Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Best Friend is Setting Herself Up for Disaster”

Literally, since the day I was born “Kathy” and I were best friends. Like all friendships, we’ve been there for each other through the hardest times of our lives, and of course, the best! As an only child, she’s been like a sister to me. Anyway, about five years ago, Kathy started cheating on her boyfriend, and baby’s father, with her boss from work, who also happened to be married. I told her from day one that I didn’t think this was a good idea, but she insisted she loved this man, so I just turned a blind eye. I never hid the fact that I didn’t approve of the relationship, but I also never brought it up unless asked.

Well, here we are, five years later, and she is still seeing this married man. In the last year, his wife found out and left him, though never filed for divorced. Kathy found out this married man not only had a wife, but a girlfriend of almost a decade!! The girlfriend knew nothing of the wife or Kathy until Kathy called her and spilled the beans. Secretly, I was hoping this would be it, this would be the end of it and Kathy would finally see that this guy is no good. Boy, was I wrong.

This morning, in my normal routine of coffee and reading Facebook, I see Kathy has updated her status that she is moving TODAY and is starting a new life. Well, this was news to me, so I send her a text to find out what’s going on. Turns out, she’s moving moving in with this married man two hours away, bringing her 7-year-old daughter along with her. I don’t agree with this at all, and voiced my opinion on the matter. Kathy told me she didn’t tell me because I don’t support the relationship and she is surrounding herself with people who do. So here I am: completely hurt, shocked, and beside myself that Kathy would throw away a 30-year friendship like this.

Am I wrong for voicing my opinion? This is not only going to change her life, but also that of her 7-year-old daughter. I honestly feel like she’s setting herself up for disaster, and was pushed away because I voiced the opinion that no one else would. — Pushed Aside

If I’m reading right, in the five years since you first mentioned your disapproval of your friend’s relationship, you’ve “turned a blind eye” to what you consider a disaster for her and her young daughter. If that’s truly the case, your friend has only your initial expression of disapproval and your silence on the topic to assume you still don’t support her relationship. And in that event, I wouldn’t think you were wrong in voicing your opinion about her sudden plan to move her daughter and herself two hours away to live with this no-good guy.

If, however, your eye hasn’t been so blind and your voice hasn’t been so quiet, and this is a topic that has proven to be a source of tension between you and your friend, you probably over-stepped your boundaries by mentioning your disappointment in her decision. Clearly, your friend knows how you feel, and if that knowing is based on more than her general intuition and some comments you made five years ago – if, for example, you’ve rolled your eyes or made snide remarks when she talks about her boyfriend — you’ve probably said enough at this point. Because, while it makes sense you would worry about such a close and long-time friend — as well as her daughter — the fact remains that it’s not your life. She’s a grown woman who is capable of making decisions for herself and her daughter. You may not agree with those decisions, but it’s not your place to make them for her.

Furthermore, the decisions she’s making right now don’t have anything to do with you. Her deciding to move in with her boyfriend — as much as you disapprove of that — does not equal her “throwing away a 30-year friendship” with you. You’re linking these two things in your head that are not connected in reality. Her life is not an extension of your friendship. So, why don’t you tell her that? Tell her that while you don’t approve of her relationship, your friendship has and will always remain very dear and important to you. Remind her that your love for her is not contingent on her making decisions you agree with, because if you’re sad about the state of your friendship, just imagine how she must feel. If she’s decided to only align herself with people who “support her,” then your disapproval of her relationship must feel like a personal rejection of her as a friend. If that isn’t the case, then tell her so. Don’t let this stupid relationship she has with this prize of a guy become some sort of statement on your friendship. Isn’t thirty years together worth more than that?

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

87 comments… add one
  • Christina June 7, 2011, 7:39 am

    Very good point, Wendy! I wasn’t thinking of it that way until I read your answer. I have a friend who has made some decisions the last few years that I don’t understand and would have made differently myself. I had to keep remembering that she wasn’t asking my opinion. She never did once. Our friendship got a lot closer and easier when I remembered that. The friendship is separate from my opinion of how she handles her romantic relationships.

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    • Brooklyn June 7, 2011, 6:43 pm

      Same here. I didn’t look at it that way at all. In fact, I generally try to keep friends who have similar moral values to myself. In the past I was BFF with a girl who had a secret affair with her sister’s BF. When I found out, I no longer trusted her.
      Is this wrong? Maybe I was wrong to judge.

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      • bittergaymark June 7, 2011, 7:05 pm

        Um, sorry, but how could you trust somebody like that? How could you not judge them? Carrying on with your own sister’s boyfriend is like the lowest of the low. Seriously.

      • Christina June 7, 2011, 9:24 pm

        Well in the case with my friend I didn’t have major moral differences with her, she just treated relationships differently that I would have. She fell in love fast and often, over-texted, wondered why they backed off, moved before she had enough money, then moved in with a guy quickly….I could see what was coming but she always seemed surprised. It was really hard not to give advice or judge her decisions for awhile but they weren’t my decisions to make.
        Your former BFF sounds like her moral compass sent her way outside of trustworthy friend territory for you. I understand why you would end your friendship with her.

  • ReginaRey June 7, 2011, 8:12 am

    As Wendy said, this doesn’t mean you have to end your friendship with her. In fact, I think you should continue to try hard to maintain it, because if (and very likely WHEN) this relationship with a man with TWO OTHER relationships ends, she’s going to need someone who genuinely loves and cares for her to help her pick up the pieces. Also, it seems like her young and impressionable daughter could use a positive, stable role model…since it’s not clear whether her mother is doing the best job of giving her a stable life right now. I think you’ll be very glad one day that you kept the bond.

    Also, total aside for those who asked to be kept updated…I just started a weekly gig writing a relationship column on the brand new site The Morton Report (founded by bestselling biographer Andrew Morton). My first article was published yesterday, check it out! http://www.themortonreport.com/celebrity/reality/why-kim-kardashians-quickie-engagement-is-a-bad-idea/
    My weekly column will appear on Mondays. I also have a couple more Frisky articles being published in the next week or two. I’ll be sharing links to all my writing on Twitter – @MissRachelEast. Follow me if you’d like! Thanks for all of the support, DW friends! 🙂

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    • _jsw_ June 7, 2011, 8:31 am


      However, do you honestly think there are enough relationship problems to support two advice columns? Wendy deals with a dozen or so every single week here. There are more?

      😉 <- added just to be sure

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      • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 8:35 am

        Sadly, there probably are! Congrats ReginaRey!

      • ReginaRey June 7, 2011, 9:02 am

        Haha, thanks! And while I won’t be giving outright advice to LW’s, I’m sure the wealth of relationship problems in the world will continue to recycle, which is good for all of us who so enjoy working through other people’s problems! 😉

      • SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 2:36 pm

        Congrats Regina Rey!
        I definitely have room in my life (and twitter feed) for two awesome advice giving ladies!

    • PFG-SCR June 7, 2011, 9:14 am

      Why did two people give you a thumbs down?? Are some people so petty here that they don’t like when others have something to celebrate? Seriously, I don’t understand this.

      Congratulations, ReginaRey, that’s awesome!!! I’ll follow you on Twitter to keep up with your articles!

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      • ReginaRey June 7, 2011, 9:16 am

        Thanks, PFG-SCR! I’m not sure if they’re thumbing down my opinion about the letter, or my news…I rather hope it’s my fleeting and arbitrary opinion and not my writing news. Either way, I very much appreciate your support!

      • _jsw_ June 7, 2011, 10:41 am

        FYI, as I think I’ve mentioned before, it is really easy to hi the wrong thumb if browsing on a mobile device, and you cannot correct the vote, and it might not be easy to write in to mention that you’d made a mistake, so sometimes those thumbs down are supposed to be thumbs up. Too bad there’s not a bit more separation between them.

      • _jsw_ June 7, 2011, 10:41 am

        “hi” -> “hit”

      • ReginaRey June 7, 2011, 10:48 am

        Thanks for your confidence that some people might have made a mistake, _jsw_. But either way, purple thumbs are a part of life, I suppose! Though I do think some people might take issue with my opinion that the LW’s friend might not be the most responsible parent…or maybe they think I’m shamelessly trying to self-promote on DW?? I don’t know…I had a fair number of regular readers ask me to keep them updated on my published writing, so I did!

        Oh, and for those who wanted to know…my name now links to Twitter, where I’ll post links to all of my writing. 🙂

      • TaraMonster June 7, 2011, 10:24 am

        Honestly! I thought the same thing. Congrats, ReginaRey and forget about the haters. 🙂

      • ReginaRey June 7, 2011, 10:34 am

        Speaking of haters, whenever I feel discouraged I pull this up on my computer…makes me laugh every time. I’m considering printing it out and taping it to my office wall, to serve as a reminder haha!


      • TaraMonster June 7, 2011, 10:49 am

        hahahaa… oh thank you for that!!

        _jsw_ does have a point about those accidental thumbs down. I know I’ve done it on my phone before ::shame face::: I just thought there were a few too many for it to be accidental.

      • _jsw_ June 7, 2011, 10:57 am

        I’m sure that it’s not just accidental taps, but I think a few of them are accidents.

        The rest are just from cold, evil people. 😉

    • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 12:00 pm

      Absolutely. The one thing that stuck out in my mind when reading this letter is, oh that poor little girl. The LW should do everything she can to maintain her friendship, if nothing more than for the child. While we have no idea what kind of mother the friend is on the whole, this little girl is getting a pretty poor model of what a stable, healthy relationship should look like. If the LW alienates the mother, that little girl could lose her only positive role model.

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  • Desiree June 7, 2011, 8:38 am

    “She’s a grown woman who is capable of making decisions for herself and her daughter.” Actually, no; she is clearly NOT capable of doing that. However, she still has the right to make decisions for herself-right and ability are separate issues here, and that is what the LW has to remember. Her friend has the right, as an independent adult, to make whatever choices she wants (assuming they do not legally harm her daughter). The woman is clearly in a terrible relationship that will likely harm her and set a horrid example for her daughter, but that’s besides the point. The LW needs to decide, though: either accept the relationship or lose the friendship. Her in-between of occasional disapproval is obviously unsustainable. I personally would not wish to be so close to an imploding situation, but then I don’t personally know the great memories and warm camaraderie between these two. Certainly I have stood by friend while they have made some dumb choices, and they have returned the favor. So, LW, just decide, and then stick to it. You can only control yourself here. Random: does anyone think it fishy that the guy’s girlfriend of ten years didn’t know about his WIFE or other mistress?

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    • Wendy June 7, 2011, 9:05 am

      I respectfully disagree with you. Unless she is in a coma or has suffered some sort of brain injury or something similar, she IS capable of making decisions for herself. They may not be the “right” or “best” or “smartest” decisions (clearly!), but that doesn’t mean she lacks the ability to arrive at decisions after considering actions and consequences.

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      • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 12:03 pm

        I think what Desiree was trying to say that while the friend was capable of making of her own decisions, she was not capable of making smart decisions. Basically she was saying the same thing as you: the friend is a grown-up, she makes her own choices, its not your job to police or judge her actions. That’s all!

      • bittergaymark June 7, 2011, 6:03 pm

        Really? Wow. Damn. I so, so, so disagree with Wendy here. The women’s friend is a classless, selfish idiot who is totally disrupting her daughters life simply so she can be treated like a whore by a guy who has not only already proved that he is a cheater, but that he even cheats on the people he cheats with. Great parenting there. We’re talking mother of the year material.

        If I was the LW, I so totally WOULD consider this the ending of a thirty year friendship. As suddenly I would simply have no respect whatsoever for my former friend. We are talking ZERO. ZIP. NADA. NONE. And with that, I would simply say, “Good luck. Have a nice life. Oh, and start saving now for your daughter’s therapy…”

        It may not be your job to police her actions. But it certainly isn’t your role to stand there beside her cheering her on for her own selfish and abject stupidity.

      • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 8:39 pm

        You know, I’d agree completely with ending the friendship, except for that little girl. She deserves one person with a functioning moral compass in her life. I’m not saying she should lie and pretend she supports her friend’s decision, but I think she should completely cut her off.

      • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 8:40 pm

        excuse me, I mean to say she should not cut her off.

    • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 12:12 pm

      Oh, I thought that girlfriend number one knew about the wife, but probably wasn’t aware the other girlfriend. Who knows.

      How on earth was this guy able to maintain three serious relationships at once for YEARS? I feel like a barely have enough time to give my ONE boyfriend enough time and attention, while also keeping up my relationships with friends and family, plus working, going to school, volunteering, ect.

      Maybe all he did was work and hang out with his ladies.

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      • SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 12:42 pm

        Maybe he told all three of them that he was very busy, too busy for a relationship but he didn’t want to have some other guy snatch them up. Then he could beg off plans with one to hang with the other while pretending to be very busy with his fraternity.
        Oh wait, wrong letter. Or is it?

      • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 12:55 pm

        Oh, you’re right. That’s probably how he did it.

  • Savannah June 7, 2011, 8:47 am

    When I lose respect for someone, I find it impossible to be a good friend, in which case I let the friendship go, even if it painful. I don’t see how it is possible to maintain a friendship without respect, or any relationship for that matter.

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    • parton_doll June 7, 2011, 9:41 am

      I agree with you and I’m glad that you posted this comment. I have been struggling with some friendships lately because I am okay to let them go. At first I thought it was because my friends were making decisiosn that I didn’t approve of, but actually, our lives are in two different places and some of their decisions have caused me to lose respect for them. It’s not necessarily throwing a friendship away, but more like your lives moving in two different directions.

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    • Maracuya June 7, 2011, 10:44 am

      I agree with this. Even if the LW tried to maintain her silence and drop the subject, I’m sure it showed through with every, “My boyfriend is taking me out to dinner to a fancy restaurant tonight (as soon as his wife leaves.)” That’s a total exaggeration, but I’m sure there was an elephant in the room every time she mentioned it.

      Although it’s none of my business, I wouldn’t agree with it and I would tell her so once. Then to be honest, I would find it hard to be friends with her over this five year ordeal. I would probably drift away just because we’re at different places in our lives.

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    • ele4phant June 7, 2011, 12:31 pm

      You know, I absolutely agree that its hard to stay friends with someone when there behavior and morals are so far off from yours. However, I hope the LW does try to maintain the friendship, because I think that little girl needs as many good influences in her life as she can get. Its not her fault her mother is being delusional and involved in an unhealthy relationship.

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    • Skyblossom June 7, 2011, 3:18 pm

      I completely agree. In many ways a good friend should have the same qualities you would look for in a partner. If she wanted to date a guy who treated people this way everyone would say MOA. I don’t see any difference between dating a guy like this or maintaining a friendship with a woman like this. It’s all destructive and do you want to keep your life hitched to this type of drama. I wouldn’t. I have higher standards for a partner and higher standards for a friend.

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    • Brooklyn June 7, 2011, 6:49 pm

      Yes, me too.
      Wendy, possible open thread here. It would be interesting to see how people select friends and how they decide the friendships are no longer working. Do people support their friends regardless of their personal choices or behaviors? Do they instead only maintain friendships with people similar to themselves? Do they base their value in a friendship on length, comfort (ability to confide), availability (when the other person is consistently available to spend time with them), common interests, etc?

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      • Wendy June 7, 2011, 6:55 pm

        Great suggestion, thanks.

  • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 8:58 am

    I think part of being a good friend is being able to separate the person from some of their actions. A thirty year friendship is a lot to throw away over a mistake (albeit a bit one in the LW’s opinion). Clearly, LW thinks that her friend is making a mistake, she may well be. But good friends are supposed to be there in good times and bad. Maybe LW’s friend really does love this guy? Maybe she’s blinded to the pitfalls of the relationship. In that event, if something goes wrong she’s going to need her lifelong friend a LOT more than she did before. I’ve always taken the stance that I will stand by and give my friends love and emotional support. That does not mean you have to support their actions, but it does mean that you’ll be there for them. I think LW needs to be able to separate her feelings for what her friend is doing (especially since it isn’t being done to the LW), and her feelings for her friend. Because if this relationship crashes and burns, this friend is going to need love and understanding, not judgment and “I told you so.”

    Bottom line: it’s not your job to judge your friends’ decisions. It’s your job to love them, and help them through good times and bad.

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    • bittergaymark June 7, 2011, 6:06 pm

      Um, this isn’t a single mistake. Moreover it will serious mess up her daughter’s life. Trust me on this. The LW’s friend is a trainwreck… Worse, she’s doing it all very, very deliberately.

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      • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 7:37 pm

        she may well be, but they’ve been friends 30 years. Besides, if she was jumping off the crazy train she should have done so long before it got to the point that they’re both quasi single and getting together.

      • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 7:38 pm

        in that it HAS been five years of this. LW’s biggest issue with the whole situation seems to be that her friend “didn’t tell her” not that her friend is crazy pants.

      • bittergaymark June 7, 2011, 7:59 pm

        To me, this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s one thing to ruin your own life, quite another to destroy that of your child. I think you a misreading the LW’s intent. From where I stand it is definitely all about how she is simply too disgusted with her friend at this point to continue the relationship.

    • Pankake June 9, 2011, 12:30 pm

      I interpret “through the good times and bad” a little differently. It means I, as your friend, will always be here when you are lost and confused, hurting and upset, need a place to crash or a ride to work, in times of dire need. It does NOT mean I have to support your decisions unconditionally.
      A friend from high school was in a destructive relationship with a guy who didn’t treat her right. As soon as things went sour between the two of them, I encouraged her to get out of that situation, but she balked… for years. Years during which I occasionally expressed my dislike for the guy (a Grade-A dbag), and years during which she would still come to me crying or venting when he did something particularly horrible. I never turned her away, and while I knew that I probably couldn’t change her mind, I did still try to encourage her to leave him because of how unhappy she was. When she did finally get rid of him, I was thrilled for her, and she is now in a healthy relationship.
      On the other hand, I have watched another friend make self-destructive decisions, one after another, mostly in her relationships. Drama drama drama, which I found so sad because she is a nice girl who doesn’t deserve it. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was meeting her for lunch to listen to her describe her problems with her fiance, then, within weeks, witnessing through facebook as they (a) moved back in together (b) got a dog and seemed to be doing well (c) split up again within months and (d) now the dog is going back to the shelter because she can’t afford to keep her anymore.
      Being a dog lover, this drives me crazy! I was already skeptical when she got the dog, because of the instability of her relationship with her guy at the time. I said nothing and tried to trust that she would be responsible. And now the dog is going back to the shelter, another disruption in its life, another sad and traumatic experience, confirming my suspicions that my friend’s decision to get the dog in the first place was perhaps not very well thought through.
      What happened there made me lose respect for her, and while I’m not calling an end to the friendship, and I won’t turn her away if she needs someone to talk to, I now feel my lowered opinion of her will not allow us to be close friends. We’re not superclose best friends with a long history like the LW, but now I know I’m fine keeping that distance between us.
      Friends who make destructive decisions and have a lot of drama in their lives, tend to drag you down into that drama. That’s not something I have to support unconditionally.

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  • Public Pearl June 7, 2011, 9:07 am

    “Don’t let this stupid relationship she has with this prize of a guy become some sort of statement on your friendship.”

    I don’t know; I don’t think I could be friends with someone who had absolutely no morals. It’s sad, but not all friendships are meant to last forever.

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    • kerrycontrary June 7, 2011, 9:20 am

      I agree! As you grow up your friends sometimes do things that you can’t or don’t want to be associated with. If you’ve been friends with someone for 30 years and they decide that they want “Pimp” to be their new occupational title, should you remain friends with that person just because you’ve known them their whole life? NO! The LW’s friend is breaking up a marriage, a family, and ruining her and her child’s life. Can you imagine the drama in this woman’s life already? I couldn’t handle being friends with someone who is obviously attractedo to turbulance and drama.

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      • bagge72 June 7, 2011, 11:15 am

        That guy broke up his own marriage, and would have done it with someone else (well technically he had a GF before her anyways) if she hadn’t been with him. But I agree she is damaging her own life, and her child’s. It is pretty terrible that she doesn’t understand that what this guy did to his wife, and kids, and he is most definitely going to do to her, and her child. But when that does happen I have a feeling she is going to forgive him anyways.

      • SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 12:46 pm

        THANK YOU! I know that knowingly being the ‘other woman’ is an unsavory position but the only one who made a promise and a commitment to the wife is her husband. The other woman does not break up a marriage alone, the man did that when he decided to step out on his wife with TWO different mistresses.

        Granted I personally would never knowingly date a man who had even a girlfriend, let alone a wife, but I do think that the accusation of “breaking up a marriage” is untrue. It takes two, and I believe the larger share of guilt falls on the errant husband, not his mistress.

      • Spark June 7, 2011, 7:12 pm

        I don’t think any blame or shame should fall on the mistress at all. If he didn’t value his marriage/commitment/promise, then why should she? Marriages are special and important not by themselves, but because of the love/commitment of the two people in them.

    • caitie_didn't June 7, 2011, 2:11 pm

      So agree with this! It’s hard to be friends with someone who you don’t like or respect as a person because you find their morals to be too different than yours.

      Also, my very best friends, and the ones I cherish most, are the ones that I *know* will call me on my bullshit. I think that’s what good friends are for.

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  • kerrycontrary June 7, 2011, 9:18 am

    While I agree with what most of Wendy said, I think that sometimes it can be hard to maintain a friendship if you disapprove of someone’s relationship/significant other. Our significant others can make huge impacts on our lives including but not limited to where we live, how much free time we have, hobbies, income level, etc…I’ve been in a situation where my best friend didn’t approve of my boyfriend and even if she didn’t make snide comments or role her eyes, you could just TELL. I think that the LW is in a very difficult situation (and btw, I think your friend is NUTS, this guy is totally going to cheat on her with someone else). But, like Wendy said, if you havn’t voiced your opinion over the years then you are totally justified in speaking up one last time, but if you have been making remarks over the years then its just time to let it go. Sometimes lifelong friends change into people that we normally wouldn’t be friends with, and that’s how the cookie crumbles. It’s up to you whether you want to continue a relationship with this woman.

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    • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 10:18 am

      Although LW didn’t feel the need to MOA from her friendship for the past 5 years when the friend was the “other other woman” (since there was a wife and a long term gf in the picture). Only, now that the man is single, and she’s single (we’re assuming), the LW is thinking she needs to leave. This is the LEAST dysfunctional part of this friend’s relationship history! Maybe things will all work out now (wishful thinking, I know). Re-reading the letter, I think the problem that LW has is that she wasn’t kept in the loop for her friend’s move and live changes. But then again, if she knows you disapprove, can you expect that someone will tell you, knowing that you are probably going to tell her you think she’s making a mistake? I sure wouldn’t.

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      • Maracuya June 7, 2011, 10:48 am

        Not to be so contrary, but according to the LW the wife and husband are separated but not divorced. So still a little dysfunctional. And of course, who knows how many other girlfriends this guy has.

      • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 10:52 am

        true, but separated is still better than married and living together! it’s moving towards more functional. Believe me, if it were me I’d have no part of that relationship (not the friendship, but the “friend’s relationship”)

  • cdobbs June 7, 2011, 9:50 am

    Your “friend” Kathy sounds like a selfish bitch! True friends can tell each other anything and respect each others opinions. She just wants to surround herself with enablers. You are probably better off without someone like this in your life.

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    • mcminnem June 7, 2011, 11:12 am

      This is harsh, but I’m glad you said it. What if, instead of moving in with a married man and uprooting her daughter’s life, this person had started habitually stealing, or dealing drugs, or mugging people? “Oh, sorry, I didn’t want you to know because you’re not a good friend and you don’t support my choices.” What kind of people does she know that actually *do* support this decision? I would hope she has better friends than that.

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  • Landy June 7, 2011, 11:00 am

    LW, do you really want this woman as a friend? Is it the person or what this person represents that you are hanging on to? You don’t support her in her delusions and those are the people she’s keeping close, so the point may be moot anyway.

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  • LTC039 June 7, 2011, 11:09 am

    Your friend sounds like she’s a a bit air-headish & there’s nothing you can do to bring her back down to reality.
    Unfortunately, all you can do is sit on the sidelines, watch, & be there to catch her when she falls (which is inevitable). Obviously, that’s at your discretion. If you don’t want to sit there & watch your best friend screw her & her daughter’s life up, then that’s ok. Because physically, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t force her to stay, or stop seeing this man. If it’s too difficult to watch, then by all means don’t. Let her know you’re just a phone call away. However, if you do go that route prepare to lose her entirely. Again, that’s ok.
    It’s up to you.

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  • mcminnem June 7, 2011, 11:20 am

    I also feel that this is something child protective services should have a hand in. This woman has the right to screw up her own life if she so wishes, but it’s totally wrong that she can just uproot her young daughter’s life, take her away from her father (the letter doesn’t say whether they were living with him, I’m assuming so) and into the house of this strange man who has already proven that he is untrustworthy.

    I don’t really know enough about those laws, though – could the boyfriend claim custody of his daughter since they weren’t married? Anyone here work in family law? Enlighten me, please.

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    • Painted_lady June 7, 2011, 12:16 pm

      It is possible – see my novel I wrote on “Susie” below. When the state tried to take her kids, her ex husband was still in prison and yet his and Susie’s parents took temporary custody of them while CPS did an investigation. Anyone biologically related to the child or to his or her legal guardian can pursue custody rights if one or both parents are proven unfit.

      However, CPS practically has to watch you beat your kids for them to be taken away. That’s how I knew it was serious with Susie – the state actually took them for a few weeks while they investigated. I don’t know that taking this girl out of one house and into another constitutes outright abuse. If so, CPS could do an investigation on every single divorced couple in existence.

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    • Brooklyn June 7, 2011, 6:54 pm

      Trust me, making selfish decisions is not enough to remove a child from a household. ESP when the child is 7 and has always been with that caregiver. You have to be endangering the child’s well-being (most often physically). Simply being an idiot is not going to give CPS a reason to remove a child.

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    • Jenny June 7, 2011, 9:24 pm

      I am not a CPS case worker, but I work for an agency that works closely with CPS. We work with parents who have been reported to CPS but still have custody of their kids, and also work with kids who have been removed from their parents and placed in foster care. Painted_lady, I’m not sure what state you live in, but your comment saying “CPS practically has to watch you beat your kids for them to be taken away” isn’t true everywhere. I’m originally from NY and now living in AZ, and it seems like it was harder for kids to be removed in NY. But I can say without a doubt, regardless of the state Kathy lives in, this is not nearly enough for her child to be removed by CPS. The child’s father certainly would have rights, and could potentially keep Kathy from moving away with their child.

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      • Painted_lady June 8, 2011, 12:26 am

        Texas – we have a pretty terrible track record. It’s not in criticism of CPS, more the state because we have really high poverty levels (not that poor people abuse their kids more but that the invisibilIty of these kids leads to them being more susceptible to abuse due to families unable to provide decent child care, parents having to work more, etc). Because CPS is so underfunded they tend to be really overworked and sometimes simply don’t have the resources to handle it. And that was a gross exaggeration – just simply meant that there has to be a great deal of substantive proof that abuse or neglect has occurred. I said it below, but as frustrating as it is to sometimes see cases that look pretty clear-cut fall through the cracks, I don’t know that the alternative – removing kids from homes that aren’t hazardous – is any better.

      • Jenny June 8, 2011, 8:47 pm

        Yeah, I agree with you. It’s a really complicated issue. Part of me would like it if it was easier to remove kids…but then you might have kids being removed who don’t need to be. I’ve only seen one case where the kids actually WANTED to be removed…usually even if they’re being extremely neglected, they still have so much love for their parent(s) and want to be home. But I think we can agree that this case certainly does not warrant removal.

  • Painted_lady June 7, 2011, 11:58 am

    I *gotta* voice my opinion here, and I’m not in the majority. I’m probably too biased to be objective, and I will totally own that. The LW doesn’t say, so I don’t know for sure, but her friend may have a history of making terrible choices. I had a friend, call her Susie, who has a history of making not just bad but downright dangerous choices with men. First husband, she married after he was arrested with $10,000 worth of stolen goods in the back of her truck from her parents’ house. Had two kids with him, then left him at the beginning of his third stint in prison. She told me he hit her – hard enough to knock her out sometimes – while she was pregnant. The next couple of years she was engaged three times, all to men she had known less than a few months, and the last one she actually married. Aside from beating her, he threatened to kill her when she left him once, subjected her kids to abuse, and then when the state tried to take her kids, they fled the country. They came back, and it took her two tears but she finally divorced him – after a third kid – and I thought, okay, great, finally she’s putting her kids first and she’s starting to value herself. I had pulled waaaay back from the friendship, and we started talking again. And then less than six months later, she met a new guy, and less than two months later, they’re engaged. And it’s the same thing all over again. She doesn’t know this man, she’s subjecting her kids to this man, and this man is going to be her third husband before the age of thirty.

    Even if your situation is mild in comparison, I know how draining it is to have to listen to her on the phone or over dinner or wherever and constantly do cost-benefit analyses over whether you hold your tongue or you’re honest with her. And after enough holding of the tongue, you start feeling like a liar. Or you start feeling like maybe she’s seeking your approval and how can you possibly let her sit down on the train tracks and admire the pretty lights without pointing out that those lights are a train? And if you’re anything like me, you start wondering that if just one more person – you – voiced their opinion as to what an awful idea any of this is, maybe she’d see it. I finally cut ties with Susie this past spring because I cannot save her, I don’t agree with her time and again sacrificing her kids for her relationships, and every single conversation I have had with her except for the short period of time where she was leaving her second husband has been an exercise in lying through my teeth. Finally, I don’t want a friendship like that.

    And yes, Wendy has a point that this girl probably feels judged. But the phrase “only people who support her” practically gave me flashbacks. Susie would call me on the phone and tell me about some awful new decisions she was making, tell me about the new friend she had cut out of her life who was judging her because she had dared to voice the slightest bit of disapproval, and then she would grill me over how I felt on every facet of her decision, like she was trying to catch me judging her. And eventually all I was doing in these conversations was lying. It was sort of like that implicit threat the busy boyfriend from yesterday made: request more time with me and I will dump your ass. You better agree or your out of her life.

    I think friends should be able to disagree. And I think friends should be honest and accept and expect honesty from the other. This girl doesn’t want your honesty, and she doesn’t want you to disagree. She wants you to shut up and fall in line, and that doesn’t sound like much of a friendship to me. I would say wish her well, and mean it, because she is still your friend, but tell her you simply can’t watch her destroy her life and be expected to applaud. It’s too painful for you.

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    • kdog June 7, 2011, 12:08 pm

      Painted_lady—Yes, Yes, Yes!! I think as women we are constantly saying that you have to “be there” for your friends. Obviously, support is a vital part of a friendship, but when one person abuses and disregards your support it can be gut-wrenching if not completely infuriating. Support isn’t just going along with whatever someone wants to do. And this is not a short stint of poor decision-making. This is a pattern of choosing to be completely unaware.

      I read something recently that I think makes so much sense: there is a difference between caring ABOUT someone and caring FOR someone. If your friend’s behaviour and your current relationship with her make it hard to seperate the two I would take a bit of a hiatus from this relationship. Let her know you love her, that you support her in life, but that you do not support this.

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      • Painted_lady June 7, 2011, 12:38 pm

        “Support isn’t just going along with whatever someone wants to do.”

        Yes. This. If Susie had a drug addiction, would I/should I keep my mouth shut? Should I sit and not say anything when she pulls out the crack pipe at my house?

        No one stands for people who are physically destructive to themselves, so how is it we stand for people who are emotionally destructive?

      • NOLAGirl June 7, 2011, 1:45 pm

        it’s the same type of situation. You can’t change your self-destructive friends. You can’t stop them from doing what they’re going to do. All you can do is be there for them when they need you. If you aren’t able to do that, then you aren’t able to be a friend to that person.

        I’ve known people who were so emotionally self-destructive they became physically self-destructive. You cannot save them. You cannot change them. You can offer support, you can offer suggestions, you can offer to help – but at the end of the day the person who changes their life is themselves. They have to WANT to change. Withholding your friendship isn’t going to do anything for anyone but you.

        Until then, a good friend waits and loves them in hope for better days ahead. No one said friendship is all fun and easy. No one says you have to support them in their self destruction either. You don’t have to buy the alcoholic a drink, but you do need to give them support, kindness and understanding. They won’t always get help or change their ways (be it dating douchebags or doing drugs), but you can’t save or fix anyone who doesn’t want to be fixed. If at some point you can’t physically or emotionally handle being a friend, then you have to back away. But honestly, I’ve had friends in bad situations, that emotionally drained me. But at the end of the day I go back to my life and was still there when they called. Even if I didn’t want to pick up the phone. Because it’s the right thing to do.

        What happens when you’ve checked out of the friendship because it’s too much drama or work for you? What happens when she hits rock bottom, feels alone, has no where to go? I don’t know.

      • HmC June 7, 2011, 2:09 pm

        Also, being hyper judgmental is not the same thing as disagreeing with choices your friend is making! If this is someone you want a friendship with, hopefully that means it is the isolated decisions you disapprove of and not the person overall (otherwise why are they your friend?) Judgmental bad, sharing honest opinions with friends that ask for them, good.

      • Painted_lady June 7, 2011, 5:11 pm

        Yeah, that’s one of many, many reasons why I finally decided to cut ties with this girl. I confess, I can’t not judge her because I feel like what she’s doing to her kids is wrong. It wasn’t doing me any good to remain friends, and it’s not right to lie to her OR to constantly make her feel awful about herself. I thought about what I would think of her if I met her today and not 19 years ago, and it was difficult to admit, but I was finally able to own up to the fact that I think she’s kind of a terrible person. And I sort of have an unspoken policy about not being friends with terrible people.

    • Landy June 7, 2011, 12:29 pm

      Thank you, excellent post.

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  • spaceboy761 June 7, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I say we create a sister site called DearWendyBook.com. Here, DW readers can place bets on which day of the month this best friend discovers that her womanizing-asshole-fake-husband has been banging some another chick that’s the same age she was when they starting banging and gets turned out.

    Sure, it’s depressing to watch people destroy their own lives, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make $20 off SGMcG in the process!

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    • Landy June 7, 2011, 12:31 pm

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      • spaceboy761 June 7, 2011, 12:41 pm

        I really wish that may browser here at work didn’t suck so hard and I could acutally see your link.

      • _jsw_ June 7, 2011, 12:49 pm

        Personally, I wish I had a browser that sucked hard. Or at all.

        However, perhaps yours could at least access this direct link to the animated GIF file.

      • spaceboy761 June 7, 2011, 12:56 pm

        Amazingly, my company’s security policy blocked your link, but I found another link through some crack Googling.

        Thank you Landy, for reminding us that even when people develop a habit of disappointing the hell out of you, funny shit is still funny.

      • Landy June 7, 2011, 1:18 pm

        Everything goes better with popcorn!

    • bittergaymark June 7, 2011, 6:09 pm

      Seriously. The more I read the letters on this website, the more I think far too many women deliberately mess up their own lives by bad decisions. I used to think the misguided examples of womanhood in my own life were rare isolated cases. Checking in here on a daily basis would seem to prove otherwise. Yikes…

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    • SGMcG June 7, 2011, 6:24 pm

      Does this mean that you won’t tell me what type of asshole this guy is now? 😀

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  • Jessika June 7, 2011, 12:06 pm

    “Kathy told me she didn’t tell me because I don’t support the relationship and she is surrounding herself with people who do. So here I am: completely hurt, shocked, and beside myself that Kathy would throw away a 30-year friendship like this.”
    Am I the only one that took this to mean that LWs friend was distancing herself (not LW)???

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  • Jubietta June 7, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids who’ve been removed from their families due to abuse and neglect. In my state, there has to be documentation of actions or neglect that are a risk to the immediate health and well-being of the child before removal. And even if the child is removed, there are subsequent hearings in which the state has to prove they’ve done everything possible to keep the kids with the parent before putting the kiddos into foster care. I didn’t see anything in the letter which rises to the level that our Commissioner would step in and remove the daughter, which in itself would be VERY harmful to the little girl. Believe it or not, there are worse things than having to move into mom’s new boyfriend’s house a couple of hour away. Good luck LW, I hope your good friend surprises you.

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    • Painted_lady June 7, 2011, 12:24 pm

      Thanks – that was exactly what I was trying to say above, but your terminology is so much more accurate. As frustrating as the laws can be – it’s possible for clearly traumatized and hurting kids to slip through the cracks – I think it’s the best possible happy medium because I also know of kids who have called CPS and reported false claims because they were angry.

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    • Hana June 7, 2011, 12:39 pm

      I don’t think they should remove the little girl, and I haven’t read all the previous comments so I don’t know why it is being mentioned, but psychologically having a mother cheat for 5 years then move in with a man who was also cheating for a longer period of time with multiple people may not be the healthiest place to raise a child. This could have long term effects on her emotional health and make relationships very hard when she is older. She could follow her mothers example and become a cheater and/or over sexualized at a very young age. Or this could have no effect on her and she can grow up in a stable environment and become a great adult with no mother/father issues. You don’t know. I think the bad thing is the mother/new boyfriends cheating and probability to cheat again that is bad for the girl to be around, not moving a few hours away.

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    • mcminnem June 7, 2011, 1:21 pm

      I wasn’t thinking that CPS should actually remove the daughter; I know that’s potentially far more damaging. I was just wondering if someone could step in and say “no, the girl stays with her father”. I’d like to know, actually, what the boyfriend has to say – have they broken up? Does he know what’s happening with his daughter? If not, then he probably shouldn’t have custody any more than the LW’s friend should.

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  • Hana June 7, 2011, 12:33 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks that the friend and new boyfriend may be good together. They both seem disgusting and like they deserve each other. She had a relationship, with a child, as well as with the man who had 2 other relationships for 5 years! Thats a long time for LWs friend to have 2 boyfriends. I think cheating is disgusting and wrong, but I have to say these 2 people may be happy together. They can cheat on each other all the time as they both seem to like having multiple relationships.

    As far as what LW should do, Wendy gave good advice. The problem comes with trying to live out Wendy’s advice while actually going through this. I went through a very similar situation and lost a friendship over it. If you care about your friend you do not want to see them making stupid decisions, and it is almost impossible not to say something. However, it is her life. If you want to remain friends you have to apologize, try to salvage the damage and act like you support her. Personally, I would not be able to continue the friendship although I would definitely be there if they broke up and she needed me. It would be too much drama for me and I can not blindly support things I think are morally wrong. If you can though, more power to you!

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  • Lindsay June 7, 2011, 1:05 pm

    I think Wendy’s being a little harsh on the LW. What I get from her response is that voicing disapproval and then not saying a word for five years is what you’re supposed to do. But who would do that? Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with her, but who really knows how to handle a situation like this?

    I had a friend who was having an affair with a married man, and he and his wife eventually divorced. He didn’t have a long-term girlfriend pop up, and my friend doesn’t have a small child to care for, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. But if she had a child who was getting carted into such an unstable home, I would speak up whether that was the first or fiftieth time.

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  • SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 1:07 pm

    One of my mom’s best friends is…a little crazy. She was always getting into arguments with some friend or another and cutting them out of her life, always had issues with her brother over the division of their dad’s business, just generally always had some drama she would call my mom about. Both of her sons have health issues which only served to chip away at whatever calm and control she could assemble (one has Tourette’s, the treatment for which made him violent and only barely controlled his tics; the other is developmentally delayed and was held back twice (different grades each time) because of his learning disabilities). Around the time the younger son was held back the second time, she really lost it and went on a crash diet, got breast implants, got a whole new sexy wardrobe, redid her kitchen… basically remade her life.
    Throughout all this, my mom has always kinda regarded her as crazy, but has never really said anything about her choices. Though she tried many times to drag my mother into her web of crazy- “I’m not talking to so and so, you shouldn’t talk to her either,” for example- my mom has always resisted. But she always tells me she’ll never cut this friend out because “She needs one sane friend. I’m the one who keeps her grounded.”
    And its true… you may not agree with your friends choices, you may not want to get dragged into the web of crazy, but I think your friend needs you- her oldest friend- to be her connection to reality.
    Back it off now if you need to, but tell your friend you’ll always be there. If this relationship crashes (which, lets be honest, its totally going to) then she will turn to you again to help her pick up the pieces and become whole again. If you can bear to be that friend, then do it. Even if she’d never admit it, she knows you are her calm port in the storms.

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  • HmC June 7, 2011, 1:56 pm

    “Don’t let this stupid relationship she has with this prize of a guy become some sort of statement on your friendship. Isn’t thirty years together worth more than that?”

    I don’t know. I mean, on the one hand, sometimes people grow together and that long of a history means a lot in a friendship. But often times, after that long, and especially if you became friends “literally” when you were born (according to LW), you stay friends more out of duty to your history than in having anything truly in common any more. Friendships growing apart is sometimes part of life, and it’s not the end of the world. And this may sound judgmental of me, and obviously I don’t know anything about this LW’s friend other than this small fragment of her life, but I have a hard time imagining really wanting to stay *best* friends with someone whose values had become so different than my own. Stay in contact and stay friendly, maybe. But I’d want a best friend I felt a real connection with in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of people out there, and while long-term friendships are to be valued for sure, I think I’d prefer to focus my energy on someone who wasn’t intent on cutting me out of their life.

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  • Skyblossom June 7, 2011, 2:51 pm

    It sounds like her relationship is on a road to disaster and she will probably be absolutely shocked when her boyfriend has yet another set of girlfriends on the side. You can’t control her life but you can control your own. Personally, I don’t surround myself with people whose moral values are so different from my own. I wouldn’t be able to remain a good friend with someone who didn’t mind being an affair and who didn’t mind dragging her own daughter through this relationship with her boyfriend. Your friend sounds self-absorbed and not really capable of being a good parent, let alone a good friend. I would minimize contact even though you have a long history this relationship is not good for you, and if you have a family, it’s not good for your family. I always tell my kids to be picky about who they choose for friends and to value those who treat people well. I don’t think she meets the basic guidelines for being a close friend. If she should grow up in the future and not be so self-absorbed then you could become better friends.

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  • Katie June 7, 2011, 9:20 pm

    alright, does the LW know anything about her friends relationship though? im not saying this is absolutely whats going on, but what if this new 5 year long relationship has turned from something bad (cheating) into something good? what if she was completely unhappy before and found this great guy, and this guy, who was completely unhappy, trying to drown his sorrows in having sex with women, found this girl who makes him happy? what if they are honestly good for each other and have a good, healthy relationship? what if this guy, who i am assuming is rich, is going to let her daughter be able to have a more comfortable life, go to a better school, whatever?

    not knowing that, i dont know what to say to this LW. I will say that when my best friend started sleeping with my ex almost minutes after we broke up, i stopped talking to her. i refuse to be with someone who thinks that betraying my trust (and lying to me) is ok. in this situation, i would feel like i can’t be friends with someone who would make such a rash decision, possibly putting her daughter’s happiness in danger. but i guess that is assuming that this relationship is a bad one, which it honestly most likely is…

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