Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Caught in the Middle of a Cheating Scandal”

From the forums:

Cheater

I dated my childhood best friend — let’s call him Dan — for a few years during high school and college. We were both kind of immature — I was selfish and he was very needy and insecure (ex: he would get upset if other guys wrote on my Facebook wall). Needless to say, the relationship did not last, but we made sure that the friendship did because we had such a long history. A year later, he met a very sweet girl, Ana, who was perfect for him, and a year after that, I met my now husband, Phil.

At the very beginning of my relationship with Phil, I found out that he was cheating on me with a FWB he’d had for months before we began dating. We had it out, broke up, and after much deliberation, reconciled a few months later. When I told Dan that I had gotten back together with Phil, he was infuriated — he said that I was crazy to trust a cheater and that I would get my heart broken again — and it was Ana who told him to calm down and be a supportive friend. Dan later acknowledged that his own strong feelings against cheating drove him to such disappointment and anger with me.

Fast forward to today — Phil and I are happily married and Dan and Ana live together, and though we’re not as close as we once were, we keep in touch and socialize regularly. I have been unhappy in my current job, and since we work in the same field, Dan invited me to apply at his place of business because he said it was a great place to work. I did two rounds of interviews and now I’m waiting to hear back — according to sources in the know, there is a good chance I will get the job.

However, last night I spoke with a mutual friend of Dan’s and mine who told me that Dan is having an affair with one of his co-workers — someone whom I’d be required to work very closely with if I were to be offered and accept this job. Our friend was very distraught at having been asked to lie for Dan (who needed an alibi for the evening), especially since, like the rest of our group, he adores Ana. My feelings of shock and disappointment even surprised me, given that Dan and I aren’t really best friends anymore. I feel so sad for Ana, who has been part of my life for several years — she attended my bridal shower and I am now remembering with serious regret having said to her that I hoped she’d be next. Apparently, this affair has been going on for a short while (because “the spark has gone out” with Ana, and he’s afraid because he knows she’s expecting an engagement), but Dan feels that he’s in love with his co-worker who is pressuring him to make a choice. He has been fighting mercilessly with Ana, who suspects his infidelity, and then walking out of the house to meet with his coworker and leaving Ana to feel abandoned and wonder if she’s crazy. Apparently, he ended the discussion with our friend by saying that he’s going to stay with Ana because she’s the safe choice and that he’ll just wait for things to fizzle out with his co-worker (which I doubt will happen, since she pursued him knowing that he lived with his girlfriend).

I am now regretting my decision to apply for the job with his company — I don’t want to be in this hotbed of personal issues, especially since everyone in the company knows that he and I are friends. There is a strong possibility that this will still be going on and coming to a boiling point by the time I begin working there (if I am hired). I am also seriously debating telling Ana what is going on so that she doesn’t end up marrying him without knowing what kind of person he is, contracting an STD or being drawn any further into this fake life he’s creating with her. I can’t believe that this is the same person I grew up with and once thought I loved.

What do I do about this job, and what do I do about Ana? At this point, I don’t even know if I want to continue a friendship with Dan, but I also don’t want to expose our mutual friend as the secret-teller, since he swore me to secrecy. — Mad at Dan

Woah, simmer down now. You’re basing a whole hell of a lot on what basically amounts to gossip. You really don’t know how much, if any, of what your mutual friend told you is the truth. What if he has some or most of the details messed up? What if he flat-out lied to you? What if Dan lied to him/ didn’t tell the whole truth? What if this mutual friend is in love with Ana and trying to mess up their relationship? Is there any chance this mutual friend is after the same job you’ve applied for and trying to dissuade you from accepting the position if it were offered to you?

Even if everything is true and Dan is, in fact, cheating on Ana with his co-worker, I would not let that keep you from accepting a job that could potentially be a great fit for you (although you have to be the judge about HOW potentially great it could be vs. how miserable you are currently). Don’t let someone else’s personal problems, which really don’t have that much, if anything, to do with you, keep you from pursuing a happier career life for yourself. That’s just nuts. You don’t know how long this drama will last or how it will play out. And, frankly, it’s really not any of your business. Aside from the fact that Dan is an old friend and his girlfriend is someone you are fond of, this scandal has zero to do with you. And you should keep it that way.

What you should NOT to, besides turn down a job because of someone else’s personal issues, is tell Ana the gossip you heard. For all you know, she’s already aware of what’s going on. Maybe, like you and Phil, she and Dan will get through this cheating and still manage to have a happy relationship together. Maybe they’ll even get married. And will their marriage be of lesser value because they had some infidelity issues early on? Is yours? Probably not. You might even argue that you’re closer because you worked together to overcome some challenges in your relationship.

Give Dan and Ana the chance to figure this out on their own, without you meddling in. Maybe they will work through it like you did. And maybe they won’t. Maybe Dan calling Ana a ‘safe choice’ was something he felt in the moment and shared with someone he thought he could trust. Maybe it doesn’t really mean that much. People say stuff all the time about how they feel in a particular moment that doesn’t represent how they feel on a day-to-day basis. Maybe he’s in lust with this co-worker and it’s clouding his judgment. Maybe he will come to his senses and realize Ana is for him. Or maybe he’ll realize she isn’t and give her the courtesy of letting her go before he marries her.

But it’s not your problem and it’s not your place to butt in.

If you are offered a job at Dan’s place of business and you have to work with this woman he’s allegedly having an affair with, be professional. Treat her like you’d treat any other colleague. Because you don’t know the whole story. You don’t even know most of it. All you know is what you heard second-hand from someone who may or may not have ulterior motives of his own (because, really, what kind of friend goes blabbing such a personal story like the one Dan shared, and what kind of friend is he to you to put you in such a awkward position when all you want is a better job?).

In the mean time, lay off on the regular socializing with Dan and Ana until this either blows over or you have some more direct information that can better inform your behavior and the kind of boundaries that would be appropriate to set with Dan. Don’t go asking Dan about all this; let him come to you if he wants. And if he doesn’t, try to move on. If Dan wanted your input, he would talk to you directly.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

21 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ktfran May 29, 2013, 9:35 am

    You know what drives me nuts? You’re chatting with a friend and you make an offhand comment, which then becomes fact. For instance, I once made a remark that I’m not big into hugs. The friend I said this to now tells everyone that I hate hugs when they go in for the goodbye hug. It annoys me.

    Wendy’s “safe choice” paragraph reminded me of this. Anyway . . . I was 100% ready to call Dan a total d-bag and to tell Ana about his transgressions and I’m one of the commenters on here that usually says to but out. However, I think Wendy is right. I wouldn’t do anything. Why did this friend tell you all of this, LW? You don’t know anything for sure, only what you have heard second hand. That’s why I wouldn’t do anything. Dan and Ana’s business is not yours. You’re not as close anymore so you have no idea what’s going on. Dan still may be a total d-bag, but that’s for Ana to figure out. Also, I’m not sure about this friend who is gossiping. I don’t trust him.

    Finally, I would take the job. Don’t let others transgressions or gossip ruin your chance at a more fulfulling career.

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    • avatar

      sophronisba May 29, 2013, 9:43 am

      Totally. Stay away from the blabber and away from this drama. Even if you were super-tight with Dan and Ana, which you are not, it would have nothing to do with you. Rise above and go for the job you want.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 29, 2013, 9:50 am

      One more thing. How do you know this work girl chased Dan? More likely, if he’s cheating, it started off as innocent flirting from BOTH parties and turned into more. I mean really. It’s all hearsay.

      I like sophro’s comment. Rise above! That should be another DWism.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph May 29, 2013, 10:23 am

      “Also, I’m not sure about this friend who is gossiping. I don’t trust him.”

      This is the biggest take away for me. Don’t be friends with this guy anymore. He has just demonstrated that he’s either a lying drama queen or a blabbermouth that can’t be trusted. Either way, not someone I’d want to be friends with. What should you do? Nothing about Dan and Ana, but I’d pull a slow fade out on this other friend before he goes spreading lies, half-truths, or secrets about me.

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  • avatar

    ackgirl May 29, 2013, 9:41 am

    Stay out of it LW. By the way YOU are not caught in the middle of a cheating scandal, Dan, Ana, and this other woman are. If Dan asks you to lie for him simply refuse to and don’t get more involved in this clusterfuck than you already are. If you are offered the job, and you think it will work well for you, then take it, but stay clear of getting ensnared in workplace drama and gossip. As for Ana- She already knows something is terribly wrong, she doesn’t need you to tell her. Whether she listens to her gut or not is not up to you. Since you care about her, maintain the friendship with her whether she stays with Dan or not.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary May 29, 2013, 9:58 am

    Wonderful advice, Wendy. Wanna hear a fun story about gossip and cheating? At one point in college, after my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, he had been dating someone new for like 6-7 months. We weren’t even talking or spending time together. Occasionally I would run into him and our mutual friends at the bars, I would say hi, and then go back to my friends. Some random girl I never met took it upon herself to tell my ex’s current girlfriend that she saw me and my ex making out at a bar. I wasn’t even in that location that night…so how that happened I’m pretty unsure. She did all of this to start drama. So then my ex’s girlfriend thinks he’s cheating on her, there’s a rumor that I’m cheating on MY current boyfriend, and everyone thinks I’m a slut. And not one bit of it was true. Oh…and the whole thing ended with me having such a scary freak out on the girl that I got kicked out of a club. So, that’s what rumors about cheating can do. Stay the fuck out of this situation.

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    • avatar

      Marjoralynnia May 29, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Fun story indeed (in the retelling, not at the time, I’m sure). How did things sort out for you? Did it cause trouble for you and your boyfriend, or was it pretty easy to disprove/brush off?

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary May 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

        My boyfriend was fine, my ex’s girlfriend constantly suspected cheating from him after that and they eventually broke up. I mean it was ridiculous because it wasn’t even partially true. It caused more strain with random acquaintances who believed the lying girl and then would call me a slut. One of them was dating a friend of mine at the time, and he kicked her out of his house when she started talking shit on me. I got really worked up over it. I had never been a victim of gossip like that before and if you are going to talk shit on me I want it to be true (and there are enough true things that I’ve done to gossip about). I actually avoided going to a party recently (this story happened 4 YEARS ago) because I didn’t want to run into anyone like that.

        But, everyone thought I was a badass after I got kicked out of a club for flipping out on this liar in a club (oh and I was sober at the time). I was SO embarassed but everyone thought it was cool?

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 29, 2013, 4:16 pm

        I would have thought you were freaking awesome for doing that. My friend’s sister was sober and her sister-in-law said something truly awful to her … and she punched her in the face and pulled out an earring. lol I saw the whole thing and was super impressed.

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  • avatar

    Scooze May 29, 2013, 10:01 am

    Act like you don’t know anything. Because you don’t.

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser May 29, 2013, 10:08 am

    “he’s been fighting with Ana, who suspects his infidelity”. If she wants to know, she will. Their relationship will follow its natural course without your intervention.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay May 29, 2013, 10:28 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with Wendy. The way you wrote this post really stood out to me. I felt sort of like I was reading the plot of some kind of TV drama, with all the twists and turns, and there was a whole lot of “I” in there. I think that you’re creating a lot of unnecessary drama for yourself and making this situation all about you when it’s really not. I understand being sad that someone you like may be being cheated on, but based on your own description, you aren’t even THAT close to Ana or as close as you used to be with Dan. I wouldn’t think it would cause you so much pain that it would affect your career choices or your ability to be professional with the woman at work.

    Like the others said, I’d just stay away from it. Distance yourself from Dan, don’t get involved in gossip at work, and don’t try to relay the gossip you do hear to Ana.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson May 29, 2013, 10:40 am

    I win DW! My answer was to butt out and not turn down a potentially great opportunity for a bunch of he said she said bullshit. So weird that that was even a possibility.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl May 29, 2013, 11:17 am

    It always amazes me that so many people insert themselves into other people’s drama.

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  • lemongrass

    lemongrass May 29, 2013, 11:23 am

    MYOB

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser May 29, 2013, 11:27 am

    Has anyone ever noticed that when you’re really engaged in your own issues (positive or negative), you don’t even notice the drama going on around you? I think we engage in gossip when we’re bored.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 29, 2013, 11:41 am

      YES!

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  • Brown-eyed NoVA Girl

    Brown-eyed NoVA Girl May 29, 2013, 11:41 am

    LW, this other friends sounds like they are stuck in high school and want attention. I would avoid this person, or if that is impossible, don’t react to anything they say so as not to encourage.

    To quote a great work of cinematic genious: “That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.”

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  • avatar

    Turtledove May 29, 2013, 12:38 pm

    It’s also worth noting that Dan hasn’t involved you in this. You knew nothing until the rumor mill got around to you. It’s entirely likely that Dan thought he was telling his friend something in confidence and you never would have known about this. If you get involved, it’s because you’re involving yourself based on gossip, but you’re not stuck in the middle because neither Dan nor Ana has put you there.

    I would take the job. My mother is an inveterate gossip, I learned early on that I don’t know anything unless the person directly involved tells me. Not knowing is easy. You read a book or watch TV and then make yourself sing “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island” every time you get the urge to talk about it. If Dan does try to talk to you about it, or even ask you to lie about it, it’s easy to stay uninvolved. Tell him no, you’re not a good person to discuss this with and you’re not going to be involved in any cover-up.

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  • avatar

    Sheryl May 29, 2013, 12:46 pm

    If this was a bff, I would probably get involved and (after confirming the truth), either confront the cheating party, or tell the victim directly (depending on who i was more loyal to, and the situation). I’m of the belief that the worst part is to be ‘in the dark’, and I think most of my nearest & dearest feel the same way (but they are my nearest & dearest, so I KNOW this about them!)

    However, since this is not a bff, I would stay out and just try to get the job, which seems to be a really good opportunity. It is more important at this point than preserving these relationships, which really only seem to be luke warm. Plus, you really only know everyone involved ‘casually’ at this point and may not be able to form an opinion of ‘what is best’ for those people (assuming that the rumors are even true).

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  • Heather

    Heather May 29, 2013, 1:31 pm

    IF everything this person told you was true, which you admitted that you don’t even trust him, I can appreciate how you feel it is your place to let Ana know. I can at least see where you’re coming from. I had a boyfriend dump me, and it turns out he was cheating on me with my best friend at the time and EVERYONE knew about it but didn’t want to tell me. I remember being so livid with all of them that no one had the decency to say anything.

    HOWEVER. I can still understand that it was a situation they didn’t want to be in, and they were stuck between a rock and a hard place really.

    If you knew for an absolute fact that Dan was cheating on her and that all of this was true, then that kind of changes things in my opinion. But you don’t. And what if it isn’t true? Stay out of it. No good can come out of this by getting involved. I understand why you feel you need to, but just don’t.

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