Conventional Wisdom is a different kind of advice column. Your questions will be answered by people from all walks of life rather than by advice experts. If you have a question you'd like answered on Conventional Wisdom, you can submit it here.
Today's question: One of my good friends has been seeing a married man for about a year. He also just happens to be her boss. When we get together, she bombards me with the details of their relationship. He tells her he's never been happier, and that he'll leave his wife for her soon (yeah, we've heard that one before!) and she seems to believe him. My problem with this whole thing is that not only am I sick of listening to her, and of course could tell her so, but I've lost respect for her. Is it wrong to break up with a friend who's doing things I find morally reprehensible? Is there anything I can do to get through to her that what she is doing is horrible for her, not to mention this man's wife?
Signed, Confused Friend.
To hear what an older woman has to say,
Dear Confused Friend,
Ahh, the folly of youth. For every bad relationship I bored my friends with, I in turn listened to details about men (or women) they were with who didn't deserve them. It's part of being a friend.
My best advice to you is to be honest with your friend. You don't mention if you've told her how you feel, or if you did, how she reacted. If you haven't, now is the time to start. Tell her you care about her, but you think that contributing to cheating is morally messed up, and that in the end she's probably just going to get hurt. (I guess "the other woman" sometimes ends up with the guy, but who wants to end up with a cheater?) Also, sleeping with your married boss? Pretty dumb. Do other people in her office know? This is not good for her professional life either. I'd tell her that, too, although it's hard to imagine an adult who doesn't know this.
If you really like this friend and this is the only thing she's done that makes you question her character, ride it out and hope she comes to her senses. There's only so much advice we can give people. If you've told her how you feel and she continues with this affair, that's her decision. If she steers you toward this topic when you hang out, just let her know you don't feel comfortable listening to it anymore.
Sometimes, though, if friends do sketchy things, those acts are a window into the rest of their sketchy selves. I had a friend who not only cheated on her husband once, but throughout their marriage, and I began to notice that her behavior towards him mirrored her behavior towards me and everyone else. She was selfish, narcissistic and unable to ever admit fault. We'd had fun partying together when we were younger, but as we grew older, I realized I needed to respect my friends. After a blowout fight when she said horrible things to me, I took it as my cue to get out, and I dumped her.
You're in a tricky situation, but honesty is the best policy. If you can't be honest with her, maybe you aren't really great friends to begin with, in which case slowly turning down her invitations to hang out and discuss him should send her a message. Good luck!