Should I tell my boyfriend's wife about our affair?

I'm leaving him and he's a scumbag. I think she should know who she's really married to.

Published August 13, 2008 9:58AM (EDT)

Dear Reader,

In connection with Monday's column, I wanted to link back to some letters on the last election and the crazy political stress that landed me briefly in the hospital in 2004. I thought it might provide some context. That was a crazy year.

And just to clarify: I don't think it's wrong or crazy to feel intense anger about what has happened in this country over the past eight years. I do think it is a health risk. Daily, prolonged, unrelieved anger takes its toll. If your blood pressure is high and you're not sleeping well and you're having adrenaline spikes every time you watch TV, that's not an intellectual problem. It's not a political problem. It's a health problem. Stress kills. See your doctor. Do some yoga. Take some time off. You don't want to miss the inauguration.

Dear Cary,

Should I tell my married boyfriend's wife about our affair? I think she's about to pay his way through school.

In two weeks I will return to college to finish my B.A. after a two-year hiatus. I figured that this would be a good time to get rid of the married guy. I could just leave him behind and throw myself into my schoolwork, but recently, with the help of Google, I've been discovering more and more about this guy -- with whom I was too lonely, desperate and embarrassed to break up with when he told me he was married months ago. Lots of personal ads, lots of other girls ... basically the worst-case scenario.

Maybe it's lame to feel cheated and wronged only now -- after all, I knew he was a cheater months ago and I did nothing. But the closer I get to leaving, the more I get the urge to go and see his wife at work and tell her to leave him before she pays his way through school this fall. Leave him while you are still young enough to have kids! Leave him now because we were both too stupid to do it a long time ago! He's not good enough for either of us!

Should I just move on with my life? That's the advice I'd give a friend. Oh, and that's another thing, I don't have a shoulder to cry on. My friends don't know he's married and they wouldn't be pleased to find out that I kept up the affair knowingly. I'm scared and lonely and I'm going off to school in a town far away. How should I handle a secret and devastating breakup?

Two-Timing Texan

Dear Two-Timing Texan,

You know, I'm just a regular person. I have thoughts and principles like the rest of us but that doesn't mean I'm consistent with them or that my thoughts and principles are better than the next person's. Sometimes I act from deep principle and conviction. Other times I just think stuff and don't know why.

Right now I'm just thinking stuff and don't know why. What I'm thinking is, hell, yes, you should tell her. I don't know why and I don't really even care why, it's just what I think.

Now I know with the column job and all it's my job to analyze things a little bit at least, so while we breeze along here I'll try to come up with something a little more nuanced but maybe not. I'm no genius, you know. I'm just a person saying stuff. So just tell her.

She's being taken advantage of and doesn't know it. That's not right. Tell her he's screwing around and she ought to find somebody better. Because, for instance, what if she gets pregnant and has kids with this guy and then finds out? Then it's a bigger mess.

Telling her might put you at some risk. I don't know. It might. Had you thought of that? Maybe you want to tell her anonymously, or by phone. Because who knows.

If you do feel you need to tell her personally and it's safe to do so, here's the other thing: Why go see her at work? I don't get that. You'll just upset her at work. Instead, write her or call her. If you must meet, go someplace not home and not work -- like a cheesy restaurant and bar on the outskirts of town where nobody would get upset if she started crying or yelling. Like maybe TGI Fridays, where they have huge portions of sleep-inducing food and the decor is cheerily perverse or perversely cheery, it's hard to say which.

Here's the last thing: Afterward, you have to walk away. This thing has to be over for you. No more Googling his name. Wipe it clean. It's gone from your mind. You're starting over. If it isn't over then you are just wading in deeper.

I wish you luck. You're going to be all messed up emotionally about this but try to resist the drama. You'll think about it and drink about it and lie awake at night about it. But don't touch it. Close the door on it. Turn your back on it. It's over.

  • Get on the mailing list for Cary Tennis Books.

    The Best of Cary Tennis

    "Since You Asked," on sale now at Cary Tennis Books: Buy now and get an autographed first edition.

    What? You want more advice?

  • Read more Cary Tennis in the Since You Asked directory.
  • See what others are saying and/or join the conversation in the Table Talk forum.
  • Ask for advice. Letter writers: Please think carefully! By sending a letter to, you are giving Salon permission to publish it. Once you submit it, it may not be possible to rescind it. So be sure. If you are not sure, sleep on it. You can always send tomorrow. Ready? OK, Submit your letter for publication.
  • Or, just make a comment to Cary Tennis not for publication.
  • Or, send a letter to Salon's editors not for publication.

  • By Cary Tennis

    MORE FROM Cary Tennis

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------

    Coupling Infidelity Since You Asked