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friend is having an affair - need advice please

(18 Posts)
doormat123 Sun 17-May-15 20:57:07

I need some advice please. I will try and sum up what could be a long story…. A very close friend of mine is having an affair. She has been married 20 years, and has 3 children, teenagers. She has been having an affair for 2 years. Her husband is a very good man, he loves her very much, and they have built a very good and happy family life together. He knows she is unhappy but he really has no idea about her having an affair. I believe she wants to end the affair but she doesn't seem able, it is like an addiction. She has been for counselling on and off, and every few weeks will tell me that she is 100% convinced it is over, and then a week later she is back in it.

My question is - what do I do? I know it is wrong and I am losing respect for her. However, I want to help her. I want to help her get over this affair and try to fix her marriage.

But now she has started lying to me too. I know she has seen him, and she tells me she hasn't, or she doesn't reply to my messages etc. My friendship with her goes back 25 years and she is one of my closest friends. But this is so wrong. I want to support her and help her, but I feel she isn't letting me anymore. If I walk away from the friendship that would be so sad, and I don't think she has told anyone else, but she is pushing me away and not being honest. I want to help her, but I cannot respect her for what she is doing. How can I help her without losing our friendship? Thank you

FunkyPeacock Sun 17-May-15 21:05:27

You sound like a brilliant friend and I'm sure she appreciates your support even if she doesn't feel able to end her affair

If you want to preserve the friendship and are not prepared to cope any longer with supporting her through this then I think you need to be very honest and tell her pretty much what you have written above

ALaughAMinute Sun 17-May-15 21:06:34

I think you should tell her you disapprove and then keep your distance for a while and see what happens.

tribpot Sun 17-May-15 21:12:23

How can you help her? You didn't make her start the affair, you can't make her end it. She won't stop it until she wants to (or until she gets caught).

However, what you need to do is limit your involvement in it. You may see it as support but if you allow her to tell you all about the affair you are just enhancing the feeling of illicit pleasure she gets from it. If she tells you how guilty she feels (not that it's clear that she does) she is lightening the load on her mind and putting that on you. Neither is fair to you.

The best way to preserve your long friendship is to be clear you don't approve of her choices and that you don't want to discuss them any further, but you will always be her friend.

doormat123 Sun 17-May-15 21:24:21

thank you for your comments. tribpot that is interesting what you say about what I consider support just really lets her lighten her load.

It's hard to not discuss it with her because we have been so close for so many years that when we don't discuss it, it makes it a bit of a superficial conversation…

I think it is clear from how upset I am about it this evening that I really can't discuss it with her any more...

tribpot Sun 17-May-15 21:34:37

It's hard to not discuss it with her because we have been so close for so many years that when we don't discuss it, it makes it a bit of a superficial conversation…

Well, that's a natural consequence of her decision. She's chosen to have this secret life and you're not in it. She can make other choices if she wants to.

Joysmum Sun 17-May-15 21:41:06

If having an affair is more important to her than being an honest person, that's her lookout.

I personally can't abide liars and if I were lied to the only way forwards would to not discuss it so I'd not be lied to. I say so in as many words too.

Mind you, tbh I'd not actually stay friends even with the assurance of not discussing it. I've been cheated on in the past and my views are based on my experiences. I'd not want to be party to that in somebody else's relationship.

doormat123 Sun 17-May-15 21:41:57

Yes, that is true. Thank you. I think I need to really make it clear to her that I am here to support her but only if she really does mean that she is walking away from the affair, and if not, then I just don't want to hear about it any more. x

whatyouseeiswhatyouget Sun 17-May-15 23:00:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jengnr Mon 18-May-15 04:33:56

I think you have to decide whether you can square this in your head or not tbh. If everytime you see her you tell her she ought to end the affair and work on the marriage and she doesn't want to it isn't a great surprise that she's not being truthful with you about it. Have you suggested she leaves the marriage or do you not approve of that?

I think in your shoes I would tell her I think she needs to make a decision one way or another and I would support her either way but until then I didn't want to hear about it.

If you can't do that then maybe you have to decide if you want to carry on being friends.

GrumpleMe Mon 18-May-15 04:45:22

Her affair probably is like some kind of an addiction. The OM is giving her something or filling a need in her that nobody and nothing else is. Ending that relationship will leave a huge void, which is why she keeps going back.

Nothing you say can make her stop. But if you can try to be there to help fill the void when she next ends it, that could make all the difference. There to listen, to distract, to support, until she can learn to work on meeting her own needs.

No it's not your responsibility. But I think she needs you now more than she ever has and possibly ever will.

doormat123 Mon 18-May-15 08:30:49

Thank you all - these are all really helpful comments.

I have told her that I think she should make a decision either way…(end marriage, or end affair), and that I will support her. When she is trying to walk away from the affair I try and be really supportive and text her a lot, and call, to help distract, and make plans to see her, but then before I know it, she's texted him, and is seeing him. The way I can usually tell that is because she doesn't reply to a few of my messages, and I think she is almost embarrassed to tell me she's gone back…

I am aware that she maybe needs me now more than ever has or will, and that's why I don't want to walk away from it as I want to support her, BUT I just feel it is going around in circles now xx

MinimumPayment Mon 18-May-15 08:58:41

This is never as black and white as some posters would like to believe.

Most cheaters are perfectly decent people who make some bad decisions and end up in a situation they can't deal with. Of course there are some serial adulterers who just do it for the kicks but a woman who's had one affair, lasting 2 years, in a 20 year marriage isn't one of those.

It is a need or even an addiction and whilst it will bring her moments of happiness, which is why she keeps going back, it will mostly be bringing her misery. She knows this and hates herself for it. Op you're right she goes quiet when she's ashamed. Despite all that it's too hard to end it all....

I think all you can do OP is tell her how difficult she's making things for you and back off, but let her know that you do care and will be there when she finally finds the strength to do the right thing.

tribpot Mon 18-May-15 09:21:09

Most cheaters are perfectly decent people who make some bad decisions and end up in a situation they can't deal with.

Agreed. And so are most addicts. But the advice is the same: detach - you cannot cure or change this problem. The change has to come from the addict him/herself.

doormat: by trying to play a lead role in efforts to fight the addiction you will end up very hurt, when she apparently dismisses all your efforts, all your care, in order to return to the affair. Backing off is not necessarily a judgement on the friend as a person but on the negative impact that close association with the problem is likely to have on your feelings.

freelanceconundrum Mon 18-May-15 09:36:46

Encourage her to stop it and find some sanity. This is likely to get messy if she is already in so deep. Encourage her to stop thinking of it as a doomed love affair but as something frivolous, which must end someday.

She is probably in real danger of thinking that it's love and she needs to be with him. Which is very foolish indeed. Everyone gets hurt in those circs.

PeppermintCrayon Mon 18-May-15 09:40:41

Why do you need to support and help her? You're her friend, not her partner, you don't need to step in and take responsibility for her life. Tell her you don't want to hear about it, talk about other things, job done. Why are you trying to help and fix and control her?

Yes, she is fucking up her life. It's hers to fuck up. Are you always this co-dependent?

GrumpleMe Mon 18-May-15 10:18:23

It's not co dependency to help someone get and stay OUT of a toxic situation.

Thenapoleonofcrime Mon 18-May-15 10:39:28

You can't help someone get out of an affair or fix their marriage. You can let them know you think they are being stupid, you can advise them to get out and fix their marriage and you can listen when it all goes belly up, but you can't get them to do anything. People go their own path, often against the advice of their loved ones, and there's little you can do but step back and let them get on with it until they realise what it is they need to do.

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