Be clear you won’t cover for affair
Fri., April 1, 2011
Dear Carolyn: A friend revealed to me that she is having an affair with a good friend’s husband. I wish she had not told me, because it puts me in a very awkward position of keeping this secret both from her husband and the wife whose husband she is smugly sleeping with.
I am sensitive to this because some time ago I discovered my own husband’s infidelity with another smug woman. As painful as the discovery was for me, we eventually worked things out. A few people eventually told me they were suspicious but afraid to say anything. I wish they had spoken up.
Now I feel compelled to inform these parties despite the fact that it is “none of my business.” What can I do? – Anonymous
You can take a hard look at your biases before you act on any compulsions. Is the good friend’s husband “smug,” too?
Maybe viewing infidelity through the Jezebel lens helped you make peace with your husband’s actions, but it’s misogynistic and unfair. Both parties in your husband’s affair and both parties in your friend’s affair are accountable for their choices.
Plus, you can let your non-disclosing friends off the hook; they had suspicions, not a confession, and so whether to tell you was an even tougher call than the one you’re struggling with now.
Decency demands that you act in service of the greater good, versus the ax your history moves you to grind.
One thing you can do without much agonizing: Tell your friend how you feel about this cow pie she dropped in your lap.
It’s also the first step on a solid path to a clear conscience. As part of that conversation, invite your friend to help you decide what to do now, no threats, with one nonnegotiable feature: You won’t lie to cover her tracks.
Not only does that dramatically limit your friend’s ability to operate in secrecy, it also keeps you within the limits of knowing your place.
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