“Should I Tell My Ex-Girlfriend’s Fiancé That She’s Cheating on Him?”

I’m a 41-year-old man who until recently was living with a 32-year-old woman, “Carla,” for three years. We were in an open relationship and for a year she dated another man who lived in a nearby city. She was always wanting to get married and even offered to stop seeing him, but I was skeptical of marriage as an institution in general. I didn’t want an artificial ceremony to be the cause of one of us to stay with the other if things got bad later. In March, Carla asked me again and for the second time suggested that she might be gone one day if I didn’t marry her. She had bluffed me before when we first got together, asking me to break up with other girlfriends (which I didn’t do at the time although I gradually stopped seeing them after she moved in), so I didn’t take the threat seriously.

At the end of March Carla told me that my not marrying her was the greatest tragedy in her life and two weeks later, while I was visiting my grandmother in another state, she called me up to say that she was breaking up with me and moving in with her other boyfriend and would no longer be talking to me. She said she had been planning it for six months. The real kicker was that she was not moving in with her boyfriend just yet because he was still in an apartment that didn’t allow pets and she had a pet bunny, so she was moving back into her dad’s house for a month despite the fact that she no longer had a bedroom there and had to sleep on the couch. We talked for hours and at one point she asked if I would have eventually married her and I told her I would have, so when I flew home I drove to her dad’s house and proposed to her. She told me no but it really seemed to affect her, so I kept trying to convince her to come back to me, and, although she didn’t, she did continue to come over to my house and sleep with me, in effect “cheating” on the other boyfriend. She even told me she would try to get him to eventually let her see me again. She also slept with someone from her work and told me about it — surprisingly, I thought, since I could have told her other boyfriend about it.

During the month Carla lived with her dad, I tried to woo her back by taking her places and also trying a new kink fantasy out that we both absolutely loved and which really re-energized our sex life. We talked a lot about what kind of wedding we would have together — to her delight — but every time it came to her coming back to me she would say it was too late. She told me she still regretted that we didn’t get married, and I asked her how she could say that now that she wanted to marry someone else and she said that she didn’t think of it like that.

She was uncertain if she would keep sleeping with me after she moved in with him, but she eventually did. She even texted me that he was being too clingy and the sex was not as intimate, and she was being all “Would you really take me back after all I’ve done to you?” But she then got used to the clinginess and grew to love cooking and sharing recipes with him. I asked about her convincing him to let her see me again and she said she didn’t think that was going to happen. Then they got engaged and she texted me that she wanted to move on. Two weeks later we were sleeping together again. I was trying to convince her to marry me instead, so I hoped to turn her on with the idea of sleeping with her in her wedding dress. Instead, she gave me the consolation prize of letting me sleep with her in her wedding dress when it arrives, which should be today.

If Carla had not been asking me to marry her a month before she left me, and not lamenting two weeks later that our not getting married is the most tragic event in her life, I think I could move on. Instead, it’s been four and a half months of complete hell because I still can’t stop thinking about her every minute of the day. I can’t help but think that if her boyfriend found out about me, he would break up with her and she would come back to me. I was very tempted to email him that she cheated on him with the guy from her work, and now I am dreaming about bribing one of their neighbors to mention to him that he saw me. But I’m scared it will misfire and that he will forgive her (as he’s done once before after she promised not to sleep with anyone else besides me), and then she would break it off with me completely.

Ideally, I would have liked to have all three of us get together and just talk about setting up a way to share our time, but with her strange need to marry one of us, it’s forced me into a competitive situation where my only option of having any kind of normal relationship with her means betraying her secrets to him in order to make him want to break up with her. I don’t really respect the guy, who I feel has tried to play her feelings against me in the past, but I can’t help but think (with less than pure underlying intentions, I know) he should know the woman he’s marrying is a cheater and had wanted to marry another man just four months earlier. — Her First Choice

No, you should not betray Carla’s secrets to her fiancé. Not only is it not your place to butt into their relationship, but also doing so will not get you the results you say you want (which is Carla committing to you). In fact, what will likely happen if you tell Carla’s fiancé that she’s a “a cheater and had wanted to marry another man just four months earlier,” is that Carla will hate you for it and not want anything to do with you. If you really love her — and that’s a big if since you aren’t behaving like you do — you’ll let her go and let her live the life she says she wants.

You and Carla don’t want the same things. You may both be open to and interested in nontraditional or non-monogamous relationships, but Carla wants marriage and that kind of institution does not appeal to you. She has found someone who also wants marriage — with her! — someone she says she loves. The details of their relationship are none of your business, including whether she’s deluding herself into believing this other guy is a good match for her or how he’d react if he knew she was sleeping with other men. It’s none of your business. That you had a relationship with her or even that she recently said that not marrying you was a great tragedy does not lend you some kind of perpetual authority in her life. It doesn’t grant you a say in whom she does marry or what kind of marriage she has. None of it – truly, none of it – is any of your business.

I’m sorry that losing Carla has been hell for you and that you can’t stop thinking about her and that you’re sad or whatever. Getting dumped is never fun. It’s hell for a lot of people, and slowly things get better and they move on. You will, too. Out there is someone who will share your values and your vision of an ideal partnership. You and Carla do not share the same vision of an ideal partnership and that’s, ultimately, a big reason why your relationship didn’t last. It’s a very common story even if the details of your story are a little more non-traditional.

Having been loved by someone – even being loved in the present tense – does not entitle you to anything from that person. Your relationship with Carla is over. Even if sex occasionally happens, she has made it clear that she does not want a relationship with you – that she wants to have a marriage with this other man. I’m urging you to tap into whatever goodness exists inside of you and whatever love you do feel for Carla and leave her alone. Even if you believe she’s making a mistake, it’s hers to make and learn from. No good will come from you trying to break up her engagement and keep her for yourself. That decision isn’t yours to make, and the decisions that were yours were made mistakenly believing you knew better than Carla what she wanted.


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


  1. It is dead, man, you are being pathetic!
    Having sex with her in her wedding dress… Grow up!

  2. And I am sure she is enjoying your drama. She got tired of you (the lack of common projects is often a highway to breakup), she invested in someone more serious, she got what she wanted and she now has fun to have you dance on her tune while she moves on. That is a masochist position for you. Stop communicating with her, wish her well and question what you really want in life. Do you want to get married or not? What kind of love life do you want, deep down? Act accordingly.

  3. “I didn’t want an artificial ceremony to be the cause of one of us to stay with the other if things got bad later.”

    If this is your stance on marriage, what changed?

    This letter is exhausting. It sounds like OP, identifying haughtily as “Her First Choice” no less, is being led completely by ego. This woman wasn’t worth a commitment until someone else wanted to commit to her. Granted, she may be a mess too, but worry about yourself. Job 1 would be finding a more stable sense of self-worth that isn’t invested in power games.

  4. Bittergaymark says:

    Yeah. You two are hilariously overdramatic. NEWSFLASH: I don’t think she wants to marry you, bro. She merely says as much as all this madness is fueling her ego in a big, big way. It’s like a cheesy mid-2000s Julia Roberts movie. Get yourself some self respect and move the fuck on already…

  5. Butterfly says:

    I mean…no interest in marriage, so far as to call it artificial but yet you’re NOW chomping at the bit to marry this person or ruin her chance or marrying someone else. Why do I get the feeling that if the other dude did ditch her you’d no longer be interested in marrying her either? Do you even know what you want out of life or relationships or is it all predicated on what others want or don’t want. Not to mention everything else wrong with this ridiculousness.

    1. Dog in the manger syndrome.

  6. LW, please listen to Wendy – it’s time to bow out of this picture.
    Carla has played you like a trout hooked on her fishing line with her come-here, go-away games and, frankly, the two of you have raised not saying what you mean or meaning what you say to an art form.
    Carla seems determined to make a mess of things, but that’s her problem. Go high, buddy, and get out of there while you can.

  7. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    “I didn’t want an artificial ceremony to be the cause of one of us to stay with the other if things got bad later.”

    Actually you didn’t want marriage because it is legally binding not because it is artificial. There is nothing artificial about a legal marriage. You wanted a no strings attached relationship so that it would be easy to break up, which is fine. She has decided that things got bad when you decided you wouldn’t get married and she decided to not stay together because things were bad. This is what you wanted. You wanted an easy out if either of you wasn’t happy and she wasn’t happy.

    “She had bluffed me before when we first got together, asking me to break up with other girlfriends (which I didn’t do at the time but I gradually stopped seeing them after she moved in), so I didn’t take the threat seriously.”

    She wasn’t bluffing and she wasn’t threatening. She was honestly telling you what she needed in a relationship. The fact that you took her honest conversation about her needs as a threat and a bluff means you were correct in not getting married. You don’t have the kind of trust needed for marriage.

    She is enjoying being the one who got away. She loves to see you come crawling back admitting you should have married her. She loves that she has taught you a lesson but she doesn’t want you.

    Don’t try to blow up her current relationship. You had your chance and you didn’t take it.

  8. dinoceros says:

    Yikes. I thought this was going to be a letter from well-meaning but misguided person who felt bad for the fiance. Instead, we’ve got a vindictive dude who can’t move on. Have you always been like this or are you just really really engrossed in this situation are acting out? Being an adult man and tattling on your ex because you’re sad she picked someone else (when she warned you this would happen) is incredibly disturbing.

  9. Wow. Get some help.

    Not to get over Carla, but to address the many, many, MANY manipulative and wrong-headed ideas you’ve had even before Carla left you. For starters: when Carla asked you to marry her and asked you to stop seeing other women, she wasn’t bluffing or threatening you, for chrissakes. She was asking for what she wanted, using common words in the English language. You said No, so she moved on, which is her perfect right to do.

    When she moved on, now suddenly you claim you would’ve married her eventually. What a cruel, manipulative thing to say. And you admit to further manipulation: turning on the charm and — when that didn’t work the way you wanted it to — wanting to bribe (WTF?!) people to expose her. Expose her for what!? You have no idea if she was cheating on anyone; you have no idea what kind of arrangement she and her fiance have. All of it is none of your business, because CARLA MOVED ON.

    And you’re trying to wreck her life because she has the guts to go after what she wants. Just awful.

  10. Yes, LW in his own words, which we must assume is the best spin he can put on his behavior, was a selfish, controlling, bastard towards Carla. He openly talks of ignoring her interest in marriage, because he thought she was bluffing. He presents his disdain for marriage as a deep philosophical belief, yet abandons it the moment he learns Carla isn’t really bluffing — then he’s willing to marry to get her back fully under his control.

    He still has a lot of control, which is why she has slept with him post-break-up. She is slowly escaping his control and going to marry someone else. LW is a bastard, because he is now determined to selfishly and vindictively ruin Carla’s chance for marriage with this other guy, in the hope that she will feel she must return to him. Let’s all hope that Carla has become stronger than that.

  11. LW, you say: “I don’t really respect the guy, who I feel has tried to play her feelings against me in the past […] ” but isn’t that what you are doing now, trying to play Carla’s feelings against him? Do you respect yourself?

  12. This letter is wrong on so many levels! Grow up! Also, get some counseling. You only want to marry her now because someone else is in the picture. You love her, but not enough to marry her for her.

  13. She has moved on. You should move on. There is no way in which your vengeance upon her will make your life better. It’s a distraction from what you ought to do next. Do that instead. Don’t mean to be callous, but just leave ALL that behind and move on.

  14. And to build on what Sarah said — your gf’s view of you isn’t because new guy has played on her emotions against her. It’s because you’ve treated her like crap. She now knows for 100% certain that you were playing her with your philosophical views on non-marriage. She knows you’re trying to control her now. Just MOA and stop being a giant ass. You’re actually considering telling new guy that she cheated on him? With you! That’s low.

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