• Keeping Friends

Finding Out A Dark Secret About A Friend

Published: February 9, 2024 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

How do you handle finding out a dark secret about a friend, something she hasn’t told you? Do you say something?


Hi Irene,

I became friends with a really nice woman about five months ago. We were introduced at church and I became involved in a committee that she is in charge of.

We have spent a tremendous amount of time together and really gotten to know each other. Our husbands have hit it off and are now friends also. My adult son got a job working “under” her husband and they carpool three days a week.

The point I am getting at is that we have all become very close and really enjoy each other’s company. BUT, today I received some rather shocking news about my new girlfriend and I am reeling!

I was told that she is listed on the sex offenders website for our state. I checked the site and was totally shocked to find out that 12 years ago she was convicted of indecent liberties with a minor.

I am dumbfounded…blown away. I really have no idea what to think or do about what I know. I don’t dare discuss this with my husband before I fully digest this information.  Should I tell my friend that I know? How would you handle this situation? I am confused to say the least.

Signed, Barbara

What is a dark secret?

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

A dark secret is a piece of information that is only known by one person or a few people and should not be told.


Hi Barbara,

I can understand you would be shocked to find out something like this. Bear in mind that the information is more than a decade old and your friend certainly appears to have straightened out her life since then.

Many people harbor ghosts in their past that they are too embarrassed to discuss, even with the closest of friends. She must live in fear of being found out.

I would think you would want to share the news with your husband so you can talk to him confidentially and process the information.

Ordinarily, I would see no need to tell your friend you’ve found out about her past but you haven’t mentioned how you found out. Depending on the source of the initial information about her, you may decide that your friend should know what’s being said about her. At the same time, you could reassure her that you’re on her side and value her friendship.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Revised and updated 2/9/24

What advice would you give to this reader? Should she say something?

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Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Barbara — If the sex offender registry is public domain or otherwise easily obtained by the general public in your state, then you may not have to broach how you learned about that part of her background. After all, the names on the registry are available to everyone. Instead, you can concentrate on getting the facts in a matter-of-fact, non-judgemental way.

    Last, I believe that in some states, a sex offender’s registering is optional (which is ludicrous, but I digress). If this is the case in your state, the fact that she decided to register, thereby making her past public knowledge, possibly speaks to her desire to ‘turn her life around,’ or accept responsibility for her actions, as Irene mentioned. All of that said, if you or your family ever feel that something isn’t right about a situation involving your friend, be sure to take a closer look.

    Best of luck to you, Barbara!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think you can assume she has turned her life around since you’ve only known her for a few months. Meeting her in church does not necessarily mean she is a “good” person. Personally I would want to know more. This registry is here for a good reason. Maybe she has turned her life around, maybe she hasn’t. I don’t think you should be too quick to judge either way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You need to question her regarding the circumstances sooner than later..that registry is available for a reason..I would be suspect of a friendship that grew so close so quick (5mons)…BUT question her with an open mind and heart…For we all have fallen short of his Glory…but the Lord makes all things NEW!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is possible that she was 18 and engaged in consensual sexual activity with say, her 16 year old boyfriend. While the activity may have been illegal, something like that is not the same as child molestation.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for answering my question Irene. I feel better knowing that I am making the right decision in continuing the friendship and giving her a fair chance. Eventually, I might ask her about the circumstances and let her know that I am still her friend and support her. She is so sweet and seems to really have turned her life around ( I understand she accepted the Lord into her life 10 years ago!) Thank you! Barbara

  6. Irene says:

    Thanks for adding this excellent comment. Irene

  7. Anonymous says:

    Please keep in mind that it may have been an issue where she said something indecent, exposed herself. The legal definitions may vary. But the writer should be observant if this friend tends to isolate children from adults (like parties at her house without supervision) and volunteers excessively in child-centered activities.

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