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Could you stay friends with this person? Should I? So confused.

(24 Posts)

DH and I have been close friends with another couple for over a decade. They've been together for 12 years, we've been together nearly 11. They got married in 2011 and were planning to start TTC this year.

Towards the end of last year the male friend asked for a separation, completely out of the blue. Over the next couple of months it came out that he had been having an affair for over 6 months and he's now living with the OW and her children.

Throughout the whole thing he has lied. He lied to his wife, his friends, his mother. When one lie was discovered he would lie again to cover it up. Apparently he even lied to the OW but it seems she's the forgiving sort. hmm

I am livid with him. I am angry that he cheated (not that it's my business, I know) and I am especially angry that he lied and has kept lying. But at the same time we've been friends for a long time - until this happened I would have said that he was a kind and sweet man absolutely in love with his wife.

I don't know who he is any more and I don't know how to feel and act towards him. His wife is my best friend and is adamant that she's happy for me to be friends with him if I want to be, a lot of his friends (including DH) have just dropped him and she doesn't want him to have no-one left.

Any words of wisdom?

Numberlock Tue 29-Jan-13 12:28:41

Were you always friends as a couple or did you know one of them individually first? Did you always socialise as a foursome or would you go out with his wife, just the two of you?

DH and I got caught in the fallout of our best friends' separation / divorce after she fell out of love with him (while working overseas and snogging another man), told him she wanted to leave and then while they were trying to sort it out through counselling, she slept with a colleague twice, effectively to drive her DH away. He ended up sobbing his heart out round at ours, completely broken.

We started off trying to get our heads round everything, it was all out of the blue for her DH as well as all of us, and initially tried to stay friends with both of them but it's taken best part of five years to forgive (if that's the right word) her for what she did to him and start getting in touch properly again.

He's only able to happily get back in touch with us now because he's moved on with his life and fallen in love since. But it'll never be the same between any of us all.

The only thing I can say is that it's very hard to be the one/s stuck in the middle, and in hindsight for us it would have been easier to keep one friendship strong (with him) rather than keep both going badly.

After the dust had settled I ended up really quite depressed over it all (they were our closest friends, went on hols together and everything) so take care of your own emotions too if you get involved.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 29-Jan-13 12:30:38

If you don't like the guy any more because of the way he's behaved then tell him you don't want to be disloyal to his ex and therefore can't be friends any more. Simple as that. Very noble of his ex to want people to remain friends with him but it's not really her decision.

Number we met at university so I've always known them as a couple. I'm closer to her than to him but have always counted him as a good friend too. We live a few counties apart now but have always been emotionally close iyswim.

Thanks Jammy that’s really helpful.

Cogito I think my confusion stems from the fact that he seems to be a completely different man now from the one I've been friends with. I don't like this new man - but I hate the thought that at some point he'll realise what an idiot he's been and revert back to his old self but have no friends to rely on.

Numberlock Tue 29-Jan-13 12:43:10

I'm in a very similar situation with a very close friend. She discovered recently that her husband had been having an affair and has decided to stay with him.

Same as you, I have always known them as a couple, I am closer to her but have also socialised with them together.

The difference is though that they are still living together. So when I visit, I am polite and friendly towards him up to a point, but there is an edge now and it's not the same. If they ever separated, I can't imagine I would keep in touch with him.

I think my confusion stems from the fact that he seems to be a completely different man now from the one I've been friends with. I don't like this new man

I can fully identify with that. My friend's husband was the 'least likely to' if you see what I mean.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 29-Jan-13 12:44:35

"I hate the thought that at some point he'll realise what an idiot he's been and revert back to his old self but have no friends to rely on. "

I think the expression applicable is 'you make your bed, you lie on it'. He's chosen a particular path with all the implications and if he loses friends as a result, that's entirely his look-out.

I guess you're right Cogito - I'm deluding myself a bit aren't I?

Number yes, the same here - the last man I would have expected to do something like this.

Both our 'best friend couples' have now split up sad. With both couples, we were clearly better mates with the male partner (although they were, arguably, both more in the wrong over the split - one had had an affair, the other had teetered....) We have stayed friends with both blokes, but both of them were honest with US however much they were lying to their partners. I never felt I didn't understand them - however much I disagreed with their actions on occasion. I don;t think I'd want to work on a friendship with someone who had lied to me, and I think it's very, very hard to stay 'proper' friends with both parties (I did this for a while with one couple - it was tricky, and now I hardly ever see her)

I think our mates would have fallen into the 'least likely to split up' category too.

Don't feel bad if you do want to loose touch with him, he'll make new friends.

If you really want there to be a hope that you can all be mates again in the future, maybe just tell him you're struggling to get your head round this all and have found it quite upsetting, would it be okay to let things go quiet between you for now but maybe you can catch up at some point in the (potentially distant) future?

joblot Tue 29-Jan-13 13:12:27

I've stayedfriends with both parties where one cheated and behaved extremely badly. I knew them only as a couple and part of the problem, imo, was they did everything as a couple. Thus no opportunity to talk about the numerous problems they had. I felt I should be kind to the cheater and try to forgive, as we all make mistakes. I know many don't agree but from long experience I rarely see relationships end just because one party behaved badly- there are other issues going on which also make it doomed/in trouble. Most mutual friends- not all- cut the cheater off. I still feel unsure of whether I did the right thing.

I'm not sure this is of any use to you, just wanted to add another perspective.

perceptionreality Tue 29-Jan-13 13:15:56

Well, you can't help how you feel can you?

One thing I will say though is that I believe nearly everyone is capable of cheating in certain circumstances. It doesn't excuse it, it doesn't make it right but I think it's a human failing that a lot of people succumb to and does not make a person a monster or a bad person through and through.

Thanks job. The male friend now says he's been unhappy for years but this doesn't fit with the way he's behaved and spoken over the years - so either he was lying then or he's lying now (again).

That's a good point perception.

We have another couple that we're friends with and they did get past the infidelity - but the one who cheated was honest about it. Having a one night stand is very different to a sustained affair over 6 months where you go on holiday with the OW having told your wife that you're working abroad, and referring to her children as your step-kids.

If he had been honest from early on I don't think I would feel quite so conflicted about everything.

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Tue 29-Jan-13 13:23:17

I've recently been in this unhappy situation too sad Our best friends, she was seeing someone behind his back, apparently for a year. None of us knew anything until the huge fallout. We had to help him and the kids pick up the pieces, so so sad.

When things seemed to be going better for our male friend, and I heard on the grapevine that she had split from OM, I did feel sorry for her and got in touch....only to kind of wish I hadn't! There was so much drama around her and OM, which I didn't really want to get involved with. I felt I had to tell her how I felt about what she had done, but that I was still around for her as a friend if she needed me. I didn't pull any punches, although I was not berating her, and to be fair, she took it on the chin, but we haven't really been in touch since, and I don't know that we'll ever be really close. Her ex-DH is my DH's best friend, so we still stay in touch with him, and I feel for the kids, as it has been a crazy and confusing time for them, and they can always talk to me if they need to.

You have my sympathies

SueFawley Tue 29-Jan-13 13:23:49

I'm in a very similar situation. He was my friend before either of us got married. Our friendship was over 25 years. He had been married for nearly 20 years, and has 3 DC. The last 18 months was awful, with him telling me about his affair, lying to his DW repeatedly, telling me he's moving in with OW, going back to DW.

I decided that I couldn't continue to be friends because of his continued lies and deception to his DW, his eldest DC, to me and his other friends, and even started to feel sorry for OW. He was lying to EVERYONE. When he started to try to get me to cover for him, that was the final straw.

Fortunately they live in a different part of the country so it's been relatively easy for me to cut out of their lives but I do feel for his DW. I still have mutual friends who don't know the full story and are friends with them, and as someone else pointed out upthread, they are getting on with their lives and have made new friends.

HecateWhoopass Tue 29-Jan-13 13:24:51

I wouldn't.

Because I don't like liars. I can't be friends with someone who is the sort of person who thinks it's ok to lie and cheat. Who is happy to betray someone they claim to love. That sort of person is not the sort of person I can get on with.

I realise I am very black and white on this issue, but there are a few non negotiables for me.
no bigots
no liars
no thieves
no selfish arses

And someone who could look in the face of someone they claimed to love while knowing they were shagging someone else ticks two of those boxes.

That's how I feel too Hecate.

I think I feel bad because I feel like I'm considering abandoning a dear friend - but tbh that friend doesn't seem to exist any more. But people can't just change that quickly can they? Can someone really be a kind, sweet, gentle, loving person for so long and then just change into a selfish, inconsiderate and unrepentant arse?

perceptionreality Tue 29-Jan-13 13:34:54

Hecate - I generally agree with your sentiment but everyone in the world has lied about something in their lives. There are of course, various degrees of how bad a lie is.

The pain that is caused by cheating in a relationship is awful, not just to the wronged partner but also to everyone else - hence why the OP has started this thread.

HecateWhoopass Tue 29-Jan-13 13:57:23

Aah, well, I have a lie and fib system grin sorry. Should have been clearer.

we all fib. ooh yes, that dress looks GREAT! nooooo, that colour is so slimming. report? yes, of course I did it grin

lies are the more damaging things.

Charbon Tue 29-Jan-13 13:58:43

What often happens in these situations is that the person having an affair re-writes history because they cannot face something in themselves. It would be hard to confront the fact that as a person you are so shallow that you have an affair with the first person to give you an opportunity, despite being content in your relationship, wouldn't it?

So people who do exaggerate the significance of the affair and/or denigrate the relationship left behind.

Chances are, he's lying about the past but most critically, he's lying to himself because he cannot face his own personality and character.

Unless he's trying to keep the friendship going himself and it's close enough where you could tell him some home truths and ask some uncomfortable questions (in which case he'd head for the hills right now because he won't want to confront that) I'd keep your distance and wait for the dust to settle.

The success rate of history re-writers' relationships is notoriously poor. They are usually based on romantic notions and typically therefore, that fades.

When it does, it's possible you can resume your friendship but for now I'd devote your energies to supporting your friend who is having her memories rewritten and trashed. I'd encourage her to trust her own memory and yours on this and not his.

SueFawley Tue 29-Jan-13 14:49:10

What Charbon writes is so true. My old friend has been re-writing the history of his affair already. He's still in it, forgot to add that, but his story keeps changing about how/why/when it started, how many times he ended it with OW, how OW is now suddenly a 'psycho bitch' that he's still shagging. Then there's the story about how evil his DW is, always has been, nobody knows how utterly vile she is. Blah blah.

I had missed that you are very close friends with his DW. I think here too, Charbon has it spot on with her advice.

Best of luck whatever you decide, it's a horrid place to find yourself.

Sorry I disappeared yesterday, my phone updated its software and I've been trying to work out how the hell it works now! confused

Charbon that rings absolutely true, every word. Thank you.

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