Infidelity is front and center these days. Ahnold has made sure of that.
It seems that every six months or so, another story like this hits the news. Eliot. Tiger. John. Arnold.
At book club last night, the question came up of whether Maria could have known about this love-child. And if she didn’t (and for what it’s worth, I’m guessing she didn’t), someone must have, right? There were probably people in the inner circle who knew and didn’t tell her, don’t you think?
What about her friends? Did any of them know? Did they keep it from her? We’ll probably never have an answer, but it’s a question I always find myself pondering in the wake of these scandals.
One of the hardest lessons in friendship I ever learned came some years ago, when I found out my friend’s boyfriend was cheating on her. The boyfriends was a classmate and friend, too, though not as dear to me as my pal. But I was young and stupid. I didn’t want to rock the boat, or upset the guy. I didn’t want to be involved, period. So I kept my mouth shut, just as all my classmates did. It seemed most everyone knew, except my friend.
And when she found out (and all these years later I can’t remember how she found out), she said to me: “I know you must not have known, because you would have told me.”
Never have I felt like a worse friend than in that moment. Two years later, when I was led to believe another’s friend boyfriend was cheating, I told her. Turns out I was wrong—or so he claimed—but I earned that friend’s unending trust and loyalty in the moment I shared that difficult news.
I will never forget my friend telling me that she knew I would have been honest with her. That I was such a good friend I wouldn’t have let her suffer the pain and humiliation that she did. And I do regret not telling her. But I also know that I was young and stupid and scared of the wrath of those I would be outing.
My friend was not Maria Shriver and her boyfriend was no Arnold Schwarzenegger. But I bet the fear of being the whistle-blower was the same in the former first couple’s circle as it was with my friends, if only on a grander scale. It’s hard to deliver bad, life-changing news. Especially when being the honest one could come back to bite you in the ass.
From what I’ve heard from readers, the ethics of this issue are a gray area. I once wrote that telling a friend when a significant other is cheating is a must, but you didn’t all agree. I thought it was black and white, you all thought not. There’s always the concern that she won’t believe you or think you are spreading “lies” for selfish reasons. If she finds out and decides to stay with him anyway, she may be too humiliated around you to maintain the friendship. There are circumstances to consider.
So I ask now, if you know a friend is getting cheated on, do you tell? Always? Sometimes? Never? Discuss.