What To Do When Your Friend Tells You They've Been Cheating

What do you do if a friend tells you some potentially devastating news? What if it's something that could end their relationship, such as cheating? Do you scold them? Or do you console them and try to understand their reasoning? Part of being a good friend is to have a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but if the admission is troubling, this could place you in an awkward position.

Your friend cheating on their spouse may shock you, especially if you aren't aware of any relationship woes. Conversely, you may not be caught off guard if the couple already has a tumultuous history. No matter the state of their relationship, it's not exactly your place to tell them what to do. But what is an appropriate response to such a potentially devastating confession? The answer can be complex, and you could even lose your friend if you are not careful.

You can tell the truth without being judgmental

Licensed marriage and relationship and family therapist Mudita Rastogi, Ph.D., spoke with Psych Central about handling this secret. According to her, you need to listen intently and hear their point of view. People cheat for various reasons, including lack of sex, self-esteem issues, and the absence of commitment. Therefore, letting your friend explain their reasoning before passing any judgment is crucial. After hearing your friend out, you can then voice your views. Rastogi suggests refraining from sounding too critical. Remember that you are also human and capable of similar behavior.

"Friends are supposed to act as ethical lighthouses for each other, so it is okay to state your views about infidelity if asked, without sounding judgmental, and without condoning their actions," Rastogi explained.

Even after you've voiced your beliefs, end it by asking them how they are feeling. This lets them know that you are still concerned about their well-being. You also want to convey that you are not angry with them for their indiscretions. Ultimately, you are meant to be a confidante during their vulnerable moment.

It's not your responsibility to tell their significant other

Even if you're disappointed in your friend for cheating on their significant other, it's not your duty to pass this sensitive information to them. Ultimately, it's up to your friend to confess if they choose. Telling a secret of this magnitude can be detrimental on several levels. Not only might this information lead to a breakup, triggering a strong emotional reaction from your friend, but licensed counselor Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. says telling your friend's secret after they've confided in you can severely alter your relationship moving forward.

"If you can't keep your friends' secrets, the number of trusting friends you have may quickly diminish," she stated in Psychology Today.

Staying out of what they decide to do with the news will serve you well. Instead, listening and holding your friend accountable for cheating is best. Advise them of how their actions may hurt their significant other, but be careful to be empathic to them as well. Remember that how you respond to them sharing such a delicate situation can determine whether you are a toxic or good friend.