What to do about my friend's affair?
October 6, 2010 9:53 PM   Subscribe

What should I do about my friend who is on his second affair? Wife knows about the first one, but not this one.

Workplace relationship drama filter: I would like your guidance regarding how I should act in this workplace romance situation. Warning: rather lengthy.

The characters:

Alpha – A male coworker (different departments) who has been my friend for several years. Alpha is married to Beta, with whom he has a child. He has two children from a previous marriage. He is in all likelihood my best friend that isn’t a family member.

Beta – Beta is married to Alpha. They have one child together. Beta doesn’t work at the same place as do Alpha and I.

Gamma – A female coworker (different department) who I have known on a casual basis for a little over a year. She is recently divorced and shares custody of the two kids with her ex.

Delta – A female coworker (different department) who I’ve known casually for somewhat less than a year. She is married and has one child.

Narrator – Yours truly.

The situation:

Prelude – Keep in mind that of what follows, I’ve only seen very little first hand and know of most of it only from Alpha. Accordingly, I may not have the story completely right.

Act One – During the fall of 2009, he, Gamma, and I agreed to jog/run together. Due to injury, I was unable to participate. Alpha and Gamma wound up having an extramarital affair. Gamma divorced her husband around the start of this year (2010), perhaps due to this.

Act Two – Beta finds out about Gamma this past spring. Much drama ensues. Alpha has to move in with a sibling for several weeks during which time he continues to see Gamma off and on. After a while, Beta lets him move back in, though things are still quite tense between them.

Act Three – Enter Delta. She is stunningly beautiful, though I will never get to be with her because (a) she’s waaaaaay out of my league (b) I don’t sleep with married women, no matter how beautiful. While Alpha and I would socialize after hours, he would tell me about the crazy stuff he and Gamma did while fucking. I in turn would tell him about how much I wanted to fuck Delta. At the end of a recent work trip, I call Alpha and ask how things are in general. He tells me that he is now having an affair with Delta. My thoughts ranged from disappointment to extreme envy. This affair continues through to the present.

End Notes: Beta only knows about the affair with Gamma and is unaware of the affair with Delta. Gamma and Delta are each aware of his affairs with the other. None of the three women has any clue that I know anything at all about this sordid mess, though all are aware that I am friends with Alpha. To date I have only discussed the matter with my family (none of whom has ever met any of the four characters listed) and have otherwise maintained silence. I have not been asked by any of the three women if I know anything. I have hinted around with Alpha that his present course of action is perhaps not the wisest. None of the parties is in an open relationship. Alpha and Beta are seeing a marriage counselor, though as you might imagine it isn’t doing any good.

The Questions: Should I continue to remain silent? Should I divulge to Beta (anonymously or not) that her husband is having another affair? Should I tell either Gamma or Delta (or both) what I know? Should I confront Alpha about this privately and tell him that he needs to stop seeing Delta if he wants to save his marriage?

I am open to just about anything, except for “get a job somewhere else” or anything that might eventually make me have to do that. I am extremely hesitant to go job-hunting during this economy, unless I abso-freaking-lutely have to.

I have abstracted the characters and story as much as I can, on the off chance that anyone involved is also a MeFite. If further details are requested, I'll check in on the thread in the morning.

The following previous threads were somewhat relevant, but none sounded directly applicable to my situation.

Thread one
Thread two
Thread three
Thread four
posted by AMSBoethius to Human Relations (52 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
While I'm generally in favor of letting wives know that their husbands are douchebags, you're not a friend of Beta's and it feels like you're way over-involving yourself in something that has nothing to do with you.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:58 PM on October 6, 2010 [7 favorites]

leave it. Also Alpha is a douche.
posted by sweetkid at 10:02 PM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]

Yeah. What L'Estrange Fruit said. Make it very clear you disapprove once and once only, then leave it alone.
posted by Ahab at 10:03 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My thought would be that you should extricate yourself from this situation entirely. If A talks about messing around with D tell him that you don't want to hear about it, you don't approve of it, and you are being put in an uncomfortable position by having to hear it. If he refuses or acts like a jerk about it, I would strongly suggest finding yourself a new best friend.

From then on avoid work gossip as much as humanly possible and look for a girlfriend or something (or a collection of somethings) outside of work that will occupy all of your out-of-work time.

Your going along with A's storytelling is implicit support of his actions, so if you don't support him cheating, then refuse to listen to his stories about his cheating.
posted by that girl at 10:04 PM on October 6, 2010 [11 favorites]

Unless Beta is a friend of yours, stay out of it. Definitely don't say anything to either of the ladies.

If you feel a moral/ethical need to take some action here, tell Alpha that he's being a scumbag, he needs to fix his marriage or end it, and that you no longer want to hear about his shenanigans.
posted by freshwater at 10:05 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

For starters, I think you need to get the hell away from Alpha. Sooner or later, he's going to be asking you to cover for him. Going to Beta isn't really your business, since you don't deal with her on a regular basis, but cutting off Alpha before you're implicated in this mess is the best way to keep out of it.
Or, if Alpha is a really a close friend, give him a smack across the face and tell him to get his shit together.
posted by Gilbert at 10:08 PM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

You know, you gave us a lot of information that we didn't really need to know, there. Really, bottom line, is that you should stay out of it, and refuse to engage him in conversations about it, and if he asks why say "because I think your behavior is [whatever you think it is] and I don't want to be a part of it, even implicitly by knowing about it and saying nothing. I'd rather not know about it."
posted by davejay at 10:14 PM on October 6, 2010

Man, you told him you liked Delta and then he starts regaling you with details? Douche. Avoid. You're letting yourself be dragged into this because of the thrill of voyeurism, but it's making you uncomfortable because it's wrong. Well, at least outside of your values.

Don't let Alpha alpha-dog you. He gets a thrill out of having an audience.
posted by dhartung at 10:20 PM on October 6, 2010 [23 favorites]

Just back the fuck away as much as possible.

Your two stock answers on this topic are "I really don't want to talk about this" [Alpha] and "I have no idea, you're asking the wrong person." [Everyone else.] Use them. It may be tempting to stay up on the latest intrigue in this tawdry little re-enactment of Les liaisons dangereuses, as you already seem a wee bit over-engaged with it for your own good; read the book or rent the film instead.
posted by holgate at 10:21 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you (the narrator) keep going down this road, you are going to end up as a side character in a cuckold Pr0n. You are getting way too much excitement out of this situation to be healthy.

Who cares what your buddy is doing, just get out of it. You need to get out and meet more women who are nowhere near your work or this guy. Why are you living vicariously through this clown?
posted by benzenedream at 10:32 PM on October 6, 2010

You have no facts on the second affair other than self-reporting. And even guys who are into going to bed with a lot of women will lie about their conquests.

This dude is weird, I'd let him go and get better friends.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 PM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

What a mess. Nthing the advice to run far, far away. This is the emotional and drama equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits. Alpha is or was screwing around with TWO co-workers. Does Alpha have a boss? What about Gamma and Delta? If word gets out (and it almost always does with things like this) chances are the work situation will turn very sour very fast.

Tell Alpha you don't want to hear about it, and don't say one word to either Gamma or Delta. JUST STAY OUT OF IT. This is botulism-level toxic. Stay out of it, and get busy with your own life and interests. Find something to do other than wade into tar-pits of other people's drama.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:33 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you do nothing I think in a few weeks you'll have an update where you had a threesome with Alpha and Delta or an update where you slept with Beta.

I know it's fun to take part in a office romance gossip story but it's almost like you're living vicariously through this guys penis.
At the very least stay out of this Alphas sex life from now on. It would probably be in your best interest to keep this friendship a bit more distant than best friend though.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:42 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are far too invested in the self-destruction of someone who has little regard for you or his family. Disengage and focus on becoming the sort of person who doesn't need to pine for women he can't have.
posted by felix betachat at 10:42 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mind your own business, and stop adding fuel to the fire by talking about how much you'd hypothetically like to bang your married coworker.
posted by charmcityblues at 10:43 PM on October 6, 2010 [11 favorites]

I can't help but wonder how much of your desire to out Alpha's current affair has to do with the fact he is now messing around with a woman you have admitted being attracted to yourself. How genuinely concerned are you with the sanctity of a marriage that isn't yours vs. how much of this is motivated by you wanting to create a situation where Alpha is effectively forced to stop sleeping with a woman you have at least some interest in? I honestly can't see the benefit of involving yourself in this unless you feel your life as currently lived is not filled with enough drama.
posted by The Gooch at 10:48 PM on October 6, 2010 [18 favorites]

If Alpha is really your best friend, I would tell him that he's acting like a lowlife creep by going around sportfucking half the staff, it's unfair to Beta and the kid, and that he needs to man up and either work on his marriage or work on the divorce, but in any event, if he values your friendship, to please not share the juicier bits with you.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:54 PM on October 6, 2010 [11 favorites]

Beta most likely knows and has, for whatever reason, chosen to live with it, just like she did when she decided to stay with Alpha after the first affair. There's no need to further shame her by pointing out the obvious to her.
posted by halogen at 11:22 PM on October 6, 2010

when i was dating a married man, my alpha had a narrator - and he was sort of way too interested in our dealings. he always seemed to be around and he'd offer his car for us to go meet up. and then he'd hang around my cube and make sort of creepy, pervy looks at me. he always reminded me of the IT/nerdy/troll version of the jason alexander character in pretty woman.

don't be that guy.
posted by nadawi at 11:23 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

This has nothing to do with you. Stay out. Why are you so interested? Also, why in the world are you telling your family about this? How do you even know Alpha is telling the truth, or just making up crazy stories? (By the way, if he's just making it up, boy would it be embarrassing to talk to any of the other parties about this). Make new friends, stop fueling the fire by listening to his conquests and talking about which married co-worker you'd like to sleep with. Stop talking to him about this altogether ("Listen, I don't think what you're doing is right, but it's your life, so I'd rather not hear about any of this from now on.") If you really are that good of friends, surely you have other things to talk about?
posted by lacedcoffee at 11:43 PM on October 6, 2010

Why would you do anything? You don't have to "hint" things to Alpha, you can tell him straight out that his is not the wisest course of action, or even the second- or third-wisest, and if it makes you envious you can tell him straight out that you don't want to hear that shit. Otherwise, since none of it has anything to with you, there's no reason for you to do anything. Go bowling and drink a few too many beers and eventually you'll be over your crush on Delta.
posted by creasy boy at 11:45 PM on October 6, 2010

Nthing all the advice to stay out of it. One additional bit: if "Alpha" tries to talk to you about his affair again, let him know that you're willing to do him a favor and forget everything you know about it so far, but that deal is only operative for what he's told you in the past. I've found that in a similar situation, it was effective in shutting the guy up. It did have a chilling effect on that friendship, but it eventually mended, which if it happens in this case, may or may not be a plus.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:51 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Okay, Alpha's life is messy.

> My thoughts ranged from disappointment to extreme envy.

Why, apart from exacting petty vengeance at his success with the woman you wanted, do you want to involve yourself further?

> The Questions: Should I continue to remain silent? Should I divulge to Beta (anonymously or not) that her husband is having another affair? Should I tell either Gamma or Delta (or both) what I know? Should I confront Alpha about this privately and tell him that he needs to stop seeing Delta if he wants to save his marriage?

None of these matters is your business.

Say nothing and stand clear.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:54 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Great advice all the way down this thread. Hive wisdom firing on all cylinders. Heed it.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:33 AM on October 7, 2010

After a bit of weeding the garden in the sun (so take this with a grain of sunburned salt if you like), and mulling this over some more, I realized I've been in kinda sorta similar situations several times.

Each time I got the sense that Alpha dude was hitting me with inappropriate disclosure for a reason - namely he was seeking either my complicity or my judgment.

Having provided each once in the situations I've dealt with, and having had each result in negative outcomes ("why didn't you tell me to stop" v. "fuck you, I trusted you with this and now you think you have the right to judge me") I'm now thinking that neither response really works.

Maybe put something like this on the table: "Dude you're not respecting the appropriate boundaries here, you're not giving me an appropriate level of interpersonal space, and I feel like you're telling me to either support you in this, or judge you. Given that I'm your friend and I know your spouse, I don't want to do either and I'd like you to just cool it a bit."

Or something like that.
posted by Ahab at 12:34 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Move away from Alpha. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay away.
posted by rodgerd at 12:50 AM on October 7, 2010

Rarely has the consensus on the Green been so universal: It's not your drama, get new hobbies, get out.
posted by moiraine at 1:01 AM on October 7, 2010

Stay out of it! As far out as you can. That means don't rat out your friend... but make it clear to him that you will not provide lies to cover for him either. And tell him that having two affairs in the space of a year makes him an asshole and that he really should get a divorce.
posted by Justinian at 1:10 AM on October 7, 2010

The Questions: Should I continue to remain silent? Should I divulge to Beta (anonymously or not) that her husband is having another affair? Should I tell either Gamma or Delta (or both) what I know? Should I confront Alpha about this privately and tell him that he needs to stop seeing Delta if he wants to save his marriage?

What you should do is take a hard look at your motives.
Maybe it's just the way you've written it, but to me it sounds like you are looking for a way to be part of the drama - because you are kind of envious of all this stuff going on in his life and could use more excitement in yours. By ratting on him and / or talking to Alpha you can remain a part of it.

Please remember that your willingness to repeatedly chat with him about his past infidelity has signalled to him that not only that you are ok with what he is doing but that you are also eager for more news.

If you don't want this anymore, stop talking to him about it.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:54 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's true that it's none of your business, but I do have one suggestion. I didn't notice anything about telling Alpha that he's a dick. Instead of doing the macho ego-stroking thing and laughing together about who you want to bone at work (if indeed you do that) and, on his side of things, who he is boning at work, why not let him know that he's a moral vacuum and that you've trodden in things that deserve more respect than he does?

Just a thought...
posted by idiomatika at 2:52 AM on October 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

This like in the part in Mythbusters where they run and find something made of concrete to hide behind.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:46 AM on October 7, 2010 [7 favorites]

Nth idiomatika. How about "wow, you're pathetic. How old are you? Quit marriage counseling and do your wife a favor. Leave her, so she has time to remarry a grown up who's not a douchbag."
posted by vitabellosi at 3:55 AM on October 7, 2010 [7 favorites]

First off, Alpha is not an alpha. He's a goddamned epsilon. A stupid, lying cheat who's not trustworthy and only cares about his dick. The thing to do is forget this whole pedestrian affair and get your own life. It's not nearly as interesting as you seem to think it is.

But seriously, why was it important to tell us you wanted to "fuck" delta? That's way weird.
posted by milarepa at 4:29 AM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

As far as I can tell from your story, you are not involved in any way except for the fact that in some weird way you seem to wish that you were Alpha.

Stay NOT involved. It's not your business, and I get the sense you are just into the drama for the drama's sake.
posted by modernnomad at 4:48 AM on October 7, 2010

I don't suppose that you could arrange a fiery crash for Alpha, Beta, Delta (sad, since she's so fuckable, sigh) and yourself?

Because I, too, would like for Beta to be able to have a chance to remarry someone who's not a douchebag, or a douchebag enabler.
posted by MeiraV at 4:52 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: So far, the consensus seems to be that if he starts talking about this, I should either tell him I don't want to hear about it, or simply walk away. It also has been suggested by a few people that I shouldn't narc on him, as sooner or later his inability to keep his dick in his pants will catch up to him and make him self-immolate (figuratively speaking).

Him - "So we started fucking last night..."
Me (interrupting) - "I don't want to hear this shit any more. I know I've heard you talk about it for a long time, but no more. If you can talk to me about something other than cheating on your wife, that's cool, we can talk. Keep your marital infidelity to yourself. If that's all you feel you can talk about with the guy who has been your friend for several years, you may as well keep your mouth shut."


Him - "So Delta and I had a quickie this morning..."
Me - (walks away)

Someone suggested the Jerry Springer show, perhaps in jest. I wondered if this mess was going to wind up on Cheaters, but then I remembered all the rumors about that show being a fake.

It was mentioned somewhere up thread about how do I know any of this is real. Well, I saw him and Gamma coming back from lunchtime quickies a few times, and saw the windshield of his that Gamma smashed out during the drama after Beta found out. I once saw in real time the risqué emails he exchanges with Delta, and have seen how her body language immediately changes when in his presence. Accordingly, I am fairly confident he's giving me the big picture accurately.

It has also been suggested that I'm not a good person for not telling him to fuck off sooner. This is probably right. I'm not sure what I can do for penitence though, once I'm able to stop enabling his behavior. Perhaps that is a question for another time (or, more properly, another week).

Thanks for the answers everyone. I haven't felt great about this mess, and am trying to work up the courage to tell my one friend (that isn't a family member) to fuck off.
posted by AMSBoethius at 5:37 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I should either tell him I don't want to hear about it, or simply walk away.

I agree with this advice but I don't think you need to be rude about it. If you want to stay friends with the guy, you could start by changing the subject whenever he brings up one of extracurricular activities. After a few repetitions of his bragging and you changing the subject you could then move on to something more explicit such as, "you know, I'd rather talk about something else."

There are ways you can give him the hint without smashing his head with a two-by-four.
posted by alms at 6:19 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's not really a friend, you're just a convenient audience. You realize that being able to tell you about it is part of what he likes about it, right?

But if you need some sort of less emotional reason to give him for why you do NOT want to hear his business, tell him it's because of the subpoenas you'll be receiving in the future.

When this shit eventually hits the fan, you'll be lucky if you don't lose your job, either as a direct result or in the political fallout.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:31 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

It also has been suggested by a few people that I shouldn't narc on him, as sooner or later his inability to keep his dick in his pants will catch up to him and make him self-immolate (figuratively speaking).

No, you shouldn't narc on him because it's none of your business, not because he may or may not get caught.

You have a really dramatic writing style. This situation is not for your entertainment.
posted by desjardins at 6:34 AM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

What to do about my friend's affair?

Nothing. Your life is uninteresting enough that you settle for the vicarious thrill of thinking and gossiping about your crass friend's sexual activities. Work on that problem: have your own affairs and stay out of his.
posted by pracowity at 6:44 AM on October 7, 2010

A: You are alpha's friend not beta's, there is no reason for you to tell her, that is just being a dick.

B: You need to stop involving yourself in this aspect of his life, if he starts talking about it just say you dont want to hear about that stuff anymore and leave it at that, no need to be so melodramatic about it.

C: That's it, dont over complicate this.
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:52 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

My gosh I hope his wife insists on a barrier method.

Find better friends, man. And anyone, including 12-year-old WoW griefers, would qualify.

Stop telling people stories about this, too.
posted by SMPA at 7:04 AM on October 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

my one friend (that isn't a family member)

Hoo boy, he's your only non-related friend? That would be a problem even if he wasn't a douche. Which he is. I second (or thirtieth) the advice of everyone else in this thread that you need to stay out of this mess and away from Alpha, but besides that get involved in more social stuff and make more friends.
posted by orange swan at 7:32 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Anytime you have one person smashing car windows and another who continues to be involved with him/her -- distance yourself. These two are about the drama and excitement. A friendly way: "Bud, I can't see this ending well for any of you. I'd feel more comfortable not hearing about it."
posted by wryly at 8:29 AM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stay the fuck away from all that drama. I know people have affairs sometimes because I've seen it happen, but I've never seen the level of high-schoolery going on here.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:50 AM on October 7, 2010

Also advise Alpha not to have any more kids.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:50 AM on October 7, 2010

I'm not sure what I can do for penitence though

Stop thinking that you need to do penitence, for starters: this is not your drama. "La-la-la-can't-hear-you." Buy some noise-cancelling headphones for your cube and wear them.
posted by holgate at 10:29 AM on October 7, 2010

I have a friend who cheats on his girlfriend regularly. I don't think it's necessarily the best idea in the world, but I wouldn't dream of tattling on him to his girlfriend. If he doesn't want to end the relationship that's his choice to make, not yours.

This isn't really your business. If you disapprove, just say to him, "Listen, I'm not really cool with everything you're doing and don't really want to hear about it."

But going and telling on him? I don't see how that benefits anyone, really. His wife knows he cheated and made a decision to stay with him. She knows the chances she's taking. Their marriage is their own.
posted by fso at 10:37 AM on October 7, 2010

am trying to work up the courage to tell my one friend (that isn't a family member) to fuck off.

You don't have to tell him to fuck off (sheesh, you really are a drama queen), just tack gracefully out of those conversations. If you want to say, once, that this is not a subject you want to discuss, fine. But it doesn't have to be a big confrontation.

That said, I had two dear friends who were cheating on their spouses and ultimately the respect I lost for them, seeing all the lying and pain they caused up close, ruined our friendships.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:36 PM on October 7, 2010

Here's an idea -- every time he mentions his sex life you say "Dude! Are you coming on to me?!"

I'm just brainstorming for fun. You could just ask him if he's got anything else going on.

By the way --- no woman is out of your league --- pretty, hi-faluting women are the easiest to seduce.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2010

And if it hasn't been said, don't ever discuss the bang-ability of a co-worker with another co-worker, especially if you're both married. That is both disgusting and low, and you knew this guy had acted before. He's doing this to spite you and he loves the attention; even the fact that you are there to turn around or tell him to fuck off. He knows it stings you a little each time and that is why he does it.

Why are you doing this to yourself? Are you unaware that this is far from normal workplace buddy behavior?
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:33 PM on October 7, 2010

TLDR; he. is. not. your. friend.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:34 PM on October 7, 2010

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