Ask a Former JW: Affair Breaks Friendship?

Ask a Former JW: Affair Breaks Friendship?

I fear I have lost a dear friend, who was a JW in her youth, it was not her choice, but her mother’s. I have tried to be open and loving towards her, but just recently she has entered into an adulterous relationship, while she is still living with her ex husband and their children. I just cannot support this choice of hers. I have tried to get her to ask questions about what she believes, but she slammed the door in my face and accused me of trying to convert her to Christianity. That was certainly NOT what I was trying to do, I just wanted her to ask questions and if she came to the same decision, then that was okay with me. We became friends and I knew she didn’t believe and she knew I did believe, so what changed? I am baffled and she has now eliminated me from her life because of my concern regarding her affair. I don’t know how to proceed without making the situation worse. I didn’t eliminate her from my life, she eliminated me from hers. Any advice you could give me would be very helpful, thanks. – A

A- I’m guessing that the truth is that she is not able to continue in a relationship with you. You know her secret. But I’m wondering how it could be an adulterous relationship if it is her ex-husband that she lives with?

Friends don’t always support one’s choices. She wanted unconditional acceptance from you. When you couldn’t give it, then she is faced with your judgment, and she has decided that the friendship isn’t worth it. A lot would depend on the circumstances of how you found out about the affair. If she is the one who told you, think back on how it was presented for clues on how to proceed.

You might try once more, but your approach cannot be from the standpoint of asking her what she believes. The whole topic of religion, even if that is the comfortable starting point for you, will not be helpful here. I am sure that she is familiar with the religious arguments.

What would be more pertinent from a friend might be something along these lines:

Have you thought about how this could affect your future? (hostilities in the family? affect on the children?)

What are you really seeking in this relationship? (Someone to accept you, build up your ego, rescue from a bad situation, sex? etc)

You can reiterate that you care for her, and that your not supporting what she is doing is a separate issue.

And – no offense – but I wonder whether you are attracted to her yourself and that plays into your concern? If so, she probably knows that and might even be trying to keep you out of an increasingly messy situation.

Try to set your hurt feelings aside – not because they aren’t important, but because they will actually put your ego in the middle of the situation and prevent you from being able to think clearly. Concentrate on your caring for your friend, and think from there. Think the situation through from different perspectives – this gives you more wisdom and discernment.

I don’t feel that this is specifically a JW kind of issue, and I don’t know if any of this would help you or not. Think about all you know of yourself, your friend, and the situation to see if there is a way to heal the breach between you without compromising your ethics.

And if there is not, let it go. There are some things that are outside of one’s control.

Best wishes, and I hope it works out.

Thank you for your quick reply and I will try to use your wisdom, to help me become more understanding. She has entered into an adulterous affair with a married man she recently met and my friend is still living with her ex husband and their children. [The email name] is my husband, so he is not attracted to my friend, this question came from me, A. I think that the ball is in her court now. I have unsuccessfully tried to mend fences several times, to no avail. She did however, excuse me of being a JW, and I have never been a JW. I am just trying to understand why she would do that and what JW’s believe in and why. Was I being like a JW when I truly could not support her decision, not because of my religious beliefs, but my moral beliefs. Having sex with someone else’s husband is, in my opinion, just wrong and hurtful to everyone involved.

Oh – OK, now I understand. So there’s a double-whammy in that the man in question is married, and for some reason she’s living with a man she divorced! The accusation of being like a JW is just simply scar tissue from being of that background. They are extremely legalistic, controlling, and rule-bound, often to the exclusion of higher spiritual understanding and caring. She is simply lashing out against the kind of judgment with which she is most familiar. She may have some other issues that are tied up with her history as a former Jehovah’s Witness, but you can’t really address that. Don’t take it personally. At best, you can gently remind her that you are not a JW, and ask if she’d like to talk about her experiences. She may, or may not.

The real issue is that she’s just not going to accept the criticism and judgment from someone she considers to be a friend. She still may have a tendency to have an “all or nothing” approach in such matters. Rightly or wrongly, she doesn’t feel that it’s your place to express judgment if you are her friend. She feels as though you have rejected her, so she may be “shunning” you to protect herself. Sorry that you got caught in that, but you have every right not to support her behavior, especially if it makes you complicit in a deceit.

Comments from others are welcome. Help A figure this out.

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