Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Two friends having an affair? WWYD(93 Posts)
NC, and really at a loss! Will keep brief as would rather not be known in RL.
I very strongly suspect that my friends DH and our mutual friend are having an affair. Very randomly I was out for dinner with work people and saw them there together. They were being very couply and cosy, holding hands, kissing, giggling until they saw me, I was really shocked but they then shortly got up and left, they didn't talk to me at all or really acknowledge my presence, but they definately saw me. Friends DH had told her he was working away that night. They know I know but haven't said anything to me, this was last thursday night. It does make sense to me as a few months ago I commented to my DH that I would be uncomfortable with him being as friendly and flirty as friends DH was with OW. Friend has also commented that mutual friend(OW) hangs around alot... but it has never gone further than that. DH thinks I should leave it, he says that they know I know so that will either prompt them to come clean or end it and I would be better off not being involved.
Do I tell friend? WWYD?
The messenger always gets shot.
Stay well away, I would say (bitter experience).
An innocent remark - cos THEY don't tell the truth! - will be used against you to cover their tracks.
The shit will hit the fan soon enough anyway. Best you don't have anything to do with the fall out.
who needs these kinds of people in your life anyway?!
This happened to me and a couple of friends, we found out our friends DP was cheating, but stayed schtum for various reasons too lengthy to go into.
She found out about his cheating, kicked him out, and was totally devastated. Then it came out through a drunken friend that we all knew about it. So as well as already being devastated, some of her friends hadn't told her either. It was bloody awful. Looking back, she must have felt betrayed by everyone she cared about.
Tell her, but in a factual way. I wouldn't bother with giving him any heads up, he'd find a way of weaselling out of it. Even if she doesn't come to the conclusion he's having an affair, at least she on a bit of an alert for what's happening.
To all of you saying, 'tell the wife', have you ever been the 'recipient' of betrayal?
You see, there is a HUGE disconnect between intention and result. The person doing the betraying 'doesn't mean' to cause this much harm. S/he is thinking very very selfishly, only about their feelgood moment, an affair (being admired, desired) raises their self-esteem hugely. A large part of the problem is that they are not thinking of their spouse. In fact, they are not thinking at all. How many times have people heard 'I didn't mean to hurt you'?
The knowledge of an affair is absolutely shattering, in ways I can hardly describe. You self-esteem is gone. You feel ugly, unwanted, unsexual. You are so traumatised you don't even know what is real. I used to wish the world came with one of those packing boxes 'this way up' with an arrow. It makes you doubt EVERYTHING. Once your innocence is gone, it is gone. This is the one area where I think pure applied honesty is not applicable, really.
Please, please don't visit this holocaust onto the one blameless person. When someone is being selfish and thoughtless, they are in a little bubble of fantasy where they are in control. The issue here (the disconnect) is the fantasy. So an outside person, bringing a bit of reality of DISAPPROVAL and SHAME (and a bit of disgust) - could jolt the selfish arse into getting real about what they are doing and what is really important - and to turn away from his path of destruction.
The betrayers have no idea how destructive they are being, and what they are destroying. The disconnect (intention and result) is soooo toxic I think they should be challenged and given the option to stop and the wife given a chance to keep her innocence. It is ENORMOUS hard work to get to the place where 'his behaviour does not define my worth/I am not defined by him'. It has taken me 3 years and I and my children have lost so much.
If they are too addicted and choose not to, well - hell will be visited on them anyway. I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy.
Confront the DH and OW in a factual way. Give rhem a chance to come clean
When I finally got proof that my husband was cheating on me it was a huge relief. Of course it was also incredibly painful, but that pain began many months before when he started to get so deeply into his love affair that he found he had to demonise me in order to justify his behaviour to himself (and I totally agree wobbly that he was living in a complete fantasy world). As a result he was a bastard to live with and frankly I thought that I was going mad with my suspicions and being blanked whenever I tried to talk. It was the worst period of my life I think (worse for me that the aftermath, when at least I had some control and my dignity).
In my view the holocaust has already been inflicted by the person you love most in the world, and who you think loves you most in the world too. Anything outside of that to me was pretty irrelevant.
Sure I would have loved someone to have given my dh a stern talking to, and that as a result he would have realised the error of his ways and immediately stopped his affair and lavished me with the love I deserved. But I really really don't think that he would have reacted like that, except possibly if it had been from one of our very close mutual friends. Most likely he would have lashed out at that person and retrenched in his own little world.
OP I would tell your friend that you saw her dh out for dinner with the other woman. I might preface it with a 'is everything OK between you and your dh' type intro so you get a feel of where she is at - she might already know something is deeply wrong in which case she may welcome your proof of her suspicions, or she might brush it off in which case you can fall back on the 'surprised they didn't say hello' if you feel the need to. Either way you can make sure she knows that you are offering support if she needs it.
My dh didn't feel any true shame or disgust about his actions for at least a year after the news of his affair broke, but of course everyone will react differently.
It must be a horrible position for you OP, especially in a small community. Good luck with however you choose to go forward.
Don't do it! Do not to this info to any one else: friend, OW or H.
This is not a situation where the thing of 'well, everyone knew why didn't they tell me?' is going to be relevant because your friend is unlikely to find out that you saw her DH and the OW. You and your DH are not telling anyone (keep it that way!) and it doesn't seem likely that the OW and DH will mention it. This only becomes a problem if other people gossip to you about it, which hasn't happened yet.
As for confronting the cheating couple, there is no faster way to end up embroiled in a mess. They will hate you for bringing their relationship to an end and will focus on you and your role as bad guy. They will be out to make you look meddling or worse. Right now, they just want you to go away.
It can be tempting to want to ride into these kind of situations and set the moral world straight. However, this isn't about you and this kind of thing has ways of biting back, the nature of the news infects the teller. You might see this as helping her, everyone else might see it as stirring.
If you want to help your friend then be around for her and her DCs. But unless she asks you directly: have you seen my DH out with OW? then don't mention a thing.
Or, if you do feel compelled to say something, my friend got an email when her DH was cheating that said:
'I believe your DH is cheating on you with X You deserve better' which you could try. My friend's DH still denied it though.
I agree with Chrismissy. I did tell a friend this once, years ago, but I am not sure to this day that I did the right thing, and she suspected anyway, so I just confirmed it. They broke up shortly after and he married the OW. I did not personally know the OW so I was not caught on both sides of the problem.
I'm not sure I'd do it again though. I have known a couple of sets of good friends who have fallen out spectacularly over things like this.
DH and I know a very good friend of ours is screwing around but I don't think it's serious so we are sticking my heads in the sand. TBH I wouldn't be surprised if his DW has had the odd fling as well. They both seem to be going through midlife crises.
I really wouldn't want to find out that other people knew & didn't tell me
The thing is, everyone SAYS they'd want to know - I say I'd want to know too, and I know my best friend at least, would tell me, if she suspected anything - but who the hell knows what it must actually be like to receive that news in real life??
I mean seriously... There's clearly a reason for the massive disconnect between all of us piling on to say, 'yes, I'd want to know, I'd dump a friend for not telling me', and the fact that in real life, the messenger often gets shot in a rather spectacularly blood-thirsty way.
Finding out something like this is arguably the most devasting thing you'll ever experience in your life. It means an end to your family as you know it. It means single-parenthood. It means change in the most fundamental way. In reality, a lot of people are simply not willing to step up to that change when it comes down to it.
And if someone decides to stay with their cheating partner, then the first person they're going to throw overboard is the person who kindly broke the news to them, assuming they'd want to dump the sorry arse of the person who cheated. And when they don't dump their sorry arse - the cuckolded party is left feeling very red-faced in front of the friend for being a doormat, a pushover, an affair-accepter, pathetic, etc, etc. It's then way too difficult and awkward to continually face this person and so they're frozen out.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying don't tell her, necessarily. But I'd also take everyone's (including mine) fervent claims that 'we'd absolutely want to know' with a pinch of salt and basically, just do what you think is best.
Somerset - have you ever been the betrayed wife though? I have, and believe me I'd have been very grateful if someone had confirmed my suspicions. My best friend discussed this with me after the fact. She said she wouldn't have told me had she known. I would have wanted her to though.
No I haven't - I imagine that I'd very much want to know. I hate the idea of others knowing and me not, and looking ridiculous. I've known my oldest friend virtually all my life and I know she would tell me, and thank God.
I align myself completely with those who say they'd want to know. However, you can't deny that as much as people say they'd want to know in theory, in practice when people relay their real life experience of this sort of thing, the messenger so often gets shot...
So what if the messanger gets shot? Should OP keep schtum because it might mean the end of her friendship? It seems a pretty selfish reason not to say anything.
I also don't see where morals come into it (poster upthread mentions this). If OP just says I saw your H at the resto on Friday and he didn't say hello - OP is simply informing friend. No assumptions of affairs have been offered up. No red-faced embarrassment for friend. No judging. No moral position taken.
Keeping schtum would be entirely appropriate in cases where friends are just on the edge of one's social group. You've no big vested interest in their happiness and they would be wondering what your motivation was for speaking up. When you're closer your motivation is obvious (you care about your friend).
I agree wholeheartedly with SomersetONeil. I was the one frozen out despite the fact I only told my bf after weeks and weeks of handwringing and 'I think he's cheating on me. If only I knew'. Well it turns out she didn't want to know.
If he's not being that then the chances are he's going to get caught out at some point.
That is meant to read "If he's not being that careful then the chances are he's going to get caught out at some point". My brain is mush this morning.
Why should friend wait til the dust hits the fan? - it may never happen. Meanwhile their relationship is one based on deceit and a deceit that isn't complicit - it's one where one party is hoodwinking the other. Even if H realises he's wrong and dumps OW, his marriage cannot be the same as before the affair. The real issues haven't been addressed and then the veil of guilt comes. But then that really is their problem to sort. However, saying don't say anything because she's likely to find out anyway is a right cop-out (sorry for the strong wording, don't know why I feel so strongly about this - I almost never post on relationships).
I guess if you are the friend you have to balance up which option you think is better for you then. There is of course a chance the messenger will get shot, but there is a bigger chance that if you don't say something you will never be forgiven. I would have been incredibly hurt had a friend known and kept schtum. I would have questioned their loyalties to be honest, and probably lost trust in them.
I would say something, and I would want someone to say something to me.
Well thank you all, I had a good reason to see friend last night and she was alone. Told her what had happened, framed it very diplomatically without opinion, just what happened in the restaurant. She repeatedly asked what I thought was going on and I tried to say lets not jump to conclusions and only her H could tell her. She said he had been really 'off' with her for months, snapping and being difficult, she suspected something was going on and had been driving herself a little nuts trying to work it out. I don't know what she will do next or if this will affect us as friends, but I do agree with the above person who said that I'd be selfish if I didn't say to protect myself.
In truth I am relieved that she has suspicions and things weren't great as it didn't seem to be as big a bomb as I was expecting.
I know some of you will think I was right, some will think I wrong, but knowing her and I as I do, I feel what I did was the only right decision I could have made. I know OW or her H will not speak to me or DH again, but I am not concerned by that.
Hello AtALoss I think you did the right thing in bringing it to her attention.
It's up to her how she chooses to use the information, I hope she's okay.
AtAloss - she will thank you, if not now in the future. She'll have known anyway, just not known known iyswim. I knew, as partners who are having affairs are horrible people to live with. They are emotionally cold, disconnected, often critical, hurtful and cruel. They need to find reasons to justify their affair so make their partner feel at fault, constantly. It's confusing and horrible. Knowing why they are like this is actually a release.
Well done Ata it sounds like you have done exactly the right thing, although its not what I would have done it seems like you have just confirmed her suspicions rather than dropped a bombshell. What a crappy situation to be in though, how are you feeling about it all now?
I forgot to add - now, all you can do is be there for her, hand hold, take her out for lunch/coffee/drink, listen, sympathise, but avoid offering an opinion or a solution. Ask her questions so she can make her own decisions. You sound like a lovely friend.
Thanks, honestly I am feeling pretty crap at the moment. I hate seeing others in distress and it was horrible, and she was so nice about it which somehow made it worse! and it is just before christmas!
I'll be here as much as she needs and give her as much space as she needs. My feeling is if he wants to stay and repair the damage she will let him try....
You didn't cause this though Ata you have absolutely nothing to feel crap for. You didn't choose to see them and you didn't choose the timing. You are a victim in all this too.
I think you would have felt worse sitting there last night and not telling her. You are an amazingly selfless friend.
Join the discussion
Please login first.