I had some great responses from my “How to tell your friend her boyfriend is a dick” article this week. Some people responded on social media that they would like a follow up, but this time on how to tell your friend her boyfriend is cheating on her. It’s a very similar and uncomfortable position to be in, but for the sake of our friends we need to tell them.

Whilst in the previous article I emphasised the importance of questioning whether or not you had feelings for your friend, it’s not quite the same this time. Cheating is wrong. In these cases your feelings don’t really play a part. If you do have romantic interest in your friend, leave them to one side. You’ll need to be there for them as support. If they feel that the support comes with strings attached, you’re not being a very good friend.

Find Evidence

Cheating is a big deal. It involves deception and betrayal. No one wants to go through it, and no one wants to watch a friend go through it either. However to accuse someone of cheating is also very big. You could end a couple’s relationship. There’s no room for speculation with such an accusation. You have to know that you’re right.

That means that you need concrete evidence. You need to be able to back up your claim. People are vulnerable when confronted with horrible news, and they can turn on you. You don’t want to ruin your friendship. But it’s also not completely their fault, people in these situations are going through a lot of horrible emotions, and sometimes they’re unable to really deal with the news so they end up taking it out on people close to them.

Proof would be things such as photographs of the cheating partner cheating. No, you don’t have to stalk outside of their hotel room private eye style. But you do need photos that show their intimate. Holding hands on the street, kissing, things like that. Video evidence can also be really good to have as well.

Go fishing

You need to figure out if your friend has any idea that their partner is cheating on them. Depending on whether they know or not, your tactic for telling them might change. People are very intuitive, so it’s most likely that they’ve noticed something different.

You have to be subtle with these things. Firstly, you can’t just go straight up “Do you think your boyfriend is cheating on you?” unless you plan on spilling everything straight away. Start casually by just asking them how their boyfriend is doing. If your friend says things have been bad lately or that he’s been more affectionate, follow up by asking them “Oh why do you think that is?”

Just show that you care for your friend and that you’re supportive. If that means just listening to them vent then that’s fine. If you think your friend does know that their partner is cheating, you can bring the topic up straight away. Of course if they don’t seem aware, you will want to be more careful.

Confronting the boyfriend

When it comes to relationship, most people don’t like a third party getting involved. When you have solid proof that your friend’s boyfriend is cheating on them, you might want to go and confront him. Tell him that you know he’s been cheating and that you can prove it.

This will give him an option to confess to your friend himself. It’ll always be better coming from him than from you. If he tells you that it was a once off and he’ll never do it again, you need to tell him that he still needs to confess to your friend. If you keep the secret in the hopes of protecting your friend’s feelings, you’ll only be hurting her in the long run.

Telling your friend

There’s no easy way for how to tell your friend her boyfriend is cheating on her. If her boyfriend refuses to tell her himself, you need to tell her. You might not feel that it’s your place to tell her, but as her friend you shouldn’t keep it a secret from her.

Meet up with her in person. This is a sensitive subject and shouldn’t be done over the phone or by text. The important thing is to tell her you need to talk about something serious. When you meet, you should get straight to the point. Like pulling off a band-aid, it’s best to get it over with.

You friend might not believe you and get angry. This is the time that you should show her the proof. Remember this isn’t an easy topic. You need to let it sink in. Just make sure to tell them that you’re there for them.

If they need a shoulder to cry on. Or if they need some time alone, either way is normal. They’ll need to deal with it by themselves as well, but you can still be there for them. You can text them, or call them to check up. You can meet them when they need you.

  • NeilW

    I know you’ve said it, but it’s worth repeating – exercise the greatest of care. However you deal with it, there is a strong possibility that the relationship between you and your friend is likely to be fractured, possible fatally. It is not unknown for violence to result. I’m not saying don’t tell your friend – if you care for someone, it’s difficult to know what to do for the best sometimes – but do tread carefully.

    We said nothing to my brother as he embarked on his ill-fated marriage number 3 despite the fact that there was every indication that it might (and did) lead to disaster – had we said “For heaven’s sake don’t marry her, she’ll lead you up the garden path and she wouldn’t know the truth if it bit her on the ass” he wouldn’t have listened anyway, and it may well have burnt bridges.

    Your advice is very good, but it is an area where caution is needed.

    • I think it’s one thing to tell someone their partner is cheating on them, it’s another thing to tell them “You should break up.”

      The biggest thing from this for me is the fact as their friend, you shouldn’t keep it a secret from them. You’re simply telling them what you know. Whether they decide to break up with their partner or not doesn’t have anything to do with you.

      The difference between the indication of someone being a bad person, and having proof that someone is *actually* cheating on their partner is very big. You can’t really compare the two.

      For instance, had you known your brother’s wife #3 was seeing another man before he got married, and you had the proof, would you have told him then? Even if he refused to speak to you afterwards…

      • NeilW

        I appreciate that cheating is a specific instance, but the whole business of being critical – for whatever reason – of a loved one’s partner is problematic.

        Would I have warned my brother had I known wife 3 was cheating (I don’t believe she was cheating: being a drunk, a liar and a thief was enough)? I honestly don’t know.
        I don’t have any obvious solution to questions like this. I like your advice, which is both compassionate and practical (and I love the strength of your feeling about cheating: betrayal is a horrible thing), but I have seen well-meaning friends being turned on too often over trying to help with this sort of issue.

        All I’m saying is that anyone telling a friend about a cheating partner should exercise caution – possibly extreme caution – because reactions may be extreme, and directed at the friend, not the cheater.

  • Sofyan Angga Fahlani

    do you have bf