Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
An old friend of mine recently died in a tragic accident. At the time of his death, he had three girlfriends and they still don’t know about each other. Should I tell them?
The first one, “A,” was at the funeral—she was even greeting people and telling them that she was his girlfriend. Another, “B,” couldn’t attend because she was bound for an international conference. The third, “C,” was from out of town and talked to few people at the funeral. She put up a social media posting and told a family member they were going to have a baby together.
I’m writing because I feel someone should tell them. C is going to name her baby after him. B is having a special service for him this summer. If it were me, I would want to know. This doesn’t seem uncharacteristic of him. It is partly why I distanced myself from him in the past. He was really important to me, but his treatment of his girlfriend was upsetting to me at the time. Should I reach out or let bygones be bygones? For some reason, those closest to him seem intent on keeping these secrets.
Leave this up to the people who are closer to your friend—and closer to these women. The infidelity has already happened, so the damage has been done. And he’s gone. So there’s really no urgency here, there’s not much further harm to be avoided, and it’s not your job to spread the word.
I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me the same week his test results came back confirming he has cancer, a highly aggressive kind. I went from bawling my eyes out and planning on deleting his number to holding him on the couch as he fell apart weeping. He begged me to stay and forgive him. I didn’t know what to do. I told him I forgave him and that I still loved him. I don’t. The truth festers in the back of my mind every time I get stressed or have to come over to care for him or talk to his family.