Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Go ahead — spill the beans about your best friend's ex
D.C.: In a nutshell: Best Friend dated a great guy for two years. He was kind, honest, smart and treated her so well.
They broke up (timing issues — both going to grad school) five years ago. She has been dating another guy for two years and has considered breaking up several times.
He's nice enough, but he just doesn't treat her like the wonderful person she is.
I suspect my friend thinks it won't work out but is holding out hope because she has invested two years and she's 30 (not justifying that rationale, just stating fact).
Now, to the main point: The five-years-ago boyfriend recently admitted that he has loved her all along and never really gotten over her. Best Friend has mentioned several times over the past few years that she still thinks about him.
Many of her friends (including me) think they are a great match.
So do I tell her what the old boyfriend said?
I would hate for her not to know, especially when she has been doubting the current relationship, but it feels disrespectful to tell her when she's dating someone else.
Carolyn: Given that you've taken care to consider the feelings of all three parties involved, I'd say any way you decide to handle it will be respectful, even if you choose to play couple-wrecking Cupid.
There are other ways to go about this than flat-out disclosure, though — which I hesitate to point out because it feels as if it's needlessly complicating something so simple.
But if you're worried about passing a decency test. …
When your friend expresses doubts about her current boyfriend, say: "Why don't you just break up with this guy, since it's obvious you're unhappy?"
And when she mentions still thinking about her ex: "Why don't you call him?"
And when the ex talks about pining for her: "Call her, you big doof!"
In other words, if they want each other, then it seems a bit ridiculous for their mutual friends to have to pass notes to get them to talk after class.
At the same time, it seems a bit ridiculous for these friends not to say, "Dude, s/he talks about you all the time, call her/him" — which is, in the end, what someone needs to say to one of them. Getting all the pronouns straight and such.
As for where the current boyfriend comes in, I don't think there's anything "disrespectful" about giving someone information about her own life.
They're apparently not formally committed to each other, and the information isn't going to end the relationship unless the availability of the ex is enough to make her lose interest in her current guy — in which case, better now than later.
That would seem awfully cold if Current Guy were smitten with her versus not making an effort, I realize.
However, if his girlfriend is staying only because she's hoping things will get better, then prolonging that is no favor to him, no matter how smitten he is.