The calm before the storm: How to tell a girlfriend she’s being cheated on
Letting a friend in on the secrets her partner is keeping from her can be a tricky situation. No one get's away unscathed. Here's how to prepare yourself should you decide to be the bearer of bad news.
You cannot make good decisions with bad information. And a family can only be divided by lies. Even when the lies are to protect feelings, deception will ultimately contribute to the weakening and potential damage to the family unit. The truth may be painful, but only truth and love can help a broken family heal. So when a wrong has been done, being kept in the dark only hides the wrong and feeds these cracks. Dealing with the truth is not easy, but it is what you have been called to do to keep your family strong and unified. So, what do you do when the truth wouldn’t necessarily threaten your family, but could devastate another’s?
Letting a girlfriend know her man is being unfaithful is a delicate task. One you may end up backing out of once all the information is gathered and carefully evaluated. So how do you handle coming into knowledge of your friend’s partner’s secret affairs?
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before blurting out the harsh truth about her man:
Are you sure?
Of course, you need to be absolutely certain you saw what you saw, heard what you heard, or know what you know. Try to base your conclusions on firsthand experience, not hearsay. But if you do find yourself within earshot of mumblings around town from several different sources that don’t have a fighting interest in the gossip, you may at least have some of the information you need.
Are you prepared for the worst?
Not every woman wants to hear the truth. And even longtime and best friends can quickly turn on the bearer of bad news and decide to shoot the messenger. Before you go blabbing about your friend’s love, prepare yourself to possibly lose your friendship, look like the bad guy, and be called jealous, manipulative and evil. Denial is a tough nut to crack, and what woman wouldn’t want to stick up for and stand by her man? Just know she could walk all over for her to do it.
Do you have backup?
It’s a good idea to enlist support from some other gal pals before the big reveal. Try to have a powwow with her good friends, first so you can get to them before she does. This way you can get advice on how to proceed and potentially run interference and damage control. If you reach her peers first, she won’t be able to turn anyone else against you, if she tries.
Are you playing by her rules?
You may be able to fish for a glimpse into her reaction to devastating news by probing into a hypothetical scenario. Ask her if she thinks a friend should tell the deceived parties in these situations. And if she would tell if she knew something about a friend’s situation. If she says “no,” and wouldn’t tell or want to know, you may decide it’s time to take cues and keep quiet.
You can lead a horse to water, but you don’t want to dump it over her head. If her man is cheating, it’s actually best to give your girlfriend cold hard facts and let her come to her own conclusions. So, don’t say “I know your man is cheating.” Say “I saw him at the bar with his hands all over another woman.” Then shut up! Let her ask you questions, then just answer them. Anything that results is her idea, not yours. In fact, if you snapped a quick pick, that would be even better.
A friend of mine let her friends and family know that, just hours after talks of setting a wedding date at the city courthouse, her 10 year on-and-off again relationship was finally over. An acquaintance snapped a picture of him at a local hangout with a strange girl and sent it to her. Never mind this tryst was in a public place frequented by many fun-seekers; the fact was this man told my friend he was in a completely different city, when in reality he was minutes away gallivanting with another woman. She was grateful, kicked him out, and is open to a better man and a better relationship.
Once you’ve decided to tell your girlfriend the bad news, try to remain supportive but objective. Don’t rant and rave about how she needs to leave, or how she has to stay. Give her the opportunity to process the information in her own way, in her own time. And whatever decision she makes, whether you agree or not, choose to support your friend as a person you love and care for; even if you don’t necessarily support the choices she makes.
And if you decide not to tell what you know, you may be in for just as bumpy a ride as if you had. I know I would feel betrayed by both my man and my girlfriend if I found out she knew what was going on with him and didn’t spill the beans to me ages before I found out some other, likely, humiliating way. It may hurt and it may jeopardize your friendship, but unless your friend explicitly expresses that she wouldn’t want to know, tell her.
No matter what you decide, use this situation as an opportunity to strengthen your own relationship and family. Bring up the topic and find out what your partner feels and would do. The answers could surprise you, and may shed light on some important information you may have been unaware of. More than just a moral or righteous duty, explore how this undesirable situation in the life of someone you care about could be used to help your family heal from its own trials. Secrets are secrets; lies are lies. All families suffer from them. But shedding light and love on them will ease the hurt and lead to path to healing.