Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
FRIENDSHIP: Friend Is Involved with Married Woman
My best friend and I have been having some problems lately. We've been friends for a little over 5 years now. He's having an affair with a married woman, and we've been arguing about that. I understand that he is making his own decisions, but I am trying to remind him of his moral obligations. He suffers from low self esteem, but got attention from this particular woman and went "crazy" over her because she is extremely beautiful. He tries to hide the fact that he is engaging in relations with her from me, but I know that he is. The fact that he is having this relationship with her can cause him to lose his job, and is causing serious strains to our friendship. I don't know how to get the message across to him without walking away from our friendship. He is my battle buddy, and I don't want to jeopardize that. However, my patience is wearing thin. I've explained to him that before that I don't like being lied to, because I am not a fool. And also that I would prefer him to always be honest with me about anything that he is struggling with so that we can help each become better men in the long-term. It is my opinion that this world has enough trouble with people who thrive, and are thrilled, to deceiving others just to feel good in the now. I believe that true happiness comes in the formation of true morality and conviction. What should I do? Please help me to remove the blinders.
I can see that this situation is very troubling to you. You feel that your friend is making a bad mistake and putting your friendship, as well as his job, in jeopardy. Although I can't solve your problem, I hope I can give you some things to think about.
You have made clear to your friend that you think what he is doing is wrong. You have tried to convince him of the problems this affair can cause. So he is now trying to make you think there is nothing happening between them. And now you are upset because he is being dishonest with you.
You have to understand that you have put your friend in an impossible situation with you. You tell him he is doing wrong and might lose his job. But you tell him he needs to be honest with you. What is the fellow to do? If he tells you the truth, you lecture him on why the situation is a bad one. If he avoids the topic or lies, you criticize him for not being honest with you. He can't win.
So this is what you must consider. You cannot change your friend's actions. He is an adult and makes his own decisions, even when they are poor ones. As a friend you can share your opinion and try to help him to a better decision. But he will have to decide what to do. If you want him to be honest with you, you will have to tell him that you don't agree with what he is doing so you would rather he just not talk about it at all with you. But let him know that you are his friend and if he needs help, you will be there for him. But he must understand that you will never approve of what he is doing. And then try not to discuss it.
If things turn out badly for him, and they might, he will need a friend. We all make mistakes and true friends are there to help us when we are suffering. But friends can only offer opinions; they cannot make decisions for others. I hope you feel you can continue your friendship, but this is your decision.
I hope these thoughts are helpful and please write again with other questions or concerns. That is why we Elders are here.