General Etiquette > Dating

I wish I didn't know - now I do should I say anything? Small Update - #57

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Anniissa:
Hope this is in the right place - it involved other people's relationships but it is a more general question about what to do when you accidentally find something out that could have serious ramifications. If it's better in the relationship section can someone tell me how to move it? I'm pretty sure the answer is that I can't say anything and should just distance myself from all involved and keep out of the mess that is sure to ensue. Long background to follow. Skip to end for shorter question

B/g:

I have a group of old uni friends who still keep in contact on a fairly regular basis - we meet up several times a year altogether and see each other in smaller groups more often. Most of us are married/coupled up to people who we met since graduating. One of the guys, Peter, was out of contact for quite a few years but in more recent times has caught up with us all. He is getting married in a couple of months to the girl he has been dating for several years. We have met her a couple of times but Peter usually meets us without her. At uni Peter dated another of the group - my close friend Vanessa. She is, like most of us, already married. I accidentally discovered recently that Peter and Vanessa are having an affair. I'm horrified but, because I accidentally saw a text which made me suspicious and then overheard something that confirmed things, this is obviously a secret I'm not supposed to know. The whole thing is a mess  >:( - Peter's girlfriend recently had a baby and the wedding is coming up. We are all supposed to be going to the wedding but I really don't think I can attend now. I really want to say something to Vanessa or Peter. Actually, if I were Peter's girlfriend, I'd want me to say something to me so I didn't throw any more of my life away on someone who blatantly doesn't appear to love me  :'( Still I guess it's really not my place - is it? Obviously, I am disgusted by their behaviour and certainly don't want to have them as friends any more but I am still going to see them when the group gets together and if I don't tell them what I know they are going to want to know why I have been distant.

Question:
If you find out a secret that has the potential to cause several people a lot of pain because of someone's behaviour, is there any way you can say anything or do I need to keep schtum and distance myself. If I do distance myself, how can I explain that without telling people what I know?

Frostblooded:
The only right thing to do is tell the party that is in the dark, there really is no black and white with this, in my opinion. Not only is this person being lied to, now they have people surrounding them that know about it and haven't said anything, and that's pretty dreadful and embarrassing. I would want to know. Not only is the emotional aspect important, but this woman needs to have some STD tests done for her safety.

Outdoor Girl:
Lovely.   ::)

The cheaters are the ones you know, and you don't really know the spouse/soon-to-be spouse, I'm guessing.

Personally, I would confront Vanessa and/or Peter, since those are the people I know.  I wouldn't say anything to Vanessa's husband or Peter's girlfriend, mainly because I don't know them as well/at all and because I don't have absolute confirmation.

I'd have to be prepared to lose the friendship with either or both of them because they aren't going to take that conversation very well but that would be a risk I'd be willing to take.  I can forgive friends who cheated, as long as they are making some strides to get help but friends who continue to cheat?  It'd be cut direct time for me because I won't put up with that or be put in the middle.

As for the others noticing you giving Vanessa and Peter the cold shoulder?  'We've had a bit of a falling out.'  And leave it at that.  Smile and beandip.

ETA:  I didn't think about the STD aspect that Frostblooded mentioned.  I think I'd probably tell Vanessa and Peter that if they didn't tell their partners, I would be forced to.  I'm not sure I could actually go through with it but I hope I could convince Vanessa and Peter to.  'You're fiance is cheating on you' isn't a conversation I'd want to have with someone I barely know.  It might be easier with Vanessa's husband if you know him better.

Kaypeep:
I've been in similar shoes, only in my case it was my brother who was the cheater.  I kept my mouth shut.  In my case, it drove me mad and along with other things I ended up in therapy to deal with stress and depression. But ultimately, I decided it was none of my business so I stayed quiet.  I'm glad I did.  After 10 years my SIL confided in me that my brother was a cheater.  She caught him several times and kept taking him back.  I have never said a word to my brother, though I suspects he knows that I know via my SIL.  For multiple reasons (that I think are invalid) she has stayed with him.  So I'm glad I kept my mouth shut, because I'd rather keep it a secret that I already knew than have said something, got caught up in talking about the issue and giving my opinions, only to have them stay together anyway despite everything that was said and judged.   You'll never fully know or understand the dynamics of the people involved, so just pull back and try not to have a vested interest at all, for the sake of your own mental health.

ilrag:
Is there any way you can determine if the cheated-upon would want to know?

Some people want to know, some people don't want to know. I would want to know, but I have friends who would rather not.

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