Someone wrote to me today seeking advice in a sticky situation. I have to be very vague while rewriting this question because it was a unique one in which all parties involved allegedly read my blog sometimes. I wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble so here is the question, re-worded to keep the person who asked anonymous:
My husband and I were out one night with a group of friends. At one point the guys and the girls went separate ways and hung out at different bars. A few girls remained with the guys. One went to leave the bar and head home and saw one of the guys hooking up with a familiar woman who was not his wife. Being friend’s with this man’s wife, the woman who witnessed this indiscretion confronted the pair on the spot, called the other woman a whore, and said that if he did not tell his wife, that she would. Now when my husband and I talk about this, we bicker because we have opposing views. I don’t think this woman should have gotten involved. He does. This got us on the topic of catching a cheater in any situation. My husband said that if he caught one of his friends’ wives with another man, he’d tell his friend. But if he caught his friend with another woman, he would keep his mouth shut for the sake of his friend. What do you think is the right approach to this? Should someone blow the whistle on a cheater?
This whole situation depends on how close you are to the cheater and the cheatee and the dynamics of their relationship.
What does that mean? Well, who are you better friends with?
If you are good friends with the cheater and not his/her significant other, I would just ask the cheater if he/she knows what they are doing. I know that if one of my friends were cheating, I would stop them and be like “Hey! You love your boyfriend/girlfriend! What are you doing?!”. I would be mostly doing that for the sake of my friend, even if they are wrong. I want my friends to be happy and not make stupid drunken mistakes that will cost them someone they love. I might also talk to them about it again and see how that goes. But I would not tell the significant other in this case. I don’t think it would be my place. My loyalty is with my friends. Not with their partners. Snitches get stitches in this situation. But I wouldn’t hang out with a habitual cheater.
If you are good friends with the person being cheated on, BLOW THAT WHISTLE! But first, I would confront the cheater, just as the girl from this example above did. I would give an ultimatum. It’s the cheaters fault for putting you in that position. They decided to cheat, which sucks as it is. They decided also to be careless about where they cheated, and did it somewhere that you were. They put you in an awkward position. And screw that. Let’s be optimistic and think that once given an ultimatum, they’d do the right thing. Which is great and takes the awkwardness level down from 10 to 7ish for you. But if they don’t tell your friend about the cheat, and you don’t either, and your friend finds out some other way, and finds out that you didn’t tell her/him about it…well, that will really suck. And you might lose a friend (understandably so!). It’s humiliating enough to be cheated on. But to find out your friend(s) knew and didn’t tell you about it makes it 100 times worse.
If you are good friends with both the cheater and the cheatee: This is the worst situation to be in. As if being a whistleblower doesn’t suck enough, you are caught in the middle of a couple whom you love equally. I would talk to the cheater and let them know I’m angry with them. I would hope that they would be honest with their partner/my friend. The best person to tell is the person who committed the act. I guess this is the kind of event that happens that you just need to hope you have friends with good character. Unfortunately, everyone has at least one Barney in their group. If someone is willing to put you in that kind of position, and then not tell your friend/their partner, then maybe you should distance yourself. Or pull a Snooki/JWoww move and email an anonymous message to your friend stating that her/his partner was cheating (sorry in advance for referencing Jersey Shore). But in my opinion, you need to straight up rat here. And be ready for the heat that comes afterwards. Cheaters bring that upon themselves. And they might not care much about you if they are going to put you between a rock and a hard place (the hard place being in the guy’s pants!).
There is an exception to all of these situations. Sometimes the person who is being cheated on already knows that they are being cheated on. Sometimes it’s happened in the past, or it happens all the time. And this person takes the person back repeatedly. In this kind of circumstance, I’m not sure I’d bother. You know she/he is going to take them back anyways. I know every female reading this right now is like “OH MY LANTA, THAT GIRL MOLLY IS A BAD PERSON FOR NOT NARCING ON THAT REBEL SCUM!” Well, no. In high school I had a friend who let her boyfriend cheat and when I brought up that I saw him making out with a fat girl on a curb at the Wollaston 7-11 . Immediately I called her to tell her, because this wasn’t the first time I’d seen something like this. Her response when I told her? “I don’t want to hear it”. She meant it when she said that she didn’t want to hear about it. She would take him back again. Only now the cheater is calling you out and harassing you about it. Just because you were a good friend. Sometimes when you blow the whistle on a friend’s boyfriend, they can reverse it and take it out on you. In that case, I don’t know that it’s worth saying anything. The best thing you can do is gently let her know that you know what she knows and be there for her and support her. Or him…girls cheat, too. When someone is in a bad relationship, they know it even if it takes a while to figure out what they are going to do about it. And sometimes, they don’t do anything about it. Not everyone breaks up when there is an indiscretion. And that’s not up to you do get involved with. It’s not up to you to berate and preach to a friend about breaking up with a cheater. Do your job as a friend and use your best judgement. If you are going to get yourself in an insane amount of drama due to telling on someone, only for everyone to turn on you for it, I’d try to consider what it’s even worth.
And one more thing: If you catch a guy cheating on your friend, blame him. Not the “other woman”. She might not know that he has a girlfriend/wife. She also might be looking at it like she doesn’t owe anyone anything, which in my opinion is a bad way to look at it. But the cheater is the wrongest involved in the mess and if anyone is going to be blamed, it’s the cheater.