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Ask an Older Woman: Help! My Friend's With a Married Man

Ask an Older Woman: Help! My Friend's With a Married Man

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!

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Join The Conversation
sloane220 sloane220 7 years
@weffie- i never said the op should completely abandon her friend, i just believe that no one should subject themselves to a situation they are completely uncomfortable with where someone is bound to get hurt. i clearly stated that it was okay for the op to distance herself until the friend came to her senses (extracted herself from this toxic relationship), then she would then be capable of giving her the support she needed. how the hell do you support a friend while they're in the middle of having an affair with a married person?
lawdawg08 lawdawg08 7 years
I agree with spacekat and kimpossible!!!
ali321 ali321 7 years
In response to weffie I think abondoning a friend in need is wrong, but I don't really see her as a friend in need. She's choosing to hurt people and is fine with it. I would have a big problem with sticking by a friend that was doing this. It really does depend on the friend and how well you know the person. Some people go through crazy things in life and if she means a lot then you should be there for her when she does need you at the end of the affair. But I wouldn't stick around while she chooses to mess around with someone else's husband. I pretty much agree with everything Tres said. The main thing is that you've lost respect for her. I think it's really hard to be friends with someone you don't respect.
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
I had an acquaintance/friend who was doing the same thing. She was seeing a married man who's youngest was only 4 mo. old. With her past relationships as an indicator, she had no problem with this arrangement. I was no okay with it, and after I talked to her about it, and she showed no desire to change her ways, I ended my friendship with her. I wasn't comfortable being around her - and it was inevitable that the topic would come up. I wasn't okay with it, but I was okay with one less acquaintance. The decision is yours. If it's a really good friend, it might be worth really sitting down and discussing the issue, if it's just an okay friend, I think you have to decide whether sticking with your friend thru all this is worth it.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
your friends sex life is none of your business. tell her you don't care to hear the details, "thanks", and change the subject. i think the percentage of married men that leave their wives for their lovers is about 10%. but your friend won't listen to this, she's in love. love is blind. his being her boss is a whole other sticky wicket. wow, this girl is all kinds of risk taking. yikes!
lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 7 years
I definitely think that once I've lost respect for someone, I don't want to be there friend. But before I kick her to the curb, I would talk to her. Maybe she'll never mention it to you again and you can go on like before. Maybe she'll be offended, and you can stick with easier friendships.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I agree with you as well GlowingMoon and Spacekatgal.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I agree that if you're uncomfortable with her telling you about her relationship, let her know. Put down that boundary. If she is a good friend, she would respect that boundary, and not talk to you about it again. As far as judging her (and the relationship), personally, I would refrain from that. I've witnessed people in bad marriages, and left those marriages for those better suitable for them. These people ended up happily married for a long time (and still going strong). Of course, I do not support extramarital affairs. I'm just saying the situation is not always black and white.
weffie weffie 7 years
I think you just need to have a good, long talk. I wouldn't cut her off completely though, because when this creep inevitably breaks her heart, she's going to need a friend. She sounds like she's really naive, but not necessarily mean-spirited. Lonely girls do stupid things! Hopefully you can open her eyes to her own foolishness, but if she doesn't see the light you should still be there for her. Abandoning a friend in need is "morally reprehensible" to some of us, too.
vmruby vmruby 7 years
I think you should tell her how you feel. It sounds like she's due for a reality check but I have a feeling she may tune you out altogether Eventually her affair with the married man is going to end up where it always does.Karma will see to that. If she continues with her selfish behavior then you might have no other choice but to let go of the friendship.
sloane220 sloane220 7 years
if you find something that a friend is doing is morally rephrehensible to you, you should tell her. and if it still bothers you that much, there's nothing wrong with distancing yourself from her until she comes to her senses.
xxstardust xxstardust 7 years
Definitely talk to her about how you're feeling. Phrase it somewhat gently - you think it's morally wrong to do something like that, and you're concerned about her getting hurt (because what he does WITH you, he'll do TO you). If this is a first time thing for her, it's entirely possible she's thinking with her cooter, not her head. Talking things out with a caring friend might help her wake up!
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I also agree that telling her is good. Then if she continues to flaunt it and discuss it around you, I see no problem with ending the friendship.
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