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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Should Friends Tell Friends Their Lovers Are Cheaters??

Marilyn and I are casual friends who have been bumping into each other for years at the same veterinarian. After not seeing each other for a long time, we finally met again at the supermarket—and decided to have lunch to catch up. Marilyn has been divorced for 5 years, and while her breakup was going on, I had lent her my ear a few times on the telephone when she needed it. During one of our conversations, she confessed that she had been having an affair for 7 years with a married man. I asked if that was the reason her marriage was breaking up. She insisted, “No, my marriage was dead years before that.” I just listened, since that’s what I sensed my friend needed most.

Now 5 years later, Marilyn has dumped her married lover, has had a few relationships, and is alone and fairly lonely. During our lunch, she said she recently connected with a former crush from her seventh grade class! He’s a highly paid attorney, working for a large law firm. At this point, they have seen each other a few times and have enjoyed each other’s company. He told her he’s in the midst of a divorce.

I know people at this company, so I asked around. The buzz on this guy from more than one very reliable source is that he’s a player. For all I know he’s “seeing” lots of women while he’s courting my friend. Rumor is that he’s been “going through a divorce” for the past 10 years, he’s had multiple affairs with women, single and married, at the firm, he’s got 6 kids, he’s a very devout Catholic who doesn’t believe in divorce, and besides all that, he’ll never leave his wife because alimony and child support would financially wipe him out. But I note that he sees Marilyn on Saturday nights, so there certainly must be some bona fide breakdown in his communications at home.

What do I do? Do I tell Marilyn about my findings? If so, I could be implicating my own sources, and also, there are laws about libeling someone’s reputation. Would Marilyn even want to hear about what I know, or would she want to "kill the messenger"? I also secretly wonder if this is Marilyn’s spirit-world retribution for cheating on her own husband years earlier. After all, what goes around comes around. Marilyn has said she’s keeping this relationship purely platonic until this guy decides what he truly wants to do at home. So obviously, there has been discussion between the two of them that he is uncertain of his next steps. Is she fooling herself into believing that anything will EVER change with this guy’s home life? Marilyn is not one of my clients who has commissioned me to ask significant questions. What do I do?

Clients often ask me what they should do after they find a friend's lover cheating. Often, they are burning to do something—anything—to save their friend. My best advice is to speak directly to the cheater and let him/her know s/he’s been spotted on the make. Sometimes this is the impetus that gets him/her to clean up his/her act, and the person who caught him/her in the act is off the hook as a troublemaker. But I don’t even know this guy. Although I’d like to protect my friend, is it really my business to do that?

So many people are faced with this dilemma, I thought I’d open it up to your comments. For the first time in all my psychotherapeutic years, I am asking YOU, my readers and loyal fans, for HELP!
Love,
Dr. Gilda

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe she could tell her friend who is seeing the married guy, that she heard through the grapevine that this guy is yada, yada, yada. She doesn't have to name names or even go into detail but she can tell her the main bits enough so that her friend will know that this guy is a playa, he is not leaving his wife and so on and so forth. Then it's up to her friend what she wants to do with the information, and the lady has gotten it off her chest and felt as though she's done something without implicating anyone. If this friend starts in on her asking who she heard it from instead of focusing on what the information is that the friend told her, then this woman isn't ready to give this guy up and there is nothing or no one who can make her change her mind.

Anonymous said...

People who cheat subconsciously want to be caught, you know. So I disagree with Proust who thought it not well advised nor kind to tell the friend. I say tell them right away: it saves a lot of time. And, to be blunt, the girl isn't getting any younger.

Anonymous said...

Gilda, I read an excerpt from you on MSN about the signs of a cheating 'sweetie'. What the f#*? Where did you pull these observations from? Deduce them from anecdotes? If so, your deductive reasoning is horrible. I'd love to spend the time explaining why its so flawed , but I would guess you didn't spend very much time coming to your conclusions?

I really hope the people seeking your guidance don't end up with something worse than they started with. God gave you a brain - not your heart - to think and reason with. Use it.

KATS said...

Tell her right away! It will save her the heartache. Also what you spoke about in your column today on MSN (Signs of cheating), ask her about that as well. You know play on it a little. But tell her!! I wish someone had told me!!!!

Anonymous said...

It is obviouse that you would like to save your friend some heartache. It is an unfortunate situation, but she is going to have to find out on her own. Do you think she would believe you, let alone listen to your warning? Nobody wants to know that the man/woman they really like could possibly be a bad person, and would naturally discredit the 'bad' news, and continue to move forward in getting to know this man/woman. Also, your friend cannot rightfully be upset with you for not saying anything to her about this man and his intent. It goes back to: would she believe you anyway?? Answer, probably not..........

Anonymous said...

Kats, If someone would have told you, honestly.....would you have really listened?....think about that for a moment before you answer........

Anonymous said...

Guys in todays time are very keen on saying what the women want to hear. I think if you mention to your friend that you see the signs, and point out the signs give her examples. Because they are there, she is not looking because he is wooning her real good. Then you have given her the tools to see what you already know. Give her a senerio, surely you know a couple that has already gone through this. And as a friend let her know you are there for her in what ever she decides to do. Put the ball in her court and she will not be so defensive.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gilda!

I think 2 things...one, would you want to know? It's probably hard to put yourself in her shoes, because you would most likely never be having an affair with a married man...but pretend for a second that you were...I think honesty is the best policy...and even if it ruins the friendship, you know you did the right thing & helped it along. It might be hard if she freaks out on you and stops talking to you for awhile or forever...but you exposed a dog for what he is.
The second thing...another way is to do the old "I-have-this-friend" scenario. Describe her situation EXACTLY to her & ask her what she would do. Ask her if she would want to know. She'll tell you.
:)

Anonymous said...

I recently went through this with my best friend. She has been seeing my soon-to-be brother-in-law, who is a wellknown player in our town. She has been under the impression that they are a "couple" for a few months now. However, my fiance and I were at a gathering and stayed very late, where his brother was clearly with another woman. They were all over each other! They left the party for about an hour then came back for the rest of the party. It was obvious to everyone they left to fool around. I wanted to tell my friend but didn't want to betray my future family's trust. So I told my friend without any specific details, and told her that she definitely did not hear this information from me. Well.....she called him on it and of course implicated me as the informer. So my advice is....she is a big girl, let her live her life and figure it out. Offer support and friendship, but STAY OUT OF IT!