Of all the unfortunate surprises you could face while swiping away on your quest for digital love (like, say, spotting your ex), one of the worst can be coming across the partner of someone you love. It’s not only super confusing, but it puts you in an extremely awkward position. If you see your friend’s partner on a dating app, you may understandably feel conflicted about how to proceed. Should you tell your BFF what you saw, or should you mind your own business? No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s often difficult to tell which could be more hurtful — telling them the harsh truth now, or letting them find out in their own way down the road.
It’s quite a moral dilemma. Naturally, you want to protect your bestie, but experts insist that there are several things to consider before saying anything about what you saw. First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that when someone deletes their dating apps without deactivating their accounts, they aren’t technically removed from the pool. So, just because you saw them pop up doesn’t mean they’re active on the app — they may simply have forgotten to deactivate their account.
That said, it’s also possible that your friend’s partner didn’t delete their apps at all, and have been secretly swiping away. Either way, the only way to suss out the truth is for your friend to ask her SO about it herself. Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Coaching, says that while confronting their partner about it rather than going to your bestie might seem like the right move, inserting yourself into the situation could actually blow up in your face if their partner feels like you’re blackmailing them, or if your friend finds out you knew and didn’t tell them.
So, you have two options: Inform your bestie about what you saw, or keep your mouth shut. Melanie Shapiro, a licensed clinical social worker, notes that whichever route you choose, there’s one crucial thing to remember — as close as you are to your BFF, you still may not be aware of everything that’s going on between them and their partner. For all you know, they could have recently decided to have an open relationship.
“You don’t know all the intimate aspects of their relationship,” Shapiro tells Elite Daily. “And since there may be details you aren’t aware of, it’s best to check out the situation first to get a general sense of how their relationship is going.”
Shapiro recommends looking for clues that your bestie may be concerned about the state of her relationship.
“If your bestie mentions that their partner is being distant, hasn't been around much lately, or is bailing on plans, encourage them to talk it out with their partner,” she explains. “But if they genuinely don’t think anything is up with their partner or they’re in denial, then you owe it to them to be honest.”
Ultimately, Martinez says that this is a personal decision that depends largely on the nature of your relationship with your friend. She advises thinking about how you would want your bestie to handle it if they saw your partner on an app, as that can help you to figure out the best way to handle the situation. Acknowledging that you would want to have this information if you were in your friend’s shoes may encourage you to give them the same courtesy.
“If they seem content in the relationship, however, you may not want to compromise your friendship — and eventually, the truth will always come out if their partner is being unfaithful,” adds Shapiro.
Both experts agree that if you do decide to tell your BFF, you can soften the blow of this news (and protect your friendship) by being truthful but gentle, and sparing them unnecessary details. Rather than outright accusing your friend’s partner of cheating on them, simply present the facts: That you happened to see them while you were swiping on a particular app, and you thought they needed to know. You can also remind them of the possibility that their partner simply didn’t deactivate their accounts, as that can help to prevent them from jumping to the worst possible conclusions.
If you have other reasons to suspect that their partner has been unfaithful, Shapiro suggests saying something like, “You are such an amazing and loyal friend, and I really like [insert partner’s name], but I just want to make sure you are getting everything back that you give in the relationship since you deserve the best.” From there, it’s up to your friend to decide how they would like to deal with the situation.
“When it comes to your friend’s life, you need to let go of how you expect them to run it,” adds Martinez. “Of course you’re going to have your opinions on what they’re doing, but it’s unfair to have expectations that they will handle things the way you would want them to. You are not their parent — you’re a friend.”
Whether you choose to tell your bestie about seeing their partner on an app or wait for them to find out themselves, the most important thing you can do is offer them support. That may mean lending an ear when they need to hash out how they’ll confront their SO, or it may mean giving them a shoulder to cry on when they uncover some unfaithful behavior. Ultimately, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by your friend and their partner alone — but that doesn’t mean you can’t play an important role by letting your BFF lean on you while they work through it.
Pricilla Martinez, life coach
Melanie Shapiro, licensed clinical social worker