Do Men Who Have Friends That Cheat Become Cheaters?

man wearing a wedding ring


My guy has two groups of friends. The first group is nice, fun guys that are family-oriented and career-focused. The second group are single guys that love partying, womanizing and going to strip clubs. Of course it’s the single guys that are always calling him to go out, planning trips to Vegas and encouraging him to not settle down.

How do I be the cool accepting girlfriend when I know this second group of guys aren’t supportive of our relationship and would encourage and probably even turn a blind eye if he were to ever cross the line with another woman? I know that some of these single guys have cheated on their girlfriends and I’ve read that men who hang around cheaters are more likely to cheat. What should I do? —Christina

Dear Christina,

If he’s the kind of guy who finds cheating abhorrent, there’s nothing his cheating friends can do to “make him” become unfaithful.

There’s some super-important information left out of your email, my friend.

Namely: how old is your boyfriend? How long have you been together? Has he told you he loves you? Has he intimated that marriage and children are in his future?

If you’re dating an immature guy who is lost, confused, inexperienced and easily influenced, then his partying friends may be a danger to him.

If you’re dating a mature guy who likes his career, treats you well, and is thinking long-term, his partying friends will have absolutely no influence on him.

In other words, his character is already set, regardless of his friends. If he’s the kind of guy who cheats, he’ll cheat on you regardless. If he’s the kind of guy who finds cheating abhorrent, there’s nothing his cheating friends can do to “make him” become unfaithful.

Your question, “How do I become the cool accepting girlfriend?” is about the most common question I get as a dating coach, and I’m not sure I’ve ever adequately answered it.

It would be like telling a man, “How do I act with confidence around a hot woman?”

The answer is to just do it. Fake it ‘til you make it. Assume the best, and you’ll bring out his best. Remember he’s innocent until proven guilty and that he’s been an exemplary boyfriend so far. There’s no reason for him to stop because his friends are slimy.

There may be a study that proves that cheaters of a feather flock together; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Dan Ariely’s latest book, “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty” suggests that most people lie a little bit, but not enough to see ourselves as liars. It also talks about how witnessing someone else cheating and getting away with it (on a test, not in a marriage) can influence observers’ behaviors.

Should your boyfriend get on your case because Shelley is on AdultFriendFinder? Should he break up with you because Angie hates men?

But that’s a dangerous slippery slope you’re creating there, Christina. Let me show you how. Most guys make their friends in a few phases of life: high school, college, long-term jobs. Your boyfriend became friends with these guys based on how much they got along, how fun and cool they were, how much they liked to go out, how much they laughed together. Pretty much how you chose your friends, I’d guess.

In other words, we all make friends when we’re 23 that we may not admire at 33. But it doesn’t mean we drop them like a hot potato. It means that, as we age, they’re relegated to a different class of friends — the fun friends, the crazy friends, the single friends. I’ll bet if you look at YOUR friends, you’d observe the same thing. Your loyalty may run deep, but you can still objectively say that certain “friends” of yours aren’t exactly relationship role models. So should your boyfriend get on your case because Shelley is on AdultFriendFinder? Should he break up with you because Angie hates men?

I would certainly hope not.

If your boyfriend’s friends are actively trying to sabotage your relationship, you have a right to be upset. But if they’re just lusty dumb single guys who want their buddy to come out more, you can’t blame them for trying. They’re losing their friend to you. Their behavior is predictable (and not gender-specific, either!). A good boyfriend will know how to handle this with tact; it’s certainly not by issuing his friends an ultimatum given by his girlfriend.

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  1. 1

    You can’t tell him who he can be friends with.   
    For what it’s worth I went on holiday years ago with twelve men in their twenties. The players played, the ones with girlfriends were faithful, the others got drunk, flirted but as far as I know didn’t have sex.   
    They were easygoing with each other. I didn’t see them trying to make anyone do anything.
    If you trust him, carry on trusting him.   I wouldn’t doubt him over this. If you don’t trust him, then you have to ask yourself if he should be your boyfriend.

  2. 2
    Jackie H.

    However, birds of a feather do flock together…what do these men have common anyway?

  3. 3
    London lass

    Another great, thought-provoking post.. It is really useful for me to read posts like this as I have struggled with the green eyed monster at times. I have felt jittery when my bf has been out on the town with his friends who I know are players, even though I have no reason to distrust him.. Seeing it all written down in black and white by by the OP and then reading your response really highlights to me that the only possible option is to trust him and forget about it. The only time to distrust a boyfriend is if he has shown you that you can’t trust him. Otherwise it just messes with your mind and your relationship.  
    Thanks Evan, your blog rocks!  

  4. 4

    Hmmm…. what to say Evan. Had a laugh and really just LOVE ur adivce. Thank you for your great work.  

  5. 5

    I tend to think that freedom of association is a rather sacred and personal thing, and you’d be playing with fire to try and put across-the-board limits on that for somebody else.   They may likely end up exercising their freedom to no longer associate with you.   One of the most important things to remember is that, like speech, the freedom of association door swings both ways.  
    Despite that, I think the red flag situation Christina would want to be wary of is the one where her boyfriend does not want her to meet or even know the name(s) of one or some of this friends, especially when she asks or invites them to a get-together.   Ditto for the man if his lady is guarded about her friends.   If there is a lot of tooth-pulling or tiptoeing here then that not only implies but invites fear and a lack of trust.   Not good for the long term.
    I also think it is within reason to request that contact be minimized or cut if one of his friends is disrespectful/inappropriate to her and/or is intentionally poisoning the relationship.   If a lady does not want to associate with a toxic individual, that is her right, after all– even if it sucks when all of a sudden the boyfriend has a tough decision to make.   And I don’t mean “toxic” as in she just doesn’t like his friend, but truly “toxic” as in said friend does not respect her or her boundaries.   If the relationship is a solid one then I think nasty behavior toward her would NEVER fly, even if the boyfriend has been friends with the offender for ages.   If the boyfriend doesn’t handle it well, and allows his friend to continue unchecked, then the lady ought to exercise her freedom not to associate with EITHER of them any longer, I think.
    Of course, this goes both ways.   I recommend Christina being equally alert about her own friends.   I can and have respectfully set some of my good friends straight when they thought it was a good idea to criticize my guy.   My friends can be crazy all they like, but that shit does. Not. Fly.   If I couldn’t handle standing up to my friends then I would be in pretty poor shape anyway.

  6. 6

    @Jackie H. #2
    I think Evan answered that – they became friends at a time when they connected, and loyalty means not dropping them just because our lives progress and change.
    I have firends I’ve known for 25+ years who behave in ways which I disapprove – they’ve been relegated to the “occasional hangout” category, because my life has changed. But they’re still my friends – we’ve been through many things together, and if they called I’d be there to help them out, or just have a beer with them.
    Even today I’d be hard pressed to explain exactly why I have the friends I do…but as I think about it they are my friends (partly) because they’ve always accepted me for who I am (although as guys they’ve occasionally givin me grief for some of my behavior/choices!)
    Isn’t it interesting Evan, that my best friends are the one’s who’ve always accepted me as I am?

  7. 7

    @ Amelia2.0 #5
    that shit does. Not. Fly.”   LOL… Absolutely!!   
    I had trouble in the past when I was married, my husband’s mother thought it was alright to criticize him to me.   (MY friends and family knew better than to do that!)   I was diplomatic as I could be because she was his mother but I didn’t let even the smallest criticism get by without defending him.   Even if I agreed with her I would never have said so because I felt it was not her place to be disrespectful about him to me.   

  8. 8

    Ouch, Lia #7.   That’s awkward.   I have a hard time with subtlety so I’m not sure what I would do if the criticism came from his immediate family.   Hopefully I wouldn’t completely show my ass since family is an association you can’t really walk away from too often.   I’m glad you had the nerve to not go along with her.

  9. 9

    I can say that a good boyfriend with party animal friends will take his girlfriend out with them. My boyfriend always asks me to go out with his friends. However, they are not party animals but the fact he wants me there assures me he cares. Now, for him not to be sick of me for always being there, I tell him to go and enjoy his happy hours with coworkers. I want him to enjoy that without my presence. Like that he gets his “boys” time and he gets to miss me more.

  10. 10

    In my experience, if someone’s friends are constantly telling them to drop a   significant other, the person tends to drop the friend. We tend to be pretty blind to our situation and will usually drop the negativity. If they are just trying to play up how cool the single life is, that’s pretty easy to ignore. Nothing you are going to do will change his friends. Either he keeps them or drops them. That’s up to him though.

  11. 11

    Christina, don’t take it personally.   It’s not that they don’t like you, it’s that they don’t like you (as in any GF) reducing their friend’s availability.   Like if he took up some hobby that required a lot of time, they’d probably tell him to drop that too.
    Do you want to be known as the controlling GF/wife?   Because if you limit your BF’s time with his friends, that’s exactly what you are.

  12. 12

    Joe #11
    Christina, don’t take it personally.   It’s not that they don’t like you, it’s that they don’t like you (as in any GF) reducing their friend’s availability.
    I completely disagree with Joe on this comment. In all my years of hanging out with different sets of guy friends, none of us ever felt that a new girl would threaten the guy’s availability to the group. When my friends hung out, girlfriends came and went.
    Some we liked and some we didn’t.   In fact, there were times that the girl was so cool and the group liked her, that we hoped they would stay together. The only time we tried to pry the guy away from the girl was if  we didn’t like her and saw her as trouble. NOT because she would reduce his availability. So in this case, to give an honest assessment, the group of guys Christina refers to didn’t like her.
    The OP says “How do I be the cool accepting girlfriend when I know this second group of guys aren’t supportive of our relationship and would encourage and probably even turn a blind eye if he were to ever cross the line with another woman?
    Guy code is that you do turn a blind eye if the guy crosses the line with another woman. Unless the girl being cheated on is your sister, you can forget about the friends ratting him out. Even if they like you or even if it was the “good set” of friends. Maybe we would tell the guy he is an idiot for putting his relationship at risk, but other than making   a passing comment like that, the blind eye would be turned as if it never happened. Sorry OP, but you cant compete against guy code. Like I said, unless its someone’s sister that is being cheated upon, all guys will turn a blind eye.

  13. 13

    I tend to agree with John.
    I’ve had lots of guy friends over the years, and I think pretty much all of them would turn a blind eye if one of them were to cheat on his girlfriend. They may not approve, they may lose respect for him, but I think ultimately all the guys I have ever known would consider it not their business.
    I have learnt over the years of being a girlfriend that your best bet is to say as little as possible about your man’s friends. Accept them, enjoy them if you can, decline to go to those events with the friends you really can’t be around. A good man will know what to do. You certainly won’t change his mind or opinions by moaning about his friends, you will just irritate him.
    Also, how much time does the OP’s boyfriend spend with the partying, single group of friends? If it’s only an occasional get-together, I would absolutely let this go, as it doesn’t say anything about how he thinks, feels and who he is.

  14. 14

    I agree with Evan.

    “If he’s the kind of guy who finds cheating abhorrent, there’s nothing his cheating friends can do to “make him” become unfaithful.”

    And it depends how long you have KNOWN him, it takes a while for most people to reveal their true character when getting to know a romantic partner. Not until at least 3/4 months does the real person start to show.

    Also, is he is own person? Or does he follow and get swayed by the crowd sheep mentality to fit in? For eg if he doesn’t want another drink as his mates are having one and goading what does he do?

  15. 15

    @John #12
    I liked your post about “guy code” and turning a blind eye.   I’ve long felt this was true because most men are reluctant to get involved in another man’s relationship(s) – for good reason.
    In my own past there was an occasion where a mutual friend of mine and a former partner told me he cheated on me. We had broken up a few months before, after having moved to another city, and I was having a tough time getting over the breakup. When our friend told me about the cheating the year before my first reaction was: “Why didn’t you tell me then? If I’d known about that, I never would have moved to _______ to be with him!”
    Our friend very calmly told me he didn’t believe it would have made a difference. “You were so in love with him at the time, if I told you about it you would have been upset, but I don’t think you would have ended it with him.”   Further: ” It wasn’t my place to tell you. I don’t get into other people’s relationships.”   I was irked at the time of the telling, but nevertheless knew my friend was right – it wasn’t in anyone’s best interest for him to get involved in our troubles.
    Turning a blind eye is not the same thing as encouraging someone to cheat. It’s recognizing some things are not your business. It’s allowing those people’s chips to fall where they may.
    To go back to the OP: do you really not trust your guy because of the friends he has? Or is there something about HIM that causes your mistrust? Because sometimes we would rather blame “peer pressure” instead of taking a good hard look at the character of the person we have chosen.
    Pragmatically, no one gets to control their partner’s friendships. What one can do though, is foster friendships that feel positive and healthy. Arrange “double dates” with other couples, have them over to your home. Organize cook-outs where both coupled and single friends can mingle.   Create the life you want to have.

  16. 16
    Some other guy

    I don’t care for the whole “guy code” mentality, but in enough cases it’s straightforward to see that the couple is headed for breakup anyway (if only because the guy is simply not prepared for a monogamous relationship), so there’s very little upside for anybody in sticking one’s nose into that situation.

  17. 17

    Bro code may preclude tattling on a cheating bro, but it doesn’t necessarily preclude telling said bro that he’s an idiot for cheating on a great girl (presuming an insecure girl can be considered a great girl).
    What I’d like to know is how the OP knows these guys have cheated on their GFs.

  18. 18

    Believe it or not, I actually learnt something valuable from Dr Phil (yes the TV Dr Phil who may or may not have been the originator of this quote) :
    Do not kill yourself with worry over what you can’t control.
    Instead focus your physical and mental energies on what you can control.
    Honestly, spending your time worrying and wondering is totally useless and counter-productive. It is not going to stop your boyfriend cheating if he really wants to, or if he is weak enough to do so.
    Focussing on being a really fantasic girl that men will fall over themselves to get is going to get you results – by making your boyfriend hesitant about wanting to cheat on you, and by opening up a wider pool of men available to you should you end up dumping your cheating boyfriend.
    Also, working on your self esteem and attachment style is a good idea too. There is a paper in the journal Evolutionary Psychology called “Was that cheating ? Perceptions vary by sex, attachment anxiety and behavour”.
    Simply put, people (irrespective of gender) who have an anxious attachment style (who become like this generally from a very insecure emotional upbringing or family life – brought up by parents who show little love or who provide little emotional security) become scared and stressed about potentially losing a loved one – constantly looking out for signs that the loved one is going to leave and losing all emotional control over the anxiety that this is going to happen. Believing that this loss is the end of the world and that you are going to die or come to a very grevious end as a result – think about it – as a child you probably might have if your parents abandoned you or were neglectful.
    If you are this person, you really need psychological help before you can truly enjoy a healthy relationship, and only attract men to you who are honourable because you won’t latch on whoever shows you a little attention.

  19. 19

    Androgynous #18
    I agree with the first part of your post.
    Attachment styles fall on a spectrum and you’re talking about the extreme (and excellent book on attachment styles is Attached by Levine & Heller).   The OP didn’t sound hysterical, and actually I thought her question was a good one and reasonable given the circumstance and I’m thinking she’s on the younger side given the groups of men her boyfriend hangs out with.       Not to mention no one is perfect, we all have some ‘flaw(s)’, which doesn’t mean we were abandoned by our parents or abused, and now need years of therapy, LOL.

    I agree with Evan’s response, there not much that she can do other than to have faith he’s the man she believes him to be and he will do the right thing.   Believe me, after this phase, if there’s marriage, there are plenty of other opportunities for men to have affairs or cheat (just like women), so this never really stops.  We just have to live in the moment and have faith he (and you) will do the right thing while you’re together…no magic answer here.

  20. 20

    Remember when everyone used to go around saying “all men cheat”? That was  one of the main points of Eddie Murphy’s  stand-up special, Raw. I watched that recently. The whole thing seemed so weirdly outdated.

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