I am sorry if this is a duplicate, the closest situation I could find here is this one. This is a bit long but given that I am not entirely sure if there was any advance to be concerned about in the first place, I think it is important.
I was friends with Alice for a couple of years back when I was in High School and we enjoyed each other's company a lot. We dated casually for a while till we eventually drifted apart because we were both young and wanted to explore other possibilities and of course, college. That was 2010. It was not a bad break up or anything, we parted on amiable terms, but as it happens, we got out of touch entirely over the years.
Only contact that I have had with her since then was through mutual friends. Heard she met another guy and married about three years ago.
But then I got a text from her a few days ago (Please note all the communication below is via social media, we both live in different cities now). I found that odd but I was happy to catch up with her. I asked her if she needed something, she replied she only wanted to see how I was doing. I asked about her new life, found out she's a mum now and dropped out of college for some reason. She asked me if I was seeing someone, I answered honestly that I wasn't.
The catching up continued well onto the next day so again, I asked her subtly that why is she contacting me after all these years. She first gave me the old "catching up" reason but later admitted that her husband was abroad for some reason and she's been feeling rather lonely. To handle that, she says, she decided to use this time to catch up with all the friends she's gotten out of touch with lately.
It's not that I didn't enjoy talking to her again but something just felt off. Knowing her, I knew she will tell me what's wrong when she wants to. And she did, a couple of days later she told me about her marital issues, how she and her husband were drifting apart and how her husband is a suspicious/smothering kind of person. She drew parallels between me and her husband and how we are so different and he does not appreciate her at all. I listened, because well, I wasn't asked for an advice and it's not my place to meddle in her personal affairs.
The breaking point was when she asked me to switch to another app. I asked why's that? She replied that she doesn't want her husband to find out that we have been talking because of his suspicious nature. I told her that if her husband is not okay with her doing that, she should not be doing that without taking him in confidence. What followed was an emotional deluge. She went into extreme details about how she is unhappy with him, how her life is crumbling apart and how she is not trying to cheat on her husband, she just wants to be heard by someone she knows who cares, who values her etc. I spent the next fifteen minutes talking her into discussing all this with her husband and reminding her if she really wants her son to grow up in a broken family (She's always had strong views on a strong traditional family). She just wouldn't stop asking me to stay in contact with her. I told her that while I can't stop her from going behind her husband's back and possibly sabotaging her marriage, I refuse to be a part of it. With that I said goodbye. I got a few calls which I did not receive and then another call the next day that she is trying to stop bothering me but it is hard for her. I told her that's because it's the right thing and that I did not wish to be in any form of contact with her if she was going to keep it a secret from her husband. And after that I did not hear from her but she sounded pretty hurt.
I think I did the right thing but I still feel like I did it horribly. Of course it was going to hurt but she seemed very distressed. The ship's sailed but I'd still like to know if I could have done it in a better way?
My goal was:
- To convey to Alice that while I am not seeing anyone at the moment, I just don't feel that way about her any longer.
- To firmly establish that I won't get into any sort of "secret relation" with her without accusing her that she is trying to cheat on her husband given that I am not entirely sure if that's what she wanted.
- As a former friend, I do have her interests at my heart and I don't want her to throw away her marriage like that. If she wants to end things with her husband, she should do precisely that instead of seeking out former romantic interests to stay in touch with her secretly.
Full disclosure, I am an old member of the wider Stack Exchange (Although not of this SE). The reason why I am using an anonymous account is because I don't like discussing my personal affairs like this. I can't discuss it with old friends or family because they do know her (I don't want this one moment to redefine their perception of her as a person). You can say that this anonymity is the shield I am hiding behind. I won't be upvoting this via my real account.