My dad's cheating.

Reed2019Reed2019 Registered User new member
So I saw my dad kissing another woman about a week ago. I don't know her, and Dad doesn't know that I saw him. I don't know whether I should confront him about it, tell Mom, or just keep quiet. What should I do?


  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    If it were me, I'd want to be told.

    I'd say tell both your mother and father. You may want to confront your father ahead of time and request he be the one to tell your mother just so you don't come off as the person who ruined their marriage (a shitty thing some people do to their kids in these situations).

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    There are a lot of different elements here and a lot of different contextual problems with prescribing a solution to this sort of information, so the first thing to understand that there isn't a universal answer and you will need to do some soul searching on what feels right to you, for your family, and for your future. Most of us on the forums have gone through something like this (in my case, my father cheater pretty much constantly on my mom with varying degrees of success in hiding it over the years), so keep in mind we will all have personal biases.

    Second: it is in no way your fault or your responsibility to do anything at all here. Any actions you take or don't take are ok, and you don't deserve to be judged, ridiculed, or harassed in any way for taking an action (or not) with the information you have.

    As far as actions go, I personally think a cautious, measured approach to dealing with this is the best one as this impacts more than just you. Your parents, siblings, and social circles all may be negatively impacted by this depending on the context of the situation and while it isn't your fault what you say and do may in fact cause more harm than you expect. That doesn't mean you don't have a right to do what you want with this information (you do), but being responsible about it is important. This is doubly so if you are a minor living with your parents still. I am assuming that you are a minor living with your parents for my suggestions here.

    If your dad is not known to be violent and you have a good relationship with him, my suggestion would be to first ask him about it in a place away from your immediate friends and family (someplace semi-public, like a park or a restaurant, where you have privacy to talk without being overheard but still have public folk about in case things turn bad). It could well be what you saw was a one time thing, or something that is aguably less bad than you think. Or it could be double worse! You don't really know until you talk with him about it. When speaking with him about it be as non-judgemental when you bring up the topic. Just present what you saw and ask for an explanation without anger. See how he reacts, and listen to what he says.

    Parents are people too, not rockstars or perfect people either. People can be weak from time to time, and marriage is a lot of work to remain committed. That doesn't mean your dad should be excused from poor behavior, if that is what happened, but there may be other things going on that you are unaware of. Parents often leave a lot of details of their personal lives, especially love lives, hidden from their children. Listen to what your dad has to say first, and then after you have done so decide what you feel is best to do.

    If your dad is known to be violent or cruel to you, do not confront him. Let us know if this is the case and we can direct you to other resources.

  • HollerHoller Registered User regular
    edited June 2016

    Holler on
  • NoquarNoquar Registered User regular
    You ask your dad to explain it. How you react after that depends highly on his explanation. Your mother might know - they might be swingers, they might have an open relationship - or - she might not know, this other woman might have a jealous or violent spouse or any number of things. You may light the drama fire on your parents relationship, but chances are the dysfunction was already there and the wound needed to be cauterized somehow. Therapy is all fine and dandy, but how are you going to deal with facing either of your parents wondering just what that secret is and when/if it's going to come out?

    PSN & STEAM: Noquar
  • TheBigEasyTheBigEasy Registered User regular
    Holler wrote: »
    My recommendation is telling them you'd like to start seeing a therapist once a week. I don't think I'd tell them about this other thing until you've got a few sessions under your belt, because you're going to need them.

    I don't think telling someone to see a therapist because of this is a good idea.

    I have no experience with these kind of situations and I don't know how old the OP is, but going from "hey I saw my dad kissing another woman" to "yeapp I need a therapist to deal with this" sounds a bit extreme.

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  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    Really, whether or not you tell your mom (or dad) should depend on how sure you are that your mom wouldn't be okay with her husband kissing another woman. If you know your mom well enough to be sure she wouldn't be okay with your dad kissing another woman, you should tell her what happened. Otherwise, feel out the situation before you act on this.

    I do not think talking to your dad first, unless he has a history of being a completely stand-up guy. But my father is also a massive liar who responds to accusations by making up stories and acting belligerent until the people around him are completely confused as to what actually happened, start to doubt themselves, and feel so crazy they just give up. So I *might* be a little biased in that respect.

  • Magic PinkMagic Pink Tur-Boner-Fed Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    I had a close friend go through this same thing; she found her dad's laptop open and there was a profile for a "married and cheating" website on it.

    What needs to happen nest is going to differ wildly from person to person. She confronted her dad about it and said you can tell mom or I will but that may not be what you feel you need to do. There's really no black and white "this is what you need to do" in this case but remember it's pretty likely your mom already knows on some level.

    It's a very very difficult and sensitive situation to be in and I hope it works out on some level for you.

    Magic Pink on
  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    Yeah... this is sort of a fuzzy thing. I wouldn't go to your mom with it yet.. If you decide to do anything, then talk with your dad first. He might tell you a bunch of BS, or he may come straight to you. Either way it gives you something to use to help you decide.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    I deleted this twice before deciding to put it out there. I know hearing other stories of how people went through rough stuff helped me realize it was possible during the darker days, so hopefully this post will help the OP with that.

    We all have different experiences. Over the last 20 years in my family there have been two murders, cheating in all but two of the family pairings in my blood relatives, a drug OD death, a handful of rehab experiences, and more physical altercations than I care to count (from kids, siblings, and parent to child). As far as being suburban, white picket fence folk, behind those perfectly draped windows a lot of shit happens to everyone, regardless of where you are at. I can understand most of the paths one can take because pretty much all of my cousins and siblings had a different experience with this sort of thing. We are definitely an outlier (it's like being part of Days of our Lives for christs sake), but this is why I feel talking is the best way to go (even if your dad turns out to be a shmuck).

    Staying quiet will slowly eat at you. This is what I did for about seven years, most of them teen-aged, and it drove me to be very frustrated, paranoid, and angry with my family for a long time. My dad was abusive and pretty much a complete dick half the time (and while he had legitimate frustrations driving his actions, specifically being transgendered and not being allowed by anyone to express himself as a woman, how he dealt with those frustrations were completely unacceptable). He would let his anger drive him to cheat on my mom not because he wanted to sleep with other people, but to specifically let her know he was to be passive aggressive with her. The entire time I kept quiet, my mom knew (she was pretty much told to her face by him), but both wanted to keep their very, very intense hate of each other away from my sister and I and so they never brought it up with us. Meanwhile, passive aggression from both myself and my dad led to a dozen physical altercations between us. I often gave as bad as I got, so in my mind that was fine at the time (it wasn't), and clearly it was just me getting physical treatment (turns out, no. Everyone in the house was getting hit and I was just the only one big enough to fight back).

    And as we got older my sister and I both found out in different ways and didn't even talk with each other (trying to shield each other from the truth out of misguided kindness). My sister turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with it and, when she was old enough ran away from home and nearly died two years later trying to medicate her memories away. I went the other way and locked myself away deep inside, not letting anyone but a few close friends in and essentially writing my entire family off as a lost cause and becoming essentially paranoid for my life that at some point my father would snap and kill family members like my uncle did ten years before. Neither response was healthy. When I finally confronted both of my parents (at separate times) about it, both were actually legitimately distraught about it.

    At that point, my dad pretty much sighed and came clean about how he was living a lie and had been most of his life, and that he wanted to transition as quickly as possible but never could get the courage to do so. We had a long talk and I pretty much told him if he had just transitioned and divorced years ago everyone in the family would have been happier than with the tinderbox of anger the family was. He decided to transition and after my father was absolutely happy with herself and, while still pretty passive aggressive in most things in life she is a much happier person and doesn't have any desire to harm anyone anymore. That doesn't forgive her previous actions, to this day relations with my father are cold at best, but it is a better life for all involved.

    On my mom's side of things, she would have left my dad for all of the emotional abuse she took years and years and years ago if she knew he was beating us or that we knew about the cheating and other things he did to her. She filed for divorce the same week I spoke with her, and has been extremely happy since. She's since found someone she can live with that isn't aggressive, judgmental, or any of the other things she put up with for us kids for generations.

    When my sister and I finally talked about it, it was also a huge relief for both of us. We both had the same experience with the physical and emotional abuse, only how we dealt with it was different. She started helping me not distrust and hate the average person, and I helped her get clean. We're now both happy and health and ~reasonably~ successful and well adjusted folk (though she still smokes and I still have two locks on each door of the house).

    The reason why, with all this, I think taking a calm, safe, and measured approach is best is because the silence is often more dangerous than the explosion, and unlike remaining silent over time the emotional turmoil of a divorce or cheating coming to a head can be managed and tempered with caution, planning, and support. Finding out what your father's side of things is,. even if it is total bullshit, is the best place to start (in a safe, semi public neutral location where no harm can directly come to you) not because you are going to trust what he says 100% (by him cheating you should already not be giving him reasonable doubt here), but because it's the only way to find out his side of the story before deciding if it is worth approaching your mom/siblings with the same information. Having a friend to go home with after, and maybe stay with for a day or two, would also be a good call in case things go poorly.

    Maybe there is more to it. Maybe your parents are both swingers and it is something odd but potentially alright as far as things go. Maybe you dad had a previous wife you don't know about from his early youth and that one kiss was pretty much all their interaction was that one time (...maybe). Maybe she was a hooker. Maybe a mistress. Maybe it is exactly what you think it is. You won't know until you know more. But once you have more information, you can then determine if you want to do something with it. Maybe will slowly consume you though, in my opinion.

    That said, always protect yourself whenever you do anything with this. If your dad is violent or cruel do not confront him directly, let us know so we can put you in touch with better resources (the ones I wish I knew were out there fifteen years ago). The recommendation for therapy is also a good one. Everyone can use therapy (regardless of how happy they seem on the outside) and one of my big regrets was never speaking with a specialist when I was younger. It would have helped me adjust much better than I ended up doing on my own.

    But regardless, none of this is your fault, your responsibility, or your problem. Your dad is the one who took the action, and your parents are responsible for their relationship. Whatever you choose to do is completely ok because you are your own person and you have the right to do what you think is best.

  • HollerHoller Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    TheBigEasy wrote: »
    Holler wrote: »
    My recommendation is telling them you'd like to start seeing a therapist once a week. I don't think I'd tell them about this other thing until you've got a few sessions under your belt, because you're going to need them.

    I don't think telling someone to see a therapist because of this is a good idea.

    I have no experience with these kind of situations and I don't know how old the OP is, but going from "hey I saw my dad kissing another woman" to "yeapp I need a therapist to deal with this" sounds a bit extreme.

    Well, you're right, you don't have experience on this.

    But independent of that, I'm not sure how suggesting talking to an expert in personal feelings and managing interpersonal relationships before risking hitting the self-destruct button on your parents marriage could be considered overreacting. Maybe it isn't a good path for the OP, but going to therapy isn't really a nuclear option in any case. It is just the best way of getting good advice tailored to their specific situation from a licensed professional rather than strangers on the internet who don't have all of the details.

    Holler on
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    How old are you?

    Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I see zero downside to you telling your dad that you observed some behavior by him that is confusing and disturbing to you and allowing him to respond. As a parent I take it very seriously when my kids are upset or concerned about most (but not all, cause often they are upset about petty things) matters cause I am a steward to help them navigate life. I'd at least try that before telling mom since that is always an option anyways.

    Magic Pink
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    This happened to me when I was young. Shoving it down the memory hole didn't work. I just held onto anger and never said anything about it before my father died. I can't tell you that you should confront him, but I do believe that you have every right to express what you're feeling to him, even if it's mostly confusion at this point.

  • Reed2019Reed2019 Registered User new member
    Thank you all so much for the advice. I ended up talking to my dad (who isn't violent) about it, and he admitted that he was having an affair but that he and his mistress aren't serious. He says that he'll tell Mom, and I'm hoping that he means it. BTW, Inquisitor77, I'm 17.

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  • Reed2019Reed2019 Registered User new member
    So, he said that he'd tell Mom, but he still hasn't. I want to hold him to what he promised me, but I'm afraid I'll seem like I'm nagging him. What if he never tells her?

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    It's been a week. Has he broken it off with the other woman, or does he plan to continue the relationship with her? He may be talking to a lawyer about his best options, legally.

  • Reed2019Reed2019 Registered User new member
    He says that he's ended it with her, and I want to believe her, but I don't know if I can trust him until he tells Mom. I'm going to college in the fall, and I'm worried that if he doesn't fix things now, it'll affect my relationship with him in the future.

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    To be perfectly honest, it already has affected your relationship with him, regardless of what happens moving forward.

    Unfortunately, this is a very complicated situation, and it's hard for any of us to give you good advice, given how many factors are in play here. This is why you see such long responses - people are trying to take into account everything in an attempt to give you the best advice possible.

    There is no right or wrong answer here. If you do not feel that this is something you can keep to yourself, then it may be a good idea to remind him of what a difficult place he has put you in. I can't imagine how emotionally and psychologically draining it would be for me, were I in your situation. You may need to give him an ultimatum, if it comes to that point and you feel that you can no longer keep the secret.

    At this point I want to remind you that you really need to listen to, and take care of, yourself first. Your father and mother are both adults, and they are both responsible for whatever they do. In no way are you responsible for anything that has happened or will happen because of this. While you may feel some guilt, even if it's just that you had to keep this a secret for a week or so, you should always remember that you bear absolutely no blame whatsoever.

    If you tell your mother and she immediately divorces your father, then you are not responsible. If you give an ultimatum to your father and he leaves the family, then you are not responsible. Regardless of what you decide to do, you are not responsible for what happens to them afterwards. You are being caught in the middle. Blaming yourself would be like blaming a hurricane on the weatherman.

    Ultimately, decide what you think is best for you. If the guilt is eating at you and you feel you must tell your mother, then do so. If you would feel better giving your father another chance and letting him tell her, then wait. Again, there is no right or wrong answer here.

    If you can, I'd strongly recommend talking to a professional about this as well. If you are still in school, then perhaps there is a nurse or a counselor you can speak to about these things, and hopefully they can refer you to a psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist of some kind. Maybe you don't need regular therapy, but it often helps to talk to someone. At the very least, they may be able to provide you with tools to better cope with the situation.

    Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
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  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    I am tempted to revive liming for the above. It is possibly the best advice I've ever seen in H/A.

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