Should I tell someone that her boyfriend cheated on her with me?
February 26, 2015 9:07 AM   Subscribe

I recently broke up a serious, long term relationship with someone I loved, because I fell in love with someone else who I wanted to pursue a relationship with. This other person was also in a long term relationship and claimed that he'd broken up with his girlfriend but needed to date me secretly as she was bipolar and would "break all his things" if she found out, but also showed concern that her finding out would destabilize her mental health.

He also claimed it would take several months for him to move out, and expected me to date him secretly during this time. Eventually, after my getting upset over the situation and an incident where he really hurt me, he suddenly broke up with me and later became verbally abusive/insulting / made weird excuses (at one point claimed I'd misunderstood romantic things he wrote to me because they were "just poetry") until I cut off contact. Looks like he is still together with the girlfriend after several months. In retrospect, I have no idea how much of what he told me was the truth/lies and will likely never know as we have few mutual friends.

I've been really torn about whether or not to msg his girlfriend and tell her what happened. I've been having serious mental health problems and feel like being able to 'do' something might give me some sense of relief/ justice / closure, but also don't trust my judgment anymore. I don't know if I can morally justify telling her, or if I do, how to go about it. I don't know anything about her except for what he's told me (which I'm highly skeptical of), so I have no idea how she'd respond to my msg'ing her. I have so many tangled motives and I'm tired of going back and forth on whether I should do/say anything, over and over again.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (64 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No. The answer to this question is always no.

posted by DarlingBri at 9:12 AM on February 26, 2015 [49 favorites]

I wouldn't. It's not your relationship, and it will open up a whole bunch of drama that might not be any fun to deal with. I think you're right not to be with this guy anymore, but telling his girlfriend about what happened between you two doesn't do anything to help anyone.
posted by xingcat at 9:13 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't tell her. Put your (rightfully!) angry energy of wanting to 'do' something into taking excellent care of yourself.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 9:13 AM on February 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

How does telling her bring you closure? If you're imagining something out of a movie, where she believes you and dumps him, keep in mind that it probably won't go like that at all. She could totally blow you off like it never happened, she could tell him and either one of them could bring conflict into your life, there are so many things that could happen. You are having issues of your own, focus on getting well and let that be your closure. I'm sorry this happened and I wish you luck.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:14 AM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

"I have so many tangled motives" When you wrote this, you knew what the consensus would be, didn't you?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

If you slept with him, she has unknowingly acquired new health risks. You need to tell her.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2015 [20 favorites]

No. I get that you're feeling all sorts of horrible right now but it would be selfish of you to do so. Also, your own relief would be temporary - you're not magically going to feel better, and the shittiness will remain.

If you want to feel better and change things in your own life, look in the mirror, so to speak.
posted by Everydayville at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

No. You have nothing to gain by telling, and most likely you will cause a lot of grief for yourself and this other woman. Good on you for asking about this. Walk away and take care of yourself.
posted by number9dream at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

1 - This line:

he'd broken up with his girlfriend but needed to date me secretly as she was bipolar

is F******* bullshit.

2 - He sounds like a prize penis. Consider this a really lucky escape from a douche-bag

3 - NO you should not tell the girlfriend. What would that achieve?

4 - Walk away with your head held high. Do not think about him anymore and definitely, DEFINITELY don't tell the girl what happened.

5 - NO NO NO don't tell her anything.
posted by JenThePro at 9:20 AM on February 26, 2015 [14 favorites]

If you slept with him, she has unknowingly acquired new health risks. You need to tell her.

Wow no. Get tested, and then reconsider if need be, but otherwise, the cost-benefit analysis doesn't work out in your favor here at all. Everyone else is right in saying this won't end up being some Cameron Diaz movie and instead will just cause her to take on more emotional pain than she might be equipped to handle. And that's assuming she believes you're innocent here.

With questions like these, you need to ask yourself: who in this situation is being relieved of their burden? If it's only you, then the answer is no. You're right to want to be angry and to show him there are consequences to being a lying dick ( I say this as a dude with some semblance of a moral compass), but it's just not worth it. I have a feeling things will fall into place as they're meant to without your intervention. Maybe not now, but at some point. Leave it be.
posted by marsbar77 at 9:21 AM on February 26, 2015 [14 favorites]

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NO. I say this as someone who has been on all three sides of the cheating triangle (I've cheated, I've been cheated ON, I've been the person-someone-cheated-with). No matter what your views re: cheating, before you do anything as potentially-negative as blowing someone's world apart with a major negative revelation, you need to ask yourself "overall, will the result of my decision here be positive, negative, or neutral?" If it's negative, you need to have a DAMNED GOOD, well-defined reason for acting. Period. And you do not have that.

Also: important to remember: sometimes, if you feel guilty, the most moral thing you can do is just bear that burden alone, rather than easing it by sharing with an innocent person.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2015 [15 favorites]

I get goodbyewaffles' point, but I think that only applies if you have reason to think you have something sexually transmitted. Since you don't mention that, I'll assume it's not the case.

That being so, the best, healthiest, and most relieving thing for you would be to have no further contact with this person. Which means not creating additional drama.

I have never known of a case where someone trying to get "justice" at the end of a bad romantic relationship has been a net positive for them. Sometimes they successfully made life hard for their ex, sometimes not, but they always extended their own suffering needlessly and put off the day when they could really start healing.
posted by shattersock at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nope. For all the reasons above.

But also, he will tell his girlfriend that you are a crazy bipolar acquaintance who is crazy.

And she will likely believe him. (You did.)
posted by vitabellosi at 9:29 AM on February 26, 2015 [73 favorites]

No, don't tell. Consider him a bullet dodged and walk away. Any man who uses a variant of "I want to date you but I can't break up with my girlfriend because Reasons" is not, emphatically NOT, boyfriend material, or even booty call material. Especially if Reasons includes any variant of "Because she is crazy!" That adds a cherry of misogyny (Bitches Be Crazy Amirite?) on top of the sundae of lying weaseliness. And, believe me, if someone has misogynist beliefs, they'll eventually be turned onto YOU and YOU will be the Crazy Bitch Who Destroys Things.

Zip your lip and walk away. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:30 AM on February 26, 2015 [28 favorites]

Don't do it, just keep cutting all contact.

Be thankful you have few mutual friends, he sounds like a piece of work.

You understandably are very angry at this person for hurting you, but the way out is by working on why you agreed initially to an unfair set-up, why you put up with it (complaining after agreeing doesn't count as doing something unfortunately) until he broke up with you, and why you chose to leave a presumably loving, healthy relationship for this person (and forgive yourself for all of the above).

In my experience when someone bad-mouths a present or past partner it's a huge red flag that they're an asshole in relationships.
posted by lafemma at 9:32 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Telling her is not going to bring closure to anything. It's going to blow the whole thing into an even wider drama fest than it is already. You need to be making your life simpler right now, not much more difficult.
posted by something something at 9:33 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

No. For all you know, he's confessed and when's forgiven him. Too much of your motivation here is revenge. I say this as someone who did reveal a cheater - but I was the actual girlfriend still living in his house, letting the other woman know. Interestingly enough, that boyfriend also cheated on his girlfriend before me with me, and that girlfriend was also bipolar and crazy violent. No doubt I've also been so diagnosed .... What a bunch of buttwipes to exploit stereotypes about mental illness to use as a cover for being cheating asses.
posted by mibo at 9:33 AM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think it's fine not to tell her, but also fine to tell her if you want to. If I was her, I'd want to know.

I do think that the sooner you can totally disintangle yourself from him and his situation, the better, so if telling her will entangle you further, then don't do it.
posted by latkes at 9:40 AM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm going to give you just two exceptions to things you've said and that everyone else said:

1. There IS actually one situation in which I would tell her - and that is if she deliberately asks you first. Meaning - if she comes to you and says something like, "Hi, I know you don't know me, but I'm Sid's girlfriend - and I hate to ask, but I have a feeling that he's been unfaithful. I'm pretty sure, but he denies it, so I wanted to get your side of the story - did that jerk of a guy do something with you?"

This is the ONLY situation in which I would tell her, because a) she already suspects something herself and b) for you to deny it would be dishonest.

2. You sound like you're feeling guilty, and you TOTALLY SHOULD NOT, because the guy is a lying liar who lies. Yes, hindsight is making you kick yourself and ask "why did I FALL for that?" right now, but there isn't a person alive who's bought some weird excuse their schmoopie gave them for something and realized later that it was a stupid excuse. I think we're all entitled a relationship or two where we are suckered in by someone's evil mind rays like that; totally not your fault.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

uh WTH? As someone who was cheated on for two years and blissfully ignorant until one of the women spilled the beans years after we'd broken up, I so wish someone had clued me when it was happening. Yes, it's devastating but it would have saved me 2 years + of heartache. Don't let this guy make a fool out of her. Absolutely tell her.
posted by pintapicasso at 9:47 AM on February 26, 2015 [55 favorites]

Absolutely not. She did nothing to you and you have no call to hurt her.

You now realize why it's a terrible idea to be with a cheater. If he's lying to his partner, he has even fewer qualms about lying to you. Lesson learned.

If you want to do something productive, to make yourself feel better, perhaps do some kind acts for strangers in an attempt to balance the bad juju in the universe. Over-tip at the coffee shop, pay a toll for someone, babysit for a friend. Things like that. Knowing that you're doing penance in a way will help you rid yourself of the total ickiness of this situation.

I will say that if you were able to step outside of your relationship enough to fall in love enough to break it up, you were probably not very happy in it. Don't look back on that relationship with rose colored glasses or blame your recent fiasco for breaking up a good relationship. That wasn't the case.

At this point, it's time to stop letting this man and this situation rent space in your brain for free. Move forward with your life by doing positive things:

1. Totally clean your house top to bottom to get stale energy and bad vibes out of it.
2. If there's anything in your house that reminds you of this relationship, get rid of it and buy a new one. Especially bedding.
3. Get a few new outfits.
4. Rearrange your furniture.
5. Take care of yourself by cooking beautiful healthy meals and exercising.
6. Take classes in stuff you always wanted to know.
7. Get a degree or certificate. It will take your mind off of romance and relationships and at the end of it, you'll have accomplished something.
8. Go on a road trip with friends. Have fun, be silly, read magazines. Stop at Dairy Queen at some point.
9. Live your life.

You need to rediscover yourself, without the distractions of men and relationships. You need to reset yourself so that you don't end up jumping from one shitty relationship to another.

Explore this with a therapist and talk about how to engage your head before you engage your heart in future relationships.

The best thing you can take away from this is not revenge, but self knowledge. Understanding yourself better and understanding why you were willing to be with this person, despite all the red flags you KNEW were there, and chose to ignore.

This guy is a cliche, and I'm sure his partner is too, but that doesn't mean that you're the person to upset their apple cart.

Go in love and peace, not in anger and destruction.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2015 [14 favorites]

Please, please tell her.

I was hung up on an ex of mine for a year until I learned that he had cheated on me during the relationship. Don't let her live in a web of lies. Tell her. She may not believe you, but at least you'll have done your due diligence and solidarity work.
posted by corb at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2015 [21 favorites]

Telling her or not telling her? There is no "wrong" answer, actually. Your own self-interest in getting "revenge" on this guy is coloring your view of the situation, as you yourself have been brave enough to fully admit (and I applaud you for that).

As for the "morality" piece of your question -- answers to past Asks like yours are actually a helpful barometer for you. Answers here would be vastly different if your sex partner's girlfriend were a relative of yours (See: Previously and please note the sky high number of favorites this comment rightly got). On facts like those in that particular case, you'd be getting a lot more advice like goodbyewaffles' comment: that "she has unknowingly acquired new health risks. You need to tell her."

But since 1) she is a total stranger to you, and 2) you have also knowingly been party to hurting her when you chose to sleep with her live-in boyfriend secretly, and 3) you may have something to gain vis-a-vis making her an enemy of your sex partner by hurting/angering her in your telling-- these answers are rightly saying on these facts, don't tell; you don't owe her the same duty of care as you would a relative.

FWIW, in her shoes, I'd want to know, but definitely not from you. I'd want to hear it from someone who knows me and cares about me. Not because you do or don't have any STIs, but because it means he's probably fucked other people behind my back, too, and they might. Anyway, as you can tell from all of these good answers so far, this is absolutely an area in which thoughtful, smart people can completely disagree. Good luck! [aaand on preview, what Ruthless Bunny said for the win!]
posted by hush at 9:58 AM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

I understand the desire to tell her. But for your own clear conscience it's important to back away from these people, don't touch anything on the way out. By telling her, you could trigger things between him and her (maybe even you) that you would regret for the rest of your life. You'd risk adding to your own unhappiness over this situation, immeasurably.
posted by jayder at 10:06 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

uh WTH? As someone who was cheated on for two years and blissfully ignorant until one of the women spilled the beans years after we'd broken up, I so wish someone had clued me when it was happening. Yes, it's devastating but it would have saved me 2 years + of heartache. Don't let this guy make a fool out of her. Absolutely tell her.

SO MUCH THIS. I've been cheated on by several boyfriends, and holy hell, finding out I'd been in a lie of a relationship for months and months was crushing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:19 AM on February 26, 2015 [22 favorites]

Would you be safe from him if you did tell her? Can he mess with your job, your living situation, your relationship with friends or groups?

I have a friend who when she got engaged was warned about her then fiance. The warning was dismissed as an ex-girlfriend's crazy bitter revenge. Years later my friend took comfort in the warning, it was a kind of inoculation against some of the abusive gas lighting he was throwing out during their divorce.
posted by Sophont at 10:34 AM on February 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

I had a front row seat on a relationship like you are describing here and I would be very happy to walk you through what is going on between these two.

Do Not Get Involved Further. SAY NOTHING.

The short answer is that they are both crazy and dysfunctional, you want zero to do with these two people. Consider yourself very lucky you escaped.

I'm so sorry for your difficulties right now. I suggest you read The Sociopath Next Door or a similar type book. I think you had an intense brush with a very disturbed individual and it is not surprising you are experiencing emotional and practical repercussions from this episode.

Go easy on yourself. Be well. Appreciate your good fortune and stay far far away from these people.
posted by jbenben at 10:50 AM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't know that I'd tell her exactly, but I WOULD tell the whole world (ie facebook) about what happened. Probably a couple of his friends are her friends, too, no?

I think one, simply-the-facts post, with his name tagged, would do it.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Generally, I feel that unless you think it might be risky to you or her, you should tell her. The bar for risk is rather low, though. For example, there's the risk that you'll be emotionally harmed by getting further involved, which seems substantial.

Given that, I don't think you're obligated to tell her. That means there's no harm in delaying this decision until you're in a better place. Perhaps you should put a reminder on your calendar to revisit this in two months. In the meantime, make a concerted effort to get mental health treatment and care for yourself.

Good luck.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:07 AM on February 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

What are your goals? To stir up drama, get revenge, and make a lot of people think poorly of you? Then you should tell her (or, more dramallama, all of Facebook).

If your goals are to feel better, be a person with integrity, and move on with your life? Do not say anything and do all of the great self-care stuff that people above have recommended instead.
posted by ldthomps at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I want to pipe in to say that the advice of 'don't tell, don't stir up shit' has always reeked of misogyny to me. It has a special flavor of 'crazy bitches be startin' drama,' when in fact, many reasonable people would definitely prefer to be told if they were cheated on. I know I would.
posted by namesarehard at 11:11 AM on February 26, 2015 [40 favorites]

(I've unknowingly been the other woman and chose not to tell because in both cases the men involved seemed, well, like the kind of terrible, uncaring people who would hurt people without blinking if it served their purposes, and I have a child whose safety I need to consider. That said, I don't think it is wrong to tell, and vehemently disagree with the idea that you have no obligation towards this woman. You absolutely do. You just have to balance it with your obligation to care for yourself.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:13 AM on February 26, 2015 [11 favorites]

feel like being able to 'do' something might give me some sense of relief/ justice / closure

This makes it pretty clear that OP's motivations have nothing to do with the well-being of the other woman involved (not that she necessarily needs to be concerned with that, at this point anyway) and everything to do with working out her own stuff by getting all up in someone else's business. Don't do it. You'll like yourself so much more as a person.

If you are worried about the health and mental well being of these other women then don't have affairs with their boyfriends in the future and consider it a learning experience. But it's really (REALLY) not your role to patch things up at this point. Given that the other woman is also struggling with mental health issues I can't imagine any way that it ends well anyway.

I am a feminist and a woman btw. (And have been cheated on.) If you are worried about having passed on STIs, then get tested and if you are positive for something notify her and him at that point.
posted by mermily at 11:14 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

If I was her, I'd want to know.

Yes, but who would you want telling you? I am guessing not the person who was the the enabler and one of the cheaters.

I'd not do it because then you have to contend with his reaction, her reaction, and your own reaction. If it's over let it be over and have nothing more to do with any of them.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:28 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you tell her, there's no guarantee she'll believe you and a high chance she will not. It probably won't hurt him. So if what you want is revenge, you probably won't get it that way. You will, however, prolong this crazy drama and extend his involvement in your life. Is that what you really want?
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

2 years ago I was dating/having sex with a man (including a stint as the other woman). He broke my heart and used me during a really bad time in my life. I'm really happy I'm in a healthy relationship now and I'm super aware of how fucked up it all was.
He's getting married in a few months to the woman he cheated on, with me, and it just makes me so sad for her.
That being said, it's not our place to say something. I was manipulated and I was naive but I hope that I've learned lessons from what happened.
posted by shesbenevolent at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

He told you she was bipolar. If you tell her, he will respond by telling her that you're bipolar, fixated on him, and it's all a lie. He'll probably use some elements of truth to embellish his story, especially if he's aware of your mental health history. If she wants to stay with him, she'll believe him, not you. If she doesn't want to stay with him, she'll get out without your help. She already knows he's a liar, I guarantee you.

If you want to get closure, opening up a channel of communication with her will NOT provide it to you. It will only make things worse because to whatever extent you are aware of the fallout, it will not make you happy and it may make you very unhappy, especially if you get wind of his lies about you.
posted by janey47 at 11:56 AM on February 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

I agree that you should not tell her. And just as a general matter, a good rule of thumb is that any time a man starts talking about a "psycho ex" or any words to that effect, RUN AWAY VERY FAST. Truly.
posted by holborne at 12:00 PM on February 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

If you slept with him, she has unknowingly acquired new health risks. You need to tell her.

Yes. but this should have happened immediately. The fact that you're doing it now isn't for "her", its to exact some type of revenge on "him".

You do what you want, but if I were you, I'd aim for less drama in my life.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:03 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

You should tell her, period, no question, no grey area. Full stop.

I am amazed people are mostly telling you not to. This is not about making you feel better, it's about letting someone know that their health and actually very life is in jeopardy because someone they think is monogamous to them is fucking around with knows how many people and exposing them to risk they didn't consent to. If she doesn't believe you, that's on her. You will have done your job by telling.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:05 PM on February 26, 2015 [9 favorites]

If you tell her, he will respond by telling her that you're bipolar,

IDK, if you explain why it was he suggested he and OP keep their relationship on the DL, ie, he said his so-called ex was bipolar and fixated. It was idiotic of me to buy that, but there it is, then OP will have poisoned the well for when Scumbag tries to pull the same thing on his girlfriend.

(Then I'd just drop it and never contact her again.)
posted by small_ruminant at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you can tell her and disengage completely, you might get the closure you want. If you tell her and stay embroiled in all the drama, an argument could be made that you told her for "the wrong reason" (but I don't even know what that means, or if it matters). I do think that you won't be able to tell which one it is until you actually tell her. Ultimately it comes down to what YOU can live with. Would you look back on this in five years (the telling her, not the relationship) and be proud of how you behaved, or horrified? Also a question you couldn't answer right now, but maybe a way to think about it.

If I were that other girl, I would very much want to know.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:18 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Revenge achieves no good. Move on.
posted by Kwadeng at 1:07 PM on February 26, 2015

No, this is his problem, and I think you're more motivated by a desire to get back at him than anything else. There's a good chance she won't believe you and you will just be inserting yourself in drama. This guy sucks so just be glad you don't need to deal with him anymore.

As a rule of thumb, anything a guy tells you about his girlfriend while he is cheating on her with you is at best exaggerated and skewed. No guy who cheats on his girlfriend tells his side-woman that his girlfriend is really great and doesn't deserve to be cheated on. Never.

The best revenge is moving on and living well. Focus on that.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your motives are suspect but beside the point, imo. I feel the morally right thing to do is tell her. But first, do what it takes to clear your own head, so you can do this from a strong place.

Then (or now, really) get tested, just in case; then, tell her about what happened, as briefly as possible, with mention of a piece of knowledge only someone who knew him intimately would have, followed by a profound apology, knowing she'll hate you, and that it will be an absolute mess for a little while.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:21 PM on February 26, 2015 [13 favorites]

Whatever you choose, and there are good arguments on both sides, it's probably not going to make you feel better.

So you should listen to both sides, make your choice, and do what you feel is right, but separately from that issue: also figure out what you need to do to make YOURSELF feel better. The rage and hurt and your perfectly understandable need for "relief/justice/closure," as you say, are not going to vanish when you say (or don't say) the magic words, unfortunately. This will come from within and take time.
posted by kapers at 1:35 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

I want to pipe in to say that the advice of 'don't tell, don't stir up shit' has always reeked of misogyny to me. It has a special flavor of 'crazy bitches be startin' drama,' when in fact, many reasonable people would definitely prefer to be told if they were cheated on. I know I would.

In addition to this, it has an air of "snitches get stitches" and "ewww don't talk about that". It reminds me of the whole thing where everyone in a friend group knows someones a cheater/abuser/liar/molester/etc and just doesn't say anything because it's "not their place" or whatever. This sort of thing.

A lot of the arguments against telling seem to come from a similar place of "eww it's not your business/it's not your place" and think about who that really protects? People like this count on other people not wanting to talk to it, and survive based on that shaming of discussing this sort of thing.

I also feel like a lot of people here are hung up on you wanting to do this for revenge or whatever. I don't really think the reasons you want to do this are relevant in whether it's the right thing to do or not. Just because your motivations are potentially impure doesn't mean that telling her is the wrong action, but it sure as hell makes people get all high and mighty about not doing it.

I would tell in this situation, and if i was on the other side i'd want someone to tell me. Even if i didn't appreciate it at the time, i've always later been thankful someone gave me that kind of info.

She doesn't have to believe you, and both of them might start hurling shit at you, but the information at least needs to be out there.

I'm especially grossed out by the "it's not your place and it'll just hurt her more" lines. He, is the one who hurt her. He told you that he wasn't in a relationship, and came up with a story as to why he hadn't moved out yet. At least in areas where rent is high, this sort of living situation and financial entanglement after a breakup isn't that weird. Sometimes it sucks, if they wont release one person from the lease, and you're stuck living with your ex for 6+ months. If ask was presented with the "hey, i live with my ex am i allowed to date?" sort of thing(and i feel especially if it was a woman, still living with her ex boyfriend) the answer would probably be mostly "hell yea! they dont own you!".

You gave him the benefit of the doubt, took him at his word, and he was full of shit. Hindsight is 20/20, but i think that absolves you of being one of the destructive parties here. You are not complicit in his bullshit.

If you knew, and still did it, i'd say telling her was petty shitstirring.(although i wouldn't be wholeheartedly against it), but since he lied i think she absolutely deserves to know.

As i said, she doesn't have to believe you, and he might start harassing you all the time after this, but i would still do it.
posted by emptythought at 2:29 PM on February 26, 2015 [23 favorites]

I think that you should tell her. I had someone reach out to me once to tell me that my boyfriend was cheating on me (the ex-boyfriend of the girl my boyfriend had been cheating with), and even though it was the catalyst for a very painful breakup, I am so grateful that he told me. I don't know if his motives were pure or if he wanted revenge, but ultimately it doesn't matter.
posted by zoetrope at 2:36 PM on February 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

Tell her and mention that her boyfriend called her bipolar. Even if your motive is partially revenge it's still planting a seed of doubt in her mind about him. Then you cut both of them out of your life and focus on yourself. Big hugs.
posted by CyborgHag at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

" ...I had someone reach out to me once to tell me that my boyfriend was cheating on me (the ex-boyfriend of the girl my boyfriend had been cheating with)..."

I've been watching this thread with interest because in the same position many years ago, I choose not to tell. I confess the decision bothered me for the first few years, but many years later, I am righteously relieved I did not speak out.

When this question first popped up, I thought the only way to do it would be to have a 3rd party reach out. As in my situation many years ago, there seems no one in this situation to do that for the OP.

OP, I'm pretty sure on some level, GF already knows her BF is a lying liar who lies and is emotionally abusive. For whatever reason (I surmise dysfunction on her part, too?) she is still with the cad at this time.

Hey! Here is an Idea: Wait a few months, then (anonymously) contact the GF and tell her he hit on you, but you refused his advances.

I mean, how is he going to spin that, right?? He's probably cheated on her (or tried to) multiple times with the same moves. Anyone could be "outing" him to his GF! If you are ever contacted by either of them, you simply deny you spilled the beans. You won't be contacted, tho, because you are not the first woman he has cheated on his GF with. Done right, he'll never guess it was you. Likewise, he'll have a hard way lying his way out of the situation because he won't know which situation he's lying about!!

The Move: Set a calendar alert 5 months from now. Anonymously contact his GF (briefly, in writing) and tell her that her BF hit on you, that he told you they were broken up, and that his excuse for still living with her was that she was bipolar. State that you did not fall for it, but you thought he was obviously lying about the state of their relationship, so you thought she should know. I would make it clear there will be no follow-up contact with her. Just let her know the facts. Or in this case, "facts."

Hope that helps. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 3:10 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would vote to tell his current girlfriend for the reasons listed above, though I wouldn't say there's an obligation to tell her. The only reason I'd hesitate would be if there was any risk of blowback more severe than them trying to contact you, otherwise I'd either block them or filter my phone, email, and facebook so any communications were put somewhere where they wouldn't mess with my day after sending an email to the girlfriend.

This isn't going to give you closure or anything, it would just sort of be a "favor" to the girlfriend, even if the favor results in some pain for her in the form of drama, cognitive dissonance, or confronting hard truths. Other posters are right that the boyfriend is probably going to lie his way out of it, and there's a good chance he'll be successful at it, since he probably wouldn't have even tried to cheat on his girlfriend the way he did unless he was well-practiced at deceiving her.

It's still helpful in the long-term, though, because it will stick in her mind. If she gets another, two more, or three more messages from people saying that her boyfriend is a cheater, eventually she's going to start connecting the dots, or there will be enough doubt for her that she'll make the decision to dump him when they encounter some other relationship stress, when without that doubt she'd stay with him, and she'll find some clarity on all of this down the line after some time away from him. That would be the hope, anyway.

Closure, though, is a different thing. To the extent that closure isn't a BS concept, I think you get it by cutting off contact with these people, getting some perspective on what you can and can't change about situations like this, and directing your energy at other things.
posted by alphanerd at 5:59 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I told a deceived partner about my ex's affair with his wife.
I had recently discovered the affair, I was upset, but I waited for awhile before I told this person in a brisk, minimal tone about the affair six weeks after my discovery. I didn't want to do more than say what had been discovered, referred him to mature, mutual friends who had gently told me the truth. I told him I was checking my motives and some of them were about anger, and some were about the fact that they had children together. I had weighed up my decision and it fell this way. He didn't have to believe me, or argue with me but the information helped me feel less like a fool. I told him I was walking, but what he did with the information was his prerogative. I got a gracious reply and he checked in with me six months later to say he'd moved out, and thank you for being courageous and factual.

This is a different situation in that you are one of the active participants. If you could do this in a factual, minimal way and let it go, that would be something. I think though, that you will distress yourself enormously by taking that step right now. It's an incendiary (even if truthful) declaration and the outcome likely to be dramatic or retributive. Doesn't sound like you're in a robust place to face those experiences. How about you park it as an idea for a month or six weeks? Then ask yourself how you feel?
posted by honey-barbara at 6:17 PM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

You should tell the girlfriend. Not for yourself, but for her. For all you know, she already has her suspicions. Or she did at some point, and he gaslit the hell out of her. Or maybe she has no idea, but would want to know.

Granted, your motives are not pure. You have an invested interest in telling her. But at this particular moment, she does not have all the information she might need/want to make an informed decision to keep being with him, so why withold what piece of it you actually have?

Let atonement take the shape of truth, here. I think she deserves at least that, after getting the very raw deal of an unfaithful partner.
posted by Ashen at 6:25 PM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

For context, I was involved with a pathological liar and I was given every opportunity to break up with him and I did not until I was ready. I had all kinds of well-meaning people tell me what was wrong with what was going on, and I caught him in lie after lie, without trying -- frankly, I would have avoided finding them out if I could have -- and I spoke on the telephone to the woman he was living with. But he told me that she was unstable and he couldn't move her out because she was in an alcohol rehab program as an outpatient and it was crucial that her surroundings not change. I mean, I didn't even believe him. But I was only ready to leave when I was ready. All this to say that Scumbag's girlfriend knows that he's a liar and a cheater. Telling her won't do anything. She won't leave until she's ready. I've seen it in myself and I've seen it in other women as well. We don't do what our heads say. We do what our hearts say. Also, telling her for her health's sake isn't really apt here. She's probably already aware of STDs that she's gotten from him. It was only about 5 years after breaking up with my pathological liar that I stopped getting tested for every possible STD at every possible opportunity (and, truthfully, I never had any, for what that's worth).
posted by janey47 at 7:27 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

I vote tell her. I wish someone had saved me from wasting four years of my youth on a cheating scumbag. No, she won't leave until she's ready. But it will at least plant the seed, and maybe help her become ready.
posted by bluloo at 10:06 PM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

Someone told me once. I remain grateful for them for doing so (even though I don't believe I appeared so thankful at the time.) To counteract janey47, I had absolutely no idea. I really thought he was the kind of person who wouldn't consider doing that. In hindsight, of course he was. Once the facts were out, and I could see him for what he truly was and not what he wanted me to see, it was so easy to walk away.

Thank you awkward classmate, who clearly didn't enjoy that conversation either.

One thing I've noticed about metafilter, the people here skew very much on the conflict averse side, and honestly it looks like most of the "no don't tell" answers are based on that. I don't see any "someone told me my significant other was cheating on me and I wish they hadn't", in fact everyone chiming in is saying they are glad they were told.

So, yes, I'd tell her.

Don't expect her to send you flowers or anything though.
posted by Dynex at 10:08 PM on February 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

The answers to your post appear to be addressing at least three separate questions.

First, there's the question, "Will telling do me more harm than good, or more good than harm?"

Secondly, "Will telling do her, the wronged girlfriend, more harm than good, or more good than harm?"

Thirdly, "Do I owe a moral obligation of disclosure to the cheated-on girlfriend, even though she's a stranger to me?"

I think the answer to the first question trumps the answers to the second and third. If you believe that telling would expose you to physical risk, or that the cheater could make life difficult for you by badmouthing you in any social circle you might share (he will certainly try to do this), then your best option is probably to let it drop and move on. You are entitled to protect yourself by keeping quiet.

As to the second question, I think it's healthy to presume that people are better served by knowing the truth than by living a lie. A few people genuinely prefer blissful ignorance, but most are glad to be aware of what's really going on - and they don't care about whether the informant's motives are pure, impure, or whatever. They just want to know the truth. Here I would suggest that for your purposes the possibility that she already knows about the cheater's infidelities is irrelevant. Yes, she may know, but you don't know that. Assume she doesn't.

Finally, do you owe this stranger an obligation of disclosure? I think you do. If I were on the subway and I witnessed someone stealing someone else's wallet, I would - again, assuming there were no serious risk to myself - warn the victim of what was happening.

If you do decide to tell, keep your expectations really low. As Dynex has said, expect no flowers. Quite likely what will happen is that, just as he persuaded you she was bipolar and successfully deceived you as to the real nature of his relationship with her, he will paint you as a mentally unstable vindictive bitch with whom he had nothing to do, and she will believe him. All the same, you will walk away knowing you did the right thing by her.
posted by Pechorin at 4:26 AM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't believe in the blanket "never tell the cheater's partner" mindset (because it's cowardly), but in this particular case, I think you're better off letting sleeping dogs lie and to pursue healing for yourself.

Actually, consider yourself lucky this guy showed his true colors before you became fully committed to him.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:49 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hold up. Are you sure he was still in a committed relationship with her at the time he has having sex with you, and they weren't on a break from dating while still living together?

I ask this because emptythought made an excellent point: "He told you that he wasn't in a relationship, and came up with a story as to why he hadn't moved out yet. At least in areas where rent is high, this sort of living situation and financial entanglement after a breakup isn't that weird. Sometimes it sucks, if they wont release one person from the lease, and you're stuck living with your ex for 6+ months." And yes, sometimes exes get back together.

I've re-read your Ask a few times now and this part is not at all clear. How do you know he was actually cheating on her with you? You wrote: "he suddenly broke up with me." Which is precisely what someone who did not want to cheat would do if they decided to get back together with an ex they were still living with. Breaking up with you suddenly is not necessarily the behavior of an Obvious Cheater trying to have their cake and eat it too.

This sounds exactly like three consenting adults here, not criminal behavior-- and if we could please stop analogizing sex between consenting adults to various criminal acts like molestation and theft, that would be lovely, thanks.
posted by hush at 7:01 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yea, i could have expanded on that, but there is a possibility(although i don't really buy it given everything else) that you were just on the sucky side of the equivalent of dating someone who hasn't finalized their divorce here yet. Maybe they really did break up, and he just took you for a "test drive" and then got back together with her while they were still living together.

That's super shitty too, but it's not the same thing.

But, the thing is, if they really were broken up then you telling her wouldn't be anything she didn't already know. There's basically no downside to telling her, even assuming that scenario did play out. Either she was cheated on, and doesn't know, or they were broken up.

Best case scenario she just goes "yea, uh, i know" and you breathe a sigh of relief, although this guy still sounds like a bag of dicks.

So yea, if anything, that scenario being a possibility does nothing to decrease why or that you should tell her.
posted by emptythought at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would tell her in a way that makes you sound eminently reasonable and calm. Something like this:

Hello xxxx,

From the dates of 0/0/2014 to 0/0/2015, I was involved in a relationship with Firstname Lastname. It was my understanding at the time that you were his ex girlfriend. He told me that you'd broken up but were still living together, and that it would be best to wait a while to break the news of our relationship. When he suddenly ended things with me on 0/0/2015, it weighed heavily on my mind that he might not have told me the truth about the status of his relationship with you. I decided to tell you this because I would want someone to tell me if I were in your position. What you do with this information is up to you and is none of my business. It's not my intention to hurt you and I'm truly sorry if I have. I've given this a lot of thought and it's my hope that it's the right thing to do. I don't bear any grudge against you, and I wish you the best. I don't intend to bother you or Firstname Lastname and can promise you I've moved on entirely and don't intend to cause trouble or create drama. I just thought you deserved to know this information if it was the case that you did not already.

Thank you and sincerely,
posted by quincunx at 3:28 PM on February 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

This will hurt for everyone in the conversation. Either she'll believe you.and potentially be devastated, or she won't and will have to deal with "crazy" allegations against him.

You will get little to no relief or justice or closure.
posted by RainyJay at 4:53 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dude, absolutely not. You're trying to be nice to her (public health reasons and all). I can truly see how you're trying to be an ethical person. But your pure intentions don't matter to her, or him, or anyone at all, to be honest.

I guarantee you that the girlfriend will think you're trying to break them up. And the boyfriend will make her think you're crazy, and then they'll both laugh at you, regardless of what truly happened and how sincere your intentions are. And it will really break you and it will bring you no justice, nor will it actually help her. Just stay out of it and when the time comes, let him hang himself with his own rope. If he has a tendency to cheat, he'll do it again -- and she'll notice his weird, off behaviour when he does cheat again.

Whether or not he should be told, in all cases it is definitely a bad idea if you told her. And who knows, they might really have been broken up during the time you were together with him. You don't really know for sure.

If you're worried for public health reasons, get yourself tested. If you discover anything, then maybe consider telling her. But if not, stay out of their way. It's better for your mental health that way.

That said, I'm very sorry for what happened to you. You must be going through a lot of pain right now. I've been through something similar and believe me, it will pass. Keep your head high and your dignity in the eyes of the public intact. You don't need this, I think you have enough pain to process. Hugs.
posted by rozaine at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

You should tell her. Let them call you crazy, you know the truth and once it's off your chest you can move on. She deserves to know, better now that years from now as it will be even more hurtful.
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