What to do When You Know about an Affair

When I wrote for Yahoo Health, I often pitched articles such as the following:

– Sandusky: The Psychology of Pedophilia
– Pornography: Relationship Enhancer or Detractor?
– Penn State and Denial: Why Winning will Always Trump Morals

These were denied due to a conflict with the philosophy of the site. Yahoo Health is a conservative, family-oriented site that prefers to give practical, “take away” information ps4 account herunterladen. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, it just meant that the truly fascinating aspects of psychology often got bounced in favor of more self-help oriented pieces. It also meant cranky emails from readers of ShrinkTalk asking, “What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re like Ned Flanders now!”

One racier piece, however, was accepted, and although it’s not necessarily the most relevant topic for everyone, it had the word “affair” in it (translation: lots of people read it) herunterladen. So I decided to post it here as well, just in case you’re in the unfortunate position named in the title. Enjoy…

When you’re a practicing therapist, you often have clients who grapple with infidelity in their relationships. If the client is the person who cheated, your job is to help him/her to understand the reasons behind the transgression and, if appropriate, how not to go down that road again operating systems windows download. If the client is the one who has been cheated on, the work is generally about deciding whether to stay in the relationship and, if so, how to move past the affair and make the partnership work.

However, what if the person who has uncovered the affair is neither person? Recently a client of mine posed this question:

I am a very good friend with a couple, each of whom I love dearly structorizer herunterladen. One friend confided in me that she is cheating on her partner with another man. She says she feels terrible about it but does not want to stop the affair, that it brings her too much pleasure. She told me that she confided in me because of her guilt and ‘needed someone to talk to,’ but begged me not to tell her partner who is also my friend netflix with mobile data. I feel trapped. I don’t want to betray my friend’s trust but, at the same time, I do not want to see my friend played for a fool. He’d be furious if he somehow found out I knew and didn’t tell him. What do I do?

Let’s go through the two most obvious options, then I’ll present a third, perhaps more subtle choice for consideration samsung smart view herunterladen.

Tell the Partner

Pros: You are no longer hiding a secret and your male friend has full disclosure so that he may decide if/how the relationship should continue.

Cons: Your female friend is angry with you for having betrayed her trust, and it could be argued that your disclosure was the end of their relationship (i.e., if you just kept your mouth shut, no one would have gotten hurt, at least right away) android sms image.

Do Not Tell the Partner

Pros: You keep your female friend’s trust and you spare your male friend the potential agony of finding out about the affair (at least for now).

Cons: You are tacitly lying to your male friend. He may ultimately be angry at you for letting him continue in a relationship that he believed was monogamous whatsapp backup drive herunterladen. You are also enabling your female friend to cheat and are now holding an important, perhaps life altering, secret.

Neither of those sound particularly appealing. This is, in many ways, a no-win situation. However, all is not lost. My client has been subtly manipulated into becoming a helpless third party in the relationship microsoft powerpoint 2016 download for free. Above all else, she needs to remove herself from that position and regain control if she wishes to remain friends with that couple. This is one way to achieve that:

Give Your Friend a Time Frame

Tell your friend that she either needs to end the affair or confess to her partner – within a time frame that you establish. Tell her that if she fails to comply with this, you will tell him yourself. If she follows through, do nothing and allow the relationship to either progress or end based on her behavior herunterladen. If she does not, tell the male partner along with full disclosure that you attempted to protect both of them as equally as possible.

Pros: You regain control of your personal situation, allowing your female partner to potentially save face while still holding her accountable for her actions. You also convey the message that you are not looking to simply snitch on her, but that you have a responsibility to your male friend. You demonstrate respect to her by allowing her to walk away from the affair (if she so chooses) and at least attempt to make her current relationship work. Finally, you free your male friend from a false belief about his relationship while not pushing your personal stance onto your female friend. It is now her choice.

Cons: Either or both parties could be angry at you. However, even if this does occur, you didn’t force your moral compass onto either party without a viable alternative. Given the circumstances, you respected each friend’s need to be protected but recognized that actions have consequences (including confiding in a friend who has more than one person’s interests at heart).

Every situation has its own nuances and therefore this advice may not fit every relationship, but far too many of us restrict ourselves to the obvious choices when presented with ethical dilemmas. Not all problems have perfect solutions, especially when it comes to infidelity, but the first two options don’t allow anyone to move forward in a psychologically healthy way. Furthermore, those choices will ultimately leave my client feeling resentful, guilty and/or helpless. This last option gives her control and, ideally, the respect of both parties for attempting to balance their needs accordingly.

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8 Responses to “What to do When You Know about an Affair”

  1. Judy says:

    I wish the person contemplating sharing their affair with others would’ve asked so you could tell them to STFU! I’ve been in this position a few times and I just would’ve rather not known. This is why I always tell people I’m a crap secret-keeper. I don’t want to know!

  2. Nadia says:

    What about when a guy pursues you, meets your friends, takes you on a date…and you find out he’s married?

    I’ll tell you what, you stop speaking to him. What the hell. What the hell, life.

  3. […] To Do When You Know About an Affair su.pr/2QNJLg @DrRobD #psychology #relationships 12 hours […]

  4. T.J. says:

    Count me in as one of those “please don’t tell me this shit, I don’t care where you stick your little man / woman.” In general, anyway. I have enough crap to deal with in my own egocentric sense to worry about your problems / mistakes / fuck-ups.

    But in a lot of cases, it more depends on the relationship you have with both sides. Who have you known longer? Who annoys you less? Who are you “more friends” with? (Yes I know this sounds crass but, as much as we don’t care to admit it,) we all have our own 1st, 2nd and 3rd place stands with situations like this.

    There are other variables, too. How many other people know about this (I’ve seen both nobody and everybody)? How many other people have put two and two together and figured it out by proxy? Really, the time-frame idea can backfire because “you knew about this two weeks ago, which you told her / him you would wait for them to confess, and didn’t fucking tell me right away? Good day, sir, I’m never gonna speak to you again EVER BUT I WANT THAT COPY OF TWILIGHT I LENT TO YOU BACK YOU SACK OF BADGER ASSHOLES!!”

    See, I find this to be a variable with the “time-frame” thing. I’ve actually (third-hand) witnessed a similar situation backfire, without the book since I made that up in a horrible attempt to be humorous.

  5. TheCoconutChef says:

    “Finally, you free your male friend from a false belief about his relationship while not pushing your personal stance onto your female friend. It is now her choice.”

    That’s bold.

    The difference between “You knew my girlfriend was cheating on me?” and “You knew my girlfriend cheated on me?”.

  6. […] originally appeared in slightly different form at ShrinkTalk.net. Republished here with […]

  7. claudia says:

    If someone confided in another person that they were cheating and felt terrible but did not want to stop because of the pleasure. I would say YOU ARE A SELFISH INSECURE ASS HOLE WHO ONLY CARES ABOUT YOURSELF. you probably play a game like you are the perfect spouse and sneaks around to hotels but when called out on it as usual you lie. Her partner should know that is just fucked up. I would rather be told because I would hate HATE someone who did that to me. It takes a sick fuck to do someone that way for years and never let the lover. you know the partner has to know something, they may end up losing someone good in their life. if you feel bad and dont stop you deserve whAT YOU GET.

  8. claudia says:

    YOU NO LONGER HAVE A SECRET end the affair of confess. that is forgivable otherwise you lose a friend. you can not expect someone to trust or respect you if you behave untrustworthy. Adults are accountable for their actions. when you cheat you give away your time, affection, and the connection is lost. You did it don’t try to point fingers at the one who don’t know all the details of your secret life. If you feel bad it is because you feel guilt, you shamed yourself by destroying what was once sacred to someone, that sacred was you.