The Vine: September 14, 2011
Help me please, I'm having an ethical dilemma and I can't stand it.
It started on Craigslist (of course). I put up an ad in "women seeking men" and a million guys replied. One stood out. We emailed back and forth a bunch. When I first suggested a meeting, he said he had to move that weekend, but definitely wanted to meet up another time. We eventually found a night to meet up at a bar and then to see a live music show.
He was funny and charming on the date, telling me all about his move, his (very demanding, odd-hours) career, upcoming vacation, tastes in books and music, etc. He told me had moved to our city a couple years ago for work and was feeling isolated by having nothing but work friends. When we got to the show, we set into some heavy flirting. At the end of the night, he walked me to my bus stop, holding my hand. When we got there, he kissed me, and it would have been a much longer make-out session if the bus hadn't arrived at just that moment.
Elated, I emailed him back and asked about meeting again. He seemed enthusiastic. I gave him my regular, non-Craigslist date-email address. He in turn sent me a message from a different account, one with his name in it, asking when would be a good time to call me (we hadn't talked on the phone at this point, just emailed). Well, he called and after some chit-chat, told me he had something that he had to tell me that would probably make me angry, and might make me hang up the phone.
Guessed it yet? Yeah, he was married. At no time during our exchanges did he indicate that he wasn't single (no ring of course), and I naively didn't think I needed to ask. At the time I was so gobsmacked and he sounded so contrite and ashamed that I told him I wouldn't do anything with his contact information. (Voluntarily; he didn't ask this of me.) I had also asked him if he was separated or getting a divorce, and he said no, but that they were "very unhappy." He apologized to me several times, but I told him the issue was between him and his wife. I told him if he was that unhappy, he should get out, not look for dates on Craigslist. (I got out of an unhealthy long-term relationship and am pretty over-the-moon about it.) He told me had made a big mistake, that he just meant to go on a fun outing and it got away from him. I told him on no uncertain terms that I wouldn't see him again, and ended the call.
After the news sunk in, it started eating at me. At first I had laughed, thinking every straight girl gets snookered by a married guy at least once, right? But then…I Googled. The real name email in it had a domain name: the-his-real-namersons.net. The fact that it was a plural surname would have struck me as odd eventually anyway, but at the time I made the really stupid assumption that his extended family must have a domain and I should ask him about it later; there was probably a cute story.
So, I Googled it and found…his wife's blog. A blog all about parenting their very young child with a significant disability. Her entire life was on display, and I didn't look away. Any amusement I had about this turned to shame and dismay as I was literally faced with the woman he had been deceiving, and his child. There were all the stories he had told me about moving, etc. except there was all the family he had carefully edited out. At the end of it I was left with the impression that his wife is a super-smart, funny lady and a wonderful mom, and that I was coated with a thick layer of shame-scum.
Her email address is right there on the blog. I told some friends about it and they advised me to tell her what he did, saying "you would want to know if you were in her shoes." I think they're right. I also think that to do so would be extremely destructive, meddling with their lives on a nuclear scale. I'm terrified of pushing the big red button. But I'll always feel sick over it if I don't do anything, having this knowledge and not reaching out to her.
If it makes a difference, I think at least part of him wants it to come out as "accidental discovery." He was sloppy in covering his tracks: he could have predicted I would Google and find the very-easy-to-find blog, I saw my picture saved on his phone, we met up in public, etc. This part makes me even angrier, as I think it is extremely weaselly to let her find out as an explosive surprise rather than coming clean to her himself (or you know, not sneaking around behind her back).
So what to do?
Thank you in advance for your advice. Whatever it is, I'm going to abide by it.
Sick at heart
Do nothing. This is not your wrong to right. That it's serious business doesn't make it your business, so congratulate yourself on bailing before anything really ick happened and move on to something else.
"But I would want to know!" Really? You'd want to know? You'd want information that would lead to a split, emotionally if not physically, from your partner, when you have not just a child together, but a child with special needs? You'd want intel about his shittiness that would force you to 1) leave him and go it alone while back-and-forthing over child support for years on end, or 2) stay with him in an armed camp, knowing he left you at home with the kid and went to a show and made out all carefree like he's 19 with no obligations? This is data you want? I don't think it is.
I also don't think you've considered how much you don't know. Maybe Mrs. Weasel has this data already in some form or another and has just chosen not to care, or to look the other way. You don't know whether Mrs. Weasel seems super-smart and funny and totally on it parenting-wise on her own blog, but is actually a harpy. Or maybe something less extreme but still alienating, like she's very focused on Weasel Jr. (…hmm, this nickname maybe isn't that awesome; sorry, kid!) and doesn't really let Weasel help, or let him in emotionally, or agree to go on date night now and then. What's the expression — for every beautiful woman, there's a man somewhere who's sick of her bullshit?
Or maybe Weasel is a selfish ass, or a sucky baby who can't handle hard times in his relationships, or a human being who fucked up (it happens), or a combo. I don't know either. I do know that Weasel's behavior is sketchy with you at the very least, and he shouldn't have misrepresented himself. I also know that any child can place unanticipated stresses on the joints of a marriage, never mind a child with a disability — it's just a lot, logistically, emotionally, for both parents, and some people can go to a zen place and bond together tightly with it and it's fine. Other people feel suffocated by the responsibility and they act out. A reason is not an excuse; this isn't a defense of Weasel, or blaming Mrs. Weasel for his cheaty scheming. Maybe he's just a twat. But I don't know, and neither do you, and the compassionate thing for you to do is to stay out of it.
I've said a dozen times that kindness is often more important than honesty; it's super-true here. What good does speaking your truth do in this situation? There is, that I can tell, no communicable disease that requires revealing or felony that took place. I think you absolutely mean well, because you think you'd like Mrs. Weasel in real life, and you sympathize with what you see as her plight — but either it isn't really a plight from her point of view, or it's going to create a plight that's a power of ten more damaging and difficult to get past than not knowing. Which, again, you don't know for sure is the case.
You didn't bone the guy, and you cut him off period full stop immediately upon discovering that he's married. Good instinct; stay with that. Delete the URL, clear your cache, and find something else to think about.
Tags: boys (and girls) ethical dilemmae