Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Best Friend Stole My Boyfriend!”

Recently, I found out that my best friend, “Kate,” (she’s more like my sister) has been sneaking around behind my back with my ex-boyfriend and lying to me about who she’s with. I’ve been like family with her for about three years now. To backtrack a little, I met this guy, “Rob,” at college about six months ago and instantly had a connection and attraction to him. It’s not hard for me to attract a guy, but it’s hard for me to find a guy I’m really into. We had been on and off, though my feelings for him never wavered. Kate knew how much I felt for him. She even told me that he doesn’t seem worth it. Recently, Rob and I reconciled after he told me he missed me and wanted to try it again. Kate was visiting for the weekend at my college and I introduced her to Rob and we hung out the entire extended weekend along with one of his friends. Kate and Rob hit it off and everything was great–until I caught her texting him the day she was supposed to leave.

My first thought was: how does she have his number? I looked over her shoulder and saw flirty texts between the two of them. Needless to say, I was angry! I got into a huge fight with her and ignored my boyfriend for a week because I was so hurt. She told him about our argument, and now, three weeks later, he has ghosted me and I come to find out that he has been hanging out with Kate! And she’s been lying to me about whom she’s been out with. I confronted her again about it and she got him involved, having him text me to tell me that I’m out of line. To be honest, I’m hurt by him but I’m REALLY hurt that she would do this to me knowing my feelings for him.

I don’t know if I should cut off contact with both of them. I don’t think they’d care that much. Or should I act like a mature adult and like I don’t care even though I’m hurt and I do care? I just don’t know if I want to completely lose her, but I also don’t know if I’ll ever trust her again as a friend. Friends don’t hurt you like this. — Betrayed By My Best Friend

I don’t think you are a mature adult, though. I don’t think any of you are. And I don’t mean that as a slam against you. You simply sound like a group of college kids acting like college kids. You’re acting like six months of being off-and-on means something important when it really… doesn’t. And Kate’s acting like it’s no big deal that she lied to your face about moving in on your boyfriend when you were still with him and… regardless of how rocky or short your relationship with him might have been, that’s super uncool and shady of Kate. And Rob! Well, he’s just playing the both of you, getting all his cake and eating it, too.

Here’s the thing: It’s probably not going to work out with Rob and Kate for very long. If they truly liked each other and had any respect for you, they’d be doing more to ease tension with you, paving the way for all three of you to get along ok and for you to eventually accept them together. But they aren’t doing that. Kate’s acting like you’re crazy, and Rob didn’t even have the decency to have a proper breakup with you. He ghosted you! He’s a tool. But he must be a charismatic tool, because you, who says it’s hard for you to “find a guy you’re really into,” fell for him, and so did your best friend who’s like a sister to you. She fell for him so hard, she risked losing her sister-friend over some flirty texts, so Rob must have something going for him — something that college girls who aren’t quite mature adults yet are attracted to.

Well, it’s not gonna last. Rob will ghost Kate in a few weeks (a few months, tops), just like he’s ghosted you, and then you’ll have a choice: Take Kate back and work though this betrayal in your friendship when both of you fell victim to the “charms” of Rob. Or, turn your back on her and let her go. (Just to be clear: I would have ZERO, NOTHING, NADA to do with Rob, now or in the future; he’s a jerk).

One day you will be a mature adult. And it’s going to be experiences like these that give you the perspective you’ll need to make mature decisions. You’re going to realize that to be human is to be flawed. To be a friend is to be an imperfect friend. To love, is to love imperfectly. None of us — not Kate, not you, not anyone (regardless of age or maturity)–is the perfect friend or companion or boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse or parent to the people we love. We make decisions and say things that hurt the people we care about most. We betray them sometimes. We disappoint them. We fail to keep up our ends of the bargain. What being a mature adult asks of us, though, is to decide when such betrayals and disappointments and failures cross a line and when it’s time to let go of — or simply change the structure of — relationships that no longer serve us, emotionally. (What being a mature adult also demands of us is to recognize when we are the ones in the wrong and to apologize genuinely then.)

You can practice being a mature adult now. You can decide to forgive Kate for betraying you. You can shift the nature of your friendship and think of this as a “trial period” to see how her relationship with your ex-boyfriend impacts things. Maybe you’ll decide you cannot accept it and you no longer want Kate in your life. Maybe, in time, you’ll be able to forgive her (I imagine this will be easier to do once she is no longer involved with Rob, which I think will be sooner rather than later) and your friendship can continue, albeit with a little of the luster tarnished a bit. Also, in time, you may find that it’s often the tarnishes — the cracks and the scratches — in the finish of a friendship or relationship that give it depth and character. But these tarnishes are also often what end a friendship, too.

How will you know, how will you decide which way your friendship will go? Listen to your gut, and prioritize your heart’s desires over your ego’s needs. The very tricky part is to balance all of this with appropriate boundary-setting and not letting yourself be taken advantage of and walked all over. When you can do this, then you can call yourself a mature adult. And I bet at that point it won’t be guys like Rob catching your attention anymore. It will be the good and decent guys you’re probably busy ignoring right now.

30 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Northern Star May 11, 2017, 9:50 am

    GREAT answer. I hope the LW takes it to heart.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark May 11, 2017, 10:15 am

    It amazes me how many LW’s always lash out and bitterly blame the other woman — when, REALLY, if it hadn’t been Kate it would have just been somebody else. Seriously. ANYBODY else… Rob must be mighty fine…

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover May 11, 2017, 10:24 am

      I didn’t get that she was blaming Kate, but rather that she felt betrayed by her supposed best friend flirting with her bf. In the same situation, where I’m much closer to my friend than I am with my on-again-off-again-maybe-bf, I’d be angrier with my friend than my bf too. If the situation were my best friend and husband, I’d be furious with both but feel more betrayed by my husband.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark May 11, 2017, 10:28 am

        Eh, your friend isn’t banging you. Blame the person banging you when they decide to bang somebody else. If people simply did this — they’d waste a whole lot less of their lives banging jerks. Just saying…

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover May 11, 2017, 10:44 am

        Well in this case, if they weren’t exclusive (which it doesn’t sound like they were), the dude didn’t really do anything wrong. He’s allowed to flirt with other people. But Kate knew how into him LW was, and went after him anyway. You think it’s cool for people to try to hook up with the guys their friends are seeing? If that’s the kind of friendships you have, where everyone just sleeps around and it’s no big deal if you bang a friend’s partner, then that’s fine for you. But I don’t think that’s very common.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark May 11, 2017, 11:24 am

        True. The RUSH to monotony — er, monogomy seems misplaced here especially.

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    • avatar

      kat15 May 11, 2017, 12:37 pm

      “Blame the person banging you when they decide to bang somebody else. If people simply did this — they’d waste a whole lot less of their lives banging jerks”
      Truer words never spoken . . .

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph May 11, 2017, 3:16 pm

        I think it’s reasonable to place some of the blame on your BEST FRIEND. A random Other Woman owes you nothing, but your best friend?! She does share some of the blame. Maybe the lion share where it’s your like-a-sister friend vs some dude you’ve been off and on with for 6 stupid months.

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  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover May 11, 2017, 10:27 am

    Also, just to add to Wendy’s answer about what mature adults do – in your letter you made it an either/or between cutting them out of your life and being a mature adult. Sometimes, depending on the situation, cutting them out of your life IS the best thing for a mature adult to do. And acting like you don’t care when you really do is almost never the mature thing to do. Not with people you love and are close to and want to keep in your life. Talking about it is generally the more mature way to deal with things.

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  • avatar

    Janelle May 11, 2017, 11:07 am

    I do agree that a friend getting together with an ex/on and off/whatever can hurt your feelings, likely more your pride, but you do not own any man you have been with. You barely dated in the long run. A mature adult understands that people should end up with the right person for them. A person isn’t off limits because you dated them. Like Wendy said, this is college behavior, which is fine, you are in college. Just realize that this is not how adults behave (or should) and that a.) Rob would’ve been gone soon enough anyway and b.) even though Kate is a great friend to you in the past, a lot, a TON of childhood friends don’t continue as you move on with life. There’s a pretty good chance you’d have lost contact in time anyway.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 11, 2017, 11:47 am

      IDK, if I was on/off with a guy, I’d be more than upset if my friend made a move on him. I would have been upset then. And I’d be upset now.

      If it were just a crush, that’s a different story. But the LW apparently had some kind of relationship with this guy that she thought was “on” when he and her friend flirted/made their move. That’s pretty crappy friend behavior. At a minimum, make sure they’re off!

      Regardless, WWS and dump this guy!

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      • avatar

        Seriously? Seriously! May 12, 2017, 9:29 am

        Re: “now,” I think it might depend on the availability of quality men. If you live in a big city and You and your friends in a position to date a fairly unlimited pool and it’s al fairly casual, then maybe. But when there’s a fairly limited social scene, and people are looking for life partners, one has to realize that it is a numbers game, and everyone is looking for the right match, regardless of who “liked” or saw whom “first.” I agree that it can be a little awkward to be around each other when you start dating someone that your friends dated, but if they didn’t last, there was a reason for it, and that reason may not be applicable to your relationship. I think this understanding of “it’s ok that we didn’t work out”is the “maturity” that people are referencing — the lack of taking it personally and feeling possessive over something that you don’t actually have (anymore).

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 12, 2017, 10:09 am

        I agree with you in most cases. But in this case, the LW stated that she thought she was back “on” with this dude. It wasn’t a matter of just liking him. Or seeing him first. It sounds like he led her to believe they are in some kind of relationship.

        A good friend wouldn’t flirt and pursue something with a dude who is supposedly seeing her friend. I mean, at least wait until you know they’re “off.” That’s some behind the back business going on.

        Like I said, if it were a crush situation, or they were truly broken up, or whatever, all is fair.

        This is coming from someone who had interest in or crushes on men in the past and for whatever reason, liked a friend better. I got over it fast because you know, who was I to get in the way? One friend and dude are still married 15 years later. Obviously, they were the right match.

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    • Copa

      Copa May 11, 2017, 2:09 pm

      Something similar to this happened to me when I was in college. (A guy I had been dating for a short period of time and my roommate started dating behind my back after I introduced them.) It hurt my pride, but it also hurt my feelings a lot because the two of them and a third good friend told a lot of lies so I wouldn’t find out.
      .
      I do wish I’d handled it better than I did, though to be honest I didn’t know how to handle it at the time. My suggestion in this situation is to cut Rob out of your life entirely because he sucks. As for Kate, I think she did a crappy thing — I think it’s an unwritten rule of friendship that you don’t pursue someone your friend is dating — and if I were you, I’d distance myself. No more fighting, yelling, or arguing over the situation. Once you’ve had some time and space, you can decide with a clear head if Kate is someone worth keeping in your life.
      .
      FWIW, I don’t think I could stay close friends with someone who acted like this. If that makes me immature, that’s fine.

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  • avatar

    csp May 11, 2017, 11:15 am

    Maybe I am not as mature as I should be. Your guy is a tool so lose him. But a friend who does this is not a friend. Good quote: “Fool me once, shame on them. Fool me twice, shame on me. Seriously, I would ghost both of them. If Katie wants to be friends again, it is on her to make amends. You can decide later if that is worth it but honestly, you need to be able to trust your friends.

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  • avatar

    Ron May 11, 2017, 11:29 am

    I’d find it easier to be sympathetic to LW if she didn’t throw in the brag that it’s easy for her to attract guy, but difficult to find those who meet her exacting standards. Then she throws out this guy and describes her obvious role in his life. The guy is an obvious player and LW clearly is the ready reserve he returns to, whenever he’s having a short dry spell. So, she’s on-again, off-again in a very short amount of time with a guy who lacks the decency to tell her it’s off again, before banging her best friend. As long as you are willing to be his ready reserve, you’ll have many on-again, off-agains during periods when you are his best option and before he finds somebody who interests him more in the moment. He is into the college experimental explore and have lots of sex mode. You seem to think you had more than that with him. You didn’t.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark May 11, 2017, 12:03 pm

    Admittedly — my only living icon is VERY guilty of singing (wonderfully bitchy) about this…
    .
    New Advice. LW? Find this song. Listen to it. Its fabulous!!
    .
    Here she comes
    Little miss thinks she can have
    What she wants
    In a blink of an eye

    Here she comes
    Acts like she’s your bestfriend
    When you turn your back
    and she’s off with your guy…

    She’s a
    Thief of Hearts
    What will happen to the
    Thief of Hearts
    What she does is a crime
    She’s a
    Thief of Hearts
    Someone please arrest her
    She’s a
    Thief of Hearts
    No one ever takes what’s mine

    And gets away with it
    Not this time…

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  • avatar

    Ashley May 11, 2017, 2:00 pm

    This is what caught my attention. “I ignored him for a week, then he ghosted me.” NO. Thats not how this works. You can’t be boyfriend and girlfriend when it best suits your needs and puts you in the best light. If someone ignores me for a week I’m gonna assume we’re off, and I bet your “boyfriend” thought the same thing. I put bf in apostrophes because i doubt you were ever actually that serious. You may as well learn now that you stoop to the level of the people you surround yourself with. If you don’t want to be a bitchy, whiny, backstabber who can’t even figure out if they are in a relationship or not, then quit messing around with douchebags like rob and your friend.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark May 11, 2017, 2:44 pm

      Hah! This detail is hilarious! It was a mutual ghosting it seems…

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  • avatar

    Brise May 11, 2017, 2:14 pm

    Sorry about this, it hurts indeed. Later, you will learn never to let an other woman coming so close to your man. No more “entire extended week-end” with your boyfriend and a friend, don’t do that. This guy wasn’t the man of your life anyway. And this friend: let her go, you can’t trust her. You will find a man you can trust and girlfriends who have your back. Be sincere and loyal and generous too, this will help having good people around you. Good luck!

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover May 11, 2017, 2:54 pm

      ….what? In a good relationship you don’t have to keep women away from “your man”. He stays because he wants to. Wtf?

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 11, 2017, 3:18 pm

        Oh RR, of course you do. Chain him up! You didn’t know that?

        I’ve also stopped occasionally grabbing lunch with one of my close friends because he’s – omg – a male and I’m an engaged woman now. You know, because Pence doesn’t think males/females should dine together alone.

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  • avatar

    Susan May 11, 2017, 2:23 pm

    Hmm, he’a shown what he is but so has your so called friend. No matter the ages, I wouldn’t do that to a friend at any age. She is no friend of yours, trust me, she will do this to you again and again.

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  • avatar

    Dovies May 11, 2017, 3:02 pm

    I’m torn. On one hand, 6 months does not a lasting relationship make and if you were on and off, it really wasn’t all that serious. Plus, just because you and your ex weren’t compatible doesn’t mean your ex and your friend aren’t. On the other hand, she shouldn’t have gone after him if you were in a relationship with him.

    This reminds me of a situation I know of with some people I knew in high school. Its a long story from what I know of it but essentially, Persons A and B divorced and Person C is dating B. A and C knew each other back in high school but weren’t particularly close. A is wanting all of us to take her side in the fallout but knowing what each have told me over the years, I don’t think B or C are bad people. It’s unfortunate but they may just be more compatible.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph May 11, 2017, 3:37 pm

    Is she really like a sister to you? My sister and I spent most of our childhood at odds, and even did fight over a couple boys in HS. But she’s still family and even when we don’t like each other we love each other. If she were really like your sister, your relationship could survive this little speed bump. She didn’t steal your husband or your soulmate, she stole some douchey on-again-off-again dude and inadvertently did you a favor by helping you move on from him.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros May 11, 2017, 3:54 pm

    I’m a little confused by the situation. You talk about him like you guys were just casually seeing each other, but then you call him your boyfriend. Were you in a relationship? I understand being hurt that your friend went after a guy you had feelings for, but I’m having trouble understanding exactly how far this went. Is this like a “he cheated on you with her” thing or is it just that he shifted from casually seeing her to casually seeing?

    My advice and views on this are directly tied to what you guys were to each other. If you were in a relationship and he started seeing your friend while you were exclusive, then that’s a big deal. If you, knowing that he was like FWB to you, watched him go off with your friend, that sucks, but it sort of comes with the territory of being involved with someone in that way.

    I don’t necessarily think deciding whether to be cool with this or not has much to do with maturity. I think it’s OK to be like “hey, you poached the guy I was seeing” (maybe not say it, but think it) to a friend. That said, I had a friend who did similar stuff and at first, I stopped speaking to hear, but after college, I realized that our shared history mattered more to me. Especially once I realized that as an adult, she couldn’t really impact my life anymore — any guy who runs off with your friend wasn’t going to stick around very long anyway.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 11, 2017, 4:00 pm

    I’d be done with both of them. No need to be mean or bitchy about it but I wouldn’t be a close friend with either of them. No one needs friends like that.

    Giving your boyfriend the silent treatment for a week is immature. Giving him the silent treatment means you broke up without telling him and if that isn’t the message you intended to send then you messed up. He wasn’t worth keeping but you should have told him you were through and that the two of you wouldn’t have any more on phases. I know of someone whose fiance recently gave him the silent treatment for a week and he broke up with her. Anyone who refuses to talk while in a relationship is too immature to be in a relationship. She was trying to manipulate him into doing something that she wanted and which he had already agreed to do but she gave him the silent treatment for extra emphasis. The silent treatment is manipulative.

    When you find yourself on and off with a guy it is a sign that the two of you don’t work and you should place him permanently in the off category. There is no future to an on and off relationship so you may as well get to off and stay at off.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 12, 2017, 10:31 am

    A person’s real moral values are the choices they make when they think no one is looking. What someone does when they can do anything. You’ve seen the real values of both Kate and Rob and if those values aren’t compatible with your life then cut them out of it. When you cut people like Rob and Kate out of your life you find that the level of drama drops drastically and your life improves when you are surrounded by solid friends that you can count on to be there for you and who would never stab you in the back. Learn to be picky when choosing friends and very picky when choosing a partner.

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  • avatar

    Jessica Leila June 18, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Hello! In the first place, the two do not have any consideration for you. After all, she chose to hide the truth from you than to tell you what was happening. The best thing to do is to stop and think quietly about everything that has happened. If you consider her as your good friend, try to speak to her question all that happened and why she did not tell you. I think friendship is mostly made by trust and if, after this conversation, you realize that she really doesn’t regret to move on. Because people always come and go, but the ones that really matter to you help you grow and be happy, continue. Your ex-boyfriend simply forgets, if he really liked and respected you, he would not have done it. You’ll find someone right who really loves you. Bye – Jessica Leila

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  • avatar

    Paulo June 22, 2017, 6:12 am

    In my opinion the best thing to do is to go ahead with your life, if your “best friend” did that to you of course she does not deserve your suffering. Your Ex-boyfriend is also wrong but you know him for less time than you know her, so she is a kind of monster who doesn’t have feelings. I think you should forget both, do not be angry with them, just kind of ignore, do not care about them and move on your life.

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