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November 19

Should I tell my friend she’s being cheated on?

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:20 am

Handling the truth on April 27, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

If you know your friend’s boyfriend or husband is cheating on her, is it your bound duty to inform her of this fact? In this particular case, I don’t know him very well, or maybe I’d try to talk to him about it. I’ve been in this situation (knowing about the affair) before, and both times the cheated-on wife/girlfriend was very angry that people knew her man was cheating before she did. Felt like a fool. But honestly, who am I to decide she ought to know? Another guy I know was cheating on his wife, but ultimately broke off the affair and went back to her. In that situation, I’m not sure she’d have been better off knowing. She has the man, and he’s making an effort to work things out even if he is living a lie. What do you think: is full disclosure always best?

— Lilygirl

Dear Lilygirl,

Over to you again, Breakup Belleruth. “Lilygirl, you are smart to understand that there is no hard and fast rule. I agree with what you say. But there is one diagnostic teaser you can use to try and sort this out for this particular situation. Try talking about another situation, real or hypothetical, to this friend to see how she feels about it. For example, ‘You know, I always wonder if I did the right thing when I (choose one: told, didn’t tell) so-and-so about her cheating partner’ … blah blah … which will usually get pretty rapidly to whether or not she would want to know in similar circumstances. But yes, if the thing blows over, best not to tell. And as a rule of thumb, I think it’s generally best to err on the side of not doing. Then, if confronted later by an embarrassed friend, just to say, ‘Look, I’m sorry if you feel foolish, I hate it that you do, but I wasn’t going to be the one to wreck the relationship by telling you, in case he shaped up and it worked out.’ Though if the guy keeps doing it, then that’s another story.” God, she’s smart. Having Belleruth as a friend in this situation would almost be worth having … this situation.

Breakup Girl


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