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One of those should I tell the O B S questions

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lloyddobler posted 11/9/2013 20:21 PM

OK... hope y'all will be willing to help me think through this one. I think I already know what needs to be done, but I would welcome some perspective on whether I'm right.

Today is Sat. Nov. 9. Two days ago WW deleted her browser history, so I spent some time digging a little further than I already had into what I could find on her phone. I won't go into specifics here, but I found text messages that were vaguely incriminatory and suggested the possibility of at least one other A that I didn't know about. WW and I talked when she came home from work, and she denied having had any other affairs other than the one I already knew about. She admitted that she didn't have any good defense for deleting her browser history, though, so we had a frank conversation about trust and what we needed to do if we are to have any shot at all at R. I said she was going to have to stop letting her fear of being alone motivate her actions and that she would have to start taking some risks (since being honest is apparently something she is AFRAID to do) where doing things that would (re)establish trust are concerned.

Last night, WW tells me she has something she wants to talk about and confesses to a flirtatious relationship with one co-worker in spring 2009, which she seemed to think would have led to an affair if she had stayed in that job. AND she confessed to a PA with another coworker in the summer of 2009 and summer of 2010 (the very same person I had asked about the night before). She claims not to be able to remember details about how often they had sex, though admits it was at least a handful of times in 2009 and probably a couple times in 2010 as well. Whatever. I'm not personally interested in the details so much as I am the basic timeline and what it says about the line of BS she was giving me about the other, long-term affair and why it started.

Anyway, the OM in the 2009, 2010 summer flings was engaged when this started in 2009 and got married that year, so the PA between WW and OM affect another marriage. And hence the subject heading for this post.

Predictably, WW says she's rather not tell OBS since it might harm her friendships with other friends held in common between them. I'm not sure that this is all that likely since I kind of doubt that the OM and OBS are very likely to go public with all their common friends about this. But, in any case, WW's concern about her friendships doesn't seem like it is the most important consideration here.

So leaving aside the question of how WW is going to establish NC with OM when she's unwilling to give up any friendships along intersecting lines, I'm weighing whether and how I would tell the OBS.

My view is that it's none of my business how OM and OBS want to handle the information, but it is OBS's business and legitimate, compelling right to have this information. Since I very much doubt that OM has been honest with his BS about this, and since my WW is clearly reluctant for OBS to know, it now clearly falls on me to disclose this information.

The only reasons I can think of why someone might say there isn't a compelling reason to tell the OBS are:

1) my WW is being selfish, but she's also being honest when she points out that there is some risk to her very small number of friendships here in Chicago. To be honest, I don't find this a terribly compelling reason not to tell the OBS, and it might even be interpreted by some on this forum as a good reason to tell the OBS. But it is a consideration that I'm weighing.

2) Supposedly, the affair ended in 2010. I anticipate WW and OM saying that since it already ended a long time ago, the possibility that it might destroy OBS's marriage seems kind of harsh. Here, too I don't see a particularly compelling reason. My view is that if OM cheated while he was engaged and at the beginning of his marriage, it's not all that unlikely that he's cheating now with someone other than my WW. Also, irrespective of when the A happened, my perspective as a BS is that the truth is important, that it doesn't matter when the A happened. It seems to me that no marriage can be a healthy one while there is a secret like this at the heart of it. So even if OBS thinks she has a healthy marriage, she doesn't... and I think she has a compelling right to know that.

So I've posted on the General forum because I would welcome comments from BSs/FBSs/XBSs as well as WSs/FWSs/XWSs.

[This message edited by lloyddobler at 8:54 PM, November 9th (Saturday)]

Crushed1 posted 11/9/2013 20:39 PM

Hey lloyddobler,

Also, irrespective of when the A happened, my perspective as a BS is that the truth is important, that it doesn't matter when the A happened. It seems to me that no marriage can be a healthy one while there is a secret like this at the heart of it. So even if OBS thinks she has a healthy marriage, she doesn't... and I think she has a compelling right to know that.

This is the most compelling reason to tell the OBS. And if your WW loses any friendships over this it's a consequence of her behavior.

hopefulmother posted 11/9/2013 20:48 PM

Tell may be that he has done it before and this is the proof she needs or nail in the coffin. She has the right to know what she is married to if she doesn't already.

The fact that your wife doesn't want that particular can of worms to be opened, makes me wonder if that A is underground or ongoing still.

If she was so worried about her circle of friends...she should have kept her legs cross and acted like a classy lady.

inca posted 11/9/2013 22:50 PM


I also support you telling. My H cheated within the first 5 years of M. Had I known then, I would have left or the relationship would have broken open, and we would have avoided a 2 year LTA ( oh, and a ONS). YOU CAN PREVENT HEARTBREAK. I think you have a duty to do it. YOur WS's concern is secondary and a natural consequence of her actions. She has to live with it. If her friendships change, or if they are loss and she has to go out and create new friendships as her new self, that is what she has to do and will probably beneifit her more than, keeping her secret life underground and totally not intersected with her reality.

Good luck to you!

jb3199 posted 11/10/2013 08:14 AM

I think I already know what needs to be done, but I would welcome some perspective on whether I'm right.

You know that you are right. You know that you are right based on mere facts and morals, let alone that you have been able to walk in a BS's shoes.

Since I very much doubt that OM has been honest with his BS about this, and since my WW is clearly reluctant for OBS to know, it now clearly falls on me to disclose this information.

Yup, it is your business. It became your business the moment that the two of them conspired to betray you. It also became the OBS's business---she just may not be aware of it yet.

It is funny how they get to nuke our lives, yet won't do a damn thing to fix it. Total selfishness. The only thing that I can say is screw them. This is not only where you are going to do what you believe is right, but it takes some more of that power back. It shows them that they don't control you...and you are going to do what you deem necessary. If the consequences are lost friendships and marriages---oh well, because they put that ball in motion themselves.

These are the times that the BSs need to be selfish...with a capital "S". But the difference between their selfishness and yours, is that your selfishness is constructive, while theirs was(is) the opposite.

You know what needs to be done. You are just the unlucky bastard that has to do it. Just another one of OUR consequences from other's actions.

lloyddobler posted 11/12/2013 23:55 PM

So all the advice here basically confirms my initial reasoning on this. But I've been mulling this over and am now leaning toward a different course, I think.

WW is working on a no contact letter that will go to OM, and we've already talked about the kinds of things she can say to their mutual friends if someone asks. The OBS is a different matter. I don't know her at all. Leaving aside the two spurious reasons not to tell her that I mentioned in my first post on this, WW claims to be concerned about the unpredictability of OBSs reaction.

To reiterate, even setting aside the spurious reasons I've already rejected as irrelevant to the question of whether to tell or not, my reconsidered view is that there is some appreciable risk that there could be collateral damage (i.e., damage not just to OM's marriage [a marriage already built on an illusory ground], but perhaps to others, myself included). While I do think that it is OBS's compelling right to know about the affair, I'm not sure I want to paint a target on myself as the bearer of this news.

I can't find anything about this in the books I've ben reading. The closest point was in Getting Past the Affair, where there is nothing more than a generic caution about being self-reflective about on's own possible motive in wanting to tell the '"outside person" [the authors' term]. But there doesn't seem to be any further discussion of the actual potential advantages an disadvantages of telling.

Anyone have some suggestions about any of this?

plainpain posted 11/13/2013 02:40 AM

I can't really say anything other than, if it were me, I would want to know. Oh, wait, it was me. I really wish I had known. Ignorance is not bliss - it is just delayed humiliation.

My thoughts are really just this: I think that a good portion of the anger that the BS expresses upon hearing the truth comes from a place of shock and embarrassment. We spend a lot of time and energy making excuses for our spouses, trying to explain away why they leave their phone in the car to charge over night (keeps forgetting it at home), why their shirt smells like perfume (went through the mall fragrance section), why the stray hair in the bathroom is a LOT longer than mine (must have picked it up on a sweater somewhere), etc. etc. So, it's just plain humiliating, whichever way the news comes.

I think that if there were some way to let her know gently and discretely - in a handwritten letter maybe, something to that effect. Give her space and time to process. Give your phone number if she wants to contact you for details or to discuss your 'evidence'. Then she can respond or not respond, in her own time. It gives her back some control, and the opportunity to choose, to compose herself, to keep her dignity. Those are just my thoughts.

refuz2bavictim posted 11/13/2013 03:13 AM


WW claims to be concerned about the unpredictability of OBSs reaction.

is just more of

being honest is apparently something she is AFRAID to do

I doubt you will become a target anymore than you have targeted the other BS's, but if that becomes your reason not to inform, isn't that a similar to the line of reasoning above?

Having an A, and keeping secrets to execute it, is all about controlling the flow of information.
Not everyone is privy, in order to control the reaction, or maintain a lack of action on the part of the other affected parties.
If they don't know, they can't take ANY action on their own behalf.
Most of us would say "hell no" if our spouses had come to us and said "hey, I want to have a bf/gf while we are still married".
They keep us out of the loop so that we cannot ACT, react or make a decision, while they make all the decisions unilaterally.

I suppose you could keep the other BS out of the loop and maintain that status quo. You wouldn't be the first or the last to do this. But if you are dedicating a great deal of thought to the subject, I do think you should consider this angle as well.

TheThreeYearFool posted 11/13/2013 09:11 AM

All I can say is that I wish the OBH had told me. OW somehow convinced him not to confront my WH or to tell me.

I don't know when he found out but I know it was well over a year ago. Maybe even two. I don't know if it would have hurt any less, but at least I would have been looking back at just a year of lies instead of questioning everything that went on in my life for the past three years.

The OBS in your case needs to know. I think plainpain's suggestion of a letter is spot on, unless you think it will be intercepted. Maybe an email with similar content.

Yes, I'm sure she'll freak out as we all did on our DDays. But you're not causing the pain. Her WH did.

lloyddobler posted 11/13/2013 10:13 AM

I hear y'all. I certainly agree with what you are saying:

It would have been best had my WW not had the affairs.

Second best would have been that she told me about them without my having discovered them.

Third best is me discovering them.

Fourth best is someone else letting me know about them.

Worst would have been not knowing and continuing to live (unknowingly) in the shadow of my WW's fraud--unable, as refuz points out above, to act on my own behalf because I lack the information necessary to do so in a meaningful sense.

So, since I agree that worst would be to live in that fraudulent situation, the question is certainly NOT whether OBS should know, but whether I should tell her.

As I said at the outset, it certainly does seem that, if I stand on the conviction that she should know, then I am under the obligation to tell--or if not under the obligation to tell, at least I wouldn't necessarily be doing anything wrong by telling. But, if on the other hand, in telling I have reason to believe I'm going to cause additional harm to myself or to others, then there's a reason to be cautious about deploying that general principle as a rationale for telling.

There's a somewhat famous thought puzzle in some of Plato's dialogs that seems like it might be useful in clarifying what seems to me to be more complicated than a question about whether OBS should know about the affair (I take it as a given that she should). In Plato, the thought puzzle generally takes a form something like the following: if someone lends me a weapon and asks for it back, I'm generally under the obligation to give it back since it is not my property. But if the lender asks for the weapon back and I have good reason to think that she or he is intending at that moment to put it to use it for a purpose that will do themselves harm or that will harm an innocent person, most of us recognize that the obligation to give what is owed is superceded by an obligation not to provide the means for some other, greater harm.

I am not convinced that the situation in this case is genuinely analagous to Plato's example. For one thing, I don't have anything like good evidence regarding the likely response of OBS... I don't know her at all, don't know what kind of a person she is, don't know how she's likely to respond, don't know what damage she might be inclined to do to herself or others. I only have WW's take on this, and WW is, by definition, not a reliable narrator where this matter is concerned. But, nevertheless, WW is my only source of information about this, and she says there is a reason to be concerned.

Second, let's say for argument's sake that I accept WW's reading of the situation. For the analogy to Plato's example to hold, it would need to be fairly clear that a likely harm consequent upon my telling is greater than the likely harm of not telling. But the analogy also seems to break down here. I'm not at all certain about the harm of not-telling, but I am pretty certain of the kinds of harms that come with not telling. Every one of us here are aware of that harm.

So... your comments are helpful, to be sure, since they are helping me think through the complex sets of obligations here. Among other things, the point that you each have made (more or less explicitly in different posts above), that, by not telling, I'm only delaying and possibly aggravating an eventual trauma for the OBS, is one I hadn't been attending to. What happens, for instance, if I don't tell and she finds out anyway? What harm would I have prevented, if any, by delaying?

I've promised WW to at least wait until we've had an opportunity to discuss this with our MC this Friday to see what perspective we can find there. As I said, this particular affair (leaving aside a few sporadic flirtatious online interactions over the last three years... I know, I know... no need to say it: those are really a perpetuation of the affair, but those sporadic interactions took place in the midst of a second, much more serious second affair, so you can appreciate that I'm not rugsweeping where those flirtations are concerned) seems to have ended in 2010, so I can afford a little bit of time to think through this before acting.

That it might seem I'm stalling here in no way diminishes my gratitude for your input... if anything, it simply provides a little bit more time for me to receive additional input here.

(Still no additional perspectives from WSs, BTW. I really would welcome that point of view if any of you happen to read this.)

Dreamland posted 11/13/2013 10:20 AM

First of all I am so sorry. Your instinct was right but I'm sad it was. :(
Well I am from a different camp. If the A was truly over in 2010 and your sending a NC to the OM I would not tell the OBS. They had just gotten married and that would be a huge blow to the BS and if she starts telling people your WW is a homewrecker and etcetera it could be full of drama that might not be the best for your R.
Though I do understand that it's better to know early in a M and decide if that person is really right for you. But it's such a hard call since it was almost 4 years ago.. Is the OM still having Affairs? Serial cheater or this was it.. If he's still in an A then I might but you would need proof so she knows it's not just you being vengeful.
Good luck and sending hugs...

lloyddobler posted 11/13/2013 10:49 AM

Thanks, dreamland. I'm sorry we both have reasons to be here. Yesterday's thread, which we were both following (your posts are gut-wrenching for me, but I'm glad you're on SI to help get through the rough patches), on why some BSs say they would prefer not knowing is perhaps pertinent to this thread, too:

Dreamboat posted 11/13/2013 11:15 AM

WW claims to be concerned about the unpredictability of OBSs reaction.

This is a classic line from the WS handbook. Many WS claim that the other BS is unstable and thus is a threat to the BS, WS, and the family. That is generally a lie made up because the WS does not want to face the consequences of the OBS finding out and thus is willing to say anything to convince the BS not to tell. Your WS is a known liar so her saying that the OBS might harm you is not a trustworthy statement and thus is not a sufficient reason to not tell the OBS.

If I understand the timeline correctly, your WS and this OM were conducing the A both before and after his M to OBS. This is simply heartbreaking because that means that their M has been a farce since the moment OM said "I do". THAT is a compelling reason to tell the OBS. if your ENTIRE M was a farce, would you not want someone to tell you? Or would you rather waste 10, 20, or even 30 years before finally discovering that your M is a farce? And imagine the anger and humiliation you would feel to discover that some people knew from the very beginning and chose not to tell you.

Stop philosophizing and just tell the OBS because it is the right and moral thing to do.

lloyddobler posted 11/13/2013 11:53 AM

Stop philosophizing and just tell the OBS because it is the right and moral thing to do.

With all due respect, dreamboat, philosophizing isn't opposed to doing, and neither am I when I engage in what you are calling philosophizing--though perhaps you mean something different than I do by that term.

We both know that it is difficult to do difficult things. But we also know that what makes doing some things difficult is the difficulty of deciding what to do. That I'm not presently convinced about what I ought to do, however, ought not be taken as a lack of psychological strength to do difficult things. In fact, I think it's quite the other way around. As hurt and confused as I am by WW's actions, I am fundamentally committed to facing my anxieties, making the best decisions I can, and then acting on those decisions. And, right now, given that I won't act before Friday in any case, the greater urgency is in the philosophizing.

But, yes, I do recognize that WW's perspective on OBS is not a reliable one. And you are certainly right (no one here is denying it) that OBS has a compelling right to know about the affair. Nor has anyone here suggested that it would be immoral for me to disclose the affair to the OBS.

I know that you mean to be helpful and I definitely have no wish to antagonize you in response to your gesture of goodwill. But, evidently, I strike you as someone who has his head in the sand, so I'll be sure to post here later about what I decide to do. I'm not saying it will, but if it should happen to conflict with your advice, you can tell me then if you think I've taken the cowardly approach. And should that happen, then you will have done me a service by saying so.

[This message edited by lloyddobler at 12:15 PM, November 13th (Wednesday)]

Crushed1 posted 11/13/2013 12:17 PM

Of course no one knows what will happen when they open a can of worms it is basically an unpredictable sitch on what will happen if you tell OBS.

Personally I would have been grateful if someone would have informed me of what my H was doing behind my back. I would have been wounded, horrified, and devastated, BUT I would have known the TRUTH of him instead of being left to wonder daily why he was acting so unstable and why my intuition and gut were screaming at me constantly.

There are a lot of people here who found out years later what their spouse was up to during that time. I was one who found out two years after the A was over and there was NC in place per H's own decision.

Yeah it hurt to know the truth, but there was also a feeling of relief at just knowing the truth. It explained intuition flashes, why he was so cruel and hateful during that time. And most important of all, it gave me a truth about him.

Unfortunately this is not a black and white sitch, there are shades of gray and you will have to do what you feel is the right thing to do.

But, nevertheless, WW is my only source of information about this, and she says there is a reason to be concerned.

Dreamboat is right, this is a very common WS response.

WW says she's rather not tell OBS since it might harm her friendships with other friends held in common between them.

Isn't it more likely then that your WW just fears the backlash that she may get if OBS finds out?

Dreamboat posted 11/13/2013 12:26 PM


I didn't mean to offend you but I really believe you are over thinking this. In the end you need to make a decision that is right for YOU and that YOU can live with, not what anyone else thinks you should do including your WS. What is right for YOU may also be what your WS wants and may be what she thinks is right for her, but then it may not.

So take your WS's desires out of the equation and take Plato out of the equations. The bottom line: Can you live with yourself if you do not tell the OBS? If not, then tell her.

lloyddobler posted 11/13/2013 12:37 PM

All good points. I have even also thought that it might be that WW believes OBS is primed to be very upset about this:

(a) because, heck, who wouldn't be? I think WW has been surprised that I didn't just storm out of our house and drive away with the kid. That I didn't should have encouraged her to be forthright about the second affair right away, but... well, it's a dense, dense fog, isn't it?

(b) because, perhaps OBS has been suspicious of exactly this kind of thing... perhaps more attentive to it while it was going on than I was, and so already trying to prepare for the worst.
But those are speculations.

In any case, either, both, or neither of these could be true of the OBS, and there could be other possible views. And maybe WW is just simply and flatly mistaken about what she says or thinks about OBS.

In any event, no matter what is true about the OBS, the smart money is on the view that says that WW's perspective on OBS is a distorted one, no matter what experiences she's had with OBS have been shaped and explained for her by that distorted perspective.

I suppose some of you are saying that the distortion is likely to be so great that *anything* WW says has to be discounted altogether in my thinking about this. Perhaps that's true. Perhaps that's good advice for the present even if WW happens, in this case, to have a pretty good bead on the situation.

Anyway, I'll let that stew and percolate for a bit. Time to get back to work.

And, speaking of work, dreamboat, just to be clear, I'm not really offended... or at least not personally. I do have my professional pride and dignity left no matter what WW has done. My work happens to be in the field of philosophy. So any touchiness about that in my reply is a defensiveness of a different sort than it might seem to be. And I apologize in turn if it seemed like I was lashing out. In other words, I'll follow your advice for the present by putting Plato back on the shelf where SI is concerned, but only so that I can them pick him (or his kindred, anyway) back up again where my job is concerned.

Thanks again. Really.

refuz2bavictim posted 11/13/2013 12:37 PM

WW is my only source of information about this

So long as you continue to keep it this way, she will continue to be your only "source"

That's a bit like reading only one author, or watching one news channel or reading one newspaper.

What harm would I have prevented, if any, by delaying?

STD's, Pregnancy, another millisecond of deception...

heforgotme posted 11/13/2013 14:32 PM




I don't know what else to say.


whiteflower99 posted 11/13/2013 16:18 PM

Tell, but be prepared for denial. That happened when I outed the one time my STBXWH cheated with a MOW. All the others were SOWs

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