friendsYou’re at the mall doing some serious damage to your checking account, when just as you’re about to add another pair of overpriced stilettos to your arsenal, you spot something out of your peripheral.

It’s your friend’s boyfriend walking hand in hand with a woman who, ironically, is not your friend.  For the sake of your blood pressure, you briefly entertain the possibility that the woman is a cousin or a sister that he is particularly close with.  But the sloppy French kiss he lays on her outside of the Auntie Anne’s let you know that’s, most likely, not the case.

Now your shopping spree is abruptly cut short because all of a sudden you have a decision to make.  Do you whip out your phone and alert your friend on the spot?  Maybe hide behind a trash can to snap a stealth style photo so that you can have some concrete evidence?

Or do you just mind your own damn business?

Now, first, there are some factors to consider.  How serious is the relationship between your friend and the cheater?  Is it just some temporary fling whose frivolity will eventually resolve itself?  Or is there a possibility that one day you’ll be front row at the two’s wedding, making the choice to speak now or forever hold your peace?

And, more importantly perhaps, is how serious is your relationship with your friend?  Are they some casual acquaintance that you share laughs and the occasional happy hour appetizer with?  Or is this the type of friend that is more family to you than your actual kin?

Because involving yourself in this kind of situation has the potential for some major drama.  If your friend decides to stay with their significant other, despite your warning, you become the odd man out.  There’s tension between you and the significant other, which means tension between you and your friend, which means that now your entire friendship is in jeopardy, despite that fact that you’re not the one who has done wrong.

Silence is not without its implications either.  If you say nothing, you run the risk of idling by while your friend suffers through a tumultuous relationship.  And then there’s the inevitable awkwardness if yours is the shoulder she chooses to cry on.  How much guilt, or at least discomfort, can you endure knowing that her cheating boyfriend isn’t the only one keeping secrets?

But there has to be very clear boundaries between best friends and boyfriends/girlfriends for those intimate relationships to remain healthy.  And the line between protection and interference is far too fine.  So, many people opt for silence.  It’s better to completely absolve oneself from the situation than to endanger the relationship with the friend.  It’s just not worth the risk.

Besides, what’s the point?  You know you’re friend.  If you tell, they’re not going to do anything about it anyway.

Perhaps.  But is your friend’s imminent inaction a truly legitimate reason to keep quiet?  Because that’s has more to do with your own feelings and not theirs.

I mean, is this really about salvaging your friendship by not telling? Or is it about you feeling salty about what won’t happen if you do?

She’s weak.  She’s stupid.  How could she stay with him and not listen to me?  These are the very rational thoughts and fears that have run through your head if you’ve ever had the displeasure of confronting a friend about a cheating lover who, in turn, did absolutely nothing about it.

But are those judgmental thoughts and hurt emotions really unavoidable?  Isn’t it possible to tell your friend that their partner is cheating without becoming emotionally invested?  Isn’t it possible to inform your friend without being burdened by your own expectation of the outcome?

See, with my closest friends, I look at myself as somewhat of a mandated reporter.  It is my obligation to inform them if I see, or become aware of, anything that could be potentially hazardous, emotionally or otherwise.

It’s not my job to persuade, or judge, or convince, or climb atop my soapbox and preach.  But it’s my job to tell, to simply present the information.  Nothing more.

And I think that is the most important factor to consider in this type of situation: When it comes to that particular friendship, what role do you play?  What is your job as friend?

Well with the select few people in my life that I have granted the title of “friend” my job goes beyond laughs, fashion advice, and juicy gossip.  My duty is to support my friends through this thing called life by doing whatever I can to make it less harmful than it already is.

So, to me, I’m negligent in my responsibility as a friend if I say absolutely nothing.

That’s why I would tell my friend if their significant other was cheating, even if I know they wouldn’t do the same for me.

  • Sasha

    These situations are so sticky and terrible to be involved in. Women generally and sadly choose to believe their significant other over their friend and then the friendship falls apart so I’m more apt to keep my mouth closed. It also depends on the level their relationship is, for example if they’ve only been together for a short time then I’d be more likely to tell but the longer they’ve been together I’d probably keep my mouth shut.

    I think the best way to deal with this is to approach my friend’s significant other and tell them what I know, then give them a week to tell my friend. If they haven’t told her within the alloted time frame then I’d speak up and let the chips fall where they may.

  • mo

    It’s often a no-win. On the one hand, if you say something, often the friend will disbelieve you. Or, they find out it’s true and when they want to stay with the person they are embarassed by their choice and turn on you for telling.

    Conversely, if you stay out of it and don’t say anything and it comes to light in another way and they find out you knew, they are often upset with you for NOT saying anything.

    I lost a friendship over a situation like this. I would not change what happened because I feel to this day like the way I handled it was appropriate, but she wanted to stay with him and blamed me for cracking their relationship “facade”, even when I was proved to be correct. It’s a messy, messy situation for all involved.

  • bubbleyumgirl

    Personally, I have been in this very situation. I told my best friend that her boyfriend had been cheating on him with proof, (ie he had been bragging to his friends about the dirt that he was doing and I showed her a chat that the guy’s friends and I had) She didn’t believe me. Our relationship changed after that. Sadly she really isn’t my friend like that anymore. Next time I’m not so sure that I’ll put my neck out there to save someone who was obviously blind to all the signs. :/

  • angel

    Yes. Couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.

  • Ms. Information

    I have and I always will and will expect the same from a true friend…being a friends extends far past just the good stuff.

  • J. Nicole

    “Because involving yourself in this kind of situation has the potential for some major drama.”

    I’d like to think I’m past the age for “drama”, and anyone I spend time with, no matter if its a casual relationship or a life long friend is mature & open-minded enough to know I have their best interests in mind. Unless I had solid proof, I wouldn’t say anything to allude he was cheating but instead bring it up nonchalantly, and wait for her to probe more. If it’s a good friend of mine, I’d probably approach the guy as soon as I see something that looks odd. Not in a confrontational way, but to see & interpret his reactions. If it was a life long, thick as thieves kind of friend I’d call her on the spot, but if that was not an option, I’d tell her soon as I saw her.

    The only time I would not say anything is if there was already a history of infidelity with the two and she chose to stay. I feel that is something she’ll eventually find out on her own.

  • D.T.

    Sometimes being a friend means losing a friend. I lost a friend because I told her about her boyfriend’s cheating ways and she dumped me as a friend. It sucked but I got over it.

  • Lady Ngo

    IDK what kind of “friends” some people have but i know i would definitely say something if i saw my friend’s boo out with another woman. I know if the situation were reversed and i found out later on down the line (regardless of where the relationship went) that my friend knew he was cheating on me, we most likely wouldn’t be friends anymore. God forbid i find out that he was cheating the hard way (i.e getting a STD/STI, a baby popping up, sidepiece is a psycho)…the end of the friendship might come with a verbal or worse assault.

  • Tina

    I was in this situation a long time ago. I learned that one guy was dating 2 friends from school. 1 lady was head over heels & talked about him all the time. The other lady was nonchalant even though he seemed to be head over heels for her. I told both. The 2nd lady could care less and wanted to connect with the first lady to trap him in a lie, but the first lady bust out crying, hung up on me & our friendship wasn’t the same.

    With that said, I would consider myself a mandated reporter if it were a close friend as I would expect her be. The only exception would be if the guy had an extensive history of cheating, which she was clearly aware of & chose to overlook, i.e., he had multiple kids by others during the course of their relationship.

  • cosmicsistren

    I unfortunately would keep my mouth shut. Once I did tell and the person didn’t believe me and stayed with the guy. I learned the hard way that sometimes people shoot the messenger.

  • Perspective

    Would you tell your friend if their significant other was cheating… WITH YOU?

  • ImJustSaying

    “I mean, is this really about salvaging your friendship by not telling? Or is it about you feeling salty about what won’t happen if you do?

    She’s weak. She’s stupid. How could she stay with him and not listen to me? These are the very rational thoughts and fears that have run through your head if you’ve ever had the displeasure of confronting a friend about a cheating lover who, in turn, did absolutely nothing about it.”

    This spoke to me regarding a friend who went back to and married the man who abused her IN FRONT OF ME! This is a go back like babies and a pacifier best friend. And for a long time I was so salty that she didn’t listen to me. Then I realized that I ca’t control her no matter how much better I think she is than her current situation.

    In any situation of telling a friend the awful truth you need to decide WHY you are telling/giving advice. If it’s to get a specific result that you deem appropriate re-think speaking up.

  • c0c0puffz

    I would make sure I have pictures and hard core proof because people will deny the truth until they actually see it with it their own eyes.

  • apple

    sure would! imma send an anonymous note tho -_- but imma send it!

  • Mo

    This was the conclusion I came to. The hard thing for me was I would not have judged her whatever decision she made. We were young, if she wanted to stay with him and work it out I would have supported her, but she chose to turn on me. I told her in no incertain terms I did what I thought was right (I knew they were having unprotected sex)and I couldn’t see myself making another decision. Our friendship, however, was never the same.

    She reached out to me years later, but I did not respond, because in the end I felt like she was not a loyal enough friend to me for me to bother.

  • Stanley

    It is always complicated. That’s all I can say.

  • b.

    Girlfriends/sisters/cousins should make it a point to have this hypothetical conversation to know where people stand and mature enough to respect and not judge their decision. One of my sisters stands strong in telling the rest of us she does not want know. Another stood strong saying she only wants to know if we have hard core evidence (and some of our eyeballs don’t count).
    I made it clear as day that I will ALWAYS want to know–no matter how difficult.
    Oh, and this applies to boyfriends (fresh and serious) , fiance’s and husbands.

  • The Comment

    mmmm. *scratching my cornrows* now…if he was hitting her and cheating..sure…but if (a big if) that is his only flaw…I’d stay out of it. Cause us women are really strange when it comes to men. You never know how we will react. Hell….I don’t know how’d I react.

    I might tell him make sure she got some kind of hook up so we can all benefit. Just don’t be freakin any old skeezer (ohhh chit…I said skeezer). Time to go.

  • The Comment

    Great answer. Wow!!!! This should be mandatory… You’re sooo right. Cause you/we really don’t know. Where do you stand on this Sis?

  • starr

    “Girlfriends/sisters/cousins should make it a point to have this hypothetical conversation to know where people stand and mature enough to respect and not judge their decision”

    Completely agree. I’ve had this conversation with my best friend, quite a few times, and we both know where we stand. We will both tell each other. I don’t think I’d be able to be in the same space with my bestie, and her bf, if i knew he was doing her wrong. I couldn’t do it.

    All that being sad, many friendships have been destroyed because a friend says something. I don’t really get it, but we all know its happened. Women get funny when it comes to their man. They will treat you like you did something wrong, when your the one that cares, and your the one that looking out for their best interest. I’m glad i don’t have friends like that.

  • P

    It mostly depends on the scope of our friendship.

    One of my fun buddies, I wouldn’t disclose that information. I think they will take their man’s word over yours. That is truly a waste of time and energy.

    Concerning my best friend, I couldn’t look her in the face knowing that someone is hurting her and not sharing that information. I know my bf will look at me as if I betrayed her as well. Also, her husband is well aware that I will approach him. Due to guilt, he will have to make a decision to tell her or I will.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    It depends on the level of friendship. If we are just associates, then no I wouldn’t tell. She wouldn’t believe me, and it would just cause unnecessary trouble.

    But of course, if it was a close friend or BFF, I’d tell her and call him out.

  • Lillian Mae

    Been there, done that, lost the friendship as a result. Sticky situation. Having been in the situation, I’d send an anonymous note, depending on who it was. My real friends, I’d tell straight up, w/o fear of losing the friendship.

  • GeekMommaRants

    The answer is NO! Anyone in a relationship knows if cheating is going on. If they want to change the situation they need no input or acknowledgement from me, or anyone who truly care for them. It’s their decision how to precede, not mine.

  • Risse

    “My duty is to support my friends through this thing called life by doing whatever I can to make it less harmful than it already is. So, to me, I’m negligent in my responsibility as a friend if I say absolutely nothing.” ABSOLUTELY

  • Starla

    Maybe. It depends on the friend.

  • http://ki kiki

    No they get mad and say your jealous the better approach is tell her to watch her mind. Hope she takes the hint

  • Dawn

    I’m amazed to read how many women on here lost friends because they told them their men were cheating.

    I’ve had three men cheat on me (that I know of), and two times I learned about it from friends. I am so grateful these women told me, and I believed them, of course, (I mean, honestly, why the hell would a friend lie about that?) and kicked those men to the curb.

    As for the third guy: After I learned he cheated on me, I also learned that several acquaintances around me knew he was cheating on me. Granted they weren’t “friends” but more “acquaintances,” but I still really, really wish one of them would’ve opened their mouths and said something. I could’ve been done with him WAAAY sooner.

    After my experiences, I feel like it’s my business to ALWAYS say something. If I know the guy, and he’s cheating, but don’t know his girlfriend? Guess that means she’ll be getting an anonymous email (yay Facebook!) from a stranger letting her know. Why? Because I never, ever want anyone to be that girl. How awful it is to NOT say anything and let her look like a fool.

  • Overseas_Honeybee

    That’s a hard one b/c it’s almost like damn if you do and damn if you don’t. I would definitely have proof before opening my mouth. Whatever she decides to do would then be on her but the evidence would be airtight. I’m talking Law&Order tight. I would totally roll up on homeboy and snap his pic.

  • CEB

    If they are in a RELATIONSHIP and not just casually dating I would definitely tell. Put my journalism skills to work and stalk them and take pictures from every angle possible. I would expect the same thing if it was the other way around. I wouldn’t want to look like a fool, falling for a guy who my friend knows is cheating on me

  • Joy

    My question is why does the woman that’s being cheated on get mad at the woman that tells them? Is she insecure? Is she living in a fantasy world? Does she not want to give up the relationship? And why do (some) women think they are only being told because the teller is jealous?

  • Kay

    If it was a friend then yes!! Hell, even if it was an acquaintance I would tell them. Gently mind you, but i would tell them nonetheless. I’ve lost a friend or two because of it, but I never regretted it. One guy actually had the nerve to say, “Yeah, you caught me. But it don’t matter because she won’t believe you.” Even those this was true, she came to her senses later and apologized and we rebuilt the friendship. But the friends I have lost, they later realized that I was right, but still chose to stay anyway and spent all their time confronting the other women. It just proved to me that I didn’t need to be their friend if that’s how they treat someone who presents them with the truth.

  • Echi

    That’s a no-brainer! Yes I would tell them. No if a friend was cheating on their significant other-that would be difficult to reveal.

  • binks

    Yes! Because friendship is very dear to me and I am lucky to have a best friend now that I view as a sister so I would tell her instead of letting her go around with a guy who is making a fool of her. I know they say people usually shot the messenger but she can shot me a thousands time I’ am going to be honest because I would want her to be honest with me. My friend and I are the type that will tell each other when we are wrong, have dirt on our face and the cold hard truth even when it is not always pretty. Of course, I would have proof and hardcore evidence before telling her because I believe if you tell someone something like that you need to back it up. I have gotten into confrontations before with a few women I thought were my friends and they reacted by flipping out on me, especially when THEY asked my opinion on their boyfriends or if I confirmed their suspections. So it depends on your relationship and the level of friendship.

  • MimiLuvs

    I was in this type of scenario two years ago.
    My best friend (of 8 years, at the time) had a boyfriend (they were dating for three years at the time). One day, I saw her boyfriend with another woman. The woman was pregnant and they had a son already.
    I ended up telling my best friend that her man was cheating on her. She was upset. She ended up speaking to her BF that night. She told him about my “accusation”. He denied it (of course). He gave some sweet-talk and she believed him. Our friendship wasn’t the same.
    Flash-forward a month later, I am in my “raging-b[bleep]-’vengeance shall be mine’-type” of mood. After the day that I told my friend, she (and some of her friends) started to behave like junior high school ‘mean girls’ (prank-calling, showing up to my job and harassing me there, etc.). So, a month later, our friendship was over and I was pissed.
    To be the ultra-b[bleep], I posted every picture of her boyfriend and my cousin (who is his wife, by the way) on my FB page (and tagged my ex-best friend) from that day.

  • Gina Wild

    JEIN! Depends on the type of friendship I have with the cheatee. It’s always a dilemma.

  • DownSouth Transplant

    I love my bestie way too much to cultivate that kind of patience needed to go undercover on his behind, (& I also can’t keep secrets).
    I always assumed the essence of friendship, was honesty, being there through ALL and being your extra set of eyes to the world. Told my bestie about her no good trifling man and she wanted evidence of what i knew as in who/where/when, all i had for her was hearsay, thankfully home girl went to work & got all FBI on him found the dirt herself, it was a stink to high heavens worse than we could have imagined. I know how fortunate I am it did not go the other way, she has frequently said that was the day our friendship was sealed for life :)

  • au napptural

    It depends. I have friends who don’t listen when I give them obvious advice. “That guy just wants to hit.” “That guy SAID he didn’t like you, just wants to use you.” I’ve been called jealous and everything else. Then when I’m proven right , I can’t even get an apology. So if you didn’t listen when I tell you something you already know to be true, why would I trust you with something only I’ve seen? If I know the girl in question is trifling and will stay anyhow, I’m going to be quiet. But if she’s a good friend who has taken the bitter and sweet news over the years, I’ll tell and help her get revenge!

  • chinaza

    If a man is that public…she already knows.

  • chinaza

    You’re right. They always know it and a lot of women live in a bubble of a lie that they don’t want you to burst.

  • LemonNLime

    I told all of my friends to tell me straight up if they find my significant other cheating. I am VERY close to my friends, closer than some of my family honestly, and I would trust them because we care about each others best interests. Honestly, if they didn’t tell me and they knew, I wouldn’t continue my friendship AT ALL because I wouldn’t be able to trust them.

  • Fantastico

    This is off topic, but I love your black Betty Boop pic!

  • Humanista

    Uhhh, yeah? And if the friendship fails because of it, I’ve dropped some important knowledge and clarified the level of friendship I have with that person all in one shot. Seriously, how is that a loss?

    Not being a good friend to keep a potentially bad one seems really ridiculous to me.

  • opinionatedgal

    Very tricky territory….

  • yeahright2011

    Yes. The author is right.

  • Ooh La La

    This comment just changed my thoughts on the situation. Thank you for this.

  • Tony

    Not true at all. Oftentimes, a man is open in a way where his friends and associates may be aware of his cheating but that doesn’t mean the woman knows. In some professions it’s very easy to cover your tracks, i.e., your job requires you to: have lots of encounters with strangers, visit the home of a lot of people, stay out late, travel a lot, attend social events & dinners at hotels, etc.

  • steff

    Of course! It’s our duty as friends and women to be honest and open with our friends. If you see her bf cheating you best tell her. Im only sketchy about telling acquaintances

  • heavenleiblu

    I expect and hope that my friends would tell me, but every time I’ve done it, the friendship has soured. Gotta start having these discussions up front before this kinda thing presents itself.

  • SpkKay13

    I would most certainly report the information back to my friend….using anonymous measures of course. I would create an unknown email account and email it, text from an unknown number, or leave empirical evidence on the doorstep at some random time of of day or night. I thought the aforementioned out very carefully after knowing how people can be blinded by love, live in denial, or lash out at the messenger because they feel as though they are not strong enough to face the truth and potentially live without their significant other. This reminds me so much of Jazmine Sullivan’s ‘Live a Lie.’ As she stated, it’s easier to live like you don’t see nothing, even though it ain’t right, it’s harder to turn over in your bed, and he ain’t by your side. I rather just live a lie if the truth gone make me cry. Sadly, too many people rather live in the bliss of ignorance than the freedom of truth.

  • TypeA

    I’m the type of person to text my friend saying “I found your significant other’s doppleganger. Do you want me to send you a pic?” If my friend says yes then I would. My friend can take it from there.

  • camille

    Absolutely! And if you know the guy and he and your friend are in a committed relationship, you roll up on him, introduce yourself to the other woman as “a good friend of his girlfriend’s” then report immediately to your friend. Just relay the facts. No need to use the word “cheating” or offer unsolicited advice

  • TresLy_

    I would definitely tell her. Firstly because anybody I know had seen my boyfriend with another girl, I would have liked this friend, whatever the relationship we have got, to tell me about it. Moreover, if the boy involded is supposed to be my friend’s boyfriend, I feel concerned as she is my friend and as her feelings, she probably used to share with me, can be affected.
    However, I would take a picture, in order to have a proof if she becomes doubtful about my story. I would also do a “random” meeting with the “boyfriend” in the mall, just to show him that I know everything and put the situation under control. Maybe this way, he would feel gulty and tell the truth to my friend, before I have to.
    Friends are friends, and I can let no man hurt my girls this way.

  • Frenchkiss

    I get your point but I don’t agree with you. I believe there’s a limit in friendship. My friendship with somebody doesn’t include their couple’s life. What happens in their relationship is none of my business. Whether or not one is cheating on the other … I have an opinion on that but I just keep quiet. Couple = 2people, not 3 or more. So as for me, I think I had better not interfere unless somebody asks me to. I don’t appreciate girls who think they are on a mission so they are always tellin you that your significant other is acting like this or that or is notthe one for you. Just let people solve their problems.

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