Ask Stavroula: My Best Friend Is Having an Affair with Our Friend’s Husband

Dear Stavroula,

We studied with A. and we have been best friends ever since. When she began her relationship with her now-husband, (with whom she said she fell madly in love) I told her some of my concerns, because I saw that they had nothing in common. He is a good person but very low key, closed off and without any interests, while my friend is a very lively personality – she likes going out and is very extroverted. She married him relatively quickly. After the wedding, however, problems began with her mother-in-law, she had a bad pregnancy and her husband was even more closed off than before. My friend was very unhappy, she would call me and cry. They had constant issues and she was telling me that she couldn’t stand him anymore, that she felt very lonely. I tried to be supportive. We started going out together more often, usually with my other friends, talking on the phone for hours and generally trying to do things together. A short time later, however, my friend started not wanting to come out so often, the phone calls became few and far between, and when we did meet up, her eyes were constantly on her cell phone. I realized that something was going on and when I asked her, she admitted that she had a relationship with someone from my circle of friends who was in fact married to a friend of mine. She also told me that she was telling her husband that we were going out together and she asked me to continue covering for her! When I told her that I didn’t agree with this relationship, we got into a fight. I tried to talk to her the next few days but she was very cold and refused to meet me on her own, but she continued to go out when we were in a group. I feel like she is using me in the worst way, because I don’t want to fool anyone, and for me it is immoral, what my friend is doing.

I am sorry for the guy’s wife, who may not be my best friend but we are friends, in the same circle, and I value her greatly. I feel that because of me her husband is in an illicit relationship. What would she think of me if she even knew that I knew and covered her husband’s relationship with my best friend? Should I talk to her that she might save her marriage? They also have a little kid.

Helen

 

Dear Helen,

First of all, it is not your fault that your best friend began an affair with a married man who happens to be someone you know. It is her choice and the fact that she met this man in your company does not mean that you have to feel responsible. You wanted to help her, make her feel better, and that is something every good friend would do.

As for what is moral, not all people have the same system of values, nor do I think it makes sense to talk to your best friend about morality – you will not succeed. What you could do is help her through discussion to think about some things. By what criteria did she choose her new partner? What does she think she can expect from this relationship in the future? How will she deal with the consequences if this relationship becomes common knowledge? What will this man she is having an affair with do if his wife finds out and threatens his relationship with his child? What is keeping her close to a man she doesn’t want?

Make it clear to her that no matter how much you love her, you will not accept her using you as an alibi to see her boyfriend, and that if you are asked from now on you will not lie to her husband that you are out together, nor will you tolerate them going out together with his wife and your group of friends. Tell her that you don’t want to know the details of this relationship because it puts you in an awkward and difficult position.

As to whether you should talk to his wife, you have to think about two things.

Firstly, it is possible that this relationship will not last and your friend will return to his wife, who if she does not know what is going on, will not find herself in the dilemma of whether or not to stay in her marriage. This woman may even feel that her husband is distancing himself from her and might be trying to improve her relationship, and if she learns that there is a third person involved, she may take actions that will break up the marriage more quickly.

Secondly, she may not want to believe you, then ask her husband about it, and he may deny everything and say that you are jealous or you misunderstood the situation, and find yourself exposed and without friends.

If you find that they are still meeting up in the context of your group of friends, talk to the guy and threaten to speak to his wife if this continues.

So even if everything comes out and your friend finds out that you knew about it, she’ll understand that you were against it and you didn’t say anything in case the marriage could be saved.