My best friend who’s married, recently told me she's having an affair.
She said it had been going on awhile and she didn't tell me because she was so happy seeing this man that she didn't want me raining on her parade.
She has no intention of leaving her husband or coming clean – just seeing where the affair takes her. She doesn't seem to feel any guilt at all.
For me, this has thrown her entire character into question and I'm not sure I can be friends with someone whom I didn't realize was so untrustworthy, and for whom I now have so little respect.
All she wants to do is gush about her new boyfriend, so I can't act as if I don’t know.
I don't want this one bad decision to negate every other quality I love about her, but I don't recognize this selfish, sneaky person.
What To Do?
You’ve already begun your response to her cheating.
You’ve re-examined your former image of this “best friend,” and found her very different in character.
And, you’ve listened too long to her tales of cheating.
You’re not alone, by the way. Other readers have told me of losing their comfort with and caring for once-close friends, because of fickle, disloyal or cheating behaviour.
And the same conscience-searching of what to do almost always points in the same direction… take a break from the friendship.
However, you haven’t mentioned her marital situation, or whether you’re aware of circumstances she’s trying to escape through an affair.
Example: Whether her husband’s been cheating, or she’s had a health scare, or a loss. These don’t justify an affair, but they could help you understand her better and talk about what else she could be doing to handle things.
If none of this applies, tell her you’re uncomfortable with what’s going on, and then distance yourself.
FEEDBACK Regarding the sons who worry how their single father will manage when they’ve both moved away (June 15):
Reader – “Stay connected with your father in the ways Ellie mentioned. I also caution you that there are some women out there who’ll see him as a target for marriage for financial gain.
“In my social circle of six close friends, it’s happened five times and I’ve read hundreds of similar cases.
“These women convinced our fathers and us, of their undying love. After marriage, they all found ways to get access to all finances, spending money like crazy.
“Those more adept at deception will convince their new spouses to change their will, to become executor of the will, and insist that they be named as Power of Attorney over their finances and health.
“After three years of marriage, my father’s retirement fund had been spent on lavish cruises with her girlfriends, gambling at casino’s, jewellery, and cash donations to her children.
“When he became ill, she cashed out all of his investments, took all the cash from bank accounts, and stuck him in an awful retirement home.
“When he died, I had to pay for his funeral.
“Have a conversation with your father about these things to protect him and his future.
“And see a lawyer together as a family, to make sure that he’s protected from these types of vultures.”
Ellie – Your personal experience and similar ones of friends, form a serious cautionary tale. Hopefully, many readers will keep close contact and protect older family members who are alone and vulnerable.
FEEDBACK Regarding a man whose business burned down (June 15):
Reader – “Nowhere in her letter does the writer mention PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
“He’s understandably depressed and needs therapy, but for you to label his problem as PTSD, without information to back it up, is so wrong!
“Certainly the man might have PTSD, but your having “diagnosed” him sight unseen or sound unheard, is incredible.”
Ellie – I did mention PTSD as a possibility in my response and want to clarify that no diagnosis without professional assessment is certain.
The woman had said “he feels hopeless… has no passion in life… our love life is non-existent.”
Based on his being in his 60’s - 23 years older than her - she then said her lay research pointed to his having dementia.
I suggested “therapy for PTSD and/or other counselling,” and that her research “cannot accurately diagnose dementia or any other age-related cognition loss, without a professional’s check –up, tests and diagnosis.”
Tip of the day:
When a close friend’s behaviour ends your respect, look for the causes, but be prepared to distance yourself.