“Can’t I have friends?!” says the cheater with exasperation.
This is what is known in philosophy as the “Loaded Question Fallacy.” It is an error in reasoning where you cannot answer such questions without ending up in a bad place. Such is like the classical “Loaded Question” example of “When will you stop beating your wife?” Any answer presumes one’s guilt. Or–in this case–it presumes it is a matter of mere friendship under discussion with an adulterer/adulteress.
It’s not. So…
Don’t buy it.
It needs a total reframe:
“We aren’t talking about your friends. We are talking about your affair partners. And you cannot have both your affair partner and me. God does not allow that, and so, neither do I.”
Furthermore, a mere friendship ought to never trump a marriage relationship in priorities. Even the relationship with one’s parents is to rank lower than one’s relationship to one’s spouse (see Genesis 2:24). So, if the spouse feels threatened by another “friendship,” the compassionate and correctly prioritized stance is to distance oneself from that “friendship.” This is what someone who honors his or her marriage does unless he/she values the other relationship more than the marriage.
Actions speak louder than words, remember.
To be clear: controlling and abusive people do exist who try to isolate. However, this line is an old and oft used one from cheaters who are caught and do not want to give up their illicit relationship(s). They try to take the high ground using this question to wrongfully paint the aggrieved as controlling when in reality the aggrieved spouse is actually the only one fighting for the marriage. It is the aggrieved spouse who is setting a healthy boundary by attempting to expel the interloper from the marriage bed/room.
Can’t I have friends?
Sure. But they are not your friends if they are joining you in adultery.
They are enemies of your marriage and your soul.