If your friend’s husband was having an affair, would you tell her? Of course you would! As true friends, our loyalty is to our girlfriends! After all, she should know and she shouldn’t hear it from someone else. Deciding whether or not to tell her isn’t hard, but telling her won’t be easy.
Even if she suspects something is wrong, it’s not good news that you are sharing. There are so many factors to consider, I had to sort them into categories. There is a huge level of intimacy and vulnerability in this situation. Make sure that you handle yourself correctly and from the right perspective if you are faced with this scenario.
When to tell: If your friend is among your inner circle, then don’t think twice about telling. These are friends with whom we share our secrets and our dreams and we count on their loyalty. We rely on them for our emotional support. These friends know that you love them and would never hurt them intentionally.
You may consider whether or not to tell depending on the whether you know is fact or circumstantial. For example, if you saw her husband out to lunch with someone THAT is not proof of adultery. If you saw him in a hotel bar cozying up to another woman, that might be different. You will know.
When NOT to tell: If your friend is not among your closest friends, you need to consider that relationship specifically. How much do you know about her personal life? For example, we spend a substantial amount of time with our co-workers and sometimes we share our personal lives with them. Sometimes, we don’t. Our relationship with that individual is a crucial factor. At what level is your friendship? Will she believe you?
If you don’t know the person well enough, or have not established that level of trust or intimacy between you, then the news you share may backfire. Someone who does NOT know you on a deeper personal level may think you are wrong or that you have an ulterior motive for telling them. If you tell them, it may change your relationship with them forever.
As noted by Southam Consulting’s, 8 Easy Tips for Crucial Conversations, “People don't get defensive because of the content of what you're saying. They get defensive because of the intent they perceive behind it. When others become defensive, stop talking about the issue and clarify your purpose.”
As with any difficult conversation, being thoughtful in your delivery is critical. There are some standards that may make sense under the circumstances, so I have listed them as Do’s and Don’ts below.
1) Let the person know that you want to talk to them personally, privately.
2) Preface the conversation with, “I have something I have to tell you.” (or similar opening.)
3) Be direct and tell her what you know and how you know it. Like ripping off a band-aid, it’s better to just get it said.
4) Make sure your friend knows that you would only tell her because you care about her and didn’t want her to find out another way. You can apologize for having to tell her bad news.
5) Let her know that regardless of the news you shared, or her immediate reaction, you are entirely on her side and there to support her.
1) Tell bad news casually. That means- Don’t tell them in passing. Don’t tell them via text, email, or social media.
2) Don’t surprise her completely.
3) Don’t try to sugar-coat the information or beat around the bush. Dragging it out will make her more anxious.
4) Don’t make any snide comments about her husband like, “I knew about him I didn’t like” or call him names… even if she does. You need to keep your decorum for both of you.
This is a tough scenario for friends to be in-and totally caused by someone else’s indiscretion. I have always felt “it’s better to know than not know” and “knowledge is power.” However, it’s important that you be discreet and sensitive.
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