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Why Penning an 'Open Letter' to the Other Woman Hurts You More Than It Hurts Her

I ultimately empowered this other woman with my dignity and confidence, which she converted into enough restraint to ignore my message after

Dating

I smile with glee at the week’s weather forecast. It’s the first heavy snowfall in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, at least while I had been living there. I’m accustomed to flurries and a few inches, but over two feet of snow is the perfect backdrop for extended cuddles with the “Hunny.”


“Don’t you want to get snowed in, in Virginia?” I text him. He lives on the other side of the District, in Maryland.

I’m still cheesing and making a mental shopping list of necessities to survive Snowmageddon when I hear the familiar tone emit from my cell phone.

“If I have to spend a few days with you, I’ll have to kill you,” I read. He adds, “LOL” for giggles.

But I’m no longer laughing. I let common sense and intuition read the text, too, and they whisper, “Girl, his answer is suspect.”

The next morning I admire the banks of snow and upload a few pictures to Facebook asking my friends to guess under which massive pile is my car. Intuition interrupts my game to tell me to search for his name, even though he deleted his page weeks prior because “Facebook is old, and I like Twitter much better.” His brand new page appears with him and a young woman as his profile picture and a status of “in a relationship.” With her name.

I no longer see white clouds from the heaps of snow. My vision blurs and morphs into a gushing, bright red sea. I’m shaking, livid with the dishonesty and the attempt to play me like my Facebook guessing game. “Who the [bleep] does he think he is?” I say aloud as I struggle to locate his number in my phone and press the appropriate buttons to connect the call. His cell goes straight to voice mail, so I call the next known number: to his mother’s house.

He develops a speech impediment as my questions flow. He asks to call me right back. I give him exactly one hour to untwist his tongue. At a minute after, I move to the next person whom I reason should probably know he’s a liar and a cheat. I inbox the woman in the photo. But if my anger had one more spark, I would’ve probably taken it to the streets. Well, not quite literally, but back then I would’ve done something a bit more clever and vengeful, similar to what one woman did in Upstate New York.

Late last month an estranged wife in Syracuse posted a “Letter to the Woman Dating my Husband” on Craigslist after she found out he was having an affair while she was out-of-town caring for her sick mother. She begins the letter:

You probably don't even know that we're not separated, and up until I found his dating site profiles, and flew back to try and rescue my marriage, I did not know there was a problem...

Be aware that everyday, he wrote me loving, wonderful messages, just as he was talking to you and wooing you.

As far as I knew, we were strong in our relationship. If he's been telling you something different, get my number from him, and let me show you the messages...

The old me would've admired the wife's initial calmness and her ability to maintain anonymity on a public forum while reading both her husband and the woman she feels should assume some responsibility for the demise of a marriage. The wife omits names, but she does provide plenty of identifying details – including the size of a random bra and the color of a lingering tube of mascara – so that the mistress would recognize that she’s the intended recipient:

He went to Fun Junction (btw, he took all the Fun Junction coins I'd saved for sentimental value from when the boys were little--thanks. You stole my memories of my happy days with my children). You googled the address for Fun Junction from our house computer (he hates google and only uses bing), then according to his phone he drove there. Later, you two stopped at Tops in Cicero, bought ice cream cones and sugary cereal (and cheap wine coolers.... eeeewwwww) and you returned to the house. Then YOU googled 15 minutes worth of YouTube videos on "La Lupe"--some kind of weird Cuban singer from the 60s and 70s. You actually put him through 4 videos and 15 minutes worth of that!!!! Hahahahahahah!!!! He had to have been cringing inside, because (and here's a little secret), I liked Salsa until I met him--and he HATED it so much, I gave up ever listening to it.... I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that one! Pfft. What a guy will go through to get laid....

The old me would've also given the wife a virtual high-five as she tells the mistress that although the husband may seem like a good catch, he’s entering a new relationship with only half of the assets. And the debt, too:

Well, recently he's lost weight, quit drinking (that was 15 years of h*ll for me and the kids) bought himself a NEW truck (without consulting / asking me). But guess what? That nice house and property you saw, and new truck, and all his new tools? ***I OWN HALF OF ALL OF IT***.

So you won't be living in my nice house, we'll be selling it. And he may not have mentioned all my grad school debt... We'll be splitting that as well. So guess what you have???

You, my dear, are the proud new doormat for a middle-aged man who has been a contractor-type all his life. He's fairly smart though, but at 56 his body will not hold out much longer, and he's doesn't have a wide skill-set. He's somewhat heavy-set, pretty good looking, but he will not be wealthy after we split things (nor will I).

And I would've awarded extra points for throwing a few jabs to the other woman's appearance and/or character. Near the end of the letter, the wife questions the mistress’ intelligence, tries to build guilt, and issues a warning on karma:

Of course, since you've been boffing my husband, and you must know I am still in the picture (my stuff is ALL OVER THE HOUSE) ...OR... you may just be incredibly stupid...

Maybe you deserve him.

You and he ruined my life, stole the life I spent 15 years trying to build with him, destroyed my identity... I wish I could say I "wish you the best," but it's more like "I think you're about to get what you deserve."

So, yes, my message was eerily similar to the Craigslist letter but without the “ewwws,” and “hahahas.” I made sure this woman in the Facebook profile knew she wasn’t his plus one but rather the third side of a triangle.

I told her his exact whereabouts when he obviously wasn’t with her with the hope it would trigger a memory and instill some doubt. I wanted her to hurt the way I did. Then I wanted her to distrust him, lash out at him, and leave him. And I wanted him to doubly feel the wrath that was already boiling my blood that freezing morning.

“Got him,” I thought, as I hit “enter.” “And her, too.”

But something else happened moments after I sent that message to another woman into cyberspace. I no longer felt delight in the probable destruction of what shouldn’t have been constructed in the first place. Once I purged all of my ill-feelings, I didn’t fully understand the purpose of my reaction anymore other than I wasn't ready to face the rejection, the starting over, and the subsequent pity from peers. But did I really still want someone who could do something like that to me? And was I being fair to the woman who technically had nothing to do with the conflict he created with me from the choice he made of her?

Once my anger subsided, embarrassment seeped in because I realized I appeared weak. I ultimately empowered this other woman with my dignity and confidence, which she converted into enough restraint to ignore my message after she read it. And I showed him I abided by the most extreme rules of ride or die, so he didn’t need to feel remorse for anything. Since then, I’ve accepted I was in a “situationship” that I needed to file to an “experience and lessons learned” folder and archive because I’d never need to refer to it again unless it was to uplift another woman who fell into the same trap.

[Tweet "I meant to exude superiority, power, and strength, but I only revealed my insecurities."]

Like the estranged NY wife, I meant to exude superiority, power, and strength, but I only revealed my insecurities. Our only difference – aside from her being a mother – is she’s a wife, and she still has the right to call her significant other her “husband," yet the way she chose to establish her position was all wrong. But the person I’d pet-named “Hunny” definitely didn’t deserve my infinite loyalty when he’d already sacrificed me and my feelings for someone else. And his new woman was irrelevant to my self-worth, so she didn’t deserve the keystrokes I tapped or the wrath I unleashed under the covenant of sisterhood.

The genius response to unfaithfulness isn’t a tell-all rant to a stranger, but rather complete silence because we’re too resilient to plead for affection. We are also too brilliant to destroy another woman's happiness and self-esteem simply because we're hurt.

Have you ever found yourself doing something out of character after being hurt? 

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