One of my closest friends came to me one evening, looking like she’d been through hell and back. She confessed that she was having an affair on her husband of 20 years. They had a son, but she’d been unhappy in her marriage for so long she forgot what it felt to feel alive. She needed me to help her because she was so confused and in such pain that she didn’t know which way was up.
And by “help,” I mean she needed me to listen to her without judgment because this thing she was doing was ripping her apart but she didn’t want to stop. She was falling in love with another man while still married and she was debating whether to leave or stay or get rid of them both for a time and find herself again.
She’s known me my whole life. She knew I never had an affair or cheated on anyone in my life and am unable to love, or even like, more than one person at once. Time and time again, my heart has proven to me I’m not capable of anything but monogamy and she knew I wouldn’t be able to relate to her situation — but she trusted me anyway.
Because even though I don’t condone affairs for myself because I think it’s a shitty thing to do to another person, she didn’t need me to tell her that. One look at her and I could see she was already beating herself up enough.
Affairs happen — a lot. Of course, it would be easier for all involved if people would stop and tell their partner they wanted to explore something with another person first, but I know that’s not how you play the game.
Getting caught up in the heat of the moment happens. And letting go of something familiar is one of the hardest things to ask of someone.
With that being said, there is also something else I don’t believe in: Getting involved in someone else’s marriage. So when I found out that friend of mine was having an affair, I listened– that’s it. She confided in me, yes, but that doesn’t mean she was asking me to dole out advice, try to stop her, or tell her how horrible she was.
I believe in being there for my friends, not judging (out loud anyway, because let’s face it, it’s impossible not to have feelings — BIG FEELINGS — in this situation). They may feel the affair is justified for any number of reasons. Or they might just be doing it for the fuck of it because they are bored. And that’s their right to have those feelings — it’s their life, not mine.
And since I have not been in their marriage or relationship, I have not been living their life or going through the same experiences they are going through, I have no right to tell them to stop, or to keep continuing on with the affair. The only people who really know what’s going on in a marriage are the people in the marriage. Period. Full stop.
Because when a friend comes to me and trusts me enough to tell me something so private, I’m going to assume they just need a friend. And unless they come right out and say, “What should I do? Help me figure this out,” I am not chiming in. Even then I would be hesitant to tell them how to live their life — most people, especially those we love, do what they want anyway.
Chances are, if they wanted to get out of their situation bad enough, if they wanted to leave their marriage or stop their affair, they would do that regardless of anything I tell them. After all, I’ve never met someone who said, “My friend said I should stop doing this, so I’m going to listen and end this affair.”
Just like any difficult decision, the person who is in charge of making it has to be compelled enough to change it for themselves.
After all, they aren’t having an affair for me, so why would they end it just because I didn’t agree with their decision?
People’s lives are theirs to live — their relationships belong to them and I think it’s a huge waste of time to try and untangle something as complicated as infidelity.
Besides, I’d rather steer clear and save my energy to focus on my own relationships, not other people’s.