Is it a ‘good’ thing to tell your friend their part­ner is cheat­ing?

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - OPINION -

WHETHER you should tell your friend their part­ner is cheat­ing on them, is un­doubt­edly one of the most awk­ward po­si­tions to be in as a friend.

You are caught be­tween what the “right” and the “good” thing is to do. And un­sur­pris­ingly, there’s no straight­for­ward an­swer.

What­ever you do, there are con­se­quences and you could be made a scape­goat for any out­come in the af­ter­math of the fall­out. That’s true even if you say noth­ing.

Sup­pose your friend finds out about the in­fi­delity and re­alises that you knew all along. “You knew and you didn’t tell me?”, they will say. “How could a friend do that?”

On the other hand – if you opt to tell them – they could be in de­nial, es­pe­cially if you don’t have your facts straight.

You could end up be­ing a vil­lain whose in­ten­tions were al­ways to break them up be­cause you never liked them to­gether any­way.

Even if you have your facts straight, there is no telling what the out­come will be, and how it will af­fect your friend­ship.

The best place to start is to be sure that the part­ner is cheat­ing.

Most cheaters will lie and gaslight you un­less you catch them red-handed. Even then, they usu­ally only ad­mit to what they think you al­ready know.

If you con­front them be­fore gath­er­ing any tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence and hard ques­tions that de­mand hard facts, there’s a good chance you’ll look like the crazy, jeal­ous friend.

Fur­ther­more, they’re likely to con­tinue with their cheat­ing ways and take the af­fair more un­der­ground.

Be­fore tak­ing any ac­tion, we rec­om­mend that you gather more than one piece of con­crete ev­i­dence.

Sec­ondly, you need to ask your­self, as a guide, how you think you’d feel in your friend’s sit­u­a­tion. Would you want to know?

You’ll be wor­ried about hurt­ing your friend.

Telling them may seem like the “right” thing to do, but is it the “good” thing to do?

This hard de­ci­sion de­pends on your over­all moral out­look.

How im­por­tant is your value sys­tem com­pared to the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing re­jected as a friend and given all sorts of un­wanted la­bels by the two of them?

Al­though your val­ues shouldn’t change based on cir­cum­stances, it may also be worth con­sid­er­ing how close a friend your friend is to you.

Would they ap­pre­ci­ate this news com­ing from you if you’re not that close?

How hurt would they be that you kept it quiet if you usu­ally share ev­ery­thing with one an­other?

Even if you saw them kiss­ing, is it pos­si­ble that they have an open type of re­la­tion­ship, or a “don’t ask – don’t tell” type of a set-up?

What if your friend has a sus­pi­cion of his/her cheat­ing but is in de­nial, and doesn’t want to con­front it for what­ever rea­son? Be the har­bin­ger of this bomb­shell and it may stick to you.

Thirdly, avoid telling mu­tual friends about the sit­u­a­tion.

One of the hard­est things about dis­cov­er­ing an af­fair can be the hu­mil­i­a­tion your friend may feel when they find out they’re the only one who didn’t know.

With this said, you must also think of your own men­tal well­be­ing.

This is likely to cause you stress and anx­i­ety. It might, there­fore, be worth find­ing some­body safe to of- fload to. Just make sure it’s a per­son who doesn’t know your friend, and be care­ful not to re­veal any names.

Lastly, de­pend­ing on how well you’re ac­quainted with each other, you could talk to the part­ner.

Don’t threaten or emo­tion­ally black­mail them. But in­stead, point out you have your friend’s in­ter­ests at heart and have some con­cerns about what you’ve dis­cov­ered.

When you speak to the cheat­ing part­ner, you could sug­gest that they end the af­fair as soon as pos­si­ble.

If he/she wants to move on with their life sep­a­rately, then let them know it’s not fair to string your friend along.

Per­haps you’ll then leave it up to them at this point to take things for­ward, know­ing that you’ve in­ter­vened in the best in­ter­ests of your friend but haven’t in­ter­fered.

But, if the cheater shows no re­morse or sign of end­ing the af­fair but still wants to also con­tinue with the re­la­tion­ship with your friend, then you’re left with no op­tion but to talk to your friend.

The cheater might pre­pare a good ex­cuse or de­nial once you tell your friend.

So per­haps it may be best that they’re left in ig­no­rant bliss, think­ing they got away with be­ing a cheater.

Moral de­ci­sions are not al­ways easy, even when we know all the eth­i­cal rules, and per­spec­tives.

In the end, it al­ways comes down to judg­ment, and be­liev­ing that you found the “right an­swer” that main­tains the in­tegrity of your moral char­ac­ter.


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