The sorting we do to ourselves and to one another is, at best, unintentional and reflexive. At worst, it is stereotyping that dehumanizes. The paradox is we all love the ready-made filing system, so handy when we want to quickly characterize people, but we resent it when we’re the ones getting filed away.
Braving the Wilderness
Recently, one of my favorite writers, Dawn (Walking the Journey), told the story of how she managed the discovery of a friend’s husband having an affair. She decided to do what she believed was right and out the husband to the wife.
Considering how badly it could have gone, this went well.
The ending isn’t what she expected but as you read Dawn’s post you realize how many assumptions she made, and how one ten minute conversation with the Husband, at the time she saw him kissing another woman in the theater, would have saved a ton of time and energy. Sometimes, because of our own life experiences, we just assume the worse of others.
In Dawn’s post, she asked the question I’ve contemplated for years: if you knew someone’s Partner was cheating, would you tell the man or woman that is being betrayed?
There are nuances of course. How well do I know both Partners? Is it the Affair Partner I know? Do I know only one spouse? Do I only know the cheating Partner?
I’m not sure until I’m in the situation but I’m fairly certain I would not. As such, I’m sticking to my original answer: no I wouldn’t tell the man or woman that was betrayed.
The follow-up question of course is: What would you do?
Ideally, I would like to think I would go to the person that is cheating at a safe time and place and tell them what I saw. Depending on the answer I’d then tell them my story. I would share the story and the consequences. I would tell them who I betrayed and how. I would use my situation for something useful.
I would lead with vulnerability and try to avoid condemning them, judging them or lecturing them.
Regardless of the reasons, they already know what they are doing is unhealthy and often want someone to talk with about this situation – to hear the rationalization even if it is simply emotional and mental gymnastics. At the end of the day, betrayal is about wanting to be seen and heard.
However, if you have a conscious you already know you’ve fucked up. They don’t need me to chastise them. Besides, I have no high ground.
If they were still listening I would encourage them to read Esther Perel’s The State of Affairs and Dr. Caroline Madden’s book, “When a Good Man Cheats.” I would encourage them to read Dolly (The Queen is In), Elle Grant (Betrayed Wives Club and Encyclopedia for the Betrayed, Moisy (Make This Better), Spouse of a Sex Addict (A Couples Journey of Recovery from Sex Addiction), wife and husband team of TigerLily and Mindcraft (Reconcile4Life), SpaghettiSam (Are We Still Having Spaghetti For Dinner) and, of course, Dawn (Walking the Journey).
If they were still talking, I would tell them the three reasons Madden lays out for confessing to the affair, and the four or five reasons not to confess. I would tell them my experience with the reveal. I would then explain why I should have confessed to C first.
I would direct them to a good family counselor and stress that I am not judging them. I know sometimes we make decisions and out of fear and arrogance double down only to lose our way.
If they double down and became defensive (and who wouldn’t), I’d still be very hesitant to blow someone’s life up simply because I have an opinion. I don’t actually know the whole situation.
I might even approach the AP if I knew them. I would explain my story and the depth of my secrets and lies to C and K, my ex-wife. I would share a lot of the same information.
Approaching the betrayed Partner would be the absolutely last action. Absolute last…and even then it would require me witnessing a significant amount of reckless and dangerous behaviors.
If someone is an alcoholic you go them first and offer help. If someone is trapped in a car fire you don’t add gasoline. If someone is drowning you throw them a life preserver, not a brick.
In all cases, I would never take sides, fuel drama, create a triangle, or pick a team. Human beings cheat as a coping mechanism and social shunning only drives behaviors deeper underground. Everyone in this situation hurts. That is just the reality.
I’m not looking to simply do what is “right” based on my arbitrary and subjective experience. I genuinely want to do what is best.
And sometimes what is best is not as obvious as we would like to pretend it is.
Read Dawn’s original post by clicking below –>
I know what I would do.
I worked with Gail for years. We were good friends. I hung out at their house, I knew her husband. His name is John. They had a rough road trying to have children. She had several miscarriages, but they kept trying. They were very protective -obsessive- of each other. They always had each other in […]
via I know what I would do. — Walking the Journey
15 thoughts on “Thoughts on “I know what I would do” by Walking the Journey”
From your question to me above. If people saw it with their own eyes, yes I would expect that. If it was hearsay, not sure – that would depend on the individual details. Teenagers tend to be pretty blunt, so in the example cited above, many, many people saw sexual behaviours of my (beloved) bf and no one chose to tell me. Of course, this raises the topic I am also very interested in and explore on my blog, which is about new relationship models. We don’t ‘own’ people – they are responsible for their own behaviour and choices. I find the whole RA (Relationship Anarchy) model fascinating and inspiring. Check out some of my articles if you feel inclined. This series of 3 is a good start https://unleashingthecougar.com/2018/03/31/little-miss-shy-goes-online-dating-part-3/
Reblogged this on Unleashing the Cougar! and commented:
Would you reveal, or wouldn’t you? Who has a right to know, and do you want to be the bearer of bad news? What is your moral obligation to your friend – or how would you feel if you were the one being betrayed? All important questions raised here by Reformed Cad, and in these days of rampant infidelity (that often goes undiscovered), these topics are very relevant to online dating and modern relationships. Read on if you dare!
Thank you UC. I’m genuinely interested in this conversation.
I was able to find very little discovery of infidelity and how the reveal is made but I did find these two interesting reads:
I is for Infidelity
“…Confession is really just2relieve the cheater of the guilt of carrying that behavior around & all that happens is the other person gets hurt worse — the cheater feels better 4 being honest & the victim feels horrible. ”
And this is the only article I can find written by a professional doctor and therapist on the topic of whether or not to reveal or not. I thought this was an interesting read as well
Should You Tell Your Friend That His or Her Partner Is Cheating?
Is revealing an adulterous spouse to a friend good or right? Via @PsychToday
Maybe there is other articles out there, but I can’t find them, and I did kind of look for a while. Everything else is written by someone who has been betrayed, for someone who has an opinion. Nothing written buy trained, experience, and knowledgeable family therapists and researchers.
That’s a lot of assuming on your part that they want all that. (Your books, your list of counselors, your opinions, your experiences)
Bottom line, you would not tell the the friend being cheated on. That is your way, and that is OK. Who can blame you?
But tell me this, since there is a lot of hypotheses and what ifs going on, you know your friend is being cheated on. You choose not to tell them, and instead counsel the cheater.
Cheater does not come clean to your friend. But in time, as it always does, your friend finds out she’s been betrayed. In time, she/he also finds out you knew. Doesn’t matter your kind intent, you knew and did not inform.
Where is your friendship now?
I did not assume a thing when I saw my friends husbands lips on another woman that was not my friend. That was a fact. She deserved to know. I didn’t drop a bomb and blow her world apart… he did. You speak of me as though I couldn’t wait to call my friend and rip her world apart. Not even close.
I also spoke to our marriage counselor about this. Her speciality is infidelity. I told her, with my husband there, how unbelievably hurt I was that our friends knew and said nothing. She and I went into great lengths about this.
Bottom line, there is no right or wrong thing to do in this situation. I know my friends were in a tough spot. She also said it was absolutely and completely ‘normal’ that I felt betrayed by them too, especially the wives.
So instead of letting me dwell on it, she gave me ways to face it. One being ways to tell them they hurt me, ways to listen to why they chose not to tell me. She also said it was actually the reasons many friendships end.
Mine ended. I’m alright with that.
I’m not sure why I feel the need to justify to you why I made that decision so many years ago with my friend. All I know is that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I’ll also be curious to what all the counselors you have contacted have to say.
I haven’t heard back from them yet. I hope someone responds. I could only find one article, written by a Doctor, on Psychology Today. You would think there would be more but o couldn’t find any. Everything else I could find was written from a layman’s perspective.
I’m pretty sure I agree with Dolly, they probably hear nothing but that is where I would start. There are a lot of variables.
However, your assumption is that he was cheating. Ten minutes with him directly would have addressed all of your concerns.
I’m not saying I’m correct Chris, but I am saying this is how I would handle it.
I see that Sean.
And to be clear, because I’m in no way shape or form defending your “friends” decision to hang out with H’s OWs.
That is the worse kind of enabling.
Good points, but I’ll dispute the concept that cheating always comes out. Research shows that perhaps 70% of infidelities are not discovered. Unless you mean karma, in the genuine spiritual sense, people often do not experience a consequence of their behaviour, unless is actually eats them up and they confess.
I think there are internal consequences that far outstripped any of the cultural, social, or legal consequences. And really I would know, that is why I said, there’s no point in shaming or humiliating someone to make a point. They already have shame and humiliation whether they can connect with it is a different issue right?
There is no benefit to making it adversarial. And so, when I say it always comes out, I meant it always comes out in life. It may not come out as a declaration of events, but you cannot live a dishonest life without a leaching into your life.
But I do not understand the overwhelming and moralistic drive to reveal without damn good reasons.
And here’s my response from the heart – if any of my friends. no matter how close, knew that I was being cheated on and didn’t tell me, it’s over with us. This happened to me at 17 with my first love – it felt like everyone knew and it took a mean, vindictive acquaintance to tell me the truth that others were too lazy or afraid to tell me. The humiliation was part of my grief.
Would you expect them to come to you without having the facts, just the stories? Would you expect them to confront the man that cheated on you and give him the ultimatum to tell you or they would?
It is one thing entirely to be morally or ethically outraged at someone cheating on someone you care about or that you know, it is something else entirely to insert those moral and ethical outrages into someone else’s relationship without having the facts.
My take – https://thequeenisincom.wordpress.com/2018/11/17/i-call-bullshit/
You must log in to post a comment.