All Woman

Should you tell your friend her husband is cheating?

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 20, 2012    

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SO you have been best friends since primary school, you have shared in each other's joys and sorrows, you stayed on the telephone three quarters of the night listening to her cry and comforting her after she had the abortion she could tell no one else about, in fact, you were the maid-of-honour at her wedding.

You'd think that with that close bond, you would be able to tell her anything. But this shocker has you wondering. Her husband's cheating, and you're in two minds about whether to meddle and tell her, or leave well enough alone.

One expert believes in keeping the information to yourself, unless there's a serious threat.

"I don't think you should get yourself caught up in that because somewhere along the line life has a way of exposing secrets and it is best sometimes to let it play itself out," clinical psychologist Pearnel Bell told All Woman. "Good friendships have been broken up because the friend may not have the reaction you were expecting — that you were trying to help them, and they may think that you are lying and that could break up that relationship."

Bell said when persons are not ready to accept secrets they may go into shock and when they are in shock they usually go into denial.

"And when they go into denial it can backfire on that person (friend) and they now begin to make attributions and the attribution they are going to make is that 'maybe you are jealous of my relationship', 'maybe you see a good thing going and you want to break it up'," she explained.

She said it's only appropriate for a best friend to come out and say 'this is what I know', when withholding the information is detrimental to the friend.

"It is a ticklish situation, but if it is of a detrimental nature and you feel that there is the likelihood of death occurring then that is when that secret should be broken. Beyond that secrets have a way of coming out and sometimes you don't want to get caught in the middle as that could create further difficulty for the person who may not want to know those secrets."

But women like Gloria Treasure, a hairstylist, said it's not all cut and dry, and it depends on the friendship.

"I would want her to tell me if the tables were turned and so I would want to tell her," Treasure said. "Eventually she would find out and then she would be very upset with me if she knows that I knew and never said anything to her."

Patricia Gayle, a store clerk, shared Treasure's view.

"Suppose it's a situation where he was propositioning me? If she found out then she would say it's because I liked the attention why I didn't say anything to her about it," she reasoned. "That would destroy our friendship. So I think I would want to tell her. Plus she deserves better than that doggish behaviour."

And, added Kimani Walker, it's important to consider things like the impact his cheating is having on the friend' life.

"She would need to know, so she can protect herself, for example, if he's having sex outside without protection. She would need to know so she can make the choice to be with him. I think every woman should be allowed to decide, to know what's happening with the person she's supposed to be in a relationship with."

Said Bell: "I heard somebody once said 'I am the bearer of bad news' and that itself is a guilt trip. When the situation escalates out of control people begin to have you up. And so you find that persons will have 'revelation remorse', where they have revealed a secret and now become remorseful over it."

Bell said everytime persons are going to make a decision in making a revelation they should ask themselves 'what is the better good?'

"And that is a good way to measure 'am I to do it or not?'," she said. "And once the better good is established then go ahead. Use that as a decision rule — I think we would then be able to determine whether or not to make this revelation, and then we would not end up with revelation remorse because we understand that at the end of the day this is the better good."

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