Dear Carolyn: Two acquaintances are having an affair, one married, one single. They are not being discreet, and a LOT of people know. We live in a pretty small city, so I am surprised the spouse has not heard yet, as it has been going on for well over a year. The spouse is not the sort of person who would react well, so I am pretty sure there is no tacit understanding or agreement going on.
I am so very much for a MYOB stance in situations that don’t directly involve me. But I keep thinking, if I were the partner, I would be very grateful if someone told me. Mortified, for sure. But EVENTUALLY grateful. I was wondering if there was ever a situation where an anonymous buttinski note was appropriate? – Over-Thinker
Your impulse is generous, but anonymous notes are awful. They deny recipients the chance to gauge the credibility and motives of the source, ask follow-up questions, and process how many people know, how much they know and for how long they’ve known – basically, all the paths a mind travels upon receipt of news like this. Hitting a brick wall on each one adds a helpless feeling to this jackpot of pain.
And that’s before the person experiences the bizarre transformation of every errand for milk and eggs into a small-town whodunit: Is that the person who sent me the note? Or did he do it? Did she?
Presumably you are not close to this person, or else you’d have said something already. If you just happen to be close to someone who is, then that’s it for options – to ask that person whether and why (ahem) the spouse still doesn’t know. Besides, of course, MYOB.