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An affair among friends

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  January 28, 2013 08:53 AM

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Q: I am part of a very closely knit group of friends who have known each other for roughly decades. Everyone in the group went to school together and wound up marrying someone else in the group. Needless to say, we have become our own little (sometimes dysfunctional) family. As we've grown older, some of our friends have started their own families and have become more distant than others, but there is a core group that has always stayed close as couples.

Recently, a disaster hit our group that has caused a lot of anger, confusion, and sadness. One of the married women in our group had an affair with one of the married men in the group.

Everyone in the group is reacting differently to this situation. Some have withdrawn completely and are no longer communicating with anyone, some are angry at those who had the affair, and others are defending the ones who cheated, saying they deserve to be happy. I have been cheated on before, and my heart breaks for the ones who were on the receiving end of this pain and betrayal. I know this may sound childish to say, but I've made up my mind about how to react to those who knowingly cheated on their spouses.

My question is this: What advice do you have regarding my friends who support the actions of the cheaters? They were not involved in the affair, and they are entitled to support whomever they choose in this situation. I love them just as dearly and equally as I love the other friends in our group. Unfortunately, I also feel angry that they would condone this type of action. I realize they are happy for the found happiness of our friends who had the affair, but what about the friends who were hurt and did not see this coming?

– Stuck in the Middle, Boston


A: Do these friends really condone the cheat, SITM? Or are they just trying to be there for everyone in the group at the same time? Have they really said that the cheating and betrayal didn't bother them? Have they truly ignored the friends who were left behind?

It's quite possible that these friends have empathy for everyone involved. If you're unclear about where they stand, please ask them to clarify. Don't make any assumptions.

Also understand that the dust is still settling. After a few more months -- or even a year -- you'll have a better understand of who still shares your priorities. Some of these school friends might not have a place in your life anymore. It might be time to help your wronged friends find some new faces.

You're not really stuck in the middle, you're just making decisions about who you want in your life. That takes time. After all, you're a victim of this cheat, too. For now, just be there for the abandoned friends and watch as the group evolves into something new.

Readers? Should she ditch the friends who are supporting the cheat? Are those friends really supporting the affair or just trying to be empathetic? Can this friend group survive? Has this happened in your group? Help.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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