Dear Rachel,

I believe that I have found someone who I could marry, but there is a large block in the road. I am best friends with his sister, and have been for 12 years. Yet for the past year she has been secretly dating someone that her family absolutely doesn’t approve of. From the beginning I have told her to keep me out of the relationship because I do not want to be involved in the lie. In addition, the relationship she is in puts enormous strain on our friendship, and it has, on more than one occasion, jeopardized our friendship. Meanwhile, her brother does not know she is dating this man, and I have not said anything. There is no question that if he finds out and discovers that I knew, he will feel I have lied to him. Not only don’t I think that my friend should be with this man but I fear that I could lose a very special relationship of my own because of it. And yet, it is not my place to expose her. I do not know what to do or say.

Manchester, England

Dear H.C.,

That is quite a story you have to share. You are in the midst of a difficult predicament. I do have some thoughts for you which I hope you will find helpful.

There is a story about a group of travelers at sea. They shared a communal place on deck and they each had their own private compartment to which they'd retire. One evening, some passengers heard a series of startling noises. They rushed down to one of the lower cabins from where the noise was coming, and they found a man drilling a hole in the floor of the boat. Astonished, they said, "What are you doing – you’re going to sink the boat and we will all sink with you." And he replied, "But this is my cabin, I can do with it what I want."

The moral is simple: our actions affect others. This is a lesson that your best friend needs to become acquainted with. As her best friend of twelve years, you are in a unique position to help her understand the ripple affect of her actions. I recommend that you arrange a quiet time to sit down with your friend and talk to her simply and honestly about how much damage her secret is causing. Let her know that not only do you disprove of her relationship, but she should also be made aware of your feelings for her brother and how you keeping her secret is jeopardizing that relationship.

If your friendship meaningful to her, she will realize the need to alleviate the stress she’s putting on you. It is too much to bare, and it is simply dishonest. If she chooses to continue to be dishonest with her family, that is her business, but she cannot expect you to cover for her. It is simply unreasonable. You don’t necessarily have to expose her, but you have no obligation to lie for her, and it’s unreasonable for her to expect you to. She needs to hear that from you.

Remember, we can’t force other people to do the "right thing." It’s a choice, and one that only she can make. But you can make good choices for yourself. You can choose to support your friend during what must be a very difficult time her and help guide her towards a solution. She must be tormented inside. Maybe you can be the one to help her realign her priorities and start making some responsible decisions.

I wish you both much success and blessing,