Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked for suggestions on what someone should do when they know that their friend is being cheated on. I have been in this situation a couple of times and have seen it play out many a time with other friends, so despite the fact that I do prefer honesty, I have to say, it is pivotal that you understand your audience because women, are complicated.

Most women will say they would want to know if their guy was cheating – This is total BS. Most women would want to know if their guy was cheating on them…as long as it didn’t happen. Suddenly it becomes ‘How could you do this to me?’ and they’re screaming it at you. When they’re single again, struggling to make ends meet, going through a bitter divorce, or lacking in confidence because they’ve decided they don’t trust men, it’s you that gets the evil eye. The ones who say straight up that they don’t want to know – they have bigger issues…

Friendship, especially female friendship is a precarious relationship which can sometimes test the boundaries of what you feel is morally right, and one of the few situations that will really create conflict within you before you ever open your mouth is when you know that a friends partner is cheating on her (or have heard very strong evidence) and you’re confronted with some rather complex choices:

Do I tell her that her boyfriend is a cheating assclown?

If I do tell her, it could send her over the edge and do untold emotional damage. Do I want to be responsible for breaking her heart?

She’s so in love with him that she is likely to stay with him but then I will lose her friendship. Am I prepared to risk our friendship especially when it is unlikely to make any difference to her relationship?

Is it my responsibility to tell her? Shouldn’t I be getting him to man up and tell her himself? What if he starts telling lies about me?

Can I get between a marriage? Do I want to be responsible for breaking up a family/dream/etc?

What if she calls me a liar?

And therein lies the problem; whilst many of us are uncomfortable with lying and knowingly witholding a piece of information we’re sure we’d want to know, there are many pitfalls and very few benefits to being the deliverer of cheating truth.

The problem I have with this type of honesty is that unless this is one of those times when she has been duped into believing that he’s wonderful when in actual fact he’s a Class A Assclown, the likelihood is that if she is with an assclown who has been exhibiting various assclown behaviours, it is likely to all blow up in your face no matter what your intentions. She knows he’s an assclown but may not be willing to receive the information that blows everything wide open and pushes her to make a conclusive decision about him.

For some people, the knowledge that their guy has been playing around is the straw that broke the donkeys already worn out back and see it as an opportunity to wise up about the type of men they date and move on. It becomes a period of growth.

For some, they blame themselves or chalk it up to him being a man, forgive him, and then live a life of insecurity and are likely to suffer further infidelities.

For some, they listen to a BS story from him that suddenly turns the tables and has you painted as the bad guy, who is jealous and trying to destroy the relationship. Suddenly he makes copper look like gold, and you become the cumbersome friend.

In my experience, I have had to keep quiet even though it annoys the crap out of me, because me saying something would make no difference. On both occasions, they had already heard stories or even caught him red handed and it made no difference. But on the flipside, I have told a couple of other friends and they did end the relationship and our friendship more than survived it, it was made stronger by my honesty.

But it is different strokes for different folks, so I ask:

In this day and age of assclowns aplenty and women struggling with conflicting relationship values and low self esteem, do you think that honesty is the best policy when it comes to disclosing that your friends man has been cheating? Have you been in this situation?

Your thoughts?

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11 Responses to Would you tell your friend that her boyfriend/husband is cheating?

  1. Loving Annie says:

    NML,
    I DEFINITELY WANT YOU TO TELL ME THE TRUTH – IN FRONT OF HIM – SO YOU CAN COUNTER HIS LIES ON THE SPOT.

    Give me the opther woman’s name and phone number and let me listen in on your call to her, about the evidence.

    I want the truth so clearly that I know that you have done me a huge favor instead of lingering in ignorance and fantasy.

    Give me specifics, don’t leave it vague. Spell it out irrefutably.

    Thank you, and anyone else who tells me the truth so I don’t go on blindly loving an assclown.

    Just be willing to stick to your guns and explain it all so that he can’t wiggle out of it.

    If a woman doesn’t want to hear the truth, it’s about her denial, and maybe she should read your e-book.

  2. Kiara says:

    I’m sorry but it’s just not that simple.

    First, it’s not a hired private detective, it’s someone who happened to stumble into these facts, and probably won’t be able to provide you with proof. Maybe I don’t know the details, maybe I don’t know her name and number, maybe she’ll deny it too, making that two against one.

    Second, been there, done that… the other one was me… and he stood there and plainly denied it!!! of course, she believed him, I think she still does, even though they ended that relationship 6 months later and it’s been 20 years. There’s simply no way a female friend will believe your word over her own eyes, heart and instinct.

    And of course, the version I’ve heard more is that he turns it all around to make it look like you’re interested in him, and that’s why you made up such a lie… and listen carefully, this will happen behind your back, the minute you turn around, complete with ‘proof’… so you don’t have a chance to defend yourself.

  3. lisaq says:

    Ugh! This is a lose-lose deal isn’t it? I’ve come around to the belief that I have to be honest with my friends…mostly because I really do want that honesty in return. It can’t be tricky navigating such a thing that’s for sure, but I think it’s a road you have to go down. If you don’t, and she finds out and then finds out you knew and didn’t tell her, it could get even uglier.

  4. Candy says:

    NML, what about sending an anonymous letter?

    Would that be a worthwhile approach?

    At least if the girl receives it, she can be made aware and be more opent to questioning his behaviour?

    It would encourage her to take the responsibility in facing up to the situation or avoiding it.

  5. Amy T. says:

    Candy, I know you posed your q to NML, but I hope you don’t mind if I chime in.

    I think your idea is good, but if the friend is someone you’re really close to, don’t you think she’ll figure out who sent it? I’ve received anonymous letters (not ones that tipped me off to cheating, but for other reasons), and I’ve almost always been able to figure out the sender. I guess if you wanted to go that route, it might be worthwhile to ask a friend to write the letter for you, so that it didn’t have your handwriting, or speech-style! Your heart’s in the right place, either way.

    For me, if I knew a guy was cheating on a friend, it would depend on my relationship with that friend as to whether I’d tell her or not. Once, I was actually privy to a GIRL messing around on one of my guy friends and I gave HER a warning to shape up, or I’d go to him. They ended up breaking up a few months later, without any encouragement from me, because she was an assclown.

  6. Brad K. says:

    Cheating is usually a symptom, not the cause. No one wakes up and says, “This partner is boring/awful/ignoring me, I think I will go pick up some strange stuff.” Not without a lot of disrespect, lack of communication (skills), deceit and manipulation, and lack of self esteem.

    If anything, tell your friend that her guy isn’t respectful/attentive/doesn’t act like he cares for her – whatever is most obviously true, even to her. Tell her that you don’t respect him for his neglect of her – and that you don’t care to be anywhere near him again.

    You cannot ignore his cheating – or you help enable him to continue. You let her know you find his behavior to be an issue. You let her enjoy her current perspective of life and her relationship, for as much longer as it lasts. (Some women are made to feel guilty, and knowingly *allow* crap like this to go on for years and years. Strange.)

    You can’t really say or do anything to “improve” him – he has proven he has no self-respect, no respect for others, no honor, no honesty, and a life-skill for picking up bed partners (that he won’t be letting get rusty). But telling him that you do know about the deceit might make him more careful, or maybe mess up his charade earlier. Don’t nag – once is about all that might help anyone.

    I don’t think cheating is the issue – he could stop the arrangement and the fundamental lack of respect and emotional engagement would still be there. And he will be much more likely to mess around in the future.

    Amy T. – The anonymous letter, especially asking someone else to write it, gets into gossip – talking about someone. Nothing good comes from gossip.

    Hard as it may be to accept, I don’t think the cheating is the basic problem. The cheating follows from basic tragic faults in the relationship – he isn’t loyal, he isn’t honest, he doesn’t respect anyone, including himself. These are fatal flaws, and aren’t such loaded, biblical-level, earth-shaking topics. Talk about the fundamentals with your friend, and she may become aware of who he is, and who he isn’t. Leave the rest up to her, him, and God or fate or whatever. And for goodness’ sake, don’t gossip.

  7. Kiara says:

    Brad K:

    You’re so right, thank you for your really useful insight. I’m gonna learn that one for the next time. :)

  8. lena says:

    hello. new to the site. i am currently in this situation. I am a very consciencious person. i really believe in karma, in truth in respect. my boyfriend cheated on me when i was pregnant. i knew he was through dreams and the usual signs i.e late phone calls being avoided, un-answered calls from me to him at certain times etc… i always prayed to God that he would let the truth come out to ease my mind and the truth did but i still hurt over it. we are trying to make it work now, 4 months after. however… i know a girl who is pregnant and going through the same thing but this time i know and have evidence her man is cheating. i had a dream that she would see her man and the girl together and i told her. that very same day, she called me in tears saying she saw them and chased after him but they disappeared. so i took this as a sign from god that i should reveal all to her about this other girl that her man is seeing (and this other girl is also pregnant by my friends man!!!). so i told her and of course she was devastated. she confronted him but i believe she is quite happy to be in denial even though she really does know because the easiest thing is to play dumb in these situations for some people. so the night after their confrontation, she has sex with him. i asked her if she told him and she says yes. she says that she knows he is lying and that it is the truth. but she also reveals that she has put my name into it. i felt really betrayed because i told her in confidence with proof, and as a friend. however she did not respect my telling her as a friend and has now made her man blame me(even though he has denied all allegations). we all live in the same flat so thats why the confidence and anonymosity was vital. even though when i was in the same situation, when i was praying for someone to tell me the truth, some people are just not mentally ready or strong enough to handle it. so know your friend and if you believe within your heart that they are capable of having the truth and using it for wise action, then tell them. but some females are not like others. and sometimes knowing for knowing sake stands for nothing.

  9. [...] you tell your friend that her boyfriend/husband is cheating?Source: Baggage Reclaim – Dating, singles, relationships, sex tips and advice blog for men and women.2008-10-20 [...]

  10. Carrie Lynn says:

    I was in a similar situation and my friends wife had vague information as to why she felt my boyfriend could be cheating.I believe my boyfriend and I took it as an attack on his character.If you are going to be the messenger at least have the guts to say it was you.I believe she is a troublemaker and she left obscenities on my machine cause shes ticked that i told my boyfriend.

  11. anonymous says:

    I was in a situation where my friends knew my boyfriend was cheating on me and withheld the info. I had even asked one oy my friends if she knew something (she said something really odd one night) and it made me think she was not telling me everything. She swore that she didn’t know anything. Four months later I find out she knew all along and that he was cheating on me with another friend. I looked like a huge idiot for having a boyfriend cheating on me and friends I couldn’t trust. I still find it very hard to forgive her. I dumped him as soon as I found out and have not spoken to him since. (It’s been 2 years) Honesty is almost always the best policy and hurts less people in the end. I would have a lot less anger if I knew the truth.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!