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It appears you are in quite a conundrum. As you turn to request the check from your waiter, you notice the significant other of your best friend at a table in the rear, French kissing someone who is obviously not your friend. What do you do? What can you do? What should you do?

To continue the theme of relationships and cheating, I thought this topic would be a good one to address. Is there a one-size-fits-all approach, in answering this question?  I would say yes, and in my opinion, the answer is that it depends.

Should I tell my best friend her boyfriend/husband is cheating?
Should I tell my best friend his girlfriend/wife is cheating?

It depends on several variables what you should do, after seeing something like this. It depends on several factors as an observer and of course a friend, how to proceed after witnessing such an image.

I am not saying you should refuse presenting the information to your friend, but you know your friend better than anyone else does. Therefore, you have familiarity with the manner they will react to different circumstances. When it involves confidential information, is your friend reactionary or cautionary?

How can you tell?

Do not panic (enter friend’s name). I heard from Gary, who became aware of this information through Jen, but Ben thinks you are a horrible individual.

A. Will your friend confront Ben without any other information, besides the one above?
B. Will your friend accept the information, but consider it hearsay, until s/he encounters further evidence? 

If your friend falls under scenario-A, they have a reactionary personality. Reactionary individuals will allow their emotions to make decisions, without ever applying critical thinking. If your friend falls under scenario-B, they are cautionary. They remain aware of things, and use the information as a warning of sorts. However, they do not react without further information.

I would presume that people can fall in between, where their style of reaction may sometimes fluctuate. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, we are viewing your friend as only reactionary or cautionary.

Your overall decision to share the information with your friend, along with your delivery, will not be the same for both individuals.

The person in scenario-A is similar to a hothead, where anything will set them off. By sharing what you witnessed, they would confront their partner at that very moment. In their explanation, your name will come up as the source of the information.

In this scenario, due to your decision to share the information with your friend, it backfires and somehow you become the villain.  The other party can simply deny, ask for proof, and consider your allegation as baseless, where the goal is to dissolve the relationship.

Somehow, you end up being jealous of their relationship, when you were only trying to be a friend. It is funny how life works sometimes.

If your friend is like the person in scenario-A, you cannot release the information without delicately choosing your words wisely. I recommend asking them to refuse giving up the source if possible, while they are confronting their partner. Through this decision, you are hoping time will calm them down, before they react irrationally. You are also hoping they can present the information, without adding your name into the mix.

The friend in scenario-B, is taken aback by the news of the allegation, similar to the person in scenario-A. However, they know that approaching a difficult conversation with someone through hostility; will not work in their favor. By sharing what you witnessed, they are more prone to ask questions about what you actually saw, before making a decision to react.

Although they may ask a series of questions, it does not suggest a denial of your allegation(s). Instead, they understand what you witnessed has placed you in a difficult position. After the series of questions, they will reflect on how to bring about the topic, without giving up their source.

After coming up with a plan, they will approach the significant other regarding events of the day…

How was your day?
What did you do?

If the events of the day do not mention, I was with (Insert name) because we were (Insert action); your friend will begin to figure out a more direct way to ask about the infidelity.

Hmm…So, you only went to work, which is on the opposite side of town. You left work and came straight home. Okay! If that is the case, did you ever make a detour at all during the day, which would put you on the other side of town? 

During their discussion, the partner will usually dig their own grave, with one lie on top of another lie. This is an ideal scenario, but the theme remains the same regardless how it plays out.

Sometimes, we refuse to acknowledge information regarding a partner’s infidelity, because it seems out of character. Other times, the person providing the information is untrustworthy. A third scenario occurs through denial, because you are unwilling to accept the truth.

Regardless how rational we appear, it is difficult to stomach the reality of someone you love going astray. It hurts even more when they deny the affair, even when you have evidence of the betrayal.

Sadly, not everyone has good intentions. There are people who stir up drama, with the purpose of destroying a relationship they are unable to have. In other words, and this is something I know personally; as a single individual or someone in an unhappy relationship, they will add flames to a fire that does not exist in yours, all because of your happiness.

If they cannot be happy, you should also be unhappy. They will make up claims or exaggerate something they witness, all to cause a negative reaction from you, which you then extend to your partner.

This reason, among many others, will cause people to reject hearsay on a partner’s supposed infidelity. Generally speaking of course, this post only addresses friends whose intentions are pure.

If you see something, say something.

In my opinion, it is not that black and white. If you see something, you must take into consideration what you saw. After replaying the events, you will then determine how to express the topic, long before you actually present the information.

The moment you are able to do this, you must then determine the type of person your friend happens to be. Are they reactionary or cautionary? As you can see, before you actually decide to share the information, several things come into play.

If you do not tell your friend directly, what are your other options?

…to be continued