Swiping on the apps is all fun and games until you see someone you happen to know. "Uh oh," you might think. "Do I swipe right? Is this awkward?" No, it's not, because what's truly awkward is when you see someone on the apps who you happen to know because they are in a relationship. Even more awkward? When they are in a monogamous relationship with your good friend. Does "If you see something, say something," apply when you see a friend's boyfriend or girlfriend on a dating app?
If you've ever found yourself in this situation, the good news is that more often than not, there's a totally innocent explanation for it. People are smart, and for the most part, people know that having an affair via a dating app isn't the wisest of ideas. I recently saw a good friend of mine who is most definitely not cheating on his girlfriend on an app because he never deleted his profile. I also recently heard a salacious story about a someone's boyfriend being discovered on an app because he was messaging an actual friend of his girlfriend's — something that is obvious not so sneaky. It became clear very quickly that there was some major catfishing going on. (Another thing I will never understand.)
But what if these situations had turned out to be different? What if they weren't so obviously technological glitches or catfishers? Telling a friend your saw their SO on the apps is a risky move. You're either uncovering the fact they are dating a partner who is cheating, or you're running the risk of offending them by even considering the fact their special person might be a liar.
I thought about what I would want to happen if my bestie saw the person I was dating on the apps, or worse, got a message from him. There's a part of me that's overly cautious and would want a friend to tell me, just in case there's some sociopath-level cheating happening that I was unaware of. (Stranger things have happened.) The other part of me would likely get grumpy towards the bearer of bad news, and I would definitely wonder if my friend had doubts about my relationship.
I spoke to Lane, 24, about what she decided to do when she found herself in a similar situation recently. "I was just scrolling mindlessly when I saw his profile," she said. "It was definitely him, the photo was unmistakeable and all the info added up."
She felt exactly as I imagine I would feel, "I was really confused and surprised," she says. "This particular friend and her boyfriend had had a pretty tumultuous relationship, and I'd seen them fight in public before, so I was a little bit apprehensive about telling her right away. I didn't want to cause any more trouble, but as far as I knew, they were doing better, which made me even more apprehensive."
Lane also wasn't sure if her friend had an open relationship. She ultimately decided to swipe right, only to see if he had been active on the app. They didn't match, and Lane hoped that it was his old profile that he just hadn't taken down. I think she was probably right, as it's certainly possible for an old profile to keep circulating if a person has only deleted the app off their phone, not the actual profile itself.
"I ended up not telling my friend," says Lane. "I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I did screenshot the profile and I sent it to another one of our mutual friends who told me it was probably an old profile. She suggested I keep it to myself."
It's totally possible that you're seeing someone's old profile, or that your friend has an open relationship that you aren't aware of. But just as every relationship is unique, so is every friendship. Go with your gut instinct.
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