1. “Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Perhaps you feel your friend should never again trust the person who was unfaithful to her. “But this type of all-encompassing comment leaves no room for the possibility of the situation getting better,” says Dr. Sherman. “You’re squashing all hope, when, in fact, some relationships do heal and improve with work.” Instead, focus on her present state of mind and acknowledge the intense pain she’s experiencing by saying something like, “I can’t even imagine how you must feel.”
2. “Men cheat for a reason.”
The reasons people cheat vary, ranging from immaturity to compulsive sexual behavior. Still, your job isn’t to analyze your pal’s partner or hint that your buddy’s actions led to the infidelity. “The implication here is that your friend did something wrong or that her relationship was somehow lacking,” says Helen Friedman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in St. Louis, MO. “Avoid finger-pointing and inadvertently ‘blaming’ her for his actions.” A wiser idea: Recognize the complexity of what happened with “situations like this don’t make sense.
3. “At least he didn’t do what (some guy) did to (some other friend).”
You may think you’ll cheer up your friend with someone else’s horror story that seems worse than hers, but this discredits her own experience. “At this point, your friend doesn’t care about anyone else,” says Dr. Sherman. “This news is a total crisis and telling tales of other people’s woes isn’t helpful.” Instead, acknowledge that her situation and reactions are unique, and comfort her with “I’m here to support you.” Better yet, offer concrete ways of helping. For instance, if she has children, babysit her kids when she decides she needs a night to discuss the infidelity with her spouse.