When Your Friends Hook Up (But Probably Shouldn't)
Question: Recently two friends of mine started hooking up, and it's put me in sort of a pickle. The guy is handsome, charismatic and fun. He's also seemingly incapable of monogamy and has "girlfriends" in multiple cities. The girl (who is also attractive, charismatic and fun btw) I know from conversations is very much looking for someone to "be serious" with.
Right now it's relatively casual, so I haven't said anything. But if it keeps going, should I talk to the girl and give her a "warning" about the guy's behavior? Should I talk to the guy and ask him to be honest and clear with the girl? Should I just shut up and let whatever happens happen?
Answer: I think what you're really asking is how to keep from getting splattered when shit hits the fan, yes? Assuming that you didn't set these two up, Cupid style, then you're coming into this rather clean-handed. The extent to which you should remain neutral (silent) Switzerland depends on your friends.
The belief that one ought never get involved in friends' love affairs has always struck me as rather one dimensional as well. I strongly feel that the key determinant in any situation is whether your friends involve you first.
From what you've described of your male friend, it sounds like he'll be more than happy to keep you out of it. He likes things loose, already has a rotation of other ladies and isn't likely to seek your advice even if things do take a serious turn between them (which, as you note, sounds highly questionable). Fact is, men aren't as likely as women to involve others in the details of their love affairs.
In your case, the friend who's most likely to involve you is the female. Take your cues from her. If she continues seeing your guy friend and doesn't rope you into it, then you're free to sit back, say nothing and let it play out how it will. If, however, she makes you an active participant in the unfolding events, then you have a duty to be straight with her.
Being "involved" is when you're made an unwitting accomplice in somebody else's business. If your girl friend gives you an exhaustive overview of their rendezvous every time you see her, then you're an unwitting accomplice. If she texts asking what she do in situations involving the guy friend, then you're an unwitting accomplice. If she asks you prying questions about the guy friend in order to analyze or make sense of the situation, then you're an unwitting accomplice.
The unwitting accomplice with intel (in this case: your friends' differing relationship goals) is in a pickle for sure. Playing dumb is one thing if your friends keep their romance on the DL. It's an entirely different thing if one of them ends up across the table from you, exasperated, delusional or near tears. Playing along, zip-mouthed, when things are clearly about to get messy is cruel.
So, if your friend involves you, say something. You needn't go into your concerns in detail, but you should at least hint at them. The next time the topic of their relationship is brought up, say, "You know, I'm not sure how to be a good listener/advice-giver/etc in this situation, because I'm friends with both of you. It's cool to have friends hit it off but only the two of you can decide where you're headed with this." If pressed to describe what you mean by that, exactly, then go into as much detail as will be helpful without totally violating the other friend's privacy.
Whatever happens, know that you're not responsible for the outcome. It may go down in flames. Your girl friend may end up seeing the guy friend's true colors all on her own. She may also be so beguiling that your guy friend will want to commit himself to her entirely, leaving his bachelor days behind. You just don't know. What's more, you don't need to. It's for them to muddle their way through.