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How To Respond When Your Friend Tells You They Cheated On Their Partner

Don't minimize what they did.
How To Respond When Your Friend Tells You They Cheated On Their Partner

"May sasabihin ako sa'yo...I cheated on..." There's a chance you've heard some version of this sentence at least once in your life, when a friend confided in you about a time they cheated on a partner. It's also a situation we see *a lot* in TV shows and movies. For instance, remember when Carrie kissed Aidan in the second Sex and the City movie? And yes, she was already married to Mr. Big when it happened. Here's a clip to help you refresh your memory

In the scene, Samantha tells Carrie that, unlike when Steve cheated on Miranda by having sex with another woman, the writer's shared kiss with her ex was a mistake that Mr. Big didn't have to know about. Because it was just a kiss...right? 

How to respond when a friend tells you they're cheating

As supportive as you want to be, minimizing an affair or a cheating experience is *not* something you should be doing—even if it's tempting to be nonchalant about it. In an exclusive interview, we reached out to Dr. Mary Daryl Joyce Lindo-Calleja to know more about how you can be good friend when this comes up.

No matter what the situation is, it's always good to "initially listen without judgement". Let your friend express their emotions. Allowing them to "vent can make [their] negative emotions more bearable." This doesn't necessarily mean that you agree with their actions; it just provides a safe space for your friend to process the situation. Feeling heard and understood can help make them feel better. 


Once your friend asks for your opinion, tell them how you really feel about cheating, especially if it's not something you agree with. According to Dr. Lindo-Calleja, "Honesty is integral in every friendship." 

If your friend feels guilty about the situation, acknowledge that "feelings of guilt are indeed a difficult emotion to deal with." Moreover, it might be good to point out that the fact that he or she feels guilty or remorseful means they're aware that they've caused another person pain in the process. This means that the guilt "may remain or intensify if the situation continues." 

Deciding to end the affair or tell their partner is undeniably difficult—someone will get hurt—but it can make the emotional load lighter, says Dr. Lindo-Calleja.

Your role in all of this is to listen and respond with an open heart. Here are some statements you can say to a friend who needs your support:

  1. "I see that this is difficult for you."
  2. "You can tell me how you feel and just like before, I will just be here to listen."
  3. "You can always call me if you need to talk."

Dr. Mary Daryl Joyce Lindo-Calleja is a consultant of The Medical City, in Ortigas Pasig City; a fellow of the Philippine Psychiatric Association and the Philippine Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; and a member of the International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions.


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