Double jeopardy: what do you do if your best friend steals your man?
Your best friend always had your back--and now she has your man!
Together, your man and your best friend have committed a dual deception that has left you disrespected, dazed and dumbfounded.
Granted, today's Black woman isn't naive; friends and lovers who have sought her trust have already earned it. But even the most seasoned Sistergirl can be blindsided by this ultimate act of betrayal.
Some believe that the alleged drought of sane, single, upwardly mobile (and 100 percent heterosexual) Black males has driven some women into coveting mode, and causing the man-stealing best friend to strike more often than you think.
In Atlanta, Kim (last name withheld per request)never thought she would have crossed that line. "I'd just ended what had been a lengthy, terrible relationship, and my girlfriend invited me out to dinner with her and her boyfriend to cheer me up," Kim says. "I never knew that he and I shared the same sense of humor, and the same taste ... We instinctively ordered the same dish ..."
And sooner than later they were sharing the same bed. Kim says that she felt horrible about betraying her friend, and she wanted to end the affair, but she "didn't feel horrible enough to be lonely again."
Oftentimes, according to relationship experts and Sisters who have been there before, bringing your mate around your suddenly single girlfriend could lead to disaster.
Just ask Sibyl (last name withheld, per request) of Chicago. After Sibyl's daughter went off to college, she and her husband settled into a very cozy home-alone relation ship, and were poised to relax and enjoy their empty nest.
But when Sibyl invited her best friend from work for a holiday dinner, everything changed.
"Gradually, my best friend and I stopped hanging out," Sibyl recalls. "And then he was gone 'over to a friend's house' a lot more often. My conversations with my husband had changed, too, but I thought that we were just going through a rut."
Sibyl and her husband, a house painter, had separate phone lines because he worked from the home. Once, while in her husband's home office, Sibyl answered his phone and was startled to hear her best friend's voice on the other line. "She started talking really fast, trying to explain why she was calling my husband, and I knew that she was lying," Sibyl recalls.
The husband and the best friend continued sneaking around behind Sibyl's back and one night when he didn't return home at all, Sibyl gave in to her woman's intuition. "I called her house early the next morning and told her to put him on the phone, and she did," she says. "He told me that he became exhausted from painting her house and that the fumes put him to sleep. I told him that I was packing his [bags] and sending them over there."
Sibyl confronted her husband about the affair and he confessed, although her best friend continued to deny anything was going on. Her husband moved out, and Sibyl still sees her former friend at work, although she is unsure if the friend is still seeing her husband. She does not speak to her former friend.
Sibyl and scores of other women who find themselves in such a painful predicament sometimes find it difficult to trust men and women friends again. And the brokenhearted woman is sure to be haunted by a barrage of questions: How could they do this to me? How often have they hooked-up behind my back? Who else knows about the betrayal? Does he find her more attractive? Is she better in bed? Does he love her?
"The irony of betrayal is that the victim may pursue unhealthy, abusive and promiscuous relationships, partly because of conditioning and acceptance of past mistreat ment, says Detroit husband-and-wife relationship counselors, psychologist Paris M. Finner Williams, Ph.D., and Robert D. Williams, MSW, authors of Single Wisdom: Empowering Singles, Divorcees, Widows & Widowers for Living a Purposeful Life. "Finally, the ultimate tragedy of betrayal is physical violence, permanent physical damage or death."
Psychologist Brenda Wade, Ph.D., of San Francisco, says that the first step to a successful emotional recovery is to realize your personal contribution to the situation and to ask the right questions of your partner and yourself.
"Don't ask, 'Why did they do this to me?' That's the wrong question," says Dr. Wade, author of Power Choices: 7 Milestones on Your Journey to Wholeness, Peace and Love. "Don't ask questions that lead you to feel like you're a victim. You may have been victimized, but you're not a victim. Victims have no power."
She continues. "Instead, ask yourself, 'How did I contribute to this situation? Did I tell my best friend all the details about my sex life and my personal life with my mate so that she became interested in him sexually? Did I leave the two of them alone and encourage them to go out because I was too tired to join them? Did I grow up with betrayal in my family, so now all that I can expect is betrayal?"
After realizing your personal contributions to the situation, the next step, according to relationship therapists, is to engage in constructive confrontation with your unfaithful patner. This discussion take place with a mutual, trusted individual present, and only when you're able to get your point across without insults, accusations and counter-accusations.
Can your relationship be saved?
According to statistics, a whopping 69 percent of African-American marriages end in divorce, with many couples citing adultery as the ultimate deal-breaker. However, some couples do manage to not only survive the scandal but, in fact, re-emerge as a stronger family unit, explains Dr. Brenda Wade.
"He must genuinely take responsibility and acknowledge that he did something that was truly hurtful," Dr. Wade explains. "He must be truly willing to work and make amends for it."
Unfortunately, not every relationship is worth saving, cautions Dr. Paris M. Finner-Williams, who is also a divorce attorney. She says that whether or not your relationship endures depends on the willingness of both parties to fight for it.
"There are conditions that may merit a divorce," she tells Ebony. "We would investigate the possibility of divorce when a partner engages in illicit intercourse and sexual immorality and unfaithfulness; when there is desertion or non-support; when the partner cannot financially and emotionally support the marriage by bringing their resources home; when the couple is unequally yoked and it comes to a point where the irreconcilable differences deteriorate their own personal functioning; and when there's mental, emotional, physical and/or psychological abuse that causes one individual to feel imprisoned and entrapped."
Under no circumstances should you consider rekindling a friendship with the woman who double-crossed you, according to psychologist Brenda Wade. She suggests that you focus on healing your wounds and charting out a new path in your life. "This is a time for deep growth," she says. "Do something new. Read inspiring books; take classes that will help you to grow spiritually. Remind yourself that other women have risen up out of these ashes." Sibyl lost her husband to her best friend more than nine years ago. Today she has reclaimed her life, crediting the wisdom and support of an aunt and her own spirituality. "My aunt Dolly told me that the other woman did me a favor. Just imagine if I had wasted a lifetime on someone who could not be trusted," Sibyl explains. "And now I realize that God is there for [me], even when it looks like He's not. God may reveal things to you that might hurt at the time, but knowing the truth makes you a better person in the end."