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advice for the other woman(32 Posts)
Don't flame me please. I have a friend who has just come out of an abusive marriage and has embarked upon an emotional affair with a married man. I don't know the details, but I know she is damaged from her marriage - its quite clear that is why she is doing this, she has zero self esteem and is mistaking this for something real. I want to stop her going down this road as quickly as possible. I have read on here recommendations to 'other women' to get themselves to therapy to address self-esteem issues and identify what it is that makes them go there. But where do I start finding the right kind of therapist? Have looked up relationship therapy but that's all for couples. Naturally I'm also talking to her but think this might be beyond me and my advice. She is a good person, I want to see her make the right choices.
Recommend she goes to the BACP website and searches for a therapist who specialises in building self esteem and confidence and who has experience working with women who've come out of abusive situations.
She could also do the Freedom Programme - it's not just about domestic violence, it covers all forms of abuse.
Apart from that, you're going to have to just sit back and watch the car crash, sadly - you're not her mum.
You might like to have a browse at the Baggage Reclaim site and see if you think it would be something that would help her. There is a lot about unavailable men on it, and why relationships with them are hideously harming to self esteem. And
as you say hers is already low, this is an appalling scenario for her.
okay - thank you both - thank you for being kindly as well as helpful. I've started looking on the BACP website and Baggage Reclaim is a bit of a revelation - and should be to her too. Am bit worried about the whole watch the car crash thing though... I do feel helpless, like this is inevitable. Actually its my sister, I put friend in case she is reading and spots me as she used Mumsnet when things went so badly wrong in her marriage. Does being a sister give me more rights to intervene do you think? or more authority or something? am worried her friends aren't going to step in.
that sounds wrong. is not my place to intervene as such, but I cant just stand by and let this happen to her, or the other woman. She was cheated on herself for gods sake.
Can you not try and ask her (more tactfully) how much of a vile piece of shit was her ex cheating on her so what does she think this guy is like doing exactly the same cheating on his partner? Is that the sort of guy she wants the same as just did this to her?
He can probably sense how vulnerable she is
Well, no, it's her mistake to make, and it's not illegal. You could send her the links, offer to talk, say you're concerned but that's about the limit of it..
Surely it's up to her? It's got disaster written all over it but all you can really do is advise, and leave her to it. I'd be more inclined to do positive stuff like spend time with her, encourage her to do stuff for herself etc. You can't 'intervention' somebody out of making crap relationship choices.
I want to stop her going down this road as quickly as possible
Try if you want to but I really believe that when emotions are involved, people do what they want to do.
There is no way someone about to embark on an affair, emotional or sexual, doesn't know that it is immoral, a bad idea and bound to hurt them (and possibly others) long term.
It's not your problem. Beyond being a good friend and telling her your views, there is nothing you can do. It's like telling a fat friend they need to lose weight. They know they need to lose weight; you telling them isn't doing anything. They have to make that choice themselves.
She probably has a really low self-esteem if she's just out of an abusive relationship so I'm glad she's not come here herself to be told how evil she is.
I'd buy her an easy to read book about raising self esteem. But sadly, it can take about five years I think!! I stayed away from men completely for nearly five years after my abusive relationship ended but even now, nearly 9 years on, it can be hard to believe a good man would want you, so I understand the 'wirinng' that would make her settle for a cheater. He probably seems nice to her after an abuser.
ps, I doubt she's mistaking it for something real, it is real in its own way, what she's doing is believing that this is all she's worth. She is mistaking her own worth.
Thank you, you are all so helpful although I know you're probably right about not being able to stop this.
Good point about her mistaking her worth, that might resonate. With therapy maybe. Will look at freedom programme and also try and just invest in her a bit.
It's hard to watch somebody survive a bad marriage and then chuck her new life away.
Couldnt tell his wife, not my place and she would never forgive me. Don't know who he is either.
She was cheated on herself for gods sake
I could be way off but, consciously or sub-consciously, this may be why she's doing it. She may feel that she can't get revenge on her ex so she'll find a man who will suffer if his marriage ends as hers has done, or she may want to feel that she has the power to take a husband away from his wife as the ow did to her. In her muddled thinking she may even regard the wife as being akin to the ow who wrecked her marriage.
Whatever is at play in your dsis's mind, it's clear that she will benefit from counselling which will allow her to explore her feelings with a professional who will not be judgemental about her behaviour.
Hopefully she will soon come to her senses, but in the meantime all you can do is 'be there' for her and endeavour to impart as many pearls of wisdom as you can without alienating her.
Does she have a reputation to uphold, or would family members look askance at her if they knew about her affair with a married man?
Pennyapples, yes she has to put herself in the glass cabinet, not in the bargain bucket tell her. Tell her not to be anybody's half time, down time, part-time, good time. It is hard to say no to a scrap of attention when your self-esteem is low though. I think an experience like going horse riding together or going zip lining or doing something else she has never done before has been shown to raise self-esteem. Is there something small she is scared to do? make a phone call, get back in touch with an old friend. these small things are 'feel the fear and do it anyway' on a very small scale and they help raise the self-esteem. Asking her what she thinks of something? valuing her thoughts on a subject. Asking her opinion on something. Big things and little things. ie, her thoughts on a big issue, and also, do you prefer carrot cake or pecan pie? let me know as I want to make the one you prefer. (and dont let her say whichever is easiest). which do you prefer, comedy or cinema....
thank you - more good advice
I don't think we are the zip wiring type but I get the picture - will try and think of something we can do together that doesn't just involve wine
she has a reputation to uphold with her two teenage sons who would be utterly horrified at this, and would completely judge her. that's another fear of mine, that they might find out and it would change her relationship with them forever.
she also has a professional reputation to uphold, thinking about it. and in her community - she is the injured party in her marriage - she would lose sympathy if this was known about.
and our parents - who've done so much to support her and who have lived every second of this with her - they would be so disappointed. Like I am. Not really disappointed in her but disappointed for her. I thought she was going to have a chance to have a good life once she was over the trauma. and this is what she's signed up for. gutted.
she also has a professional reputation to uphold, thinking about it. and in her community - she is the injured party in her marriage - she would lose sympathy if this was known about
Does this really apply any more? It maybe the world I work in but there are so many men known to be having affairs and OW abound, that there really is very little reputational stigma these days. Everyone is doing it.; it's embedded in the culture.
I accept in a small village like communities or tight groups (certain school gates), it maybe different - but I'm not sure (certainly in my work world) that having an affair carries any real reputational damage these days (beyond a mild bit of gossip). No one really cares - certainly the men don't give a shit about who is unfaithful or not; and the women tend to regard it as par for the course.
That's not so say that this is something your friend should be doing (see my post above) but I don't think this is likely to be a persuasive or effective lever. The bigger persuasive issues are immorality, guilt, and risk of emotional hurt to herself and others. I don't think reputational damage is going to be a persuasive lever - unless you live in Camberwick Green.
yes you are probably right - I guess not so much reputational - but in terms of losing the support and sympathy of the people who have supported her - I don't think she could bear that thought
its a bit of a sad thought that everybody is doing it.
I think being her sister gives you more "leeway" to get involved and try to persuade her to take a long hard look in the mirror. She's more likely to accept that you're concerned for her welfare and her worth and not just being a moralistic judgeypants.
There's nothing wrong with having a quick casual fling after the end of a relationship, it can be a big ego-booster as long as you're clear headed and realistic about it. But there's plenty of single men out there to have that with, no need to enable some cheating twat to backstab his poor wife.
Exactly. I was hoping she would have a quick ego-boosting fling. I was excited for her. Not this.
I sort of did do both barrels when she told me. But I'm worried its going to push her away. So now I'm going to try and find the middle way I guess. Actually I don't mind whether I have to be blunt, or go softly softly, I just want to find the way that works.
do you think therapy works? I mean they are just counsellors aren't they - don't know whether I think it works or not, but I guess it would at least make her think about it.
A therapist is more highly trained and qualified than a counsellor. It's well worth the investment in herself, because learning to value yourself changes EVERYTHING.
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