Ask Alma: How Do I Comfort a Friend That’s Been Cheated On?

Alma Gill | 12/14/2016, 3:13 p.m.
Dear Alma, I would like to know how to comfort a close friend who has a cheating spouse. My friend, ...
Alma Gill

Dear Alma,

I would like to know how to comfort a close friend who has a cheating spouse. My friend, who has been faithful, has distanced herself from the relationship because of the cheating, but doesn’t want to rip the family apart due to her spouse’s infidelity. I would like to know how to comfort my faithful friend, although she knows the relationship includes another woman.


A Loyal Friend

Dear Loyal Friend,

What a great friend you are, and here’s how to be an even better one: Just listen and keep it to yourself. Evidently, that’s what you’ve been doing since your friend is comfortable enough to confide in you thus far. Cause we don’t and won’t to just anybody, I’m just sayin, you two must have history. It’s hard to pull back the veil and reveal your heartbreak, your embarrassment or your dirty laundry. It’s one thing to put it in the dryer, but when you’re left with your business hanging on the clothesline, good googoolly moogoolly, you just want to run and hide.

I know you’ve asked how to comfort her, but unfortunately no matter how hard you try, that won’t happen. She doesn’t need a comforter; she needs a confidant. To comfort means to “ease” to “relieve, cheer” and unless you’re the cheating, philandering, good for nothing…oh, wait I’m sorry, I digress. Unless you’re the spouse, that isn’t your position or place to fill. I know you mean well, but you, an outsider, can’t heal this kinda hurt for her. It is totally and wholeheartedly between her and her husband. What works for or against one couple may not for another. It’s wrong, there’s no doubt about it and a legitimate reason for divorce. But that’s not always the answer one or both participants in the relationship are seeking.

When you’re on the receiving end of infidelity, you feel depleted, worthless and downright not good enough. Your confidence takes a leave of absence and you just can’t find it anywhere. Deciding to deal with the deceit and pretending it doesn’t bother you is foolish. It’s an internal war you cannot win. I hope she’s able to fuel her soul during this most difficult time. A trusted friend provides an advantage against the enemy, and that’s exactly what you are. Without comment or judgment towards her, remain a shoulder soldier, strong and upright, ready for your friend to lean on.

Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: alwaysaskalma@gmail.com.