Posted by: Trevor | 2004/03/12

Sitting on the Proverbial Horns of a Dilemma

I play squash in a social league and two years ago befriended a guy that has since become a good friend. We see each other regularly at the courts and have socialised with our families on several occassions. Its a good friendship, founded upon our interest ni the sport we play. I like him and he likes me. He is an all-round solid citizen.


I recently started a new job and some weeks ago I saw his wife with another man in a restaurant. I have since seen them there regularly (I take clients there for lunch as my new employers have an account there). She hasn't seen me but, judging from their postures, demeanor and the way they relate, it was plain that they are more than just friends. They often lean towards each other and kiss, or hold hands across the table. It is painful to observe.

I have a practice match this weekend with my friend. I am unable to decide whether I should tell him or not. Clearly this is not my business but I find it difficult to say nothing, knowing what I do know. Yet I feel that should I say something I may put in motion a sequence of events that will ruin several lives. I am loath to do that. If i say nothing then I feel I am not being a true friend.

I welcome any suggestions on how to deal with this difficult situation.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Dear trevor,
This is of course more of a moral and etiquette question than a truly psychological one. As Kernel wisely says, if the positions were reversed, you'd find such news painful, but you'd probably want to know it. You are not ab out to ruin anyone's life --- his wife, by choosing to carry on an afair, has done that. They shouldn't blame the lightning-rod for the lightning. They are highly likely to be found out sometime, before long, one way or another.
How to tell him may be more of a question. I'd tend to go the route kernel suggests --- to ask how his wife is, in the usual way, and to remark that it's odd, you've often seen her at the restaurant where you need to dine clients, but haven't had the chance to speak to her there. You didn't recognize the guy she was with, perhaps a family member or other old friend. In other words you fairly lightly reveal the facts, without emphasizing the conclusions you have drawn.
He can choose whether to recognize the obvious implications or not, and whether to ask his wife to explain this.

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Our users say:
Posted by: JO | 2004/03/12

Yes, the situation you find yourself in is mostly a moral issue - and very difficult because you genuinely seem to like and respect your friend. You seem to be a genuine and honest person, and as such your gut instinct will assist you to tell the truth about what you see - -- diplomatically, of course.

Good luck - these situations are always difficult.

Reply to JO
Posted by: Kernel | 2004/03/12

Hi Trevor

Lets put it this way - if you were my friend I would have liked you to tell me about it - I mean what are true friends for? I wouldn't like to live in total ignorance and bliss while my partner is having an affair.

It is just the way you should convey it to him that is a little bit problematic. You should be very diplomatic - for instance ask him wheteher his wife has regular lunches with a close friend or family member as you have seen her lunching a couple of times with someone you don't know. Then take it from there.

He could either be mad at you (kill the messenger) or be thankful that you have alerted him to a potential problem in his marriage, which would have surfaced sooner or later anyway. I personally would have opted for the second reaction. At least then he will know of the problem and could take corrective measures - maybe there would still be time to do so.

Good luck.

Reply to Kernel

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