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I am a 23-year-old woman and have been going through depression due to several life situations. I have a guy best friend (engaged) whom I am very close to. He has been acting as my support system to help me in overcoming depression.

Last night he was listening to me blabbing about my problems and he gave me a very warm long hug. We were in the car and I happened to fall asleep while his arm was around my shoulder. Though I wasn't completely asleep. He started playing with my hair, then pulled my hair around my ear, kissed me on my forehead several times from what I remember and then he gave me a small peck on lips. I was awake after this act but didn't know how to deal with this situation or how to react, so I kept my eyes closed and then he kissed me on cheeks and again gave a long kiss on lips. I still didn't react but turned my face away from him and he still thought I was asleep.

We are very close (we mostly gave each other hugs and forehead kisses), but being kissed on the lips is new. I would not like it to happen IF it carries a romantic/sexual meaning to him. I am also worried about losing his support, he has been a very good friend and I don't want to make things awkward between us.

Now on next day, I don't know how to face him. How can I bring this situation up and set boundaries without making a big deal about it?

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I hate to be this person, but I think this is a bit beyond an "awkward situation" and might have crossed the border into sexual assault. I know he's your best friend and he's helping you through a difficult situation, but what he did was take advantage of an emotionally distressed person that was sleeping.

At least in the U.S., platonic/non-romantic kissing on the forehead or cheek is pretty uncommon, but not unheard of. I'm not aware of any cultural standard where two non-intimate adults kiss on the lips, though. Maybe it's more common where you're from, but that definitely crosses more than just one or two lines in my book.

Regardless if kissing on the lips is normal for two friends to do in your culture, the fact that he did it while he thought you were sleeping is wildly inappropriate, in my opinion.

If I were in your position, I'd confront him as strongly as possible and then cut off contact with him. I know that he's a very dear friend, but dear friends don't do things to sleeping people. I've had to cut contact with people that were very close to me before and it is incredibly difficult and there's no easy way around it. You may feel like you're relying on him now but if this is how he behaves, especially when you're emotionally troubled, then this isn't someone you should want in your life.

If you're still willing to brush off something so inappropriate as "awkward", then you're still going to have to put your foot down.

I'm aware that you kissed me on the lips while I was sleeping. That was very inappropriate and made me extremely uncomfortable. I don't want to lose your friendship so I'm asking you to never cross that boundary again. I'm comfortable with a friendly kiss on the forehead or cheek but any more than that, especially if I'm asleep, is not something I want or will tolerate.

  • 7
    Hey there, you say that you had to "cut contact with people that were very close to me before". Could you tell us a little more about that? How did you do it and how it went? Also, do you have any back up (personal experience or external sources) for why you are suggesting this type of phrasing for the OP to confront their friend? – Ælis Sep 6 at 11:06
  • @Ælis I have two cases in particular. In one, a good friend did something completely inexcusable and made it very easy for me to politely inform them that we were no longer friends and to move on. The second was a case where I desperately wanted to maintain a friendship, but the person was so toxic that I couldn't do it any longer. I had tried everything to make the situation better, but it was clear they had no interest in changing their behavior so I simply blocked them on all social media, deleted their number, and haven't seen them in a year. It hurt like hell, but life is much better now. – goat_fab Sep 9 at 15:19
  • @Ælis The language I chose was simple: be direct, lay out your points, set your boundaries. Don't leave any room for misinterpretation. As I mentioned, I've had to end friendships and relationships and I've also had to set boundaries. I've also had friends set boundaries with me. For smaller things, it doesn't have to be uncomfortable ("please don't make jokes about X") and it doesn't have to hurt feelings. You just have to be clear. – goat_fab Sep 9 at 15:23
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I'm so sorry you're going through a difficult time right now and that you feel you need to rely on this person, but it's never ok to kiss a sleeping person on the lips unless you have a previously-established romantic relationship with that person. A sleeping person cannot consent to being kissed and its telling that, despite how close you two are, he waited until you were asleep to try this move. It seems to me that he knew you didn't want to kiss him and waited until a vulnerable moment when he could "get away with it."

I used to have a male friend, let's call him J. When I met J, I was in a serious relationship and we became good, platonic friends. As soon as I broke up with my boyfriend, J's attitude toward me changed. He started making a special effort to get me drunk every time we hung out together. Once I was drunk and feeling sad about my breakup, he would make really aggressive passes at me or try to manipulate me into sleeping with him. I came to realize that he didn't really value our friendship, he was just hovering around me, waiting for me to be sad, drunk, and vulnerable enough to succumb to his advances. I walked away from that friendship and I have since learned that he behaved abusively toward other mutual female friends.

My advice is to get away from this person as quickly as possible. He deliberately took advantage of you while you were sad, vulnerable, and asleep. That's not someone that can be trusted. I hope that you have other people in your life that you can lean on.

If you really want to try and salvage this friendship, I think you need to make it really clear that he violated both your boundaries and your trust. He owes you a sincere, abject apology and a promise to never behave that way again. Accept no excuses; he knew what he was doing and he did it on purpose. If he thought that you wanted him to kiss you, he would have done it when you were awake. Make sure that he understands that this is a serious, friendship-ending level event. After that, if you want to give him ONE more chance, go ahead. But, for me, the trust would be gone in this relationship and I wouldn't want to see him anymore.

4

You said, you do not want to make a big deal out of it.

Because of that I recommend a less confrontational method.

As you "stayed asleep" until being kissed, you can talk with your good friend about a dream you had about him kissing you. You can talk about the uncomfortable feelings you had in this situation and the relief as you noticed it was a dream! You can also mention, that you are happy with him as good friend, and you would not tolerate such approaches in real life (make this point as clearly as you can).

In this way you can tell him all your concerns while he can save face, but he will possibly become a little alarmed, that you noticed some of his behaviour. After this, it should be clear to him, not to do such a thing again.

(If he do so once more, regardless, you should make a big deal out of it...)

Edit:

I use to trim the nails of my child while they were asleep, because it was easier when my child was not moving. One time, my child spoke to me about a dream of "nail cutting", so I saw firsthand, that one could sometimes sense the environment even if one is asleep.

Sometimes I have seen people doing some things that are not okay, similar to your situation. I have noticed that these people are more likely to change their wrong behavior if I do not confront them with it directly, but instead, in a way that they can save face. For example one of my neighbors used to play loud music until late in the night. I did not say "YOU disturb my sleep", instead I talked with him about this "loud music in the night" and asked if he was disturbed by this too. Some people react with "No, I know nothing" and then change it, others say openly "oh yes this was me, I will change it". I let the decision be theirs, on whether they remain silent or open up about it.

  • My problem with your answer is that although the questions specifies not making a big deal, the most appropriate advice is to deal with the situation directly and confront the friend. – Tom Sep 18 at 16:37

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