The Rapidian

Ethics and Religion Talk: Do I Tell My Friend That Her Husband is on Tinder?

Anna F. asks, “I saw my friend’s husband’s profile on a dating site (Tinder). Do I have an obligation to tell my friend?”

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“Ethics and Religion Talk,” answers questions of ethics or religion from a multi-faith perspective. Each post contains three or four responses to a reader question from a panel of nine diverse clergy from different religious perspectives, all based in the Grand Rapids area. It is the only column of its kind. No other news site, religious or otherwise, publishes a similar column.

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We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up on the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

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The Rev. Steven W. Manskar, a retired United Methodist pastor, responds:

“I think the person to talk to is your friend’s husband. Do not triangulate your friend. Go directly to the person who is causing harm first.”

The Rev. Sandra Nikkel, head pastor of Conklin Reformed Church, responds:

“You first need to start by asking yourself the following question: if you were that wife and a friend of yours kept this information from you, would you still consider that person a good friend? A good friend is loyal and always wants what's best for the friend. The best for this wife is not to continue to be deceived by her husband, so I would definitely tell her. The reason being that I want to love my friends the way Jesus loves me--authentically, truthfully,  and sacrificially--if needed.”

The Reverend Colleen Squires, minister at All Souls Community Church of West Michigan, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, responds:

“I think telling the truth and not keeping secrets is the best policy when it comes to our friendships with others. As clergy my path would be to talk directly to the husband first. It would be to give him a chance to right his ship if that needs doing. It allows them to have a conversation about their relationship and marriage. Seeing him on Tinder may not be the entire story; they could be in the process of a divorce, or they may have an open marriage. Many factors to consider before I jump to conclusions. I would also let him know that I would be following up with his spouse.”

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

“I would. And perhaps she can sign up as well. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if he came across her profile?”

Linda Knieriemen, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Holland, responds:

“A tender and complex question without an simple answer.  Posting a profile on Tinder suggests an affair is desired, but it is not actually having the affair. Is the friends husband ‘playing’ or serious. To not tell your friend is to passively participate in a secret but to not tell also means keeping a secret.  To tell your friend what you saw is to insert yourself into your friend’s intimate relationship with her husband.  I’d encourage contemplation about who is served by telling, you or your friend and about what the kind thing is to do.

“Perhaps the better route is to notify the friend’s husband that you saw his Tinder profile. He’s the one who should be telling his wife!”

Father Kevin Niehoff, O.P., a Dominican priest who serves as Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Grand Rapids, responds:

“I wish I could say I have not heard of this before! Put yourself in the shoes of your friend. If your friend found your husband’s profile on a dating site, would you want to know?

“I judge you do have an obligation to tell your friend. Upon discovery, please let your friend know that you are here to support them when and if they are ready.”

Rev. Ray Lanning, a retired minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, responds:

“Your first obligation, according to the law of Christ, is to tell your friend’s husband. ‘Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone’ (Matthew 18:15). Your aim should be to bring the man to his senses. Unless or until you are willing to confront the man himself, you have no further involvement in the matter. Telling your friend first is not wise or likely to help. The judgment of charity compels me to suppose that you yourself are on Tinder only for the most innocent of reasons. If not, another law of Christ applies: ‘He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone’ (John 8:7).”

My response:

The central part of the ethical obligation to disclose what you suspect that you know is rooted in an obligation to protect your friend’s health. If your friends’s husband is engaging in a sexual relationship outside of their marriage, it is possible that he is bringing sexually transmitted diseases to your friend. Your friend needs to know and see a doctor to get tested and treated, if necessary.

You also don’t want to see your friend continue to be hurt by ongoing deception. This, too, suggests an obligation to disclose what you know. If you have a good relationship with the husband, you can disclose by speaking to him, telling him what you observed, and informing him that you will be telling your friend. This gives him a chance to come clean first. If you don’t have a good relationship with the husband and don’t feel comfortable having this conversation with him, then you should speak to your friend directly.


This column answers questions of Ethics and Religion by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders in the Grand Rapids area. We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up in the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

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