My best friends are dating and one cheated. Should I get involved?

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Question: “Two of my best friends have been dating for three years. A few weeks ago, one of them went out to a club with his ex-boyfriend. The two ended up sleeping together out of nowhere. It seems like it was some weird lapse in judgment. He quickly informed his current boyfriend, who’s devastated, and now our friend group is in disarray.

The one who cheated doesn’t want to break up. I’m close with both of them and don’t want to pick sides, but I do feel like the relationship is salvageable.

What should I do? Do I stay out of it or get involved to try and help them mend their relationship? Do I stay friends with both of them separately? How?"

My partner is getting very close with his flirty coworker. Can I demand he quit his job?

Answer: While it sounds like you have the best intentions, getting involved in trying to actually help mend their relationship may not be a good idea.

From the outside looking in, their relationship may look perfect. However, it clearly isn’t as one of the partners decided to stray and damage it by cheating. If your friend that was cheated on chooses to establish a boundary that cheating is unacceptable and he's done, you need to respect that. It may even damage your friendship with him if you choose to push the subject of reconciliation.

Now that’s not to say you can’t help and support them both separately. John Gottman, a relationship expert with over 40 years of research under his belt, likes to say that cheating is due to deficiencies in the relationship and typically from one partner feeling neglected, lonely or unappreciated.

Should I walk away? My boyfriend moved in after just a few months and then totally changed.

I think the best way you can help your friend, that may even in turn benefit his relationship, is by having a conversation that prompts him to start working on himself. Why did he cheat in the first place? Could he work on himself and address any insecurities he may have? In my experience cheating very rarely comes from a single lapse in judgement, but rather a series of small cracks and issues that have been left unaddressed. Cheating is also something that shouldn’t be dismissed or minimized and the person who offended needs to understand the gravity of the situation. If they can’t, this is a warning sign that they may cheat again.

At the end of the day, what happens with their relationship is really up to them. They’re going to have a difficult challenge in rebuilding trust and overcoming this betrayal. The book by Gottman called, “What Makes Love Last” may be a great place for them to start. There’s a lot of information and even quizzes that help identify potential areas of problems in the relationship, risk factors for a partner cheating again, a plan for regaining trust and more. You can recommend that they both read this or a similar relationship guide, but beyond that I would try to remain as neutral as possible. You can offer them both support and a safe place to talk, but don’t repeat the things said to either side or try to patch things up for them. They need to come to this decision on their own and determine if their relationship is worth the work required to restore it. Keep making a constant effort to strengthen your relationships with them as individuals and just continue being the good friend that you are.

Hope this helps!

Morgan

Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, "Two Hot Takes" where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY's readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at Mabsher@gannett.com or you can click here to share your story with her.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gay dating advice: Friend cheated on boyfriend. Is relationship over?