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Background

I have a friend I'll call Hamlet that I've known for quite awhile through school. He also has a girlfriend I'll call Ophelia that he's been dating for over 3 years.

I've known Ophelia for as long as they've been dating and don't like her at all. I think she's very immature, insecure, and self-centered.

There's also a group of acquaintances I associate with regularly that are friends with Ophelia. I consider them decent and trust their judgement and observations for the most part.

Situation

Earlier this week I heard from those acquaintances that Ophelia had apparently ceased the use of contraceptives. They said it's "an effort to become pregnant so that Hamlet would be 'forced' to continue being together with her." Further, they said she has taken a test and is pregnant.

Now, this is a pretty huge claim, and one that I don't take lightly. But why lie about this? This seems like something Ophelia would do. I'm still cautious that it could be a ruse, although this is unlikely.

Summary

I'd like to tell my friend Hamlet about the rumors I've encountered and the strong possibility that Ophelia may very well have done something malicious. I feel I owe it to him so he's not potentially surprised later or unknowing of Ophelia's prior spite. I think these claims are very likely to be true, so it's not like I'm just dropping a stray rumor.

I feel that Hamlet might be upset once he discovers everyone but him knew about the situation. I think it’s important I tell him now, so he has time to prepare for this and not have a sudden future surprise and take it out on the people who knew beforehand.

It’s not just simply telling him a rumor is going around, but that I personally believe it has validity.

With this in mind, how can I gently tell Hamlet that Ophelia likely 'let' herself get pregnant whilst conveying that I'm on his side and also didn’t have bad intentions?

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    why do you want to tell him this? Seriously, what would be gained compared to waiting for Ophelia to tell him? Until you know what you want to do (eg spare him pain, make sure he knows, give him a chance to do something (what?) sooner / in-time) nobody can advise you how to do it. Telling him you've heard a rumour is easy. That's not your question, right? – Kate Gregory Mar 1 at 22:51
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    @KateGregory See me edits. The difficulty of telling someone a rumor is relative. This is one that especially hits home since I knew before hand and he didn’t. Plus, I’m basically telling him that Ophelia completely set him up and that puts an additional strain to their relationship and causes a whole host of new thoughts and feelings. – Anilla Mar 1 at 23:07
  • Would you be comfortable passing on just the rumor, or are you only willing to pass on the rumor plus your commentary? – Upper_Case Mar 1 at 23:46
  • @Upper_Case my own commentary as well; “that I personally believe it has validity.” :) – Anilla Mar 1 at 23:50
  • But is including your commentary the only way you're willing to do it, or would you be open to just passing on what you heard, even if you prefer including your beliefs? – Upper_Case Mar 1 at 23:52
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There are two possibilities: it's true or it's not. And if it's true, we can presume Hamlet will find out, since the point of the scheme is to force him to stay with her. You main concern seems to be that in the midst of discovering he is going to be a father, will be yoked in some way to this woman forever, may have less money or time than he had planned to have, and that this presumably unwanted change in his life has been brought about by trickery, in the middle of all this he's going to say to you "how long have you known?" I don't think that's going to be his top priority at all.

Now, it's possible she is trying to get pregnant but has yet to succeed. It's also possible she may not stay pregnant even if she currently is - about a third of all pregnancies miscarry. So telling him may help him make sure he doesn't leave the "protection" up to her -- but could look like you're trying to break the two of them up, especially since you don't like her.

So, you want to tell him what you've heard, but let him make his own decisions. I would probably go something like this:

Hamlet, I've heard something that upset me. I'm not sure it's true but I need to tell you because you need to know. Some people are saying that Ophelia is trying to get pregnant as a way to make sure you two stay together. Some are even saying she already is. I know that's kind of shocking. I have no idea how you can confirm any of this; I guess what I'm saying is talk to Ophelia about birth control and such as soon as you can. Please don't tell her that I passed this on to you though. I don't want a distraction about how I gossiped or passed on rumours or whatever. I just feel that the two of you should talk as a couple about your plans and options and stuff. It's your business, not mine, and I'm going to put it out of my mind now that I've passed it on to you. Unless you want to talk to me about it and bring it up to me. Ok?

And then keep your word. Don't circle back to see if it was true or not, and what Hamlet is going to do about it, and so on. Don't go tell the acquaintances that Hamlet has been informed. Don't tell Ophelia that her dastardly plan won't work. Stay out of it. This is far more than a gossip topic or a drama source. Several lives may be taking significant detours and some seriously levelheaded thinking is required.

Notice also that this plan works if none of it is true: if Ophelia has deceived her chums or they have deceived you.

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    An additional reason to stick to the rumor is that using a pre-existing poor opinion of Ophelia to to establish a belief that the rumor is probably true, and then presenting that conclusion to Hamlet, doesn't actually add anything to the rumor. It would only demonstrate that you are not a reliable source of information. – Upper_Case Mar 2 at 0:27
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    Especially when you then learn they've been trying for a child for months and just didn't want to tell anyone :-S – Marianne013 Mar 5 at 12:37
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To me, gossiping and badmouthing are so close that I treat them the same way, and for what they just are: [ *** ]. That's why I never carry on with such things, no matter who tells me. "A rumour is a story or an opinion." Did you write the story? Are you responsible for the script? Do you need to pass your opinion on? Roughly, the idea behind that is that, either way, on this one, I'm not interested in your story or your opinion, even if you're my friend. But much more nicely said to someone you care for :)

When I was on your friend's side, I always answered the same way: "[ drop F-bomb ] them." Not towards the person telling me. Not being bad/rude to them. Just cut it short. I really don't care about what they say/think. I could add, depending on the relationship I have with the "messenger", I'm not interested in anything like that, and I don't mind about what flies around. You should know if your friend is this type of person or not, if he values such things, if he likes to know or not, and adapt your way to interact with him on this particular case.

Your case is slightly different though, I agree. There are 3 life on the line. And you want to let your friend know something might be slowly/quickly stewing/brewing.

When I was on your side, I'd just let them know that someone is gossiping / badmouthing them, but not what I've heard. ie: "You know, Bob, I've just heard some people gossiping / badmouthing you. I just wanted to let you know. Maybe you want to investigate about it.". If they ask me what was said / what I heard, I'd just smile and answer that I'm NOT the National Enquirer :-D

If they push a little ("What was said? Who was it? I know them?..."), you can just give a small hint: it's about you and Ophelia. Not more, not less. I've always considered that private matters like that are NOMB (1). So, when they reach my ears, I just discard. In case your friend wants to investigate, he'll have the one to talk to, as you told him: Ophelia. If he's smart, he should go and talk to her in a way that doesn't imply you or someone else. And find out by himself.


(1) None Of My Business

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    What goal/good is retaining information ("but not what I've heard") supposed to achieve ? – breversa Mar 5 at 8:54
  • @breversa : if you tell them exactly what people are gossiping about, then, you become "part of the game", and this means that, in case it's just BS, then, you do more harm to your friend. In this case, a warning is enough IMO. – OldPadawan Mar 5 at 8:58
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    So retaining information is to preserve you from becoming "part of the game". Alright. But what good will it do to your friend ? Either he won't care (= no good/bad done), or he will, in case he'll spend time, effort and stress infering things, trying to interrogate the right people, risking asking the wrong ones, which in turn will keep the rumor mill going (hence making you part of the game). IMO, it's different to tell you friend that "Alice and Bob talk about Ophelia being pregnant" (that's a fact) than "Hey, did you know that Ophelia is pregnant ?" – breversa Mar 5 at 9:12
  • @breversa : your point is good and valuable, I agree. It's just that I really hate when this happens (gossiping). On this, we seem to have a different POV. I just make a huge difference on this point: "retaining information"? No, it's not, because it's NOT information unless proven right, so I don't retain anything but BS at the moment ;) – OldPadawan Mar 5 at 9:16
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    of course no one likes it when it happens. But I'd like to stress one critical point : information is what you know is true (i.e. that Alice and Bob talk about Ophelia, because you saw/heard them personnaly do it). Gossip is what you don't know is true (i.e. that Ophelia might be pregnant, because you have no idea about it). So giving your friend the information you have is helpful. It's spreading the gossip to others that keeps the rumor mill going (sorry for getting overboard with italics here ^^) – breversa Mar 5 at 9:26

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