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Leaving would be best for all three

Dear Carolyn: I’m involved with a married man, which (1) I didn’t know until after we became involved, and (2) breaks one of my core values – so even though I love his company (we’re no longer physically involved), I hate that I’m in the middle of someone else’s marriage.

To make matters worse, it quickly became obvious that his wife is emotionally abusive. I went through a list of the signs with him, so he knows he’s in an unhealthy place, and wants out; however, he doesn’t want to let go of the house he built and the stuff he’s collected over the years. Thank God they don’t have children.

Now several months have gone by and we’re still talking. She follows him frequently and apparently has spies – because no matter where we meet, she knows about it. And no matter how much he says he’ll leave “when the time is right,” it looks as though he’ll die first, by which I mean she puts him into such a state that he gets chest pains and his blood pressure is through the roof. Should I turn my back on this whole situation, or …

what? – Another Other Woman

Yes. “Turn your back,” though I’m throwing a flag: 10-yard penalty, self-serving choice of words. “Turn your back” suggests you are engaging honorably in a crisis situation – thus leaving would somehow be cowardly/heartless/ wrong – when in fact your leaving is the honorable thing (and better for all involved).

Sucker-bait bulletin: Adulterers have a funny way of being married to the worstest people ever. But let’s say this wife really is abusive. Your sticking around, even chastely, gives her leverage, and may even jeopardize his standing in any future divorce.

And that’s in addition to the other reasons screaming at you to extract yourself from this muck: She’s still his wife, he still deceived you about being married, and you’re still sneaking around to be with someone who has openly prioritized his possessions over (by my count) the truth, his integrity, your integrity, his own emotional and

physical health, and you.

Between you and his stuff, he’s taking the stuff.

Maybe there’s a happy ending in this mess, but not while you’re contributing to the mess.

So, yes, turn your back. And run.

Dear Carolyn: I have had this best friend for two years. We became romantically involved, but she had a boyfriend. Now she’s engaged to said boyfriend, and we are not speaking. Not having her in my life is incredibly hard, but I know I have to get over her. Should we just part ways forever? – N.Y.

“Forever”? I hear violins, never a good sign.

Understandably you’re a wreck. But a good remedy for that is to force yourself to be practical. Specifically: Was this cheating a quickly corrected oops, and not a long-standing deception? And did she get engaged knowing you were an eager alternate?

If yes to the former, you probably don’t want her. If yes to the latter, then, well, whether to part ways might not be up to you.

If no to both – and it’s LOVE, not conquest – then you get one shot at telling her. She has a right to know who loves her, and her fiance has a right to a fiancee without lovesick suitors aboard.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. Pacific time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


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