I have a good buddy who I enjoy hanging out with. We both play golf at the same club and his wife is really cool. Our families do stuff together pretty regularly and we always seem to have a great time. My problem is that my friend asks me to lie to his wife (Wendy) for him on a pretty regular basis. I don’t mean big lies, but it usually goes like this: I see him at the golf club, and he says “don’t tell Wendy I was here.” It’s gotten awkward lately and I don’t think I should have to lie to Wendy just so he can play golf without her knowing. It’s not just golf. Sometimes when we go out for drinks he does the same thing.
Do you have any suggestions on the best way to handle this? I do NOT want to lie to his wife or anyone else for him, but I don’t want to cause a rift in our friendship.
Stewing in Florida
Let’s call your friend Carl, because he likes to golf and he seems to lack good judgment.
I was working on some very good advice for you but as you know, we had a conversation last week so I could get more information. During our 3-4 email exchanges about the particulars it became clear I needed to pitch that advice and get down to brass tacks. You told me that talking to Carl about how it makes you feel when he asks you to lie would result in a five minute laughing jag during which he would call you a “pussy” and a “bitch” and ask you what brand of tampons you prefer.
He sounds like a charming gentleman. If I weren’t married I’d be on the first plane to Florida to steal him away from his lucky wife. This is your friend:
That there is a fine piece of jerk chicken. He’s a jerk for lying to his wife and for asking you to do the same, and he’s apparently so scared of the woman he married that he can’t enjoy a round of golf or drinks with some friends unless he lies to her about where he is.
I was willing to entertain the possibility that his wife is a possessive shrew who monitors his every move like the NSA does the activities of swarthy men visiting the US. Or, come to think of it, our European allies, the Mexican president and possibly you and me. But that’s a whole separate issue for the Sunday Rant…
You told me that was not the case: that she seems very flexible and encourages him to have his fun. It may be that she isn’t really that way – that she makes a concerted effort to come off as carefree and cool but behind closed doors she’s the Wife From Hell. However, I get the sense that you know her pretty well so I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt. I can’t tell you why he feels the need to lie to his wife about his whereabouts, but if you’d like to send him my way for some advice please do so. I’ll drop an AskDesCampTruthBomb on his ass.
You are caught in a classic struggle between your loyalty to your friend and your ethical code which tells you not to lie, especially to this woman who is also your friend. Since we know this advice blog is really all about me and a way by which I express and process shit in my own life, let me tell you I can empathize with your situation, having recently been through this myself.
I was asked repeatedly to lie for a friend (“Sam”), and I made it clear I wouldn’t do that. I then found out I was being used as an alibi and an explanation for a very serious and ongoing transgression by Sam against her spouse. In a direct confrontation, I made it clear that this needed to stop and Sam had an obligation to me to set the record straight. In response, Sam did the following:
1. Continued to lie;
2. Told a mutual friend that I had asked Sam to lie for me over the years (absolutely false);
3. Ended the friendship (this was a blessing as it had been deeply unsatisfying and filled with her ongoing drama for some time) after insisting I give her several hundreds of dollars worth of household items; and finally
4. Sent me a series of text messages in which Sam gleefully told me how “unpopular” I am with “all the people who matter” in Portland (oh please, I’ve known that for years), that I am ugly (that gave me a sad, I’ll admit it), and that I am a bad mom (this one actually made me laugh, because she’s not getting any Mother of the Year awards, and I will leave it at that although it pains me deeply to do so as I am biting my tongue so hard it is bleeding).
Sam specifically named several women who hate me, *sigh*
and opined that I was deeply jealous of her.
Now, I already knew these gals weren’t my biggest fans, so no damage done there. However, I would need to be a toothless HIV-positive $5 hooker in a gutter on Burnside before I ever envied her, so she got that wrong.
Oh for crying out loud, this blog has really gotten off track. Sorry. I’ve got to go exercise so I will wrap this up quickly:
My advice to you is to just tell him this:
“Carl, I’m not going to lie for you. I like you and I like Wendy, and you can’t put me in this position anymore. It’s a pretty shitty thing to do to me, don’t you think? I don’t want this to affect our friendship but I’m not going to lie to your wife if she asks me about seeing you. Maybe you guys need to talk about why you are in this situation, but please leave me out of it.”
If he cuts you loose, you won’t be any worse for it. A “friend” who uses you as an alibi or asks you to violate your ethics by lying is no friend, especially when they do it on a regular basis. You’d be better off without people like that in your life.
I know I am.