A while ago, my friends and I got into a heated discussion about whether or not someone should confess to his/her SO that they had cheated on them. Does the SO have a right to know, or are they better off ignorant, particularly if the cheater has recognized their mistake and has vowed never to do it again?
Imagine this situation:
Jack and Jill have been dating for 4-5 years. Jack has to move to another city because of work. Jill decides to move to the same area (largely because of Jack, although there are other factors as well). They don’t live together - Jack moves in with Peter, who is a friend of both Jack and Jill, while Jill moves in with a girl friend.
In this new environment, Jack meets Mary and the two become friends. Mary is single and is obviously attracted to Jack, but knows Jack is dating Jill (the two have met at parties and stuff), so is careful not to do anything to compromise her friendship with him. Jack, meanwhile, is also attracted to Mary. All of this leads to one drunken night where Jack makes a pass at Mary and the two of them end up sleeping together.
Jack is now torn between Mary and Jill. Mary is unhappy with the situation but is willing to give Jack some time to figure things out. She assumes that things will come to some conclusion sooner rather than later - either Jack will break up with Jill or he will decide this is all a big mistake and pass it off as a drunken fluke. “Some time,” however, stretches into a period of several months, during which Jack and Mary continue to sleep with each other. Inevitably their mutual friends find out, including Peter. Peter is furious with Jack for cheating on Jill, but he is Jack’s best friend - plus he is also friends with Mary by this point - so he keeps his mouth shut.
Eventually, Jack decides that his thing with Mary is wrong and abruptly breaks it off. Mary is devastated, but decides there is nothing much she can do at this point, and the two continue on as “friends” as best they can. Things seem to be going fine, until another drunken night where Mary and Jack find themselves in bed together once again. Jack realizes that he is never going to stop being attracted to Mary, but feels like his relationship with Jill is the one he should be faithful to, and once again vows that this time will be the last. Mary now realizes that she can get Jack to sleep with her whenever she wants but in the long run Jack is going to stay with Jill, and that’s that. This time it’s she who decides that this is never going to happen again, and it doesn’t.
Jill, meanwhile, remains completely unaware of what has been going on with Jack and Mary, and as far as she knows there is absolutely nothing wrong in her relationship with Jack. She broaches the subject of moving in together to Jack, who agrees with the hope that this next step will help him pull his stuff together. Mary and Peter, upon hearing this news, both privately express their skepticism, but keep their opinions to themselves.
So here’s what we were arguing about: does Jill have a right to know that Jack cheated on her, particularly when they are about to take a major step in their relationship? Some of us argued that if Jack is sincere about learning from his mistakes, what Jill doesn’t know can’t hurt her, and that telling her the truth would achieve little else than inflicting pain she doesn’t deserve. Others said that their relationship is nothing more than a lie at this point, and that it’s unfair for her to be the only one unaware of this. There was also the opinion that she wouldn’t have to know if the thing between Jack and Mary had occured only once, since everyone makes mistakes, but the fact that it went on for months makes it something more significant than that.
What do you think?