Q&a: Cheating, Friendship and You

March 6, 2013 by L.A. Walsh  
Published in Friendship

My response to a question from a perplexed friend of an alleged cheater.

Dear LW,

I may have seen my best friend cheating on his wife. He is a good guy who has always been loyal to me. I know if roles were reversed, he’d cover for me. The thing is his wife is also a good person who has always been nice to me. She is also pregnant with their first child. I feel like if I tell her it may split up their family and make me lose my friend. A part of me wants to forget I saw him with this other person, but another thinks she should know. I know she reads your creative stuff so maybe if she reads my letter and your response she can put things together herself?

 PJ

Hi PJ,

Thank you for putting the pressure on me. Now if they split up I’ll always be known as the villain and will undoubtedly receive some very poorly written e-mails. (I’m just being funny…I hope.)

Look, PJ, we all have found ourselves in similar situations. Friends make bad choices and we always somehow find out about them. The deal is though, unlike most of us who only accidentally find out that a friend has been cheating on their diet, you’ve just learned that your friend is cheating on his wife. What is a person to do?

In my opinion, your only open is to confront your friend. Tell him you were out and about and saw him kissing the next door neighbor. Ask him to explain things (Though unlikely, it may have been his wife, but you never saw her from that angle. They could also be in an open relationship.) and really listen to his answer. There is a chance he’ll become defensive and tell you to mind your own business. There is also a chance that he will be relieved that you know and be honest with you. You don’t know the truth until you talk to him and, even then, you still may be scratching your head.

I would firmly advise that you not approach his wife. For starters, she is pregnant and you don’t want to compromise her pregnancy with this shock (if it even is one). For another, though she is a “good person,” she’s not your friend. Though she could appreciate the honesty, she also may see you as doing the dirty work for her husband and be more upset by his assumed cowardliness than about the cheating. If anyone should tell her, it should be her husband.

PJ, you seem like a nice person and I respect you for being caring enough to contemplate your friend’s wife’s feelings and not just be loyal to your buddy. I hope when you approach him he’ll be receptive and be grateful that you came to him. I know you were hoping I’d “let the cat out of the bag” for you, but I honestly don’t feel that that is what your question called for. I think this is a less about cheating and more about friendship. Your friend unknowingly has placed you in a bad position that has left you feeling uncomfortable. You want to do right by him while at the same time you see that he is starting a family and shouldn’t be acting as he is/may be. You won’t feel better until you talk to him, but, depending on his answer, you may end up feeling worse. It’s a risk you have to take. You would be smart to not drag this out for the longer you wait, the worse you’ll feel and the more complicated things will become.

Best of luck to you!

LW

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