Hey, Ellie! I’m hoping to start dating my ‘summer girlfriend’ who helped lead me to the same company

Hi Ellie,

My first year of college I had a crush on a girl who, oddly enough, was my best friend’s girlfriend. I stupidly thought she would have interest in me because she’s one of my best friends, and so why would she treat her in a less-than-ideal manner? She didn’t, but I thought she might for a brief period of time during a summer internship that I once had, a fact that I made clear many times, one of which I mentioned with GIFs.

Anyway, I ended up getting laid off and haven’t seen the girl since. Many years later, her friend then called me and admitted that she knew about this and that I was her “summer girlfriend.” It was an awful situation for me, so when her friend said she was looking for me to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I thought I could convince her otherwise, but I eventually just opted not to. That was then, and this is now, so I’m wondering what my best course of action is.

Love,

O

Dear O,

Congratulations on your degree! Now you get to work on one of life’s great lessons: Try to speak to your friends before you talk to strangers.

If you’re going to call out your friends to their significant others, I’d at least try to ask before offering your services. That way they’ll be aware of your desires, too, instead of just taking it on faith.

You say you “hope” your best friend doesn’t involve you in her out-of-the-blue, two-month fling, so that is evidence enough that you don’t want to be involved at all. When we ask how friends help each other, they’re often using actions as a way to show us how they feel. Even if they aren’t usually aware of how they’re acting, or what actions to take to protect themselves and others, they may need some clear guidance.

If your friend was unknowingly playing on your emotions and adding little drama to your life, then all you can do is take them at their word — because they are your friends. If they were being unfaithful to you, however, they were lying to you about why they cheated in the first place.

So, how do you figure out if your friend lied about her circumstances? Being honest is the best way. Not just with herself, but also with you. Ask her if she really thought she was in a new relationship. Then, ask her why she lied to you. And if she does lie, you should tell her that she didn’t do her job as a friend and that you’re not going to tolerate it anymore. You can say that, but not just once; make it a part of your conversation from then on.

Ultimately, you might want to approach her with a more detailed explanation. You don’t need to explain specifically why you aren’t taking your friend’s behavior seriously. Rather, you just want to confirm for her that she did her job as a friend and that she is being an excellent friend even though you are firmly on opposite sides of the issue.

Because by being honest with her, you send her a clear message: I know you’re trying to show that you’re a better friend than me, but that’s not going to make me love you any less. I know you want to be this kind of friend, but you just aren’t. If you aren’t telling the truth and can’t be trusted, then you aren’t being this kind of friend to me, either.

As you learn to love your new experience, which hopefully you will, it will be easier to let go of the old one. In fact, I hope you eventually can have a relationship with the other friend without worrying about what she did with your ex. You deserve some time to mend your broken friendship.

Ellie B., from Seattle, Washington, is a reporter for MTV and Brooklyn Magazine.

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