Nowhere is this more evident than when one woman makes unsubstantiated claims that she was wronged by another.
Oftentimes, women will be approached on social media by people who claim to have difficulties – the difficulties may be real or imagined: a sick kid or spouse, financial troubles, emotional challenges, past abuse… whatever. It is hard for a woman to turn away a wounded animal – much less a person, we are naturally compassionate and therefore, when anyone, male or female, needs comforting we kinda flow into that perceived vacuum. It’s a good thing about us, but it is also easily used by professional victims and those who are merely seeking to have their own needs met. Women, above all else, want to nurture – it is hard-wired into us. We want to heal hurts and make things okay again.
When this person is a woman we have some level of protection from accusation, but not much. If we are counseling someone through abuse and they later accuse us publicly of things that happen during the talks – we are left with a conundrum – yes we are accused, but dare we make the conversations public and expose their struggles? Generally, in such cases, women will just stomp off and not say anything about their former confidant because they do not want to risk exposure – but when the willing ear is a woman and the person with a sob story is a man, things can get dicey – leaving the woman with no way to protect herself if accusations are made.
Case in point: What happens when a woman has been counseling a man “and his wife” through some tough times but who has only been led to believe that the wife is privy to everything that has been said? We don’t like to think that someone is actively misleading us, that our compassion has overridden our natural common sense, but it happens. The internet is full of men who want a sister, mother, or sadly, surrogate wife to pour their heart out to. Hopefully, they are only looking for a sister or a mother, but you can never know for sure. A man looking for someone to use as a surrogate wife isn’t exactly going to jump up and reveal his true intentions. Of course not, this counseling situation is all about him – he will do whatever it takes to continue to get his needs met, whatever they are.
If the man is unmarried, it is far too dangerous to speak with him at length privately – emotions can easily get confused when we do not have the professional training to spot and deal with them (and sometimes even that isn’t enough). If a man is married, even if you believe that his wife is in on everything, it is even more dangerous. I am telling you, right now, unless you know everything there is to know about each of them – from past sins to current mental health – a woman is setting herself up to be accused by an angry wife. The would-be friend/counselor’s intentions will not matter when the wife starts making accusations. They won’t ask for proof, or inquire about her mental health, or anything. Accusations against a woman’s virtue tend to stick, regardless of their veracity. People glom onto the perceived victim against the “tainted” woman – even if that victim is, in fact, the perpetrator – it’s why bullies go around on facebook running roughshod over people and then, when they get blocked, go whining that they are being persecuted for righteousness and why people believe them without asking for details or checking out their story.
If someone’s wife makes an accusation of an “internet affair” against you – even if you are guilty of nothing more heinous than listening to him as he laments about how sick she is – she will be believed, without a demand for proof, by the majority of people she talks to because those people will immediately identify with her proposed victim status. Most of the people she talks to, in fact, won’t even know a thing about you because it is social media. Even people who don’t exactly believe her will figure that you must have done something, they will assume fault – not with the husband but with you. You will be seen as the intruder into the marriage, and there is no way around it – even your own friends will count you as the person who should have known better. That goes especially for men – who just don’t understand the compassion that overwhelms us when presented with an apparently hurting person. They don’t have that maternal impulse, and so they do not take it into consideration. Other women will see you as, frankly, a potential threat because even if they see you as blameless, you will be regarded as somehow tempting to their own husbands.
Here’s the problem – you may not know their past when you start talking to a guy. You may not know that he’s been accused before of inappropriate behavior. The guy may actually be an adulterer. He may not be being honest with you about how he feels about this counseling relationship. When he says his wife knows everything you are talking about, he may be flat out lying so that he can continue using you in order to fulfill his needs – consequences to you be damned.
If an accusation is made, believe me, he will drop you because he was in this for his own reasons. He didn’t come to you for your sake, but for his. When this happens, and if the accusations go public then he will have a choice to make – be a stand-up guy and vindicate you (which will require coming publicly against his wife), or drop you without a word, treat you like the guilty party and do whatever it takes to mollify his wife. His wife will have a choice to make – blame her husband or blame you. Which of these choices do you think she will make? Clearly, your head is the safest to place on the chopping block and it won’t matter how many hours you have prayed for them, or tried to help them, or even if you have sent them money or – whatever. Everything you have done is now irrelevant to both of them – they are in it for themselves. Your own marriage, kids and reputation won’t be as real or relevant to them as their own – congratulations, you have become expendable.
To make this situation worse, ladies, mutual friends will resent you for getting them into an uncomfortable situation. The guy and his wife won’t be held responsible – you will. The guy and his wife will move on, and they can, since they are not the slandered parties – it will be easy for them. Sadly, women are seen as life’s goalies – we aren’t supposed to allow anything bad to happen and when it does, we are the ones left looking bad. We are the ones whose reputations are damaged, we are the ones left holding the bag and expected to live with the shame and consequences while everyone else carries on with their relationship normally. People will not want to take sides – and so they won’t, kinda. Guess what? Your ongoing pain and shame will not move them to sympathy but to resentment – you, and not him, are a reminder that something is not right. He will want to move on and forget it while you live with the consequences and everyone else will want you to quietly live with the consequences as well.
Ladies, best not get into that sort of situation in the first place. Yes, God will vindicate you at some point – but until He does you are in for a life of pain that was unnecessary. You put your marriage at risk, your family at risk, your reputation at risk, and all your relationships at risk – because you cannot control how other people will respond, or what they will do to protect themselves, their reputations, or even to just make their lives a little bit easier – no matter how much it costs you. Your hurt will simply be an annoyance to others, make no mistake. The Body will almost certainly not come to your rescue.
Men need to go to other men for counseling. It’s as simple as that.