An acquaintance and former good friend of mine reached out to me last week because she is getting a divorce. We used to be great friends many years ago when we were both single. Time, careers, and differences have led us apart. Now she is looking for support as she goes through this difficult time. I am at a loss. She has been honest about the situation with me, and I think that she is not a very good person. She is having an affair with a work associate from another state who is also married. Her husband found out and is divorcing her. They have an 18-month-old little girl. She also told me that she cheated on her husband just two months after they were married. Other of her friends have contacted me, too, and I don’t think they know the whole story or how could they feel bad for her? How can I tell these people what is up and that I think that my friend is just a dirty leg who doesn’t care about her husband or kid? Why did she have a kid in the first place if she had already cheated and knew she wasn’t happy in the marriage? She is a very pretty and vivacious woman who was always a big flirt and the center of attention. She feels that getting married has ruined her in some way. I think that she is just broken to begin with. She has fake boobs and teeth. She just needs and needs and doesn’t know how to give or share. She has low self-esteem. She said that the co-worker is separating from his wife and wants to move down here to be with her. I wonder if he is telling the truth. I am less worried he is lying and more concerned he will ruin his family, only to be used and tossed aside by her one day. I feel I need to be straight with her, and I am pretty certain it will end our friendship. I can live with that. I also wish for everyone else to know what I know, but I don’t know how. I even thought about emailing the other guy’s wife (I found her info online — I am very resourceful when I want to be). This is making me feel crazy.
— The Regretful Confidant
You sound a little crazy, but not off the mark. Your friend sounds like a hot mess topped off with a whole lot of trouble. You should be honest with her and tell her how you feel about her actions and the situation. You should first consider whether you want to preserve the friendship. If not, then tell her this as well. Breaking up with a friend is like ending any other relationship. It is best if you are direct and honest, but still kind and respectful no matter how little you feel she might deserve it. You will walk away with a clean conscience.
If you are open to the friendship remaining intact, then you need to offer your support in another way. Let her know that you think she has made some mistakes and you want to help her address the issues that have created the problems in her life. Of course, she might decide that she doesn’t want this kind of support and tell you where to stick your advice.
I recommend not sharing what you know with anyone else involved. You can certainly encourage her to be upfront with everyone. If others want to know why you are not standing by her side, it is best to refer them to her. If she chooses to disparage your character at that time, then you have the right to voice your opinion and side of the story. I definitely advise against contacting her lover’s wife. You have no idea what her knowledge, understanding, or perception of her own marriage might be. It’s also not any of your business. Right and wrong do not open every door for freelance intervention.
Remember, you said it yourself: She’s broken. That doesn’t excuse her actions, but she needs help, not scorn. Keep as open a mind as possible. If you can maintain any civility in the relationship or if you are also friends with her husband, you might offer unbiased family support. Their child will need positive and friendly role models and additional caretakers during this tough time.
Much patience and keep your head high and your nose down,
Your Uncle Mat
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