Even if you’re not dating someone, you’re more than likely to be part of a romantic relationship.
Your best friend might start dating a guy and suddenly you’re seeing him every morning drinking coffee and watching TV. Or one of your buddies could start bringing a girl to happy hour and soon you’re looking forward to her summary of last night’s episode of “LA Ink.” Whether you realize it or not, you’ve formed a relationship with one another, albeit in a tangential sense.
So what do you do if you catch your friend’s lover with another?
Before you dive in and potentially destroy your friend’s world, find out if the cheating is actually real – that mysterious woman could really be his cousin, or even a young aunt. You don’t want to be the jerk trying to stir up trouble. Don’t assume you know everything about their life because, in all honesty, you don’t. Of course, if you catch your best friend’s boyfriend making out with a girl at the bar, you can be pretty sure that the chick is not family.
Next, you should consider your motive. Do you want to tell your friend the truth about the two-timing lover because it will make him or her feel better? Or do you want to tell them because it will make you feel better? If your confession will only benefit your conscience, then reconsider. You need to realize the situation is not about you, it is about your friend.
Sure, phrases like “bros before hos” and “chicks before dicks” come to mind immediately, but a situation like this is complicated. You’re attempting to uphold your friend’s reputation, integrity and respect, but telling your friend about his or her partner’s indiscretions could result in polarizing your friendship.
“One of my long-time friends told me my boyfriend was cheating on me, but I didn’t believe him. I thought he was trying to cause problems and break us up – I ended the friendship. After my relationship eventually ended, I found out he was telling the truth,” says Caira Wells, student.
Wells’ experience is one possible scenario: Your friend flips out, accuses you of lying, then de-friends you in real-life and on Facebook.
Is this fair? Well, maybe. In trying to be a good friend, it’s easy to forget that he or she is naturally really invested in the relationship. So bluntly bursting out that you saw their significant other making out with someone at the bar may be the last thing they want to hear from you. If you decide to tell, you should break the news gently.
Also, don’t make judgments or harsh statements like “She was too ugly for you anyway” or “She is just a skank.” Your friend might really be in love and might not actually end the relationship. Then you would be stuck dealing with your verbal vomit weeks later while they are still together.
A second scenario, on the other hand, has the idealized result we all desire: You spill the goods and your friend thanks you for letting them in on the details.
Fair? Again, maybe. Even though your intentions again lie in a wholly heartfelt place, you still run the risk of meddling without knowing all the ins-and-outs of the relationship. Even if they appear outwardly fine, no one handles a break-up perfectly and this is especially true if they really cared for the other person. Secretly, your friend’s heart is probably breaking, and they will need your support.
You can also support your friend in a non-intrusive way with either scenario. Just remaining available to talk, hang out or do anything to keep their mind off the situation can really help in the long run. And remember, don’t offer unsolicited advice or recommendations on how to handle the cheating. Unless they ask for your opinion, keep your thoughts to yourself. Be sensitive and do not pressure your friend to quickly make a decision. At the end of the day, the greatest friends are the non-judgmental, supportive ones.
But the question still remains: What if you can’t tell your friend about the dirty deeds going on behind their back? What do you do then?
This is a difficult predicament. On one hand, you don’t want them to find out later that you knew about the cheating, but, on the other hand, you also don’t want to remain silent either. With this conundrum in mind, student Erik Rodriguez advises College News on the best course of action.
“Confront [your friend’s] boyfriend or girlfriend about the cheating. Say you know about it and recommend they stop, tell your friend, end the relationship, etc. Perhaps you will ignite a spark to better their relationship or end it… I don’t consider this getting too involved, [but rather] just [being] confrontational in a good way.”
Carefully evaluating the state of the relationship helps as well. Is this person one you expect to be around for just a few weeks or someone to be around for a while? The answer may help inform your course of action.
Also, consider yourself in the opposite position. While hearing about this awful situation from a good friend is better than finding out from the class gossip, some issues are best kept private. Most people would rather hear the bad news from their partner and handle the situation out of the public view. If this is the case, then do not let them know you knew beforehand unless, of course, they bring you up in conversation.
Still feel uncomfortable with these options? Just keep one thing in mind. The power of suggestion, such as dropping hints and capturing cheating behavior in picture messages, can go a long way.
Is it cheating? Not sure if what you see is cheating? Here are a few sure-fire cheating signs:
1. He or she is touching another person in an intimate way or kissing.
2. If you approach the couple, they both seem very nervous or don’t bother to introduce the “friend.”
3. The suspected cheater immediately starts to give excuses as to why he or she is with the other person.
4. You happen to see a flirty text or photo on his or her phone that does not belong to your friend.
5. You see recent photos on Facebook or MySpace of him or her behaving badly.