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What to do when someone you know is being cheated on

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Jun 07, 2024 9:14 pm

We all dread the thought of being cheated on. But what about the situation of witnessing someone you know being betrayed in a relationship? Do you speak up and risk causing trouble, or stay silent?

That was the issue that a certain Reddit user experienced when he exposed his co-worker's affair with another officemate to both his wife and the management.

On the platform, the user detailed, "I have an officemate, everyone knows he's married. He's cheating on his wife with a co-worker. Bago lang 'yung girl sa company pero alam niya na kasal yung lalaki. 'Di ko talaga maintindihan 'yung lakas ng loob nilang dalawa. Tapos itong si guy, pinagmamalaki pa sa aming mga lalake kung gaano ka-atat daw sa kanya si girl, nagke-kwento pa ng ginagawa nila, sobrang proud."

He eventually took photos and a video of their affair when they were out having drinks with their other officemates. At first, he wasn't sure what to do with the evidence, but his fiancé encouraged him to tell the wife because "tolerating it is just as bad."

After anonymously reporting the act to both the man's wife and their company's human resource management, the Reddit user later revealed that the girl who the man was cheating with was fired from the company as she was not yet a regular employee. He also found out that she actually had a boyfriend abroad. 

"My co-worker na guy, however, was able to keep his job. Matagal na siya sa company, but he's suspended. I think he needs the suspension though, cause balita sa office, pinalayas daw siya ng asawa niya and he's currently living with his brother, so siguro 'di din siya makakapag-trabaho ng maayos if ever," the user wrote.

"To be honest, gusto kong maawa sa guy pero 'di ko magawa. He got what he deserved, our actions have consequences, if you can't take the consequence then simply don't do it," he stressed.

To tell or not to tell

While exposing infidelities appears to be as simple as revealing the act to the affected partner, clinical psychologist Rainier Ladic cautioned that the steps can vary on whether or not you are personally connected with either of the persons involved in the relationship.

"If you personally know the individual who is doing the act of cheating, self-regulation is the key in maintaining constructive communication, most especially if the message to be relayed will stir emotional arousal," Ladic said in an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe.

He suggested talking to the person you suspect of cheating first. This will "prevent making erroneous conclusions" and "potentially damage a relationship" over something that may be misunderstood.

"This step is also important to give a chance to the person to come clean and for them to do it themselves. Give enough time for the person to do this but with a certain time limit. This condition will give an idea of divulging information to the other party without the actual consent of the person who is cheating," Ladic said.

Through this, you'll be able to prevent yourself from "being too involved with the relationship" and allowing the other party to resolve the issue with their partner.

Relationship coach Shaun Chiong de Joya echoed the importance of proper communication if the cheater is your friend.

"Remain calm as possible and refrain from jumping to conclusions. Be curious, not judgmental. Ask yourself what kind of support are you willing to provide. The goal is to understand the person and help the person end the cycle of cheating," de Joya said.

"Let your friend know how the situation is making you feel. We know it's an uncomfortable position. Be honest and share those feelings with your friend. If your integrity is being compromised, then tell it upfront. Set your boundaries of what you will do and not do," he added.

On the other hand, if you are close with the person who is being cheated on, Ladic said that you can directly talk with them as "the closeness of your connection with the person could already serve as a ground of trust where such information will be crucial."

While exposing the cheater seems to be a valiant act, others choose to be silent on the issue. Although this can lessen the risk of getting yourself involved in the issue, psychologist Alleana Fuentes said, "We may need to ask ourselves if our silence about it enables the behavior that is wrong, and how much that might be affecting the people directly and indirectly involved."

If you do decide to report the act to the higher-ups, Fuentes noted that you must be guided by protocols in the workplace for reporting such behavior, as many companies may vary in their policies for this.

"In all of these courses of action, what matters most is how we communicate about it. We need to communicate about this assertively, backed up with the facts and our genuine intentions so that we can hold people accountable for their behaviors," she said.

Facing the consequences

Cheating on someone is always a choice, and it can lead to several negative consequences if one chooses to go down that route.

Em Guevara, an empowerment and love coach, noted how infidelity is an "ethical issue with varied effects on the people concerned."

"A consideration is if the person cheating is married, then there are possible consequences to the marriage, and if there are children involved. If you are the person being cheated on, finding out may leave you at the crossroads of whether you will stay with your partner, or leave this person who betrayed you," she said.

According to Dr. Angelo Subida, a psychotherapist who has been helping couples heal from infidelity for over 15 years, when cheaters have their affair exposed, they may experience feelings of guilt and shame for betraying their partner's trust and causing emotional pain.

"Once the cheating is exposed, trust within the relationship is likely to be severely damaged or broken, leading to potential long-term consequences," he said.

"The revelation of infidelity can lead to relationship breakdown, divorce, or separation, impacting the cheater's future and their family dynamics," he added.

They can also face social stigma or judgment from friends, family, and acquaintances and may grapple with depression, anxiety, or self-esteem issues due to their actions.

On the side of those who were cheated on, Subida said that they often experience "a range of emotions, including shock, anger, sadness, betrayal, and confusion, which can lead to significant emotional distress." Because they were betrayed by who they thought was faithful to them, they may also struggle with trust issues in future relationships, making it challenging to establish healthy connections.

"Discovering infidelity can have a detrimental impact on the victim's self-esteem and self-worth, leading to feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness," Subida said.

He added that the situation could also worsen to the point where the stress and emotional toll of being cheated on can impact the victim's physical health, potentially leading to issues such as insomnia, changes in appetite, or other stress-related symptoms.

Ways to heal from the betrayal

Healing from a partner's betrayal is brutal, but not impossible with the proper help. Guevara told L!fe that one thing victims can do is to "accept your feelings and know that it takes time to get over an unfaithful mate or partner."

"Don’t seek revenge, because even if it may give you temporary satisfaction, it will keep you in a state of anger and will not allow you to heal," she urged.

"Try to take care of yourself; after the initial shock has passed, try to eat healthy foods, sleep regular hours, get some exercise each day, and have some fun," Guevara stressed. "Seek help and support—like from a counselor, a life coach, or wise friends—because you don’t have to go through this challenge alone."

De Joya recommended setting realistic expectations in relationships, which you can communicate early on to your partner, but also be prepared for challenges. He advised prioritizing self-care and keeping communication channels open.