has that I can help her work through?

Friend Just Wants Benefits

Dear Friend Just Wants Benefits,

When I was in college, there was a well-known rumor about a student at the neighboring women's college who had come out to her parents as a dragon. As in, "Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. Ha ha, no, calm down. I'm not gay. No, no! Phew! Nothing like that! I'm a dragon." We passed this story around and howled over our PBRs, because how absurd, right? So we laughed and high-fived each other for being well-adjusted and popular, then went home and quietly sobbed while clasping voodoo dolls and journaling about our feelings. Ugh. College.

So here's the thing, FJWB. Your friend telling you she's asexual may sound a lot to you like a flimsy, whimsical excuse. Like "asexual" = "dragon" = "considering starting a nunnery called 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,' because of LOLZ." For the record, unlike dragonism, asexuality is a controversial but acknowleged sexual orientation, so you can put that question to bed. But more importantly, she's telling you she's asexual because she's not into you. And because she's not into anybody. It's real to her, so it should be real to you. And if she is just "afraid" and "in denial," those are things she'll have to work through on her own time. These aren't things you can fix in anybody else, and it's a huge misuse of energy to try.

So stay her friend but don't aim for anything else. Her sexuality is none of your business: it's her process and hers alone. Like everyone, she could use a friend — just not one who thinks he knows better than she does. Leave that attitude to snotty undergrads.