Q. I am in my early 30s. I’m doing well in my career and have great friends and family. My love life, however, has struggled a bit. I married young only to discover his infidelity a few months in. We tried to make things work for a few years, but he kept straying.
After leaving my ex, I spent a few years focusing on myself (grad school, travel, rebuilding friendships that fell by the wayside during my marriage). Getting back into dating was a bit intimidating. A few friends and family members suggested online dating, which I started earlier this year. I began corresponding with a man who lived a little outside the radius of someone I would normally date. We talked and exchanged phone numbers to text.
He said he had been engaged previously, but when he got home from a deployment he found out she hadn’t been faithful and ended it. Our dates were usually spontaneous, which I enjoyed. It ended up becoming a physical relationship although he never stayed over. We never went to his place because his “roommate was intrusive.”
After a few months, some of the other things he told me started not making sense. I tried to look him up online using the name he gave me, but couldn’t find him. I invited him up for an art show where we both got carded. I saw his ID, and noticed that the name on it was not the same name he told me. I asked why, and he said his job in the Navy involved “gathering human intelligence, requiring a different name.” He said that he had a cousin that looked like him and that the ID was mostly real, but it wasn’t his.
Red flags went up immediately, and I tried pushing the issue. He then told me he just wasn’t as ready to date as he thought he was, and he wasn’t “ready to give as much of himself as required.” Well, I remembered the name on that ID and I did some Internet searching. Turns out he is married with kids.
I have no malice toward him (I don’t appreciate the lies, but I’ve washed my hands of him). I never imagined I would be the other woman, especially after what I went through. As someone who has been in those shoes, I feel for the wife, especially since they have a family. The dilemma lies in what I do with this information: Do I let her know that her husband has a dating profile (and should I even include the fact that we were physical?) or do I just leave it alone?
Feeling Awful in Boston
A. “Human intelligence.” Wow.
Unfortunately, there’s no right answer to this kind of question. On one hand, it seems healthy to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. On the other hand, it seems wrong not to disclose what you know — because if you were the wife, you’d want the information.
You have to make a choice based on what you can live with. It’s possible that if you reach out to this woman, she’ll deny the truth or drag you into an online mess. It’s also possible that this is going to haunt you until you tell someone. Take some time to think about your options, and whatever you do, keep your friends in the loop. It’s important that someone is around as you navigate next steps.
If you decide to reach out to the wife, send a screen grab of his dating profile page so that she sees the evidence. It’s hard to argue with a picture. And if you decide to stay out of it, call the website and report his abuse. The site should know that he’s lying about his identity. Telling the administrators might be enough to make you feel like you’ve done your part.
It would be “right” for the wife to know but a random stranger who hooked up with her husband isn’t the one to tell her. Also, he’s a liar and a cheater and sounds like a generally bad person. So feel free to have malice toward him.
Was his name Will/Bill by any chance?
I’d send an anonymous letter with some of the details to the wife with the screen grab of his dating profile, and then I would report him to the dating site.
OK, really though, I think you should walk away. This guy will probably screw up his own life without your help.
Find a way to inform his wife; she deserves to know. But definitely show evidence. Put yourself in her shoes, as well as the shoes of the next “other woman” he will deceive.
You do nothing. She will eventually find out, if she doesn’t already know. She’s not your responsibility, you have no idea what is involved in their marriage, and you have no idea what you are stepping into. Learn from it and move on.
Why do people assume that the only reason she would want to tell is to hurt him? Isn’t it hurting the wife to not tell her? Isn’t it treating the wife like a child to withhold information from her because for some reason you have decided that she is better off without the information? Isn’t it arrogant and condescending to make this kind of a decision for her? The wife is an adult who deserves the right to make decisions for herself.
I would only report the profile to the online dating site and let sleeping dogs lie. Whether or not he works for the Navy he is obviously someone who is untrustworthy which means that if you spill the beans to his wife, there may be ugly repercussions for you. Why take that chance?
I’ve been in the situation where someone was cheating on me, I didn’t know, and a third party informed me. I’ll be forever grateful for that e-mail. Just sayin’.
MCDIMMERSONColumn and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@