Do I rat on a cheater?
October 25, 2006 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Do I rat on a cheater? love triangle inside...

OK so here's my dilema (it's a bit windy): My boyfriend's best friend's girlfriend is cheating on him.
He lives in NYC and she's still in college in GA. They have no friends in common in school except me. She's been dating this guy I know for about 2 months now.
They dont have an open relationship. And she never tells anyone she has a boyfriend.
Should i tell my friend?
posted by octomato to Human Relations (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
survey says: NO
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:10 AM on October 25, 2006

posted by orange swan at 8:10 AM on October 25, 2006

Actually, that should have been, "Yes, but only if you are absolutely postively sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that your information is correct."
posted by orange swan at 8:12 AM on October 25, 2006

Won't he find out anyway?
posted by mecran01 at 8:13 AM on October 25, 2006

Things to consider when making your decision:

• Are you friends with the cheater, or are your lives in any way intertwined? If you rat her out, could she make your life miserable? If you know her well enough, why not tell her she should be honest with her boyfriend?
• Why do you care so much? Are you good friends with your boyfriend's best friend? How do you know he's not cheating on her? How do you know he isn't already aware of her infidelity? In essence, don't assume you know more about the situation than anyone else does.
• What do you stand to gain, or what does anyone else stand to gain, from your getting involved in this business?

But my advice would be this: If you and your boyfriend have a really close relationship, tell him what you know. Ask him for advice, or just to be there for his friend. The information may help him be a better friend, but it sounds like you're not in a position to save the day yourself here.
posted by brina at 8:19 AM on October 25, 2006

Oh mistake she's been with my friend for about 5 years i think. she's been cheating on him with the other guy for 2 months.
posted by octomato at 8:20 AM on October 25, 2006

I have been in this situation and have chosen not to tell, although it has pricked at my conscience. Since this is your boyfriend's best friend, what does he say? Have you told him?

I guess you could also try pressuring the cheater to do the right thing by letting her know that you're going to pass the word along.

I'm sure others will look at this from the perspective of "If it were my partner, I'd want to know!" But in my experience, it doesn't do you any good to insert yourself into someone else's dysfunctional relationship. It almost always bites you in the hiney.
posted by Sully6 at 8:33 AM on October 25, 2006

Having been on the receiving end of a "your SO is cheating on you" conversation, I can tell you that is a spectacularly sucky experience. Before you rain that kind of crap down on someone else, ask yourself these questions:

What is your relationship with injured party? Are you close buds because he's your boyfriend's best friend? Or is he just someone in the circle? What would be your motivation for telling- because you truly care about your boyfriend's friend, or because you think the cheater is a skanky ho and deserves some comeuppance?

If I were you, I would tell the cheating girlfriend that you know she's dating someone. Tell her that you will not lie to cover for her, and if asked a direct question you will tell what you know. Then let her squirm; she has to figure the rest out for herself.
posted by ambrosia at 8:33 AM on October 25, 2006

Oh, and one more word of advice: Dump the cheater as your friend. She's counting on your complicity to continue this affair. That's awfully shitty, in my opinion.
posted by Sully6 at 8:35 AM on October 25, 2006

Look, since when have the ends of relationships been all neat and tidy and thank you very much kind sir it's been swell? This is a 5 year relationship and she's in college which means she is clearly young. It ain't so easy to know how to deal with falling out of or growing out of love/lust/really strong like, etc at that age. A lot of LTRs destruct in this way because it is easier. She probably wants to move on and doesn't know how to confront the situation head on. Such is college age life. Unless you are also bff with your bf's bff, you have no business directly butting in. You do have business telling your boyfriend and then it is his responsibility to decide what the appropriate course of action is.
posted by spicynuts at 8:38 AM on October 25, 2006

What ambrosia says is pretty much how I feel as well. I would add that it isn't necessary to tell her anything, that's a courtesy you don't owe her.

In summary, don't seek out the friend to tell him about the situation, but do not lie actively or by omission. If asked directly, respond honestly. Whether you tell the cheater directly is up to you. I wouldn't.

It can turn ugly really fast if you seek to tell on the cheater, and oddly enough it can turn on you. If they stay together, you are (often) now the enemy. That's why, except in cases of abuse, I never advise friends to split up.
posted by Invoke at 8:47 AM on October 25, 2006

Nah. It's none of your d*mn business.

Don't lie, but don't go out of your way spread misery, either. Misery gets around just fine on its own.
posted by tkolar at 9:35 AM on October 25, 2006

Tell your boyfriend. It's his friend; leave it up to him whether to tell him.

If you were the one being cheated on, wouldn't you want to be told?
posted by Dasein at 9:47 AM on October 25, 2006

Don't tell your boyfriend anything about this unless you are absolutely ready for him to tell his best friend, because there is a high chance he will.

If you tell on the cheater, she will probably deny it, using the cover of distance to seed doubt in her boyfriend's mind.

Tell her you know what's going on, and she needs to come clean with her boyfriend. But if she doesn't within x days, you will tell him yourself. You've filled your obligation as a friend, but you've given the two of them a chance to work it out on their own.
posted by samh23 at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2006

Tell her that you will not lie to cover for her, and if asked a direct question you will tell what you know. Then let her squirm; she has to figure the rest out for herself.

Exactly. You aren't compelled to interfere in the relationship actively, but you are also not compelled to lie for this girl under any circumstances
posted by spicynuts at 9:49 AM on October 25, 2006

Dasein has it. You don't sound like you have a deep connection to either party, your boyfriend does.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:59 AM on October 25, 2006

My experience is this kind of thing can get very messy in all sorts of ways no one ever thinks of before hand. If anything confront her on her behavior. Its her responsibility to come clean.
posted by jeffe at 10:22 AM on October 25, 2006

Tell your boyfriend, who is his best friend and closer to him. He'll probably have a better idea of if to tell and if so, how to tell him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:23 AM on October 25, 2006

Think about how you'd feel if you were the one with a cheating partner, your friend(s) knew and decided not to tell you, and you wound up with an STD. Or wasted years more of your life on the person (and perhaps married and had a child or three) before finding out.

I don't agree at all with the "none of your business" line of argument. If I had a friend who knew about something like this and he or she chose not to tell me, I would see it as a betrayal and the friendship would be over. Do tread very, very carefully using some of the advice given in this thread.. but just keep in mind that you'd want to be told.

And yeah, don't continue in your friendship with this girl. She should not have made you an accessory.
posted by orange swan at 10:25 AM on October 25, 2006

If you do decide to tell someone, it must be your boyfriend. I think he will better know how to deal with this situation with his best friend. Again, you should be clear with your boyfriend about what you specifically know for a fact, and what could be the case.

Some people will say (and have said here) that you have some sort of obligation to give the cheater a heads-up, as a friend of hers, but that is a little sketchy to me. Your "obligation" (not quite the right word) here is to your boyfriend. It is HIS best friend that is being cheated on, and because you care about your boyfriend's friends, this girl should not be given a chance to "come clean". For her, there is no "clean" in this situation.

So tell your boyfriend ASAP.
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2006

Tell your boyfriend. Your only stake in this is your relationship to your boyfriend; the only thing you have to worry about is whether there will be awkwardness between the two of you when he eventually finds out, and wonders why you didn't say anything.

Here's a wild and crazy idea: maybe the girl in question is hoping that you will say something, causing her LTR to end without any real effort or difficult decisions on her part.
posted by bingo at 10:34 AM on October 25, 2006

If you don't do anything, then when her boyfriend (inevitably) finds out, it will be obvious to everyone involved that you knew and passively helped her cover up her cheating. And your boyfriend will know that you endorse cheating while away at school.
posted by nicwolff at 10:39 AM on October 25, 2006

I've heard that if you cheat on your partner, you're not supposed to tell them. Even if it weighs on your conscious and you know YOU'd feel better if they knew, all it does is make the other person feel like crap and for no real reason. Sure, you feel better and honest and everything, but you just shattered your partner.
I would say this is similar to what goes for your situation. It's not your relationship, and it's not your place to tell your boyfriend's friend about his cheating girlfriend. Trust me, I'd wrestle with the same issues if I were in your position because of course I'd feel pressured to tell. But it won't really help anything. I echo the "Go to her directly" sentiment. Tell her you know what's up, and you really don't want to get involved, and you also don't like being in the position that you're in. It's awkward for you because of what you know and not wanting to hurt your friend. So go to her, and also talk with your boyfriend about what he thinks - he probably knows better how his friend will react to however everything plays out.
Good luck, I don't envy your position!
posted by slyboots421 at 11:05 AM on October 25, 2006

If you don't do anything, then when her boyfriend (inevitably) finds out, it will be obvious to everyone involved that you knew and passively helped her cover up her cheating.

Unless, you know, it isn't obvious. It's not like she's holding the video camera.

And your boyfriend will know that you endorse cheating while away at school.

What the hell?
posted by mendel at 11:23 AM on October 25, 2006

Never overlook the advantage of being able to send someone an anonymous email from a disposable account. Especially if you can convincingly write as someone of the opposite gender. Voila, information parlayed, cheater thrown off the scent looking for tattlers, your conscience clear.

I don't necessarily recommend this over some of the more straightforward or discouraging suggestions, but it certainly is an option.
posted by hermitosis at 11:31 AM on October 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who say to tell your boyfriend, and let things take their course from there. If he decides to pass the information on, I would also ask him not to say where it came from, though in your case that may be obvious. Definitely be absolutely sure you are correct, and your boyfriend should be sure that the poor sucker thinks they are still in a committed relationship.

Lying to someone is to do a violence to them, seeking to control them by depriving them of their power to make good decisions. It is always an evil, though sometimes the lesser of evils. Not so in this case, and you'll be doing him a favor by passing the information on.
posted by Manjusri at 11:54 AM on October 25, 2006

Your posting has been a little unclear regarding whether the cheated party is really your friend, to whom you might have sense of duty, or more someone you just know through your boyfriend. Your original post also suggested that the cheater was also a friend. All this might matter to the advice being given.

One other point to consider before you spill the beans: How do you know what everyone else knows, as opposed to what they have opted to tell you? Is it possible, for example, that the wronged dude already knows that he's being cheated on, but is tolerating it, perhaps because he can deny it to himself or because he's done the same or worse? Is it possible they have an understanding that she can see others or resolve her feelings for a particular third party, and he doesn't feel comfortable talking about this with others?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:25 PM on October 25, 2006

First thank you all very much! this has been very helpful.

And to clear up some questions:
1. he's my friend- not my super friend but none the less
2. she and i are acquaitances
3. her lover is also an acquaitance who i have to work with often
4. i see them all the time together: they're a couple
5. they are not in any sort of open reletionship
posted by octomato at 12:40 PM on October 25, 2006

If you are sure of it, then yes, TELL HIM.

I have been the one who was cheated on. My roommate of 3 years was sleeping with my girlfriend of 4 months, and someone who we all knew knew about it for over a month before I found out and didn't tell me. I'm no longer the mutual friend's friend, my roommates friend, or my ex's friend. If you knew and didn't tell me, I wouldn't ever be your friend.

If I had known earlier, it could have saved me ALOT of pain and anguish. Do you want to allow this girl to be with him and further ruin his life later on?

If he were getting stolen from or poisoned, would you tell him then? If you would perform any act of kindness for this person, why would you not tell him?
posted by mhuckaba at 12:50 PM on October 25, 2006

#3 suggests a potential for significant fallout to your intervention, no?

#4 suggests that this will eventually become known (at least if I understand "them" correctly). It may also suggest you can ask her, semi-innocently, "You and L seem to really be hitting it off. Is it over with BF?" She might dissemble, she might tell you something you don't know, or she might realize she'd better come clean to BF.

As to #5, I trust you mean ". . . that I know of."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:54 PM on October 25, 2006

I would suggest telling her that you know, and that she has [to be determined amount of time] to tell him or you will. A friend did this for me when he found out my girl was cheating. In the end it turned out a lot better for everyone. This way you don't have to worry about taking it out on the messenger and knee jerk accusations of lying or jealousy.
posted by JakeLL at 1:44 PM on October 25, 2006

Ann Landers
posted by dragonsi55 at 5:16 PM on October 25, 2006

The Ann Landers link is not relevant here, as we're not talking about a woman being cheated on. Furthermore her argument for not telling is insulting to all women who have been cheated on and didn't know. It is very easy to cheat on any person and get away with it, especially hundreds of miles away.
posted by mhuckaba at 8:27 AM on October 26, 2006

You have to see the cheater and the person she's cheating with all the time and they're holding themselves out as a couple in public? Then I would go ahead and tell the other boyfriend. This situation seems very different than if you had oops, come across some unpleasant information you shouldn't have known about. In your case, the cheater is essentially forcing you to be part of the deception by flaunting what she's doing in public and in front of you.
posted by footnote at 5:48 PM on October 26, 2006

Late follow-up.

There's been several advice columns concerning 'Dear John' or 'Dear JoAnne' letters to soldiers overseas. There were a full spectrum of responses, pointedly from folks who cleaned up the mess from suicides.

However, it seemed pretty much universal that the soldier likely to receive the letter wanted to know. They all felt that they had support over there, which sometimes they wouldn't have at home.

So the question, when framed to the (betrayed?) party, usually results in a 'tell me.' From that point of view, to not tell is a double betrayal, by both lover and the non-telling friend.

But in the face of incomplete knowledge, a friend should worry that the injured one might kill themselves, right? But there's a somewhat tweaky point of view that that's a persons own decision. Suicide is, on occasion, a very serious attempt to lay a lifetime of guilt on the two-timing such-&-such.

However, you may selfishly want to have your friend around for a few more years, which is a decent reason for not telling.

Another point is that all professional advice givers are likely to have a bias towards MYOB, since they have incomplete information and don't want to get sued for wrongful death over a suicide.

My own personality would lead me to feeling guilty for not telling, which would make it difficult to hang out with my friend, so the relationship would be changed anyway, so I might as well tell them.

Finally, I haven't seen any reason to distinguish between genders; STD's run both ways.
posted by dragonsi55 at 9:51 PM on October 26, 2006

I wouldn't. I know that you don't agree with what she's doing, but the messenger always gets shot. If it bothers you that much, you can simply tell her that she should stop. Is it that you feel guilty knowing her secret? I honestly don't think it's YOUR dilema, it's theirs.
posted by raspberry21 at 12:08 AM on April 28, 2007

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