This has to be one of the most difficult situations I was ever faced with. My best friend Doreen* had a cheating husband, but I never told her. It almost cost us our friendship.
Doreen and I grew up together. We both went to the same primary school, and were best friends from the tender age of seven. As we grew up, we shared many important milestones together.
We both started dating around the age of sixteen, graduated from high school in the same year and began working. She became a legal receptionist, and I trained as a teacher’s aid.
When we were about nineteen, Doreen and I both met the great “loves of our life”. My future husband was named George* – he was kind, shy and frankly a little nerdy.
Doreen’s future husband Ian* was very different. Ian was confident, loud and liked “the finer things” in life. He had a flashy car, and a good job as a property lawyer.
I was truly happy for Doreen though – I was her maid of honour, and she was mine. Our lives followed much the same pattern, with a marriage, two kids each and family homes.
When we were about fifty though, I discovered a secret that almost ruined my lifelong friendship with Doreen. I found out that her husband Ian was a cheater, and a rat…
You see, Ian was helping George and I to settle the finances when we downsized our family home. One day, I had an appointment at Ian’s office to collect our final papers.
I arrived early, as I always do. Ian wasn’t in his office when I knocked on the door, so I waited in the reception. When Ian ran over twenty minutes late, I went looking around the office building.
It was after hours, so the office was fairly quiet. I could hear some feint noises coming from a corner room, so I thought Ian might be in there. I quietly knocked on the door.
To my horror, it creaked open and there was Ian locked in a passionate embrace with a younger looking woman. I was ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED! Somehow, Ian and his awful scarlet woman did not even notice me!
I left the office as quickly as I could, feeling sick to my stomach. How long had this been going on? Would Ian realise he’d been “caught”? What would I tell Doreen!?
How GUT-WRENCHING for my best friend! She would be DEVASTATED! Ian and Doreen had shared a life together, and THIS was how he dared repay her? God, I was furious.
Soon as I got home, I relayed my shocking find to George… But he had a totally different perspective. “You can’t tell Doreen”, he said flatly. “This will break her heart”.
Doreen’s health hadn’t been well, and her eldest son had been giving her some grief. George worried that this affair would send Doreen over the edge.
“Besides, you don’t know the details”, George warned me. “This could be a one-time thing, or maybe Doreen knows more than we expect?”
Well, now I was torn. My gut feeling had been to tell Doreen of course! I never doubted that was the right thing to do. Slowing down though, I weighed up all the “pros and cons”.
The next time I saw Doreen was for coffee just two days after the “incident” in Ian’s office. She wasn’t feeling well – she seemed so stressed and flat.
“Anyway, enough about me”, Doreen said after discussing the latest problems with her son and her health. “What’s new with you? Has Ian settled all the paperwork on your house?” It was now or never.
“…………..Yes,” I said. That was all. I know, I chickened out! To this day, I blame myself for being such a gutless wonder. “Everything is fine!”
Of course, a year later Doreen discovered Ian’s affair through her own means and it was devastating. Ian had been “carrying on” with a graduate lawyer for some time, and thought he was “in love”.
When Doreen realised that I’d had “suspicions” much earlier on, she was heartbroken. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she begged. “Now I feel even more foolish… Everyone knew except me”.
In time though, my best friend forgave me and she divorced her ungrateful, wretched husband. But I will probably never forgive myself for giving her an extra year’s worth of life with that cheater, Ian.
My advice to anyone else in this situation? The truth hurts, but if you have a stable friendship, I’m sure anyone would appreciate knowing the reality about their cheating partner. Don’t you?
Would you warn a friend if their partner was cheating? Or would you worry about the impact on your friendship? What if your friend didn’t believe you?
*Names changed to protect privacy