Back in college, my group of friends had a “golden couple”. I think most groups of friends have one of these: They were the two friends who had started out pretending that they were just watching a movie together, just grabbing dinner together in the cafeteria… until they finally realized that we all knew better. And then they were just holding hands, just kissing, just falling madly in love. Where one was, the other was, until eventually they were seen as a couple instead of just individuals.
I feel like I will never do them justice with my descriptions. E was one of my best girlfriends, the girl I’d look to on our Thirsty Thursdays and for going out on Fridays, and then for late morning brunches after nights out. Almost every single one of my memories from college involves her laughing, dancing, curling up for Grey’s Anatomy. Throwing on the craziest outfits to go to parties. Smiling deviously as she mixed our favorite drink of lemonade and vodka (What were we thinking in college?)
And C, her boyfriend, was quite possibly the nicest guy you could meet. He was the kind of guy that would drive us to go shopping, and spontaneously buy things that he though E would like. And if we ever had a problem, he’d be the one for us to talk to. I remember him jokingly slapping me once because he said it was the only way to get it through to me that PK wasn’t good enough for me.
During the summer before our senior year, E and I drove out to our friend’s house in Pennsylvania for her 21st birthday. E had just spent the semester abroad, so I hadn’t seen her in over six months. I still remember exactly what I was wearing that day as I pulled into the restaurant to meet them: a blue and white polka dot halter top, white pants. They were already there and a few drinks in, whispering conspiratorially at the table. A, the birthday girl, tackled me as I sat down with them. I asked E how her semester abroad had been, and before she could answer, A blurted out “Tell her!” so loudly that everyone at the nearby tables could hear. E shushed her, then looked at me with a guilty face. She started talking about the school, the classes, the late nights in the pubs. “You’re forgetting something,” A sang, before lifting her drink back up to her mouth.
I remember being stunned when E confessed to having met a boy at a pub, having danced with him all night. “I was really drunk,” she professed. And then she talked about bringing him back to her flat, alluded to clothes coming off. A was giggling, but I felt terrible. The restaurant was on a river, and I remember looking out towards the boats passing by instead of reacting the way I wanted to. I wanted to yell at her: What about C? What about the ring on her finger that he’d given her? What about the fact that, even though they weren’t officially engaged, they always said that they were meant to be together?
I’ve never been one to wear emotions well, and she instantly could tell. “Cait, it’s nothing that will happen again. I know I’m going to marry C, so it’s something I got out of my system. Just don’t tell C.” I put it out of my head, and never brought it up again until recently.
We’d always known that C was planning to propose in the year after E and I graduated. E and I had a falling out about a year ago and have never reconciled. In fact, it seems like she’s fallen away from just about everyone we were friends with in college. C and I still stayed close, so it was a surprise to me on Thanksgiving when he told me that she had broken up with him. He was a mess, but I comforted him by saying that she was probably just nervous about getting engaged.
But by Christmas she hadn’t come back around, and C was even more upset. She was pulling away even more, not just from C but from everyone in college. We were only hearing whispers of what she was doing, though we all had our own assumptions. In the new year the situation had reached its peak. C was a mess, and though I didn’t immediately address it there were rumors that she had met another guy. That she had fallen in love with him. C was still optimistic, but the rest of us were livid with her.
Finally I broke down. “She cheated on you, C.” And I told him. I had no loyalty to the girl anymore, not to someone that would put someone else through so much pain. Not to someone who disappeared from all of her friends without an explanation. Not to someone who, even in our last semester at college, was going out dancing inappropriately with other guys.
I need to know: Did I do the right thing? On one hand, it wasn’t my place to tell him her secrets, something she’d asked me not to say. It wasn’t my place to get in the middle of their relationship. And it broke C down, I stayed on the phone with him while he cried. But on the other hand, he’s the one that I’m friends with now, he’s the one that was wronged in their relationship. Have any of you guys faced something like this? And how’d you handle it?