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How Do You Handle a Friend’s Adultery?

photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on flickr

photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on flickr

Dear Meli,

I recently found out that the wife of a dear friend of mine is having an affair. If you’re wondering what this has to do with spirituality, that’s my question. She is supposedly a “spiritual” person. And yet her behavior seems so out of integrity to me. I’m not sure what to do. Do I confront her? Do I tell my friend? Do I do nothing? What?

Suffering in Silence

Dear Suffering,

This experience sounds very challenging. I’m sorry to hear that it’s causing you pain.

I’ve heard various arguments about how to handle these situations. I made a choice once to confront someone in this kind of situation. I don’t think I would do so again.

We can never completely know what anyone else’s experience is. We cannot ever completely understand what another couple’s relationship is, or what another person’s integrity is. For all you know, this couple chooses to have a relationship in which this behavior is fine.

While I certainly understand that it is difficult to know that someone you care about is being betrayed, you don’t actually know the back-story. For all you know, this affair may lead to your friend’s, or the couple’s, greatest healing and love. Meanwhile, your friend may prefer not to know.

In processing your own experience, keep this in mind: Even the most spiritual of us have area(s) of our life we’re still working on. This area might be one of theirs. Can you find compassion for them?

I take opportunities like this to be a personal sign, pointing me right to where my work is. I allow it to guide me in my own growth. For example, in your situation, here are some questions I might ask myself:

1) Do I know for sure that my judgment of this person’s behavior is accurate? (For instance, can I be certain that they are not aligned with their integrity?)

2) Can I imagine a back-story that would allow me to find compassion for them? (Can I love them in all of their imperfection and humanness?)

3) Is there an area of my life where I have the same judgment about myself? Do I need to change something about my own behavior to stop judging myself?

To put it bluntly, the basic premise of my line of questioning is this:

A) How am I just like this person?

As much as I might wish it weren’t true,  there is sure to be an aspect of myself I am seeing in them, and rejecting in myself.

B) Can I love and have compassion for this part of myself?

If not, this is where to focus my attention and spiritual practice.

All of this said, if it feels really right to you to take a different path, then I say “go for it!” Always go with what really feels deeply right to you. If you regret it later, it will have been your perfect path of growth and learning. Cuz that’s just how it works. And in this regard, you simply can’t get it wrong.

Blessings and Love to you,


How have you handled the transgressions of friends? Share your comments below!

Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at meli@ohmygodlife.com


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6 Responses to How Do You Handle a Friend’s Adultery?

  1. Carol September 8, 2015 at 6:41 am #

    I love your entire response to this question, but especically, “how am I just like this person?” For me, that is always the best question and the hardest. It is hardest for me when I stay too literal. For example, I would say to myself quite smugly, what? I have never committed adultry!” But I HAVE been out of integrity many times. Of course I keep trying to make my case different. Lol.

    Something else,that has helped me is to write “no- send” letter where I break all the “rules” and take their inventory -‘telling them what is wrong with them and blah, blah, blah. The magic is when I Read it back (especially to someone else) and I clearly see ME.

    • Melissa Phillippe September 9, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

      Thanks Carol – that’s just what I find for myself…want so bad to be a holy righteous one, until I’m honest…I guess we can always find ways to get even more fully in alignment. Ah well.

      The no-send letter is awesome as well! Thanks very much for adding that!

  2. Karen September 8, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    Using the Abraham-Hicks perspective, I would choose to do what felt better to me in this situation — that would be the “right” thing for me to do.

    After I chose a course of action or non-action, I would continue to make that the “right” answer by not second-guessing myself.

    It’s so true — we can never really know another person’s or couple’s dynamics. Often we can help most by simply holding the vision of our friend being happy and thriving, however that unfolds.

    • Melissa Phillippe September 9, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

      I absolutely agree! That’s JUST what I meant in saying, at the end: “Always go with what really feels deeply right to you.”

      I do love to dive in and grow, too, so I might be more apt to review my choices…see if I can learn from them…just a habit of mine. Tee hee… 😉

      And thank you very much for adding the reminder here of holding and seeing them happy and thriving! ALWAYS a beautiful practice, for everyone! :-)

  3. Jim Maneri September 21, 2015 at 4:52 am #

    It’s easily none of my business most of the time. An exception I make is if my friend is in danger from their partner having unsafe sex with others and I know that’s true for sure. Many of my friends have some type of non-monogamy going anyway and second guessing them is asking to be seen as a know-nothing busybody. The worst is when a person “cheats”, then tells their partner because they feel bad about it. What they are doing in that case is taking their guilt and thrusting those bad feelings onto the cheated-on. I council my friends (only when they ask) who have cheated and regret it to keep it to themselves to bear the guilt from their actions alone, learn and don’t repeat.

    • Melissa Phillippe September 22, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

      Very thought-provoking, Jim. Thanks for this!

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