Not Just Friends: Summary & Review

not just friends book cover

Not Just Friends (2002) is a book about cheating and affairs. Shirley Glass the author, explains the stages of emotional affairs, the signs, and how to heal from emotional affairs as a couple.

Bullet Summary

  • Don’t give up right after the affair!
  • Affairs are traumatic
  • Rebuilding trust is a top priority
  • You must rebuild intimacy with your partner (and cut out the affair partner)

Full Summary

About The Author: Shirley Glass was an American psychologist who focused on researching infidelity and helping couples recover from infidelity.


Not Just Friends goes deep and wide into infidelity and psychology. This is a very brief summary with further links to more in-depth articles.
And of course, I invite you to get “Not Just Friends” in full. Especially if you’re interested in people and psychology: it’s truly a treasure trove.

After Infidelity Wait 3 Months Before Breaking Up

Shirley Glass says the immediate reaction to ending the relationship is a mistake. It’s like buying high and selling low.

She advises instead that you wait 3 months and at least try to rebuild your relationship.
If it still doesn’t work, at least you can tell yourself you’ve done your best.

Walls & Windows: The Intimacy Divide

Shirley Glass says that the increase in modern affairs happens because of the increased opportunities for men and women to mingle.

Affairs often start at work, and they start as friends.

The affair begins when one partner starts spending more and more time with someone who was just a friend.
Glass says that the shift from friendship to affair begins when one or both start confiding to each other.
When that happens, the “friend” starts becoming more intimate and emotionally close than our partner.
That’s when the walls and windows change. The “friend” is the one with us in the house, and our partner starts moving outside.

Partner’s Reactions Can Be Traumatic

Not Just Friends repeats this concept very often: an affair is a traumatic experience for the betrayed partner.

Don’t listen to anyone telling you to “move on” or “it’s just some sleeping around”.
Healing must start with the understanding that it’s psychological trauma.

Coping With Trauma

The rule of thumb is that women obsess and men repress.

But in infidelity traumas the betrayers repress and the betrayed obsesses. Glass says that obsessing is not pathological but it’s a normal response.

Here are some good tips to let go:

  • Write down your thoughts

Many obsess in fear that they could “forget” their pain.
When you write them down you can more easily let go. Also, write letters to the affair partner (without necessarily sending them) and write down all the questions you want your partner to answer.

  • Get the truth

Secrecy fuels obsession. With the help of your partner, get the truth.

  • Emotional control

You can schedule “obsession time slots” when you are free to think about the affair. Outside those times, distract yourself.

  • Avoid painful situations

In the beginning, it’s best not to avoid any situation that could remind you of the affair. The advice to face your fears right away is a typical example of bad folk wisdom.

  • Face flashbacks together

It’s incredibly helpful if your partner supports you in dealing with traumatic flashbacks. Little by little you can also revisit the crime scenes with your partner, for example, holding your hand.

Healing Together

These are the steps to healing together:

  • Safety first: cut contact

The unfaithful partner must eventually cut all contact with the affair partner. If the betrayed partner asks to be present when the unfaithful partner makes the last call or sends the last text/email/letter, that’s a fair request.

  • Tell the story with honesty

You rebuild trust with complete honesty. If the unfaithful partner still has feelings towards the affair partner, he must confess so.
Sharing all (unavoidable) contacts with the affair partner too.

  • Accept ambivalence

If the unfaithful partner feels ambivalent and still has feelings for the affair partner, he must say so. It’s hard for the betrayed partner to accept that, but they must strive to.
Of course, if there are no feelings involved or if the unfaithful partner can move on quickly, it’s much better.

  • Reverse walls and windows

Cut out the affair partner and rebuild intimacy in the relationship.

  • Discussing the story of the affair

To fully heal and build a stronger relationship, the couple must discuss and understand what happened. Then also based on the shared meaning they reach of the affair, fix the weaknesses.

  • Restart loving each other

It’s important for quicker healing that the partners “bite their tongue” and are not too mean when they discover the affair. Little by little, they should start giving again and being warm towards each other.

For a more in-depth article based on Shirley’s teaching, check out:

not just friends book cover

Real-Life Applications

You can decrease the chances of cheating
Albeit completely eliminating the chances of cheating is impossible, you can take many effective steps to make it less likely.

You can pick partners less likely to cheat
There are several variables in the personal history and personality traits that decrease the chances a partner would cheat


Length & Repetition
It took me a long time to finish reading Not Just Friends. If you want to read it because you’re dealing with an affair, then you better be a quick reader and have lots of time :).

Little How To
The information is all there, but it’s sometimes buried in long texts and paragraphs.
I believe Not Just Friends could be very much improved in a trimmed and shorter version: cut all repetitions, make it more schematic and this would become the Bible of affairs and surviving affairs -if it isn’t already, that is-.

Sometimes Sources were off?
Glass says that 80% of sex addicts at a rehab center were corporate executives. But the source here doesn’t say that. Also, the statistic is meaningless because a private center with very high costs will naturally cut off those who can’t afford it.

Attachment Styles confusions
The naming of the attachment styles felt off and wrong to me. Maybe it’s not because they were wrong but because I’m using to call them in a different way.


Not Just Friends is eye-opening on the topic of infidelity. As a matter of fact, with its deep psychological analysis, it also goes well beyond simple infidelity and into trauma recovery, human psychology, and even personality disorders.

Extensive Research
Albeit some of the sources are a bit dated, there’s lots of data and extensive research to back up the claims. Also a note on the date of the resources: humans don’t change in a matter of decades, so good old research in psychology is much better than a less good recent one.


In spite of the length, the content is so good and on the point that it’s a 5-star no matter what.

Would I heed the recommendations?

I have to add that albeit I love the book and learned hugely from it, I wouldn’t necessarily heed the recommendation to work on the relationship in case my partner had an affair.

I think that, as a man, you lose lots of power if you stay -but then again, this comes from a guy who writes on a website called ThePowerMoves).
And as a proud man, I feel there are only two answers to cheating: that’s the door or fair game on both sides from now on.

Would I recommend the book?

Absolutely: this is best in a class.
A must-read not only for people who want to better understand the topic of infidelity but for those who want to understand psychology and relationships as well.

Check out:

Or get the book on Amazon

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