Please Advise

How do I tell my best friend I think his girlfriend's cheating?

Each week the inbox of our venerable advice columnist, Miss Information, is flooded with queries. And although she makes a valiant effort, she cannot answer them all. To deal with the surplus, we've decided to turn to you. So, don your spectacles and help this woman out. You can give her advice in the comments below, or, if you'd like to share what you wrote with your friends, on our Facebook page.


Dear Nerve,

My best guy friend has been dating his current girlfriend for almost a year. He’s totally head over heels about her — he’s told me several times that he even thinks she’s the one. Here’s the problem: the other night I was at a bar with my friends and I saw her kissing another guy.

I feel like I have to tell my friend, but I don’t know how to do it. At the very least, the news will devastate him, and he might take his anger out on me. But he’s also so enamored with his girlfriend that I worry he won’t believe me, and instead accuse me of some kind of petty jealousy. (Or, worse still, that she’ll say I’m lying when he confronts her.) I don’t have any designs on stealing him for myself; I only want to be a good friend. What should I do?

— Just a Friend

Commentarium (27 Comments)

Oct 20 11 - 12:07am

Have someone else tell him, or let her know that you saw her kissing another man. Don't tell him yourself. You're right that it will only end with you looking/feeling badly.

Oct 20 11 - 12:44am

It depends on how close you are. Every straight male/female relationship has its own set of rules that the people involved have figured out for themselves. I know that if I told my best straight male friend his girlfriend was cheating he would never assume I was doing so because I was jealous. Hell, it would probably take a lot to convince either of us that the other believed we should be more than friends.

I guess what I'm saying is, jealousy as a factor isn't inherent in straight intra-gender relationships. Maybe the reason you're worried that other people will see jealousy in your accusation is because they'd be slightly right. IF that is true, (and that is a big IF, something you need to consider and come to terms with before you break this news) you can't be the one to tell him. As KL said, approach a mutual friend. If on the other hand you evaluate your own feelings and find that he truly isn't more than a friend to you, tell him yourself and stick to your guns. You say he's your best guy friend, so if it is truly platonic he should trust you more than you're giving him credit for.

Sep 18 12 - 3:36pm

I like this post, except that I don't agree with the "mutual friend" advice. This is only your business if you are a good enough friend of his that you are able to tell him what you saw. So just do it. Say that you don't want to get involved in his business, you don't know what kind of arrangements he has with this girlfriend, but since you had thought they were exclusive, this is what you saw and it surprised you. You thought he would want to know. He might turn on you, but "nope" is right, if he's really your friend you have reason to hope for the best.

Oct 20 11 - 1:32am

Tell him, and be prepared for him to not want to believe it. You're not his friend if you don't tell him.

Oct 20 11 - 2:00am

I have had this happen. I told a girl I knew that her BF was sleeping with other girls and running around. I wasn't lying, and he was cheating. She didn't believe me at first. But inception worked. He eventually confessed after she pressed him about his texts. Worth it. It sucked that she didn't believe me, but I felt better having told her.
What kind of friend are you if you don't asap? She can be a health risk...
Call him over, tell him its an emergency. Tell him you care about him and you dont' want to hurt him and you have hard news for him. Then tell him your around for him as support. Then tell him. Then shut up. Wait for his reaction. Keep shutting up unless he asks you questions. Don't answer them if they are just turning the knife. Thats about it.

Oct 20 11 - 7:53am

Talk to her. Let her know that you saw her and wasn't sure what to make of it and that you fee like your friend should know. She should be the one to tell him, not you.

Oct 20 11 - 8:19am

Next time, take a picture! Grainy cell phone images never lie.

You should tell him, but even if he believes you and confronts her, don't be surprised if he decides to stay with her anyway and your friendship dwindles. The hardest part of these situations isn't revealing someone's crappy behavior, or facing the anger aimed at the messenger, it's realizing that people you care about are willing to live with it because they are so in 'love.'

Oct 20 11 - 10:43am

This post is so spot on. I'm witnessing this with my sister-in-law right now. My brothers-in-law actually got pictures of her husband cheating, and had a sitdown with their sister (with whom they were both extremely close). Initially she was very grateful, and strongly considered divorcing him. However, she's since been working on reconciling with the cheating husband (they do have 2 kids together, so it's understandable)...but in the process she's basically shut out her entire family (brothers, my wife, the parents, etc.). Still, I don't think my brothers-in-law would do anything differently. The situation was so toxic before, there's no way they couldn't have told her.

So the harsh lesson is that you should tell him, but be prepared for the worst. Sometimes life sucks like that.

Oct 20 11 - 9:06am

Suppose the situation was reversed. Say you have a boyfriend you love very much, and your friend says he saw your boyfriend kissing another girl. Would you believe him? Would you have wanted to know? Or would you think your friend was lying and had some other agenda? This should help you decide if this subject should be broached.

Oct 20 11 - 10:17am


Oct 20 11 - 11:15am

If you can get proof, do it, but don't go full detective mode and follow her everywhere. It will back fire badly if she catches on. Pay attention if she says anything suspicious or if you think she's lying. Your friend is in love and will deny she's cheating, but he will remember the little things like that after you tell him, and he'll feel like an idiot for not noticing earlier. It's going to suck, but good luck.

Oct 20 11 - 11:37am

I vote for tell him. Gently, without judgment or rancor, just report on what you saw, and be really clear to him that whatever he decides to do -- or not do -- about the situation, you support him. "I'm just doing my due diligence; I need to tell you this. We can talk about it if you want, or not talk about it if you want." Then never bring it up again. As some people have mentioned, he may well decide that it's something he's going to overlook, so you want to make sure he doesn't feel like you're going to think less of him for keeping her around.

Oct 21 11 - 2:40pm

Great advice!

Oct 21 11 - 11:39pm

To me, the advice to get involved communicating with the girl is a big mistake. Know who your friend is and don't divide your loyalties. If you were a guy friend you would give him the option to hear about what you saw because it concerned you and you look out for your friends.
If his GF is honest with him, he won't be surprised.

Oct 20 11 - 12:02pm

Honestly, telling him could seriously hurt your friendship. Not telling him could be worse.

It's sort of chickenshit, but maybe create an anonymous email address and email him. Or type out a brief letter. Be clear about what you saw and don't interpret it too much (was it a passionate kiss or drunken silliness?)

Oct 20 11 - 12:12pm

Tell her what you saw. She might not be comfortable continuing to cheat if she knows someone so close to her boyfriend knows--and if she does keep it up, she's pretty damn dumb (and will get caught eventually, anyway). I don't think going directly to the boyfriend will do anything positive, though... not if he's as in love with her as the writer says. He's going to automatically jump to her defense and get suspicious of the writer.

Oct 20 11 - 12:44pm

You know what you know. Expect him to be devastated. It's probably the right thing to do.

Oct 20 11 - 1:00pm

I think you ought to approach her. It's possible there's more going on than you're aware of (I have no idea what that could be, but you should know a little more before you say something that we all know will devastate him). You witnessed a single incident of kissing...maybe that's all it was. Fueled by alcohol, maybe she just made a mistake. Let her know that you know and that you're not going to let her hurt your friend. If he really is a close friend then you should stick your neck out, but if he was just a casual friend I'd recommend you mind your own business. I know from experience that getting involved in this kind of stuff can get messy.

Oct 20 11 - 2:29pm

I totally disagree. Unless she's the kind of person who kisses people on the lips when she greets them or something, I don't think there's going to be a "reason" for what she did. If you tell her before you tell him, you give her time to come up with enough bullshit to defend herself if you tell him in the future. Or she could go to him and say, "I think LW is jealous of me," and then the accusation will just seem to validate that. Cheaters are often great manipulators--don't give her the chance.

Oct 20 11 - 5:00pm

Also, why does this keep getting pushed further and further down pg1?

Oct 22 11 - 12:36am

A good friend will always tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. The guy needs to hear that his girlfriend is kissing someone else. The consequences for the friendship are irrelevant. In fact, not telling him because you value your friendship over telling him what he needs to hear is to put your own interests ahead of your friends. It's selfish.

Oct 22 11 - 7:21am

If you are sure, then you should tell him. Tell him the facts, and just the facts. You were out, you saw her, you saw her kissing someone else, and that's it. Let him do with this knowledge what he will, but that's his decision.
Leave out the judgement (I know that's hard to do ), because for all you know, he may already know about this. They may decide to work it out. Years from now they may be together and happy and you don't want to be the one who said all those horrible things about the love of his life. This way you simply reported what you saw.

Oct 23 11 - 10:35am

If truly dis guy is ur friend and u have an evidence to Back what u saw up, go ahead and let him know bt if there is no any evidence keep ur mouth sort until u have an evidence cos he won't believe u and he might be thinking dt mayb u want to snatch his girlfriend.

Oct 31 11 - 7:59pm

Why would you tell him? He will find out eventually...

Nov 20 11 - 2:34pm

Thanks for spending time on the computer (wriitng) so others don't have to.

Nov 21 11 - 2:42pm

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Nov 24 11 - 2:15pm

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