Ignorance is Bliss? The Debate on Cheating and Confessing


Would you want to know if your mate had committed the ultimate betrayal and cheated on you previously? These answers may surprise you.

Most people say ignorance is bliss *what you don’t know won’t hurt you* but could anyone apply this turn of phrase to a cheating mate?

Would you want to know if your mate had committed the ultimate betrayal? Most people’s knee-jerk reaction may be a resounding “Yes!” but the answer isn’t always so black and white. Some say what their mate doesn’t know won’t hurt them, while others insist they would want to know immediately about an affair so they could decide with full-facts whether or not to give their lover a second chance.

If you had been with your mate for 20 years, and they had previously had an affair that was now 100% over—would you want to know about it? This answer isn’t so easy, and here’s why… [Read: You only cheated once, should you tell or just shut up?]

Pros and cons of knowing the truth

PRO: You’ll know the absolute truth. Your mate has betrayed your relationship, and now you can continue on with your decision knowing everything there is to know.

CON: What seems like forever ago to your mate is an earth-shattering truth just hitting you now. This can have a cataclysmic effect on your psyche, especially since your mate’s reactions to things will no longer be “fresh.” If you do stay in the relationship, your trust has been crushed to smithereens.

PRO: Now that you know it happened once, you won’t be naïve to it happening again in the future.

CON: Staying in the dark about it could lead your mate to rightly believe they’ve gotten away with something, and it may prompt them to have another affair in the future.

PRO: If you do know about the affair and leave your partner, you’ll no longer be living with lies, deceit, and betrayal.

CON: If you do stay together, this information can be needlessly hurtful, especially if the affair ended a long time ago. Now you have built a life together for X amount of years, and you will begin to question what was true and false about your relationship.

[Read: Affairs in a relationship and the big role that ego plays in the outcome]

Polling for answers

We’ve asked males and females in varying age-ranges their take on “ignorance is bliss” in relationships, and we think their answers may surprise you! If you were in a 20+ year relationship and your partner previously had an affair that was now over, would you want to know about it?

We’re looking at 10 takes on cheating mates in relationships, and whether these couples would want to know about past wrongs!

#1 “If I was happy and in a good place, and the affair was for sure a long time ago, then no… I don’t think I would want to know. At that point, we would have built a life together and I wouldn’t want “my” life to be ruined just because my partner made a stupid mistake.” – Jen, age 21.

#2 “Is ignorance really bliss when it comes to this kind of stuff? Depends. Are there kids involved? If we had kids then I’d say… Yeah, tell me about it and we’ll work it out, if not for ourselves then for our kids. I guess either way I would want to know about it, since I wouldn’t want to be living a lie with my partner.” – Matthew, age 32. [Read: 9 practical ways to rebuild trust after you’ve cheated]

#3 “Honesty is always the best policy. I don’t care if we’d been together for 60 years, I would definitely want to know if I had been cheated on because if I had then it means our love was never what I thought it was. I would definitely want the chance to stay or leave.” – Alysa, age 30.

#4 “I guess I would want to know if she cheated… I mean if nothing else it would merit one night of passion with someone else… an eye for an eye, am I right?” – Omar, age 43.

#5 “I would not, not, not want to know. Why throw away a 20-year marriage? If it is for sure over, and won’t happen again, then I say keep me in the dark!” – Hillary, age 18.

#6 “I’d end it without hesitation if I knew. I don’t even care about the details or anything, I just can’t tolerate lying. I would promptly break up with her and hate myself for wasting so much time with someone who could treat our relationship like that.” – Jack, age 23. [Read: Should you ever forgive a cheating partner?]

#7 “The lie is worse than the deed in some cases, and I think the fact that my mate could lie to me for however long and pretend everything was hunky-dory all that time is almost worse than the cheating itself!” – Shay, age 31.

#8 “Yes, I’d want to know, so I could dump the girl. I don’t care if it’s over. She cheated, end of story.” – Henry, age 18. [Read: Should you confess to your partner? Read this to make up your mind]

#9 “I would want to know, even though it would probably ruin my whole life. I just couldn’t stand the thought that he carried on an affair that a bunch of people probably knew about. I wouldn’t want to be a laughing stock of my social circle.” – Karen, age 45.

#10 “I say yeah, tell me. Knowing myself, and with the assurance that the affair was long over and had only happened with one person, then I’d probably forgive her too. 20 years is just too long to throw away with someone. You loved them once, you can love them again, right? At least this would give me the opportunity to pinpoint why it happened and then work on our marriage/relationship from there. Just don’t leave me in the dark about it.” – Andrew, 27.

[Confession: I cheated on my boyfriend and feel a lot better now!]

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to many things, but we’re not sure your relationship is one of them. Where do you land on the cheating debate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Minot Little
Minot Little

Minot Little is a freelance writer who has been getting paid for spreading her sarcastic take on love, life, and sex since 2010. She is many things that peop...

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