HELP ME, HARLAN!: Close friend’s divorce forces couple to choose sides

By Harlan Cohen

Harlan Cohen

Dear Harlan,

My husband and I are close friends with a couple going through a divorce. We both got married within a year of each other and have children the same age. We all are part of a close group of friends after years of going to school events, dinners, sports and plays together. The divorce has turned ugly. The husband had an affair; we all suspected it. This went on for a solid year. My friend found out, and she has been in a tailspin ever since. She’s hurt, furious, humiliated — you name it. She has become vengeful. Her latest demand is that we cannot associate with her husband. Anyone who is friends with her ex cannot be friends with her. My husband is still her husband’s good friend. We see him at events (we both have teenage boys). My husband doesn’t feel that he should abandon his friend, even if he made a mistake. I happen to agree, but my friend has made it clear that anyone on his side is on her bad side. It’s so sad. Any advice?

Unwanted Drama

Dear Unwanted Drama,

You and your husband are way too old to be stuck in the middle of someone else’s divorce. Instead of telling her that you can’t pick your husband’s friends, let this play out. Every day is an emotional roller coaster for her. She is hurt. She probably feels completely out of control, embarrassed and vulnerable. Seeing her husband is too much for her. I would do a lot of listening. Don’t make promises or ask too many questions. Leave the difficult conversations to her divorce attorney. If she brings up your husband’s relationships with friends, gently explain that your husband chooses his friends. You don’t feel comfortable restricting him, and you wouldn’t feel comfortable if he restricted you. Let her know you will do your very best to support her and help her during this difficult time. This is temporary; things will change. She just has to get through it. In a few years, she may even be remarried, more comfortable and in a better place. 


Dear Harlan,

How long is too long to wait for someone to text you back? I met someone through a friend at a party last weekend. We hit it off. I got her phone number (she put it in my phone). I texted her and said it was great meeting her and that we should get together. She never responded. I sent her another text a couple of days later, asking if she wanted to get together. She still hasn’t texted me back. Should I send one more text just to be sure, or let it go?

Impatiently Waiting

Dear Impatiently Waiting,

The first text is to make it clear that you are thinking about her. The second text is to tell her that you still are thinking about her. The third text tells her you have no one else to think about, so you want her to think about you. That’s why you don’t need to send the third text. She will get back to you when she wants to get back to you. There’s nothing more to do at this point. Give her permission to not get back to you. Why she didn’t respond is anyone’s guess. Next time you see her, ask if she got your text. For now, spend your time texting other women — women who will text back.


Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at or visit online: All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 2720 Dundee Road, Suite 226, Northbrook, IL 60062.

© Harlan Cohen 2018; Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.



HELP ME, HARLAN!: Close friend’s divorce forces couple to choose sides–