Sunday, January 28, 2007

Issues

Taking a break from the medical for a moment. Mr. Whoo and I are facing a friendship dilemma. We are, perhaps, being somewhat unreasonable. In the past I have mentioned Mr. Whoo's core group of good friends, and how much they are a part of our own extended family. This group is such an entity that I was a smidge more apprehensive about meeting "the guys" than I was about meeting Mr. Whoo's parents. Over the years I have gotten close with all of the boys as well as extremely close with their wives. All of this was just dandy....until one of the guys cheated on his wife. Even worse, said guy was at our house visiting for the weekend when his wife found out!

His infidelity unmasked a whole multitude of other undesireable facets of his personality that, until that time, he was able to keep hidden from even his close friends. Mr. Whoo and I found ourselves sympathetic to Cheater's wife, and distancing ourselves from him. True to form, while Cheater's behavior caused great chaos within the core group, the guys came to the decision that Cheater was still "a part of them" and while his behavior was not condoned, it was forgiven. Fast forward a couple of years, the couple is now divorced. Cheater, after various and sundry placeholder relationships, jobs, and stunts, is now living with the very woman with whom he cheated, and is bringing her to "group" events as his girlfriend. Even more bizarre, most of the guys and girls are completely accepting of her and often speak of how "nice" this person is! I know for a fact that she knew that Cheater was married when she had the affair with him, so, in my opinion, that alone strikes her from the "nice" book. Mr. Whoo and I have been the most vocal in our disapproval, both of Cheater and his girlfriend, but now everyone is treating us as if we are strange for not just "letting it go."

Now, I know that everyone has their own personal "hot-button" issues. For me, it is infidelity. Without being too detailed, it has affected me in a personal way (not in my own marriage, but in my family). I realize that I am completely being emotional about this, but it is something I can't help. I can't even look Cheater in the eye anymore. Mr. Whoo rarely answers his calls. He and his girlfriend live within a reasonable distance from us, and he is forever making overtures for us to make plans together. We are starting to run out of excuses. So now we are wondering, are we being childish and immature about this whole issue?

For me, I like to think that I surround myself with people of good character. Since Cheater has shown his character to be sorely lacking, I would be happy to let the friendship fade into oblivion...save the "group," which keeps him squarely in our social picture. So where do we go from here? We can't spend forever avoiding him and shunning her. That makes me feel as though we don't have strong enough character to move on from our friend's bad decisions. So why do I feel, in my gut, that just "letting it go" reflects badly on me (like I'm condoning the behavior)? Argh. See what I mean about issues?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a tough one. It sounds like your husband needs to pull his "cheater" friend aside and say something like all of this started while you were at our home and therefore we were not distanced from your mess like the rest of our friends. Morally Dr. Whoo and I are having a hard time coming to terms with how your new relationship came about and we have decided to distance ourselves from your and girlfriend socially for the time being. We will see you at the larger group gatherings and time will tell if we are close again. This doesn't need to be discussed with anyone else and if "cheater" has half a brain he will understand your honesty and your discretion. I hope that helps, I can't imagine being in this position. I can understand not being able to get past his behavior after all he brought this mess into your house. I hope you have a better week. Toni in Oregon

frectis said...

Applause.

I can totally relate to this as someone near and dear to me is having an ongoing affair with a married man with young children. I'm so embarrassed.

Poor ex-wife though. Whatever became of her?

medstudentitis said...

I too have a big thing about infidelity. I think it is probably the worst thing one person can do to another in an emotional-harm sense. My boyfriend's father cheated on his mother and now he lives with his mistress. I didn't know any of them when the whole thing happened, but can't help but feel like his father is a bad person for doing this to his mom. I think he is a coward and no matter how much I want to be polite, I find it very hard to be civil in his company, especially because I know his actions hurt his son very deeply. I'm with you on this one - "letting it go" is almost impossible. I don't think any cheating man deserves a second chance, I really don't. "Letting it go" would send the message that it's ok to cheat, ok to be a coward. I'm not sure what you should do, but just wanted to let you know I'm on your side on this one.

3carnations said...

I completely understand. I've struggled with similar issues - Being friends with someone who morally does things I disagree with, but things that do not affect me. The thing that's different about your situation, is that you're forced to look the "issue" in the eye when you are forced to spend time with both the cheater and the cheatee. If your husband is also uncomfortable with the situation, then I say continue to make excuses. If they start to sound lame, he'll get the point. If he questions why, be honest. Tell him that you're not comfortable with infidelity and choose not to surround yourself with people who practice it. It may make you unpopular, but you're sticking to your principles. The flipside is that infidelity is not contagious, so if you're stuck at group activities with him, just grin and bear it. I just see no reason that you and your husband should feel obligated to get together with them two on two as a couple when you're not even comfortable with them.

kissashark said...

My hubs works with ALOT of men who cheat and we've both always found it horrendous, it's the one thing that neithe of us will ever forgive, because it is completely a choice and I figure if you want to sleep with someone else than you damn well oughta be honest and tell your SO that you want out. I would do the same as you and cut them from my life, I just don't wanta be around people like that and I gotta say that his GF is not too bright, if he was cheating when he met her whats to stop him from doing it again behind her back? I say cut them out and let the group get over it. Just my opnion. BTW...I love your blog and find it hysterical!

Ada said...

Agree to meet them, then act distant and quiet at the meeting. If they aren't stupid, they won't feel the need to get together with you guys in the near future.

Judy said...

This would make me very uncomfortable too. Any chance Mr. Whoo would be willing to tell this man how the two of you feel about all this and that you'd rather not plan things with just the 2 of them? That would be extremely difficult, I know, but it's probably either that or do things that will make you feel very uncomfortable.

To me, this would feel like a double date with my good friend's ex and his new girlfriend. Not something I could manage to do and still feel good about myself.

Anonymous said...

Hello:

I read your blog and love it. Thanks for sharing with us.
Now as for the problem at hand. I have been in the same boat except it was my really good friend cheating on her husband. Our husbands became great friends as well. When the relationship started it was just a phone thing, then it turned into lunch and so on. I was able to "overlook" until she asked me not to tell my husband anything about it. I tell my husband everything!!!! In the end we don't see her much. It was hard, but I had to remember that even though she was my friend she was truly wrong. As for the guy he is long gone. Last I heard her now ex husband is getting married in the spring. Not that this was at all helpful to you, I just wanted you to know I know how you feel.

Kim
Charlotte, NC

Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

This is a tough one. But I don't think that letting it go would signify condoning the behavior. You could just declare to yourself that you're going to be cordial to the parties involved simply for the sake of harmony within the group.

cephyn said...

Wow. That is definitely a tough one. Some other things I thought about while reading this:

Is it better, or worse that he now has a stable relationship with the person he cheated with? Does that count for something? Is it a possibility that he actually married the "wrong" person, and subsequently found the "right" person? Clearly, if that is the case, he could have handled it better - but we have all made mistakes in our lives, some bigger than others.

Is there any indication this guy is a serial cheater, or did he just make 2 really bad choices (to marry, to cheat)?

I'm assuming he is aware of you and Mr. Whoo's displeasure. And yet, he keeps trying to be a friend, to spend time. Even in the face of implicit rejection. Either he's an idiot, or he's genuinely trying to say something about the nature of his friendship.

I agree his behavior was poor, and in no way should you condone it. But indeed we all make mistakes. Should we be indefinitely punished for them? Do you accept your friends because they have no flaws, or do you accept your friends in spite of them?

Maybe this is a dealbreaker - in which case, you and Mr. Whoo should speak to him directly and honestly about it - that you are not comfortable being his friend because of his actions. Otherwise, you're just lying to him - and one of my hot button issues is lying. He lied about cheating, and you're lying about friendship. In my book, while one is more egregious than the other, they are both dishonest actions. And remember, he didn't cheat on you - but you are directly misleading him with excuses instead of the truth.

Anonymous said...

My two cents: if cheater is otherwise a polite, kind-hearted, supportive person then I'd set aside his adultery and try to be friendly at group events. However, I would tell him that I and my husband are not interested in pursuing activities with him and his girlfriend outside of group events.

If he is a pompous, selfish, sexist and ill-mannered person I'd tell the group that I and my husband will skip those events which he attends, but will definitely not be asking others to "chose sides" or anything.

What The Hell Is This? said...

Does this have anything to do with any type of dedication to ex-wife of Cheater?
You seemed to have decided a few years earlier that 'the guys came to the decision that Cheater was still "a part of them" and while his behavior was not condoned, it was forgiven'. If you and Mr. Whoo truly feel this way, then I say act that way... if you don't, then remember, you are probably going to be taking yourself away from 'the whole' and not just Cheater.

Ottoette said...

I think you are acting with integrity. How can you be good friends with someone so obviously lacking in character? Especially who would act like that with your hot button issues. I don't know if I would have the guts to actually tell Cheater, but I would continue the avoidance. As to the "nice" girlfriend - I doubt your friends would find her so nice if it were their husbands she was after!

Artemis said...

This is a tough one ... but I'm on your side, and hope that you have the fortitude to continue to come up with the excuses needed ("post-call" always works for me) to avoid a couple's night out with this jerk and his girl friend. It's one thing to get together as a big group (you don't want to sacrifice the other friendships you've made), but you do risk appearing to condone the relationship if you go out one-on-one. And if history bears itself out, she won't be in the picture for much longer because he'll have moved on to someone else. Just hope he doesn't use you and Mr. Whoo as his excuse again...
Good luck!
A

Psyche said...

What an awkward situation to find yourselves in! It sounds like your options are to tell him the real reason you are avoiding him and his girlfriend, or to only see them when they are in the group setting without explaining why. If you do the first, you could make it clear that it's your emotional reaction and you just can't feel the same about him since the affair and divorce. If you do the second, you'll have to get used to saying no without excuses, which can be uncomfortable at first but gets better as time goes by. I hope you are able to work this out to your satisfaction. There is no rule that you have to like everyone in the group equally. Good luck.

jean said...

imho....

sometimes the right thing to do is not the easy thing to do. we all have to figure out what things are important to us in life and what things we will not put up with, in ourselves and in other people. if you waffle from your position on this issue because others don't see it the way you do, you might start waffling on other issues in your life, also. then you have lost the person who you were.

stay true to your views! maybe your friends need an example of people who have a moral compass. the friends that value you and respect your views will stay and understand. the others may fall away.

keep YOUR integrity!

dr. whoo? said...

Wow! Y'all I am just so overwhelmed with all of the great comments. You are the best! Thank you.

Toni~ Thanks so much for your wonderful advice. It would be great if we could be so straightforward with this guy. He is the type of person that likes to debate every living point that you try to make. He also likes to stir the pot and bring every person in the world into the mix.

He has said that he doesn't understand why we would be so upset about the demise of his marriage since we "weren't *that* close" with his ex-wife. In short, this guy is a classic narcissist and master manipulator. I know that if he ever broached the subject with us, there would be no problem stating our position, but if we were to broach it with him, he would spin it as though we were "attacking him." Bleargh.

frectis~ eek! on the friend that is having the ongoing affair! As far as the ex-wife, she is just fine. It is probably the best thing that could have happened to her. Cheater was having this affair while she was putting him through professional school. He was skipping classes and meeting this woman for midday flings while she was working to pay his tuition and their bills. (lovely)

Ex-wife did not deserve the way he treated her. She just finished an MBA and is dating a man that treats her like the great lady that she is.

medstudentitis~ Thank you for the support. I tend to agree with you that "letting it go" seems to let the behavior off the hook. If it weren't for the group, we would have cut ties long ago. It's just difficult when a group dynamic and long-standing friendships are involved.

3carnations~ You hit the nail on the head with your comment. I think that this is likely the approach we are going to take. It seems pretty moderate, not too extreme, and not overtly compromising our values in any significant way.

kissashark~ Hi! Love the name! Thank you for the kind words, even when I'm not feeling quite so hysterical these days ;) I agree that adultery is a choice. It doesn't "just happen." I think that if Cheater cheated on his ex-wife with his current GF, there is no reason to believe that he won't turn around and do the same thing to her on down the road. I can't say that she wouldn't deserve it, either. Ah, well. We shall see. Thanks for reading!

ada~ Hi and LOL! This would be awesome. We should totally do this. HA!

judy~ Hello! Thanks for reading. I think that Mr. Whoo doesn't have a problem telling Cheater how he feels, should the subject be broached by Cheater. Otherwise, there is not a delicate way to bring the subject up without causing a big stir, and arming Cheater to act like some sort of injured party, his favorite role.

Hi Kim~ I am so glad that you enjoy the blog. Sorry I've been so all over the place these days! Yes, your situation is very similar to mine. It just sucks, no matter which way you slice it. Thanks for sharing your story and for your kind words.

BRN~ Yes, I think that we can be civil to Cheater and GF in the larger group settings, without compromising our values and feelings about the situation. My fear is that (when not pregnant) I'll have one too many glasses of wine and tell them both what I *really* think. That, while cathartic, could be downright disastrous.

cephyn~ Hi and thank you for your very thoughtful response. While there is no doubt that Cheater and his ex-wife were not a match made in heaven, I'm not convinced that his current GF is Ms. Right, either.

As recently as September, Cheater was trying to hook up with another girl at a friend's wedding, and he was *living* with the GF at the time. When Mr. Whoo asked Cheater directly about his level of involvement with the current live-in GF, he kind of shrugged it off and said that they weren't that serious.

As I mentioned, his cheating seems to be merely a symptom of larger character issues. Issues that he has hidden from his "good friends" for years and years. Lots of things came out during the divorce, and Mr. Whoo and I are the only ones that were talking to both Cheater and the ex-wife, so we were privy to information that Cheater later twisted to his advantage.

If this was just an issue with Cheater alone, the deal would be done, and our friendship terminated. It is hard to explain this group dynamic, but it is a very protective/loyal group of guys, and shunning one of the "key members" is a very big deal. I wish I could explain it better.

As for his persistence in the face of rejection, the simple fact is that he just doesn't believe that he could do any wrong, so why would we *not* want to hang out with him? And as for deliberately misleading him with our excuses, you are right. For the sake of "not rocking the boat" we are following a guise of nonchalance. If queried directly, however, our reply would be honest, well received or not. Oy, my head hurts.

hi anon~ Thanks for your response! We used to think that Cheater was kind and a good person until circumstances proved otherwise. We certainly don't want to ask people to choose sides, but I think we've come to a comfortable conclusion of choosing not to spend one on one time with them outside of group activities...for the sake of harmony. Thanks for reading :)

wthit~ While we were definitely close with Cheater's ex-wife, and feel loyalty to her, I would say that the issues stem more from the character that Cheater has shown aside from just the infidelity. Let me say that while a consensus of "the guys" decided all was forgiven, Mr. Whoo and I have really struggled with the choice made by the group.

It's not that mistakes aren't forgivable, but we fear his character is not going to change. So yes, it feels like our values are on one side, and loyalty to this very close-knit group are on the other. Sticky.

Ottoette~ Amen, sister. This girl knew he was a married man, and pursued a long affair with him anyway. This is not the kind of girl I really want to hang out with in my sparse free time! (not that I really want to hang around with Cheater, either!) It blows my mind that she can show up to a couple of group gatherings, buy people a couple of bottles of wine, and all is forgiven. Crazy.

artemis~ Thanks so much for your advice. Your words mirror my inner feelings...not sacrificing the group, but not hanging out one on one, either. You are right, if history is any indication, this girl won't be around long...neither will any other, unless Cheater can find his way out from the quamire of his own making. Thanks again :)

psyche~ Hi! You are exactly en pointe with the options facing us in relation to this situation. Now we just have to follow through. I really appreciate your kind words, and good luck is always helpful!!

jean~ Wow, thank you for the inspiring words. You know, you are spot on about staying true to our values. The difficult thing is staying true to our values without coming across to Cheater or our friends as condescending and "holier-than-thou." Mr. Whoo and myself are not without flaws, to be certain. It is hard when you feel so strongly about something, but it threatens the stability a built-in extended family. I'm sure that all of this will come to a head, I just want to be able to handle it with grace and minimal fallout.

Maria said...

I haven't read ALL of these comments, but when I got to bohemian road nurse, I felt right on the same line as her. Initially, I thought, cut them off! Cast them from the Tribe! Then I thought, heck, people make mistakes. THEY have to live with them. (Including his new GF who should KNOW he's capable of cheating! ha!) My dad and I did not speak to my aunt for almost 10 years, because of some things she did to me and my mother. My mother forgave her after about 2 years. They're sisters. Blood is thicker than water, and all that. This caused discomfort within my own family, especially during holidays, family gatherings, etc. For years, my mother saw her sister without me and dad. It just wasn't the same...So for the harmony of the group, your SO's "family," I say let it go. YOU know how you feel.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I dont agree with you. I think you and Mr. Woo need to get over your self rightous attitude. Obviously, the relationship has gone sour if he is cheating. Maybe you should blame it on the wife. Maybe she wasnt fulfilling his needs or maybe they had communication problems. Whatever it is, your not comfortable with this situation because your insecure and that someday if you ever get married(good luck) your afraid that he/she might influence your husband/wife and someday your husband/wife might cheat on you. So, of course you make up all these excuses because your scared. Well, guess what? Its you thats got the problem. You need to look at yourself in the mirror and see if you could ever be secure enough in a marriage to be happy. Also, its not the cheatee's fault that the marriage ended. Stop blaming other people for your own insecurities. If you are the cheaters real friend you would accept him for who he is and stop judging him. Who do you think you are anyway. I hope your cheating friend dumps your friendship and finds himself better and truer friends. Don't ever judge others unless you've been in the same situation, Remember, karma is a real bitch. I hope you get your share. The cheater deserves better friends.

dr. whoo? said...

Um, Cheater, is that you?

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog. Love it! From your Mother's Day post I had to come back to this, and this whole situation sucks. I find myself in the position where my mom has been cheating on my dad for years with a man who lives in another state. They keep a daily relationship going by phone, computer and have gotten physically together more than once that I know of. Dad knows, I know, other siblings know, who else knows! The man with whom she has had this relationship is also married with younger children. Each knows the other is married.

So, my question is: You can pick your friends and you can throw them back. What do you do when it's your own parent? I am married, have 2 young children (4 and 2) and live 15 min. away from parents. I feel stuck in this situation and have tried unsuccessfully to reason with mom. My whole life seems to have changed in the past couple of years because I feel like I've lost my mom and the best friend she once was/could have been.

I don't care what anybody says. You don't have to have been in the situation to properly judge a person's character, and there are times when we need to use judgment...not to lift ourselves up in pride but to decide what is best for ourselves, our families, and our situations. I wish my mom wasn't a cheater, but she has made her choice and despite past confrontations about it, she chooses not to change. I told her that my kids do not need a role model like that, so we no longer spend as much time with her as we used to. If she chooses another sweet-talkin' infidel over her husband (who has his flaws but has never treated her badly), her children (who manage to remain good, decent people despite it all), and her grandchildren (what did any of them do to deserve this?), well, what kind of character does she have? Mother's Day was bittersweet and probably will be for a long time.

Maintain your integrity and you can't go wrong.