When Your Friend Has An Affair

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Some men and women cheat. They have affairs. We all know this. There are books on the subject, newspaper articles, Huffington Post blogs, Today Show discussions. These outlets explore the possible whys, and perhaps the effect on the respective families. Some couples confess that the affair has helped their marriage; and that because of it, the relationship has grown stronger. Whatever. Other couples, however, couldn’t mend the tears in their proverbial blanket of trust and their relationship ended.

What happens when the affair is taken outside of the bedroom, cheap motel room or soccer field behind the high school tennis courts? What happens when a friend confides in you that he/or she is having an affair? I’m not talking about after the fact. I’m talking about while it is happening. Now, in some perverse way, you too are a part of the affair. So many thoughts, feelings, questions and suggestions float to the surface.

Is it fair for your friend to drag you into their web of affair-ness?

What’s fair? I suppose that by the sheer fact that you’re friends, that it would be a natural occurrence for your friend to confide in you. As friends, we share the good, the bad, the ugly, and the secrets. Isn’t that what friendship is all about? And your friend that’s having an affair has to tell someone. They can’t hold that shit in forever.

There have been several people in my life that have had affairs and when they’ve either confided in me or when I found out after the fact, it always affected me on a deep personal level. I am a diehard romantic, perhaps a bit pollyanna, and of course a sucker for Lifetime Movies. Not all Lifetime Movies, just those that had happy endings. I still believe in trust, honesty and affair-free relationships. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also seen the complications, contradictions, and messiness that can occur in these relationships as well.

As a confidant, you have the right to ask your friend to withhold some of the specifics of their affair, if it makes you feel uncomfortable. If the sordid blow by blow (pun intended) details make you squirm in your chair, then I see no reason why you couldn’t request a gag order. You can still be friends, but your feelings and perhaps tolerance level needs to be respected.

How can I not judge, because what they’re doing is wrong?

This is a hard one. It’s hard not to judge in the first place, affair or no affair, but now there’s an extra layer that’s been added to the mix. You try to be judgement free. You might even cover your ass by saying to your friend, “I’m not judging you, but what about your wife/husband? You’re lying to them.” But you know deep down that you’re judging the crap out of them because in your mind, their actions are morally reprehensible and something that you could never imagine doing. Now it is you that’s not being truthful.

What role does a friend play?

I suppose we all have our limits and boundaries when it comes to friendships and the role that each of us play in those relationships. We all have our own moral and ethical compasses to follow. The fact that your friend is having an affair may not affect you in the slightest, or it may be something that you simply don’t want to be a part of. Either one is perfectly acceptable, just be honest about it.