I am a year and a half out from discovery and four months since divorce. I am strictly keeping no contact. I’m pretty happy for the most part.
One thing that I’m struggling with is inner conflict when making friends. During discovery, I found out that my husband had been cheating on me with one of my best friends. I felt betrayed from so many angles.
Now, when I make friends, I can’t help but wonder “Are you the type of person who pursues married people?” Of course, since I am neither married nor dating, there is no way to test them in this. However, it has created distance between me and potential new friends.
So my question is the following: I know in relationships and friendships there are no guarantees, but how can I make sure that the people I’m investing in aren’t people who are going to betray me?
In light of grief
Dear In Light of Grief,
Oh, I have just the product. For $399 I’ll send you the How To Affair-Proof Your Friendships toolkit, and if you order now I’ll throw in Batshit Spray! Does that new friend look suspiciously unstable? Batshit spray! It traps the crazy in a protective coating.
That was snark. Which is probably what your twitchy heart doesn’t want right now, but come on, Light. As you rightly prefaced, there are no guarantees in life. And I certainly don’t have one in my pocket. But rest assured not every person is a back-stabber.
Whenever you feel prone to Everyone Sucks gloom, remember — a couple cheating bastards screwed you over — but a bunch more lifted you up. For every one fuckwit leaving a trail of destruction, there’s more good souls doing clean up in aisle 6.
Think of every stranger on this site who takes the time to read and pen words of encouragement, or share their own similar story so you don’t feel so alone. Doesn’t that count for something?
Yes, Tracy, but I don’t KNOW these people.
Know that they exist.
And YOU exist. And you’re presumably a good person.
Not everyone cheats, which is why we’re shocked when it happens. Because it’s not the normal order of things — it’s transgressive.
Paradoxically, some people think this site is gloomy and cynical (“Yonder, I see a unicorn!”), when really I think it’s righteous. I’m telling people to hold out for CHARACTER. It matters. Not everyone cheats, just like not everyone steals the pensions funds, or conspires with a foreign government to throw elections. (Yes, that was me being political. I can only silently scream for so long.)
You know who wants us to sink into cynicism that these things don’t matter and everyone does them, no harm, no foul? FUCKWITS.
Oh, did I sleep with your boyfriend? Get over that. Everyone does it.
No. Not everyone does it. This person needs to be shunned. And left to their own terrible choices so karma can bite them in the ass. Good luck with that.
Yes, terrible people are out there. Too goddamn many of them, and far, far too many sheep who lack critical thinking skills. Our job is to have discernment and standards. And if someone in our life transgresses in ways that are unacceptable to us — like sleeping with your boyfriend — the courage to enforce consequences. Off you go! Off the social register! Buh-bye. You’ve been voted OFF the island.
Rebuilding a life after betrayal — in your case, a double betrayal — is fixing your picker and learning to trust your resilience.
We don’t control other people, but we absolutely control how we respond and what we will put up with.
When you know this about yourself, that you’re an awesome friend and someone should be glad to know you, and you don’t bestow your friendship (a gift!) on just anyone — in short, when you know your worth — you won’t be afraid to have boundaries.
Having good boundaries means you won’t attract users. Oh, they might sniff around, but they won’t get very far. However, if you stick around for lopsidedness, if you spackle over signs of bad character, if your own values are messed up (okay, she sleeps with everyone’s boyfriend, but her hair is so pretty!) then you’ll have users in your life.
But! But! How will I know? This means I have to invite them into my life and test them out!
Yes. Sorry, life is risk. It’s not fair to future potential friends to tar them with the fuckwit brush. Don’t do that to future dates and don’t do it to future friends. Heal yourself, take some time, and then put yourself out there. (Because remember, you’re AWESOME. Who wouldn’t want to be your friend?)
After being chumped, the end result should be MORE courage, not less. Because chumps have stared down that motherfucker Rejection and survived. What can the world throw at you after you’ve been sexually humiliated and conspired against?
What is asking that nice person out for coffee after that? What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? She says, “I’m sorry, you’re utterly repulsive and I wouldn’t have coffee with you if you were the last person on earth and there was a global coffee shortage.” You’ve invested 30 seconds in asking. That’s not a marriage or a mortgage. It’s 30 seconds. On an unworthy person. NEXT.
Discernment. Standards. Solid knowledge that good people are out there. Courage. Coffee dates.
Go get ’em.