To Tell Or Not To Tell

If you were cheated on did anyone tell you? If they did, did you appreciate it? If people knew but they didn’t tell you did that upset you? The Golden Rule over on Chump Lady seems to be tell the cheated on spouse.

I don’t have a problem with that advice. I hate the fact that these disordered nitwits can play with other people’s lives and get away with it. I look back on the times that I was told. The first time I was a little put out after The Saint told me because it seemed like he had used me to break the two lovebirds up and then disappeared.

In some respects my life might be much different if he hadn’t told me. I might still be trying to put things back together but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would have never agreed to move with things so broken between us.

On the other hand, him telling me did lead to a really good 18 months or so. And it led to me keeping an eye on her, which in turn meant I knew when things appeared rocky between her and The Saint. That ultimately ended with me demanding my name be put on the deed to the house, instead of his name only which is what he tried to pull. So, thank you, The Saint!

I am infinitely glad he told me the second time. CF was moving at lightning speed. As I have mentioned numerous times he was handing over our money to her every week. $50 here, $100 there, the occasional $500. I had no clue. I absolutely believed him when he told me that he was sending money to his mom to help out. Just like I believed him when he told me he bought phones for his mom and stepdad and was paying their cell phone bill. Never questioned it. Then we have the fact that he cashed in the rest of his stock, opened a checking account with her, and was interviewing for a job in her state. Had I not found out who knows what kind of damage he could have done before he finally left? I think a huge part of him is pissed that I found out when I did so I ruined his plan to leave me without a dime. I really think he would have waited for me to pay off the pool and then once he got a job closer to her he would have bailed on me. I think he was going for the long con and as long as I wasn’t asking questions and didn’t get too suspicious he’d just keep acting like nothing was wrong until he could get the hell out of Dodge. Then POOF! He would be gone. So yes, I am definitely glad he told me and let me know what was going on.

I have also been a longtime reader on another board. I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a debate board comprised mainly of moms and step moms. The consensus over on that board seems to be don’t tell. Not everyone believes this, of course, but a great many do. When it’s been brought up some of the people have said they wouldn’t appreciate someone butting into their business and that the betrayed spouse is probably aware of what’s going on. In one debate someone was asking whether or not a Marriage & Family therapist should be reported for sleeping with a married man and it seemed that quite a few people thought it was none of the other person’s business. She’s a Marriage & Family therapist, people! Her job is to repair marriages and help families; not fuck married men and destroy families! In another debate they were talking about the person who supposedly saw a woman texting her lover during a sporting event (I’m thinking football) and who let her husband know. This was all over Facebook a year or two ago. Again, the consensus was was that person had no business interfering in that relationship. It was none of their business if that person was cheating or not. And he probably knew anyway!

I disagree. If you don’t want people telling your spouse you’re cheating on them… don’t be a fucking cheater! Very simple! I also disagree that most cheated on spouses know what’s going on. Sometimes they may have a feeling that something isn’t right. Sometimes they may even know that something isn’t right. But they don’t necessarily know that the reason things feel off-kilter is because their spouse is a liar and cheater. There’s a big difference between knowing something isn’t right and knowing your spouse is cheating.

That leads me to thinking, “Hmmm…. maybe this person doesn’t want to know.” Or maybe she knows but she keeps her head buried in the sand. If I bring it up then what does she do? Pretend she didn’t hear me? Acknowledge it and tell me to mind my own business? Tell me that she was ignoring it but thanks to me now she can’t so now she’s going to have to file for divorce or look weak?

Unfortunately, that’s where I waiver. I would hate for someone to be pissed off at me because I told her (or him) something she (or he) wasn’t ready to hear. You never really know how the person is going to respond. I’ve heard stories of people letting a friend/relative/coworker know what’s going on, and then that person is frozen out because the message recipient didn’t want to hear that message. I realize that any time you give a person news that has the potential to destroy their life there may be backlash. I think that often that leads to inaction. We tend to like our friends. We want to hang out with them. And we want them to like us, too. We don’t want to lose them because they choose to shoot the messenger.

Let’s face it. Cheaters are very good liars. Several people were commenting the other day about open marriages and, in this instance, the wife knowing and accepting the affair. The consensus was that was a load of bullshit. First, if the wife was given an ultimatum: either an open marriage or I’m leaving… then that’s not really an open marriage. That’s a threat. Open marriages are typically decided upon before an affair begins and both parties are in favor of it. This was an instance of the cheating husband demanding she dance pretty for him (if she even really knew about it). Second, I realize this may come as shocking news but often a person who is willing to cheat on and lie to the spouse is also willing to lie to the affair partner. Many times cheaters will lie and tell their prospective AP that the spouse knows and is fine with it. Most of the commenters over on Chump Lady were solidly in the corner of, “That woman did not agree to an open marriage. She has no idea her husband is cheating on her.”

I’m not saying that never happens, because I’m sure that once in a blue moon it does. But like I told someone who was trying to convince me he had an open marriage, “When I hear it from your wife, I’ll believe it. Until then knock this shit off!”  It’s amazing how many women and men know their spouses are cheating on them and they are A-OK with that!

Then again, when The Saint informed me that my lying, cheating shit eating chimp was once again lying and cheating, he also told me that his whore of a wife had assured him that I knew all about it and I was fine with it. Guess what? That was a lie! What a surprise!

You also risk the person not believing you. I think many times when someone freezes you out it’s because the cheater gets to them and convinces them that those are all vicious lies! Lies, I tell you! Lies! They would rather believe that their friend/relative/co-worker is maliciously lying about the lying cheater than that the lying cheater is indeed a liar and a cheater. Who can really blame them? Finding out you placed your love and trust in someone who was not worthy tends to knock the wind out of you. It’s definitely easier to believe those lies than to believe our well-intentioned loved one is telling us a truth we don’t want to hear. Things need to change if they’re telling the truth; they can remain the same and we can continue to live our safe, secure lives if they are the liars and our beloved is telling the truth.

Again, we can go back and look at my own life. When Anne contacted me with her ominous messages I really didn’t want to believe that Cousinfucker could be messing around again. The messages were vague, absolutely no details, nothing that even came out and said, “I’m having an affair with your husband.” I confronted him. He had answers ready for me. There was an explanation. She was a psycho stalker. At that point in time I thought that because he had an answer, and because I didn’t realize he could lie as easily as he breathed, that it must mean he was telling the truth. And because she had never said precisely what she wanted to tell me I had no reason not to believe my husband.

To tell or not to tell? That remains the question. I suppose it boils down to a few things. First, how close are you to the person and how much do you value the relationship? Are you willing to do the right thing even if it may mean you lose that relationship? If you’re not close I think it might actually be easier to do, even though some may say it’s definitely not their business in that instance. However, I just read of a situation over on Chump Lady where the woman is infinitely grateful to her husband’s co-worker who told her because it turned out her husband and the OW were slowly poisoning her! So, if you’re thinking that maybe you shouldn’t get involved, maybe you really should!

I would also advise, as I did the first time I wrote about Anne, to give details! Be as precise as possible. Give dates, times, places. Pictures and texts are great if you have them. Phone logs. Emails. Anything that is tangible proof that you are not lying. It’s hard for the cheater to gaslight when the duped spouse has concrete proof. You say you’re not fucking your co-worker, but here you are in this picture, fucking your co-worker. How does that work?  I’m not saying they won’t try to convince you you’re crazy even with the proof but it’s a hell of a lot more difficult.

Finally, realize that if you do believe you have an obligation to tell that is your only obligation. It’s not up to you to convince the person to believe you (although again, give as much evidence to back up your assertion as possible). It’s not up to you to convince the person to leave. You tell them, give them your proof, and then you leave it up to them. Sometimes, even when given proof, they don’t want to believe it and it’s not up to anybody else to convince them. I do think, though, that’s why giving them as much proof as possible is good. If the only thing you can say is, “Your wife has been cheating on you since before you two married,” that’s a lot easier to dismiss than, “My name is Esmeralda. I work with your wife. She has been cheating on you with her boss since before you two got married. Every Monday night when she says she’s staying late, she’s lying; they actually have a standing reservation at The Very High End Restaurant. If you go there you’ll see them. Everyone at the restaurant knows them by name. The last time she said she went out of town on business she went on vacation to Bora Bora with him. Check her expense account. You won’t find any receipts because it wasn’t a business trip. Everyone in the office knows about their affair. It is no secret. They even gave a baby gift to Janet as a couple. Finally, here is the text she sent to me talking about their affair. If you want to contact me you can reach me at 555-5555.” Sure, the husband can still ignore it even with all of those details, but it makes it much more believable.

This is a very unscientific poll but I don’t think I have read a single person over on Chump Lady say they wish they hadn’t been told. Most of them are either very grateful that they were told (like the woman being poisoned), or they wish they had been told. Many times in those cases they’re pissed and humiliated that no one bothered to let them in on the news that their spouse was cheating. They talk of company parties with co-workers who all knew, or of friends that knew what was going on but let them welcome the affair partner into their home anyway. They talk about backyard barbecues and baby showers and weddings and camping trips and all kinds of social events where everyone knew what was going on except them, and how incredibly stupid that made them feel when they found out the truth. “Was I the laughingstock of the group?” they wonder.

Fortunately, I can’t recall any time that I’ve been put in a situation where I knew about an affair and debated telling the cheated on spouse. I know I’ve had conversations with my friends before where I’ve point blank asked them, “If I ever found out your significant other was cheating on you would you want me to tell you?” I’m not saying that would totally prevent any fallout, but hey, if they definitely don’t want to know I at least know that much. I’d like to believe I would tell. I think the person who is being duped deserves at least that much. They deserve the chance to make an informed decision whatever that may end up being.

I know that I personally am very grateful that The Saint spoke up and let me know what was going on. Make no mistake; I did not want to have that conversation. I did not want to hear any of it. But I also realized I needed to face reality. It hurt like hell and it forced me to take actions that I didn’t necessarily want to take. Unfortunately for me even if I had decided to bury my head in the sand and wait him out it wouldn’t have ended any differently, at least in terms of us getting a divorce. I would have just been left in an even shittier situation than I already was! So, again, thank you, The Saint. Thank you for speaking up and giving me a chance to get my ducks in a row. Thank you for giving me a chance to protect myself against CF and Harley.

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12 thoughts on “To Tell Or Not To Tell

  1. I was cheated on by my first husband and never had a clue. It took the 3rd time for me to realize that he would always be out there looking and would eventually trade me in for a younger version.

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    1. I guess if you’re a faithful person you never expect to see cheating from your partner. I had absolutely no clue the first time, when it was only an EA. Even after that, when he was sending money to her every week I fully believed him when he told me it was for his mom.

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  2. Dude, our recent posts have the exact same title! Too funny.
    I err on the side of telling. If someone is my friend, I want him or her to know what’s going on.
    I did not tell Bear’s affair partner’s husband about the affair. This choice was because she says he is abusive and I have no reason not to believe it. I want her to accept responsibility, but her kids don’t need to see her ass beaten in front of them. Also I don’t care about her shitty life.
    I’m also in a situation now where I’m seeing someone who has told me his wife has given him the go-ahead to seek sex elsewhere because she doesn’t want it any more. Would I like for her to tell me that information? Sure. Can I believe him 100% about it? No. Even if she did tell him that, she probably meant blow jobs from hookers on Craigslist, not an old friend who she could see as a threat (I’m really trying NOT to be). So I guess I’m all over the place. I’m not sure what the right answer is. I do hope that if someone saw my spouse cheating on me that that person would let me know. As in your case, forewarned is forearmed.

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    1. I just saw something on another site about the whole abuse issue. The thing about cheaters is that they lie. And they don’t just lie about their affairs. They lie about everything. I am probably a very jaded person who has watched way too much ID TV but frequently cheaters and/or their APs use abuse as an excuse to justify what they’re doing.

      There is a guy over on another site who has a cheating STBX. She was having an affair with 2 different guys. Lover #1 gave her a black eye during consensual rough sex. She took a picture, sent it to Lover #2 and let him believe her husband had beaten her. Lover #2 was ready to confront him. I think he actually did and that was the day he learned that the husband hadn’t done it; it was her other lover.

      I know it’s TV, but ID TV does use real life stories and in these stories it is not uncommon for a woman to convince a man to kill her “abusive” husband for her.

      You may be right and her husband may indeed be abusive. And since you don’t really care about her and her life anyway it’s a moot point. I think, though, in a lot of cases, it’s them covering their ass. If they make you feel bad enough about their situation then maybe they won’t have to face the consequences. This is purely my opinion but my feeling on the matter is if someone is in an abusive situation and they cheat on their abusive spouse or SO, they are doing so to get out of that situation.

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  3. when it happened to me I told my family/friends that kept the secret I could understand why they didn’t want to get involved but why not leave an anonymous note on my car or send an anonymous text and at least I could check if I wanted to or ignore it the choice would be mine – I think that’s the best course of action. Needless to say I cut every single one of them off – of course I should mention the person he was fucking was my cousin (10 years younger than us we were both 32)

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  4. I would want to know. So I would apply that logic. But only if you actually know for sure. And yes, evidence is better.

    Long before I was married, I dated a man for four years. We talked about getting married, but we were young and I wanted to finish college first. One night, he went to a party while I was at home studying and a girl approached him and asked if he was dating me (asked about me by name, and I have an uncommon name). He said Yes. Then she said, “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but a few weeks ago I saw BLT kissing another guy.”

    He came home (we lived together) and asked me about it. I said I never did that, and she must be mistaken. I really had never cheated on him. He believed her, even though I had really never given him any reason to mistrust me – I was kind of a homebody and didn’t really go out without him (except to school and work). She didn’t provide enough details for me to provide an alibi, but it really should have been obvious since I was not generally someplace without my boyfriend. We almost broke up that night, but kind of limped along for a couple weeks.

    I went to a party with him a few weeks later, and that same girl was there. She walked up and asked me, “Are you BLT?” I said yes. Then she looked at my boyfriend and said, I’m sorry, she wasn’t the one. I thought she was a different girl. He was so ashamed that he hadn’t trusted me, and I tried really hard to forgive and forget, but ultimately, that was the beginning of the end of our relationship. I just couldn’t get past the fact that he had trusted me so little, when I had never given him reason to doubt.

    But, if someone really does know, I would want to hear it.

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    1. I’m fairly certain, like 99%, that I would tell someone if I knew. The reformed cheater that I wrote about once before believes that the only reason people (more specifically the cheated on spouse) tells is to seek revenge. I think a person is entitled to make decisions about their life based on all available information.

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  5. Sam. Unequivocally yes.
    I was completely unaware, absolutely no clue, that my husband was a cheater. Some brave soul decided to send me an anonymous email with a couple details and it started me down the path of discovery.
    I’m grateful…GRATEFUL for that person.
    Part of what I had to deal with was the humiliation of knowing others knew (his entire family was aware of one of his year-long affairs – I still can barely be around them).
    I would definitely tell a betrayed now. They deserve to know, and then make whatever choices they decide after that.

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    1. I don’t blame you! In CF’s situation the first time around I don’t believe it was a PA and yet the EA was bad enough. To have family know about it and embrace Harley? Oh hell no! I didn’t want anything to do with them for a very long time.

      Like you I am grateful The Saint told me what was going on. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if he hadn’t!

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