Outing someone for the sake of outing them is never a good idea, just ask Gawker.
But what happens when there are repercussions involved that affect the people you love? The ethics become much more grey.
Luckily, people have the internet to turn to in times of crisis. And while that statement is meant to be ironic, in the case of one utterly perplexed woman, it turned out to be true.
A woman who created a throwaway account on Reddit explains her predicament:
It was my colleague’s birthday yesterday. He is gay and wanted some of us to come out to a gay bar with him to celebrate. Even though I am straight, I LOVE going to gay bars (they’re so much fun and play better music!) so I was looking forward to the night. We went out for dinner first and my boyfriend joined us. He left before we went to the club since he had to work a night shift at the hospital, told me to have a good night and he would see me the next day.
The night was going well. We were drinking, dancing, having a good time, when I noticed my boyfriend’s father across the dance floor. I had to do a double take. Let me preface by saying that, while I wasn’t completely sober, I was in no way intoxicated at this point. I thought it was odd that he was here, because:
1. He is straight (or so I thought), married to his wife for 30 years, and they have three children together and
2. He lives an hour and a half away
He didn’t see me, but I watched him as he was laughing with another man and running his hand down his chest. Then they started making out intensely. I got sweaty and nauseous at the sight (not because he was kissing a man, but because he was cheating on his wife). I discreetly took some photos with my phone, just in case. I told my friend I wasn’t feeling well and had to go home.
I could barely sleep all night. I made sure to leave for work before my boyfriend got home from the hospital.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m literally at a loss right now.
That is certainly a doozy.
Comments poured in as you might expect — some said “You absolutely should tell him,” while others professed “You absolutely should not tell him, it’s none of your business.”
But one comment caught our eye (as well as the original poster’s eye) for it’s nuanced read of the dynamics at play.
This is they kind of guidance you usually have to fork over $75/hour for:
Let’s unpack this. There are several questions here.
Does your bf’s mother have the right to know?
Does your bf have the right to know? If he does have the right to know, should he hear it from his parents or from you?
Do you have a duty to tell your boyfriend?
I’m glad I’m not in your situation, and I honestly don’t know what I would do.
But I do think the bf’s mother absolutely deserves to know.
The rest of the questions are subjective. You know your relationship and your boyfriend. Only you can make that call.
But here’s another question, if you tell your bf, who then tells his mother, who in turn decides to forgive her husband… Would it have been worth it for hurting him with a situation that the parents have resolved?
What if his mother wants to process her feelings and do investigations of her own before telling her kids? Your boyfriend knowing will put pressure on her to react quickly before she’s ready and she might face judgement or pity if she decides to stay with him.
There are three relationships to consider here.
You and your bf – should you tell him a truth that you are not involved in and have no control over but that will still hurt him? Can you withhold this information and still retain that intimate bond and trust with him? Would he understand if he found out later that you knew all along but didn’t tell him?
Your bf and his mum – does she not have a right to choose what she tells her kids and when about her marriage?
Your bf and his father – if his wife forgives him in the end and they stay together, is it worth disrupting the father and son relationship?
Actually, while writing this, I decided I’d tell my bf. I wouldn’t be able to retain that intimacy while withholding such a big secret from him. I won’t set my relationship on fire to protect one that’s already going up in flames!
Good luck though, it’s going to be a rough ride.
PS. While we’re brainstorming, you could send everything you know including time, date, place, photos via a throwaway email account to your bf’s mum without telling your bf.
Or you could tell her face to face without telling your bf.
I wouldn’t go down this path due to my personal relationship dynamics but I can see them being options in different circumstances.
The doctor is in!
This question in particular stands out as a deciding factor: “Can you withhold this information and still retain that intimate bond and trust with him?”
And the woman thought so, too.
She responded to the advice:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You’ve provided me with so much logic and rationale for this entire situation.
I think I will tell his mother (whom I am close to) and I will tell my bf too. We just bought a house a couple of months ago and things have been great between us… I don’t want to risk losing what I have with him because I kept such a big secret. Our relationship is built on trust, honesty and communication; this is a big pill to swallow, but its something I think we can work through together.
I’m taking the next day to process everything, write down what I would like to say, and figure out who to tell first (my boyfriend or his mother). I need to be prepared for the fallout.
Hopefully Mom says, “Oh, we’ve been swinging for years, darling, but thanks for your concern!”
Do you think she’s making the right call by exposing what she learned?