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How to help my friend, who's the long-term OW, see the light

(29 Posts)
Amateurlifecoach Tue 04-Oct-16 13:33:39

My friend is younger than me and is just beginning to notice her own aged friends begin to settle down and get married. They are all late 20s/early 30s.She's really nice, friendly and outgoing and I would say, gets on better with men than women and works in a male dominated environment.
Im just setting the scene, not sure if it's relevant or not. She's not very confident and has made a few questionable life choices. She has low standards in her career and is coasting along without major ambition. She seems to be lacking in self esteem. She'd say, for example, "I'm not as good as you at....." whatever it may be.
She's always gone for much older men who seem to have baggage or have made bad decisions in there own lives.
I was pleased when she broke up with the last one and hoped a nicer man was in the future.
But it appears she's got involved with a married man. She's very secretive about it but it's been going on now for a long time, over a year, I think and she has said he is separated, but from some digging on FB, the wife doesn't seem to think they are.
Im not fully sure what my friend is telling me versus what he is telling her, but it's messy and I would love her to escape his obviously very charming clutches.
He's leading her to believe they have a future yet not appearing to be open about it. So having his cake and eating it, with lots of sneaking around and making my friend secretive, defensive and eating away at her confidence even more.
I'd like to help her see the light somehow. I know there's an MN script that cheaters follow. Is there a condensed version I can send her so she might read it and identify him and realise what his plan is. He probably has no intention of leaving his wife. And if he does, she won't be the last affair.
I hate that she is ruining her life with this waster and these should be the best years of her life.
She is stunning and doesn't realise it. She could have her pick of men her age who are available and she's also very engaging and great company. As her friend, is there anything I can do?

Bambamrubblesmum Tue 04-Oct-16 15:47:39

I see you outed her as your sister rather than friend. Do you have a good relationship with her? What do your parents think? Is she keeping it secret from them?

I'm assuming she doesn't bring him to family gatherings.

Amateurlifecoach Tue 04-Oct-16 16:53:11

So I did, oops!
Don't think it should matter. We have a good relationship but not in a very close way. I do find her hard to talk to on a very personal level but probably because she knows I disapprove of her lifestyle. I don't want to lecture her as she would probably switch off. But I know that its a very common occurrence (I read to much MN) and stringing along an OW is part of the cheaters modus operandi. I'd like her to know that.

Pretty sure parents are aware of situation and I think, although I could be wrong, that the man's wife is aware too. If that is the case, then she's obviously trying to fix their relationship judging by fb photos. But then again, maybe she is in the dark.
No we've never met him.

Bambamrubblesmum Tue 04-Oct-16 17:37:13

I think the only way to give her a shake is to point out the facts of the situation rather than getting emotional.

If he wanted to be with your sister then he would be with her, there is no need to wait or delay other than to string her along. Look at his behaviour not his words.

He promised to love and honour his wife, this behaviour is not showing him in a positive light. If he can go home and lie to his wife, how does she really know that he is not lying to her?

He is very likely still having sex with his wife, how does she feel about him going between the two of them? has she been checked out for STDs? I feel sorry for his wife more than your sister tbh because its is very unlikely shes the willing participant in this triangle and is the one who will be unwittingly infected if he is sleeping around.

Does she think they have a future together? how can she be sure he won't do it to her? if she is so special then why hasn't he actually left his wife for her.

Does he have kids? if so, they will eventually know she was the OW and that in itself will cause a lot of issues - is she prepared to deal with that fall out?

You may have to have a frank conversation with her regardless of her switching off, otherwise you will be supporting by omission. This situation is unlikely to end well if she keeps getting strung along, so for her own good it would be better if she were the one to walk away to protect herself.

RealityCheque Tue 04-Oct-16 18:02:30

None of your business. You'd be better off (for your whole family, tbh) by butting out and minding your own business.

MorrisZapp Tue 04-Oct-16 18:07:23

I know it's hard to watch loved ones make poor choices or sell themselves short but I think you should keep out of this one. Nothing you say is likely to hit home, and you might make her withdraw her confidences from you.

Obviously if she asks then be honest. But I don't think an intervention approach has much hope of success.

Cary2012 Tue 04-Oct-16 18:07:49

I agree with RealityCheque, you interfere through your concerns and she'll resent this, so just let her learn for herself, and be there to support her when/if it all goes wrong. You can't win, so step back and let her get on with it, then help if she needs you.

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Tue 04-Oct-16 18:09:45

Show her your findings on fb. It's how I saw the light several years ago.
I didn't fall out with my friend either!!

HappyJanuary Tue 04-Oct-16 18:12:21

It might work out for her.

My ex cheated for years but when I found out I threw him out, so he went to her.

She looks like the cat that got the cream now.

Amateurlifecoach Tue 04-Oct-16 18:51:35

There's nothing to show her on fb as I'm sure she's fully aware herself. Yes, I will probably butt out and keep my tut-tutting to myself. It's so hard to see her mess up her life like this.

Bambamrubblesmum Tue 04-Oct-16 19:59:00

I disagree that it's none of your business. If this were my family member I wouldn't want to see them get hurt or duped. I'd say my peace, let them know I loved them and I'd be there for them whatever and then let them get on with it. It's up to them at that point.

But you know your relationship with your sister best and whether it's the right move.

I have a no holds barred relationship with my sibling so I'd be surprised if they didn't say anything. I know they care about me enough to speak the truth, give me their honest opinion not just look the other way. I'm really surprised these days how people are so compartmentalised about relationships.

ephemeralfairy Tue 04-Oct-16 23:11:35

You can't. My best friend has been the OW for ten years. The man has behaved appallingly towards her, dicked her about no end, kept her hanging exactly where he wants her. Every time he breaks her heart I hope fervently that it's the last time but she goes back for more. She won't be told. I've given up saying anything. I just make sure she knows I'm there for her.

You can't make other people do what you think they should do, even if it's clearly for the best. You just have to wait and hope she comes to her senses.

SandyY2K Wed 05-Oct-16 07:57:55

As a friend I understand your concern. Being the OW will only cause her a lot of heartache and leave her feeling broken.

If she's willing to, I would encourage her to post her situation on the link I sent you via PM. It's a place where the OW won't get shot down in flames, but she will get honest and firm advice, without being sworn at.

It takes courage to write it down and if she doesn't think she's doing anything wrong then she won't feel the need to post.

Even if she doesn't, she'll benefit from just reading other women's stories and realise she's not unique and the seperated line is very common.

TheVirginQueen Wed 05-Oct-16 07:59:28


UnGoogleable Wed 05-Oct-16 08:16:36

I've seen this destroy siblings relationships. My advice would be to stay well out of it, no matter how difficult that sounds. Make it clear you don't approve, but then leave her to it.

YvaineStormhold Wed 05-Oct-16 08:27:00

Let her make her own decisions, be there for her when and if it all goes to pot. She'scan adult - there's nothing else you can do.

(I can't see in your OP where you have called her your sister. Am I being dense?)

Wombat44 Wed 05-Oct-16 08:34:22

I can't see where in the OP it says it's her sister, either confused

Shesgotelectricboobs Wed 05-Oct-16 09:20:48

Me neither (can't see where it says sister).

I'd just be there for her when it all goes wrong which it inevitably will.

TheVirginQueen Wed 05-Oct-16 11:13:18

Can you get her a copy of Mr Unavailable and the Fall back girl which is excellent, details different types of unavailable and the type of woman who is drawn to them and why. goes in to childhood a bit. I must re-read it actually. It was very informative..
Also 'Attached by Heller and Levine ' which details the four different adult attachment styles, and how the 'ambivalence' of a married man (or some other type of half available, or available up to a point man) can feel 'familiar' and that familiarity can be mistaken for romance and butterflies.

I have never had a thing with a married man thank god but I recently had to walk away from (as in, just stop contacting) a single man who I felt a real connection to, and we were very close confused but although he enjoyed our relationship and we were very communicative and supportive to each other, he didn't value that relationship as a committed faithful relationship, he wanted to value it only as a friendship which was wrecking my head. confused He wanted to classify us as friends (but be lax observing boundaries between friendship and a relationship). We were in a relationship really but he owed me nothing, not fidelity, commitment... So, similarities I think and those two books helped me a lot. I will never mistake ambivalence for romance or butterflies again. If somebody parks me in a grey area I'll get turned off, not on.

Amateurlifecoach Wed 05-Oct-16 11:49:46

Thanks TheVirginQueen, I agree. A lot of our achievements in life arise from what we feel we deserve and in her case I think that applies. She feels as if she doesn't deserve a whole relationship or is not worthy of it.
She is in a small town to and talked about. I know the H's wife is aware of her although not sure why she has not thrown him out.
As the OW, she is not going to make herself available for any new relationships, or friendships for that matter. Her life is stalling and as far as I can tell, there's a lot of waiting around on her side. she may go weeks without seeing him but is "in love". Gah, its so pathetic and sad to hear. I bet he is scratching away at any self esteem she had remaining and probably pulling her back in if she questions where it is going.

TheVirginQueen Wed 05-Oct-16 12:59:06

Is there anything you can do to raise her sense of self efficacy?

Rationally we all know that we're worth more, we tell ourselves we deserve a good man who loves us as we are, but unless we feel we have some power to make that happen, it is going to be the hole in the damn of our self-esteem. I hope I'm making sense here because the impact of self-efficacy on self-esteem is only becoming clear to me fairly recently.

So, ask her about the power she feels she has over her life. What does she want to change? What does she feel she has the power to change? Does she feel other people have more power and control over their lives than she has over her own life? And if she thinks that why does she think that?
Open up with a bland question like, do you think it's fate? or do we have the power to change our lives, positively?

TheVirginQueen Wed 05-Oct-16 13:00:43

Putting yourself up in the dock, like inviting small town judgement, that can be 'comfortable' or familiar. If she grew up feeling judged.

Amateurlifecoach Wed 05-Oct-16 13:15:19

Had to google self-efficacy, fascinating thank you. Yes, that sounds like she has none of that. Her belief in her own abilities is low. I've love to try to bring that up with her without sounding patronising.
(I am married and pretty happy)

blueshoes Thu 06-Oct-16 23:00:46

Another one who cannot see from OP how this friend is a sister...

TheVirginQueen Thu 06-Oct-16 23:07:26

I missed how that was revealed as well but the OP said 'yes' to it confused

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