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'My boss is having an affair with our assistant and I’m friends with his wife.' UPDATED

'My boss is having an affair with our assistant and I’m friends with his wife.' UPDATED

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If you found out a friend was being cheated on, would you tell them even if it cost you your job?

"My boss is having an affair with our assistant and I’m friends with his wife."

I work as a project manager at a small business (~25 employees) and have been in this role for more than six years. I was referred to the position through Katie, a friend from a hobby club I belong to. She learned I’d been laid off from my last position and offered to introduce me to her husband (John) who owns a consulting firm in my field. After a standard interview process, I was hired and have been here ever since.

About 18 months ago, we were looking for a new administrative assistant for the business. Instead of advertising the position like we normally would, John hired Tammy, the “daughter of a family friend.” She was supposedly a recent grad, very eager, would need some training, but would be a great addition to the team. From her first day, it was clear that she was not the right fit for the position.

Her computer and communication skills were quite poor, she took forever to do basic tasks, was dressed inappropriately for an office, and played on her phone frequently. She was also coming in late or leaving early every day. Every attempt to provide her with instruction or feedback was met with confusion or eye rolling.

Another manager asked her for help in stuffing envelopes for a promotional event, and she laughed in his face! I went to John and asked him what exactly Tammy’s role was supposed to be since she was refusing to do much of anything. He said not to worry, he would have a word with her.

The next day he told me he would be managing her directly from then on and if I needed something that fell under the assistant’s umbrella, I could email him and he would see to it that it was done. He had never taken over management of an assistant before this, and it felt like something was amiss. Within a few weeks, it seemed clear that John is having an affair with Tammy.

John has never admitted it to me, but they drive in together every day, have hours-long meetings in his locked office every afternoon, and whenever she is at her desk, she is shopping online or browsing social media. If anyone asks Tammy to do something for their team, she goes straight to John’s office and a few minutes later he sends a message that someone else will need to do that task.

My emails to John regarding my team’s administrative needs just get ignored, and I wind up doing those tasks myself or handing it off to one of my team members (who have enough on their plate as it is). I’ve tried to talk to John about how this is impacting our workflow and how we really need a true assistant, but he snaps that these tasks aren't so urgent we can’t handle them ourselves within our own teams.

John’s reliability as our CEO and decision-maker has plummeted as well, and morale is low. I’ve been quietly trying to find another job since early 2020. C0V*d threw a wrench in those plans, and I have very few prospects at this time. My dilemma is what to do about Katie (my friend/John’s wife). I am very confident that they don’t have an open marriage. She truly thinks Tammy is an assistant at our workplace.

I have not told her about the affair, partly because it’s not my business and partly because I need to protect my job. I am the only person at work who would possibly tip her off about this, and it would be obvious it was me if I were to tell her. I feel absolutely awful keeping this secret. I feel so guilty when she earnestly asks me how work is at our hobby group. What do I do?

Commenters had lots to say.

Littorally wrote:

“Should you tell someone their spouse is having an affair” is an eternally thorny question. It is never not a delicate situation highly dependent on some very granular interpersonal details. As a result, I think it will never have a hard and firm rule.

In your case, I’d say avoid it — the situation is tied up in your ability to earn a living, and you shouldn’t be expected to prioritize their marriage or even your friendship over your ability to keep a roof over your head.

Julesthethird wrote:

“Should you tell someone their spouse is having an affair” is an eternally thorny question. It is never not a delicate situation highly dependent on some very granular interpersonal details. As a result, I think it will never have a hard and firm rule.

In your case, I’d say avoid it — the situation is tied up in your ability to earn a living, and you shouldn’t be expected to prioritize their marriage or even your friendship over your ability to keep a roof over your head.

Greendoor responded:

Agree with Jules the 3rd. And when/if she asks, “But why didn’t you tellllll mmeee?” your script might be, “You are a good friend. But at the time I depended on John for my livelihood. I know you’re hurting, but I hope you can understand what a difficult position I was in, wondering how to choose between my job and my friendship with you.”

Cait wrote:

When it comes to telling a someone about an affair I would always ask myself, “If I were in their position, would I want to know?” I think the answer here is a clear yes. Of course wait until you get a new job to tell Katie because otherwise John could retaliate by trying to ruin any new career prospects and making your life at work a living hell if not just firing you.

But once you have this job in your rear view, absolutely tell Katie. She has a right to know that not only is John having an affair with what I assume is a much younger woman AND a “family friend" but is also risking his business in the process.

A year later, OP shared an update.

I tried to keep under the radar at work as much as possible and continued plugging away at my job search while trying to ignore whatever was happening with Tammy and John. The affair eventually came out. John was poorly covering his tracks at home and my friend/his wife eventually figured out something was going on.

They have now separated and are going through a very contentious divorce. John and Tammy are openly a couple now and are expecting a baby this summer. My friend was understandably devastated, but she did not ask me if I knew or if I suspected anything.

She told our hobby group who has rallied around her with support. I am happy to report that I accepted a new position a few months ago and am now working in a similar position with a different organization.

The new company is larger and much better managed, and my new boss communicates transparently and views hiring as a process for meeting business needs rather than doing personal favours for people! It is such a relief. I do not know anyone here personally, and have resolved not to mix friendships and business again in future, if I can avoid it!

The internet was invested in the update.

Outsourced_Ninja wrote:

Having an affair with an assistant, and one that's a "daughter of a family friend" no-less, is just about the most "cliche mid-life crisis" thing you can do. Like, what are ya gonna do next dude? Get a sportscar? Dye your hair black?

imtchogirl responded:

Ugh barf. I'm kind of hoping that she was not actually a family friend but rather someone he was already affairing when he hired her. Like the "family friend" thing was a lie so he could cover that they knew each other well in front of coworkers. Why am I trying to make things better for this man, it's 🤢. I just want to hope that girls can grow up without pervs being friends of the family.

Princess-Makayla wrote:

I'm pretty sure CEOs having affairs with assistants is the primary reason that boards of directors are required to have whistleblower policies in place.

Nodlehs wrote:

One thing I have learned over the years...never become outside work friends with anyone you work with if possible. Don't share socials, give them bare minimum about your personal life. Enjoy your friends and family you make outside work, you'll be less stressed.

Sources: Reddit
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