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Should you tell a friend if their partner is having an affair?

Updated on May 18, 2015

Married people having affairs ...

is never a good thing. It cannot have a happy ending. No matter how bad an existing relationship is, things will only deteriorate if one partner begins an affair. The already fragile relationship will only fracture further and sometimes with unfortunate consequences such as domestic violence taking place, or having to move out of the home and losing custody of one's children, not to mention the financial stress such a fractured household will endure. So why do people do it?

Why do married people have affairs?

Going outside one's marriage is most often the result of a breach and rupture in communication in one way or another. When people stop communicating, misunderstandings happen and the closeness partners once shared begins to evaporate. It may be that domestic arrangements have changed by the arrival of a child and/or the loss of a second income; these stressful situations have an impact on the marriage, and often, not for the better.

If partners are able to communicateabout their feelings, tension will ease and a solution to their issues will be found. However, couples often are too tired to have a good heart to heart due to a change in their circumstances and before too long good communication is replaced by irrational behaviour and arguments.

To alleviate this strain, some people begin to look elsewhere for companionship, however brief the association might be. Even though they may not realize this, people in this situation are really looking for understanding and empathy for themselves, not a sexual release as such, though this does happen for its own sake too. Things then spiral out of control and what began as a brief encounter has blossomed into a full-blown affair before anyone realizes the full implications of their actions. The trouble with an affair is that one participant will be more emotionally involved than the other, and this often leads to serious problems for everyone in their circle.

So, if you suspect your friend's partner is having an affair, should you tell your friend?

Should you really tell your friend their partner is cheating?

The answer might surprise you - ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Whether your friend's partner is cheating on your friend in a series of one-night stands or is having a full-blown emotional affair with one person, it is NONE of your business. Do not, under any circumstance, get involved; exception being if the participant in the affair is a dangerous psychotic beast or some such lunatic who could pose a serious threat to their children/other family members.


  • If your friend's partner is seeing a convicted felon who has done time for armed robbery or murder, go for it: TELL
  • If your friend's partner is seeing a drug dealer/user, also TELL

You get the drift - do not get involved unless it is a life-threatening situation for your friend and their family.

Why shouldn't you tell a friend about their partner's affair?

Once again, it is none of your business. The relationship of two people is between them to sort out without your interference. However, apart from you not poking your nose into other people's affairs (no pun intended), there are rather more serious considerations you should take into account:

  • If you don't tell, chances are things will quieten down in time and your friend's marriage will be saved
  • What your friend doesn't know won't hurt them
  • Every marriage has its ups and downs; it's a natural ebb and flow type of situation
  • If there are children involved, chances are the cheating partner will do what's best for them in the end; if it means saving the marriage then that's what they'll do
  • If you tell, you will lose the friendship in the long run

So, if you have a friend whose partner is cheating on them at the moment, do nothing but be prepared to offer a sympathetic ear if needed.

When you SHOULD tell your friend their partner is cheating

When you've walked in on the affair taking place, so to speak, and can 100% vouch for the accuracy of your information. Most importantly, do tell your friend if you know that the offending partner is aware that you know ie. you've been face to face with all parties concerned. In that case, you may tell your friend because if you don't, you are risking losing that friendship. By keeping this a secret, you are taking the risk that your friend's partner - who knows the affair has been discovered/witnessed by you - might make a clean breast of it to your friend and also reveal that you have known, and this will be viewed as a betrayal by your friend.

Otherwise, remember to keep what you know to yourself.


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