One of the ethical dilemmas many readers face almost as soon as we start reading for others is the question of reading about someone other than the person who requested the reading. It really can't be avoided. Our lives are interconnected webs of contact with others who impact our experience and clients naturally want to know how others' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are likely to affect their situation. There are readers who believe reading about others who are not present is akin to spying and a violation of their privacy. Other readers have no qualms about it, while still others fall somewhere between. If you are a reader whose ethics preclude reading for others not immediately present, problem solved. You just don't do it. But if you're like me, someone who views very few things in an either/or way, and a reader who takes such queries on a case-by-case basis, you could find yourself wrestling with this frequently.
Reading about others who are involved in the client's situation is tricky. While the client is available to give feedback about the situation from their perspective, the other person is not, so you can't know for sure if what you are seeing in the cards about that person is accurate. Because the client is biased to their own perspective, as we all are, they cannot always objectively verify the information either. I mean, if they knew the answer already, they wouldn't be asking a tarot reader. For example, when a client asks me why their long-distance lover hasn't contacted them in two weeks, I can certainly tell them what I see in the cards, but neither of us can verify whether that information is true, at least not until my client hears from the other person. And even then, the other person may or may not be forthcoming.
If you decide to read about others in this way, you will determine your own ethical boundaries for it. My own line seems to reside in the practical usefulness of the information. For example, I will read about someone's love interest, boss, friend, or relative that is immediately involved in the situation, but I often will not read on that other person's relationship with yet another person, once removed. Even then, my decision depends on how much influence that other relationship may have on my client's situation. If a client is romantically involved with someone who is married or partnered with someone else, my client is naturally curious about their relationship. They often want to know if they are being told the truth, if that relationship is actually on the rocks or not. That's a reasonable request. However, if they want to know how that other person's partner feels or how that other, other person will likely respond, then it gets pretty far reaching and not very useful. My perspective is that what really matters is the immediate relationship between my client and this person. Other extraneous relationships, no matter how significant they may be to my client's other person, do not immediately affect my client. The other person's decisions will affect my client, so we can take a look at those. I'm not rigid about this. If my client can explain to me why taking a look into that other-other person is important to their decision-making process, depending on their answer, I may oblige. But I probably won't because there are few situations that truly depend on this information and it just smacks of being nosey. Besides, I'm not infallible and I make mistakes, and I would hate for my client to make an important decision based on some potentially faulty information which can't be confirmed. If they do, well, that's on them, but I don't recommend it.
Other people are one of tarot reading's wild cards. While many like to think that everything that happens to us is something we had a say in, it just isn't true. Other people have their own varied choices and decisions to make that may or may not ripple-effect into your life. They also have their own reasons, known or unknown even to them, why they choose what they do. I've also noticed that humans have a pattern of acting contrary to what they want, which may seem odd, but we're actually socialized to sublimate our desires and act according to "reason" or other socially-acceptable "logic."
I use a simple spread that examines the other person's view of the situation, their feelings about it, what they want concerning the situation and what they will likely do. Most often the position describing what they want and the one showing what they will likely do are miles apart. It's interesting to see whether they will act according to their view (thoughts), their feelings, or their desires or based upon something else entirely, which could be someone else's expectations, society's or their mother's, who knows? While this spread is very revealing, it's not always useful because, again, we can't always verify whether the information is accurate. In the instances where it can be verified it often proves accurate, because tarot is just that good, but often we cannot tell whether it really is true. That's one of my main objection to reading about others not present for the reading. I do it, yes, but I will always include an overall advice card to help the client make the most out of the information provided. Because whether the information is accurate or not, it's not empowering or healthy to approach a situation in an entirely reactionary way, leaving the results in the hands of someone else's choices.
This information is usually very useful when a client is simply struggling with trying to understand another significant person in their life. It's helpful because sometimes even when we ask the other person why they do this or think that, they may not be aware of their own motivations or subconscious goings on, so the answers we get don't always make sense to us. I've done many readings that have brought peace out of confusion for a client who was genuinely stumped by someone else's behavior. Using the information from such a reading, my client can then open up lines of communication between themselves and their significant other, approaching the stalemate from a different perspective, asking more relevant questions, and acknowledging the other person's point of view. I've received feedback from clients to that end and it is very satisfying to know they used our reading in that very productive way. Because I've seen this kind of reading put to such valuable use, I will continue to read for others about others, with my own limitations in place.