My female friends and I are sometimes faced with a dilemma: A married man or a man in a relationship has hit on us or we know a married man is cheating. And we wonder whether or not to "warn" his wife or girlfriend. We usually don't. And I'll tell you why. We figure the guy is going to deny everything, the woman is going to believe him, and then we've gotten ourselves into a big mess for nothing.
Like a lot of women I know, I've been hit on by married men. One even spent an hour at a party proudly showing me pictures of his newborn, only to email me the next day asking me on a date. Did I track down his wife and tell her? No. I just didn't email him back, felt sorry for the wife, and hoped his behavior was some kind of anomaly. But one woman, author Delaine Moore, decided to tell the wife after she found out the guy she'd made out with in a bar was married. And you will be surprised what happened next.
Last year, Moore met a man at a bar and spent eight hours drinking, flirting, and yes, kissing him. A day later, she found out the dude was married. Unlike me and my friends, she tracked down the wife and let her know what happened. Then she wrote about it. Wrongly, much of the blame and judgment was cast on HER, not the husband. She was called a "home wrecker" and a "woman with anger issues."
But Moore had also once been a wife and mother who'd been cheated on, and she wished someone had told HER. So she told this woman. Surprisingly, the woman believed her. But Moore remained "plagued" by doubts about her reveal -- wondering if she should have said anything.
A year later, Moore decided to write to the wife again and ask if she "hated her." Frankly, I would have left the poor woman alone at this point. But the wife wrote back, and she was shockingly forthright. Not only that, she was grateful.
Said the wife:
I'm still glad that you told me. I've become a much stronger woman since last year, making decisions that are good for me and my future, including working part-time. I'm speaking my mind a lot more with "Brian" around a lot of issues. And he, in turn, has become a much better husband than ever -- supportive, communicative, and a lot more mellowed out.
I think ignorance is not bliss. I would rather know than not, because then I cannot be a victim and say I had no idea what he was, or is capable of.
The wife also says that while her "eyes are wide open," she is "happier" with her husband than ever before. It looks like this incident forced the couple to grapple with some issues.
I still don't know if I'd tell. If I slept with a guy who I thought was single, I'd definitely tell the wife. But I'd still be conflicted about reporting a kiss or flirty email. However, if the woman were a friend of mine, and I found out her man was cheating -- I'd tell her in a hot second. Even if that meant losing my friend.
Would you tell?
Image via David Martin Hunt/Flickr