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Would you tell your mate if you caught their partner cheating? Here’s what the British public said…

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Matt Tate
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If you were going to do a power ranking of all the conversations you never, ever want to have with a friend, then “by the way, mate, he/she’s cheating on you” probably wouldn’t be too far off the #1 spot.

As it turns out, only just over half (53%) of Brits would be willing to break the bad news if they found out. That’s according to new data released by YouGov, which also reveals that while only 15% of people would actively not tell them, 27% didn’t know what they’d do. 100% would no doubt freak the fuck out at suddenly being in possession of such knowledge, but it sounds like a lot of people would need to do some serious thinking before acting on it. It likely depends a lot on whether or not you’re also friends with the cheater. If you already hate them and want an escape route for said pal, you’ve pretty much hit the jackpot. 

Something that was abundantly clear from the research was that there is a huge split between the young and older people (not for the first time) in their responses. A whopping 81% of those aged 18-24 would reckon they’d fess up to the friend, a figure that drops off as the age group goes up. When you get to 65+ it’s as low as 32% – makes sense, since older people are more likely to be married or in longer-term, more stable relationships – there’s more at risk.

This age divide was present in the results when the scenario was reversed, too. The participants were asked what they’d do if they found out their friend was cheating on their partner, and although the percentage of people who would disclose the information was lower this time (21%), again the figure for 18-24 year-olds who said they would (34%) was over double that of the 65+ group (15%). In addition, 30% of the 18-24s said they would confess to someone if they’d slept with their partner (having been under the impression they were single), but that plummeted to 7% for people 65+.

This man appears to making the "call me sign" indicating that he's up for some cheating, but actually it looks like the hand gesture for "gnarly"

It’s easy to understand the reluctance of an older person to potentially break up a married couple of 40 years who have children together by telling them that one partner is cheating. Your average 19-year-old wouldn’t have to contend with that kind of history. YouGov said a previous study revealed that as people get older they become less willing to say anything negative about someone’s partner in general. 

In all cases, those who took part accepted that – whether they’d be likely to pass on the bad news or not – the person being cheated on would probably want to be told. Indeed, they put that very question to the public, and the overwhelming response (75%) was that they’d hope their mate would be honest. 

So there you have it. Nobody wants to drop the cheating bombshell, but sometimes it just has to be done. Just, you know, give yourself one of those in-the-mirror movie-style pep talks first.

(Images: iStock and YouGov)

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Matt Tate

Matt Tate is a freelance journalist

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