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Home » The Vine

The Vine: September 14, 2011

Submitted by on September 14, 2011 – 9:10 AM52 Comments

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 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

Dear Sick,

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.

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  • MP says:

    Agreed. Just stir your own pot of beans and keep your spoon out of theirs.

  • Anne says:

    Totally agree with Sars that it's not your place to share this info. You also told him you wouldn't do anything with his contact information, and running to his wife seems to fall under that umbrella. People's lives are complicated and sometimes really ugly, so be glad that you are out of theirs, and stay out.

  • Courtney says:

    I loved this! You are so right! Kindness is more important than honesty!

    And no way would I want to get that email.

    I've been the person who knew that a friends boyfriend was cheating and when asked by friend directly, I couldn't lie and said yes. And then I was that chick who hurt my friend, AND made it easier for the boyfriend to end it. It still bugs me.

    Great advice, as always!

  • JeniMull says:

    Agreed. As a wife and mother to three young kids, it's hard enough on the relationship – and that's without the stress of a move and a child with a disability.

    Maybe he will look at himself and rein it in. Maybe he has a found a great way to "play" in his new town. Either way – be happy you got out of it, and make sure your friends steer clear if they meet him.

  • attica says:

    Yeah, I agree with Sars too. Seeing as what you and Weasel got up to was mostly innocent in deed (if not in intention)and can probably be explained away by a smooth talker, there's not a lot that recommends a scorched earth policy.

    And besides, if he's eager to cat about and that lousy at track-covering? If she doesn't already, Mrs. W will know soon enough.

    You dodged a bullet; don't start a war.

  • attica says:

    Or to quote Sars "That you have knowledge of something doesn't mean you have responsibility for it."

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Courtney, I wouldn't beat myself up about that. I mean…I would, but needlessly. Heh. It's different if it's a friend and she asks you straight out.

  • pomme de terre says:

    @Courtney — I think answering a direct question about cheating is a completely different thing than seeking someone out and divulging the news. You were NOT the one who hurt your friend.

    My policy in that situation is that while I won't seek out the wronged party, I won't lie for the cheater either.

  • Robin says:

    If she contacts you after seeing your info on his phone or something, then I would be honest with her. Beyond that, I wouldn't contact her at all. You owe him no allegiance to lie if she asks.

    You also have no idea what is going on in that relationship. You're not her friend. No matter how much you think you know her from the blog, you don't really know her. To set off this bomb would be irresponsible.

    You did the right thing by cutting him off the way you did. Maybe your words were the ones that pushed him into better behavior.

  • Marv in DC says:

    I would also point out Sars advice about the blog. Just because people write a great and funny blog, doesn't mean they are in fact great or funny. I think many people think that because they have read all of someone's blog that that means they "know" the blogger. (Obviously this doesn't apply to Sars who is probably awesome!)

  • Kara says:

    @Courtney & Sars: In these situations, I adopt a policy of "I'll keep my mouth shut unless/until I am asked directly, in which case I'll tell the truth." Because on the flip side, if I were the cheated-on woman and I asked my friend directly and she lied, and then I found out that she was lying, I'd feel betrayed by both the cheating dude AND my friend. I was in a similar situation, asked point-blank if this thing was happening, and I don't regret saying yes (and my friend was grateful, not angry).

    Re: the letter, as soon as I read "I told some friends and they advised me to tell her what he did," I thought "She didn't ask me, because: no." I think the kindest thing to do is continue doing nothing. You don't have to deal with the fallout. I know you mean well, truly; you don't seem to be coming from a "vengeance is mine" sort of place. But at best, to paraphrase Lester Freamon, telling would be setting fire to something and walking away while it burns. Actually, I think as "OMG, he's married?" scenarios go, this is about the best you could hope for – this wasn't an affair of long-standing, you hadn't fallen in love, you hadn't slept with the guy, you don't have any cause to see him again. Let it stay dead.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Marv: Thanks! But…you know. Sometimes awesome, sometimes asshat, just like everyone else.

    But you make a good point. The fact is, there is shit you cannot know about other people and their relationships — there is shit Weasel has never even told HIMSELF, much less a therapist or his wife or the LW. Inferring from a blog that you have a duty to step up to the blogger's personal life is a big big leap.

  • Jen B. says:

    I don't think it's this black and white. Just as there are certainly people who wouldn't want to know for the reasons Sars stated, there are certainly people who *would* want to know so they can address the situation. How about the fact that his wife might suspect that something is "off" but can't put her finger on it, and so just goes around feeling miserable and not knowing why? I think whether one decides to tell or not, either decision is understandable for its own reasons.

    I also feel that when Weasel chose to drag an innocent person into a cheating situation, he made his relationship her business. I don't think that the responses here appreciate that telling about cheating isn't wrong, it's the cheating that's wrong.

    P.S. "For every beautiful woman, there's a man somewhere who's sick of her bullshit." What in the misogynistic hell is that?

  • Jen says:

    Sars beat me to it in her last comment! There is so much we can't know about other people, and their relationships especially. It's a pot far too messy to stir without really knowing what's in it.

    I hope all these answers help you feel better, Sick, because you did nothing wrong. And as Robin said, maybe your response did make him think more about his situation. You'll never know, but it's not your responsibility.

    Lastly, Weasel did 'fess up before too much of significance happened. He was still absolutely in the wrong to solicit the date and to misrepresent himself, but he clearly knew it and acknowledged it. (Not soon enough, no…but sooner than a lot of people certainly do.) Maybe this plus Sick's response will lead him to take this issue to his wife, as he should have from the start.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    "For every beautiful woman, there's a man somewhere who's sick of her bullshit." What in the misogynistic hell is that?

    The point isn't that it's a woman, or whether she's hot. It's that appearances can be deceiving and you never know what else is going on. "She's so pretty, ergo she must have a perfect life, job, personality, all the shoes she wants, etc." — not necessarily true.

    Not every expression with the word "woman" in it is sexist, but if you want to rewrite it with "handsome man," feel free.

  • Bitts says:

    Totally, 100% agree with Sars. Err on the side of circumspection and back away from the whole sitch. It DOES NOT MATTER if he's "unfulfilled' or she's a 'harpy.' Get, and STAY out of it. They will work it out. Or they won't. Speaking as a wife and mother, I can pretty confidently say that in the end, it has little or nothing to do with you anyway. You were slightly used. Shake it off, and leave them to themselves. You have a very small, very skewed version of the story. Let them work out its end on their own.

  • Bubbles says:

    Sars, about the beautiful woman line, maybe it's the "there's a man" bit that reads a little misogynistic? I saw it on Pinterest the other day as "She may be beautiful, but somewhere someone is sick of her bullshit." I didn't realize there was a definite source for it.
    I would like to throw out a plea to those who would tell to just tell and get it over with. For a year or so, my so-called best friend was all "he's bad for you" "you need to drop him" doom and gloom, but wouldn't tell me why. Turns out boy had been hitting on her, but she was trying to protect me by not just saying what was going on. (This isn't the reason she has former friend status. That's a longer, more backstabby story. Oh college…)
    But in this particular case, I'm with Sars. And I will be stealing borrowing "kindness is often more important than honesty" to teach my kiddo.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Bubbles: Fair enough, but as a writer, I prefer the first version for the parallel structure. (If anything, it assumes the hetero, so there's that.)

    I'm all for examining the language for agendas, but I'm a declared feminist who examines the language for the language itself for a living. Give me the benefit of the doubt, please.

  • Jaybird says:

    I used to think I'd want to know. And if my husband just came home one day and announced he wanted out, I'd definitely want to know about any third party(ies) then. But for all the LW knows, this would totally take the wife by surprise. It would not be a kindness. Salving one's own conscience, I get. But wiping it on someone else, someone who would be devastated by it? No.

    You didn't sleep with the guy. He, for his own admittedly skeevy part, told you the deal. Done, done and done. The wife, even if she IS a harpy, has enough on her plate. If he has a conscience at all, let it torment him. If he doesn't, nothing you do will tweak what doesn't exist. By exiting the scene, you did the honorable thing already.

  • Sam says:

    Wow, a Vine letter I can chime in on. Sars is absolutely right; you don't know their life. Right before I graduated from college a girl moved into a nearby dorm. Her boyfriend was caught cheating by one of her friends, who promptly told her. The girl confronted her boyfriend and guess what happened? The girl ended up stabbing him.

    My policy is the same as most of you: if I know and the cheated-on party asks me and they are a close friend, I'll tell. Otherwise my trap stays shut.

  • Kathleen says:

    OK, just for dicussion sake, I wonder if there's something in between "stay out" and "Tell her"? Like sending her the link to his Crigslist ad. (through some new anonymous email) Not telling her anything happend, just telling her that he's looking. And then shutting down the anonymous email and staying the hell out of it.

    Other factors worth considoring would be if ther's anyway you could actually end up having to deal with these people again. ( how big a town do you live in?) Maybe it's a huge city and you'll never see them again, Maybe it's a small town and she ends up patronising your workplace… just saying sometimes, it's a small complicated world.

  • Mary W says:

    True story that illustrates the point: I guy I was dating broke up with me out of the blue and then 5 days later, changed his FB status from "single" to "in a relationship." I knew in my heart he had cheated on me with the new person and had an easy way via FB to contact her. I pondered it and decided not to reach out. About a year later, I happened to run into the two of them at a party and ended up chatting with her for quite a while. Again – had plenty of opportunity to relate some things to her and raise doubuts but held off. She and I became FB friends and I really did think about saying, "Do you ever get a sleeze vibe off him?" but what kept me from it was the fact that she didn't know me at all and she was in a relationship with him. So I kept my mouth shut.

    She did break up with him a few months ago, she reached out to me and asked some direct questions, I told her the truth about the timeline for when I dated him and the breakup, she realized he was cheating on us both and it confirmed for her (and me) what a sleeze he is. I asked her point blank: "If I had reached out a year ago, what would you have done?" Her reply: "I didn't know you and would have believed his BS over your truth."

    For me, the moral of the story is that no matter that you have the truth on your side, keeping quiet is the way to go unless/until you get asked a direct question. You probably won't ever get asked, so let it go.

  • Cora says:

    The tell/don't tell argument depends on a whole lot of different circumstances. Sars' advice in this case is spot on, because Sick doesn't know the wife at all, doesn't know the marriage, doesn't know the situation. (I mean, are we sure she was the first person he kissed besides his wife? Maybe he's done this before.)

    But there are other situations, such as this: Friend knows both Wife and Husband well. Friend finds out Husband is cheating, and that he hasn't recently been tested. In that case, I'd say Friend needs to go to Husband and say "either you tell Wife, or I will" because there are both emotional and physical health issues.

    There is no one right answer to every situation; but for this one, Sars is right. Stay the heck out.

  • anotherkate says:

    Everyone has great advice, but I think the corollary here is don't look to Craigslist for dates. I'd love to hear different from the TNation, but my & my friends experiences have led me to think that CL personals are the bottom of the barrel.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    This kind of situation niggles and nags at you because the guy dragged you, if only partway, into his shit and left you without any satisfying way to get it off your shoes.

    It's always somewhere on the spectrum between "irritating" and "white hot BOILING RAGE" to suddenly get a couple scenes of someone else's drama played out with you idavertently cast in a role, only to be told the ending's none of your business. Whether it's two complete strangers having an arguement without noticing you standing RIGHT THERE next to them in the post office line, your sister's bizarro-world parenting tactics, or the whoopsie-I'm-married-hehheh crap, suddenly you go from tending your own little garden to this person demanding first your attention and then your captitulation. At least that's what it feels like.

    Satisfaction is a feeling that's a lot rarer then our culture would have you believe, as is the insidious scenario of "closure." The sooner you decide satisfaction/closure is off the menu, the faster you can blow out of this crappy restaurant and find a better place, one with clean tables and more polite staff.

  • Kara says:

    @anotherkate: I know someone who went out with what turned out to be a homeless actively-using junkie (she got high in the bathroom during their date) that he met on Craigslist. That did not go well. But I know a few stable, educated, "normal" women who have met fuckbuddies on Craiglist with no drama (or, you know, murdering). From what I understand, regular women (as opposed to prostitutes) are few and far between on Craigslist so the ones that are there can take their pick. Sick said she got a lot of responses to her ad. And one of my gay male friends said he had some of the best sex he ever had with a dude he met on Craigslist. So I think dating might be iffy, but no-strings-attached sex can be had.

    And the story Sick recounts could just as easily have happened (and HAS happened) with someone she met on Match or eHarmony – it's not very out-there, as bad dating stories go.

  • Jen S 2.0 says:

    Adding to the chorus: You've done nothing wrong so far, but from now on, mind your own store with regard to their relationship. If he's not going to any lengths to cover his tracks, she'll find out eventually.

    If asked, you should be honest, but if not asked, you probably should be silent.

  • Sandman says:

    I'd say that Sick at heart's letter itself is some indication that not all Craiglist users are ethically stunted. And as long as a site like Ashley Madison exists (because, seriously?), any other site is necessarily at least one iron hoop from the bottom of that barrel.

    But I'm kind of torn: I can't decide if TN's next T-shirt should be
    Sometimes awesome, sometimes asshat, just like everyone else. or the ever-so-humble Yes. And somewhere there's a man/woman who's sick of my bullshit.. Maybe the second could come in a check-all-that-apply format?

    Good luck to Sick, at any rate, and good call on shutting down Mr. Wonderful.

  • Sick at Heart says:

    Hey Nation, just wanted to let folks know that I haven't contacted Mrs. Weasel, and won't in the future. Shortly after the guy's little revelation, she came out with some personal news on her blog that made me really, really glad I hadn't chosen to meddle. (I won't get more specific because I don't want to risk identifying her.) Sars for the win!

    @Jen S 1.0 "This kind of situation niggles and nags at you because the guy dragged you, if only partway, into his shit and left you without any satisfying way to get it off your shoes."

    YES. That is precisely how I felt. At this point though I've given up on closure. I'm just trying to follow the other part of Sars' advice and quit reading her blog.

  • Sick at Heart says:

    @anotherkate, I suppose I should be miffed about the whole barrel bottom thing, since you know, I was on craigslist? Heh. But I know what you mean. So many CL ads/responses are mind-numbingly awful. However, I have met a few very cool, offbeat, respectful, unmarried, non-cheating people on craigslist! And not for casual hookups, but for regular dating. Weasel notwithstanding, I've actually had a better success rate with CL over OkCupid.

  • Jennifer says:

    Re the quality of Craiglist dates, I have a friend who met a wonderful guy on CL 2 years ago. They're still together and will probably marry. Every once in a while, after she has recounted some story that illustrates his awesomeness, we'll look at each other and say "Craigslist. Who knew?" I tried it and came up with a bunch of bottom dwellers, but somehow she got lucky.

    But, FWIW, I had a similar experience to Sick's (minus learning details about the wife) and it was with a guy I met on Weasels will always find a way.

  • Jane says:

    I think there are situations where it's worth considering telling. One is if you're directly asked; another is if he's exposing her to risk she wouldn't otherwise know about–in other words, seeking to have sex unprotected or engaging in other risky sexual behaviors. But this situation isn't those.

    I think it was Carolyn Hax who actually challenged the "I would want to know" dogma by pulling in the voices of people who wished they hadn't known–certainly it's dicey to assume on behalf of a stranger that she'd prefer the knowledge and thereby rob her of any even subconscious choice. I just don't think it would actually be helpful to force anybody's hand on this, and that's what telling, even with the best of intentions, would be doing.

  • Sara says:

    Most outstanding response ever. Okay, that's a bit dramatic, but Sars' advice is pitch perfect. I feel increasingly that we live in a society (or perhaps it's just the circles I am in) that values honesty above all else, that speaking truth and honesty can never be wrong because they are truths and we must speak them. This comes from an earnest place, no doubt, and I understand the urge to reach for it, I often do myself, but I think it's an approach that can drown nuance, and in the end, I don't know how well that serves us. I'm not advocating lying, of course, just saying that sometimes, other considerations besides raw truth should be examined and given their due.

  • Kelly says:

    The sooner you decide satisfaction/closure is off the menu, the faster you can blow out of this crappy restaurant and find a better place, one with clean tables and more polite staff.

    I want that on cross-stitched on something.

    @Sandman: How about "Yes. And somewhere there's a person who's sick of my bullshit?"

    I have had some success with CL back in the day when I wanted a fuck-buddy. It can work if you know what you want.

  • Jane says:

    P.S. That does mean you have to find a different way to achieve closure on this so you can move on from the possibility. Try writing "[That guy] is a cheating fuckface" on a piece of paper and burn it in a candle flame, first dismantling the smoke alarm. Ice it on a cake and eat it. Whatever–just find a way to close that door and check off this issue on the mental list.

  • Robin says:

    This from an older Robin, (different one from the earlier post):don't blame Craigslist for the lowlifes who might be using it. Cheaters will always find a way. I remember from dating back in the '70s, my surprise when I found out a guy I had been seeing(non-exclusively) was married and still living with his wife, one city away. There was no Internet back then, I'd met him as a friend of a friend, and hadn't been serious enough ablout him to check out his background more thoroughly. What can I say; casual hookups were a lot easier before HIV, and background checking was a lot harder before Google! Another guy I was seeing did the checking and spilled the beans to the wife _and_ to me. I felt like a moron, but she probably felt a lot worse.
    I side now with those who say don't tell unless you're asked directly, and I'm glad you re-posted to let us know you're keeping out of their mess.
    Better luck on your future dates, you're sure to find a better mate than Mr. Weasel.

  • Allison says:

    My best friend was in this same situation a few years ago, except the guy had a live-in girlfriend instead of a wife, and the relationship with my friend had progressed quite far before she found out about his cheating ways. My friend decided to tell the girlfriend under the auspices of "I would want to know if I were her." It did not go well. She ended up on a speaker phone call with the cheater and his girlfriend and, despite my friend's ample evidence, the cheater was able to spin it that my friend was a crazy person who was obsessed with him and lying about the whole deal. The girlfriend believed him.

    Later, after they had broken up, the girlfriend called my friend and told her that she now believed her, etc. But still, it was a heinous mess with no immediate outcome except to make my friend feel more victimized by being painted as a stalker by the cheater. I'm a believer that scumbags of this nature will get their comeuppance in the end, and it's best to just stay out of the way.

  • MinglesMommy says:

    LET IT GO. You don't need their drama in your life. You're a kindhearted person for caring about this poor woman, but as others have stated, it will bite him in the rear when it bites him in the rear. You don't have to bite him – life will. :)

  • Turbonium says:

    "What good does speaking your truth do in this situation?"

    It gets back at him for being such a FUCKING PIG.

    …which is, I think, what a lot of these "should I tell the partner of the person who cheated with me" questions boil down to.

  • Sarahnova says:

    OK, just for dicussion sake, I wonder if there's something in between "stay out" and "Tell her"? Like sending her the link to his Crigslist ad. (through some new anonymous email) Not telling her anything happend, just telling her that he's looking. And then shutting down the anonymous email and staying the hell out of it.

    I often see people consider/suggest this, and I have to say I don't think it's ever a good idea. It IS meddling; it's just meddling that reduces your credibility and tries to protect you from the fallout. If you're going to meddle, to my mind, you should have the courage to do it as yourself.

  • Julia says:

    I agree that something is off and think Sick at Heart should stay as far away from this situation as possible. I'm old and jaded and the fact that he used his @the-real-namersons domain email address, told you he was married right after what sounds like a nice date, and made it really easy for you to check him out and find the wife's blog tells me she probably knows what's going on and you really don't want to be sucked into whatever marital drama is playing out. Maybe they have an arrangement, maybe she cheated first and he is being so obvious because he wants revenge, or maybe they are looking for another sister wife and were feeling you out. Maybe he really is an otherwise okay guy in an unhappy marriage with the additional stress of a special needs child making a misguided attempt to escape it, even if it's just for an evening. It was unfair of him to bring you into his personal problems and I think you dodged a bullet by finding out as early as you did, before there was real emotional involvement on your part. You don't owe either of them anything. Be glad you're out of it and do as Sars said – delete him completely and don't look back.

  • jbp says:

    I disagree…

    Having been in 2 different roles, I will ALWAYS want to know:

    1. I found out he was cheating in the receiving line at his mother's wake. (I know, it sounds like a horrid country song, and yet, it's true) It took me a long time to get over that.

    2. I had recently moved to a different city. Friend and her beau were living together. He was sleeping around with 2 of her friends. (nice friends, right?) I found out through other friends. No one there would tell her. I did. It was not pleasant to be on either end of the conversation, but 9 years later, she still thanks me for being brave enough to tell her.

    How she finds out does matter. And the special-needs kid does as well. But whether the guy needs to hear from you that he really should tell his wife, or whether you should send an email to him at that address, just thanking him for his honesty after the date (kind of a passive-aggressive way to do it, granted), … that is up to you.

    No one WANTS to find out. But I think we all have an obligation on a very basic level for honesty. Do unto others, etc… Just my $.02.

  • D says:

    Can I throw in a similar but slightly different situation here? What if it's your parents? i.e. My dad told me that basically he is on the edge of having an affair. (Why he would tell me this, I dunno.) He classified it as "complicated."
    My mom suspects something is up – she told me she is worried about how weird he has been acting. Should I tell her? Or leave it be?

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Eewwww, your dad dragged you into this shit? WRONG. I honestly don't know what to say, except: parents? This is NOT something your KID needs to know, and expecting them to want to, or fix your relationship, is just gross, and wrong, and wrong, and wrong.

  • cinderkeys says:

    D: Damn. I have no advice at all. If it were me, I'd probably say "Please don't do this" to him, and then write a Vine letter.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Neither of them should be talking to or otherwise enlisting their child in this. "Mom/Dad, I love you and I want your happiness — but it is not appropriate for you to confide in me about your relationship with each other. Please see a marriage counselor pronto and do not put me in this position again."

  • Alie says:

    I understand the emotional complications of telling, which make not-telling the immediately kinder choice. But it seems to me that cheaters…cheat. And cheaters who cheat usually do so with little regard to the wellbeing of those they cheat on.

    A friend of mine got herpes from her cheating husband. She was a virgin when they married, having waited a long while to have sex because that's how she rolled. He cheated, she got herpes, now she has to have herpes for the rest of her life. I know Weasel didn't have sex with Sick, but it seems to me that in this world of STDs, it's kinder to tell the person and at least give them the information, the tools to protect themselves, even if they decide not to use it. If I got an anonymous email or letter that said that my partner was cheating on me, I'd probably not believe the letter or email–but it would make me take stock and consider whether partner was being sketchy, had pictures of anonymous young women on his phone, disappeared for hours at a time every Friday night, and so on. It would allow me to check for myself.

    Maybe it's just that I'm sensitive because I've seen the very real, very material, very more-serious-than-just-emotional-damage that cheating can do, but not-telling doesn't seem kind to me. Even if honesty oughtn't trump kindness–which I think it true in many ways–not-telling seems more cruel than kind.

  • LDA says:

    I think the problem is that you have to be sure you are doing the right thing when you tell. And that you have to be sure that they would want to know. Because you are making a change in their life, unrequested. And despite the fact that you personally might want to know or you know stories where the woman (or man) really needed to know, you can't apply that to everyone. Not everyone wants to know. Not everyone needs to know. Not everyone will be better off for knowing.

  • pomme de terre says:

    @jdp, Alie — I think the answer is more clear-cut when you have solid proof of cheating. If it's just suspicions, or even shady behavior (hi, married friend getting drunk with a handsome co-worker and using me as a chaperone/fig leaf), it's a tougher call. Alie is right to point out that sometimes telling is the kinder thing to do. I don't think that the anonymous note is the way to go then, because you leave a person trying to prove a negative, which is a total mind-fuck.

  • Amy says:

    Having been on the receiving end of cheating from my ex-husband, and knowing that lots of "friends" and mere acquaintances knew, and no one valued me enough as a person to bother telling me until I had to see it with my own two eyes, I will always tell if someone is cheating. Always. I've read through all 40+ comments plus Sars' response, and while I can appreciate those who disagree with me, I absolutely 100% want to know. And I could never keep that information from someone else. I wasted valuable years of my life with that scumbag. Had someone told me when it first started, I could have saved myself a lot of grief. And time. And I wouldn't have certain images burned into my retinas for the rest of my life.

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