Dear Dr. Love,My husband ‘s friend was engaged to a woman and the four of us would go out every weekend together. We all became really close friends. Unfortunately, my husband discovered that his friend was cheating on his fiancÃƒÂ©e and both of us were stuck with what to do. My husband finally confronted his friend and asked him if he was still going to go through with the wedding. He said he didn’t know. I felt awful because I had grown quite close to both of them. I really like his fiancÃƒÂ©e, she is a nice person.I avoided both of them for the summer because I couldn’t face either of them knowing that he was cheating on her. She loves him so much. She just e-mailed me and told me that she moved out, that he said that he doesn’t want to marry her anymore and that it is over. He didn’t tell her about the affair. I still want to be friends with her and she wants to get together to go out with me but she is still hoping to get back with him and she doesn’t know that he has been cheating on her for months.I want to be friends with her but I want to stay out of this horrible situation and not get involved. Thank you for your time.
Your male friend has put you in an awful situation. His making you privy to his cheating, while not telling his fiance forces you to carry one of the most terrible burdens: the burden of silence. You say that you want to stay out of this horrible situation and not get involved. By involved I presume you mean that you don’t want to be the one to bring bad news to your girlfriend.Unfortunatly, you became involved once he told you his secret. In many ways, you are in the same bind that many therapists fall into. Let’s say you are seeing a couple individually and in marriage counseling. One day, the husband reveals to you, in individual session, that ‘s he’s cheating on his wife. The wife doesn’t know and you are left to carry this impossible secret. No therapist can function effectively with both partners (as well as operate in the best interest of the relationship) if he/she is forced to carry a secret that is so profoundly vital to the other partner’s life.Your situation isn’t very different. You can’t function as a true friend to this woman if you must hold a secret that is so vitally important to her well-being. If I were a therapist to this couple, I would refuse to be placed in such an untenable situation. I would refuse to carry such a secret. I would insist that the husband tell his wife the truth and I would refuse to work with the couple until the truth is on the table.I think that you are in the same situation. You need to insist that this man come clean with your friend. You shouldn’t be in the position to know more about her life than she herself knows. If he refuses to come clean, then you can’t remain friends with both of them any longer. For you to stay friends with him and keep such a secret from her, would be a betrayal of her. Each time your girlfriend talks about getting back together with him, your silence is a form of betrayal, since you have information that is vital to her safety and well-being.You need to find out why you are being loyal to her ex. . Do you feel more friendly with him? If so, then he’s your friend, not she. Do you feel that it’s his place to tell her, not yours? This is true, in theory, but he has made his business your business by telling you about it. To hold the secret is to hurt your girlfriend. If you feel that you don’t want to ‘get involved’ then you can’t remain friends with both people. If you feel more loyal to him, then you will probably have to give up your girlfriend.If you feel loyal to her, and want to keep her friendship, then you are in a real bind. You can choose to keep this secret, but how will she feel and what will happen to your friendship if and when she finds out that you knew all along and didn’t tell her? You also have the possibility of taking yourself out of the hotseat by putting his foot the fire. This would consist of telling him that he has placed you in a terribly unfair situation. To leave you with the secret of his cheating prevents you from having a complete friendship with her and that if he doesn’t come clean and tell her the truth you will. This would take you out of being in the middle and put the hot potato back in his lap, where it belongs. He may be furious with you, and you may lose his friendship, but you will probably cement your tie with his ex.You have to decide what you want and which friendship is most important. It is very unlikely that you are going to be able to maintain ties to both, not as long as this secret is in your space. And, if you force his hand so that the secret is out, you will probably lose his friendship anyway. So think over what I said and choose wisely.