- Eating Out
- Useful Info
By Amalie Pisani
What you seem to be looking at is how your best friend might react if you were to tell her that her boyfriend is cheating on her (and should you be the one to say anything).
What you write suggests you believe – one way or another – that she needs to know… but perhaps because, in part, you are concerned as to what impact this information might have on your relationship, at least in the short-term, you are worried about how she is going to take it.
It’s true: this might test your friendship – a test it might not stand up to.
But let me ask you this; would you want a friendship where the hard truth – whatever it may be – must be ignored, denied, diluted, hidden or lied about for fear of losing it?
It is important, though, that you are clear as to your own motivation for telling her (if this is what you decide to do) because on some level she will pick up on it.
So, a little like wearing a bulletproof vest, be prepared when going into a potential war zone for the hurling of accusations; and remind yourself not to take it personally.
Why do I write this? Unwanted information can bring about any number of reactions – anything from disbelief and denial, to anger, shock or tears. Sometimes it is a mixture.
Whatever the reaction, it will be her way of dealing with the situation as she comes to process the information rather than about your friendship.
It may happen slowly or be instantaneous and it is often (at least at first) misdirected – something that you seem aware might happen.
This kind of misdirected venting often happens when very deep conflicting feelings are brought about. To hold all that mix together is so very hard that we often ‘shoot the messenger’: split people and events into good/bad, right/wrong, hero/villain, victim and perpetrator.
I have no clear picture as to what exactly you ‘know’ about her boyfriend or how you came to know it but be sure to word things accurately and sensitively.
Do remember that it is one thing if you saw it for yourself and quite another if you heard it from someone who was told by someone else.
a) It might be a misunderstanding.
b) They may work their way through this and find themselves a stronger couple.
c) His denial and her grief may make you seem like the rotten egg.
Ask yourself – just as a point of reference – what would you want to be told if the shoe were on the other foot, how would you want it put?
But don’t forget that she is not you and that cheating can mean different things to different people – so don’t stand in a position of judgment, let her decide.
I’ll add this if I may; where and whenever possible - if it is not your transgression then it is not yours to unburden. In other words, ideally, he should be doing his own dirty work and not you.
It may be this that is the warning flag you see flying over the boundary wall.
This might seem like blackmail but at least you’ve given him the chance to make things right or just explain.
Thank you for writing in…
Amalie Pisani – Integrative Counsellor, Gestalt Psychotherapist, Member of MAP & BACP
Disclaimer – the advice shown in this column is general and does not necessarily reflect therapeutic practice; any reader encountering psychological problems should seek personalized professional help based on the entirety of their unique circumstances.