Ask Amy: Cheating robs a friendship of its integrity

April 22, 2012

DEAR AMY: I have been friends with “Jackie” for years. We are both single moms and get lonely for affection from the opposite sex.

Jackie has been chasing after married men. There was one man who lived quite a distance away she would go visit. She even got her daughter attached to him. This man is married with kids of his own! I have told her that he will not leave his wife for her. She said she knows this and doesn’t care.

She came to me a few weeks ago to tell me she had met someone else, and that he lives in our city. I was so excited for her and knew this is what she needed. Now I’ve learned it is her best friend’s husband!

I am floored. I told her that going after her friend’s husband is the ultimate betrayal and that she should stop now before she destroys that family. She says she knows this but isn’t going to do anything about it.

To be very honest, when I am ready to date again, I don’t know if I could ever trust her around my partner. I can’t listen to her talk about him or ask advice about him. I can barely look at her now! Please help. What can I do to make her see what she is doing is wrong? She is a great friend, but this is now making me question our friendship. I know she is insecure and craving attention. -- Pulling My Hair Out

DEAR PULLING: The primary piece of wisdom I have learned in this job is the very simple truism: You cannot change someone else. You can only change yourself.

You have shared your point of view. You have urged your friend to behave differently. Her answer is, “I know, but I don’t care.” Your job now is to decide what you will do. I agree with you that this is a potential friendship-buster.

At the very least, you can ask her not to share the details of these unfortunate relationships with you. You should also urge her to be a better and more responsible parent.

If you choose to pull away from her and she expresses her dismay, you can always use her own response: “I know but I don’t care.”

DEAR AMY: I am a member of a nondenominational Christian church.

I love my church. I have been a volunteer in many different capacities over the years as a community outreach worker, a greeter at the front doors and helping with special events like the Fourth of July fireworks and car shows, etc.

I have not been doing any of these things for the past year, however. The thing is that whenever the pastors put the call out for volunteers, I have responded almost every time. However, lately, I have not gotten a return response from anyone at the church.

I can’t imagine anything I may or may not have done for them to not want me as a volunteer and I only imagine that there are other people out there from all different churches who feel the way I do, which is — unwanted.

What are your thoughts on this? And what do you think I should do? -- Unwanted

DEAR UNWANTED: This is an important pastoral matter (and I’m sure it is quite common in all types of communities).

You should seek a meeting with your pastor during office hours. Share your frustration and ask if there is anything you should be doing differently. Try to be open to the answer, even if it involves a suggestion about your own work habits.

Most likely this is an administrative issue having an impact on other church members, too. It sounds as if your church needs a new volunteer coordinator. Is this a job for which you would be well suited?

DEAR AMY: “Stressed Out Bride” was nervous about inviting a troublesome and hard-drinking co-worker to her wedding.

I think she should invite the person but also hire a security person to police the event. She should make sure she hires a professional, not a family member. -- Avid Reader

DEAR READER: Or she could simply not invite the person most likely to require an escort from the building.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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