Kiss and tell: When your friend’s husband cheats, should you be the bearer of bad news? That’s the question a Circle of Moms member who calls herself "Rebecca Three" began wondering after watching the movie The Dilemma.
In the film, actor Vince Vaughn sees his best friend's wife having an affair with another man and has to decide whether to tell. Hilarity ensues in the movie, Rebecca says. But she questions whether real people in a similar situation would find any humor in it.
To help with the decision on whether to tell a friend about a cheating spouse, Circle of Moms members suggest considering the following five questions.
1. How Strong is Your Friendship?
Before deciding whether to tell your friend her partner is being unfaithful, some Circle of Moms members suggest you first assess the depth of your friendship. As Tara K. explains it, if it is "someone who I didn't know that well or didn't really want to know well," she wouldn't tell, as the friend might not want to hear such devestating news from you. "If it were I would let it ride and wouldn't tell her I knew, even after the fact," says Tara K.
At the other end of the friendship spectrum, for "someone with whom I had a lot of trust," says Krista E., "I would tell. If the positions were reversed, she adds, "I would want my friend to tell me, and if I somehow found out later that she knew but didn’t tell me, I'd feel very betrayed."
A member named Johnny suggests additional considerations beyond the level of your closeness: "If it was a good friend and my information was without question, I would tell. I would do it in the most loving manner possible and I would not share the information with anyone else, to preserve her privacy."
She shares that one of her friends once told her that she suspected her boyfriend was cheating with one of her coworkers. It turns out he wasn’t cheating. "[But I deeply appreciated that my [friend] cared enough about me to try to protect me from being hurt. I am actually still friendly with the ex, my friend, and his friend, too."
2. Are You Willing to Lose Your Friend?
Be prepared that even if you are good friends, not all women will respond positively to the bearer of such bad news, Tah D. warns. "I told my best friend her boyfriend (my fiancee's cousin) was cheating on her, she called him, they had it out and broke up, and she called me back and told me I was the reason she didn't have a man. It strained our relationship (among other things)," she recalls. "We are just talking again years later on Facebook."
When Kate C. faced a similar situation (a friend asked her whether she thought her boyfriend was being manipulative or controlling), she regrets bein truthful, as the friend didn’t speak to her for five years. Now, she says, "I wouldn’t say a thing, [because] most women don’t want to know when they’re in a [bad] situation."
Generally, Circle of Moms members agree that you should expect some backlash and be prepared for the possibility that you’ll lose the friendship by letting the cat out of the bag:
"It's very hard to repair a relationship with a friend after you selfishly tell them to alleviate your anxiety about something," notes Rebecca. "You never know what agreements are made between the sheets. I'd take it to my grave and comfort my friend when she needed it."
3. What If She Finds Out On Her Own Later?
On the other hand, some Circle of Moms members caution against keeping the secret if you think your friend will find out anyway. "If you can lose a friendship over telling them, what do you think will happen when they find out on their own, then find out that their ‘friend’ already knew?" asks a member who goes by "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."
Bonnie agrees, saying she believes any friend of hers would think strongly about ending the friendship if the truth came out and the friend then discovered that she already knew about it.
Having been the person being cheated on, Kaleigh wishes her friends would have told her. "All my friends knew and didn't bother to tell me except one. I am still friends with the one that told me and have ditched the rest," she recalls. "If you stand by and watch your friend be hurt without saying anything, you're almost as bad [as the cheater]," she reasons, "because then you’re not only hurt because you were cheated on, but also don’t know which friends you can trust to be there for you when you really need them."
4. Are You Concerned About Her Health?
Another very important reason to tell is out of concern for your friend’s health, offer several Circle of Moms members. After all, if your friend’s spouse is sleeping around, he could contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and pass it onto your friend, explains Charlie P. and Tiffany P.
Tah D., who works at a clinic, says she’s seen first-hand many women who have contracted STDs from their cheating partners, and thus leans toward telling. "I know if my bestie ever knew, I would want her to tell me. I don’t want to be in the dark and then wind up with the itchy, burn-y crawlies and a broken heart. I'll take the latter, by itself," she says.
Tiffany also agrees that the possibility of a cheating partner passing on a sexually transmitted disease like AIDS makes it a friend's duty to pass on this information: "I would sit her down and tell her straight out that I have something to tell her that she is not going to like, but that she needs to know. What she did with the information would be up to her."
5. Has She Told You She Would Want to Know?
Noting that "opinions vary widely on this [topic]," Heather L. and several other Circle of Moms members suggest asking your friends for their preferences — tell or not tell — in preparation for the possibility of an incident. "Do we as women want to know? That depends on the woman!” a member named Chatty exclaims, also in support of posing hypothetical situations to your friends. You never know what your friend’s reaction would be when push comes to shove, she says. By asking in advance, you at least have something to go on if you ever have to decide what to do.
Image Source: tedviens via Flickr/Creative Commons
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