Your Friend Is Being Played But ...Do You Tell?
6/26/2012 11:05:00 AM
ALLEGEDLY, Jennifer Lopez stopped speaking to a friend who tried to warn her about her boy toy, Casper Smart. Now, we don't know if this true but remember the movie, "Dilemma'"? In the movie, Vince Vaughn sees his best friend's wife passionately kissing another man. He pondered should he tell his friend or confront his friend's wife? In real life, the messenger may get shot if the friend falls for the okey-doke or is whipped on that lovin'! But what if a friend or relative you are close to is getting played like lotto? How do you decipher what to do? Terri Orbuch, Ph.D. for Psychology Today in an article titled," Dilemma: Do You Tell or Mind Your Own Business?" gives some thought about this dilemma by addressing four issues:
Issue #1: What constitutes cheating?
What did you really see? Flirting? A quick kiss? Or a passionate embrace? Were the two of them merely having lunch, or were they holding hands across the table and feeding each other spoonfuls of dessert? Perhaps you remember the scene in the movie Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan's character sees Tom Hanks' character kissing and hugging a beautiful woman. Turns out it was his sister. But she jumped to conclusions and assumed they were lovers. Could you be making the same mistake?
Issue #2: What type of friendship do you have?
How close are you to your friend? Are you just racquetball buddies once a month, or do you routinely talk about your relationship and other personal details of your life? This matters because there's a lot at stake for both of you if you decide to tell your friend about the infidelity. What if you happen to work together or are involved in a lot of the same activities?
A really strong, close relationship might be able to sustain the resulting shame, anger, embarrassment, indignation, and grief - but a casual friendship probably won't. Try to weigh your action with its possible consequences for this level of friendship.
Issue #3: Can you confront the cheater?
It's always preferable for the one who has committed the infidelity to "come clean" with his or her partner than to have the incident reported secondhand by you, a friend. In fact, studies show that if the partner confesses, is contrite, and stresses that he or she has learned a lesson and is willing to take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again, healing can happen faster than if the betrayed partner finds out through the grapevine and then confronts the cheater. If you can, talk to your friend's partner and give him or her, say, a one-week deadline to tell your friend. After that, you'll be the bearer of bad news.
Issue #4: Are you prepared to lose the friendship?
Right now, you are between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, if you simply let nature take its course and don't get involved, your friend may find out about the infidelity later - and ask you if you knew about it. You can't lie, and your friend is likely, then, to feel betrayed. On the other hand, the sad fact about infidelity is that it hurts so much that people will sometimes blame everyone but themselves and their partner. If you tell your friend, your friendship may be in the crosshairs. After considering the above three issues, you will need to decide how and when to risk your friendship - now or later. Remember, though, that friendships, when good, are very resilient.
Food for thought, huh? Well, a JET article I pulled up gives some insight as well. Though it's an older article, I think the info still stands the test of time. Dr. Tyrone Carter, a consulting psychologist in Milwaukee, WI, believes that if you witness someone being unfaithful, you should not just make yourself visible, but confront the guilty party. But do not tell your friend his or her significant other is cheating. Carter believes that cheating is part of a bigger problem, so your confrontation may help the person deal with the real problem in the relationship. "Infidelity or cheating is really a part of a greater problem than the problem itself," he notes. "It's usually a symptom of a problem relating to poor communication and lack of intimacy in the relationship." He adds that research shows most people, especially women, are not cheating for sex, but for emotional reasons such as companionship and other things missing in their relationship. It could be dangerous, he says, to tell someone a mate is cheating. Most often the reaction to such news is denial. And, the person may react negatively because you have made him or her confront the issue. Your friend may blame you for messing up his or her relationship because you have forced him or her to deal with the situation by bringing it to his or her attention.
Vesta Callender, a psychotherapist with practices in Greenwich, CT, and New York, says whether you should tell on a cheating mate depends on several factors, including whether the person is a best friend and if that friend is tolerant or intolerant of cheating. "If fidelity is important, it's your responsibility to tell," she says. "I don't believe in acquaintances telling because it violates boundaries, and the person you tell will feel violated and the subject of gossip. You should also know enough about your friend's lifestyle to be able to tell if he or she tolerates cheating in a relationship. If you know this is the case, it may be best to keep that information to yourself." Although this kind of news will undoubtedly hurt your friend or relative, Callender says you should not agonize about telling. "The fears you have of telling should not be the focus. You should focus on the opportunity to prevent further harm to your friend from not knowing, which could lead to spiritual and emotional damage," she says.
"One of the greatest fears of friends is being the bearer of bad news. Friends dread witnessing negative emotions that are certain to erupt (after they are told such news). First there is shock, grief and often an initial resentment of the teller," she says. But if the teller is a true and trusted friend, Callender states, "It will dissipate."Boyd concludes by saying whether the bad news about a cheating mate does or does not come from you, the cheater somehow, eventually will be exposed. "Generally when people are creeping, they don't have to tell anyone because eventually they will tip their own hand. We are not as cool as we think."
Well, you know the saying, "My names Bennett and I ain't in it!" But in a way you are - if you know someone you love is being cheated on. If you confront or keep it to yourself, unfortunately, your darned is you do or don't. Follow your conviction and be ready for the fallout ...or the gratitude.