Ask Brian: My friend drunkenly slept with our mutual friend's boyfriend in a shed at a house party - should I tell her?
Our no-nonsense agony uncle gets straight to the point of your most pressing issues.
I was at a house party a few weeks ago with one of my close friends from college. She had a bit too much to drink and ended up sleeping with our mutual friend's boyfriend - in a shed in the garden.
Needless to say, she really regretted it and had to get the morning after pill.
The following week our mutual friend started asking if we had seen her man at the party - she said he came home smelling of Issey Miyake (which she doesn't wear).
I said I hadn't seen him but I am wracked with guilt, do I tell her that her boyfriend is a cheating scumbag? Or do I turn a blind eye and support my friend who got too drunk and made a bad mistake?
Well... I hope it was a spacious, comfortable shed at the least. Most sheds would have a lot of garden shears and other instruments that would have made drunken sexual activity very hazardous. It adds a whole new meaning to unsafe sex, which to add to this story they also engaged in.
But I completely sympathise with the situation you now find yourself in, as quite often the messenger gets shot when delivering news like this.
I think there are two major dangers here - that you become an enemy of your mutual friend for delivering such devastating news, but also you risk your college friend thinking you've betrayed her by exposing her drunken shed loving.
From your letter it appears that you are closer with the friend you were at the party with, so that further complicates matters.
For clarity I'm going to refer to your college friend as Friend A, and the mutual friend who's been cheated on as Friend B.
There are two completely innocent parties in this, you and Friend B.
Look, maybe there's a really slim possibility that Friend B and her boyfriend have an open relationship and she's grand with all this - although I'd imagine the terms of any open relationship would exclude sleeping with your girlfriend's friends. So we can probably rule that out.
This may be a little bit of a murky soap story line solution, but you could pressure the boyfriend into telling her because it really would be better coming from him.
This would spare you getting caught in the crossfire and you can control the situation more by warning the boyfriend that revealing who he cheated with would only cause more pain, thereby protecting Friend A.
If everything works out, this will be the equivalent of the hero walking away from the exploding building looking all bad ass.
Yes, you'll still have the knowledge that Friend A was the other woman, but that's the smaller issue really.
If you don't have the bottle for all this relationship espionage - or if the boyfriend calls your bluff - that's when you have the difficult decision to make.
You could be faced with the possibility of losing a friend and may have to decide where your loyalties lie.
Friend B obviously has suspicions that something is up because of the expensive Japanese perfume she's smelled, but that doesn't mean you'll get any thanks for confirming her suspicions. She may always associate you with that bad news.
The complicating factor is if you tell Friend B, and then she discovers it was Friend A who was the mystery "Issey Miyake-scented lover in the shed", Friend A may be pretty annoyed with you for telling.
You need to decide which friend you owe more loyalty to. If it's Friend A, well then you can't be the one to tell Friend B about her philandering boyfriend.
If it's Friend B, you have to hope she doesn't shoot the messenger.
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