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Some connections are hard to break

Source: Rowan Jordan / Getty

I was extremely self-righteous in my younger years and I had very strong feelings about infidelity, which I still don’t completely understand. In high school, I’d tell myself that if one of my friends ever knowingly dated someone that they knew was in a relationship, I’d cut them off. Then it happened. Several times, actually. And I definitely did not end those friendships. I carried a similar philosophy into early adulthood. Instead, I told myself if one of my friends ever dated a married man (or woman), the friendship would be over. Of course, I became an adult and that happened, too. Did I cut my friend off? Nope.

If adulthood has taught me anything, it’s that nothing is completely black and white. There will never come a time where you will agree with all of the choices made by your loved ones. In fact, it’s possible that the lifestyles of your friends and relatives will go against your personal beliefs more often than they agree with them. But it’s really not our job to play the role of judge and jury to the people we love.  At the same time, that doesn’t mean you have to go along with something that you know is wrong. So if you’ve found yourself in the tricky situation where a friend or close relative is dating a married person, here are some tips for operating in love without encouraging their behavior.

Love them

We’ve all been guilty of making poor decisions at one point or another, but it’s comforting to think that the people who care about us loved us through our foolishness. While carrying on an affair is a huge no-no, none of us are perfect. It’s okay to continue to love on people even when you disagree with their lifestyle.

Don’t cosign

If you feel that your friend’s actions are dead wrong, don’t affirm her by being a “yes (wo)man” and cosigning her behavior. If she wants to vent about the predicament she’s in, it’s okay to lend a listening ear. However, if she’s looking for you to validate her decision, don’t do it. No matter how you slice it, both she and her married partner are dead wrong.

Be honest about how you feel

If you feel particularly strongly about the affair, it’s okay to lovingly tell your friend how you feel — even if you know that the conversation will be uncomfortable. Real friends tell each other the truth.

Know when to mind your business

If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t see the need to tell your friend how you truly feel about her affair, it’s also okay to mind your business and try to ignore what’s going on as much as humanly possible. We all have enough going on in our personal lives to not take on the burden of someone else’s messy romantic relationships. You can also make a statement by refusing to engage in conversation with them about the relationship entirely.

Don’t enable the affair

Once you start doing things like helping your friend hide the affair, helping to coordinate meetings, or providing resources that allow your friend and her unavailable partner to keep their affair going, you’ve made yourself an accomplice.

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