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The friendship cheating rules.
To tell or not tell.
Do you know a couple where someone is cheating? Ever run into a friend’s husband who was clearly in a secret rendezvous that was definitely not appropriate? How about a colleague saddled up to someone that was clearly not his wife. How do you react? What do you say? And most importantly - who do you tell the next day?
About 4 years ago when I went through a divorce, one of the things that hit me really hard from the whole ordeal was that a very good friend of mine knew about my husband’s affair. Yet, they opted not tell me.
When I asked my friend why they kept it a secret, he simply said he didn’t want to get involved. It was a dear friend of mine since childhood and someone closely involved in our business. It was really devastating to think that this information was not only withheld from me, yet withheld by someone I considered to be a good friend. Isn’t it your friend’s obligation to divulge this?
In the past few years, I have been confronted with the same situation. Sometimes the evidence was more concrete than others. In one specific situation I accidentally came into some hard facts. I ran into my girlfriend’s husband in Las Vegas with someone that was clearly not my girlfriend. This girl was clearly his date for the weekend. And definitely 100% not his wife. This cheating wasn’t speculation. It wasn’t gossip. I saw it with my own eyes.
In another instance I saw a husband’s profile on a dating app. I took a screenshot and asked around. This only caused a flurry of gossip. It was not what I intended and I felt awful for instigating a chain of chatter. Sometimes a husband repeats a story to his wife that he thinks is in confidence, but that story gets repeated and it includes some not savory and unfaithful details.
I don’t want to disrupt someone’s marriage, their kids, their home, their whole life. It’s not that easy to just “break up” like it was in our 20s. Unraveling your life is really complicated. Houses, finances, kids, friends, families. It’s complex. And it’s a fear that many don’t want to face. I wouldn’t want to be the one to throw that decision in someone’s lap. Some people want to remain ignorant don’t they? Does everyone want to know?
Is a happy life lived in ignorance better than learning the important facts about your situation and then what if living with the truth puts you in a worse off situation?
Aside from the weight of dealing with this information, is there an obligation to tell your friend? We know about bro-code. We know about girl code. But where does this fall? Life is complicated. Marriage is complicated. People’s lives are complicated. Shouldering the responsibility of blowing up somebody’s entire world is a big weight to carry.
Have you ever had this conversation with your friends:
“Doesn’t she have to know?”
“Maybe she just looks the other way.”
It all delves into deeper and deeper conversations. Some of us trade security for happiness. Some of us don’t have the strength to deal with consequences, so we look the other way. Is a happy life in ignorance better or worse than a painful one with the truth? While this is all mental floss to chew on. Where does that obligation lie?
I did not tell me friend. I tried many times but the burden of that information weighed too heavy on me. They have several children. Had this situation happened in my 20s or even 30s I would have have been louder and more outspoken. Why is that? When people are into their mid-life of a relationship and family, something changes and divulging that piece of truth or opening the pandora’s box is just different.
I was armed with this information regarding someone else's marriage for well over two years. I debated telling my friend constantly, like a massive karmic decision I had to make. It's as if the universe forced this information upon me to 'do good' for someone else because I learned how painful it was to be in the dark.
Finally the news hit that my friend was getting a divorce. I reached out to my friend finally and came clean. That I had known all along and told her I feared meddling where I shouldn’t be. She understood. But she definitely wished I had told her sooner. I feel awful now that I withheld it and didn’t speak up sooner.
I can adamantly say, that you should speak up. I am not saying opine on the marriage or the relationship. I’m just saying, do your friend the favor of passing on the truth. Everyone should have the opportunity to make a decision with all the truthful pieces.
But be prepared to lose the friend. It’s a risk. It’s one thing to have a feeling your husband might be unfaithful, it’s another ballgame to know that other people know and confront you with it. Your friendship may be damaged forever. Make sure to include in the conversation that whatever decisions they make – you have absolutely no judgements held.
Tell them not to confront their spouse. You do not want your friend to immediately confront their husband or partner. Advise them to digest, think about it, marinate, take a week to really and truly think about the news they have learned. Formulate a plan. The absolute worst thing you can do is react immediately.
So – what would you do? Let me know in the comments.
Image credit: Manhattan is a 1979 comedy-drama by WoodyAllen. Woody Allen stars as a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer who dates a 17-year-old girl but falls in love with his best friend's mistress.