Savage Love May 14, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Savage Love Letter of the Day



I would write back to her:
"I'm relieved to find out now rather than later. My husband and I are going to therapy. I am sorry that you were lied to, too, and I wish you the best in moving on."
I know the LW didn't ask for advice about the husband but I hope she reads the books recommended by Dan and continue with therapy. Make sure you get a good therapist, too. There's a lot of mediocre ones out there.


I entirely agree with this advice, but the one tricky point will be e-mailing this woman while preempting any drawn out exchange of e-mail. I would suggest being explicit about your hope that whatever you write does provide her with some form of closure, and that you hope she can move on, as you and your husband attempt to move forward.


The point of this is punitive. I advise not responding.


I would write back and simply say "I'm not sure what to say, but thanks for reaching out. If I ever do figure it out I'll let you know".

Quick and easy, doesn't commit you or her to anything or create any expectations, tells her not to write again until you're ready (if ever).

At 29, one partner since hs, "emotional cheating" (imo, look hard at your role in your relationship wrt that. Satisfied people don't emotionally cheat - he's clearly missing something that you may or may not be able to provide). I'm thinking this relationship has probably just run its course, but you never know.

I know Dan denies that he picks themes, but we've gotten a lot of letters recently from "been together since high school" couples recently.


Of course we only have, as always, one side to this story. How often is it that the people fucking cheaters don't know they are married? Really? Sure these people are young. But I honestly have never met any single person who was fucking a married person on the regular that didn't KNOW that person was married. So. The letter writer could easily be being gas lit by a pissed off lover posting as a victim who was fine with banging a married dude until he ended it.


"The letter writer could easily be being gas lit by a pissed off lover posting as a victim who was fine with banging a married dude until he ended it."

Gee, how mean-spirited of you to suggest something which never, ever really happens.

Wait, what?


Sometimes people cheat because they want the relationship open for THEM and not for their partner. I'd dump this motherfucker, but I'm not the LW, so whatever.

As to the relationship of the LW towards the GF, I agree with Dan, #1 and #2. This younger woman was probably partially motivated by a desire to hurt the LW's husband, but I bet she was much more motivated by a desire to be a decent person. As for #3, I don't think that's necessarily true and we have no evidence for it. Also I agree with Tensor that Dr. Z is being naive if he doesn't think this ever happens. Plus you overlook the part where the GF did find out they were married but believed it was an open marriage. I don't know Dr Z's gender or sexual orientation, but they have not dated very many straight men if they don't believe that they lie about being married. It's happened to me before and went on for a few months before I found out.


Another motivation for the girlfriend to tell: making sure she's seen as another wronged party. "He was cheating on us both!" I'd be pissed if it turned out the person I'd been dating for 18 months was married and I never knew. Among the reasons would be the knowledge that many people would think of me as a dirtbag, and feeling like an idiot for not knowing the truth until then.


While not ruling out the possibility of revenge, I don’t think this is how it was presented by SISS. My take is that she believes her, and that the information she got helped her complete the puzzle as to her husband’s behavior and some marriage issues.

How to deal with the notifier is the easy step and have already covered by others.
Once again there’s not much to work with, but it seems like the husband’s affair is not an imminent last straw, which means there must be some positive aspects to their marriage despite SISS never elaborating on the subject.

I’d also like to know what she considers as “emotional cheating,” which can be applied to anything from watching porn to talking about other people during sex. To some closing eyes during orgasm may also qualify.


I suspect Dr Sean would have finagled his way out of this rather better than Husband did.

I'd be much more inclined to attribute malice to Missy if the marriage were SS.


LW, your husband is a grown man with agency and he is completely capable of deciding whether to lie to another person (you, the other woman) or tell the truth or ask permission or keep his zipper shut or whatever. He didn't slip on a banana peel and wind up face down with no pants and his peen in someone else's poon.

He didn't. He lied to her and he broke faith with you.

This young woman isn't the one you need to hit with repercussions (a simple, "Wow. That's unpleasant news. Thank you for letting me know" and never emailing her again will suffice). The one who needs to own up to his shit and fix things with you is your husband.

Definitely suggest a sex-positive (meaning, not going to shame for sex stuff when the problem is lying and sneaking around) therapist who will talk to both of you SEPARATELY for several sessions, so that you don't find yourself in a situation where one or the other plays nicey-nice and nothing gets done.


@7: I was actually agreeing with @5, not criticizing him. I cited the recent public example of Litsa Dremousis, who posed as a friend of Sherman Alexie’s when she helped to expose his marital infidelities. In reality, she was an ex-lover, bitter and angry at him for having dumped her. The young woman who contacted the LW here may have had a similar motivation.


I agree, thank the girl for contacting you, and wish her well as she goes forward and maybe say something like even shitty situations can be an opportunity to learn (and hopefully not make the same mistake in the future). Don’t say anything that gives the impression you want any sort of ongoing conversation about this.

I’m always a little amazed at relationships that go on for a year and a half with no one suspecting anything funny is going on. Did college girl NEVER wonder why boyfriend never invited her over to his house? Did Wife NEVER wonder where hubby was all those nights? This guy must have been shoveling industrial levels of bullshit to keep the wool pulled over two women’s eyes. I live with my lover, and if she was missing in action multiple times a week i’d like to think it wouldn’t take me years to figure out that something was up unless she had one helluva good story.


@13 DonnyKlicious: I was wondering the same thing about SISS's situation, too.
A full year and a half went by and two women didn't suspect a thing from the cheating husband / boyfriend? At least SISS and college girl are moving on. I hope couples therapy works out for SISS and her husband. I agree with slinky @11---husband needs to own up on his lying, cheating bullshit.


@13, @14: Your questions are further support for the point @5, that the young woman had known her lover was married, but ignored this until he dumped her, only after which did she rat him out to his wife.

His girlfriend may well have been harder for him to fool than was his wife, especially if he had already made a practice of working late one or two nights a week before he began cheating on his wife.


This letter sounds very like Friday's letter.
LW, hope you and your cheating husband can work thru this. Kind of you to give him the chance.
The young woman told you something which has helped you and your cheating husband to face the truth. Why not write to her and say thank you.


I agree with everyone who says that LW should just send a brief message with a statement that clearly terminates the conversation. LW should not spend a single second contemplating the motivation behind the message.
As far as how the girl didn't notice things that might have been clues that the guy was married...there is not a direct correlation between time spent in relationship and seriousness of the relationship. They might have been steady and in her mind monogamous, but she might have been juggling studies, work, other friends, etc and only expected to see him a couple time a week or something anyway. All he would need to say is she can't ever come over because he has roommates who are disgusting slobs (and my gosh he is so relieved to be able to spend time at her place). This would be quite plausible in the mind of a 21yo.
As for his wife, it depends on how independent they are is individuals within the relationship. LW doesn't sound too clingy or demanding of itineraries. Also, if she is a self absorbed talker, or even just far more of a talker than him (she doesn't really sound self absorbed), he might not even have a chance to tell her where he's been in he wanted to.


Eighteen months is a long time, LW, and one guesses he'd have still been up for it if his lover hadn't pulled the plug. And you sound so calm. Great if jealousy hasn't come up for you, the cheating lies though, that's not a good look.


What a headline -- "scold" her? Jesus. She's the victim here.

If she's 21 now, she was 19 or 20 when the affair started. She wasn't a "grown-ass woman." Physically yes, emotionally no.

And telling the spouse of the CPOS isn't "tossing a bomb into their relationship". Or perhaps it is, but the mistress isn't the one who's tossing the bomb. The CPOS is. "You don’t know what kind of an arrangement a couple has and you could be tossing a bomb into their relationship." Well, if the relationship is indeed open, there is no bomb-tossing because no rules have been broken. If it isn't, the spouse does indeed deserve to know. I think Ms 21 did the right thing. There's no need to tell her she shouldn't "insert herself into other people's relationships" -- she never intended to; Mr SISS inserted her into his marriage, unbeknownst to her, and as soon as she learned he was cheating she ended things. If SISS writes back, she should thank her for her courage and honesty, assure her she did nothing wrong, and tell her that she (SISS) will deal with her cheating husband appropriately.

(Dan, SISS did say it was her husband who owes Ms 21 an apology.)


Let's assume the worst about Ms 21: She knew all along that Mr SISS was married, and messaged SISS as revenge when he ended things. So? SISS did indeed deserve to know about the affair, so the end justifies the meanness. Ms 21 is right that Mr SISS preyed on her inexperience, whether he disclosed his marriage or not. I think that SISS has the right to know her husband is out prowling for barely legal pussy while he's supposed to be studying. I hope they can discuss the level of immaturity this reveals in therapy, and I hope SISS finds a super hot lover to even the score.


LW, for the girl, just write a quick "We are not open and I did not know he was dating you. Thank you for letting me know."

Then focus on what you want to do about your lying, cheating husband. I'd dump your husband for being a piece of shit (he treated both of you pretty badly, and a person who lies to the people he claims to love isn't going to be a good partner even if you do agree to open the marriage) but that's up to you.


'Maybe I’m overthinking it to avoid dealing with everything else'.

Erm, yes. This.

I did not know the pro forma advice not to insert yourself into someone else's relationship when you're having an affair with their partner (or discover you've been having an affair with their partner). I don't entirely understand it and don't see it as generally good advice. It doesn't seem to me the case here, even on the balance of probabilities, that the twenty-one year old woman 'on the side' was motivated by a desire to hurt when she contacted the LW. She could have thought that the LW 'should know'; she could have felt sorry for her, and identified with her (she almost certainly did); she could have wanted to protect the wife from something vaguely analogous to what she went through herself; or she could have wanted to find out whether her lover's marriage was genuinely open, with a view to resuming her relationship with the husband if so. She, the 21 yo, has acted decently and self-sacrificially in giving up her relationship and deserves praise and thanks, if anything, from the LW.

Unlike most people, I would actually include the words 'thank you' in the note I wrote to her (as @22 Traffic Spiral does above). It can be brief: 'Thank you for telling me about your relationship with my husband. I'm sorry your relationship ended. Our marriage wasn't open and we have our own issues to deal with right now'. Absolutely 'yes' to the people who say 'don't say more' and avoid a protracted correspondence.

Further, what does the LW mean by saying they have had to deal with big issues of 'emotional infidelity' in the past? Does she have his back and her husband wanted to fuck, or was in love with, or was sexting someone else? This seems more plausible than her being in love with someone else. She is making too many excuses for him. It would seem to me she has to stand up for herself to induce change in him or perhaps accept that he isn't going to change.


I now see that @13 Donny, @16 Lava & @20 Bi also used the words 'thank you'.

I can imagine that a guy in his late 20s could spin a plausible line about why his marriage is open to the younger women he wants to bed. 'Oh, I'm catching up right now on so many experiences I missed when I was younger ... It wasn't culturally in my family that people went to college and had lots of relationships. We married young and settled, but I realised I wanted something else for myself ... But I don't want to throw away what I have with my wife, whom I married so young. We had so many talks, went through a lot and have finally agreed on an open relationship, Strictly dadt' Etc Etc. He may have said some of these things to the 21 yo who wrote to SISS. He could have had other lovers in the same school. Let's not repeat the LW's (entirely understandable) shift of attention and start thinking whether to blame her, rather than him.


Harriet @23: I would absolutely not tell Ms 21 "I'm sorry that the relationship [between her and Husband] ended." That could be seen as encouragement for them to get back together. It would also be untrue. Perhaps she could say "I'm sorry my husband deceived you like this"; that IS true.

SISS does state that the infidelity "isn't a dealbreaker." That suggests that she wants the relationship to be open on her side as well, and does not view physical contact as an emotional betrayal (though she should insist Husband get tested for STIs). If this is the catalyst for her to get what she wants, then perhaps it's one of Dan's "cheating helped my marriage" examples after all.


Another thought: If SISS does "scold" Ms 21 for "inserting herself into other people's relationships" by contacting SISS, you can bet that the future Ms 21 will never again do the right thing should she find herself in this situation with another CPOS. SISS, for the sake of the future wives out there, do not punish Ms 21 for reaching out (this is one of the few contexts where the hackneyed, cringeworthy phrase "reaching out" seems appropriate!).


LW, you're shooting the messenger. Yeah, she dropped a bomb into your relationship, it seems, though one you will recover from, but it was a bomb that silence would only have increased, and her silence specifically would have rendered her complicit. She's not complicit, she's not to blame, she doesn't deserve punishment for something she didn't do. What she DID do is cut ties and ensure that it's not happening again. I'm sure she's either devastated or disgusted but probably both at once, and pissed.

You two are married, and by some miracle of god--maybe not god, actually--you will look past a year and a half of ongoing infidelity that did not include you. Setting aside whether or not you're being taken advantage of, this girl was not married to this guy, but didn't know that it wasn't serious like that, i.e. she couldn't have known it wasn't serious and monogamous because the moment she found out he was married, she broke it off, or so it seems. She has every right to be pissed at him, you have every right to be pissed at him. How does your logic make you pissed at her instead?

That's some incredible mental jiu jitsu he's got going on. Incredible and really quite disturbing. There was a miserable time in my life that I am ashamed of where I was, for a combination of terrible reasons, none of which no longer apply it could apply to me after much personal work, a gaslighting piece of shit (glad Dan used that term). I know just how fucked up I literally physically had to make myself just to manage the whole shitshow. This stinks of gaslighting by proxy, that is, subject A gaslights B, B focuses on C because focusing on A produces emotional pain. He's managed to make himself somehow not the subject of blame in a letter about a very bad thing he did to two people. Somehow this whole thing got very twisted up.


*or could apply. Fucking autocorrect.

Seriously though, big red flag even if you were thinking of opening up the relationship earlier. Not my place to pry when I don't know all the details, but it doesn't look good from the outside.


As to the people saying the person had to have known. You guys are overlooking the fact that the GF readily admits to knowing her lover was married. She said she thought it was an open marriage. I don't see what's so difficult about understanding that? He could simply say that his arrangement is DADT and that he is expected to be home with his wife most evenings. I came up with this very common arrangement within a matter of seconds this morning before having my coffee. What makes you think that a man with intention to lie couldn't come up with something even more convincing, having months and months to think about it.

Moreover, we don't know that they lived in the same city- just that they were lovers for a year and a half. As I said, I have been in the GF's situation though it only went on for a few months- 3 or 4 from what I remember. I've told that story here before. The man told me he did contract work and was in and out of town a lot. Being a college student with a very busy life of my own, I didn't really care enough to bother nagging or checking up. Dude says he's in and out of town a lot, and I was fine with him being in and out of town a lot. I started to notice that when he was with me, he took phone calls privately. I started to notice also that there were long periods of time in which he was away from his phone and I could not get ahold of him. I was suspicious that he was probably seeing other women in the places where he worked. I did not really give a shit if he did or not so I just sort of shrugged this off. It did not occur to me that he might have a wife in children in ONE other place, that he was totally unemployed, that he did not travel with work at all etc- this entire lie seemed far too elaborate and complex. When I did discover it, I was stunned. Not hurt so much because it was a casual affair, but totally stunned. Spinning that web of lies and keeping it going for a few months must have caused an extreme amount of energy and stress and constant fights with his wife and who knows how much he'd have to lie to friends/neighbors/family members, etc. Can you imagine? I'm sure from the outside, I too looked complicit. And no, I didn't tell the wife, though I honestly considered it and without the slightest motivation of revenge as honestly I didn't give a fuck about the guy enough to care especially once I discovered everything about him was a lie.

There are people who do this shit. You could just as easily turn the question around and ask how the wife did not notice for a year and a half! This shit happens- people are liars. If you've never come across them, count yourself lucky.

Tensor, I apologize for misrepresenting your words. I did not click on your link. I assumed that you were being sarcastic there. If your only point was to show an example in which someone does in fact knowingly have an affair with a married person, I didn't realize it as I don't see why the obvious existence of such a thing would even need defense. Dr. Z's making the statement that it could never happen that someone unknowingly does this. This is quite a bit different and a million examples of someone knowingly doing it does not mean the opposite never happens.



I always wonder about the market for these love spells. They always advertise for saving relationships that no sane person would want saved. Makes sense I guess to advertise magic to insane people, but still so long as we are dealing with magic wishes and insanity, why not a potion that will get you Idris Elba or that will bring back a lost lover from your youth or something like that?


I agree with Traffic Spiral and BDF and Lionface.

BTW, I'll add to 29 that there are people who manage to keep secret entire other FAMILIES, sometimes for decades. There are people who do this shit. So I don't know why people think a grown man couldn't manage to convincingly lie to a 20 yr old college student about being married for a year and a half. If there is a red flag it would be ever believing it was open after he lied that he was married in the first place, but it appears she didn't stay with him too long after that. I'd like to know also how serious it was. Being a young college student, she might have been casual about it- maybe they were just fucking before class and sometimes going out for drinks- that sort of thing. If she saw no Facebook page for that long, this might explain why- she perhaps didn't care about him enough to start looking. Do young people still use Facebook?

The more and more I think about it, the more I think the LW should email the Priest Manuka about her husband.


Mizz Liz - I recall a discussion, before you came among us, about how a DADT couple could indicate their status to potential not-to-be-known accomplices. The snag LAY [capitalized for the benefit of Mr Savage] in the faction (which happened to be all female) that would not want to know that the wife approved of or at least permitted outside dalliance.


Ms Fan has caught it. A Yoffe Award to M?? Harriet for, "I'm sorry your relationship ended."

Ms Cute may dispute this, but I found in the Prudie Emeritus a remarkable talent for framing Ways to Say Things in a manner that made profound truths sound like polite lies. M?? Harriet can take a good deal of credit for coming up with one that would do even Ms Yoffe proud.


Hey Venn, I'm a little confused here. I'm of the understanding that DADT means that the married partners don't ask and don't tell about lovers, not that this means the lovers aren't told of the married partners. Whether or not lovers want to be told about the existence of married partners surely has nothing to do with whether or not the married partners are in a DADT arrangement right?

It would be really shitty for someone to carry on with a relationship and not tell the lover that you are married, open marriage or not, for obvious reasons- the lover has the right to know that you are in a marriage so they don't have false impressions about their potential futures with you. However, if it's an explicitly stated casual thing or a hook up, I don't see why lovers need to be informed about the existence of married partners in a DADT thing. This was how my side of my own open marriage functioned (my side was DADT, his side was tell me everything) and while I sometimes told people I was married, I sometimes didn't as well if it was casual and one time. But maybe I'm misunderstanding? You are saying these women argued that if the man were married and in a DADT, that they did not want to know that the wife approved? I can't see how they wouldn't know as the existence of a DADT means the wife approves, so I'm not following what you're saying here.


Emotionally wronged or not, sniffing out people you do not know on social media with the intent of creating drama is ALWAYS the wrong the thing to do. Focus instead on yourself.


A correction to my earlier post, the student thought the marriage was open, she didn't think she was in a monogamous relationship with this guy. I do wonder how she found out it was closed, though...

This cements some of my concerns about the husband. He and LW both know what's up when it comes to open relationships and I'd bet good money they discussed it before. He could find any number of ways to make loopholes for himself later on, he'll paint this as a sort of 'gray area' when it's clear he knowingly did something wrong.


Oh goddammit, I was wrong again about a line in the opener! I should know when to keep my mouth shut.


EmmaLiz @29: "As to the people saying the person had to have known. You guys are overlooking the fact that the GF readily admits to knowing her lover was married. She said she thought it was an open marriage. I don't see what's so difficult about understanding that?"

What's difficult is the timeline: "She explained that they had a relationship for about a year and a half. Once she found out he was married, she confronted him. He lied and said the marriage was open, but she didn’t believe him and broke it off." She found out he was married -after a year and a half-. He then tries to claim the marriage is open, which she sees through, and dumps him. She didn't say that he claimed the marriage was open and then a year and a half in she found out it wasn't.

As for the logistics... we can only speculate on how he covered his tracks. Claiming a shared room perhaps? A college student would easily buy that one, and she herself may have lived in a dorm room so that he couldn't stay overnight. People, especially young naive ones, believe what they want to believe. Is it possible she ignored clues? Indeed but we all have great 20/20 hindsight. It's entirely plausible that Mr SISS managed to indeed pull the wool over both women's eyes.

See You @35: Sorry, but Mr SISS created the drama by cheating on his wife with an underaged college student.


BiDanFan @20 and Traffic Spiral @22 have it.

I also think Ms21 did the right thing. The "don't toss that bomb" advice is good for an oops moment or two of cheating. You're saving the cheated-on partner some pain and letting a maybe-otherwise-functional relationship be. But SISS' husband didn't have an oops moment; he DELIBERATELY LED A DOUBLE LIFE FOR A YEAR AND A HALF.

Maybe SISS doesn't consider cheating the ultimate betrayal and that's why she's forgiving him, but he sounds like a manipulative piece of shit. Imagine the lies he probably had to concoct - e.g. making excuses to his girlfriend for why she's never been to his house, or why he might miss important occasions she'd really like him to be at, just to name a couple of examples.

And yes, I agree that SISS should thank Ms21, who appears to be innocent in all of this, for her honesty, and confirm that the marriage was not open. It will give her some peace of mind.

SISS might want to consider the possibility that her husband doesn't deserve to be in an open relationship, or any kind of relationship with her. A person who merely wants an honest open relationship so they can explore and have a richer sex life does not treat people like this.


Ohhhhh, I'm bereft ... having missed a since-deleted comment about some extra-sparkly spellcaster. /s I think it's hilarious to find the object of such veneration included as an aside in comments.

Anyway, I feel sorry for SISS and whatever choices lie before her. The worst kind of context for opening up a marriage is to retcon a prior infidelity, while I see the cheating husband hoping for his permanent hall pass as he pursues his next "inexperienced" coed.


I wouldn't answer the FB message. I wouldn't want to continue corresponding with this person and the easiest way to do that is to never respond in the first place. It doesn't seem as if SISS feels she owes the other woman any thanks, so in her place I would just keep quiet.

Re this, "it is the first time he was actually physical with another person outside our relationship" -- if I were her I would assume this was just the first time the other person reached out to me (which is an unusual course of action).

If she still likes her husband (perhaps she has always enjoyed thinking of him as a ladies' man; perhaps they have a great sex life; perhaps he is kind and thoughtful in other ways), I'd recommend just making it clear that the marriage is now open on both sides.


@8: "I'd be pissed if it turned out the person I'd been dating for 18 months was married and I never knew."

Me too, but luckily this would be EXTREMELY difficult to pull off unless you completely disable your bullshit detectors. 18 months and never once been to your partner's dwelling? That's weird as hell - I'd be looking at moving in with someone I'd been dating that long.

18 months of only seeing your partner at odd hours, only once or twice a week?

18 months never meeting your partner's friend group (presumably one of whom might clue you in, or one of whom might tell the wife, necessitating keeping distance, unless some people manage to only make friends with other dirtbags)? We're talking more than a year, which means a birthday, something most people in our culture celebrate with friends and which one's romantic partner(s) are assumed to attend.

18 months of not being the primary social partner for social outings (presumably his wife was, else she'd have been suspicious)?

I know that it's technically POSSIBLE to pull off a deception of this level over time, because people have done it, but I can't imagine that there weren't warning signs in all of those cases that the person being deceived ignored.


@42, Erica. Surely they need to do some therapy first to find out why the LW's husband thought it ok to cheat on his wife for a yr and a half, before opening the marriage up.
And to echo a troll we meet on these posts LW, think twice before having children with this man.


John @43, the girl was a teenager, he probably had a great story to spin about why she couldn't go to his place etc.
Funny how attachment blinds us. Here's this LW wanting our advice about the long gone ex and how to respond to her fb message and the real issue is why is she so forgiving of a man she trusted and married, and sounding like it's not really anything. He's spun her a few stories too I guess.
LW, you are young. You and your husband got together very young. He's gone out behind your back and had an affair. Is this the only one? Why did he never feel guilty enough to tell you himself?
Maybe therapy will help him grow into a man who honours his word and maybe it won't. Be open to ending this marriage, as well as saving it.


@43 I agree it would have been difficult to pull off, but a 19-21 year old who's in a relationship (possibly her first "serious" one) with an older guy who seems cool and smart and loving might not have much of a bullshit detector.

Also, FWIW, I had a colleague who was having multiple affairs behind the back of his wife. Everyone in our little circle knew about it, thought it was gross, and thought someone should tell her, but no one wanted to be the one to do it. The colleague and his wife had a kid, and she was known to have a nasty temper. It would have been ugly. Even if those kinds of conditions aren't there, most people are reluctant to rat other people out.



'The colleague and his wife had a kid, and she was known to have a nasty temper. It would have been ugly. Even if those kinds of conditions aren't there, most people are reluctant to rat other people out.'

I think this is generational. Amongst the gen xers and boomers, I'd say this attitude predominates. Amongst the millennials and the kids, I'd say it was the opposite. The youngsters by and large seem to believe that it is their moral responsibility to out cheaters.


They got together as teenagers.
There's been a lot of emotional infidelity. He's not putting his wife first even if they had an open relationship set-up.
He was having sex with another woman for over a year.
He lied to the other woman about being married.
When caught, he lied to the other woman about the relationship being open.
The other woman was 21, which makes her legally an adult, but doesn't negate the fact that there was a significant age difference. Campsite rule got tossed out. No way does finding out that the older man you were having sex with is married, a liar, and a cheat leave you in better shape than you were found.
He has insecurity issues.
He agreed to couples therapy which is the new code word for "I'm putting the blame on both of us."

Any one of these taken individually can be explained away or forgiven or put in perspective to make the relationship worth saving. Taken all together, they add up to a huge whopping Dump Him in capitals, bold face, and underlined.

That's the question SISS didn't ask. She asked about contacting the naive young thing and what she might say. I don't like the idea of ignoring the message because no one likes to be ignored. It was brave of Ms. Young Thing to reach out, and that should be acknowledged. Anything that smacks of scolding or being judgmental is wrong too because any emotional reaction is roping Ms. Young into something emotional when the best thing for her is to extricate herself from this mess and go her own way. For that reason, I favor a brief "Thank you for telling me. I've got it from here." And leave it at that.


"...sent me a message from a fake account."

That's totally not sketchy AF. You should implicitly trust every last little thing you read from such a source.

'In her message to me, she wrote that she’s “young and inexperienced but felt I had a right to know.'

Poor young, inexperienced little thing!

Fortunately for her, she was experienced enough to track you down on FaceBook and throw a bomb into your marriage.

"Do I write back and let her know that it’s not a great idea to insert yourself into other people’s relationships?"

Do I write back to someone who went out of her way to communicate hurtful news to me in a manner which effectively precludes me ever holding her responsible for anything she tells me?

I'm still with @5 on this one. He dumped his young undergraduate hoochie (18 months is more than enough time for an older male CPOS to get bored with even her young body) and she decided to make him and his wife miserable.


Whatever her motivation for contacting the LW tensor @49, is a red herring. It's the husband who needs to be in the spotlight of blame not this girl. The husband didn't out himself, got away with it he thought. Probably already staking out his next ' young body.'


LavaGirl @44 "Surely they need to do some therapy"

I don't assign therapy to people who don't already want to do that work -- and do it for themselves, rather than to placate a spouse or some folks on the internet. Therapy is great, for people who are ready to look at themselves. I'm not persuaded that he is.

Fichu @48 "no one likes to be ignored."

And no one is entitled to an answer. The men who send me wanna-fucks also don't like to be ignored. But since I don't want to discuss my decision with them, just as I don't wanr to discuss my marriage with some young woman, I wouldn't write back to either.


@50: The motivation for contact is very important. Knowing it would help the LW know how (or if) to work with her husband on their marriage. For example, CPOS husband may have precipitated the contact by dumping his 21-year-old hoochie for a 19-year-old girlfriend.


Dr. Zaius @ 5 tensor @ 52 and everyone else Since SISS confronted her husband about the message, I accept her statement that the young woman (not her husband) ended the affair when she found out that he was married. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me IS a possible motive for contacting SISS to confirm that the husband lied about being in an open marriage. By confirming the second lie, the victim of the lies may actually lessen (or not) any feelings of guilt she may have. She's still pissed at the husband, but she was deceived into the betrayal of his wife.


@53: It's the manner of the contact which makes it suspect. I would not advise the LW to accept as fact information presented in that way, or act upon it as if it is entirely innocent. (What can we surmise about someone who communicates in a dishonest fashion to declare herself "innocent"?) The LW can and has accepted her husband's infidelity, and she and he can proceed with that information as they will, without assuming the originator of the information is pure of motive.


EmmaLiz @ 7 Plus you overlook the part where the GF did find out they were married but "believed" it was an open marriage. Was this a typo? "He lied and said the marriage was open, but she didn’t believe him and broke it off."


SISS called it an affair. I don't know if the young woman considered it an affair. Hooking up or FWB (casual sex) would better explain how the husband could keep it going on for 18 months without the young women figuring things out sooner or the wife being clueless.


Harriet_by_the_bulrushes @ 23 Why on earth would SISS say to the YW "that I'm sorry your relationship ended"? I don't believe that would be well received. Given the situation, I would consider it to be vindictive. If SISS was going to say she was sorry about anything, then being sorry that the YW was victimized by her husband would be an expression of sympathy.


The YW gives the impression that she would never have fucked the husband if she had known that he was married. No way to really know what she would have done if she had known (a different reality)


BDF @ 25 I don't see how the YW would ever "want" to get back together with the husband (after being lied to and deceived for 18 months)


I always thought that inserting one's self into other people's relationships applied to uninvolved third parties or third parties that were the instigator. The husband inserted (involved) the YW into their relationship.

SISS should get herself tested for STIs and tell the YW to also get tested. Going forward she should get insist that her husband get tested for STIs every 3 months and do the same.


tensor @ 54 I said validation was a possible motive for the contact. There are any number of legitimate reasons to use a "fake" Facebook account in this situation. Personally, I have deleted my Facebook account for the obvious reasons. In the context of this situation, I would establish a separate account to initiate contact and ensure mutual privacy (and would give my reasons for it) of this painful and embarrassing subject. SISS now knows who the woman really is and the woman knows that SISS now knows who she is. I wouldn't want "anyone" else know to what was being discussed. I hope the YW has blocked the husband from all of her social media sites.


EmmaLiz @ 29 Reread the letter. The YW did NOT know he was married and ended it once she found out. She did not buy the husband's lie that it was an open marriage


Would YOU believe someone who lied about being married when he said it was an open marriage or a DADT marriage. Being lied to in order to be fucked would be a deal breaker for me.


They were/are both attending the same college


EL It may not matter to you, but it may matter a great deal to someone else. Informed consent to sex. The husband committed fraud to fuck the YW. Some people would consider that violating (AKA rape).


BDF @ 38 underaged? immature maybe, underaged no


GOSO @ 46 Wouldn't the person feel betrayed not only by their spouse, but everyone who knew and said nothing and be even more devastated by it.


tensor @ 49 You (and SISS) make it sound like it would take a lot of effort to find SISS. As any Gen Z with a social media presence would know, if you know the name, a simple Google search followed by a Facebook search should be sufficient. That said, I find it hard to believe that YW didn't do a social media search for the husband.


@25. Bi. Yes, the recipient is going to pore over all the possible meanings of every last line in the note, and 'I'm sorry your relationship ended' is going to give the wrong impression. What I meant was 'I'm sorry you were in a relationship that ended this way'. Speaking in the wife's voice, I wanted to leave the impression that the correspondent had just been in a deceptive and probably unhappy relationship, and that the presence of her husband in it (for the wife) stood to one side of its being unfortunate, or all-things-considered bad in the note-writer's eyes. But the 21yo ex-lover is not necessarily going to take it this way; and your wording is far better.


@25. Bi. My read would not necessarily be that SISS wants to have her own secondaries (tertiaries, etc.) as well. Her mindset to me is much more like: 'we got together when we were seventeen, without having made plans to go to college, not knowing how much people change in young adulthood. Could I really expect my husband to have sex just with one woman in his life? Or only one woman beyond the age of 17? Not to play the field, not to be tempted in college? What's painful isn't just the cheating, which I half-expected. It's that he wasn't able to be honest'. She may or may not want openness in their relationship; but it's more likely to be she wants a functioning marriage and present husband (and possibly father).


EricaP @42: Good point that this is probably the first time Mr SISS was caught, not the first time he cheated.

John @43: Like I said, people believe what they want to believe. This woman was only 19 or 20 when they started dating. What are 19- and 20-year-olds? NAIVE, naive enough to fall for lies spun by a charming deceiver. This is easy to see from the outside. When one is in love, one ignores all sorts of warning signs that are obvious to others.

Fichu @48: Perfect analysis.

Tensor @49: My bullshit detector would be going off too, except that the husband has admitted to everything. Proof is in the pudding, mate.

Tensor @52: And how will SISS find out the motivation unless she embarks on a series of long, involved talks with this immature, wronged young lady, which most of us here have said is a bad idea? No, SISS and her husband need to take it from here, and SISS needs to decide whether she can trust her husband's word (without corroboration which may, as you say, have its own motivations) or not.

Skeptic @59: Haven't you ever got back together with someone who treated you badly? I know I have. Love makes people do stupid things. They were together for 18 months, and she dumped him because he lied about being married. If he comes back and, with corroboration from his wife, says it's OK, they worked it out and they're open now, why WOULDN'T she consider giving him another chance, assuming the relationship was great otherwise? (She might; she might not.)

Skeptic @61: The young woman may have used a fake account because she feared reprisals from the wife, as it's quite common for the wronged spouse (and the CPOS themself) to blame the co-cheater. Entirely plausible that she'd want to protect her identity.

Skeptic @66: She's 21 now, which means she was 19 or 20 when the affair began. Too young to legally drink = underaged.


@51. Erica. Surely it would be grossly unmannerly not to write back? And it's not 'some young woman', it's someone who's been sleeping with 'your' husband for 18 months on the basis of his lies. That's a situation that deserves acknowledgment.


@57. A Skeptic. Bi picked up on the same thing, which I explained above. I should have said something like 'I'm sorry you were in a relationship marked by such a degree of deception'. I guess in responding to the FB message SISS can be 'sorry' that the messager was in A relationship that ended, not in THIS PARTICULAR relationship that ended. Actually, I think Fichu's formula ('I'll take it from here' or such like) maybe the best of all.


M?? Harriet - "Grossly" unmannerly? Given the unpleasant nature of the communication, even if well-intended, I'd rank this with not sending out thank-you notes for wedding presents under nasty circumstances. For an image, suppose that, in Muriel's Wedding, instead of Muriel's seeing Chook boinking Nicole in the laundry room during the reception after his marriage to Tanya, the observer were Tanya herself.

I think a reply is well-advised, and took Ms Fichu's original statement about ignoring to indicate that some response will at least remove one motive for further interference from Missy. The one "sorry" response which might be managed seems to me more along the line of, "I'm sorry we were both deceived by Cholmondeley," but agree that Ms F's proposal is neatest.


51- Erica-- I completely take your point that not everyone deserves an answer when we're talking about unsolicited dick pics. In this case, I believe Ms. Young Woman does deserve an answer because the situations are considerably different.

I'm looking at Ms. Young's situation. Granted in the following scenario I'm filling in a lot of blanks that I can't be absolutely sure of, but I think the following is plausible, even likely.

She's 20 years old, not terribly experienced, only in her 1st or 2nd serious relationship. A 29 year old man comes on to her, and she's complimented. She's naive enough not to even consider that he might be married.

(The first (only) time I slept with a married man, I was in my mid-20s, and actually, honestly, had no idea. My previous experience had been with men who weren't that variety of asshole. I thought that was something I'd read about, not the nice guy I met and went out with and slept with.)

She believes him when he says he's in an open relationship because, see parentheses above, she's inexperienced and didn't know men like that existed in her own life. When she finds out otherwise, she feels like an idiot. She liked the guy! She's running over in her head all the things she should have done, all the things she'll know to do in the future, things like seeing his house (and his medicine cabinet!) and meeting the wife in this open relationship,

When she finds out the truth, she wakes up fast, ends what she had with Mr. Asshole. (And here I can be thankful that I had it so much easier. I'd only slept with my Mr. Married Asshole once when he told me.)

Now she has a question. Should she tell the Wife? She goes over in her head how she might do that and what she might say. She's grown up fast and is now thinking about retribution and crazy. She wants to do the right thing and then get out of this whole horrible messy situation where she simultaneously feels guilty and like she was the one who was lied to. She takes the precaution of setting up an email account that will protect her identity and sends the email.

What does she want to have happen? That's where I say no one likes to be ignored. She probably does want to be acknowledged, but that's it. It would serve her well to be able to bow out. This is why I recommend SISS to answer long enough to say "thanks for telling me" and then say no more.


@74. Venn. Really we agree on the etiquette of replying and, more or less, on what the note should say. The burden of the young ex's communication is 'unpleasant'--but is there any other way that the LW could have found out her husband's affair? She's done him a favor. Once again, however, I'm defeated by your cultural reference. Book? Film? You have moved me to pick up Iris Murdoch more often. (I would not think that much of what I read concerns itself with the minutiae of human imbroglios...).


If the husband is attending college at 29 years of age, there is a good chance that his college caters to a lot of commuters. If the young mistress was living on or close to campus, they would have gotten together for trysts at her place due to simple logistics. She might not have thought anything at all unusual about her boyfriend living somewhere far away and not readily accessible. It might have seemed odd that she could not see him on weekends or breaks, but he could easily have said he was away or working a lot at those times.

Regardless of the college coed's intention for the message, I think LW should respond to her if for no other reason than to let the young woman know that LW got/saw the message and she does not need to resend it or send another. "Got your message, good to know."


BDF @ 71

Treated badly, depends on what they did. Being lied to and deceived about something this material from the get go. NO I would never get back with someone who I couldn't trust. After 18 months NRE/lust has worn off. For the YW, it depends on her attitude towards fucking a married man, how good the sex was, and how serious this was for her. I assume she is a full time student and I still can't believe she didn't check him out on social media (particularly if this was something more than casual sex)

As I wrote, there many legitimate reasons for the YW to use a fake Facebook account (you just gave one of them). I would characterize it as a separate rather than a fake account. Protecting her identity is moot since the wife knows who she is (or wouldn't you demand your husband tell you who the YW was) Unless the YW has no social media presence/foot print (something that would be extremely rare given her age and her being a college student). If she feared retaliation then she would never have had contacted the woman in the first place. After all, we live in the age of cyber bulling. If it was a serious relationship it is almost certain that she would have posted photos of the husband on her social media accounts. It's what people her age do (you may be surprised at the really stupid things people post, like being at an underage drinking part or video of themselves destroying an irreplaceable natural monument)

I understand your point about not being old enough to drink legally (assuming, probably correctly, that it is in the US). I wish we knew what the YW actually wrote. I've been fucking your husband for 18 months is different than saying she had an affair with him. Given that the hookup culture has largely replaced traditional dating (especially at college) for her age cohort, I would be more inclined assume the former rather than the latter. College students commonly say that they just don't have the time to date. However, given that the wife HAS been in a monogamous/monogamish? relationship (predating the advent of hook up culture) with her husband since they were teenagers, she is much more likely to characterize what happened as an affair.


Fichu @75: "She believes him when he says he's in an open relationship" -- No, she doesn't. Also, just as she must have been 19 or 20 when the affair began, he must have been 27 or 28. Still too old for her.

Skeptic @78: Maybe you wouldn't, but a lot of people have. And lust can last a lot longer than 18 months.
"Protecting her identity is moot since the wife knows who she is (or wouldn't you demand your husband tell you who the YW was)"? Maybe, maybe not. What does SISS stand to gain by identifying the other woman? The cat's out of the bag; the relationship is over; why torture herself by finding out exactly HOW young and hot Ms 21 is?
"If she feared retaliation then she would never have had contacted the woman in the first place." This is why my suggested response includes thanking her for her courage. She had to have known it was a risk that SISS would lash out at her, but decided to do the right thing anyway. As for the social media presence, maybe Husband has more than one Facebook account? Or lied and said he wasn't on Facebook? (Or isn't on Facebook -- a rare few aren't.)
"I've been fucking your husband for 18 months is different than saying she had an affair with him." I don't see how. "I fucked your husband" is different from saying "I had an affair with your husband," but the length of time involved makes it an affair, whether she considered him a boyfriend or a FWB.


M?? Harriet - Oh, dear. I don't think I get much better-known in my references than Muriel's Wedding, the Australian film full of ABBA songs in the soundtrack. The film opens with the throwing of a bouquet (by Tanya, who has just married Chook). Muriel, plus-size and in a loud outfit, catches the bouquet that was intended for bridesmaid Cheryl, but Cheryl cries that she and Shane broke up, and everyone blames Muriel. As Muriel wanders through the reception, shyly glancing at eligible men (and unaware that the groom's cousin just happens to be a store detective who recognizes Muriel's outfit as shoplifted), the audience is treated to significant eye signals between bridesmaid Nicole and just-married Chook. Very shortly after, Muriel is in the house, hears a noise in the laundry room, peeks in and sees Nicole and Chook at it, only to emerge to a police escort.

I remember two or three times showing the film to a friend who hadn't seen it. It was my habit to pause just at the start of the ceremony when Muriel, calling herself Mariel, has a large church wedding of convenience to a South African swimmer so that he can go to the Olympics. That allowed for the full effect of the processional's being "I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do".

I also devised (though have not used lately) a Chambers Award from the film. This is in honour of the line, "Deidre Chambers - what a coincidence!" that occurs multiple times throughout the film when Muriel's father "accidentally" meets his mistress in public (usually a restaurant).


KingTubbo @77: "let the young woman know that LW got/saw the message and she does not need to resend it or send another."

That's a good point. I'd go with "Message received." I really don't want to express any opinions on or gratitude for the message; just letting the young woman know not to try another way of getting in touch.


I've been in this position and felt a need to tell the informing party I was glad he told me. I didn't want him to worry he'd unnecessarily fucked up my marriage/family when he was only the messenger. LW says: "While I feel betrayed and hurt, I’m also a bit relieved because I think this would have been something we had to confront sooner or later." Why not just say this to the girl?


BDF Everyone? here assumes that the YW believes that it was an affair. That is what SISS's believes it to have been. Is a (casual?) long term FWB or hook up relationship an affair? (semantics?) (generational differences?) Different people view/interpret the same set of facts differently.

The following is not all inclusive How could it be when all we have to go on is a dispassionate letter. Is that a realistic response (in a supposedly monogamous marriage) to being told by the fuckee less than 24 hours ago that your husband has been cheating on you for 18 months? No shock or mental confusion, no anger, no bitterness, no apparent pain? Just a calm, coherent letter to DS

What is known: YW was/is really pissed off by the husband's lies (she ended the relationship). The fucking lasted about 18 months (the relationship most likely existed longer than that / unless it started when the husband picked up YW, the sex was good/great and they decided to continue to fuck). The YW contacted SISS and informed SISS about what was going on (possibly to confirm that the open marriage bit was a lie)

What is unknown: How good / sexually experienced are the husband and the YW. Assuming he had a physically monogamous relationship with SISS for 12 years. Have they evolved sexually during that time (some do / some don't)? Speculation that he has cheated in the past (and was never caught before), is just that speculation.

More questions than answers


BDF Would you ever get back together with someone who made you feel stupid for getting taken in by their lies. (i.e. How could I be that dumb/stupid?)


Skeptic @84: People aren't assuming, they're reading: "She explained that they had a relationship for about a year and a half." "Had a relationship" may be SISS's words, it may be YW's, but it's clear YW gave SISS the impression that this was more than an eighteen-month series of booty calls to her.

Good point that, if facts haven't been changed, she received the note a day ago. Why no shock? Perhaps SISS suspected all along that something was going on. As many people have said, it would be odd if a thing like this could carry on for so long without clues.

"when the husband picked up YW, the sex was good/great and they decided to continue to fuck" -- Isn't that how most affairs/relationships happen? Or at least how hookups become relationships?

I don't think we need to know how good the sex was before making any judgments on how SISS should proceed. Those are questions for Mr and Mrs SISS and their therapist, not for us.

Skeptic @85: Of course I have, I should have thought that was obvious from my comments. When sex is great (perhaps that's why you deemed that question relevant), I'll forgive a lot. Should I? is a different question from do I? Remember that people get back together with partners who hit them, who gaslight them, who treat them like shit, ALL THE TIME. People ARE that stupid, when they're under the influence of oxytocin, aka in love.


@81. Venn. Now I'll know what a Chambers Award is when you reference it.

Gender of Chook?


BDF @ 87 My point was that their relationship was probably longer than 18 months (assuming that it was 18 months of fucking and not the total length of the relationship). I "might" do a one night stand with someone I picked up without knowing much about the person, but I wouldn't commit to a continuing relationship. Depends on what her attitude is towards sex (including when and under what circumstances she decides to fuck)

I realize every one is different in how they react and what is forgivable.

I remain skeptical. Z Gen is obsessed with social media. Social media in all of its forms has definitely become an integral part of life for college students, and even younger generations for that matter. Smart phone are ubiquitous. She would post her relationship status and photos (selfies) with the husband (or her friends would). I am curious how the YW finally found out that the husband was married.

There are so many reasons why it is implausible that the YW would not know that the husband was married. She wouldn't confide in some friend about her relationship with the husband?

Even if the SISS was suspicious about her husband. I find it really hard to believe that she had so little apparent emotional response to being told out of the blue by a complete stranger that her husband had been cheating on her for 18 months. I can't tell if she has even confronted her husband about this before writing the letter.


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