“I [28F] went home last month for a week to visit family. During that time, I matched and met up with a seemingly nice, sweet guy [27M] for my last 2 nights at home. He knew I was visiting from across the country, but we really hit it off. I didn’t think much of it and never expected to stay in touch, but when I did leave, he continued texting, flirting etc. I had said he was free to visit me any time and he took me up on that offer. A couple weeks after our first 2 outings, he told me he had booked a ticket to come see me and would work remote during the week while I went into the office and then on the weekends I showed him around town and we took a mini road trip to some local hot spots and tourist destinations etc.
When he left, I knew things would change and I wouldn’t hear from him as much, if at all, and I was already mentally/emotionally prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was to find out that this man was married all along. He claimed he wasn’t big on social media but I picked up on enough stuff in conversations etc. to find his family members and ultimately his WIFE’s Facebook account – yes, she is alive and well, they are not divorced, and she was posting from their Instagram pet’s account about her husband being away “on business” during the time that he was visiting me.
I’m definitely in shock and sick to my stomach, and I have no idea how to handle this. Like I said, communication has significantly tapered since he left (about 4 days ago, at the beginning of this week). Some friends have advised calling him out, others have said to tell his wife either directly or discreetly, and others say I should just pretend it never happened and never contact this guy again.
I’d really appreciate any advice. I don’t condone homewrecking at all by the way, and I would never knowingly get involved with a married man.”
Dear It’s Me Again,
I am really, really sorry that you went through this. I know how difficult you must feel to know you possibly unknowingly engaged in an extramarital affair, which risked their marriage, your sexual well-being, and your sanity all without your explicit consent.
When someone is involved with an unavailable party, it is easy to get caught up in the trap of trying to rationalize how this person could have done this. And it is indeed a trap. You might never know why he decided to sleep with someone else outside of his marriage. And even if you did know, it will not ease any of the pain you’re suffering now. Instead, you’ll end up with even more questions such as what you could have done to prevent this, or why he lied about his marriage, or why he is lying to her about his affair. The truth is that there is no one reason why people commit adultery in monogamous relationships.
So think about the shock and anger. You are right to feel that way. And you are entitled to feel your own feelings. And as your initial shock and anger eventually discolor into resentment and retribution, recognize that your feelings too are not always rational.
I will add here that there is a small possibility that he and his wife are in a non-monogamous relationship. Whether they are open or polyamorous, it could be that they have a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy to not talk about each other’s other relationships. It could also be that they are in the closet about their non-monogamy.
However, even if he did have a non-monogamous arrangement with his wife, I still think that it is unethical to hide the other partner(s) from you. Even though it was brief, he exposed you to emotional harm in not being up front about his marital status before you’ve had your opportunity to consent. You said in a follow up message that you slept with him. So he also exposed you to STI transmission risk as well. Who knows if he has had partners other than his wife? That was not the sexual risk profile you consented to when you consented to sleeping with him. Those are all unethical and wrong.
As for what you should do, I think it greatly depends on your own personal ethics.
I have a feeling that in the reddit advice thread, you’ll get a lot of recommendations to contact his wife. That is a common, viable scorched earth policy. But I don’t think that is sensible, even if it feels good initially. Even if you did have evidence, you’ll find it incredibly difficult to convince someone in denial of your new reality, especially if it flies against the years of experience his wife thought she had with her husband. You also said that you wouldn’t want to be a homewrecker. And doing this will definitely wreck their marriage.
That leaves two other options.
One option is to ghost him. I don’t generally condone ghosting as a breakup strategy. But it is a very effective strategy in definitively ending an engagement you don’t want to further indulge in in a non-confrontational way. He’ll probably get an idea what happened on his own anyway. But you get to set your own closure your own way. Commitment to absolute inaction is an action.
The other option is to confront him. Show him what you found and demand explanation. Doing so might help you get some form of closure in his way, perhaps get a visibility into his heaspace that might help you avoid experiencing the same issues again in the future. This will also allow you to hold him somewhat accountable for his actions. But you won’t be able to fully trust what he says. Or he might just flat out deny anything you found.
No matter what you decide to do, you are starting on your own journey back to balance, back to a place of healing. Your pain is legitimate, and you are experiencing some degree of loss over the potential future you thought you could have with this man – or at least your idea of this man in your head. So allow yourself some room to grieve, to feel your own feelings.
I disagree with others that you should just pretend this didn’t happen. It did. Doing so will mean you have to continuously live your life in fear of your own lie. The ones who suggest so are not paying that price of admission to be the you who you need to be tomorrow. So recognize that even though the path to a place of healing might be full of thorny anger, the journey to recovery will be worth your time as a learning experience in and of itself.
I’m really sorry you’re going through this. I wish you luck.
Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.
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