Why Does Cheating Feel Right?
Q: I'm 25. "Lilly," my best friend for seven years, and I both met "Andrew" six years ago. Though we were both attracted to him, I stepped back and they became a couple. They now have a 3-year-old son, but are struggling in their relationship. I went on to get married and have two kids. A year ago my husband cheated on me with a close friend of mine. I was devastated, and we divorced. While going through hard times in my marriage, Lilly and Andrew were both there to support me, and Andrew and I began to develop a strong intimacy. If there really is a soul mate for every person, I feel that Andrew is mine, and he feels the same.
Meanwhile, Lilly is trying to figure out her life and her relationship. Andrew tells me that he is only still there so that he can help her find what she is looking for. The friendship I have built with Andrew is the most meaningful and fulfilling I'll ever know, but with Lilly, I see that even though we have cried on each other's shoulders in the past, our friendship was never meant to last forever. I know that the logical thing would be to walk away, let them work out their problems and just be there to support them. But my feelings for Andrew are so much stronger than I've ever felt for my husband. So to me it almost feels right. -- Jessica
Dr. Susan: Thank you, Jessica, for giving me this great chance to explain to my readers something rather nasty about human nature. Which is: When we want something, we lie to ourselves big-time so we can justify having it, even if we have to steal it. Jessica, listen to yourself: Yes, it would be logical to walk away. What's logical is also what's right, as is often the case.
Quit kidding yourself about the issues: It's not about which of them is destined to be your friend longer. It's about your being too weak to stand by a friend who stood by you. It's about wanting a man so much that you're willing to screw up several lives: yours, his, your friend's, your children's (already in crisis due to their dad's leaving), and Lilly and Andrew's child. You do realize that if you became a couple with Andrew, he would always be in touch with Lilly because they share a child? She would hate you and think of you as a home wrecker, but you'd be the stepmother to her kid. Most importantly, though, Jessica, is that it would be shortsighted to base your life on the nebulous concept of soul mates. Your feelings for Andrew are only intense because they're forbidden. That adds enough thrill to mess with your head and make you think "this is meant to be." It's not. Wise up, grow up, and if you can't be a decent friend to Lilly, at least get out of the way and let her solve her own problems without you becoming the problem. Remember how devastated you were when your husband betrayed you with a friend? Do you really intend to cause that pain in another woman, your own friend?
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.