From the forums:
Now, the ex-boyfriend is trying to get back with my friend. He mentioned to my friend he’d been tested for STDs after they broke up (which I thought was weird at the time, as they had never had sex, but now this makes a lot more sense, unfortunately.) It really seems like she wants to get back together with him, and I don’t want to watch her waste her time on someone who: A) was not actually that nice to her, and B) cheats on her. They were together for a few years, so it’s not like they were casual and in the early stages of dating when this happened. They were clearly defined as monogamous.
I wish I didn’t know he cheated, because she’s a good friend and on one hand I feel obligated to tell her, but on the other hand I feel like it’s not my business and I don’t want to insert myself in the middle of anything. She deserves to know the truth though, and I know I would want to know if the tables were turned.
I just feel so incredibly uncomfortable with this, and I don’t really know what to do! I know that the person I heard it from had no reason to lie, and he didn’t know that the ex had a girlfriend as he is only in our town for work seldomly, so didn’t think he was really saying anything to cause drama when he told me about it. I just can’t imagine having to sit there and listen to my friend talk about her boyfriend, and go on double dates with them, and watch as all of his coworkers/friends know what he did and she just doesn’t have any idea and they’re all hanging out together. It’s kind of sickening, because she just has no idea and it would break her heart, and I can’t believe her ex has the gall to even try and get back with her.
Up until now, I just stayed out of it because I figured she and the ex were over and it wouldn’t do anything except hurt her to know. Now though? Do I ignore it, or do I say something? Or something else? — Privy to Info
I understand the temptation to say something to your friend, and I know it only comes from a place of wanting to protect her and wanting to share information you’d hope someone would share with you if the tables were reversed, but I wouldn’t say anything if I were you. Here’s why: you don’t know the full story and you risk doing more damage by sharing information that: a) your friend may already know; b) isn’t true; c) isn’t relevant to their relationship (maybe they had an open relationship; maybe they were already on a break; maybe they aren’t going to get back together anyway); d) doesn’t have a lot of bearing on whether the two of them are good, long-term partners.
I know you’re worried that your friend’s ex may woo her back, and it seems to you, on the outside, that a person who potentially cheated on your friend couldn’t possibly be a good partner to her, but as I said: you don’t know the full story. You don’t know what the inside of their relationship was/is like. This wasn’t a couple who was only together for a few weeks or months. You said they’d been together for several years. And maybe this was a one-time transgression — one, that in the great scheme of things, doesn’t mean that much. Or maybe it does. Maybe it would totally shatter your friend’s trust in her ex and keep her from getting with him again. And maybe that’s a good thing. Or maybe it’s not.
So why not just tell her what you know and let her be the judge? Why not give her information that will help her make a more informed decision? Well, you could, and it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I’d recommend keeping quiet because maybe there’s a chance that she could be happy without knowing what you know… or maybe she could be happy without knowing that YOU know what you know. Maybe she could get back together with her ex and he, having learned from his mistakes, could be a wonderful partner to her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what people were thinking or saying — which, let’s be honest, is only going to last until there’s something else to gossip about — because she simply wouldn’t know that anyone else knew her boyfriend possibly cheated on her once. Or, maybe she’ll decide not to get back with her ex, not because he allegedly slept with someone else on a business trip, but because she simply realized it was time to move on. And maybe instead of looking back at her years-long relationship with her ex through the lens of a woman scorned, she can remember it fondly and hold good thoughts of this man she once loved.
You know how you wish you didn’t know what you know? You know how having this information has burdened you? Spare your friend the same burden (a burden that will surely be heavier than yours) and keep your mouth shut.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.