You are sitting having coffee with your best friend, enjoying your latte when she says, ‘You know the guy we had fix our fence and do our landscaping last year? Well, I slept with him yesterday!’ As you spew your coffee everywhere your mind goes in a million directions. Did she really just say that? As she goes into more details, all you can think about are ‘Sue and Herb,’ your BEST FRIENDS. Your families go camping together, you hang out on holidays, and your kids are on the same baseball team. And worse, now that you know the information, what in the world are you supposed to do with it? If you tell your husband, he may tell hers. How will you face Herb the next day as you pass him in the street when you are getting your mail?
And what does this say about your friend’s character? And how does this cheating mesh with your own personal barometer of morality? The news of a friend’s affair can potentially have a dramatic effect on the friendship. Most people have their own preconceived judgments and feelings about infidelity, some based upon their personal life experiences, that it can be a hard subject for even friends to handle. Suffice it to say, that when married friends have affairs, and tell YOU about it you have just been idly, and perhaps benignly brought into the situation simply because you know.
Affairs don’t often end well
In one way, shape or form an affair can lead to a lot of trouble for people emotionally, financially and socially. And chances are that your friend, is acting on impulse rather than some shreds of sanity. There are umpteen reasons that people have affairs. What you have to realize is that none of the reasons that your friend is having the affair, concern you. Sure, it is going to be difficult to go about your daily routine as if nothing has happened, especially if you are close with your friend’s spouse. But according to experts, it is what you should do.
When you get the news, the first piece of advice that comes in handy is to take some time and think about it. Talk to your friend, who confided in you because they trust you, from a place of compassion. Try to figure out why. And then offer her your advice. Remind him or her that there are a lot of things at stake, and that if he or she is unhappy in the marriage, there are better ways to go about it. If you firmly disagree with infidelity, then make sure he or she realizes your disappointment. Still, remember that it isn’t truly your place to spill the beans to the spouse and become the martyr. If you cannot manage or deal with the information, then you might need to sever the relationship for a while. In doing so, make sure you are honest and forthcoming with your friend about why.
Of course, the whole affair thing can and likely WILL affect you, if your situation is like Sue and Herbs. If you are friends with a couple and you find out one is having an affair, it will change your routine interactions. You might feel off kilter, nervous, or as if you are being sucked into the black hole of lies and deception every time all of you are together. It can be difficult. But relationship experts believe you have to realize that you don’t have control over what other people do. The only thing you have control over is how you react to what other people do. Whether you choose to sit back and aid or abed the cheater is your choosing.
Can you still be friends? This answer is the tough part. If you love your friend with all of your heart but are disappointed with his or her decisions, in order to save the friendship you have to be forthcoming. You have to be clear that you don’t want to know about the affair or be involved. And you have to remain assertive that you aren’t going to lie to further the affair. If you are going to be unable to maintain the friendship because you feel so let down or stricken with disappointment, then the friendship will likely fizzle. It is true in life that our friends, and our friend’s characters say a lot about us and our own characters.
In the end, you never really know what goes in someone else’s relationship. Before you jump to harsh conclusions, or decide you are going to oust your friend or even allow him or her to confide in you about the affair, you need to take a personal inventory and be honest about what you are and aren’t willing to be involved with. If you know your friend is making a mistake, you could be the light at the end of the tunnel that allows him or her to correct their cheating ways before they make a mess of their life. You should also suggest proactive measures for help with a marriage such as marriage counselling. Or offer to baby-sit his or her children so that they can spend some time with their spouse and try to reconnect the marital relationship. Ultimately, in the end you have to decide if you can still be a supportive and loving friend even if you disagree with his or her behavior. This boils down to the personal history between you and your friend.