Close friends have been secretly dating for 1.5 years and won't tell me. How should I feel and what should I do?
June 1, 2009 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Two of my closest friends have been dating (and denying it) for 1.5 years. Trying to determine what I should do, and if it is appropriate for me to feel as annoyed/hurt/saddened as I do. Very long set of details inside.

So, here goes. I'm a male, and I started working at a big law firm with G (male) and S (female) around May 2006. I became very close friends with G through our time there, and I became aware (although I don't recall how) that prior to our jobs, G professed his like to S while friends in law school, but nothing happened. I also became quite friendly with S, and spent a fair amount of time with her in a social setting. G became one of my closest friends.

Fast forward 2ish years, and G and I plan a 2 week trip to Argentina together in March 2008. During that trip, he is buying jewlery for S, calling or emailing her whenever he gets a chance, and talking up a storm about her. I ask him if they are together, he denies it for a while, then 'admits' to me that he is once again interested in her, but they are not together. I firmly don't believe him, and this becomes a (good natured) running joke for the trip. No hard feelings on either side, and we continue being close.

From that point, it became very painfully obvious that G and S were a couple (there are a million examples not worth getting into, but trust me on this). G and S's relationship becomes a running joke with our mutual friends, even as we begin to express disappointment that they are hiding it from us. In August of 2008, I leave our mutual job, but they still don't tell me. In March of 2009, she leaves the same job and still they don't tell anybody (for the record, they are both very junior and were in entirely different departments, so it would not be scandalous like a 55 year old partner dating a secretary; yet I understand to some extent why they wanted to keep it secret while at the firm together, or at least until it became clear that it was a serious relationship - it is not uncommon for coworkers to date at this firm of 250+ lawyers).

Now, upon her arrival back from being out of town for a year in March of 2009 (after S left the firm), close mutual friend to all R goes out with myself, G and S, and innocently asks G if he is seeing anyone. He looks around sheepishly and says 'no comment'. R asks the same of S, and she says the same thing. A few weeks later, R asks S point blank if they are together, and S denies it, saying "everyone assumes we are together, but really we're not." Later, R apologises and during that apology S admits they have been together for 1.5 years (ie: before my Argentina trip with G). Further discussions ensued between R and G where it was made clear that I knew they were together, and G acknowledged that I wasn't asking to be polite (which I was - I haven't asked G about relationships since Argentina for this reason).

So in summary, they are no longer working together, have dated 1.5 years, and are telling other people, and still have not told me - even though we went on a (non) double date this weekend. I still have fun spending time around them, but the longer this goes on the worse I feel about being kept in the dark. I don't want to confront them about knowing because, frankly, part of me wants them to have to have the hard conversation with me and admit it (but maybe that's silly of me), and I feel I should stick to my polite guns and let them tell me when they are ready, b/c they wouldn't have told R unless she forced it out of them; but I can't help feeling sad and like my friendship means less now than it did before.

Anyway, that long story leads to my questions above - what should I do about the situation (do I say I know, or continue as I have and wait until they are comfortable enough to tell me, or something else), and is it silly or wrong of me to feel like the friendship is less valuable than I thought it was, or alternatively is it wrong for me to be as hurt and saddened as I am by the situation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Has it ever come to mind that their relationship as well as the status in the relationship has nothing to do with you or other people but more or less what's going on in between the two. Is it possible that they are seeing each other and perhaps other people? Is it possible that they are just dating very casually, or is it possible that perhaps they are very serious but neither of them wants to call the other an item?
posted by The1andonly at 7:08 AM on June 1, 2009 [7 favorites]

Everyone seems like a jerk for harassing them about it. I'm not surprised they would respond by shutting everyone out.
posted by smackfu at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2009 [13 favorites]

All I can say is that it sounds to me like it's not really your business whether they're in a relationship or not.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:15 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why do you feel you are owed an explanation about their relationship? Just because you want to know?
posted by Houstonian at 7:20 AM on June 1, 2009

At this point, either let it go, or just confront them. I'd go with something like "Look, guys, your relationship is your business, but it feels like you're going to great lengths to be deceptive about this, and I thought we were better friends than that. Can we please clear the air?"

And think about what you want to do if they continue with this pattern. Do you want to stop seeing them when they're together? Stop doing these "double-dates"? Stop seeing much of either of them? Obviously your current pattern is making you unhappy, and if they won't change their behavior, it's time to think about how you can.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:23 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why does it matter to you what goes on in their bedroom(s)? I don't understand what you might be hurt or annoyed about. Did I miss something in the story?
posted by kellyblah at 7:27 AM on June 1, 2009

Maybe they're related?
posted by i_cola at 7:27 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Quick answers (trying not to hijack the thread):

The1andonly: Re dating other people or dating casually - not possible, confirmed otherwise.

Houstonian: I feel that close friends tell each other these things, and it disappoints me that he doesn't tell me. I don't care about the 'fact' that they are dating as 'learning' that fact would change nothing, I care about what the secrecy means to my friendship with G and S, if anything. I believe that this isn't the type of thing you hide from a best friend for 1.5 years, but hey, I could be wrong, and I've tried to respect them by not harassing them about it for the last 1.5 years.
posted by evadery at 7:27 AM on June 1, 2009

Maybe they're polyamorous and don't like talking about it.
Maybe their relationship has been off-and-on and they don't want to talk about it in case it goes south.
Maybe you are better friends with them than they are to you.

If it's really bugging you, ask them outright (only once) what's going on with the secrecy. Otherwise, hold your peace.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:32 AM on June 1, 2009

I believe that this isn't the type of thing you hide from a best friend for 1.5 years

Is it possible that you feel more strongly for G/S than (s)he feels for you?

You might also consider that there could be any number of things going on behind the scenes that make the "are you dating" question a more difficult one than it appears. You've asked the question, they answered it. That you don't believe the answer doesn't make them bad people or bad friends.

Nthing the above: their relationship status is only your business if they allow it to be. Quit being so nosy and respect their desire for their relationship status to be private.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:36 AM on June 1, 2009

There are any number of reasons someone might want to keep their relationship status under the radar: family issues, job issues (even if that's not the case right now, you don't know what their future job plans might entail -- and they do), and hey, even friend issues. Do you have beyond-friendship feelings for anyone here?

Bottom line, you might find it weird that they want to keep this private, but if you are their friend, respect that. You seem to want to pry some sort of confession out of them, and they're probably finding that even weirder.
posted by sageleaf at 7:37 AM on June 1, 2009

Have you ever called someone on the telephone repeatedly and they didn't answer - then you realized 'ah, not answering is their answer?' That's what's happening. It's not your business, they've made that plenty clear, and you're the one being less of a friend for insisting on this 'confession' from them rather than being glad for all the other things you share with them. Drop it from your interaction with them and from your own thoughts. Find something genuinely worth worrying about for years on end - this isn't it.
posted by eccnineten at 7:37 AM on June 1, 2009 [14 favorites]

They have their reasons, so please respect them. Don't take it so personally. It's their private life and not everyone wants their business known. They'll tell you in their own sweet time if they do decide to tell.
posted by arcticseal at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2009

How should I feel and what should I do?

(1) You should feel happy that your friends are in a relationship. Obviously, you now KNOW, so respectfully, I think you need to get over the reasons you didn't know for awhile - they seem private to the couple. Just because YOU didn't think it would have been scandalous, maybe THEY didn't feel that way. But again, that's THEIR business.

(2) You should work on your sense of boundaries. This doesn't seem to be a three-way relationship with you in it. Let the people have a relationship, or not, call it something, or not, see other people, or not, keep it a secret, or not. It's their relationship!!!!

At most, you should sit down with them as friends, calmly tell them you were hurt because they chose not to share such an important and exciting part of their lives with you. Explain that in your friendships you prefer open-ness over secretive behavior, and then follow their lead. And then leave it at that!
posted by bunnycup at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2009

I feel that close friends tell each other these things, and it disappoints me that he doesn't tell me.

Obviously you're not as close as you thought. I completely understand why you feel hurt by this, but you (and everyone else) should have accepted this as none of your business a long time ago.
posted by hermitosis at 7:43 AM on June 1, 2009

I disagree with all the previous respondents who basically told the OP that this was none of his business and he should chill out. G and S are supposedly his friends; supposedly his good friends.

It may be that one of them has some hang up, some sort of personal trauma in their past that makes it difficult for them to talk about it. Maybe there's some family issue around religion or something. Maybe they are CIA operatives. But those are just random made up guesses. You'll never know unless they tell you.

I personally, would find it hard to be close friends with people who insisted on hiding something so basic over such a long period of time. It's especially weird that they won't discuss it even after it becomes an open secret in this way.

You could try asking G some time when the two of you are alone together. He might be willing to explain the circumstances to you in the appropriate context. I would go into this conversation with the assumption that his reason is valid and appropriate, but that it's gone on long enough and you want to know what it is.

Failing that, you could just put it down to some foible on their part, assume they are leading double lives, and try to enjoy the half life that they are sharing with you. Everyone needs a little mystery.
posted by alms at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2009 [12 favorites]

I've been privy to a somewhat similar situation before. There are a variety of reasons for people to keep relationships a secret, even from close friends. The bottom line is: what makes you feel entitled to know all about their relationship? It has absolutely nothing to do with you. I 'm not sure why you would be this hurt that they would keep this from you, and I would not even suggest that you "sit down with them" and explain how "hurt" you are. I would suggest only that you get over it ASAP before you lose these two friends whom you claim are so important to you.
posted by littlerobothead at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2009

I think everyone's being a bit hasty here to throw in the "none of your business" comments.

If I was in your position I would feel a bit hurt too. Strictly speaking, it isn't your business, but when you're close friends with someone their business sort of becomes your business. Like, if one of them was really depressed, it's their business, but you'd still want to be able to help in some way or be in on it so you could be their for them.

So anyway, I would ask your friend, the one you are closer to. I think you're right, he *ought* to have mentioned it to you, but go for a beer with him, take a deep breath and say something like "Dude, forgive me for bringing this up as i know you must be so bored with people teasing you about it by now, but someone else has been telling me you and X are together. Do you want me to just keep setting them straight, or are you really seeing each other? You know I wouldn't be bothered either way so just let me know the 'party line'"

I think communication is the way forward, rather than sitting and stewing. Maybe they're in one of those ruts where the longer you leave it to tell someone something, the harder it gets. They're your friends - make it easy on them and give them a way in. They'll appreciate it in the end.

Good luck!
posted by greenish at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2009 [6 favorites]

I care about what the secrecy means to my friendship with G and S, if anything

You seem to be taking this more personally than you should. Other than the nosy person who confronted them about it, they haven't told anyone about their relationship as far as you know. Keeping a relationship a secret from everyone for so long isn't something that people do on a whim, and they probably have a good reason to do it that has nothing to do with you. Even very close friends don't share all of their personal lives with each other, so in my opinion you should just stop letting it bother you so much and accept that this is one aspect of their lives that they want to keep private.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:49 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're having a very bizarre reaction, bordering on neurotic.

Why can't you just be happy for your friends? They obviously are together, have their own reasons for keeping it hush-hush, but seem to be happy, no?

People keep relationships quite for a variety of reasons. Maybe they worry that some of the more neurotic and possessive people in their lives (hint, hint) would take the fact that they are openly dating EVEN WORSE than if they danced around the subject.

Big a good friend. Leave them alone.
posted by wfrgms at 7:56 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Well, it'd be nice if they told you, ya know? But I mean, seriously, NOYFB. I personally am a pretty private person, and if I found out that a friend was snooping around in my personal life trying to ascertain details for himself and/or asking questions to other mutual friends about my personal life, or GOD FORBID asking non-anonymous AskMeFi questions about me, without my knowledge, I'd be like:

"Wow, what a nosy prick. Didn't realize the happenings of my life were his bidness" and I'd shut you out too.

I'm not saying you're a nosy prick. I'm saying answers like "confirmed otherwise" and "fact" and etc makes you sound like one.

What my spidey sense says here is that you're jealous. Sounds like you're jealous of the female for taking your friend, and it sounds like you're jealous of your friend for getting a piece of S. It also sounds like you're jealous of all your friends who "know" (pro-tip: you don't know jack unless it's told to you by the person, fyi).

I think that you read entirely too far into it. I think that your friends either assume that you've heard by now via your extensive grapevine reputation and don't feel the need to tell you, OR they're crazy nice and letting you hang out with them even though you're all up in their kool-aid without even knowing their flavor.

Either way, chill out and back off...if you want to stay friends w/ them at all.
posted by TomMelee at 7:56 AM on June 1, 2009

Maybe they want their relationship to stand on its own, and not be a topic of discussion and speculation amongst their friends?
posted by gjc at 7:57 AM on June 1, 2009

Like others have said, everyone has different levels of privacy. I am if anything an over-sharer and will tell pretty much anyone any and all details of my life, where one of my sisters (with whom I am quite close) didn't tell us she was dating someone until the ENGAGEMENT had broken off. Seriously. My other sister, after years and years of saying zero about her personal life, has only this past year started talking to me about her private life because I have been the only one who full on stopped asking. And I am fairly sure I am the only one she is talking to about it. So really, sometimes people just don't want to talk about it. Some people feel like letting others in on it will "jinx" it or ruin what they have, some people like feeling as though it is this fantastic secret between the two of them, which makes the connection stronger. It doesn't matter why they didn't tell you or why they continue not to tell you, it is their choice and probably has little to do with YOU and everything to do with THEM.

if it is really bothering you that much (which I gather it is) then yeah, you can bring it up like greenish and others suggested, but if I were you I wouldn't. You may feel like it is something friends should share, but they may feel like friends should respect their privacy...
posted by gwenlister at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

Preliminary thoughts:

Am going to stick with my plan to not speak to them about it and let them tell me when they are good and ready, and will try not to let it bother me so much with the knowledge that it is hopefully "probably has little to do with YOU and everything to do with THEM." (gwenlister)

I think the part that makes me feel the worst, and which has been said by a few people is that "Obviously you're not as close as you thought." (hermitosis) I think this is the part that I'm trying to come to grips with and which makes me sad in the situation, but hopefully for my sake gwenlister et al's point above trumps hermitosis et al.'s point. It seems that to some it's not invalid to feel down about this, but I have to remember the reason for it, accept it, and move on.

As to all the 'wow what a prick" comments, I don't really know what I could have done better than drop it for 1.5 years after the initial conversation (and as far as having the initial conversation goes, I guess when it originally came up organically 1.5 years ago, I didn't think it was unfair to ask him about it as I figured that was what friends talked about, and he had talked very openly to me about previous dating/relationships in the past, including about his feelings for S). In fairness, the only reason this was all confirmed to me was from R's repeated questioning and her telling me the situation. Going forward, I guess I have to try not to be as sensitive about it, keep treating them like the friends they are and continue my original desire to let them tell me on their own time.

And FYI, in retrospect I probably should have asked this anon, but I wouldn't have been able to answer which I thought was important to shed light on questions in the situation. Hopefully tomorrow when this has faded from the front page I'll be able to ask mathowie to make it anon.

Thanks to all, and please keep it coming despite my thoughts above.
posted by evadery at 8:22 AM on June 1, 2009

what should I do about the situation

"Hey, are you guys dating or what?"

"No comment, what's does that mean? Is there a particular reason for all the secrecy and non answer answers? It's not a big deal if you are, I'm happy if you guys are happy, but the constant denials and evasions just make me more curious, so spill, or I'm gonna start making up rumors and there's going to be a goat and monkey involved."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on June 1, 2009 [6 favorites]

maybe they haven't told you because you already know and they know that you know.
posted by missmagenta at 8:22 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

In short, ask a question if you want to know, but don't make a big deal of it.

For the record, they're being weird as hell and it's perfectly understandable if it's 'causing you, the close friend, a bit angst and confusion. Ultimately though, it's there business, so poke and prod and tease a bit, but don't push it too much.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

in retrospect I probably should have asked this anon, but I wouldn't have been able to answer which I thought was important to shed light on questions in the situation

You can always contact the mods with follow-ups after you post an anonymous question, so don't let that stop you.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:30 AM on June 1, 2009

As Brandon Blatcher said, just ask him, in those words. It's a casual enough way of asking someone who's not even your best friend, so it should be OK to ask the best friend. And if he gets weirded out, well then, that's weird.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:40 AM on June 1, 2009

Just for the record, in my book, you can be a "you" friend or a "me" friend. "You" friends are much better friends, in my experience, but you can make a relationship as much about "me" as you want to. Your friends relationships are between THEM, and only involve you as much as they would like to involve you.

I don't think you're really a selfish person, but your wording makes you sound like one.

Just a fast word count, in your inital post you said "I" or "me" at least 46 times and "my" at least 7. In follow ups, you added at least another 25.

Not to be a total jerk, but doesn't that seem excessive when you're asking about your friends personal lives?
posted by TomMelee at 8:45 AM on June 1, 2009

If G told R that you already know, and G told you that she wouldn't have told R had she (G) not been forced to tell, then I think you have an answer. They (S and G) know that you know and they don't want to talk about it.

They are going on double non-dates with you, it's not as though they are sneaking around (i.e., actively hiding something). If your friendships with them are otherwise solid, you're overreacting about this issue. If your friendships with them are otherwise not solid, then you could try to think of why that might be, or how you could form stronger relationships.
posted by KAS at 8:45 AM on June 1, 2009

It sounds like they're not telling you because you seem kind of over-interested, as does everyone else, and sometimes you just don't want to talk about relationships when they're touchy, as relationships are in groups of friends. And sometimes you just don't want to talk about relationships. And we don't know much about you, maybe you went through a huge depressing breakup last year and they're kind of trying to spare your feelings by not making you deal with them as a couple. Maybe you've got a big old crush on one or both of them.

I think -- try to take it less personally. And maybe examine why this is such a big deal to you, and whether that might have something to do with their not wanting to share it with you.

Also, here at Llama industries we have a lot of overlapping personal/professional boundaries which are sometimes awkward and result in our sharing things with people we're actually less close to than others, because things need to be shared for professional reasons (when I got pregnant with baby llama, for example). So, people we were close to found out later than other people, and some people didn't find out about it from us because people can be gossipy so we didn't tell them directly, which seemed shabby, and so on. We knew another friend was getting divorced before a lot of other people for similar reasons. It was meant in both cases to share w/people in a 'need to know' capacity, but trying to keep information in an orderly fashion in a situation like that is like trying to put water back in a glass. These things sometimes wind up being really sloppy instead of the orderly, discreet way one sometimes hopes for. So maybe that, too.

But. Somebody who goes to Argentina and hangs out and shops with you and spends time with you likes you. It doesn't mean they don't if they choose not to talk about something with you--everyone's got a right to some boundaries.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:47 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Further discussions ensued between R and G where it was made clear that I knew they were together, and G acknowledged that I wasn't asking to be polite (which I was - I haven't asked G about relationships since Argentina for this reason).

If you know that G knows that you know, why would you think that G would tell you? G knows you know. You said it yourself.
posted by rikschell at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2009

If nothing else, a sense that the surprise may have something to do with your feelings. As you noted, these are so often things friends talk about. "So often," of course isn't 100% of the time, but irksome things can feel worse if it's an anomaly for the individual or in general because there's little or no experience with it. It feels odd.

Of course, dunno if it's a quirk they have for some reason or if it's as someone said, "not answering the phone is a way of answering."

Feels not unreasonable to find the right time, place and tone, ask the close male friend about this--once.
posted by ambient2 at 10:08 AM on June 1, 2009

When they made this decision to not be open about their relationship, they may have not stopped to consider that they might be together for years"yes, yes, you people were right all along," with added pressure for explanations regarding their stubborness.

Given the fact that their friends seem to have not let up on their interest about the clandestine relationship, they have no reason to think that they won't be in for a WORLD of teasing and drama when they "come out."

Also, clandestine relationships are hawt. Just sayin'
posted by desuetude at 10:42 AM on June 1, 2009

Also, clandestine relationships are hawt. Just sayin'

I'm surprised it took this long in the thread for this to get said. It's not so far fetched to think the reason they're hiding it is because it makes the relationship more interesting. Or they bet someone a Very Large Sum that they'd keep it a secret for a certain amount of time. Or maybe they eloped and got married and if that got out it would make some difficulties.

Or maybe you're just wrong.

But a good friend respects his friend's boundaries. He's clearly set one up, so knock it off.
posted by Ookseer at 11:35 AM on June 1, 2009

Uh. This is your business because why?

They didn't tell you. That's their choice. They keep getting hounded for it. Leave 'em alone.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2009

You're not off-base to think their behavior is odd. It is odd.

That said, it seems like this odd behavior is important to them, so I guess your only choice is to respect it. But yeah, it's odd.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think your "rules" about what friends do and don't do are only going to get you into trouble later in life. Not everyone has access to your rule book. I guarantee you that G and S are not 'hiding' their relationship status from you to be hurtful, or because they think you suck.

Did it ever occur to you that they're not sure? That they might themselves be in this odd whirlwind and not sure if it's the right thing, or go back and forth, and are still figuring it out for themselves? Did it ever occur to you that relationships are not binary? Did it ever occur to you that people are complex, relationships even more so, and the way you see life is not the only way?

Have you ever sat down to unpack your own feelings about G and/or S? I don't know if you're hetero or gay or bi or if you have any feelings repressed or not, but I'm going to say that it sure sounds like it from the way this has obsessed you.

To unequivocally judge that you aren't as close to G and S as you think you are is insulting and hurtful. Dude, this shit is complicated. Life is complicated. The sooner you can relax all of your rules is the quicker you will enjoy life more.
posted by micawber at 12:32 PM on June 1, 2009

I would be hurt too, and I think that many are piling onto the OP unfairly.

In this situation, it's hard not to think of it as an index of how close you really are to them, when most likely they were thinking only of themselves for unknown reason when they decided to keep it quiet for so long.
posted by umbĂș at 12:33 PM on June 1, 2009

A very similar situation happened to me. I had a job where Mike (assistant manager, 30) and Laura (employee, 20) had been secretly dating for two years, keeping it a secret from the main boss. Gradually the rest of the staff all figured out they were dating (we'd see them on the street holding hands, etc), and we all discussed it privately but didn't invade the couple's privacy, assuming they were hiding it from the boss.

Eventually the management situation changed and Mike became the new boss. The already relaxed workplace became reeeallly relaxed- every single person working there was in their 20s and very good friends; we all hung out together at least 2 nights a week. And eventually we all figured out Mike and Laura were together . I was pretty good friends with Mike and quite close with Laura- she and I talked on the phone or hung out at least twice a week- and she never told me they were dating. Finally I asked them both, privately, what was up. Laura said Mike was weird about it because of the age difference and the work thing. Mike said he wanted to keep it secret because of the authority factor, him being the boss and all. I told them both that the whole staff already knew and nobody was upset about it. They said, OK. And then we continued to be friends, and they continued to tiptoe around and be all coy.

The whole staff knew, nobody minded, and still they lied and acted weird to us all the time. They were so annoying about it- Laura would come visit me at my new job, and Mike, a grown man, would hide outside (I saw him through the window). It was so lame and it made me like them both much less. It felt like a vampire friendship, where I was being open and honest about my life, but they were hiding this major part of their lives from me and all our mutual friends. I felt like they didn't really like me and were just using me- how could they keep this huge part of their lives secret- especially when it wasn't even secret- if they truly liked me? Plus, I knew their relationship was "out" to certain other friends.

One night after a late party, I went for a walk with Laura and her her actual best friend, and we had a very frank truth-or-dare kind of conversation. The friend revealed some really heartbreaking personal stuff. And then the friend turned to Laura- her best friend- and said, "Laura, are you and Mike dating?" And Laura refused to answer her. However Laura might have felt about me, this girl was definitely her best friend- and even she didn't know about Laura's relationship of 4 years! At that point I realized that Laura's and Mike's secrecy had nothing to do with me- they were just damn bizarre people.

Later they broke up and I became much closer with Laura. She said the relationship was really weird, borderline emotionally abusive, and the fact that they'd started off with the need for secrecy (because of work) had made it impossible to break the habit and act normal later. The whole situation was really dysfunctional and the power dynamic was all screwy. It was totally their problem, and had no bearing at all on their friendship with me. But it was a sign that they were really weird people- Laura and I eventually stopped being friends and then all her former friends came out of the woodwork to say, "Wasn't it hard to be friends with her? She was so secretive and weird!"

So, in short, you are NOT weird to be hurt. Trusting your friends and confiding in them is the thing that defines a friendship. Being confided in feels awesome, and being lied to feels shitty. Your friends are being weird with you, and in your shoes I'd feel weird and left-out and hurt and lied to, as well.

Anyone here who's all "Just be happy for them" is being totally clueless. Friends share their lives with friends. That's what it means to be a friend. Anyone who says "Maybe they don't really like you..." Well, there could be some truth to that, but there are other possible reasons as well. If they really didn't like you, they wouldn't go to Argentina with you and then invite you out all the time.

I think the best answer here is to assume they have a weird dynamic and that their secrecy reflects on them much more than it does on you. People like that are difficult to be friends with, and that's not your fault at all. I'd try to keep having fun with them, but look elsewhere for friends who can also be true confidants and who can and will be truthful with you about their lives.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:37 PM on June 1, 2009 [11 favorites]

When they made this decision to not be open about their relationship, they may have not stopped to consider that they might be together for years"yes, yes, you people were right all along," with added pressure for explanations regarding their stubborness.

What the hell did I do to my own text before posting? That should be:

When they made this decision to not be open about their relationship, they may have not stopped to consider that they might be together for years, after which it is increasingly embarrassing and awkward to 'fess up with "yes, yes, you people were right all along," especially knowing that there will be added pressure for explanations regarding their stubbornness.

My point being, sometimes people make these judgment calls, especially regarding things like fibs of omission, and then find themselves painted into a corner regarding the truthing. It's easy to say that everyone would just pat them on the back and say "aw, sheesh, we just wanted what's best for you" but the reality is that people are hurt to find that their friends didn't want them to know about this sort of major life stuff.

Sad thing is, there's not even a good way to resolve this. Whoever's closest to one of the secret couple could put the bug in their ear that everyone kinda knows, and wonders why it's a big secret. You friends-of-secret couple could make a pact to be chill about it when they tell you. But then there's been secret meetings on the subject (!), which seems to beg for even more treehouse drama.

I don't think it's weird that you feel hurt, but I do think that the decisions here are way out of your hands, and you're just going to have to roll with whatever secret couple decide to do.
posted by desuetude at 12:49 PM on June 1, 2009

You're having a very bizarre reaction, bordering on neurotic.

Wow - that was way harsh, Tai. Evadery, I don't think the issue is that the situation is none of your business (I think that depends on the nature of the friendship), but their dishonesty. When you originally asked, G could have responded (some variation of) "that's none of your business - i'd prefer not to discuss it," and you'd have known that the topic was off-limits. But instead, he straight-up lied to you. I'm sure they have their reasons for lying, and that those reasons are understandable, but that doesn't make their dishonesty any less painful to you.

In every very close friendship I've ever had, our respective romantic lives have been an at least somewhat frequent topic of conversation. If a close friend (much less two) had been carrying on a 1.5-year secret relationship, that would mean 1.5 years of being actively misled. I'd totally be like "OMGWTFBBQ" if I were you. It hurts to discover that a friend you've always been honest with hasn't extended you the same courtesy. Again, this is not to say that their reasons aren't understandable, but a consequence of being deceptive is that you deceive people, and they might get hurt when the truth comes out.
posted by granted at 1:10 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

My two cents: You're right that them not telling you is weird. But I'm also confused as to why this is such a big important topic to you, that requires a "confession." Look, you already *know* they're together. So in what sense are you actually being "kept in the dark?" None. This clearly has nothing to do with you, as they didn't tell others either, except when confronted. So you shouldn't take it personally.

Here's how I'd handle it:

I wouldn't mention anything until there's a time when they affirmatively hide who they're dating. (Like they're buying jewelry, but won't say who it's for.) At that point I say, "Look, everyone knows you two are dating, and it's kind of ridiculous you're still denying it. You can tell me whatever you want, I guess, but you're not fooling me, and it bothers me to keep up the lie."
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 1:23 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

3 years back, when I left my job, I lied to one of my close friends about where I was going (I wanted to keep it secret from every one else as well). 1 year forward, I'm still talking to this friend once in a while on the phone and still lying to him because I lied to him to start with. Meanwhile, I'm not in touch with all the people, because of whom I lied to begin with.

1 more year goes by, I'm still in touch with this friend of mine on a regular basis, our wives talk to each other as well, but we (me and my wife) are still lying and feeling bad about it. 1 year more goes by, we work together now in the same company and it felt awful whenever the subject of previous jobs came up, as I had to continue lying. you see where this is going?

It took a long time before finally I had to confess that I had to keep lying just to cover my initial lie. Before I did that , my friend must have felt exactly the way you are feeling now. He knew the truth pretty much all along (he came to know it from common friends whom I had told the truth since begining). But it's nice of him, he didn't think much of it, and just laughed it away when I finally confessed. Our families remain good friends now.

Moral of the story is - It's silly sometimes why we do things we do and make it difficult for ourselves to correct them. Just give your friends some time, so they can come up clean.
posted by tvjoshi at 4:51 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm with pseudostrabismus, to whatever extent that this makes sense -

You're offended because you think your relationship with them isn't being valued by their secrecy. My betting odds are 3 to 1 that your relationship with each of them is far healthier than their relationship with each other.
The reason they're not talking, is probably that the relationship is a sore point. They don't know what's going on either.

Leave them alone, because they're going to have to figure it out themselves, and no one else can do it for them - but don't feel hurt, just feel a little sad for them, because it's likely, after this long, that something has gone a little wrong (not big wrong, just a relationship fell through the cracks of how they would 'like' it to work, and they're still trying in the hope they can get it to work before exposing it to their friends).

But hey, since they're not talking, it could be anything...
posted by Elysum at 6:04 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am really, really confused.

Further discussions ensued between R and G where it was made clear that I knew they were together, and G acknowledged that I wasn't asking to be polite (which I was - I haven't asked G about relationships since Argentina for this reason).

It really sounds like, unless I've grossly misunderstood, that G and S believe that you're aware of their relationship, and weren't explicitly asking about it to comply with their wishes. So why would they, haven't not been asked about it by you since Argentina, feel the need to make yet another grand declaration of "look, we're together!"

In that situation I would say it's more about miscommunication than anything else. In which case talk to them, tell them why you were upset, and then put it behind you. Because it's really not that big a deal.

If that is not the case and they have been explicitly hiding the relationship from everyone, including you, then the pretty simple explanation is that they don't want to give you an answer, period. You'll have to respect that. They're adults, and what they do with their lives is theirs to share or keep secret. Just because you wouldn't hesitate to tell them if you were in a relationship doesn't mean that your two situations are comparable. Maybe there's something going on here that goes far deeper and beyond either's friendship with you. Maybe one of them has an arranged marriage set up and is trying to get out of it and doesn't want things getting back to the family. Whatever. You'll have to trust that they have a valid reason for keeping things secret, and decide how to proceed accordingly. Maybe you're not okay with friends who keep relationships secret, and that is your prerogative.
posted by Phire at 11:53 AM on June 2, 2009

In direct opposition to virtually every other comment on this post, I gotta go out on a limb here and say that generally, knowing whether or not your friends are single or dating IS your business. Not your business in a prying, creepy way, but in a "hey we're friends and we know basic information about each other" way. I know the dating status of all of my friends, because they're my friends. We talk about this stuff. It's one of the fun parts of friendship.

So, I hear you. I'd also be hurt if my friends kept their dating status from me--particularly if, as in your case, they not only tell other people, but also acknowledge that they had been keeping that information from you. That's just odd. Elysum mentioned that your friends may not be sure where their relationship is at, which was also my first thought, reading your post. Still, it's unfortunate neither of them felt like telling you any details.

I'm sorry they're acting like this, and sorry you're being hurt.
posted by timoni at 3:32 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

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