Should You Expose Your Friend or Family Member?

There are a few times in life where you will become privy to information about a friend or family member either because they personally told you or you found out on your own, and you may be tasked with the decision of whether to expose the situation or them for that they are doing or to keep the secret.

1. They are cheating on a friend or family member.

Should You Expose Your Friend or Family Member?

This is a very tricky situation especially since one can assume you are very loyal to the friend/family that the person is cheating on. In many instances, people tend to confront the cheater and tell them that if they don't tell, you will which can work if they come around to actually doing it, but if that fails, you are in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether you should mind your business or out the cheater. Be very very careful with this one. Though you are doing no wrong, and though you are tight as friends/family, you do not know what goes on behind closed doors, what the true situation is, and/or if that person suspects their SO of cheating and may become a target of either one or both of their anger/denial/lashing out. Also keep in mind, just because you expose the situation, doesn't mean either or will do anything about it.

Unless you have blatant evidence like a video or some pictures, come to your friend/family with more of just your concern about their partner vs. outright accusations. "I'm just a little worried that Jason isn't spending that much time with you and the kids anymore and that he comes home later and later--have you talked to him about it," or "I saw Erica last week with some guy at the grocery store, do you know him well?" Your friend/family may be in denial, may blame you for trying to break up their relationship/marriage, may end your relationship even if you're proven right. All sorts of things, so tread lightly whether you do or do not have concrete proof.

2. You discover a friend/family members drug/alcohol addiction.

Definitely talk to the person one on one first. Express your concerns for their health and their future. If you have no prior experience with dealing with addiction, you may want to see a counselor who can help you help them. If the addiction continues and spirals and the person is not getting any help/treatment, is engaging in riskier and riskier behavior, OR specifically a danger to others in the household especially younger children, expose them immediately. Get help for them, have them sent to treatment, and/or remove them from the house where they live because they need help and you have an obligation to protect others, especially children, from any danger that they may present. You may ultimately be unable to help them, but you should never enable or stand by and watch someone endanger themselves or endanger others by doing absolutely nothing.

3. Someone is suicidal

100%, expose them immediately to get help from family/friends/and medical/psychological professionals. This is not a time to be sensitive and not want to step on any toes or to mind your business. This is a life we are talking about and someone who is intent on ending it. You have to get over yourself and being polite and respectful and try to get them immediate help. Someone frequently bringing up suicide and acting differently from usual are major red flags that someone intends to go through with it---take that very very seriously.

4. Someone comes out as gay, bi, trans, etc.

There is a reason this person felt comfortable enough to tell you this. They trust you or that you won't actually go out and expose them. This is a very difficult thing to do, to come out, and it is not your place to tell the world for someone else without their express permission, that they are coming out even if you think your other friends/family would be cool with it. By attempting or actually outing someone, you are going against their trust in you and most likely killing your relationship, and you may even be putting them in danger. Don't do it.

5. Someone is doing serious illegal activity

With this one, keep in mind that simply having the knowledge about someone doing illegal activity and not exposing them could lead you to your own jail time. Hard one here too because you know by outing this person, most likely this will lead them to jail. If they have a family or some type of good life, you may feel as though you are the one destroying that dream or that life for them or breaking up a family, but you are not the one committing the crime and you cannot be held responsible for their personal actions. I would strongly advise you talk to this person and try to get them to stop whatever they are doing immediately for their sake and for their future, but if they refuse and it's too far gone, or again as in the addictions, they are putting you or other family/friends/or the community at large in danger physically or of going to jail yourself, then I think outing them is the best action.

6. Someone is being physically/sexually abused

For me personally, this would be a no brainer, to expose the abuser to the police, however, these cases can be a lot more complicated then that. A lot of times, especially if you find this out, vs. you are told about it, the person can be in denial about it, or you may risk putting the victim in more danger by exposing the perpetrator, or it may be hard to prove without evidence--meaning, it may continue on even after you expose the perp without solid proof. Very difficult situations.

If an adult victim is open to your help, help them document and record evidence for the police or get them to a shelter asap. I would not advise confronting the perp because you may be putting yourself or the victim at risk/danger especially if they have been known to be violent. Get the police and various other organizations involved. For children, you must expose. Often times, they do not have a voice, or other family/friends may refuse to believe them, but if you have the knowledge, report this immediately to an authority.


Most Helpful Guy

  • Someone struggling with SSA, especially if it's unwanted SSA comorbid with OCD, needs help. Spiritual and probably psychological too. However, that help should always come from a party that is outside of the normal circles.

    Telling another family member right off the bat is very dangerous, and not everyone in the family will be prepared to deal with the issue in a mature or constructive manner. Nor will they necessarily be able to control their level of disgust long enough to address the issue without resorting to disrespect of the individual. And this will only drive the individual even further down the wrong path, as they get angry and rebel in order to retaliate.

    I had a friend once who was struggling with this. The trick was trying to convince her that I didn't have anything personally against her, even if I couldn't agree with all of her indulgences. That my feud was with the pro-LGBT extremists and those using it to push political agendas, not with her.

    Even then, she didn't know how I felt on the subject until she began stalking me to learn where I stood on things. And then demanded an explanation. I told her. She is still not sure what to believe, and apparently lacks reading comprehension, based on her initial reply.

    I totally agree with everything else on this list. Though... the part about addressing abusers is probably the hardest one to address. Because a clever abuser will always find a way to turn things around and make it worse. And some even go to such lengths, they make Cape Fear look like a story about a harmless family picnic. (I've seen the true crime reenactments on Justice Network.)

    As for someone doing illegal activity... if it's gang-related, that will automatically make it even worse. After all: snitches get stitches. And they may even send someone after you if it were NOT you that snitched, because paranoia convinces them it had to be you.

    I don't have much patience with cheaters. They who have no loyalty, deserve none.

    • Forgive me here, but I'm not sure what SSA means?

    • Show All
    • Sexuality isn't a choice and the idiotic pray away the gay thinking actually suggests your in the closet as well.

    • @sedrftvgyhujik : Did I say that one prayer alone makes it go away? No. Don't put words in my mouth. Your straw argument is an old one. And while adaptation sexuality is a choice, it's not always a conscious one. Choosing to cultivate it or do abhorrent and wicked things to indulge it, however, is a choice. You are not so magnetically drawn to a stranger, that you have no choice but to stick your dick where it never belongs. Otherwise, why bother having laws against rape?

      Kinsey's entire legacy of lies needs to be completely eradicated.

Most Helpful Girl

  • Depends. I'd warn my sister if my BIL was cheating (I'd hint at it) but if she was cheating I wouldn't say anything I love him but my loyalty lays first and foremost with her and that goes for all my best friends as well with the exception of 2 because I know they won't leave and it'll just cause problems with everyone else. i rather just pretend I didn't know there. As far as illigal stuff goes if they aren't harming anyone else phyiscally I'd try to pretend that I didn't know (and hopefully forget). As far as someone being gay or Bi I'd just be there for them, no biggs and I wouldn't tell anyone else as it's not my place. The abuse I'd bring all my friend from my friend circle together to confront that and the drugs. As far as suicide goes I'd urge them to call a help line or get help.


Join the discussion

What Guys Said 7

  • Locking someone in a cage with murderers and rapists is not a good way to help them quit drugs.

    Especially when there's drugs readily available inside the cage.

    I mean yeah, help your junkie-ass friend/family member with their drugs, but don't be a retard and make a bad situation fifty million times worse without actually solving the original problem. . .

    Just so you can "feel good about yourself" because you really "did the right thing."

    • Are you talking to me or just saying in general because I suggested either getting them treatment and/or removing them from the house the live in if they are putting others in danger like their kids (as in, they must go live with someone else or in treatment until they can get a handle on it). I did not advocate for putting them in jail.

    • In general, of course.

      I don't know you or anything about you, I'm not some weird asshole coming out of the woodwork making up accusations for no reason...

    • I wasn't thinking that, just sometimes people talk in generalities and other times, they are literally talking to you, so sometimes a little clarification is needed.

  • Some clear answers with fuzzy edges
    1 This one is not entirely clear, but I probably would
    2 yes they need help. Preparing those around them for when they ask for it is responsible
    3 100% - if they have said something to you they are asking for help in the only way they can. Do something.
    4 No. Not at all. Coming out of that closet is something they get to do on their own terms as much as possible. They are not hurting anyone.
    5 hells yes.
    6 super duper hells yes.

    • With moral dilemmas, there are always fuzzy edges. It's just like the laws in the country... we can say, oh 100% we should follow them, but there are always cases where the circumstances and the situations aren't black and white and do need further evaluation other then just throw the book at the situation. I mean, these are my opinions, but everyone has their own personal set of moral standards which allow them to expose or not expose someone in these situations, and those can change or be adapted to what's going on in front of you or not.

  • 1 depends on situation.
    2 personal help, not exposure
    3 personal help and exposure
    4 keep it to myself
    5 keep it to myself
    6 personal help, ie brass knuckles and a baseball bat

  • I had an ex-girlfriend tell a girl I was just starting to date about my past bi behaviors. I think it would have been better coming from me and I was working up to it. My ex felt that she was blind-sided by my love for sucking other guy's cocks and felt she needed to "warn" the other girl. The news came as a shock to my new potential girlfriend and she broke off contact with me.

  • Uh, what are you, the moral police or wha?

    And since when are guns 'serious illegal activity'?

    • Every one of us has a set of morals or lack thereof which we use those to navigate the world around us. Notice this says friend or family member for a reason. It might clearly be NOYB if say a co-worker is cheating on his wife, but when it's your dad cheating on your mom... different story. You use your own moral judgments to decide what to do in these cases.. also why the title is a question, not a command.

      Now here, I'm assuming you are referring to the picture... of the illegal guns... obtained in a house where illegal drugs were being made and illegal weapons were being sold. You know 'that' kind of serious illegal activity.

    • Show All
    • I think you're just really bored and looking to pick a fight. No thanks.

    • My point stands.

  • I never betray family or friends.

  • What if they kill you?


What Girls Said 3

  • I would help with all of the scenarios except for the cheating thing. That's not my place. The suicidal I would probably say something about it. For example, if my cousin tells me she wants to commit suicide, or if she was abusing drugs or alcohol I would tell my aunt because I know my aunt will help her. If she were to tell me her sexual orientation, I wouldn't say anything about it. She will tell who she wants to tell. As far as illegal stuff I wouldn't say anything because she is a grown woman and that's her choice.

    • Two things (and I'm just putting it out there/not telling)... if a sibling found out your SO was cheating on you, you wouldn't want him/her to tell you or even a best friend? When you say, not your place, does that not contradict what it means to be a good friend? You aren't the one who has cheated. The second is, with the illegal activity, a lot of times, simply having the knowledge and not reporting could get you in trouble, or for example if they are running a meth house with other people inside, other family could be seriously killed or injured should some crazy come around or the house explode. Or if someone is selling drugs to neighborhood kids, how long before they get to your family? Sometimes illegal activity isn't just affecting the one person. If you know the others it could affect, to me, personally, that's a problem especially if kids are involved.

  • No. It's not your place to do so. You should help them where required and morally is ok but don't expose them. Mind your business.

  • 1 and 4. You can leave them to do as they please. The rest of them, if its illegal, hurting them, or going to hurt them. You really should first talk to them to try and get them to accept some help, and if not, inform one of their family members or the police.