Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Tell His New Girlfriend That He’s A Cheater?”

I’ve been on and off with Rick for about eleven months. He travels a lot, and over the summer, I moved an hour away from where he lives. Since then, I’ve only seen him about once a month — although we’ve kept in touch through texts and phone calls — and I haven’t seen him at all in about two months because I felt the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. About a week ago, I randomly checked his Facebook profile, and was shocked when I saw that he’s in a relationship. He has still been texting me the usual — like he misses me, and thinks about me all the time. He never mentioned a girlfriend, even though I repeatedly asked, and I would have expected him to move on anyway. And now I’m wondering if I should tell the new girlfriend what kind of a guy she’s with. I know it’s none of my business, and even though I admit my ego was bruised that he chose her, I moved past it. I was thinking though, that if I were in her shoes — in the beginning stages of a relationship with a guy — I would like to know if he’s a cheater (I asked and he said there was a period when he slept with both of us, and I wonder how long he would have kept it going, if I hadn’t stopped it). I admit, the little devil in me wants to spoil their Valentine’s Day, but I know there’s nothing in it for me. What should I do? — Former Flame

This is a question that pops up periodically in my in-box and while I’m certainly not against the idea of warning women that their men have cheated on them, those warnings should only be given under certain conditions. Those conditions include, but are not limited to: being absolutely certain that the man in question did indeed cheat on the woman; being relatively certain the couple is exclusive; having the woman’s best interest as your main motivator. Unless all three of those conditions are met to the best of your knowledge and judgment, you really have no business crossing boundaries into someone else’s relationship.

I think it’s probably safe to assume your main motivator for telling Rick’s new girlfriend that she’s dating a “cheater” is not concern for her welfare. That you refer to both your bruised ego and your internal “little devil” in reference to reaching out to her sort of ruins that argument. Furthermore, you really don’t know that Rick is a cheater. All you have is Rick’s admission that there was a period where he slept with both of you. Well, do you know that they were exclusive during that period? Do you know that they had agreed not to sleep with anyone else? I don’t think you do.

I agree that it’s shady that Rick is continuing to text you sweet-nothings when he’s supposedly in a relationship. It’s equally fucked up that he’s repeatedly denied to you even being in a relationship. But that’s still not incriminating enough to contact this woman you’ve never met to tell her she’s dating a cheater … especially when your motivation for doing so would be revenge for the bruised ego you’re feeling now. Come on. You know that wouldn’t be cool. If you’re going to do anything, I’d recommend you delete the loser’s info from your phone and address book and be glad your relationship didn’t go further than it did. Be the bigger person here and MOA. He’s not worth feeling bad about your actions a few weeks from now when you’re no longer feeling burned.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

47 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl February 7, 2011, 3:20 pm

    LW – you have to ask yourself what you will accomplish with telling your ex’s girlfriend about his possible indiscretions. I doubt you want to get back with your ex since you had already been letting the relationship cool before you realized that he was formally acknowledging his relationship with this other girl. Also, as Wendy said, you do not know if it was cheating. It doesn’t sound like he was exclusive with you since you refer to your relationship as ‘off and on’ and it is possible this other relationship was the same. I know it is creeper behavior to sleep with two people at the same time, but not all that uncommon. Place this relationship in the permanent ‘off’ position since you do not like his behavior, and move on.

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    TheOtherMe2011 February 7, 2011, 3:29 pm

    I agree with Wendy, just delete him from your contacts. You say that if you were in her shoes you would appreciate being told what kind of man your new boyfriend is but it does seem like you’re looking for a little payback.

    This girl hasn’t done anything to you so why would you want to ” Spoil THEIR Valentines Day ” ?

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  • avatar

    cdj0815 February 7, 2011, 3:39 pm

    I would not tell her, but not for any of the reasons stated above. I believe in what goes around comes around. One way or the other she will evenually find out, or there maybe another girl somewhere. Payback is always unexpected as well as a bitch.

    PS: Why would people cheating put this stuff on Facebook so that they can be found out?

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    • avatar

      AnitaBath February 7, 2011, 3:57 pm

      How does this new girl deserve the payback, especially when it seems like she’s been kept in the dark?

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      • avatar

        callmehobo February 7, 2011, 3:59 pm

        I think he means payback for the cheater, considering the new girl is, like you said, guiltless in this situation…

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        cdj0815 February 7, 2011, 4:07 pm

        Thanks Callmehobo. That is exactly what she means.

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        callmehobo February 7, 2011, 11:28 pm

        Oops! I totally meant to type she, but I guess I made a typo. Sorry, cdj0815!!

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      • avatar

        cdj0815 February 8, 2011, 11:02 am

        No problem.

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  • avatar

    maru February 7, 2011, 3:42 pm

    i know a lot of people usually disagree with me on this one, but i think the lw should tell the girlfriend. maybe the girlfriend wont belive her but at least she can make a choice. i would want to know if i was in her shoes.

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    • Chicago-Dude

      Chicago_Dan February 7, 2011, 4:12 pm

      I agree with you, maru.
      However I think she should tell ONLY when asked. Otherwise the LW’s business in this matter expired with the flame.

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe2011 February 7, 2011, 4:52 pm

        @Maru : I agree that MOST people would want to know, but we don’t really know if this girl thought she was in an exclusive relationship at the time where he was still “somewhat” connected to the LW.

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      • avatar

        maru February 7, 2011, 5:00 pm

        @theotherme -true. if the lw cant guarantee that the relationship was exclusive then dont bother.
        it would just suck to be the other girl and potentially find out a year down the road that this guy is a liar when i could have been spared the heartache.

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  • Chicago-Dude

    Chicago_Dan February 7, 2011, 4:06 pm

    FF, I give you mad props for being frank with yourself on why you’d like to inform the supposed girlfriend of the cheater.
    That said, I think you should in fact write HIM a letter; old school style – on paper with a pen.

    Then burn the letter.

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  • avatar

    Mainer February 7, 2011, 4:11 pm

    I just don’t think your motivations for telling her are truly altruistic. And why would you want to voluntarily put yourself in the middle of what will only become a dramatic headache of blame games and hatred? I say wipe your hands clean and be glad you’re no longer involved. She’s not going to like you for telling her (even if it’s true), and he’s not going to come back to you. There is absolutely nothing to be gained here. Walk away.

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  • avatar

    Amber February 7, 2011, 4:17 pm

    This guy is definitely a creep for continuing to text you, etc and sleeping with both of you at the same time but it’s not going to do you any good to tell the new gf. You have no idea how she’ll react, how he’ll react, how much she knows etc. More than likely you’ll end up looking and feeling like a jerk. Which will do nothing to make you feel any better about how things ended.

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  • avatar

    Laura February 7, 2011, 4:40 pm

    I’m the LW. Forget Valentine’s day. I don’t have to tell her today. I can tell her two weeks from now. Wouldn’t you like to know if your boyfriend texts (and sexts) other girl(s)?
    About whether I’m certain that they’re exclusive. Well, obviously, he doesn’t think they are. I’m 99% sure she thinks they are.
    Honestly, if I knew what kind of guy he is, I wouldn’t have gotten involved with him in the first place. I was in her shoes, and I wish I knew. Agree with maru on this one, and that’s the part of me that wants to let her know.

    Cdj has a point too – she will eventually find out. If it were me, I would like it sooner rather than later. And since she doesn’t know what kind of guy he is, it’s going to take a while, and she’ll be even more invested in the relationship than she is now, and will be hurt even more.

    Chicago_Dan – are you single? (jk) I’m always honest, even when it’s not in my best interest. I guess him lying to me about her hurt more than than him getting a girlfriend. As I said, I expected him to move on. I made it very clear that it’s ok with me. (We were in the ‘friends’ zone… We’re in no zone now) Why lie about it? And she will never ask – he’s very charming and persuasive. I’m smarter than average (or at least I like to think I am), yet he managed to fool me for quite a while.

    @Mainer – I don’t want him back. That’s why I said in the letter that there’s nothing in it for me. I MOA. The problem is that she’s a nice girl, and he’s ‘shady’ and ‘fucked up’, like Wendy said.

    I said ‘on and off’ – on for the first 6-7 months, then not so much on after I moved to the new town.

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    • avatar

      TheOtherMe2011 February 7, 2011, 4:55 pm

      Thanks for coming out as the LW Laura. You have to realize that most of our comments are based on what info is in the letter and we don’t always have all the details.

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe2011 February 7, 2011, 4:57 pm

        That being said, I’m still not sure you should tell her …

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    • avatar

      Mainer February 7, 2011, 4:59 pm

      I don’t think you’re being honest with yourself if you truly feel there is nothing in it for you. There is. You get the satisfaction of potentially making him alone, which you think he deserves.

      I also don’t think you’re being honest with yourself if you feel you have MOA. If you had, there really shouldn’t be any issues to discuss because, you know, you’ve moved on. You may not want him in your life physically, but you’re still holding on emotionally (and not in the romantic sense).

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    • avatar

      maru February 7, 2011, 5:03 pm

      @ laura -i just saw this, you kind of said what i just posted

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    • avatar

      Jess February 8, 2011, 7:54 am

      Still, don’t tell her. It’s seriously not your place. The only thing you should do is text the guy to stop and tell him to stop texting you.

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  • Public Pearl

    Public Pearl February 7, 2011, 4:48 pm

    “I admit, the little devil in me wants to spoil their Valentine’s Day, but I know there’s nothing in it for me. What should I do?”

    Get a hobby that doesn’t involved creating or getting mired in bullshit relationship drama.

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  • avatar

    Laura February 7, 2011, 5:22 pm

    Well, when he started sleeping with her, I thought we were exclusive. So he is a cheater. He only admitted it to me after I found out about her and confronted him. And I’m 100% sure that given the chance, he would still sleep with me. Yeah, he’s a creep, and I don’t know how I got myself involved with him in the first place. That’s why I wish I knew.

    Mainer – it only happened last week. You’re right, I’m not completely over it, but working hard to get there.

    I’m completely honest though that I don’t want them to break up. I just think she deserves a warning for what kind of guy he is, since I’m in no way a threat to their relationship.

    But most of you guys think she should be kept in the dark. I will do nothing. (Sorry maru)

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie February 7, 2011, 5:49 pm

      No matter what you do or don’t do she’ll find out sooner or later. What happens after that isn’t something you have any control over. You do have control of your own feelings and if you think it’ll make you feel better tell her. I have a lot of doubt that it would benefit you in any way. At last you know what’s going on and took action with that knowledge. Like Wendy said assume the high ground, if you do tell her your perpetuating the drama and that will suck you into it. You don’t need it pulling your time and energy. Let it go and put your effort into finding someone else that deserves you.

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  • avatar

    Laura February 7, 2011, 7:00 pm

    Fast Eddie, thank you for your perspective. You are right, I’ve given it too much of my time and energy, and I definitely don’t want to perpetuate any drama.

    I agree with everyone else – she will find out sooner or later, but at least I’ll have a clean conscience. And it’s good for me that at least I know the truth.

    What I would like to say to people who told me to ‘get a hobby’ – I did not ask for this. I was dragged into it. I would have been just as harsh with other people in the same situation, but … it happened to me! You never know who the other person is. And until last week, he was assuring me I’m the only woman in his life, that he’s not dating or seeing anyone else. I didn’t have all the facts, so I believed him. He’s a master liar and very good at deceiving people and I didn’t know that. I did notice a slight change in his behavior after I moved out of town, and that’s why I stopped seeing him, but I had no way of knowing what he was actually doing.

    I would like to change my earlier comment – ‘I thought he and I were exclusive’. Can’t even stand to be in the same pronoun with him haha.

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    • avatar

      Woman of Words February 7, 2011, 8:47 pm

      Oh Laura, I really feel for you, and I know the hurt you are going through. I had a LDR and within two weeks of a visit (which was wonderful and we were subsequently planning to be together) he was busy dating others. Three months later he moved in with one of them. It hurts to be used and dumped at the same time! I had access to his fb account and I fantasized about advertising to his friends what a creep he was, or contacting the new lady in his life so she could avoid him. But you know? If he is such a good liar it’s very unlikely anyone will believe anything you have to say; indeed YOU will come across as the crazy one. It’s early days for you at the moment, and I promise you that you WILL get over him. Fantasize all you like, but don’t act on it. Maintain your dignity and show him that you really were a catch that he let go. Thank goodness! Now you are free to find someone who can treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

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    • avatar

      AnitaBath February 7, 2011, 9:49 pm

      Honestly, I think it’s more hassle than it’s worth, and I think you made the right decision. There’s the possibility it wouldn’t be just a quick email sent her way. There’s also a huge possibility it would be your word against hers, and if he’s as charming and sneaky as you say he is, then he’d probably be able to convince her that you’re just some psycho who he used to date and is now angry that he’s moved on and is trying to destroy his love life. You’d be tangled up in it, trying to defend your story, answering questions, putting up with harassment.

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      • avatar

        Laura February 8, 2011, 11:38 am

        AnitaBath, you’re so spot on on this one! He did tell me that all his exes were crazy. I did notice a pattern there, that I was hoping to break. WTH was I thinking???

        Lesson learned, and I decided to move on without involving myself in any drama. I have better things to do with my time :). Like reading DearWendy 🙂

        Thanks Wendy, and everyone else!!! As I said, I moved to a new town, I lost most of my friends, and didn’t make any new friends in the new town just yet. You were all such great help!!!

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    • avatar

      Krissy February 7, 2011, 11:27 pm

      I just wanted to offer another perspective to this one. I was in a situation pretty similar to this 2 years ago (makes me wonder if its the same guy!) and I chose not to tell his girlfriend about the time that he was cheating. He continued to try to contact me as well sending provacative texts. One day, nearly a year after I had ended things with him, his girlfriend (who had been with him now for 2 years!) messaged me on facebook. She had gone through his phone and found a text he sent me from months before and very politely asked if there was ever anything between us. I felt that since she asked directly she deserved to know, so I told her about the cheating. While she was very cordial in her responses to me, she said that she felt that we as women needed to watch out for each other, and that had I told her sooner, she wouldn’t have wasted 2 years with such a scumbag. I regret not telling her sooner. She really seemed like a nice girl, and I hate to think that I had any part in her staying in an unhappy relationship for any longer than she needed to!

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      • avatar

        Jess February 8, 2011, 7:57 am

        I’ve definitely been in the situation before too and it never even crossed my mind to tell the girl! I was just so done with it. I wanted nothing to do with him or the new girl. I think its totally strange you feel the need to involve yourself in this stuff further. For all you know she knows about you already!

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      • avatar

        Jess February 8, 2011, 7:57 am

        Ooops sorry i didnt mean to reply to this message, but the orginial

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      • avatar

        AnitaBath February 8, 2011, 10:30 am

        Ha, is it too passive-aggressive and mean for the LW to just post on his Facebook wall, “Stop contacting me,” or something similar? Then, if the current gf sees it, it would be a good gauge of whether she’ll deny it or contact the LW for more info.

        Then again, it also has the possibility of blowing up in her face and creating even more drama.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 8, 2011, 10:57 am

        Even though this woman told you that she wishes you had told her, her perspective is much different now than it would have been then had you been upfront with her. Now that she has her own evidence of his cheating, sure, she wishes she had known, but if you had been the one to tell her then, it’s likely you would have been demonized then. When someone is cheated on, they want to blame the “interloper” they want to look outside of their relationship and say “that other woman is to blame” either for his cheating to begin with, or for keeping it a secret after. It’s a no-win situation, you will always be the bad guy, deservedly or not, so the best thing to do is take the high road, don’t get invloved, and move on with your life. When you knew about his behavior, you removed yourself from the situation, end of story. It’s not your responsibility, or your place to insert yourself in anyone else’s relationship. What he does or does not tell her is his decision.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 8, 2011, 11:01 am

        My post is for Krissy btw, it’s less clear when other folks post during the time it takes me to type my novella 😉

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  • bittergaymark

    bitter gay mark February 8, 2011, 1:26 am

    Yeah, I’d like to know why you “thought” you were exclusive? Did you ever actually have a conversation about it? I’ve discovered that MANY women jump to the conclusion of being exclusive — just because sex has entered the picture. Not saying that happened here, but you are a bit vague about it. Also, seriously, how many exclusive relationships are ON and OFF again relationships? That to me alone makes kinda wonder how you ever could of thought you were exclusive…

    I agree with the others here. Just let it go. Avoid all the drama. It’s just not worth it.

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    • avatar

      Laura February 8, 2011, 11:28 am

      I guess ‘on and off’ was a bad choice of words. It was full on for the first 6-7 months, until I moved out of town. Then I noticed that he didn’t have time for me as much as before. I hang in there for a while, and when things didn’t get better, I stopped having sex with him. He started having sex with her as soon as I moved out of town, but he never told me. (the overlap was about three months) He told me we were exclusive, and I believed him.

      I guess I was naive. I did tell him that if he decides to move on, I would have no problem with it, all he had to do was let me know (after all, I was the one who moved away for my job, and I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as it was until then). But he kept telling me for months that he’s not seeing anyone else. Let alone that he’s in a new relationship. I guess he wanted to have his cake and eat it too – and it worked!

      I’m not the possessive or controlling type. I did expect him to be honest with me. That was my fault.

      I’ll probably be extra cautious and keep tabs on any new guy that comes into my life from now on, whether he deserves it or not. Hope I’ll be able to catch myself when I do that. Only time will tell.

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      • bittergaymark

        bitter gay mark February 8, 2011, 3:12 pm

        Thanks for clarifying. Yeah, he sounds like a cad. That said, I would still just let it go. It’s just not worth your time and effort here. You dodged a bullet. Don’t get drawn into the crossfire. And — as Wendy said, for all you know, this other girl could know all about you… I mean, the guy clearly isn’t hiding her from you by posting all about it on facebook, you know? I think if he was truly worried about you coming forward with this info he’d simply have blocked you…

        The other thing, is it really does sound as if this whole relationship really was tapering off for months and months… Yeah, I’d just move on and forget him.

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  • avatar

    KateHC February 8, 2011, 7:23 am

    The main concern I would have, and maybe I’m pretty cold-blooded, is that if he was lying about her, he might be lying about MORE, and therefore I would hustle myself off to the doctor and get a full STD panel of tests done. (Which is something people should do at the start and end of any relationship anyway.)

    Granted, I grew up in the eighties during the height of the AIDS epidemic, but that’s something I take for granted–GET TESTED.

    And bonus, if it turns out you have caught something from your previous amour, then it’s only responsible to a) tell him and b) tell his new girlfriend. At which point, you can make it clear that he was cheating.

    Well, ok, coldblooded but also rather vicious. 🙂

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    • avatar

      TMSC February 8, 2011, 9:25 am

      Totally agree with this. Cold-blooded? No way. Smart way to look out for yourself? Definitely. I volunteered for years at an organization that supported HIV+ clients and worked directly with the clients, and it shocks me how many people avoid or just don’t even consider getting tested. I am glad you brought this up KateHC.

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  • avatar

    jena February 8, 2011, 11:55 am

    what should you do? mind your own business is what you should do. he allegedly two timed you, you guys havent been sleeping together, and hes sending plain ol text messages (“i miss you” isn’t a sext) to you. tell him to stop, leave her alone, and then graduate junior high. you moved away from his house, he’s with someone else now and not f*cking you, so get over it.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey February 8, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Sorry Wendy, but I really believe that women have a duty to let each other know when we’re dating a cheater. Even if the LW’s motivations are a bit less-than-saintly, the good she could do by telling this woman seems worth it. If it were me, I would feel horribly guilty knowing something like that and never sharing it with the other woman. While I know that some of these situations never end well – the other woman doesn’t believe you, or you get embroiled in more drama than you bargained for, she could be saving this woman months and possibly years of an unhealthy relationship. If it were me, I would always want to know.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy February 8, 2011, 12:38 pm

      To reiterate, I never said women shouldn’t tell one another if they know someone’s partner is cheating, but I absolutely 100% think the three conditions I laid out (including being SURE the guy is a cheater) should be met. I also would really, REALLY caution against telling a woman the man she’s with has been known to cheat in the past. Unless you have real, credible reason to believe he has cheated on HER, you need to stay out. Imagine if your past relationship mistakes were broadcast to every new guy you went out with. Really unfair. People change and just because a guy may have cheated on one woman in his past doesn’t mean he is going to cheat again.

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  • avatar

    TiphanyLouise February 9, 2011, 8:32 pm

    I’ve been cheated on before, and people knew about it. I had friends even that knew about it. I wasted a lot of my time and emotion in that relationship, and when I think about it, I wish someone had told me. I would have saved years of my life and a lot of heartbreak, not to mention deep-seated trust issues.

    I think you should tell her, and then leave it up to her what happens next.

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    • avatar

      TiphanyLouise February 10, 2011, 8:58 am

      Also– A friend of mine and I had some time ago been in a situation — this guy we knew and went to uni with was emailing/texting us, as well as other girls we knew and saying such things as “My girlfriend is great and all, but if I were single I would totally get with you/hook up with you” and various other comments that got increasingly worse and were completely inappropriate since most of the girls involved had a boyfriend, and he obviously had a girlfriend! We knew the girl, and she was so sweet and nice, and we couldn’t hang out with her or look her in the face and hide this from her. We forwarded the emails to her, and yeah they went through a big situation, but their relationship is actually much improved, he has stopped being a shady boyfriend, and now we’re pretty good friends with her.

      Even if it’s shitty and it sucks, honesty is the best policy, in my opinion.

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  • avatar

    bfashion August 28, 2011, 10:12 am

    Yes tell her, I just went through the same thing. He wangted me to sleep with him bad the week before he moved her in with him. He begged me that Thursday and he was moving her in with him that Friday. I came out of a 28 year marriage, because of him cheating on me. I wish someone would have told me. I have text messages and I’m going to show her. I agree tell her now.

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  • avatar

    whenever October 1, 2012, 12:34 am

    I kept texts to prove he cheated on us both to prove it for months and they were accidently scrubbed off – he is still with her – I still want to tell her – especially now he is selling his house and it looks like he is making it permanent with her – and she does not know – . I wish I had known about her had she told me but he told her we were not although I know she was suspicious and he just wanted his cake and eat it.

    I had a test which was negative because I felt concerned about it.

    He just acted in a cavalier way not caring about our safety, emotional health, only his own needs and he even said it was up to him if he wanted to take that risk but expecting both of us to.

    Although yes it would feel much better if she gave him up for good (I dont want him) because then it would feel justice was done.

    It is the thought he is being rewarded for his bad behaviour at our expense and if he was feeling as bad as I am it would make me have peace. It just seems so unfair.

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  • avatar

    Betsy October 3, 2017, 5:14 am

    Just had this experience two weeks ago. The man chased me for three years when I was married. I avoided him until I separated. Then after we had been seeing eachother for three years I felt a cooling off, and sure enough, she, the woman he claimed all along was just a friend from college, moved to our town and posted a relationship dating back 1 1/2 years. I texted him that I knew and never texted again although he did. And I messaged her that I was sorry to inform her that he has been with both of us for years. I wished them my best. And I am feeling better every day. Live and learn.

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