• Mon, Aug 30 2010

Bitch, Please: What Can You Do When Your Friend Is ‘The Other Woman’?

Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.

Last night, over drinks, my friend “Ann” told me she was seeing this amazing guy, and spent I swear an entire hour gushing about how sweet he is, and how attentive he is, and how respectful he is and, of course, how hot the sex is. There was a lot about how how the sex is. And then when she was done describing how great his penis was, the other shoe dropped: he’s married.

He’s not married and in an open relationship or something, and I know because the following 30 minutes she spent talking about what a bitch his wife supposedly is, how she let herself go after they got married, how she hates sex, how they fight all the time, how they’re only together for the kids, how if his wife wasn’t so terrible he would never cheat, and on and on and on. And she expects me to be supportive and hate on the wife with her and tell her how great it is that she’s happy… but I can’t. My last boyfriend cheated on me for ages and I heard back from people that (minus the kids and the fat part) he said all that same shit about me. I don’t want to be a huge bitch to my friend, but I seriously can’t sit through another conversation like that again.

On some level, if your friend is remotely self-aware, she knows that going around telling people how awesome it is to be boning a married man isn’t going to play — and, frankly, if she considers you a good enough friend to expect your support in this situation, she should be a good enough friend even with the addition of drinks to know better than to shit-talk the wife given your own painful history being on the other side of that equation. The fact that she spent that long talking only about herself and her relationship would be bad enough (and, goodness knows, I’m a talker) but the fact that she did so considering your own past makes her sound like a shitty friend, full stop. So, you know, there’s that.

But even if she wasn’t a little too self-absorbed to be a good friend, you still might have a difficult decision to make. Your friend is doing something that feels really good — witness the long discussion of the great sex — and she’s not looking at the probable future consequences for herself, her lover and his wife (let alone their kids). The least destructive thing that can happen in that she alone will get hurt; the worst case is that his wife and kids catch him and his current life is completely upended in the most ugly way possible. And either she’ll take well to you pointing that out — and pointing out that there’s almost certainly another side to the whole “my wife is a fat bitch who hates me and doesn’t have sex with me” story — or she won’t.

It’s completely fair of you to ask that she take his responsibility-minimizing story with more of a grain of salt, and to refrain from slagging on his wife in your presence. It’s equally fair to let her know that you don’t approve of her new lover or her willingness to ignore his partnered state just because she’s getting her rocks off. And it’s fine to tell her that you’ll be there for her when shit goes bad, but that you can’t ignore your own values to celebrate her happiness or slag on his wife just because the guy’s got a great dick.

But just because things are fair doesn’t mean that’s how life works. (Just ask your friend’s lover’s wife.) You can be all kinds of fair and measured in your response, and she can still call you a prude and a bad friend and never talk to you again. So, if you don’t mind that result, go for it.

But you obviously don’t like that idea, either, or else you probably would have already done it. If you’re less confrontational, or this friendship is really worth keeping around for when the relationship blows up, there’s only one thing to do: remind her that you were in the wife’s position once, then zip your lips, change the subject, be conveniently unavailable for a while while she figures things out and hang out with her all-but-exclusive with a group of people who know she won’t feel comfortable telling. But you won’t be able to say “I told you so” when you didn’t — so plan on staying quiet forever if you really want to walk this path.

If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at advice@thegloss.com. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.

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  • Corporate Tool

    I’d add that mentioning your own history with a cheating significant other will make your disinclination to hear about her exploits more sympathetic, and decrease the chances that she’ll end the friendship over it.

  • nolalola26

    Seriously, your friend is tactless and rude. The fact that you were cheated on should make her rethink everything she’s bragging to you about. She shouldn’t be your friend, for that alone.

  • Tim Drake

    Drop her as a friend unless there is some very good reason not too. I don’t tend to keep people like this around me if I can help it. Move her into acquaintance territory if you don’t want to lose her altogether.

    I don’t believe in monogamy myself but I do think people should keep their promises, and if they did not agree to an open relationship and this woman is trying to assuage her own guilt by listing on why his wife is a horrible bitch who doesn’t fulfill his needs is pathetic. He’s a liar, and it would behoove you to remove yourself from the situation before it blows up in her face.

  • sarah

    i was just wondering my friend is a real bitch so watch out because they trade you

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