Sex & Relationships

I Have Proof My Friend's BF is Cheating. Do I Tell Her?

Our wicked-smart sex and relationship columnist, Kate Carraway, to the rescue

Love Kate Inline

(Photo: Barry Wetcher)

Dear Kate,

I know for an absolute fact, with evidence, that my friend’s serious boyfriend is regularly cheating on her. I’ve told some other friends who don’t know them about it, and they differ on the right course of action to take. The way I see it, I have three options:

1) I tell him that I know and that he has to tell her, or that I will.
2) I go ahead and tell her.
3) I don’t do anything, as it isn’t my business to get involved.

What should I do? —Kellie

The first option seems rightest, if not easiest. (“Simple, not easy,” like half of life.) Unless you’re practiced in the art of getting way up in strangers’ faces in parking lots or nightclubs following transgressions like “You looked at me wrong,” all throwing your sparkly purse around for emphasis, it’s going to take a spine made out of Valyrian steel to tell a guy you presumably don’t know super-well (if you did, I think you’d frame this more like “My friend is being a shit to his girlfriend,” right?), who has a stake in you not knowing the dirt he’s doing, and who definitely has a stake in you not telling or suggesting that you’ll be telling if he doesn’t do something he also has a stake in not doing. I’m not scared of much of anything in the social realm (mice, rocking chairs, and unnamable existential fears are another whole thing) and I don’t know that I’d be up for this: a man with something to lose (a girlfriend; a side chick; control)—who is already the kind of guy who isn’t hella interested in doing the right thing, btw—can be terrifying. I would be worried about him coming at you with revenge-eyes, you know?

Also, while the logic is solid—you, the outsider, know something you shouldn’t (and probably don’t want to) and have to do something with that knowledge as it relates to your friend’s health (yes, health: is a cheating bf likely to reintroduce condoms in his long-term relationship?) and happiness—it also seems fundamentally messed up to tell someone you have no personal history or connection with what he has to do to satisfy your assessment of things. Let’s say that, under the circumstances, this is a “no.”

The second option has potential. You seem clear on the “cheating” of it all—I have known some truly high-larious situations where someone not particularly close to two people revealed that one of them was stepping out, only to be gently informed about open and “don’t ask, don’t tell”-style relationships—and if your friend is a friend-friend (Pop quiz for friend-friends: Do you socialize alone? Do you communicate on the reg? Do you know her middle name and siblings’ names?) you can consider yourself cleared to even consider this option. This is actually going to be no problem for you if your friend feels like something is up with her boyf and asks your opinion, because as in all things, it’s usually uncool to tell someone what you think about their life and choices unless they ask you directly, in which case, yahtzee!

But: forget what you would want in this situation— stupid decision-making tool, in its assumption that you and your friend want the same anything—and think about what she’s really like: is this the kind of girl who will de-friend the messenger? Will she think you’re being dramatic or jealous? Will she, regardless of the infidelity-reality, probably stay with him anyway (a.k.a. has he done this stuff before)? If so, move on to…

Option three: do nothing. If you’re hesitating on “one” and “two” because you’re pretty sure there will be fall-out for you, then “three” is probably your number. However, if you can’t live with the idea of really doing nothing at all, but don’t want to put yourself in a too-vulnerable, not-totally-your-biz-but-not-totally-not-your-biz posish, consider employing the greatest invention in all of the internet: the anonymous email.

 More advice from Kate:
My Best Friend’s Life is Perfect. Can I Tell Her to Stop Complaining Already? 
How Young is Too Young?
Is Long Distance a Dealbreaker?
When Do I Need to Disclose My Dismal $$$ Sitch?
How Can I Curb My Tinder-Rejection Sads?
When Should My Guy & I Talk “Numbers”?
Can We Be FWB When He Wants More?
Is It Ever OK to Date a Friend’s Ex?
How Do I Get Over a Guy?
Why Aren’t I More Obsessed With My BF?
Should I Propose to My Guy?