Question: How could I have known that the man who flirted with me at a meeting in a neighbor’s backyard was married to the hostess’ cousin?
I was surprised to be invited as I had only met my new neighbor at a neighborhood park a few months ago. She said I was full of spirit and should meet more people in the area.
The man was attractive and charming… full of himself, as well as alcohol, which made me laugh at his insistence to “split this boring piece of suburban” and head downtown for a drink.
It was then that I was caught double with laughter as he got down on one knee to push me away, just as an unknown woman came between us. Yes, his wife.
Now my neighbor just looks away when she sees me nearby. Like I stole his partner’s husband. I tried to apologize to the neighbor in a joint email, but she still shuns. She only replied that her cousin has not visited her since.
That’s so unfair. I moved here to be in a friendly easy going environment not a playground for bored cheating husbands. What else can I do to redeem myself in the eyes of others?
A player’s mean play
A:The guy probably plays anywhere there is alcohol and a female target. This was certainly not the first incident of its kind for him, nor for his wife to witness in public.
As a newcomer, your apology was the right move. Otherwise the gossip would have had legs and other neighbors might misjudge you.
The takeaway: Someone who openly clowns at a gathering full of stimulants of some sort is usually looking for more than just a laugh. Maybe even create a scene to punish someone else, or assert false independence.
In this scenario, you are not the bad guy. Just a novice to use.
“I read your column regularly, I enjoy it immensely. I also agree with you 99 percent of the time. Here’s a rare time I’m not sure (May 26):
“A man had written to you about his girlfriend. †Ellie: No, it was a letter from a woman. The two friends had enjoyed shared interests and outings.)
“Now, that girlfriend ‘can’t stop talking about her previous relationship.’
So the letter writer is frustrated with the constant ‘analysis of every little thing her former boyfriend ever said to her’ from her formerly interesting companion.
“Your unusually harsh, one-sided response was to reprimand the dumped girlfriend for being selfish: ‘True friendship is a two-way gift, not a one-way street to satisfy only your own interest.’
“So, who’s really to blame? It seems unfair to keep pouring these unresolved feelings onto her friend after several months.
“The listener has supported me, but has had enough. Perhaps she could have kindly suggested professional guidance to help her friend further.
“Normally you are a voice of such logic, reason and honesty that I don’t think your advice here is in line with those qualities.”
Confused reader with good wishes
A:Well wishes are a friendly way of saying we agree that we disagree.
It’s my fault you didn’t realize that the letter writer is a woman who is annoyed by the constant complaining about her otherwise pleasant friend. (No new man is involved.)
In order to preserve the anonymity I promise letter writers, I wasn’t clear enough about some of the differences—for example, there were two female friends, an ongoing sob story, and a lot of unresolved, frustrating feelings.
Let’s hope the two women can focus on good times together and shared interests again.
Ellie’s tip of the day
If you’re caught flirting with a stranger in public, know that it’s their bad behavior, not yours.