Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Cheating Husband Was Once Interested in a Man”

My husband left me last year in April for a girl he met at his gym. I had speculated that he was cheating on me and, lo and behold, I was right. He told me he didn’t love me anymore, and about two weeks later I found out he was in Florida with this girl. We had been married for three and a half years and together for a total of eight years. The Christmas before he left, when I was speculating that he was cheating on me, I snooped through his email and found a message in his inbox that shocked me. It was an email response to a Craigslist ad for men seeking men. It said “never been with a man before and your ad really turns me on. I would love to watch you go to work.” I ended up confronting him about it, but he blamed it on being drunk.

Long story short, I am now sitting here, left for another woman while he is enjoying his life like I never existed and is not fazed whatsoever. How does someone get away with being caught with their dirty little secret and then cheat and leave their wife and is now living his best life while I’m sitting here sad and grieving? — I Know His Dirty Little Secret

I’m sorry your husband cheated on you and left you; I completely understand why you’d be grieving the end of your relationship with him. What is less understandable is why you point to the email response you found to a Craigslist ad for men seeking men as your ex’s “dirty little secret.” I am assuming that the idea that your husband was bi- or gay-curious is what you consider “dirty,” which is really homophobic and off-putting. Cheating is cheating, and you now know that your husband was likely cheating with this woman he met at the gym and left you for. I mean, I don’t know why that is LESS dirty than an email you found, unless you truly think the idea of being — GASP — bisexual or gay is gross, which is pretty gross in itself.

You have reason enough to be hurt and to feel cheated by your husband’s shitty behavior without pointing to his sexual identity to support your pain. His sexual identity, whatever it may be, has nothing to do with his cheating on you. His sexual identity has nothing to do with his moral character. And while his cheating may have been a “secret” and certainly not one to be proud of, there is nothing “dirty” about a sexual identity that doesn’t fit squarely into the heteronormative narrative, even if it was an identity he wasn’t open about, either to you or himself.

Be angry at the way you were treated (anger is a normal and healthy part of the grieving process and will eventually give way to acceptance and healing and moving on); don’t be angry that at some moment in time your husband showed some curiosity that strayed from an identity you believed him to have. Cheating hurts a finite number of people; the number of casualties of homophobia, however, is a much larger number.

I have been with my boyfriend for almost two years now. We have a great relationship. We hardly fight, but when we do it’s about one thing and one thing only: his family still has a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. I know I can’t control who the family talks to, but I have to say I feel disrespected. It’s no secret my boyfriend’s father and I don’t get along. Nothing to do with my wrong-doing… well, maybe just a tad (but, hey, “that’s another story”), so I feel like the ex-girlfriend still maintains this relationship with the family to poke fun at me almost. His ex-girlfriend and his sister are constantly posting pictures on Facebook with comments like “I love you” and “I miss you.” To make it worse, his father goes and likes all their posts. He won’t even acknowledge me on Facebook. I feel that if I don’t have that kind of relationship with his family, then they shouldn’t still have it with her. If they got along with me, that would be different. — Disrespected By His Family

 
Get off Facebook (or at the VERY LEAST, unfollow all of your boyfriend’s family so you won’t be offended by their social media behavior), take responsibility for whatever wrong-doing may have resulted in your boyfriend’s family not liking you very much (i.e. apologize sincerely, express regret, ask that they forgive you, and tell them how much it would mean if you could start over with them since your boyfriend is so important to you and they are so important to him). You don’t get to dictate what kind of relationship your boyfriend’s family has with anyone else, but you do have some control over what kind of relationship they have with YOU. Be a likable, kind, compassionate, MATURE person they might want to get to know better. And quit fighting with your boyfriend about his family’s relationship with his ex, as if he has control of that, or you will soon be his next ex.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

45 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD February 26, 2019, 12:09 pm

    Really? His father won’t acknowledge you in FB? Who the f cares. And I love how you don’t appreciate him not liking you over something bad you did, and preferring her, who let’s assume didn’t do something wrong, but you gloss over what it is because it doesn’t support your asinine argument. Grow up. You are too immature to be in a relationship.

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    • avatar

      JD February 26, 2019, 12:09 pm

      Or on the internet for that matter.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros February 26, 2019, 1:20 pm

    LW1: I’m sorry your husband cheated on you and you broke up, but I guess I’m not really sure what the question is. I don’t know if you sort of went through life thinking that it happens to a certain type of person, but anyone can cheat at any time and sometimes you draw the short straw and you are the person who is cheated on. You may believe that things happen for a reason or in karma or whatever, but for those of us who don’t, it’s not that hard to believe that a person might be sad and their ex might be happy. I don’t want to criticize anyone’s religious or life beliefs, but it’s not true that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Everyone has good things and bad things happen in their life. You’re sad now, but eventually you’ll move on and this will be part of your past and hopefully you’ll rebuild your life into something you are happy about.

    LW2: I think you need to unfollow them on social media since you seem to blow social media out of proportion. Liking a comment or photo literally is just the click of a button. You’re making it into something a lot bigger than that. If you have a conflict with someone, there’s a good chance they won’t like you. Having a family member get a new girlfriend doesn’t make the ex cease to exist anymore and no one is required to pretend they are no longer alive. I think you need to mature a little bit and spend less time on social media because this sort of attitude isn’t really a great indicator of your ability to sustain a serious relationship.

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    • avatar

      keyblade February 26, 2019, 6:40 pm

      Thumbs up for your replies, especially LW1.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse February 26, 2019, 1:57 pm

    I think LW1 should see a therapist. I know I write that a lot but I truly think it can be helpful for a lot of the people writing in.
    It’s been almost a year since you split up and if it’s still affecting you so greatly, maybe it’s time to take some steps to remedy that.
    His sexuality or sexual interests aren’t really any of your business now. He cheated, and now he’s gone. It’s time to accept that, file for divorce if you haven’t and move on with YOUR life.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse February 26, 2019, 2:05 pm

    LW2, I’m very curious why his family doesn’t like you.
    It’s not disrespectful that they have a relationship with his ex. You can’t demand respect from anyone, you earn it. Have you been kind and courteous to his family? Treating his family like shit isn’t going to do you any favors. At some point he’ll realize you are the cause of the drama in his life. Maybe you should do what you can to fix this (apologize and ask for forgiveness and be on your best behavior) before it gets to that point.

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  • avatar

    ron February 26, 2019, 2:23 pm

    LW #1
    I don’t get this obsession on whether or not your ex is happy. Ignore him and focus upon making yourself happy. From the second your divorce/property division was finalized, he was totally irrelevant to your life; from the second he left you, he should have been totally irrelevant to your future happiness and romantic life. So now you know, he was the wrong guy for you. Case closed. You do sound very homophobic. Your life would be in no way better today had your ex not attempted to arrange sex with a man. You would still be divorced. In fact, he left you for a woman, not a man. You need to stop fixating on your ex and get on with your life. Therapy!

    LW #2 —
    I also don’t understand the modern fixation with living an artificial life on FB. What your bf’s family does on FB is largely irrelevant. Your offense against his family, which you don’t want to talk about, is likely very relevant. That you want to obsess over a fantasy FB world war, rather than address the real-life problem you have with his father doesn’t reflect at all well upon you.

    I agree with the other posters. You have no right to try to control whom your bf’s family chooses to be friendly with. I doubt you hide your anger about this at all well. Their knowing how much you object to their keeping a friend who previously dated their son isn’t going to endear you to them — it make you look immature, petty, insecure, and controlling (of them). Does that sound like the sort of person you would want your future child to date or marry? Naturally they see you as a hot mess and are hoping their son dumps you. Keep it up and he will.

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  • avatar

    Teri Anne February 26, 2019, 3:45 pm

    LW1, I am very sorry for how hurt you are by your husband’s dishonesty. Not only did he cheat on you, he hid crucial information about his sexual orientation from you. Finding out that he is bisexual after three years of marriage was a huge shock for you. You wanted a conventional marriage, and many bisexual people go on to form happy, monogamous heterosexual marriages, but honest communication is crucial to make sure both people are on the same page. He deprived you of essential information when you decided to marry him. I am currently single, but I probably would not care if my partner is bisexual, if he is attracted to me and agrees to be monogamous.

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity February 26, 2019, 3:57 pm

      What makes you think LW’s ex knew he was bi (or bi-curious) before he married her?

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  • avatar

    ele4phant February 26, 2019, 5:39 pm

    So, I’m inclined to not beat up on LW1 for being homophobic. The one comment you’re spring-boarding off of is her use of “dirty little secret”.

    Dirty little secret is a common phrase often used to describe people being, well secretive. I don’t think her use of a common phrase alone is enough to say she literally thinks bisexuality or homosexuality is dirty.

    It certainly would be shocking to discover your self-professed straight spouse (or ex-spouse) is less straight than they presented themselves to you, for years. That may strike you as duplicitous or as a betrayal, even if you don’t have a problem with homosexuality in general. So I’m not going to get on her case if she doesn’t have an open-minded accepting mindset to her newly discovered understanding of his sexual identity or interests. Its probably less about who is attracted to, and more that she feels like he lied to her or misrepresented himself to her for years.

    And her discovery of his attraction to men (or one man) is of course insult to injury, she has just been left in one sounds like a particularly sudden and painful way.

    So, personally, I’m going to cut her some slack if she’s not perfectly articulating what she’s upset about or having the most gracious reaction to his sexuality.

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    • avatar

      JD February 26, 2019, 5:45 pm

      I agree 100%.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant February 26, 2019, 5:46 pm

      That said, therapy LW1. Therapy to help you realize he actually did you a favor, and that you are better off without his lying, cheating ass. You are free. Divorce him and never look back.

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    • avatar

      keyblade February 26, 2019, 6:36 pm

      He told her he didn’t love her and left her for another woman last April. She found out about the Craigslist at the preceding Christmas.

      She writes as though she was more disappointed learning about the bi-curious message than from the in-person cheating he actually committed or from hearing him say he didn’t love her.
      It would be like if someone was more surprised about Chris Watts having a gay affair once than about him murdering his kids and wife to be with a straight mistress. It’s kind of strange operating sequence.

      She certainly doesn’t owe him grace, either way. But she never had any evidence he wanted to do more than “watch” other men, but she knew for sure he cheated with at least one other woman. I’m not even sure wanting to cheat, was a reflection of his identity. Maybe, but he was a lying, drinking, cheat who didn’t love her anyways. Wouldn’t that be the stronger part of his identity most wives even “conventional” would think about?

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      • avatar

        keyblade February 26, 2019, 6:38 pm

        *correction: “I’m not even sure wanting to cheat, was a reflection of his primary sexuality. “

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      • avatar

        ele4phant February 26, 2019, 6:44 pm

        I mean, she’s clearly in a shitty place right now. I don’t think it’s fair to parse her language, tell her what she ‘s allowed to be upset about one thing but the other thing makes her a bigot.

        Absolutely cosign the need to go to counseling to help her realize what a gift she’s been given that she’s no longer with a deceitful, cheating asshole (who maybe has problems with booze? That parts not clear).

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    • avatar

      Redgirl March 11, 2019, 12:45 am

      Yeah, I had a similar thought. Personally, if my spouse was responding to sex solicitation ads on Craigslist behind my back–regardless of whether the person was male or female–I’d be hurt and angry too! I don’t think doing that and hiding it from your spouse is harmless behavior, and she has a right to feel betrayed. I agree with others that him actually cheating on her and then leaving her for another woman is a worse betrayal, but I can see how all of this is upsetting. That being said, the only thing to do is focus on taking care of herself and moving through her grief. She’s definitely better off without the cheater.

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  • avatar

    keyblade February 26, 2019, 6:58 pm

    I’m sorry she is in a shitty place. But she didn’t win sympathy with that signature. He did have a “dirty little secret” in that he was trying to cheat and blame it on booze but she really is assigning a lot of her anger to his perceived sexuality. Hopefully she can work though it and go on with her life.

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    • avatar

      JD February 26, 2019, 7:55 pm

      She can feel however she wants about it. Not everyone has to be ok with someone being bisexual who they are dating. I sure as heck wouldn’t be ok with it and I really don’t give a shit if that bothers anyone as it’s MY relationship.

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      • avatar

        keyblade February 26, 2019, 8:40 pm

        I wasn’t trying to suggest she wasn’t allowed to feel what she feels. Her deal-breakers are her business. Sexual feelings (not actions) can be both fluid or more uniform throughout different person’s lives. Ideally nobody should have to date someone they’ve determined they aren’t compatible with. More than anything, I just found her response confusing.

        Her word choice pushed hard judgement at both behavior and orientation. She is who she is. But I don’t have to approve anymore than I would sympathize with someone who decided infertility deserved their contempt. People’s feelings and their accompanying rejection are a big reason why others (right or wrong) feel justified non-disclosing feelings or orientations.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant February 26, 2019, 8:51 pm

        I don’t know that I agree that she has any sort of revulsion to bisexuality or homosexuality, even in her own relationship, at least I don’t think we have enough from her post to determine that she does have an issue with it, in general or to him personally.

        Her post was confusing because, well, I do think she is confused. Confused and hurt.

        I think a lot has happened to her in the past year, I think the man she thought she was with isn’t who she thought he was at all, and she’s really struggling to sort through the huge upheaval and betrayal she’s feeling.

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    • Guy Friday

      Guy Friday February 28, 2019, 11:13 am

      At the risk of sounding accusatory (which isn’t my intent), I was under the impression the LWs don’t write the signatures here, but that Wendy does as a kind of “summary” of the letter. Am I wrong?

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ February 26, 2019, 8:07 pm

    I took her entire post as one of a person consumed by profound anger, sadness and confusion.

    I honestly read it like “So, he abruptly left me in April for a new woman and is madly in love with her, but also, he was looking at ads to hook up with men a few months before?” It’s a bit of a WTF. I read it to mean that she would have, not expected it, but, I guess, not been totally shocked, if he’d left her to explore a relationship with a man, since as of Christmas, she’d known he had an interest there, but to be unceremoniously dumped for a woman wasn’t what she was prepared for.

    That’s not necessarily homophobic. It’s being confused about why you were left. And, also, probably a bit of wondering if he didn’t leave you for a new fantasy woman to ignore his attraction to men, which, as the spouse who feels left behind, it might give you some (cold, pointless and fake) “solace” to think that his new “perfect” happy life is a lie and he’s going to leave her like he left you. (Hence saying *his* “dirty little secret”, which is a phrase people use all the time to describe things other people try to hide without ascribing their own opinion as to whether it’s dirty).

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The LW needs to let this go, preferably with some therapy so that she can let the sad, angry and confused person in this letter go and find her own happiness. Make your own happy, LW. Don’t begrudge or wait for someone to lose theirs. That won’t make you happy. Even if your ex leaves his new lady for … well, anyone, really, won’t make you happy. You go make you happy.

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    • avatar

      keyblade February 26, 2019, 8:19 pm

      That makes sense.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant February 26, 2019, 8:24 pm

      I think she’s in the middle of the shit. The whole situation is one huge mindf*ck.

      In the course of the year the man she has been with nearly a decade, whom I assume she felt she knew very well, has cheated on her (or entertained the idea of cheating on her) with multiple people, people of different genders when she knew him for a decade as straight, before he finally told her he didn’t love her and then up and left.

      That is…a lot to process.

      Expecting her to be able to think clearly about what she should and should not be upset about, and what the main issue is or is not, is maybe too high a bar for her right now.

      Nor is it the time to call her on it. At least IMHO.

      She needs to get her head on straight and realize she has dodged a huge bullet.

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      • avatar

        keyblade February 26, 2019, 9:04 pm

        She’s not in the middle of it, though. They were together a long time and maybe she needs time to figure her feelings out and what it all means somewhere where she can really express herself and be heard. I did pick up on a vibe of repulsion. Perhaps I’m wrong about it and it’s closer to what you and Miss MJ described and she just isn’t capable of telling trees from the forest.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant February 26, 2019, 9:22 pm

        I could be the one that’s wrong.

        But, it’s not abundantly clear, to me, that she has issues with homosexuality and she’s been through a lot, so I’m going to err on the side of cutting her some slack, instead of dressing her down as being homophobic.

        I don’t know, it just seems like kicking someone when they are down, so unless it’s super super clear that’s that is where she’s coming from, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt.

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  • avatar

    allathian February 27, 2019, 8:23 am

    I enjoy reading Wendy because I mostly agree with what she says, but this time I must admit that I don’t.

    I don’t see any evidence of homophobia in LW1’s letter. She’s hurt and confused, first by learning that her husband was at least curious enough to look at Craiglist ads posted by men seeking male company, when she had thought all this time that he was straight. Whether or not he was drunk at the time is, IMO, largely irrelevant. Alcohol decreases impulse control, but if the impulse isn’t there to start with, alcohol won’t make a straight man look at other men that way.

    Deciding that you don’t want to date, or be married to, someone who is bi- or gay-curious is not homophobic in my book.

    I just wonder if LW1 would have been more or less shocked if her husband had left her for another man rather than a woman?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy February 27, 2019, 9:21 am

      I’m curious what reasons people have for not wanting to date or marry someone who is bi-curious.

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      • avatar

        Kate February 27, 2019, 9:36 am

        I guess for me it would be because they’re *curious* and at this point in my life I’m looking for someone to be happy with just me? Like they’ve had a lot of experiences and they are like, okay, THIS is what I want. I think there are other people more open to experimentation and manogam-ish type of relationships, but I’m just not. And I would feel really betrayed if a guy didn’t share with me that he was bi or bi-curious and then I found him cruising Casual Encounters for men.

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      • Lucidity

        Lucidity February 27, 2019, 10:14 am

        Agree. I wouldn’t care if my partner was bi as long as they wanted monogamy with me, but I wouldn’t want to marry someone who is bi-curious. I’d like my partner, regardless of sexual orientation, to have finished dating and experimenting before settling down with me.

        Of course, there’s always the possibility that after marriage, my husband (or myself!) could discover new facets of our sexuality that we hadn’t realize before. I hope we’d work through it together and not see that as a betrayal.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant February 27, 2019, 11:33 am

        So I think it’s different to talk about dating or marrying someone who is bi or bi-curious knowing that is the case, and being in a long term relationship and finding out the partner you thought was straight, isn’t.

        On an intellectual level I understand bisexuality is real, and I understand that male to male attraction is still so stigmatized that it’s easier for men who are bi or mostly straight to just present straight to make life easier. I understand bisexuality doesn’t mean someone will be less faithful.

        But just because I know these things intellectually doesn’t mean all the cultural prejudices aren’t baked in, just knowing them doesn’t make them go away.

        So while I like to hope that if my husband were to come out as bi to me that I’d react with acceptance and understanding, I can’t promise that. At the very least it would be a huge shock as for the past ten years he’s presented as nothing but straight.

        I can’t promise that the insecurities society has baked into me wouldn’t read their head, and I would need some time to grapple with it. I would hope, and I would try, to get past all that, but for me that’s why I try to be forgiving to women who have just learned their partner is bi.

        I try to put myself in their shoes, and if it were me, my initial reaction might not be the “right” one.

        Obviously this makes it hard for men who are bi, to have legitimate fears about coming out to a straight female partner, and we all should work to get beyond that.

        But I’m sympathetic that it would be hard.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy February 27, 2019, 9:17 am

    I hear what you all are saying, and the LW emailed me to chew me out, too, for calling her homophobic, and it is entirely possible that I am reading too much into the use of the phrase “dirty little secret” in relation to her husband responding to a “man seeking man” craigslist ad, but I don’t think I was. She wrote: “How does someone get away with being caught with their dirty little secret and THEN cheat and leave their wife and is now living his best life while I’m sitting here sad and grieving?” (emphasis mine). The “dirty little secret” came before the cheating and before he left her. The dirty little secret was the email she found, and I have to assume that the “dirty” part of this secret was the expressed interest in another man. Do you all really think she would have referred to it as a “dirty little secret” if he was merely responding to a ad for a woman seeking a man? I… don’t. And to suggest that there is something inherently “dirty” about homosexuality is wrong.

    Again, of course I could be wrong. But I just don’t think I am. We live in a society where gays are still treated like second-class citizens. Language matters. Casual homophobia matters. I’m gonna call it out when I see what I believe is casual homophobia, even at the risk of “kicking someone while she’s down” as someone else said. I know the LW is hurting, I know she’s confused, I know she’s in shock, and I’m sorry about that. But I still think it’s important to call out casual homophobia and casual racism when you see it, especially if you have some sort of platform to do so and to maybe even draw people’s attention to their own language use.

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    • avatar

      Reese February 27, 2019, 10:59 am

      Thank you, Wendy

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark February 27, 2019, 11:50 am

      Stand by your original post. NEWSFLASH: The LW is one deranged, vengeful, homophobic bitch.
      .
      Frankly, her rage at being called as much only proves the matter. PS — NOBODY ever admits they’re racist either.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse February 27, 2019, 1:18 pm

      I think that phrase was chosen to make that distinction. It’s not one used offhandedly. She is angry and spiteful and seething.

      And she’s focused on the wrong “wrong.” He cheated and they’ve separated. She still feels anger and betrayal and as if he should be ashamed for that email specifically. She thinks she’s got something to lord over him with.

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    • avatar

      ron February 27, 2019, 1:29 pm

      And… she didn’t leave him after that e-mail. Yes, she definitely is homophobic. Why even mention that Craigslist response, anyway, since it isn’t the reason they are separated. It is mentioned just to show how truly vile he is and how totally forgiving and not deserving of being dumped she is.

      He was trying to cheat, she knew it, now she’s pissed that he dumped her and feeling lame for not being the dumper. So she lets the homophobia flag fly. She is now lashing out at Wendy, because being called for that flag makes her seem even lamer.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 27, 2019, 11:32 am

    I get the sense LW that you have this huge sense of how unfair the whole situation is. You were the faithful wife and he was the cheating partner and here you are left sad and alone and the cheating guy is off living a great life as if your relationship was irrelevant.

    You are sad and grieving the loss of the relationship because you were emotionally invested in the relationship. You were vulnerable in the relationship. It was your relationship. It’s normal to grieve what you’ve lost.

    He was probably no longer emotionally invested and may have moved on a long time ago, maybe even years. Maybe he was never emotionally invested in it.

    You’re left doing an autopsy on the relationship while he acts like it didn’t happen. You’re left wondering if he was gay and just used you to hide being gay. You may never know the answers to your questions and you don’t need the questions to be answered to move on with your life. You need some way to release the emotions you feel, whatever they may be. Things like hurt and anger. Years ago I found that writing out my feelings helped to release them. Thinking about things and letting them run around and around in my head didn’t help. You need to find what works for you. Maybe it’s writing those thoughts out, maybe talking to someone, maybe something else. You would probably also benefit from a distraction that keeps your mind off of your relationship. Something like a hobby or a meetup group or volunteering. Something that you can enjoy and allows you to spend happy time with other people.

    One last thing is to not assume that he is actually happy with his new woman in Florida. He may try to give every appearance that he is happy but he likely isn’t. Don’t assume that he isn’t going through Craigslist ads. Don’t assume he doesn’t still have a secret life. The fact that you caught him may have been his impetus to leave both you and the area. He may have been so afraid people would learn his secret that he felt the need to run away and even the need to run away with a woman. Does he come from a homophobic family or belong to a homophobic religion? Does he fear people knowing that he is either gay or bi? Does he have enough fear to run away from the entire situation?

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark March 1, 2019, 11:17 am

    Many of your reactions to this obviously homophobic LW confound me. The whole damn tone of this foul query is basically a vengeful person threatening to OUT somebody in a desperate stab at making themselves feel better through petty revenge…

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy March 1, 2019, 11:39 am

      I agree with you, mark, and I was taken aback by the number of people who took me to task for suggesting homophobia, and the passion with which they did so. Check your biases, people. Your own level of casual homophobia, if you were honest with yourself, might surprise you.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant March 1, 2019, 12:45 pm

        Thanks Wendy. I actually did reflect on my comments a little bit, particularly the one about would I have a hard time if my husband came out as bi, am I being homophobic?

        And my answer to myself was, yeah, a little bit. I mean, it’s right there in my answer: intellectually I know should view things as such, but society has molded me to have these particular reactions. That’s the definition of systemic homophobia – the social conditioning that permeates our culture and gets imparted as values and beliefs without even us realizing it.

        That definitely gave me something to chew over the last few days, and I have been.

        Our society has done a pretty good job so far as branding homophobia as bad. Racism as bad. All the other “isms” as bad. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what we’ve accomplished. That allows people, including myself, to believe that if the “isms” are bad, and I’m not a bad person, I can’t hold these “isms”. Which of course is not true. But, it makes it really, fraught, I guess to have these discussions.

        White fragility/straight fragility is real. It can be hard to open a productive conversation without immediately putting people on the defensive.

        Now, I know that there is one train of thought that says, we’ve spent enough time as non-hetero people, as non-white people, etc catering to the precious feelings of the white, cis, hetro people, tip toeing around their sensitivities, we’re done with it. Which is fair. It’s the way it should be.

        But I also think sometimes its not productive. If the goal is to get people to self-examine themselves, you’re not going to get them to do that if they are already on the defensive. You’ve shut that door before you even had a chance to get in the room. And then nothing improves for anyone. In the case of this particular letter-writer, she’s already feeling pretty shitty. So I’m sure just a whisper of a reproach was enough for her to be like “F this shit. I’m not listening to any of it”.

        I think we can, and should, call people (again myself included) out when they are out of line. That said, I think its maybe a tone and approach thing.

        Again, I realize that sounds unfair when we’re talking to people who have faced, and continue to face, systematic prejudice.

        But do we want to be fair, or do we want to make actual progress? I think we want to make actual progress.

        But, this is my opinion, I get to sit here as a straight, white woman and say these things, so I look forward to hearing counter-opinions, and will do my best to keep an open mind.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 1, 2019, 1:54 pm

        There was no tone or approach I could have taken with this grieving seething LW that would have prompted immediate eye-opening in her. But I knew what I wrote might make others reading it think, and I thought that my words might even hit a nerve in the LW that in time, when she isn’t feeling as raw, Might prompt some self-reflection. I also figured that my words would make her defensive enough to prove -at least to herself- how NOT homophobic she is that she would not threaten her ex with her knowledge of his “dirty little secret” in an effort to hurt him and get even. So, I still stand by what I said and how I said it. The LWs are never the only people I’m writing for.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant March 1, 2019, 2:04 pm

        Totally fair to stand by what you wrote. This is your site, your creation.

        I do appreciate the forum for conversation you’ve created here. Even when there are differing opinions, I appreciate you normally let people say what they want to say, and while you may choose at times to engage, you’re not shutting people out.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 1, 2019, 2:07 pm

        Well, not normally. 😉

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 1, 2019, 12:30 pm

      I don’t think it was obvious to most of us.

      I saw someone who was cheated on and hurting and not understanding how he could run off and live a great life while she suffered.

      The guy sounds gay to me but is using women to hide it. That doesn’t make him a good guy. He sounds like a guy who doesn’t want to admit he’s gay and maybe has been homophobic himself. I think they live in a generally homophobic circle or else he would come out as gay. Whether the LW was homophobic, which she certainly could be if they live in a homophobic circle, or relating how her ex-husband viewed the situation, I can’t say.

      I grew up with dirty little secret meaning any secret that could blow up your life. An affair would be a dirty little secret. Gay would have been a dirty little secret when I was a teen. Since the guy wasn’t afraid to run off with another woman he wasn’t afraid to be seen as a guy who cheats so the dirty little secret in his case is the attraction to men. He was so afraid of that secret getting out that he ran away with another woman. That speaks volumes about him and the degree of this secret in the place where they lived. Doesn’t that make it his dirty little secret?

      I’m not sure that she is threatening to out him. I’ve never been around people trying to out people. I don’t know.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant March 1, 2019, 1:05 pm

      I do disagree that she’s threatening to out him. I don’t see any evidence in her letter that she is considering approaching his friends, family, people he knows and sharing this information with them.

      Reply Link

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