Calgary Sun

Calgary Sun

Tattle-tale

Give the cheater a chance to come clean about affair

by MEL RISDON

Calgary Sun, July 2, 2004

Let ’em squirm a little. That’s the opinion of a majority of Sun readers, polled since my last column brought up a very sensitive topic: What do you do after catching a friend or acquaintance red-handed with someone other than their known sweetheart?

Of the nearly 500 people who took part in our online Sun poll, most — 46% — believe you should tell the guilty party you know and give them the chance to come clean or you will.

Thirty-one percent say mind your own business and walk away; 13% would tell the person who’s being cheated on; and 5% believe that if it’s not a close friend, you should tell a third party (someone closer to the “victim”) and let them handle it. Only 4% would send an anonymous tip to the victim.

Even Josey Vogels, Canadian sex and relationship columnist and author of Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy (HarperCollins) agrees there’s no easy answer.

“It really depends on the scenario,” she says. “People interpret all sorts of things differently.”

Vogels sides with our Sun majority. “I would find an opportunity to tell the guilty party what I saw, let them know that it put me in a very uncomfortable position and leave it up to them to clear things up.”

She recounted a situation that had happened to her (included in her book).

“An acquaintance and I had both been hit on by another friend’s husband. The acquaintance wanted to tell, but I could tell her motivation was malicious. She wanted to stir things up.”

Vogels disagreed. She felt it would be more effective to talk to the betrayed wife about her relationship rather than simply ratting the guy out. “She had to get to the right time and place to realize the truth about him and finally leave him,” she concluded.

Among other insights, Vogels’ book also lists five questions you should ask yourself before deciding to tell:

1. Why do you want to tell? Are you motivated by a sincere desire to help, or do you get some kind of twisted pleasure out of stirring things up?

2. Will telling the truth hurt the person needlessly? For example, if you find yourself lip-locked with a friend’s boyfriend one night but you both agree it was a definite one-time mistake, telling might do more harm than good.

3. How serious is the betrayal? Is it a one-time case of bad judgment or a continuing affair?

4. Has your friend expressed suspicions about her partner’s bad behaviour? If she already senses her partner is cheating and you could confirm it, you should probably fill her in.

5. Will you be around to pick up the pieces?

And of course, there’s the Golden Rule. If your guy or girl was out doing the lip tango with someone else, you’d probably want to know. So just put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment before making a decision.

Copyright (c) 2004, The Calgary Sun, Sun Media Corporation