Q- A friend of mine keeps asking me if her ex-boyfriend cheated on her. They dated a couple years ago and back then I was better friends with her ex. I happen to know he did cheat on her towards the end of their relationship with the same woman he briefly dated after they broke up. Now we are much closer I feel compelled to tell her.
I barely talk to her ex anymore who now lives up north but whenever she comes into town we meet up. I have had to lie to her at least twice now. The last time I said I wasn’t sure.
If she brings it up again should I say something or should I keep lying about it? How do I tell her now that I’ve lied, TWICE?
A- Many people, advice columnists included, would argue that lying to protect the one who was cheated on is a good idea. They would tell you to keep being all hush-hush about it rationalizing that ‘it’s none of your business’, ‘it’s in the past’, and that ‘nothing good could come out of her knowing now’.
If your friend had not asked any questions, then I might agree, but in this case, she’s asking you to give her the truth (as you know it) so you might as well deliver.
In any case, I would argue good can come out of her knowing. Your friend is trying to gain a better understanding of her past relationship. This is something she obviously could not do by talking to her ex, so she has resorted to going around asking her friends about it (which I can imagine is not an easy thing to do).
By spilling the beans you may be giving her the knowledge she needs to figure out what being cheated on looked and felt like. This information will help her make sense of her ex-boyfriend’s behaviour at the time, and if she runs into this same problem again she will be better equipped to discern whether or not a partner is cheating. Don’t feel like a saint though, it’s not like you can help her spot where it all went wrong (but it will confirm the doubts she had about her partner’s fidelity leading to a better picture of this past relationship).
If you decide to tell her, just be honest and say you were not sure how to answer her questions, that part of you thought she should know and the other part thought it was better left as is. Since a strong argument can be made for either side (telling or not telling is certainly ‘a question of scruples’) she should be able to understand why you denied telling her what you know.
Hopefully she won’t spaz on you too hard or anything, but keep it in mind as a possibility. Or she might be secretly sore at you for a short while. Feeling like you were the last to know burns and you can expect her to feel at least a little betrayed by all those involved until she has time to sort out her feelings. Her being secretly sore at you may not be any worse for your friendship than you harbouring a secret that plagues you. But at least she can return to a friend who finally came out with it.
— By Margo, Special To L.A. Beat