When to Expose a Cheater & When to Keep Your Lips Sealed

Wendy Robinson | Aug 24, 2015 Love & Sex

couple flirtingImagine you are out to dinner and across the restaurant you see your friend's husband having a romantic dinner -- with someone who is NOT your friend. Uh oh. What do you do now?

We talked to women, several of whom asked to stay anonymous, who've found themselves in the uncomfortable position of knowing someone is cheating and then having to decide what to do about it. Their stories raise some interesting questions about the nature of marriage (#2), the obligations of family (#6), and the boundaries of loyalty (#10). Read on for the fascinating answers to the question of "to tell or not to tell?"


Image © Milan Markovic/iStock

  • High School Cheating vs. Adult Cheating


    "In high school, my very good friend Gus started dating my friend and track teammate Natalie. One time Gus told me that he had slept with another girl at a party. I told Natalie because I honestly thought it was the right thing to do, even though I was much closer to Gus than to Natalie. It wasn't a jealousy thing either. Our relationship was truly platonic. I think I was disappointed in his behavior, and felt like he had unfairly burdened me with information that I then had a responsibility to impart.

    It didn't go well.

    Natalie was hurt but thankful that I'd told her, and Gus felt betrayed and called me a f*%king bitch. It took a long time to repair that friendship.

    As an adult, my decision to tell or not tell would definitely depend on the people involved and the circumstances. I'm not as black-and-white in my values and thinking as I was as a teenager, and I know relationships and human behavior are complex. My best friend had an extramarital event a few years ago, and I definitely felt no responsibility to tell her husband. I felt only that my role was to support and love her through that hard time in her life."

  • Every Marriage Is Different


    "A few years ago I saw the husband of someone I worked with making out with another woman at the park. I was shocked and I stressed FOR DAYS about what to do.

    Finally I got up the courage to tell my coworker what I saw and she was quiet for a minute and then said, 'Oh, actually that is okay. My husband was out with his girlfriend. We have an open marriage.'

    Lesson learned: Never assume what other people's marriages are like! Now I would just keep my nose out of it."

  • Loyalty Matters


    "I have two friends who I'm very close to -- one is my best friend ever since second grade and the other since eighth grade. They have both cheated on their spouses.

    My best friend's husband has since died, but the other friend has been with a few different men, and this last time she cheated, she decided to divorce her husband.

    I'm much much closer to them than I ever was with their husbands, so I chose to keep their secrets. However, if it were the other way around, I would totally tell my friends."

    More from The Stir: Cheaters Deserve a Second Chance

  • Office Romance


    "I'm 100 percent sure my boss is cheating on his wife with one of my coworkers and I'm keeping my lips sealed. I don't know my boss's wife very well and I actually really like my job, so the risk behind saying something seems way too high. Is that breaking some sort of girl code?"

  • She Is Awful!


    "I didn't tell.

    I was torn, it was the wife of a college friend who was in town for business, and by pure coincidence, we caught her in a compromising position. I really disliked her already, and was sad for my friend, but he chose her over many other options (high school sweethearts) and I just couldn't tell him. I wanted to, though, as she's awful!"

  • Double Cheaters


    "My idiot brother and his idiot wife have this very dramatic on-again, off-again relationship. They both air their dirty laundry all over Facebook and I'm so over their relationship.

    I happen to know that they are both cheating right now and I'm not saying anything. They deserve each other!"

  • Family Matters


    "I was in the horrible position of knowing my father-in-law was cheating on my mother-in-law. We're very close, and my father-in-law is a terrible person, so I told her. There was a lot of history, this wasn't the first time, and she was already suspicious.

    My telling her led to a three-year long, terrible divorce (FIL is an attorney). Now that we're five years out, I'm glad I told her, but there were many days when I wished I hadn't."

  • Roommate Cheater


    "When I was in college, I walked in on my roommate doing it with a guy who was not her boyfriend. She begged me not to tell, so I didn't, but I felt awful about it every time her boyfriend would come over and I'd see her pretending to be the perfect girlfriend to him.

    Thankfully they broke up a few months later, so no lasting harm was done, I don't think."

    More from The Stir: 5 Cheaters, 5 Stunning Acts of Revenge (PHOTOS)

  • Husbands Over Friends


    "My best friend and her husband went through a rough patch after their first baby was born. He had colic and they were both sleep deprived and burned out.

    One night at a party, her husband had too much to drink and made a pass at ME! He grabbed my boob and slurred about how he hadn't been laid in months. It was so awful. I told my husband about it, and he said that if I didn't tell her, then he would.

    I told my friend and she was hysterical and freaked out, accusing me of trying to 'steal her man.'

    We aren't friends anymore and they are still together. Sucks for me."

  • Who Is My Friend?


    "I've been in this position more than once, and I always fall back on 'who is my friend?' I feel like whoever has my loyalty determines if I spill the beans or if I keep the secret.

    I also factor in if kids are involved and if they seem happy otherwise. People make mistakes, so I don't want to destroy a family over a one-time blip, you know?"

cheating marriage