Is It Ever Okay To Be Friends With ‘The Other Woman’?

Reddit is alive with debate after one woman decided to exclude her friends ex-husband and the woman he cheated with from their large friendship group...

The Other woman

by Beth Ashley |
Updated on

Once again, Reddit is alive with hot debate. This time, the row is over whether or not you can be friends with ‘the other woman’, as in the woman your friend got cheated on with. It’s a complex issue most of us can relate to. If you haven't been cheated on yourself, likelihood is you know someone whose gone through it. It’s never just the two people involved in the relationship who get hurt - entire friendship circles are impacted by infidelity. And although some people won’t want to admit it, the ‘other woman’ - or man - often ends up hurt too.

In this case, a 38-year-old woman (who remains anonymous in true Reddit fashion) is part of a large group of friends in her neighbourhood who take it in turns hosting dinner parties for the whole crowd.

On the Am I The Asshole thread, she posted that the group of friends has recently become a little disjointed. One couple broke up and the husband moved out after it was revealed he was cheating with his secretary. Now, he lives with said secretary. Yes, this does sound like the beginning of the next best-selling fiction thriller.

The OP (original poster) explains that it's her turn to host dinner this month and she doesn’t want to invite the 'other woman', but some of her pals think she’s being a bit out of order. So, naturally she took to Reddit to find out whether she was in the right. Where else to go for completely honest takes, but the Am I The Asshole Reddit subthread?

She explains the story like this:

'The husband of my friend (who’s back home with her parents otherwise she’d be invited) asked my husband, as they’re friends, about the plans and assumed he and his mistress would be invited. My husband said no and that due to circumstances none of the wives wanted them (both him who betrayed our friend and his girlfriend who was very aware of his wife and kids at home).

I don’t care to be this woman’s friend.

'Well, the girlfriend came by to talk to me today. She approached me right as I was getting home from work so I’m assuming she was waiting for me. She wants to try to mend fences and build friendships with the wives of her boyfriends, friends and neighbours as she’s now part of the community. I’ll admit I was exhausted after working a 48-hour on-call shift and I am very protective of my friends normally. I don’t care to be this woman’s friend. I simply said to her "I don’t want to be friends with a woman that screws around with married men and your boyfriend stopped being my friend when he destroyed his family and broke my friend's heart". And just walked into my home.

'My husband got a call from her boyfriend and he was furious with me for making his girlfriend upset. My husband really doesn’t like what his friend did either and told him that he doesn’t support cheating either and understands that I don’t want to continue a friendship with him or his girlfriend. My friends are split. All my friends that are friends with his soon to be ex-wife are 100% with me and most think I should’ve been harsher with my words.’

The comments that follow are divisive as expected. Some believe the woman deserves to be isolated as she’s ‘guilty by association’ while others feel sorry for her. One Reddit user wrote ‘I can't believe the fucking audacity of the cheating a-hole and his mistress expecting to be welcomed with open arms into the wife's friend group? Like everybody's supposed to just smile and pretend at the Thanksgiving table that everything is fine and dandy and be all friendly with them? They must be delusional’

‘She's not the problem, the husband is the one who cheated,' another commented.

This woman is new to the friendship group. The only information the wider group has about her is that she’s been involved in cheating and heartbreak, a heartbreak that hurt their close friend. Now, relationship experts will often tell us that in order to repair a friendship or relationship damaged by infidelity, the cheater has to be honest and remorseful about their actions for a chance to repair the relationship. But what happens when there is no relationship to be repaired? They don’t know her and now it will be difficult to ever embrace her.

Cheating or being part of cheating is a sore subject that most people find unforgivable since it can shake a relationship to its core. Or, in this case, end a marriage where children end up being collateral damage. But I agree with the latter commenter - this woman did not cause the problem. The husband did. This mess isn’t the fault of the ‘mistress’. She didn’t enter a marriage that required commitment and honesty like the husband had, and she is obviously showing remorse and a desire to fix things. In many ways, she’s another victim of the husband’s poor decisions.

Other friends keep telling me that she’s not the problem, the husband cheated.

The original poster knows this, explaining that ‘Other friends keep telling me that she’s not the problem, the husband cheated. And while I agree with that, I also believe that this girl was aware he had a wife and young kids at home and knew the damage this would do. No, she didn’t take a vow, but personally, I think it’s very immoral and it’s like backstabbing another woman to get involved with someone that’s in a committed relationship. I don’t see why I should be friends. It’s not like I’m friends with the whole neighbourhood to start with anyways.’

The original poster sees that what the woman did was nowhere near as bad as what the husband has done. As she said, she ‘didn’t take a vow.’ But just because this woman didn’t cause the problem, doesn’t mean the original poster is required to offer a solution.

But I believe that quite often, for some women, not being associated with cheaters makes them feel protected - as though their own marriages will be safe away from those people. The original poster’s decision to end her friendship with the husband and not start a new one with the mistress is hers to make. If she never wants to speak to them, she shouldn’t have to. It’s a shame the ‘other woman’ has to be devastated by that decision, but this is another woman hurt by the husband, not the original poster. Why should she make the effort to create a smooth and easy experience for a man who’s made such a hurtful decision?

But what do you think, is she, or is she not, the asshole?

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