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I Have Two Friends Who Are Cheating With Each Other

"I Have Two Friends Who Are Having an Emotional Affair"

This week's confession comes from our anonymous Confession Booth group in the TrèsSugar Community. Weigh in with your advice below.

I found out a year ago from him and tried to gently talk to her. She denied everything but was a complete emotional mess and said things that gave her away — it was so sad and clear she was in love with him.

Dave (names changed) has been married for 25 years to an amazing woman, and they've truly had a great marriage in many ways. Mary's been in a couple of long-term relationships but has never married and the man she's with is still living with his ex platonically — she's given up on marrying him. She's got a long history of being "the other woman" or competing with women who aren't completely in the past.


To complicate it all, I was once Dave's girlfriend and introduced them. We had an intense relationship, and I loved him dearly, but he used her and other women to make me jealous, and so I left him for another man. Dave and Mary dated for a month immediately after, and she ended up getting involved with someone else, too. He would tell her I was this great love (he never told me that, BTW). I'm thinking that had something to do with the brevity of their dating. Instant karma! Dave clearly likes women to compete for him. So to kill the game, I simply stopped contact with him for years until he and I were both married because we have a great deal in common, but still rarely wrote. But then the confessions began.

When Dave met his now-wife and was about to propose, he told me he hoped Mary would realize she was going to lose him and say, "No, you need to marry me," but she didn't. And he's mad at her for that. To this day.

When he confessed this and more, I asked him how he and his wife could possibly socialize with Mary, given his strong feelings for her. He says it's because he can control himself. I'm sure too it gives him some sly pleasure. And as if that all weren't enough, he also hit on me as well, calling me "his soul mate — my wife certainly is not" (if it were my vote, I knew she was, really). How his great love for Mary fits into all that ("I lust after you equally, but Mary has the edge romantically"), I have no idea. What insanity. I realized he wasn't just once-an-immature-but-otherwise-cool young man — he was a pretty horribly manipulative guy.

So I stopped contact with him again. That was a year ago.

I have a question for you: if it were you, would you, as the wife, want to know about this? I would. But I also don't want to be part of this. So I keep on going back and forth. I'd like to do something. Ugh. Maybe make an effigy of him and burn it? Thanks, everyone!

There's lots of important stuff going on in our community. Join it, check it out, and share your posts or advice in the great groups, and maybe we'll feature you here.

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rachelssmiles rachelssmiles 5 years
But wait, you said, "But I'm guessing you like it on some level. I'm off to shower" I was just pointing out that a couple of people commenting made it seem like a personal attack on Bubbles. But I personally don't think that she "likes it on some level"
rachelssmiles rachelssmiles 5 years
I know you weren't saying it was disgusting on her part.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
ummmmmmm wasn't saying it's disgusting on her part! I was just saying step out of this situation entirely, and it doesn't sound like she's entirely out.
rachelssmiles rachelssmiles 5 years
Yes Cherry, but I can understand why this would weigh on someones mind. It's almost like Dave wanted it to weigh on her mind. He told her all of these things and of course she cut contact with him again. But still she can't help but think about it all. When you know someone isn't being truthful to their parner, you so desperately want to tell the partner because if it were you, you would want to know. She said that he told her that he still has great feelings for Mary and that "he can control himself". But my bet is, he probably can't control himself too long, especially if she gives him an opportunity for sex. She was just asking our opinions on it. And also maybe just getting it out of her system so she could quit thinking about it so much. But I agree. It's disgusting, but not on Bubbles part.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
bubbles, sorry to have missed the bit about you already cutting off contact. My guess would be that people are missing the line about cutting off contact because the rest of the post reads very much like this guy is still in your life and on your mind. Which might be something to consider. And the appropriate shower is one of those chemistry lab showers :)
Mandana85 Mandana85 5 years
:( I read this and the "pay attention to your gut feeling" line, and all my paranoid fears of being cheated on comes back! (specially that I know my SO used to have some unresolved feelings for ex "flames" and he says he's over them now!) I think it's time for me to head for therapy!!!
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
{{Kurnia}} I understand. I stopped contact the first time at 22 years old. We continued through occasional emails at 37. I assumed he had grown up, most people do things in youth they don't repeat as adults. And it took years for him to act out again. It's interesting to wonder how much people really change. I think as time goes on I put less faith in age creating wisdom in people.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 5 years
Bubble, I didn't elaborate, you wrote : "So I stopped contact with him again." Again being the keyword. I didn't mean for you to take it as if I didn't read what you wrote. When I wrote "plain stop." I really meant that stop forever contact with him instead of letting your disgust dissipates with time then reconnect, or responds to his contact. I've had 'eww' a dude friend in the past and yeah, I've made the mistake of letting him twice in my life; nothing but drama coming from his end (although thankfully, he wasn't including me in any 'love' triangle, but it did cause some undeserved his other gf's anger toward me), so yes, that's what I really meant when I said 'plain stop.' :) Stop negative elements into your life, that includes Mary and stop feeling guilty to his wife, whom like Henna said, most likely a conscious party to all of his relationship dynamic. Good luck.
pairodd pairodd 5 years
I think I know this guy!!These guys are a dime a dozen... They *need* to feel wanted, so they pull many women in emotionally. I would make sure your friend knows that Dave plays with you too. I bet his wife will not believe you, that Dave will indeed lie his way out of it (these guys tend to be the best manipulators out there)Also ask yourself, what good will come from it if his wife knows about it?  WILL he cheat on her?You don't know that for sure (but we know where to place our bets) I would call Dave out yourself - Use as much unbiased language as you possibly can (not the language I used above :)Use objective language, share articles you find - there are a ton out there about emotional affairs,  about men who cheat, and about lying and the toll it takes on a marriage.Then tell him, you care about the sanctity of marriage, and you wish for him to be happy, but that you are worried that there may be some emotional things that get in the way. Start with the root cause -- HIM!!
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Chrissy it's kind of interesting how three people read this including you and didn't note I said twice I had quit contact as soon as Dave showed his cards. A year ago. The headline even says we aren't friends any more. Makes me consider the frequent kangaroo court tone of GT. It's too easy to read too fast, reply inaccurately, thump and run. I'll have to keep that in check myself.
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Aquadigio, I appreciate your input & link -- that author cracks me up! My hubby is a psych nurse practitioner. He read Dave's letters and said the same thing you did, BPD: putting women on a pedestal then knocking them down, the secrecy, lies, manipulation, emotional games. Dave has been married for decades though so he seems far more romantically stable than the BPD men the author talks about but hubby says it still fits. He said that he's seen male borderlines who learned at an early age outbursts and drama are not acceptable in boys. They learn to be cautious with social contact, control themselves tightly and seem passive -- so they present far more stable than women BPDs. Dave's wife is very dramatic socially and in appearance according to Mary, making Dave seem like the stable, normal one. Henna, I have definitely considered I don't know what the wife knows or believes. Dave's wife is a grad from Berkeley's law school. Considering she was smart and savvy enough *if she wanted to be* saved me from my 'savior' impulse this last year. :) Again, thanks to everyone for insight and support to stay out.
ChrissyLee ChrissyLee 5 years
Stay out of it.  This is drama from other peoples lives that you really don't need.  You seem happily married now and not interested in him so cut him off again.  This will all explode in your face if you go to his wife and you will end up losing them all as friends anyway.  He is obviously a manipulator and she's confused.  If he's been married for 25 years you all must be middle aged and this sounds like high school.  Time to "kill the game" again and move on.  Find friends who don't manipulate and hide things from people they supposedly love.  
aquadigio77 aquadigio77 5 years
while if it were me, i would definitely like to know whats happening behind my back, i suspect his wife would not, considering his behaviour that you described (him constantly talking about other women, trying to put a woman he is with down in this manipulative way by making her feel as small and insignificant as possible thus boosting his own ego). So even if you do tell his wife everything, there is a good chance he will lie his way out of it. Having said that, from what you said it looks very likely to me he has a borderline personality disorder, i may be wrong, of course, but if you want to understand what he is all about, i would recommend reading this nicely written piece on borderline males i came across recently hope it helps in any way
henna-red henna-red 5 years
Been rereading....I want to say that I absolutely believe that everyone should always pay attention to their gut feelings! Those feelings come from several different sources. We have instinct....all animals have instinct, and our instincts sharpen around the people we spend the most time with. My sister and I can hear each "think". And when we spend big chunks or our time with one or two people, we register their actions....and the changes in their actions. When those actions are subtle or when someone's trying to hide changes, we may register the changes subconciously, but that notice builds up, until, eventually, we can't ignore that feeling that something is different and when it's a difference that isn't being acknowledged, it feels like something is wrong. And maybe it is. Sometimes that gut feeling is coming from within. Sometimes our past, or our fear of losing something that we value above all other things....our connection and the life we build on that connection....our fear that our risk is going to backfire in a big way, jumps up, into our gut, and that gut feeling of fear works it's way from the back of our minds to the front. So, sometimes that gut feeling isn't coming from a place of change...behavioral or attitudinal. But whatever that gut feeling is, we must pay attention to it. In order to address any fear, we have to know where it's coming from, what's causing it. If it's wrong or just changed behavior coming from a partner, it needs to be addressed. It might be a change that is a betrayal, it might be a change that is just a shift of focus toward an issue that may or may not be a betrayal. If it's a fear not based on a change of behavior or focus, it still must be addressed. No one wants to live in fear. Fear grows hugely and quickly. And it eats all kinds of junk, not just solid food. And fear will destroy you if you don't deal with it.....if you just ignore it, or if you give it reign to work without looking for it's's destructive. It's meant to be's a warning system. It's never healthy to ignore your warning system. So I want to absolutely agree....if you've got a gut feeling about anything....always, always pay attention to it. Ask the questions, seek the answers. Try not to start out with the attack reaction....a very natural reaction when we're feeling fear....we want to defend ourselves, and that frequently means attacking what we think or feel is attacking us....our safety, our peace of mind, our happiness, our security.....Instead, in most situations, look for the threat. Look for the cause of the fear, the feeling. Reaching out immediately with the attack reaction can make more damage to be cleaned up, repaired, healed. But never, never, never, ignore that gut feeling. Even if it's coming from an internal fear, it still must be addressed! Fear that comes from within rather than from changed behavior will destroy your life just as surely as a cheating partner.
henna-red henna-red 5 years
You think :the wife doesn't know...." If all of you information is second hand, and if a lot of that information is coming from master manipulator Dave, or from come and manipulate me Mary......and you've never met her.....then you don't really know what she knows. No one, not you or Mary, really knows what Dave says to his wife, or what she suspects, knows, believes. It's hard to step outside of a situation like this one, and listen from an objective point of view, to see all of the possibilities. You get so used to taking information from your friends at face value.....takes time to learn to doubt and question.
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
For the record, I have never met the wife. Even after he married I have stayed away at Dave's request, once puzzled at her jealous reaction to someone he had treated like a little sister. I've heard a lot about her second hand. And the wife doesn't know that Dave and Mary had a romantic past, she thinks it was all platonic friendship. I'm writing this for posterity when I link back to the inevitable "should I be worried because I am" posts on GT.
henna-red henna-red 5 years
You're most welcome, bubbles. I, too, think your husband is right on. It sounds as if Dave doesn't do anything without a motive. And something I've seen in my own life, is that when you are a person who "champion's the underdog" (boy do I understand that vibe!), then you draw to you people who are underdogs, or whom, at least, view themselves that way. And along with the "underdogs" come those who predate on them.....It's just so tough when, as you say, the exterior personalities give no indications of this kind of grossness.....and when you add intelligence to just get whole new levels of yuck! Good luck, girl!
rachelssmiles rachelssmiles 5 years
I like your hubbies point of view on it as well as Henne's. I've heard that it isn't good to tell someone about their partners infidelities or discussions of infidelities because that person will hate you for telling them, even when your intentions were good. You said before that he liked trying to make you jealous of other women and this may also be his goal. To make his wife and Mary jealous of each other or compete and pit one against the other. And even against you.
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Once more you nail it Henna -- you are so good at this. I too have seen the secret dynamics of two spouses where you think one is the good cop -- and turns out to be provoking the heck out of the bad cop or they just are both nasty privately. Hubby just pointed out Dave may have suddenly confessed to me with the intent of getting me to go to the wife and drive the competition between the two women to new heights if not end the marriage. I'm a known entity for championing the underdog, it would be an easy manipulation. A whole new 'ewwww'. Because I think he's right. Thank you again for your insight and time.
henna-red henna-red 5 years
Bubbles, I do believe in karma. I believe that we get what give, and I believe that when there are two people who are together, like Dave and his wife, for that long, there is a reason. I had a boss, years ago, whose wife was apostolic, and had a reputation from her youth as a heller. And her reputation, after joining the church, marrying my boss, adopting one child and giving birth to 8 or 10 more (not an exageration), was of a not very nice person. I heard many, many people wonder why such a nice man was with this woman. My boss was a thief, who cheated his empoyee of overtime....consciously. He took advantage of all kinds of short, they were a perfect couple, in my view. They really complemented each other. It's just that so many people had no idea of what a crumb he could be. So it wouldn't surprise me if there was something there, with his wife, to complement his own greatest ugly. First, she likes the competition, too, or she wouldn't be with a guy like that. Right? And if you like her, then she isn't some little wimpy come and take advantage of me woman, but a woman of strong personality, with a sense of self worth. At least, that is what I would surmise if you like her. So, for me, that means there is something there, within that dynamic, that people don't see. I think, what I'm saying is, that you can't give Dave all of the credit for your being the "dangerous ex girlfriend". Somewhere along the line, it works for her to have you in that position. She gets something out of that. Manipulators are only successfull because we allow and welcome them into our lives. It's always a two way street. Consider that as you ponder. If Mary and his wife have the same substantial characters that you demonstrate, then there is a big payoff for both of them, in their relationships with this guy. And then, there is your own position of not wanting to be part of this. I don't think you need reproach yourself, AT ALL, for not attempting to put her "in the know". Just a couple more cents worth. :)
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Hi Henna, great questions. Thank you. I told Mary about his comparing us and his feelings for her. Her response was this kind of...delirium. I think she was drunk with it. I told her he came on to me, but I didn't tell her about the soulmate thing. I told her about his comparison with her winning but she wasn't outraged, she wanted to know more. That's when I knew our friendship was done. I was so surprised how much she cared, and was shocked myself realizing what that all meant. I should tell her that he called me his soulmate so she gets he this is not a romantic tragedy between them, but a major bit of manipulation on his part. Shower time again. As for his wife, she believes me to be her competition thanks to Dave so I was kept at a distance. Ironic given our debate about 'intimate friends' right? So Mary socialized freely with them and is the friend, and I am the 'dangerous ex-girlfriend'. I really like her though. I just think it if it were me, I'd want to know. If we were friends, I'd know what to do for sure. The questions do help me think this through. I don't want to be part of this to any greater degree. Thanks again.
henna-red henna-red 5 years
Is Dave's wife your friend? Have you shared with Mary, your friend, everything that Dave has said to you about you, her and the wife? How do you define friend? What are your boundaries? You already know that your friend does not have appropriate or safe boundaries, and you know that there's nothing you can do about that. Perhaps, if you cut off contact with her, you could explain to her exactly why, so that she can understand all of the far reaching consequences of her choices. I'm glad you've got Dave out of your life, he's poison of the worst sort!!! And he has an unfailing antenae for vulnerable women. He's a predator. I love my friends. I care about what happens to them, they care about me. I would want my friend to tell me. My friend would need to know about this because there is the chance of serious health issues with cheating. Is there a reason you think this is only emotional? People don't neccesarily spew all of the truth immediately when one lie comes to the surface. You're not responsible for any actions but your own, any choice but your own. You're not responsible for your friends unfortunate failure to deal with her "other woman" syndrome. You're not repsonsible for predator Dave's sociopathic lacks. You're not responsible for his wife's victimization. (she might know, she might not. If he's so smooth that you didn't realize his slime factor until a year ago....) So this really comes down to your definition of friend, and the boundaries and responsibilities you accept with that relationship. I would tell my friend. Who is your friend? I'm not sure my answer is helpful. :(
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Ladies, as I mentioned I cut off contact after his confession a year ago, I was clear about why. I haven't talked to Mary since our last sad conversation last year either. The worst part? So many people look to them to say and do the right thing, even professionally. It's so...bizarre. Sour, give me the shower that will get rid of this feeling because I've been living with it for the last year and cannot shack the ick. I got an LOL from your response though, because that's how I was ranting after I found out. And if I enjoyed it, I would still be talking with them. Just reading both of you react to this has been therapeutic. I just can't talk about it with anyone, it's too potentially damaging. Thanks! These two are people you'd otherwise never suspect of doing this kind of thing. And is why I'm all for people paying attention to their gut reaction -- unless they have a history of being overly jealous.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 5 years
ewwww. Sorry, that Dave is such a sly person. What a turn-off!!! Who knows, his wife probably knows about his 'cons' but dealt with them because she knew he's a lil' screwed up but otherwise pretty decent dude (stable, a good provider, what have you). If I were you, I'd cut off contact. Plain stop. Life's already rather 'dramatic' even without guys like that fanning the fire. This guy is just ..ack.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
ugh gross. this whole situation is so skeezy and slimy. If I were you i would just extricate myself from the whole rotten lot here. Don't tell the wife, don't hang out with any of them. But I'm guessing you like it on some level. I'm off to take a shower.
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