Editor’s note: Have a dating/sex/relationships conundrum? Email us at thedatereport at howaboutwe.com or fill out this anonymous form, and one of our experts will help you solve it. Today, psychotherapist and author Jonathan Alpert tackles a reader’s sticky friendship dilemma.
Q. “I have a suspicion that my friend’s boyfriend of eight months is cheating on her. I saw him out with a woman. They were sitting in the window front of a café and he didn’t see me but I saw them in what clearly looked like a romantic embrace followed by him stroking her face. I don’t know what to do with this information but it’s driving me crazy. What do you suggest?”
You’re in a bit of a bind: to tell would hurt her and not telling is hurtful too — and no one wants to see their friend get hurt. My advice: do tell. Better for her to know now than to find out later when she’s more invested in the relationship, emotionally and otherwise. When someone learns that their significant other is cheating he/she reevaluates every aspect of the relationship to date questioning the authenticity of just about every move and statement. The longer the relationship, the longer and tougher the healing process. It’s painful and highly anxiety-provoking. Do your part to lessen that time span.
If you’re still unsure about what to do, think about what you would want if the situation were reversed. Would you want to know? Suppose you hold on to the information, then what? Can you continue the friendship knowing what you know? If you can’t bring yourself to talk to your friend, then you can approach the alleged cheater. Have all the information lined up and be 100% certain. Give him an opportunity to address it and to speak to your friend and tell him you will if he doesn’t.
Before telling your friend there are a few things to consider. What is the nature of your friend’s relationship? Is it possible they have an open one? Or are they in a fully committed relationship? What is your relationship with the friend? Are you close enough to discuss such personal matters? When you tell her have all the facts in order and be ready to discuss how you know and provide any proof. Choose to do it when you’re in private without any distractions. Ultimately it’s her decision as to what she decides to do about the relationship, so be supportive and nonjudgmental.
Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author. He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, on sale April 24th wherever books are sold. Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanAlpert