What you need to know:
- Before you sit your friend down and deliver your findings, find out the kind of relationship she has.
- By no means should you confront your friend's partner when you bump into him cheating under the claim of protecting your friend.
- Even if you have video evidence, you may still come under scrutiny over your keenness to stage a recording and the interests you have vested in your friend’s relationship.
Your best friend has been lamenting that her relationship is not going on well. Then one day, while minding your business in town, you see her partner in a sexually compromising situation. You pick up your phone to alert her, but immediately pause to think: Should I tell her he is cheating? Should I say the reason things are going awry in her relationship is because of his infidelity? You’re conflicted. She might believe you, but then again, she might scold you for poking your nose into her private affairs. There is also the possibility you might be left with an egg on the face if she chooses to reconcile with him.
Before you speak
Before you sit your friend down and deliver your findings, find out the kind of relationship she has. For example, is she in an open relationship where going out with other partners is permitted? At the same time, sex therapist Clare Prendergast says you should find out whether she already knows about her partner’s philandering, and whether you may have misjudged the scene in which you caught him. “Always remember if your friend decides to continue with the relationship, she and her partner may see you as a constant reminder of what happened, regularly bring you up in their arguments, or kick you out of their circle completely,” says Claire. This is echoed by Sheri Meyers, the author of Chatting or Cheating. She says the best thing to do is to keep off due to the nature of presumptions and assumptions that will be going on in such a relationship. “Don’t tell what you have found out unless you have proof-positive evidence. And even then, why would you want to get involved in such drama?” she says. By no means should you confront your friend's partner when you bump into him cheating under the claim of protecting your friend.
Burden of proof
Cheating partners will often go on the defensive. This will be compounded by the fact that the partner you accuse of cheating was not directly caught by their spouse. “The chances of proving your claims will often be next to zero unless you got a recording of the actual cheating event. There will be denial at first. Then conviction, and eventually a teaming up of the partner you busted and your friend against you,” says Meyers. The outcome might be muddier if you are a male friend telling on another man. Even if you have video evidence, you may still come under scrutiny over your keenness to stage a recording and the interests you have vested in your friend’s relationship.
Right vs Good
Mark White, the author of Doctor Strange and Philosophy says ultimately, the decision to tell or not should be informed by what you think will uphold your moral character. “First ask yourself, would she want you to tell her? Once you have an answer to this, respect it by either laying out hints, telling your friend straight up, or keeping silent about it,” he says. Family therapist Lawrence Kibiru says you could lay out hints or suggestions that could lead to the ending of the affair and the mending of the relationship. “Instead of bluntly saying that you caught him cheating, or saw him with an acquaintance you are suspicious about, you may point out a few major causes of relationship breakdown such as cheating, and suggest counseling where this can be unearthed and dealt with more efficiently,” he says.
When you tell
If you decide to tell, be ready to compassionately understand your friend’s reaction and guide them out of the quandary. “Your revelation will set off a series of reactions, especially if their partner has never cheated before. She may feel angry at you for bursting the bubble of her otherwise happy relationship. She may be embarrassed or even get defensive. Whatever her reaction is, do not shove your proof down her throat day in day out,” says Meyers. “Instead, walk with her through it as much as she may want you to.”