• Resolving Problems

Feeling betrayed and blindsided by a best friend who is a co-worker

November 28, 2015 | By | 12 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels blindsided after her close friend introduces her to a guy and doesn’t tell her he is dating a mutual friend.

QUESTION

Dear Friendship Doctor,

I stumbled upon your site a few weeks ago and I appreciate the insight as it has helped me through many awkward moments. I recently purchased your book as well. Didn’t think I would be writing to you so soon but I seem to be to a weird situation and would like your advice.

About three years ago a coworker named Leah and I became very close friends and eventually we became the best of friends. We have many common friends including our neighbors next door as well as a girl named Amy. I guess I would deem Amy a close acquaintance as well. We all run in the same circles and see each other at the office.

About 9 months ago, Leah’s best friend (Bill) moved here and we met one night. Bill and I eventually hooked up but not before I asked Leah if that would be okay. She gave me the go ahead and even encouraged it. This very casual relationship lasted for months during which time she knew about and I discussed it with her in detail.

One day we were all out at the bar and Amy revealed to me that she and Bill had been seriously seeing each other; she was falling in love and it started before he and I even met. I quickly paid my bill and left the bar as I now realized that everyone there knew and Bill and his friends were enjoying this awkward moment at my expense. Leah followed me outside and when I confronted her she said she didn’t want to be in the middle and that we are all adults so it wasn’t her place to tell us each other’s business.

I was devastated that she would let me be embarrassed like that and that she wasn’t sorry for what she did. After several days, Leah still didn’t tell Amy, so I felt the right thing to do was to tell her. Amy was so very thankful I was honest with her and as we corroborated our stories of betrayal and the calculated deception by Bill and Leah that turned our stomachs.

Now here is the problem, I work next to Leah, about 6 feet away. I hate this awkwardness but I don’t know how I can forgive her when she isn’t apologetic for what she did. She has been a great friend to me for years, but I don’t know how we get out of this. She is confused on why I am mad and feels it’s not fair. I would love your insight on where to go from here.

Thanks so much for your time.
Fran

ANSWER

Hi Fran,

I can see how you would feel betrayed by your close friend. In hindsight, you wish you weren’t blindsided and that Leah had told you upfront that Amy was already involved with Bill. Try to understand her point of view as well.

1) You’ve indicated that your relationship with Bill was a casual one so Leah may not have realized you would be hurt knowing he was involved with Amy.

2) She may have felt as if it would be a betrayal for her to tell you about Bill’s relationship with Amy, thinking it was his responsibility, not hers.

3) Leah may have been blindsided, too. It’s likely that she didn’t know the “big reveal” would come out in a pubic place where you would feel so embarrassed.

4) The relationship between Amy and Bill may have been a more casual one than the one it later became.

I’m not sure why or whether Leah and/or Bill had actually planned in any calculated way to deceive you or Amy. Unfortunately, things may just have turned out that way.

The onus of responsibility to tell you that he was already involved with someone you knew should have been Bill’s but I can understand your disappointment in Leah, who literally was in the middle.

Since you work with Leah and have mutual friends, you need to straighten things out. Have another talk with her and explain how hurt and betrayed you felt. Give her a chance to express her point of view, too. If you begin blaming her at the onset, she will only clam up and get defensive.

Given that the friendship has a strong foundation, you may be able to overcome this hurdle—although it will take time for you to restore your trust.

If the conversation doesn’t go well and you can’t get past this, remind Leah that although you disagree, you both need to maintain a productive and amicable relationship in the office and don’t want to make your mutual friends feel any more uncomfortable than they already do.

This is a difficult situation, I hope I’ve understood the problem and that this helps.

My best,

Irene

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Category: Disappointing friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (12)

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  1. MM says:

    Bill sounds like a complete player. Not sure why they didnt tell you before, he was seeing someone else. Sounds odd.

  2. Maddie says:

    Casual hook ups have consequences. Work friendship rarely lasts the course. I think many boundaries are blurred here, including the OPs.

    • Maddie says:

      Also, Amy may have started off as a casual hook up as well, who turned into something more. If one is casually hooking up for sex, one needs to accept this will never be a monogamous relationship.

      Don’t play with fire if being burned is going to upset you.

  3. Lauren M says:

    As I understand it, Bill and Leah are something else. Maybe those two belong together. From what I read in your post, you say that Amy and Bill were together before you even MET Bill. Then, while still with Amy, Bill hooked up with you. Unbeknownst to you (and perhaps Amy), Bill was also in a relationship with Amy at exactly the same time. Bill really gets around, and he creates quite a dramatic stir.

    And apparently, from what I understand, Leah knew all about Bill and Amy and also about Bill and you simultaneously. Could Leah not have told you that Bill and Amy had already hooked up and were together, instead of letting you in for that two-timing double trouble. Yes, that kind of deception really is stomach churning.

    Since you still have to work with that “friend” Leah, it would be better to take the proverbial high road at work. Be polite, business like and professional. Red flags everywhere around Leah.

    She played with your love life, don’t let her ruin your professional life.

    • Tracy says:

      It seems Leah did the same thing to Amy– failed to tell her about you and Bill. And yes, Bill is a player. Everything sounds way too close for comfort. I would take the high road and only engage Leah at work and let the other two go . Good thing you didn’t fall in love with Bill—.

  4. DJ says:

    Firstly I’m happy that you were able to chat to Amy about the situation. So things aren’t awkward there. I agree with Irene that it’s good to have another talk with Leah but keep it more to this has been really awkward for me as I had no idea re Amy (and how you would have done things differently if you’d known the full picture as casual means for you with someone who isn’t seeing someone else) so how can we get past this. But yes mega awkward!!!

  5. T says:

    It always gets messy when people cross over at work getting involved with each other,whether it just be a friendship, or becoming secret lovers. Casual affair always turn messy,as the person who wants no one to know is the one who does it on a regular basis.It takes a while to learn sometimes that its better to be professional on all counts by keeping your work life separate from your private life. Its always best to be pleasant at work but keep to yourself,keep your life out of work to yourself. The only thing you can do, and is a good trick is to go to work and start again in your head by pretending to yourself you dont know any of them. Just carry on being pleasant, dont get into any conversations that go beyond work and work tasks.Slowly withdraw and be absent from being around all of them on an intimate level. Start being the person you would be if you didnt know them. If this fails,you can look for another workplace and start again,but this time dont ever get involved with co workers on any level, outside of work. Offices are the worst place for gossip and trouble. It really is the only way. Dont worry its not the end of the world,you will get through it. Im predicting you will end up leaving, people usually do when this type of thing happens.

  6. Susan says:

    If I were Leah, I think I would have said, sure, go ahead, but you know you’re not the only one, right? Because I’d probably know my friend well enough to realize that she assumed she was–if she was asking if it was okay–and to know she’d be hurt if she found out otherwise. Especially if he was also sleeping with a mutual friend. I mean, we’re all adults but adults have feelings, too, and if they were good friends she must have known how her friend felt about relationships, especially if she checked this one out first. I can be good friends with someone and still warn another friend if they’re about to get involved with them if it might lead to fireworks in the end.

  7. Melanie says:

    Oh my. I suspect I’m older than Fran, and while I believe I’m fairly open-minded, I don’t think much good ever results when individuals in a group of mutual friends have “casual” hook-ups. As Amy said, this is very complicated. I am afraid I have little advice to contribute — other than to remain as civil as possible with the coworker.

  8. Mrs. Chen says:

    Hi Fran,
    It’s hard to not feel betrayed by Leah. But, I think she made the right decision in a very complicated situation.

    You said Bill is her “best friend”. So she chose not to betray him. Beyond the fact that he is her bestie, she is also right in that you all are adults and should be left alone to handle your own sexual relationships. Also, she may have felt back then, based on things Bill, Amy and maybe even you have told her, that you all were just having fun, casual sex. So who is she to get in the middle of your fun and get all “Judge Judy” by accusing you all of cheating on each other. I am going to guess she did not predict that Amy and Bill would get this serious.

    I would talk to Leah and listen to her side. Maybe she really didn’t betray you as much as she just let you all have your fun.

  9. Amy F says:

    What s complicated situation. I’m not sure why the situation embarrassed you. Bill was the one who slept with two friends, that’s on him, though if you weren’t exclusive he didn’t cheat.

    For Leah to have told you, she would have had to put the friendship between the two of you above her other friends. It wasn’t her business to tell Amy.

    I think Leah proved that she’s got good friend skills by refusing to get in the middle of the her friendships and staying out of the fray. She seems to have good boundaries. You’re the one who is asking for more from her than she’s willing to give, by expecting her to betray the confidences of others.

    If you continue to hold onto this, you risk damaging the friendship beyond repair which would likely result in you also losing your group of friends.

    Good luck figuring this out.

  10. Ben says:

    One thing to remember in all things human, “people do what people do.” As hard as I find some behaviors others do difficult to accept we all do what makes sense to us. It’s always easy to blame others, but we play a part too. Those statements were not meant to blame you either. Merely an attempt to help you disconnect from seeing her behavior as anything but “human.” I deal in a world where many people I would have considered friends and confidants have proved to me my disappointment in when things don’t work out the way I would have liked more about the human condition than anything else. I really feel for your situation. On a scale of 1-10 where 10 would mean totally intolerable I would put yours right up there. I hope whatever happens you’re able to attain some peace of mind for yourself.

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