Social Question

cockswain's avatar

Can you suggest a wise way to handle this awkward social problem?

Asked by cockswain (15254points) April 7th, 2011

I am friends with a couple “Fred” and “Wilma.” I began working with Wilma 6 years ago, and then met her husband Fred outside work through Wilma. We’ve all played many sports and participated in many social activities over the years. Fred and Wilma separated a couple months ago, then rapidly signed the divorce papers a couple weeks ago. Wilma didn’t take much of anything of Fred’s. Fred started dating right away, and has a cool hot new girlfriend. Seems awfully soon, but whatever.

Enter another co-worker, Barney. Barney has known Wilma for some years too, and has also hung out with Fred and Wilma in sports leagues and parties outside of work. Barney is now dating Wilma. Seems awfully soon for Wilma, and kind of dumb to date a co-worker, but whatever.

My dilemma is that I hang out with Fred regularly. I’m decent friends with Wilma and Barney, but don’t spend much time with them outside of work. Barney runs a work-sponsored soccer team, on which Fred is a player. Fred is a great player, and can’t make it this week.

I just learned about Wilma and Barney today. Normally I would try to twist Fred’s arm into showing up for soccer, but I don’t know if he knows those two are dating and won’t come, or if it’s because he has something else going on.

It’s only a matter of time before Fred finds out Barney is dating his ex-wife. It was just like 6 weeks or so ago I was helping Fred deal with him not wanting Wilma to leave. Even though Fred is dating, it would be reasonable for him to find Barney to be of low character and untrustworthy. Barney and Fred aren’t close friends, but certainly enjoy grabbing a beer together sometimes.

Do I tell Fred about Wilma and Barney? If I let him find out (maybe it will be a few weeks), he would correctly assume I had known too, and I had not informed him. He could feel somewhat disappointed in me for that. Of all the people, I’m closest to Fred and see him once or twice a week outside of work on average. He may well wish to despise Barney when he learns the truth, and if I leave Fred in the dark and he keeps playing on the soccer team, he may feel like I let him look like an asshole.

I have no knowledge if Barney and Wilma’s relationship helped precipitate Fred and Wilma’s divorce. Probably not.

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19 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

How does Betty feel about all of this?

Seriously, if Fred has moved on, then why shouldn’t Wilma? I’m a band-aid ripper. I’d tell a friend asap just so they have a chance to process the info before seeing it with his own eyes.

Hey Fred, heads up…Wilma & Barney are sorta seeing each other now. Don’t know if it’s serious or not. Just thought you should know before you see them at soccer

Neizvestnaya's avatar

“Uh, Fred, I just learned through work that Wilma and Barney are an item. I hope this isn’t going to mess up our soccer time but it is kind of awkward. What say you?”

AmWiser's avatar

Sheese! They’re grown-ups for haven’s sake, if Fred didn’t tell Wilma and Barney and Betty don’t know, it would be wise if Dino stayed out of the mix. In other words everyone will soon know what they need to know when they need to know it.

cockswain's avatar

Sounds wise. Betty doesn’t know Fred is already dating, but it is no one she knows. I’d have felt no moral dilemma in that regard unless Fred had begun dating a mutual friend of theirs.

cockswain's avatar

Another question: assuming I tell Fred (which I likely will), should I give Barney the heads up I’m going to? Or would it be more tactful if I ask Barney if he minds if I tell Fred? I like Barney fine, and don’t want him to feel I ratted him out either. I don’t want Fred to confront Barney at soccer and surprise him. Maybe I should have a talk with Barney, but don’t get many opportunities at work.

Mind you, I do think Barney is a little lame for getting with Wilma, but I understand his position and why he did. They do get along well it seems.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’d only give Barney a heads up, if Fred seems to not take it well. My guess is Fred’ll be okay with it, and won’t bug Barney at all. Will Fred bring his new GF to the game?

If you think he will, then go to Barney first….

Does this make sense @cockswain?

cockswain's avatar

Yes. Wilma doesn’t come to the soccer games, and Fred will probably rarely see her ever again. I don’t know if Fred would bring his gf to the game, but since Wilma isn’t there, I don’t see why it would matter. Probably if Barney and Wilma knew of Fred’s new gf, they’d feel a little relieved and less guilty (if they do). But then I’d be sticking my nose way too far into it my gut tells me.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Ahhh that says a lot to me. I thought Wilma & the gf would be there.

I’d let Fred know, since he’s your friend. Again, I probably wouldn’t say anything to Barney unless I thought it went bad with Fred.

Divorce is difficult. It can be weird for friends with both people to decide how to handle these types of situations. It is seriously bizarre to have a friend know something you don’t, and not have them tell you. says the daughter of a mom twice divorced. It breaks up a lot of “good” friendships

cockswain's avatar

Only issue I see there is not being able to gauge how it goes with Fred. Likely I’d end up shooting him an email, and he may not respond. I wouldn’t know what he’s thinking at that point, but I might guess he’s pissed by his silence. I’d prefer to tell him in person, but won’t see him for a while yet.

Oh well, I’ll do the best I can.

wundayatta's avatar

Look. Fred will not really be thinking about you when he finds out—if, indeed, it bothers him at all. Stop pulling at your knickers. Tell him if you want, or don’t. It’s not that big a deal and it is not going to affect your relationship.

marinelife's avatar

Mention it casually to Fred.

Do not ask Barney if it is OK or talk to Barney about it at all.

augustlan's avatar

I’d definitely tell Fred, in pretty much exactly the way @SpatzieLover suggests. If you’re at all close with Barney, you might ask him if Fred already knows, first. If Barney indicates that Fred’s aware, you’re completely off the hook. If B says F doesn’t know, you can give him a head’s up that you feel you have to tell him, and that you hope B understands that and won’t hold it against you.

cockswain's avatar

@augustlan Solomon couldn’t have said it better.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I would ask Wilma if Fred knows she’s seeing Barney. It’s her news to break, not yours. Perhaps there’s nothing to it; a few dates, and it’s over. In which case, you’d be stuck in the middle of drama that you don’t own. Wilma’s a big girl, and needs to be responsible for her own social dynamics. If Fred wants to talk about it, or asks why you didn’t tell, tell him it’s not your news to tell, and has no effect on your relationship with either him or Wilma.

bkcunningham's avatar

I gave @BarnacleBill a great answer because he wrote what I was thinking. I’d stay out of it as far as telling Fred. But since I work with Wilma, if I wanted to get involved, that is where my involvement would be. Then I’d be able to honestly tell Fred, if he mentioned it, that I just found out from Wilma.

cockswain's avatar

British Knights Cunningham! Long time no see!

I couldn’t honestly say that to Fred since I’ve already heard from others that Barney and Wilma are an item. I have to tell Fred I’ve decided. He’s my buddy and, applying the Golden Rule, I would want my buddy to tell me. So I’m going to tell Barney at work that one of us is telling Fred what’s up, and who’s it going to be. Thing is, Barney is this super nice guy. Cherubic is a good word to describe him. Fred is kind of…not quite unstable, but a little fearsome. Barney will be more than happy to have me break the news to Fred instead of him. Unfortunately, to the detriment of our soccer team, Fred will likely stop coming to play on Barney’s team.

This is my plan now. If I’ve raised any red flags, someone pipe up please.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@cockswain No red flags. If you talk to Wilma, it’s against guy code I have lots of guy friends ;)

bkcunningham's avatar

Burger King. I mean, that is what my friends call me. Please @cockswain. I would be delighted if you did too. I think you have it going on with your decision. My bad. You have to be true to your friends. I respect that.

Bellatrix's avatar

People do strange things in divorces (like move on in super quick time!). I would tell Fred Barney and Wilma are seeing each other and leave it at that (just so it isn’t a shock if he sees them together at a game or something). Fred is seeing someone else. Wilma and Barney have hit it off and really, why shouldn’t they? If they like each other what difference does it make if Fred works at the same place or plays on the soccer team? He and Barney aren’t best buddies. Let them all work it out on their own.

If I were you, I would try to stay as much out of it as I could because sure as eggs are eggs, if it turns into a dinosaur omelette, you could end up with it all over your face for getting involved.

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