Cheating on My Friend

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I know I probably don’t deserve to feel better about this, but I always feel so awful about doing this to a good friend and I just don’t know what to do anymore. About two years ago I was going through a really tough time…and a good friend of mine was there for me. The messed up thing was one time when we went out to hang out I ended up getting really drunk and kissed her boyfriend and let him touch my chest. At the time I really didn’t think it was a big deal, but thinking about my actions now I can see that it was EXTREMELY messed up. I always think about it and the fact that I didn’t immediately notice what a messed up thing it was really disturbs me. I feel like my character is turning black and I have no idea how to feel better about this..or if I even deserve it.

What also helped me notice my wrong doings was the long term effects it had on their relationship. She was unable to trust her boyfriend and couldn’t connect with him physically anymore! The guilt grows. After over a year I tried to apologize for everything though an online message and he never replied. Should I still try to talk to her or leave them alone? I don’t know what to do anymore or how to relieve the guilt I feel.

A: You’ve done everything you can to assume your responsibility for your part in the incident with your friend’s boyfriend. But you are going way overboard. No one made him kiss you or touch you. He bears as much responsibility as you do. Your friend’s issues at this point are with him, not with you. I suspect she knows this and that’s why she didn’t trust him. So, yes. Leave that part alone.

Of more concern to me is how much you are beating yourself up for a momentary lapse in judgment two years ago. You are doing what is called “ruminating.” You are going over and over a bad thing without ever letting it go. Ruminating is often linked to depression.

There are coping techniques that sometimes help. For example: Whenever this incident comes up in your mind, you can distract yourself by thinking about something positive. You can meditate, pray, or do something that requires concentration. The idea is to break the cycle of ruminating by shifting your thinking to something else.

If that works – great! If not, you may want to consider seeing a therapist for an evaluation for depression. Indicators in your letter that you are depressed are your statements that you don’t deserve to feel better and that your character is flawed.

If depression is indeed the problem, your therapist will recommend treatment that may include some medication as well as some talk therapy. With appropriate help, you can let go of the past and get on with life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Cheating on My Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/07/cheating-on-my-friend/