Should You Get Involved If You Know A Friend Is Cheating On Their Partner?

Infidelity is serious business. While some relationships can survive it, make amends, get couples therapy, and do their best to move forward, that's not the case for everyone. For those who have been cheated on, there may be no going back to the relationship that they had before because once that trust is broken trying to forgive can be sometimes impossible.

But while there's no denying that cheating is a horrible thing and, perhaps, one of the worst things that someone can do to their partner, where someone's infidelity gets really complicated is when it's your friend who's doing the cheating on their partner and they choose to tell you about it. So it begs the question: should you get involved? The problem is, whether you caught your friend in the act or they've told you that they've cheated, whether or not you like it, you are involved. You have the information, so it comes down to what you're supposed to do with it.

"Knowing about cheating can feel heavy and uncomfortable because it makes you feel complicit," psychotherapist Gabrielle Morse, LMHC, tells Elite Daily.

Feeling like you're part of the bad behavior, especially if you're close to or even just casually acquainted with your friend's partner, can be a burden that no one asks for or wants. So while you are already involved, to a degree because you have the knowledge of the cheating, you can still decide how much further you want to be involved — if at all. 

Tell your friend how you feel

While your friend cheating on their partner has nothing to do with you, because you're aware of it, it's important to tell your friend how you feel about the situation and the conflict you're struggling with internally. If you've been cheated on in past relationships, your friend's behavior can be particularly triggering for you, and you want them to know that; you want them to understand how it affects the person who's being betrayed.

When you're done sharing your side of things, ask them why they're cheating. People cheat for many reasons and, while their reason may not align with your morals, it will at least give you insight into why they're doing what they're doing. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that of people who have cheated, 77% said they cheated because they no longer felt love or affection in their relationship, 70% cited that being neglected by their partner made them want to cheat, and 57% admitted they cheated because they were suffering from low self-esteem. While none of these are particularly "good" reasons to cheat, it can give you a bit of perspective into why your friend is cheating and give them the opportunity to expand upon the feelings that made them act the way they did.

Realize you can't change people

Although a survey by YouGovAmerica found that 83% of women and 79% of men were happy to find out that they'd been cheated on rather than staying in the dark about it, it's still not your place to tell your friend's partner. You may be involved because you're carrying around the information and doing your best to play it cool in social situations when your friend's partner is there, but there's no sense in digging yourself even deeper into the situation. Also, it's not your job to tell your friend what they can and can't do — even if you disagree.

"Even if you have moral qualms, it's their life, it's their relationship and they have more at stake so you should do what they want as opposed to what you feel would be the right thing," philosopher exploring ethics Daniel Koltonski tells Refinery 29. "Sometimes, you should compromise your own moral principles for the sake of these valuable relationships. But it's how far that goes that becomes a really tricky question."

If your friend continues to cheat and it's making you uncomfortable, then politely tell them you don't want to know about it. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to be aware of their infidelity and distancing yourself from the situation. This doesn't mean you're distancing yourself from your friend, you're just protecting yourself from being any further involved and that's the best way to handle these things. No one wants to feel complicit in something that causes someone else so much pain and heartache.