Emily In Paris explores the burden of carrying someone else’s secret.
Warning: Spoilers for Emily In Paris Season 3 follow. Having secrets with friends is fun sometimes, but it’s a different story when the secret is something you wish you’d never known about. In Season 3, Episode 5 of Emily In Paris, Emily Cooper walks out onto a rooftop to see her friend Camille kissing an artist named Sophia. Camille is in a monogamous relationship with Gabriel, Emily’s downstairs neighbor, former fling, and very close friend. Completely by accident, Emily finds out her friend is cheating… so, what should she do now?
In the moment, Emily panics and leaves immediately, pretending like she never saw the kiss. But as the season goes on, it’s obvious this information weighs heavily on her, especially after Gabriel and Camille get engaged. Though they don’t ultimately end up getting married (Camille walks away at the altar), this secret may well be something Emily carries into future seasons of the show. Will she ever tell Gabriel what she knew? If she does, what will he think of her keeping it from him for so long?
According to therapists, there’s no one “right way” to navigate a situation like this. If you find out your friend is cheating — either because they tell you or you accidentally discover it, like Emily did — it can make you feel like you’re involved (even though it has nothing to do with you directly). “Knowing about cheating can feel heavy and uncomfortable because it makes you feel complicit,” Gabrielle Morse, LMHC, tells Elite Daily. If you’re also close with the person your friend is dating, like Emily is with Gabriel, there’s the additional burden of feeling like you’re betraying another person you care about.
Experts say it helps to recognize that you can’t directly change the outcome. “There is powerlessness here, as you can’t motivate someone to change their behavior until they are willing and ready,” Morse says. You’re also not at fault for your friend’s actions, even if you feel an understandable sense of guilt for keeping their secret.
Should You Confront Your Friend About Their Cheating?
When Emily tells her BFF Mindy that she knows about Camille’s affair, Mindy suggests staying out of it. “You’re already responsible for breaking up Cami and Gabrielle once,” she quips, referring to Emily’s affair with Gabriel in Season 1. In her opinion, it’s best for Emily to mind her own business.
Is this always the best approach, or is it ever worth addressing things with your friend? Family and relationship therapist Nicole Richardson says it depends on the situation. “If you know that this person struggles to accept feedback, they probably will not be interested in discussing this with you and will likely shut down quickly,” Richardson tells Elite Daily. “However, if this affair feels out of character for this person, it could be a good opportunity for your friend to talk about getting off track and stepping out of their values.”
TLDR; your pre-existing relationship matters. Keep in mind that it’ll likely be a tough conversation regardless of how you approach it. Before intervening, Morse recommends asking yourself the following questions: “Is this my business? What are the pros and cons of making it my business? What do I expect to come from this? If I bring it to my friend’s attention, what are realistic outcomes of the conversation?”
If you talk to your friend, be careful not to sound judgy, even if you’re upset. “Try to avoid starting questions with, ‘why,’” Richardson suggests. “‘Why’ immediately forces people to defend. It is better to use language like, ‘help me understand’ or ‘what happened when…’ Try to start with listening and understanding.” This doesn’t mean you have to validate their behavior — you’re simply creating an open dialogue for them to tell you where they’re coming from.
What If Your Friend Doesn’t Change Their Behavior?
In Emily’s case, she ultimately confronts Camille, telling her in Episode 10 that she knows about her affair. Camille dismisses her trysts with Sophia as a “fling” and subtly threatens Emily not to reveal anything. “Our secrets are what keep us close,” she says. “It’s over, just like you and Gabriel, right?” Emily and Gabriel’s affair in Season 1 happened while he was dating Camille, so there’s a pretty convoluted history between the three of them.
If, like Camille, your friend refuses to engage with you, Morse says it’s totally OK to set a boundary. “You can be honest about your own discomfort and create a boundary indicating that you don’t want to know this information and won’t talk about it,” she explains. You can’t stop them from doing something that’s their choice to engage in, but you can make a choice not to involve yourself any further.
Richardson echoes this, affirming that it’s OK to reconsider your relationship if the situation is weighing on you. “If you find that your friend is remorseful and wants to make things right, consider allowing them the chance to do so,” she says. “On the other hand, if they aren't bothered by hurting the feelings of others, it is important to reconsider your friendship.”
It’s unclear what Emily and Camille’s friendship will look like in future seasons, but this situation has left them in a tough spot. Emily needs to decide whether she values this relationship at the expense of her own feelings about the infidelity, or whether she needs to take a step back to preserve her own mental health. Considering Camille’s surprise pregnancy, which Gabriel reveals to Emily at the very end of the season, it’s obvious that things will only get more complicated from here.
Nicole Richardson, family and relationship therapist