Q. Dear Meredith,
I don’t know if you can help, but I’m getting conflicting advice from friends and family. The short story is that my husband of 25 years has been having an emotional affair (and I think somewhat physical, although he denies it) with my best friend. Yes, my best friend. I found out after he suddenly asked for a divorce, and am beside myself with the double betrayal. He never came clean on his own, and showed no remorse beyond getting caught, so I have no interest in reconciling with him.
But it’s been really hard not having my best friend to lean on. I’m not about to give her a pass for engaging in any of this, but she has been remorseful, has volunteered a lot of details I never knew about, and has mostly answered my questions directly (showing me texts to back up what she told me). Half of my friends/family tell me to run from her and never look back, while others think the relationship can be saved. Am I crazy for believing her version of events, and opening myself up to trusting her again? For what it’s worth, she has said she liked the attention from him, but that it meant nothing more than that to her. I’m so confused, and hurt, and lonely. Please point me in the right direction. Do I forgive or forget and never look back?
– Forgive or Forget?
A. Is the affair still happening? If it is, you probably don’t want to be around this woman right now. If she and your husband are no longer flirting or coupled, this might be more complicated.
You’re not required to drop your best friend. Really, there are no rules here. I would only tell you that this is an ever-changing situation. Right now you’re seeking information about what happened, and she’s a good source for that. Also, after causing you pain, she gets to feel helpful. Nice for both of you, maybe.
Of course, after she’s told you all you need to know, I don’t know how you’ll feel about spending time with her. Maybe you’ll be able to forgive, but perhaps you’ll want to dismiss her.
Give yourself permission to change your mind as you go—and to listen to your gut as you learn more. There’s also some middle version of your two options, where this friend is in your life, but her role has been diminished.
Your friends and family love you, but they’re not in your shoes. Ask them for support, and remind them that you’re on your own path with this.
Dump her. For your own mental health you could forgive her, but a betrayal like that doesn’t deserve a prolonged friendship. LUPELOVE
Only you can decide what betrayals you’re able to forgive. WIZEN
The friendship can be saved. But do you want to save it? You believe your friend’s version of events, but believing a story and trusting a person are two different things. TERMINATER5
She said she liked the attention but that it was never more than that, yet she kept all of the texts, continued engaging while knowing he was married (to her best friend), kept this all secret from you . . . I think it’s time to promote one of your other friends. CUPPAJOESEATTLE
Find the latest season of the Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show. Meredith Goldstein wants your letters! Send your relationship quandaries and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.