DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a very close friend group of six people. Four of us have been friends for 30 years, the other two for about 10 years. I was close with Friend Five separately for 20 years, and introduced her to the group because I knew she would fit in. Another member introduced Friend Six.
For a long time, things were great! Outsiders were jealous of our friendships, wishing they had friends who were so close.
But nothing lasts forever. I found out that Friend Five, who is married, was having an affair with Friend Six.
I had suspected something, mostly because Five stopped calling and texting me. She used to invite me to go to the movies all the time, and that stopped. I used to invite her to the beach, but she said she wasn’t a “beach person.” Then I found out that she was going to the beach with Six, often, and staying at her house overnight. They have also traveled out of town together, only telling us about it when they were about to be caught in a lie.
Before this affair, we all did things together. After the affair started, the invitations from Five and Six just went to one other person in the group, who told me she felt like she was invited to be the alibi.
I am hurt because I feel that Five is choosing to spend time with Six instead of me; there is no time in her life for me. I have struggled with this and have needed counseling. My husband says that everything changes, and accepting change is a mature thing to do. I don’t want my friendship to change due to her affair. That’s not fair.
I confronted Five, saying I felt betrayed. She responded that she and Six didn’t want to hurt anyone, and that they couldn’t help who they love. She said they had decided to end it, but remain friends -- but I have seen Five’s car at Six’s beach house several times since she told me it was over.
How do I handle this? Do I confront her again and tell her how I feel? Or do I really have to let her go? I don’t want to stop hanging out with my other friends, but I almost feel like I need to. Being with the whole group gives me anxiety and makes me angry.
GENTLE READER: Five is lucky to have you as a friend. You are assuming all of the potential guilt and consternation for her. Attention to your own emotional state might be useful.
Miss Manners does not suggest that you approve of your friend’s decisions, but she does agree with your husband that you cannot prevent change. That seems to be the real source of your anger. People divorce, move, have children and adopt pets -- all of these things can change the dynamic of a friendship.
If you wish to remain friends, you accept the inevitability of change, even if you do not condone its cause.