DEAR NATALIE: My dear friend and her boyfriend have been together for years. Everyone assumes they will get married, and she talks about it a lot. All of us are very close, and he and I often hang out when she can't. She is completely aware of that and gave him the "OK" a long time ago. Plus, I would never betray her trust. However, last weekend he got really drunk and told me that he wants to be with me. Things aren't working out with her, apparently, and he wants me.
I was totally shocked and didn't know what to do. Now I have no idea how to act around him because the whole thing has me feeling so uncomfortable. I'm worried he is going to say something to her or that he expects something from me. Plus she is my friend, and I am really sad for her that he is acting like this. Any advice? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: This is what we call an awkward situation on steroids. Give him the opportunity to be straight with his girlfriend first. Call him and say, "If you meant what you said the other night, you need to be honest with (let's call her Carla). If you don't want to be with her, tell her. It's not fair to either of you. But, regardless, she is my friend and that means we can't be together. If you don't tell her what happened, I will."
If he balks at this and acts as though he never said anything to you, you may have to decide whether you should carry out the threat of telling her. If I were in her shoes, I would want to know. I wouldn't want to be with someone who didn't want to be with me. But, if he agrees, let him have the opportunity to come clean. Carla may not be happy with either of you (even though you didn't do anything wrong), so you have to brace yourself for the possibility that you may lose your friend for a while. In time, she may be able to move forward and even be grateful that she let him go. But, remember this: She may learn this information and STILL not leave him and drop you instead. You have to decide whether this is a risk worth taking, and only you know your relationship well enough to know what to do. Good luck.
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)