By Mira Khatib
To many, friendship is a wonderful union and a sacred relationship. Sometimes we even treasure our friends more than family, as we make the conscious decision of choosing the right friend for ourselves; someone who will communicate well with us and understand our needs. As we share good times and bad with friends, we grow to depend on them and trust them. Some people would go to very far lengths for their friends. But where do we draw the line? Should we set boundaries to our friendships? What if we are faced in a moral situation that involves our friends, would we know what to do? And act in a way that we believe is in the best interest of our friends?
It is very interesting to view how different we all think from one another. What one person could think is an ideal solution to a problem, another could believe that it would cause the most damage.
We asked some of our readers what they would do if they where faced with a dilemma involving their best friend. Here is the question we have asked and what they have replied.
If you found out that your best friend’s husband is cheating on her, would you tell your friend what you know?
YES, YES, YES!
Of course I would tell my friend if her husband were cheating on her. It wouldn’t be fair to let her go on living in a lie. I would want her to do the same for me, if it was the other way around. After all if you can’t count on your best friend to tell you something which is so important, then who can you count on?
__Najla Ibrahim, 32, married.
I wouldn’t hesitate to tell my friend what I know. I care for her the way I care for my own sister. I believe it is the right thing to do. She deserves to know what her husband is doing behind her back, to give her a chance to work out any problems in her marriage that she might not be aware of.
__Ruba Nasr, 27, married, Engineer.
The first thing I would do is confront the husband and insist that he tell my friend the truth. If he refuses, I would definitely tell my friend what I know. She doesn’t deserve to be deceived by her partner whom she loves so much. I would only do what I’d expect my friend to do for me. If I ever found out that my friend knew about something like that and withheld it from me, I would feel very hurt and angry with her.
__Shireen Ossama, 19, single, student.
I’m the kind of person who can’t know about something that is ethically wrong and not do or say anything about it. Telling my friend the truth, in my opinion is the right thing to do.
__Grace H., 26, single, Marketing Executive.
Probably in a situation that is very sensitive, I would start hinting to my friend about it. It would be difficult to come right out and say what is going on from behind her back. But if she still doesn’t find out I would eventually tell her what I know, because I care for her so much and think she deserves to find out the truth.
___Dina Damjan, grandmother.
No, No, No!
I can never tell my friend something like that, I know if I spoke out I would be destroying her home. Her husband might be going through a phase and would realize on his own the wrong he is doing towards his wife.
___Amal Labani, 36, married.
One mustn’t talk openly about matters that involve a marriage. No matter how close a friend you have, staying quiet is the best thing to do because without intending by telling the truth, you might destroy a home and a marriage.
___Isabelle H., 60, widow..
No, I don’t think I would tell my friend. It would be extremely difficult. and I imagine I would try and see a little less of her. I also believe it is not a good thing to be the bearer of bad news, somehow you are always remembered as ‘the one who gave the news’. Again I think one shouldn’t interfere with other people’s relationships and problems unless you are asked.
Also the husband could be just having a ‘fling’ and she would possibly never find out or know about it. Her husband would have to live in silence with his guilt and conscience. I also believe what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
On the other hand if my friend asked me directly, or voiced her suspicions, I would not tell, but would try to remain ‘neutral’ if I could.
___Lorry Thomas, 42, married.
Telling my friend would only cause trouble, I don’t think anyone needs this kind of pain, so why bring it to them? The only reason that I might consider telling my friend the truth is if she is already miserable in her marriage and if her husband is not fulfilling her needs, or abusing her. Then I believe she is better of without him, so telling her would be a relief.
___Mona k., 27, married.
This is a very difficult decision. I don’t think that I would be able to tell my friend something like that, as I believe that if a man is cheating on his wife, deep inside she probably already knows, and maybe she doesn’t want to admit the truth to herself.
___Marry Salle, 37.
I hope that I will never be faced in such a situation. I honestly would hate not to tell my friend the truth, but I know that not telling her is actually the best thing for her in such a situation. I know if she found out it would affect her life forever in a negative way. Again to be totally honest I’m not sure if I can keep something like this to myself, I guess I can only truly know when I encounter a similar situation.
___Azza N., 44, married.
IT HAPPENED TO ME!
I experienced the exact situation. I found out that my best friend’s husband is being unfaithful to her, and I believed in my heart telling her the truth is the right thing to do.
When I told her what I knew she turned against me as if I am the guilty party. She was in total denial, and accused me of being jealous and envious. Our friendship was ruined; we could never patch things up, maybe because she didn’t want to admit the truth to herself.
I regret having told her, maybe if I didn’t we wouldn’t have lost our friendship, and she would have found out about her unfaithful husband by other means. I learnt never to approach very sensitive topics such as infidelity no matter how close a friendship might be; undoubtedly it will have its effect on a friendship.
___Rula D, 33, married.
I had a friend who constantly talked about infidelity in a way of disgust, she had no idea that she was talking about her husband, and in fact she considered him the perfect man he was caring and attending to her needs, and a loving father to his children.
But I knew the truth about his affairs and I didn’t have the heart to tell her. I considered the damage that I would cause and felt it wasn’t really my problem to solve, so instead I remained silent and believed that one day she would find out the truth herself, a man who is cheating is bond to be caught.
I truly don’t know what happened to her, I moved away and lost touch. I hope that when she does find out the truth, she has a good friend to comfort her and stand by her, in my opinion that is what friends are for.
___Maha.K., 28, married.
Not only did I know that my friend’s husband was cheating on her, but he also tried to flirt with me. Ethically I should have told her but because I knew my friend too well I couldn’t. She had this perfect image of her husband, believing he was a faithful trustworthy man, and she always spoke so fondly of him. Telling her the truth would have broken her heart especially that they got married after a long love story. Instead I chose to walk away; sadly I ended my friendship with her. I do not regret my actions; if I stayed her friend I would have regretted not telling her.
From a professional point of view one must consider many things before deciding what the best thing to do is. You should take in consideration your friend’s personality, could she handle finding out something like that or would she have a breakdown?
Knowing your friend you could anticipate her way of thinking is she open minded or would she treat the news with denial?
Again view the way she sees her relationship with her husband, is it a realistic out look or does she believe he is a perfect man?
What ever you decide, you should realize that it would affect your friendship in some ways or other.
___Dr. Nadia H., 34, Psychologist.
FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW
I truly believe one must never interfere in such sensitive matters. If my friends spouse is cheating on him he is bond to find out sooner or later by other means, if there are problems in a marriage there are always signs, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him.
___Faiek Kamal, 42, Enginee.
I would never intrude on a personal problem, even if it concerned my best friend. Honestly I believe it would cause endless problems to all. In my personal opinion I think the best solution is, to let the couple who are going through the problem work it out on their own without outside interference.
___Khaled H., 34, Manager, married.
I believe, in such a situation there is no one right answer. In my opinion I think it really all depends on the friendship and how you and your friend relate to one another. It might be easier not to actually tell someone directly the truth, but rather find away around the subject and hint about it.
___Jerry Ballen, 50, works at a Newspaper, married.
I like people to consider this issue from a religious point of view as well as ethical. Topics of infidelity are regarded of the most sensitive kind and one mustn’t approach such a topic unless there is no doubt in the matter what so ever. But even then one should be very careful in giving such information to others, even to friends. In our religion it is not preferred to talk about such matters.
___Hamid O.., 35, Manager, married.
No, no, no. I would not even consider informing my friend of such a situation, it isn’t right nor is it a privilege to pass on this sort of news. Because I care for my friend and certainly don’t want to destroy a home I would keep what I know to myself.
___Najib k., 30, Engineer, married.
A WORD FROM AN EXPERT
We asked Counselor Reem Koinis; who gives advice on emotional and psychological problems, what in her opinion is the best approach to handle such an issue. Here is what she advised:
The best thing in such a situation is to actually not tell your friend what you know. No one should under estimate the power of a couple; they could survive and overcome their problems even after an affair. No matter how close a friendship is between two people, one can not know the dynamics of a relationship between a woman and her husband.
And yet it all depends on the affair itself, what did you witness exactly? Was it a kiss between your friend’s husband and another woman? Or an ongoing love affair that has been lasting for a long time?
Another point to consider is your relationship with the husband, is he a friend of yours as well? Maybe you could talk to him and tell him what you know and voice your concerns for your friend. If he is unhappy in the marriage he should open up and tell his wife the way he feels.
One could never predict the damage that could occur from such a confrontation, by telling your friend the reality of her relationship with her husband you could stir up a lot of trouble. You should consider the consequences, especially if there are children involved, as such a confrontation could destroy the whole family.
Most of us naturally, expect monogamy from our marriages. Dealing with an affair can be a devastating experience with long term effects, making the person cheated on feel like a personal failure.
But how do we define infidelity? The first thought that might come to mind is the idea of your spouse sleeping with another mate. This is increasingly open to debate. How do we access the level of faithfulness? And where do we draw the line? Is secrecy part of the definition of adultery? Or is flirting with another person, or using fantasies, considered cheating?
Infidelity is less about a single indiscretion, but a decision to create a barrier between you and your partner. It is a sign of growing distant and closing channels of communication, be it sexual, verbal, emotional or spiritual.
What usually drives people to being unfaithful are often psychologically complex reasons, and are considerably very different from one person to the other, rarely is it just a sign of insecure moral values.
Although some woman can deal with infidelity and accept the facts, most men can not do so, especially if the woman was the one cheating. The reason for this is that, most men usually tie sex to pleasure. To them it is simply a momentum act that ends once the pleasure they desired was fulfilled. Most woman on the other hand can not give themselves to men physically unless there is an emotional bond and trust between them, something that is considered strong and lasting.
There for you have to keep in mind that by informing someone about their partner’s infidelity you are putting them in a vulnerable position. No one can predict the response or the outcome. Can they handle this kind of difficult situation?
In my opinion, couples, however unsettling their lives might seem to their friends, they are no ones business but their own.
After interviewing numerous numbers of people the conclusion seemed that younger generation of woman said that they would tell their friends about an infidelity, where as older woman advised against that.
The ratio between the woman, who said yes about speaking out, compared to the woman who said no, one shouldn’t convey such information is 4:1. Where as almost all the men who were asked, said no they wouldn’t interfere in such a situation.