Q: Hi Meredith,
A married friend of mine (yes, this truly is a friend) in his early 30s confided in me more than a year ago that he's bisexual and that he had recently told his wife. She was a little blindsided, seeing as how they had been together for a long time, but she was very supportive. He realized that it would be tough having to suppress a side of him that he's never truly been able to explore, but he acknowledged that he wanted to make his marriage work.
When the topic came up between us, he always had indicated that the situation was going well and that he wasn't worried about the future. But soon enough, he and his wife told our group of friends that they were getting a divorce. They maintain that they are best friends and that there are no hard feelings, but it is a devastating situation for both of them. For financial reasons, they'll be staying in the same place for a while, which in my opinion isn't such a good idea. My wife and I are very close with both of them, as are all of our mutual friends.
I would appreciate some advice on how we (me, my friend, his wife, our group of friends, etc.) support this major change in our close friends' lives and make it easier for him and
his (soon to be ex-)wife to move forward. One issue that we (friends) have run into is deciding how soon to try to set either of these people up on dates or introduce them to other singles that we know. And while the friends have not taken a side, we have all agreed that if the ex-husband decides that he does in fact want to be with a woman after he tries dating men, and if that woman isn't his soon-to-be ex-wife, then more than a few of our female friends are going to be pretty angry with him.
– Looking to be supportive, Mass.
A: LTBS, let's not even worry about the "What if he dates another woman?!" question. That hasn't happened, so don't go there.
The best thing to do right now is to ask your friends what they want. Do they want to be invited to the same events? Do they want to be set up, and if so, do they want that information kept secret? Let them guide you.
And do your best to spend some alone time with each of them. They might be best friends, but the group can't pretend that nothing has changed. They shouldn't be treated like a couple. Alone time gives each of them the chance to talk about how they really feel.
Also, expect that one or both of them might find some new friends. He might seek out a different community, and she might want to be around some folks who don't know about this mess. Be flexible and don't take anything too personally.
I know it's tough to be in the middle. Just keep asking questions, and make sure to get them alone for real discussions as often as you can.
Readers? Should the LW even be thinking about setting these people up with others? What do you do if you're a friend in the middle of this? What about the idea of the husband seeking out other women in this process? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.