My guy friend kissed me. Should I tell my boyfriend?

Special to The Globe and Mail

The question

I have been happily with my boyfriend for 5 years - I consider him my partner for life. We share many mutual friends, including this couple we have known since we started dating. They are wonderful people who are happily together (dating longer than us and, in fact, engaged) and we have always enjoyed their company.

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The four of us were at a house party one night, and my partner and my girl friend were partying in another room. This left me and my guy friend alone on the couch. Suddenly, he leaned over and kissed me. I was taken by surprise and, in fact, I kissed him back.

He told me that he had been waiting for this moment since he met me. I told him this couldn't happen because we both were in great relationships. I had to push him away and tell him that this could never happen again. I know I did the right thing, but I do feel guilty because I am still thinking about what he said and did. Should I tell my boyfriend? Should I talk to my guy friend about his feelings towards me? Should I tell his fiancée? Or should I let things be?

The answer

Generally speaking, I'm very strict about these types of things.

I know the old song says "You must remember this/A kiss is just a kiss," but a) the song is addressing single people; b) it's a slippery slope, I feel.

First you kiss this guy. Then you get together over dinner "to discuss what happened." Next thing you know, you're getting busy in an Olive Garden bathroom.

If you were so willing to kiss Mr. Engaged at the drop of a hat, on the couch, with your boyfriend in the next room, how strong would your resistance be if he were to mount a more prolonged campaign? What if he began to woo you behind his fiancée's back, complete with flowers, fine wines, tender avowals, candlelit dinners, the whole schmear?

It could happen! By kissing him back, you showed him you're attracted to him - you lit the fuse, baby! Before you go forward with your five-years-vintage boyfriend, the man you call your "partner for life," you have to decide, and be very clear with yourself: "What am I going to do in the future - 10, 20, 30 years from now - if someone comes on to me. Will I resist?"

If you can't be sure you will, then, simply put, you're not ready to commit. Committing is a terrible, beautiful act, and probably more people do it than should. You definitely have to wait until you're ready.

In the meantime, vis-à-vis the kiss, well, it's out there. It's an information grenade with the pin pulled. And, to mix metaphors wildly, it kind of makes the two of you co-conspirators, and your significant others unwitting cops. If one of you cracks and confesses first, that person will get the lighter sentence.

So unless you can be certain this guy will keep his lips sealed (and not just to your lips), you may have to drop a pre-emptive confession on your boyfriend.

Prepare for some shouting, door-slamming and perhaps even a little in-house couch-surfing. I know I'd friggin' freak if my wife, Pam, told me some friend of ours kissed her and she kissed back.

I'd be sick with jealousy. Also, I'd keep plenty of daylight - distance and time - between her and the recipient of any and all osculatory activity. I would never leave them alone together again for the rest of my life.

So you should prepare for a bit of a froideur to descend upon your couple friendship.

But it shouldn't be a deal-breaker. If you do go this route, you'll have to spend some time reassuring your man that he's the only one for you, that this kiss was a weird, random act devoid of all content and meaning.

Which it was - right? The real danger lies, it strikes me, in all the ex post facto thoughts you've had about this other guy. You have to resolve them, decide you are definitively not interested in this fellow, or this information grenade could touch off a mushroom cloud of doom for all four of you.

If you do have feelings, well, the good news is: None of you are married yet. Nor, it sounds like, do any of you have any kids.

Best to decide now who's interested in whom before any formal ceremonies take place, I would say.

And once you have that sorted out, make sure everyone respects each other's choices and boundaries, to ensure a future of harmony, unblemished friendship and unsullied romance for all parties concerned.

Update

Many of my esteemed readers have pointed out I may have erred when I wrote in my last column: "Meanwhile, unless I'm missing something, if your partner quit his job, he's not eligible for EI so you can kiss that potential income stream goodbye." In fact, I was missing something: Apparently, if one quits to relocate for the sake of a committed relationship, one may in fact be entitled to EI benefits. (Truthfully, I'm glad this clause is on the books: As one reader pointed out, in a world of restrictions and red tape, it's an area "where a little humanity can be shown.")

Mea culpa, people: You're smart, I'm dumb. I wasn't aware of this clause of the EI statutes, and should have run this statement past an expert. Usually I do with these types of things. I promise to do better in the future. Meanwhile, I change my tune and urge this woman's partner to run, not walk, to his local EI office and apply for benefits!

David Eddie is the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad. Damage Control, the book, will be published in March.

I've made a huge mistake Have you created any damage that needs controlling? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com, and include your hometown and a daytime contact number.

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