Dear Miss Kitty,
I saw a man I know downtown “cuddling” in a restaurant booth with a woman who is not his wife. Normally I wouldn’t have said anything about it, but the man and his wife have been friends of ours for years. In fact just a few weeks ago they came over for dinner with the usual crowd and nothing seemed amiss. I think I should tell her and my husband says to stay out of it. All I can think is that if she were me, I would want to know. Would you tell her?
B, SANTA BARBARA
Unfortunately, noble is as noble does and not even a box of chocolate is going to make that any easier to hear. What is one person’s ethical and moral personal code isn’t anothers. Even a definition of what is the greater good is open to interpretation and is subjective at the best of times. I feel great empathy for the dynamic you find yourself in because there really is no clear cut right answer and it is an awkward position to be in.
First of all just because you say you‘d “like to know if it were you” doesn’t mean that is a clear ticket to taking action. That you would want to know presupposes that their marriage is just like yours and your exact thoughts about straying outside the marriage are also shared. Even when we think we know a couple very well we cannot presume to know what their personal relationship is really like.
So under close scrutiny the golden rule appears to be a little bit flawed, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doesn’t take into account that what we perceive is best for ourselves isn’t necessarily what someone else believes, wants or needs. The rule is only a guideline but in relationships lines are projected all over the place and some we see and some we don’t. We have to tread carefully- so as not to trip in what might be a line in the sand for us, and merely just a harmless little hopscotch pattern to someone else.
Years ago there was a time when I was the one that was in the dark and someone made sure I got the information about the “cuddling downtown” that was going on. Although I was grateful to have my suspicions confirmed I wasn’t in a position to do much about it. I am sure that was a surprise to the “angel” that clued me in and my apparent lack of action became a disappointment to them-so if you choose to be an “angel” detachment from the outcome is paramount.
It is also possible that your friend may not receive the information in the spirit and kindness in which you want to convey it. It is possible that “the messenger” may not be killed, but the relationship you now enjoy with her might come into some confusion. You have to be willing to accept that your friendship could become strained or even meet its demise – after you tell her what you think you know. Taking the lid off a can of worms really does release them to do as they will – and those worms can turn into rattlesnakes in a heartbeat.
Darling B, Boys and Girls; the Law of Unintended Consequences is wide awake when information is being shared – especially when the information has been nesting in the darker parts of what we as humans are capable of. I wish I could give you a straight shot on this one but your decision to act (or not) is as personal as your sense of what you believe is right and wrong. If you do decide to tell someone something very personal to them, keep the discussion to what you saw and heard and don’t speculate or judge their reaction to the information – or project your reaction into the situation. If you choose not to say anything (and remember no one died here) know that the decision to keep your silence is no reflection on the eventual outcome of their relationship. Even doing nothing can have negative consequences for the relationship with her, since keeping secrets is a burden none of us need or appreciate keeping.
Have a naughty day!