mad men, don draper, cheating, marriage, unfaithful, jon hamm

Infidelity: To tell or not to tell?

If your partner was cheating would you want to know? Or, in another confusing scenario, are you already in possession of someone’s secret? A friend of yours is cheating or – worse – you know that your friend is being cheated on. Do you report them? Anyone? Who are we to judge?

Some of us have told friends when they have seen their husbands on dating apps. Others have stayed silent, feeling like morally compromised voyeurs. Because carrying other people’s stuff around is not a comfortable experience. We don’t want to know everything anymore. Those kinds of secrets are only compelling when you are a youthful idiot and little is at stake. Knowledge sits painfully – ignorance is now bliss. But still. If you knew about a bit of adultery happening on your doorstep, would you tell?

A study published by the saucy sounding Archives of Sexual Behaviour and recently highlighted by social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, decided to ask exactly that. And guess what? There seems to be a set of predictable patterns.

  1. We are very unlikely to grass on a friend who is being unfaithful to her spouse. We know.
  2. We are also not that likely to tell a friend that they are being cheated on.
  3. We are, apparently, exceedingly judgemental when it comes to lifestyle. We are more likely to “report cheaters who are being financially supported by their partners than cheaters who are providing financial support to someone else.” Now this is dodgy isn’t it? Our strange inner moral code will evaluate whether or not you are doing your ‘job’. And then take a dim view. And tell tales.

Other people’s relationships are complicated. Knowing things is complicated. This is complicated. The only thing that seems to be unarguable is that cheating compromises everybody: The shaggers, the spectators, the blisslessly ignorant. The rest is just politics in the end.

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