My Cheating Friend - 3

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET

Many of you have asked what happened to "my cheating friend." I haven't written more about her, because I didn't hear anything back. But finally, she did call.

Some of you also asked what my role was in her affair and how I could blog about this situation, without betraying her. You can relax; enough details have been changed.

As for my role? Actually, the whole situation took me by surprise. I wasn't quite sure how to act or react, so I started to write, figuring some of your comments might be helpful.

I don't have a role, except that I am her friend, and I'm listening. I'm not condoning what is going on, but I also know that I don't have the power to stop it.

As you may remember from my first and second blogs on this, she had an out-of-body experience with her young lover and was going to meet this man a second time at a conference; she simply couldn't or wouldn't stay away from him in spite of the fact that (or perhaps because) she'd never done something like this in the past.

And she did meet him. She had the second night of what she described as pure ectasy. I think she would have left her husband, if she thought this affair could go somewhere, but her young lover has his own family, and isn't likely to leave them.

So there she is. Or was.

Because the reason she called is that she's pregnant. You may remember she'd been married for many years and didn't have any children. But now she's pregnant and she just found out.

The implication is that it isn't likely that her husband is the father, but the new lover.

To make matters worse, after their second rendezvous at that conference, the young lover got cold feet and broke it off.

So now she is heartbroken and in complete panic about what to do. She always wanted a baby, but not this way. Her husband always wanted a baby, but certainly not this way.

She told me she'll stay with her husband and have the baby. She hasn't said a word to him about anything yet and I'm not sure she will. That leaves me knowing, and feeling very strange about the fact that I do know.

Usually I don't have a problem coming up with advice, but this time I don't have any. At least none that she would listen to.

So I did some looking around on the net. It turns out that among those who work in genetics the consensus is that roughly 10 percent of us are not fathered by the man we believe to be dad.

A British survey conducted between 1988 and 1996 by Robin Baker, a former professor at the University of Manchester, confirmed the 10-per-cent figure. That may seem high to skeptics such as Dalhousie University geneticist Paul Neumann, although even he admitted that "my colleague, who's a woman, tells me women have no trouble believing it. . . . It's the men who can't."

Another story comes from Bernard Dickens, a specialist in health law and policy at the University of Toronto. He said that the non-paternity rate was three times that. "In the early 1970s, a schoolteacher in southern England assigned a class science project in which his students were to find out the blood types of their parents. The students were then to use this information to deduce their own blood types (because a gene from each parent determines your blood type, in most instances only a certain number of combinations are possible). Instead, 30 per cent of the students discovered their dads were not their biologically fathers. " The project was discontinued on the grounds that the classroom was not the ideal place for young people to find out this information.

And in a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1995, "Blood Grouping Tests in Undisputed Paternity Proceedings," using blood typing, the result was that 18 percent of the men who had voluntarily admitted paternity, were not the actual fathers of the children.

In yet another study, the American Association of Blood Banks said the 300,000 paternity tests it conducted on men in the year 2000 ruled out nearly 30% as the father.

An anthropologist at Rutgers University, Dr. Helen Fisher, surveyed people who said they were in love. 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women disagreed with the statement "Being sexually faithful is important when you are in love." The conclusion is that while monogamy is the officially approved form of mating in the United States, a significant minority of maybe 10 percent of women and 20 percent of men, disagree.

So perhaps, the situation my friend found herself in is much more common than we expect. As for me, there's no way I can do the right thing. If I talk I break her confidence.* If I don't talk I participate in her deception. The only solution--get her to talk to her husband.

And I'm not the only one who had to struggle with this situation. In 1994, the Committee on Assessing Genetic Risks of the Institute of Medicine published their recommendations regarding the ethical issues raised by advances in genetics. One of the Committee's recommendations was to inform women when test results revealed misattributed paternity, but not to disclose this information to the women's partners. The Committee's reason for withholding such information was that "genetic testing should not be used in ways that disrupt families". Others, of course, disagree and feel that non-disclosure to the male partner is unethical.

In life, sometimes there are no pretty solutions.

For those of you interested in reading more, click here.

*(And no, this blog doesn't qualify as talking, since I have disguised the details.)

Link to my daily blog with more information and more posts.

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