I'm a mid-40s bi woman, married to a man for 20+ years. We live in an apartment building in a large East Coast city and I became friends with an upstairs neighbor who is roughly the same age. He is estranged (but not divorced) from his wife, who lives in a foreign country, and has a daughter who is about a year older than our son.
We became friends when the kids were about 4.5 and 5.5 (they're now 7.5 and 8.5), and were at one time such close friends that the kids considered each other cousins and I took his daughter with me to visit and stay with my family, who treated her as my second child. My friend and I spent a fair amount of time together on weekends because my husband was traveling a lot for work and the kids loved having the company. Over time, though, I started spending less time with my friend because he became increasingly unreliable, especially about picking his daughter up when he promised or getting my son home on time and my attempts to address the problem with him hadn't made a difference to his behavior.
About six weeks ago, the kids were begging to see each other and I relented and let my son go upstairs. I went up to visit a couple of hours later and my friend started a conversation about why we hadn't seen each other. I should have suspected something was off when he referred to a friend of his suggesting that my friend was my "second husband," but I shrugged it off. I tried to explain my problem with his unreliability but quickly realized that the beer in front of him was not his first and that he was way too drunk to take in what I was saying.
I gave up and let the conversation wander while I played with the kids. My friend started praising me for all the help I'd given him over the years, including while he was in graduate school, and, although I was a little uncomfortable, I tried to be gracious. He then said, "I'd like to take you to dinner sometime." I assumed he meant my husband and me and so I mentioned a babysitter, but he replied that I was "much nicer than he was" and that he meant that my husband should watch the kids while he and I went out.
I was too shocked to really respond and returned to playing with the kids. He then reiterated the request several times, until his daughter asked what was going on. He told her that "auntie understands what I'm talking about" and then proceeded to tell me "you know I'm trying to hit on you." I made up an excuse to leave and took both kids down to my apartment. I told my husband what had happened and, when he brought my friend's daughter back to his apartment an hour later, my friend was passed out drunk in his chair.
The next morning, I was still too freaked out to address the situation so my husband sent my friend a text telling him what he'd said to me (in case he didn't remember), saying we thought he was unfit to watch our child, and that he should get his act together before interacting with us anymore. We didn't get a reply, but since that, whenever I see him, he acts like nothing happened. My husband and I are actually non-monogamous (swingers, but we only play as a couple) but we are not out (for work reasons) and he had no idea and no reason to suspect. His behavior though doesn't make me feel any less violated or disrespected and I'm scared to be alone with him.
Dan, I don't know how to handle this. Seeing this man makes me extremely uncomfortable. My son keeps asking to see his daughter and I feel like I've abandoned a little girl who I love like a niece. I feel like my friend (ex-friend?) had a chance to win back my trust but he didn't just blow it, he blew it up, and I can't imagine what he could do at this point to convince me. On the other hand, I feel like the kids are the ones who are suffering here. How do I act when I see him with his daughter to shut him down and still show her love? How do I stop feeling like I have to skulk around my building and hide in the bushes when I see them coming down the walk because he makes me feel so uncomfortable? What do I tell my son when he asks for his best friend? Please help.
Buddy Ended This Relationship And Youth Endure Distance
Your downstairs neighbor has probably had feelings for you for a while, BETRAYED, and that's not a problem—or it wasn't so long as he was capable of keeping those feelings in check and keeping them to himself.
Zooming out for a second...
Who amongst us hasn't had an inappropriate crush? A powerful attraction to an intern, a child's teacher, a married neighbor? People don't choose to have crushes—it's not a conscious process—so an inappropriate crush isn't a moral failing or evidence of bad character. Choosing to tell your inappropriate crush that you have an inappropriate crush on them, however, to say nothing of drunkenly hitting on them front of their child and your own, yeah, that instantly turns the inappropriate crusher into a problem for their inappropriate crushee.
Back to you, BETRAYED: your upstairs neighbor became a problem for you sometime after alcohol became a problem for him. A serious drinking problem can be seriously disinhibiting—and his reaction to being confronted via text is evidence that he may have a very serious drinking problem. I'm from a family with more than its fair share of alcoholics and pretending some awful thing that just happened didn't happen, or pretending some awful thing that regularly happens hasn't ever happened (like, say, mom having to pop downstairs to pull grandma's head out of her gas oven), is some seriously alcoholic shit.
While you would be within your rights to cut this man out of your lives forever, BETRAYED, you can't effectively do that while living in the same apartment building. You're going to keep running into him. My advice would be not to cower when you see him coming. Remember, BETRAYED, you did nothing wrong. Take it from me: the last thing you wanna do is let some alcoholic offload their shame for some stupid shit they did while drunk onto your shoulders. So while you should never put yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe—don't ever be alone in private with this man again—don't hide in the bushes when you see him coming.
Frankly, BETRAYED, I think his little girl needs you and your husband to step up—and that seems to be your feeling too. So I would urge you to confront her dad again, to tell him again that he needs to get help, and tell him your son won't be visiting his apartment anymore. (He may want to pretend nothing happened, BETRAYED, but you and your husband aren't obligated to play along.) Tell him that absent a sincere apology and evidence he's getting help and capable of honoring your boundaries, you won't ever feel comfortable around him again. But let him and his daughter and your son all know that she is always welcome in your apartment. Keep your interactions with your neighbor brief and keep them civil, BETRAYED, and don't hesitate to call CPS if you think he's abusing or neglecting that girl.