How much would you want to know?
June 25, 2012 7:34 PM   Subscribe

While the rumor is untrue, it touches something I never told anyone- should I spill the beans?

The rumor is that I had an affair with my co-workers wife. While this did not occur at all, there was an incident. We work together and are friendly, but don't generally hang out. The first time I met his wife was at a party and after we were all quite drunk she tried to forcibly kiss me out of the blue in the kitchen. I mean really no flirty behavior or even much conversation between us. I pushed her away and gave her the benefit of the doubt- wrote it off as a stupid drunken mistake.

But now that this rumor has surfaced, I suddenly feel that I should have said something at the time. I don't know his wife at all, aside from that party, I've seen her once or twice at group events and barely exchanged words with her.

I have cleared it up with him and he believes that we were not having an affair, but this one thing is nagging me. Do I tell him this additional detail? Will it do any good? Did he latch on to the rumor so strongly because she has been unfaithful before and I should make him aware of her behavior?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't have sex with her. You're not having an affair with her. Stay out of it.

I mean, at this point coming to him after you soft-shoed it as nothing? It would appear as far from genuine to come back and give this detail and would really strain your work relationship even further.

This is for them to navigate on their own.
posted by inturnaround at 7:40 PM on June 25, 2012 [14 favorites]

"I totally was not sleeping with your wife....but she totally kissed me! Against my will! I totally didn't like it even!"

I don't see how you can frame this conservation in any way, with him, that will make it seem like you are the innocent victim here. You will feel better after you spill the beans, but you're actually not helping your co-worker in this situation. You've cleared up the rumor with him, he seems okay with that, and leave it at that. Unless you're trying to "save him" by outing his wife as the real reason why that rumor was started, just play it cool and stay in the background. Be honest if asked and take care of the rumors as they come up. You're not going to make anything better by speaking - even if you think you'll feel better if you tell him.
posted by Stynxno at 7:41 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Keep your fingers away from the machinery.
posted by kavasa at 7:41 PM on June 25, 2012 [61 favorites]

If cleared up with him and he's satisfied, you need not go into any further details. Doing so runs the risk of making him think there IS more going on. Walk away from this now that you've squelched the rumors.
posted by kuppajava at 7:42 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


You will only insert yourself further into this domestic drama and that's not good for anyone.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:42 PM on June 25, 2012

I'd recommend not changing your behavior on account of a rumor. That someone lied about you two is not a partial confession on your part that makes the real, sad truth just a tiny stretch more.

It sucks that you're in this situation, but you don't really know anything more about her, and I doubt you'd feel better by telling him of her drunken behavior.
posted by cmiller at 7:43 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

No. Your opportunity to tell him this, which was directly related to his question, was when he asked the question. Even if you did let him know, he probably wouldn't believe you.

I'm confused by your jump from "stupid drunken mistake" to a suspicion of a pattern of behavior, with someone you do not know and do not interact with.
posted by sm1tten at 7:44 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Leave it alone. Do not try to fix anything. Telling him the rest now will only make him wonder what else you aren't telling him and will spin him into further suspicion. For all you know, that was the full extent of her indiscretions, right?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:45 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nthing no. What good would it do? You don't know his wife. Maybe it was not a "pattern of behavior" and really just a "drunk mistake". Telling him now, with the rumor in place, might make things really awkward in their marriage, even if he believes you. And if she was unfaithful? Then it's not your business.
posted by MinusCelsius at 7:51 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Friend's wife: no, clearly no.

posted by JimmyJames at 8:15 PM on June 25, 2012 [12 favorites]

For the love of god and your future sanity no. He won't believe you and will take this either as confirmation you had some sort of fling or that you started the rumors. Seriously you want to tell him that his wife drunkenly threw herself at someone she barely knew and then the only reason she didnt cheat on him was you rejected her? For the love of god no.
posted by whoaali at 8:17 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

As someone who did tell a woman that her husband hit on me at party and deeply regretted it when I walked in on her crying later, let me save you this mistake. Does he "deserve" to know? Hell yeah, but I guarantee you will absolutely regret it later, and it will affect your work relationship. Do the smart thing and keep your nose out of it AND avoid being alone with the woman again.

Anyway, he probably already knows his wife has done shit like this.
posted by thelastcamel at 8:29 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Usually, I would agree with the others here, but I think there's a facet that may not be being considered: the rumour may exist because somebody saw the two of you in the kitchen. You say your co-worker has strongly latched on to the idea of his wife having an affair, and somebody saying, "Sorry, buddy, but I saw your wife kissing anonymous" carries a lot more weight than mere whispers. In fact, given the rumour is specifically about you despite the fact that you say you've barely talked to her, I suspect this is the case.

So this may be harder to simply brush off than you think. If this rumour has any potential to damage your career -- if your co-worker has friends in high places, say, or you work in a conservative or religious environment where an affair would be actively frowned upon -- it may be in your best interest to try to clear this up once and for all.

It's not going to be easy, though. You've already lied to your co-worker once.

(And it was a lie, as much as you're probably telling yourself it was only by omission. You whiffed that one, sorry.)

If it were me, I would ask the co-worker if we could go have a coffee or drink after work, then lay it all on the table. Other people on Mefi are much better than coming up with words than I am, but perhaps something about how you weren't completely honest the other day because you were trying to protect your co-worker's feelings and avoid drama, and you're sorry for that. Then dispassionately lay out what happened: you were at the party, you had barely talked to his wife, she tried to kiss you. You pushed her away, the end. You're sorry you didn't tell him the truth the first time.

Will that go over well? Possibly not, but if somebody is telling co-worker that they saw you kissing his wife, this suspicion between the two of you is never going to go away. At least this way, you've been honest. What your co-worker does with that honesty is up to him.

It's a really tough situation you find yourself in, and there's no easy answers here. Good luck.
posted by Georgina at 8:32 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

(And it was a lie, as much as you're probably telling yourself it was only by omission. You whiffed that one, sorry.)

Nope. OP said the drunken wife TRIED to kiss him in the kitchen and he pushed her away. In absolutely no way does that turn the OP into any kind of liar.

OP, you have nothing to confess, and absolutely no reason to feel guilty. So don't do either.
posted by palomar at 8:43 PM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]

Talking about this would be madness. You want no part of this. You want to crush the shit out of this rumor and absolutely under no circumstances do you ever want to admit that the coworker's wife tried to kiss you. That is the path of madness. You have done nothing wrong. You certainly didn't screw anybody else's wife.
posted by Scientist at 9:14 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Nope. OP said the drunken wife TRIED to kiss him in the kitchen and he pushed her away. In absolutely no way does that turn the OP into any kind of liar.

This times one million.
posted by fshgrl at 9:14 PM on June 25, 2012

Stay out of it. Someone's been describing you and her this way, and it isn't you, and it hasn't been quashed outside of you, apparently. Your interest can only make it worse.
posted by rhizome at 9:33 PM on June 25, 2012

What you could say: "Your wife tried to make a pass at me and I refused it."

What he would hear: "Yes, something is going on between your wife and I. I may or may not be telling you the whole story."

You didn't do the thing you were being accused of. Also, you did not indulge in her desires. Unfortunately, there is no way to communicate this without poking his already inflamed insecurities. Put down the stick and disengage.
posted by Shouraku at 9:39 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

anonymous posted">> Did he latch on to the rumor so strongly because she has been unfaithful before and I should make him aware of her behavior?

Whoa there. Don't do this, inserting yourself into our speculation about the dynamics of their relationship based on an incident of unknown relevance. (To be clear, speculate all you like in your own head, but in real life this is totally none of your business, right?)

Secondly, 'fessing up to this incident is more like tattling, it makes you look as weak/drunken as she, and it dignifies a dumb, immature, inappropriate office rumor. Lose-lose scenario.
posted by desuetude at 9:41 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like you were honest - you never did anything with her; you were never interested in doing anything with her. Since she made a pass at you once, I can see your being really uncomfortable and wanting to dump the knowledge on someone else, but honestly it's not relevant to the question of 'did you have an affair with his wife'. 'Cause you didn't. You didn't even have a does-this-count-as-an-affair, or an emotional affair, or a drunken smooch in the corner, or anything else that you would be required to confess.

She's never tried it again (at least with you), there's nothing you did wrong, and it seems best not to imitate the original rumor-monger in sowing trouble in their marriage.
posted by Lady Li at 9:53 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do not bring this up with the husband. Be your usual self, and for heaven's sake, stay out of kitchens!
posted by BlueHorse at 10:05 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

To clarify, I believe the problem occurs because anonymous says he "cleared it up" with the co-worker. Which means they had a conversation about the rumour which ended with anonymous saying something like, "I did not have an affair with your wife." This is an accurate statement, in a letter of the law way, but the spirit of the co-worker's question is, "Why is the office rumor mill saying you had an affair with my wife?" and anonymous pretended he didn't know.

But I want to stress that I agree that the original situation is not anonymous' fault. It's really crappy, and the wife never should've dragged him into their marrital problems. My apologies for not staring that more clearly in my original post.
posted by Georgina at 10:14 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

It would be pretty much as bad an idea to tell him now as it would be to stick your hand in a bowl of scorpions. If you do decide to tell him, you might as well do the scorpion thing too, like, Hey, I'm willing to stick my hand in this bowl to prove that we never kissed.

Still a bad idea, but then no one in the office will be talking about any affair.
posted by klangklangston at 1:02 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why would you risk getting bit?
Let sleeping dogs lie.
posted by Flood at 4:27 AM on June 26, 2012

If your work-life is suffering, you need to alert HR in a very diplomatic way. The best way to do this would be to meet with your HR person and say, "I've become aware of a rumor that I'm having an affair with John's wife. I'm bringing this to your attention not only because it is untrue, but because rumors like this are damaging in the workplace. They create unnecessary distraction, breed distrust, and put people at risk for sexual harassment. I've already spoken to John, and he and I are square. But if you hear this rumor or learn who originated this rumor, I'd like to encourage you to put a stop to it if you can."

Then you need to treat it like the nonstarter it is and teach from example. If someone asks you, you say, "Not only am I not having an affair with John's wife, but I need you to stop this rumor mill so we can all {focus on the project due Monday/win this client/etc}." Don't bring it up yourself again.
posted by juniperesque at 6:13 AM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

If the incident in the kitchen never happened, how would you react? The incident in the kitchen is so entirely forgettable that you should make any and all decicisions based upon having forgotten it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:19 AM on June 26, 2012

If you tell him this one additional detail, you'll be giving him a reason to wonder what other details you didn't mention. Don't do it.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:17 PM on June 26, 2012

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