It's one of the greatest moral quandaries of our time: If you know your best friend's partner is cheating, is it your responsibility to butt in and let your friend know? There's no singular, correct answer (which is why it's a moral quandary). So the best thing to do is find out what other people have done in this situation, and what happened as a result. Here's what happened for three people who told their best friends their partner was cheating.
How old are you? How old were you and everyone involved when this happened?
Man A: I'm 28. I was 25 when this happened and everyone was also around the same age.
Woman A: I'm 29. I was 27 when this happened. My best friend, let's call him Tom*, was 27 and his girlfriend, let's call her Rachel*, was 25.
Woman B: I'm 28. I was 27 when this happened. My best friend is Erin* and she's my age. Her boyfriend Chris* was a little older than her at the time, around 29.
What was your relationship like with your best friend?
Man A: We knew each other all through college. We were in the same major, the same fraternity, and wound up getting similar jobs in the same city after college. We were very close and definitely had each other’s backs and hung out together outside of just living together.
Woman A: Tom and I grew up together. He's my closest guy friend and our families knew each other for years. We went to high school together and stayed in touch during college. We don't live near each other but we see each other around the holidays or if we’re both home.
Woman B: We've been inseparable since middle school. We're the friends that have so many inside jokes it's annoying.
How did you view your friend's relationship before you found out about the cheating?
Man A: I didn't have any reason to distrust my friend's girlfriend. There are things in hindsight that I realize were issues, but I would say he seemed happy.
Woman A: I went to high school with Rachel, but she was a few grades below Tom and I, but I didn't know her very well. I knew Tom started dating her a year or so before this story happened, but most of their relationship I knew from pictures. I'd seen Tom several times since they started dating, but I met her once and she was somewhat standoffish. I shrugged it off, but didn't get a great feeling.
Woman B: I had my suspicions very early on the relationship. Erin never had good taste in men, but Chris was a huge douchebag from the start.
How'd you discover their partner was cheating on them?
Man A: I went out with some friends and their friends-of-friends and this guy started talking about leaving to meet up with a booty call. Everyone was trying to get him to stay, so he shows everyone her Facebook picture to be like, Look how hot she is. His friends thought she was sketchy, but his argument was that she was so hot, it was worth putting up with. When I saw the photo, I realized it was my roommate's girlfriend. I let the guy know that she's got a boyfriend. Everyone was like, "Oh sh*t!" I was speechless. I really didn't believe it. It felt like some wild coincidence at the time, but everyone in our industry knew each other, so it wasn't that crazy.
Woman A: Our town has one bar that everyone goes to when they come home for the holidays. I found myself there the night before Thanksgiving, along with a bunch of people from high school. Tom was sick at the time, but I spotted Rachel across the room making out with some guy that was definitely not Tom. She didn't see me there. I pointed it out to a few of my friends who were also shocked.
Woman B: Initially, it was little things. I would notice him being weird with his phone. We'd be out and he wouldn't pick up when she'd call. Once or twice at a party, I'd walk into a room where he was talking to some other girl and get that vibe… you know when you enter a room and you can tell you made someone stop talking? I got that vibe. Like I had caught them and the conversation was very terse and awkward. I knew he was up to something. Bad vibes, always. Eventually, a friend of mine came to me and confided in me that she slept with him more than once. She was not one of Erin's friends, they were more like acquaintances. I don't speak to her anymore at this point, but even then I was livid. I felt partly responsible, since they had met once at a party my roommate and I had. It still makes me mad now. She told me because she felt guilty and cut it off with him, and I guess this was her way of clearing her conscience.
How long before you finally told them?
Man A: I waited a few days because I was still processing things. I found out on a Friday and I think I told him on a Sunday.
Woman A: After the holiday, when everyone left our hometown and was back home. At the time I witnessed it, I assumed that she and Tom broke up, and I just hadn't heard the news yet. I thought maybe I just happened to witness her rebound make-out session, so the last thing I wanted to do was to message Tom to rub his nose in it if I was mistaken.
Woman B: The next day. I went over to her place and I feel like I blurted it all out as soon as I walked through the door.
Why did you decide to tell them?
Man A: It fell to me. I was the closest to him, and the one that put it together. It felt like my responsibility. I knew I couldn't just let him keep going like this.
Woman A: I saw a picture of them pop up on Instagram and it seemed like they never broke up at all. It was a really hard decision to make. I had no proof other than a few other friends who saw what I saw, but they weren’t friends with Tom. I went back and forth on it a lot. There was at least one group chat weighing out the pros and cons. In the end, I knew it was the right thing to do, even if he didn't believe me.
Woman B: She deserved to know. It was such a black-and-white situation for me.
How did they react?
Man A: He thought I was joking at first. Then he got really angry and thought I must be wrong. Our mutual friend who was there confirmed it. I think it was tough for him to swallow, since other people knew before him, even though they had just witnessed it by accident. He thought we must have gotten her confused, but we confirmed it was her Facebook. At that point, I think a lot of things fell into place for him and he accepted it.
Woman A: It was over text and he didn't say much. I told him that his relationship wasn't my business but that I saw this go down and if the situation were reversed, I would want him to tell me. He just thanked me for it and asked if I was sure. I didn't hear from him for a while after that.
Woman B: She cried. I think she knew he was not a great guy deep down but didn't want to face the truth. She knew I didn't like him, so the few other times I tried to tell her he seemed shady, she thought it was just me with my own prejudices. But she knew this time that I was right.
How did the accused react?
Man A: I never asked a lot of questions, but I know it came out that there was one other guy she was seeing casually. I don't think she really tried to deny it, but I don't know for sure.
Woman A: I heard that she denied it and accused me of being jealous and wanting to be with Tom. It was patently untrue and he should have known that. What hurt was that I haven't dated a lot and she used that as evidence that I was always in love with Tom. I don't have great self-esteem and that bothered me.
Woman B: Apparently, he said it was bullsh*t but basically walked away from the conversation and never tried to contact her again. He was the worst.
Are they still together?
Man A: Definitely not. He got far away from her. For what it's worth, I hear she's a very different person now.
Woman A: He believed her and they stayed together a few months before I finally heard from Tom again. He reached out and apologized. Apparently, he caught her Snapchatting with some other guy and ended things.
Woman B: Hell no.
Are you two still friends?
Man A: Yeah, we're no longer roommates, we both live with our significant others now but we've stayed good friends. I don't know if this brought us closer or anything, though.
Woman A: We are, although I don't think we're as close as we were before.
Woman B: Yes. I think she trusts my gut more now, which is good since she dates a lot of crappy guys. I really like the guy she's with now, though.
Do you regret telling them?
Man A: Absolutely not.
Woman A: I don't think I do. Although it was unfortunate, he would've figured things out eventually even without my help. Maybe if I hadn't told him when I did, she would've just gotten away with it the second time.
Woman B: No. That's what friends are supposed to do. I had her back even if she didn't understand it yet.
*Names have been changed.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.