He was married, wife wants info, do I share?
January 12, 2011 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I got a letter from the wife of a man I met once off of craigslist back in oct It says that he's married and she found my name and address among others and asks me to email or call her. What should I do?

I met him through craigslist personals as he had an ad looking for someone to hang out with that night. Nothing happened between me and her husband, he told me he was single, we just watched a movie and cuddled a little. I didn't even kiss him. I haven't seen him since then although we traded one or two emails. I'm not sure if I should respond to her letter. I feel bad for her but I don't want to become involved in a messy situation and I'm not sure anything I tell her will be helpful anyway.

The letter was quite polite and ended with her phone number and address and an offer to show me wedding photos if i didn't believe her. It says "i'm not angry at you or anyone else he's victimized . I'm just looking for information". What should I do, other than find better ways to be less lonely in a new city? If anyone wants more info you can email me at anon.clnote@yahoo.com

Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
What could you possibly get out of this other than massive drama? I'd ignore it.
posted by cestmoi15 at 10:52 AM on January 12, 2011 [19 favorites]


Well, if you don't want to get involved, you could email her from your anonymous yahoo acct - she said she's contacted multiple people - and tell her what you said here. Seems reasonable enough that you don't want to get into a difficult situation.
posted by dubold at 10:52 AM on January 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Do not respond. It's not your problem.
posted by mckenney at 10:53 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe response with a shortened version of what you've told us. Something to the effect of "I only hung out with him once, haven't seen him since then. I'm sorry for your situation, but would prefer to not be involved. Thank you."
posted by Windigo at 10:53 AM on January 12, 2011 [26 favorites]


I got an e-mail EXACTLY like that from a "wife" whose "husband" had checked my profile on OK cupid some point in the past year or something (I'm married, haven't used OKcupid in 3 years, etc).

I figured it was some kind of scam, and moved on.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:54 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do not respond, do offer any info about any previous activity you may or may not have engaged in with this man. You don't know who she is, what the situation is, what she hopes to get out of it. AVOID.
posted by hermitosis at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


I can see lots of ways for this to go badly, and very few for it to go well. There's a decent chance that the person here isn't even who they say they are. We're talking about Craigslist here. That's almost by definition an anonymous meeting ground.

If it were me, I wouldn't respond. If they really are who they say they are, and this is actually important to them, they'll find some way of getting the information you have, quite probably in the form of a subpoena. In which case you give all the information requested of you. But until that happens, I can think of no earthly reason why you would want to get yourself more involved in this than you already are.
posted by valkyryn at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That kind of mail goes straight to /dev/null.
posted by Hylas at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd email her from an anonymous account and tell her the whole story. It sounds like she's become aware that he is straying from their marriage in some form. Posting personal ads on craigslist married and making dates (however innocent) under the pretense that you are single is pretty shady if you ask me. It doesn't sound like this was the first time or that all his dates were casual.

She may have found something out and is trying to separate what is true from stories he may be telling her to prevent her from leaving him. I'd do her a solid and let her know. Tell her that is the extent of the degree to which you will be involved, and delete the email address afterward.
posted by amycup at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2011 [33 favorites]


The only compelling reason to contact her would be if she has information about STIs you might have contracted from her husband. Since you didn't do anything that would have resulted in that, I don't see the upside to you in contacting her.

I suppose it might be helpful to her if you gave her more information, but I am not sure I see why--she already knows that her husband is dating people he meets on the Internets, so why does she need the details?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:04 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sounds like it could be a scam. Nthing don't get involved.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2011


What Amycup said. It can't hurt to email her once, tell her what happened, and say you want no more to do with it. If it's not a scam, it's a wounded wife looking for answers.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


People have said to email from an anonymous account, but if this is for some sort of divorce proceeding where kids or cash are involved, the anon email account may be scrutinised to get IP information to track anon down. Emailing from your home, office or mobile device would likely be a bad idea. Maybe I am paranoid, but my response would be to ignore this as well.
posted by kellyblah at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2011


What if that was you in her situation? Wouldn't you want people to help you out in collecting information about what occurred?

That sucks....
posted by zombieApoc at 11:08 AM on January 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I would do exactly what Windigo has suggested. The fact that you posted this question suggests that you feel you should do something (i.e. you didn't just immediately delete it and ignore), but I agree you shouldn't get involved.

Just send the one email. So what if it's a scam? Sending an email from a junk account isn't going to come back to haunt you. Just don't engage in any more discussion about it once you send it off, give her your personal information, meet her, etc. And if she is for real, you've done a good thing.
posted by phunniemee at 11:08 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's entirely possible that yours is the only name and address she found and the rest of the story is made up in order to see if she can get you to admit to something.

If there are no "others he has victimized" then even if you set up an anonymous email to answer her questions, she is still going to know it's you. And if she confronts him with information you give her, he'll know it was you. And they have your address, if either one of them decides they want to drag you into their shit.

I'd ignore the letter for now, and hopefully she'll lose interest. If she contacts you again you can figure it out from there.

I wonder if contacting him would be a good idea, to let him know his wife is onto him so that he can deal with the fallout?
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 11:12 AM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


What kind of advice would we be giving to the spouse in this situation? You don't need to agree to meet her, but confirming that, while nothing of note happened between the two of you, the husband did misrepresent himself as single, could help this woman to, say, get testing for STIs.

I wouldn't assume a scam. I'd assume a cheater, and do my best to have some empathy for the spouse.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:14 AM on January 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


As it sounds like there was no evidence of the crazy in her email to you, I would definitely email her anonymously and tell her what you've told us. Call it common decency, the sisterhood, or whatever, but I could imagine being in her situation and wanting to know what was going on. Being tracked down for a divorce proceeding when all you did was cuddle with her husband strikes me as highly unlikely.
posted by hazyjane at 11:24 AM on January 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would try to help. Send her an email from an anonymous account, explain the limit of your encounter with her husband (because SHE may be hoping YOU will provide information possible STI's that she may have been exposed to!). Tell her you're sorry for her difficulties and that you don't want to be involved further. Read (but do not reply to) her response just in case it is to say something that is relevant to you (e.g. hubs had fungus, so be sure you're using medicated foot powder or something).
posted by arnicae at 11:26 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Respond with the truth. I would want to know. If someone subpoenas you that would suck but we do the right thing, even if it means there is a small chance that we might be inconvenienced.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


I had something sort of similar happen to me in college. I'd met a guy in a Yahoo chatroom, we'd talked on the phone several times and had plans to meet but never did. One night, I got a call from someone claiming to be his wife. She didn't seem to mean me any harm, but wanted to let me know he was married and wanted to know the extent of our involvement. I was honest with her, told her that I was no longer interested after learning this, and never heard from either of them again.

(also learned a huge lesson about talking to strangers on the internet. Hey, it was 1997! Nobody knew what they were doing then, least of all me.)

Anyway, I don't see the harm in an anonymous email, with the specification that once you tell her what happened, you want no further involvement in the situation. It's a good deed for the sisterhood.
posted by Fuego at 11:37 AM on January 12, 2011


Of course she's going to say she's not angry, and of course she's not going to display the crazy in her communication with you. You have no idea how she will react. She may already be blaming you - and responding with the description of a fairly innocent evening could provoke any number of reactions. She may not believe you - she's already suspicious, why would she? I wouldn't reply.
posted by lemniskate at 11:37 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My gut tells me this person is sincere, but what does my gut know?!

I agree you should either ignore, or if reply anonymously with a shortened version of what you wrote here. I liked Windigo's suggestion.
posted by jbenben at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2011


Tell her you're shocked and upset by the information she gave you and angry that the husband would misrepresent himself, and would not feel comfortable talking, but that she is free to email you at a throwaway email address with whatever questions she has which you'll do your best to answer.

Just continue to appear sympathetic with her and it should help back her off.
posted by anniecat at 11:40 AM on January 12, 2011


She knows your name and address. She already has far more from you than she should. And that's assuming she is who she says she is -- it might be the guy, or one of guy's friends.
posted by sageleaf at 11:49 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As it sounds like there was no evidence of the crazy in her email to you

This is, like, the #1 core capability of internet crazies! Sounding normal! She could totally be all like, "Oh, I'm not upset with you, just trying to piece it all together ..." and that could be a complete deception and she could turn out to be Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Sisterhood, shmisterhood, she doesn't need our anon for the icky details of what she already knows is going on in her marriage. Shut it down. Shut. It. Down.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do not contact this woman. She already knows that her husband is untrustworthy. This is her problem. It's ridiculous that she contacted you. I understand the initial desire to explain what happened but really, what is the point? She knows he's been deceptive (and now wants the details) and now you know too, at least based on what she says. Stay away. And stop cuddling on the couch with strangers.
posted by shoesietart at 12:55 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lets see here. The people involved here are lying philanderer, and his emotionally-distraught partner? You didn't have sex with this weasel, so no chance of an STD? There is zero upside for you, and a huge risk of possibly bizarre, complicated, and ugly emotional dynamics? Have nothing to do with these people, and whatever drama they are entangled in. Do not engage them in any way.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:57 PM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


You don't, actually, know that this is his wife. It's not reasonable to share details of your date (or anything else) with every internet presence who claims to be his wife. Wedding pictures are hardly proof -- even if he is he and she is she, they could be divorced.
posted by endless_forms at 1:11 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most people with at least half-a-heart would want to reach out to this woman and let her know "nothing happened" to (a) ease any (in my opinion misguided) guilty conscience and (b) ease her pain, especially because she said "i'm not angry at you or anyone else he's victimized . I'm just looking for information"

Here's the problem with taking that sympathetic track. One person in this couple is already a person you didn't know who lied to you. There is absolutely no reason to think she's not the same way. Who's to say if you respond with the exact truth of what happened that (a) she'll believe you, (b) she won't lash out at you, or (c) that even the truth won't make her incredibly angry. *

Stay away and be careful. Sorry this has happened to you.

* If my other half was sneaking off to cuddle on somebody's couch, I'd be just as angry -- and in some ways more -- than if he was fucking around. Everybody's different. You don't know this person except that she's been betrayed. But the important thing to remember is that it WASN'T BY YOU.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:24 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on the contact as you've described:
  • You don't know that this person is his wife
  • You don't know that the man in question is married
  • If he is married, you don't know if he was married at the time you met him
What you do have is an unsolicited email contact from someone making a specific, yet unproven claim. If this is a misrepresentation, any reply you give will be bad for you. If it is exactly what it appears, there is no upside for you, and almost no upside for the person making the query. Put 'em on your blackhole list. The effort you could put in to corroborate is effort spent towards someone else's drama, just like most people above have said.

It could be for real, or it could be someone who stole a laptop running through a list of romantic emails for a grift or to blackmail someone. Or it could be something else entirely. I suggest not doing the detective work.
posted by graftole at 1:32 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most people with at least half-a-heart would want to reach out to this woman and let her know "nothing happened" ... Here's the problem with taking that sympathetic track...

No sympathy here. If the guy lied to me, I'd enjoy taking part in whatever ass-fucking the wife plans on giving him (assuming it wasn't too time intensive or illegal).
posted by coolguymichael at 1:43 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You don't, actually, know that this is his wife. It's not reasonable to share details of your date (or anything else) with every internet presence who claims to be his wife. Wedding pictures are hardly proof -- even if he is he and she is she, they could be divorced.

Exactly. Could be his crazy stalker ex-wife or even ex-gf. You don't want anything to do with either of them. Your danger alarm should be going off. Better safe than sorry.
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:38 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have learned the hard way to avoid getting entangled in other couples' legal problems, and my first thought here is that you don't want to get wrapped up in their divorce proceedings.

It also seems to me that what information you would be able to share with her would not be much comfort - her husband is still unfaithful, if only emotionally. This is not your fault, and not your problem.
posted by naoko at 3:17 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


To me, the question reads as though a physical letter was received to a physical address. Maybe I'm misreading that, but if that is the case I would not respond at all. That sounds like a potentially dangerous situation.

In fact, I wouldn't respond at all in any case. You just do not know who this person is or what they want. If she is the wife and there are issues in the marriage, she can figure them out and work them out without your involvement.
posted by jeoc at 3:22 PM on January 12, 2011


Why not block your number, call her, and tell her what you told us?

Then, you do know it's a woman, and that makes it much more likely that she's the dude's wife. She still doesn't have your number. You would be telling her useful information to her, and I don't see how you'd be putting yourself at risk (although I'm sure people will disagree on that last point -- Mefites tend to be a paranoid bunch in some ways, and this is one of them).
posted by J. Wilson at 3:50 PM on January 12, 2011


I would absolutely e-mail her back. She must be in so much pain.
posted by srrh at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2011


Not to state the obvious, but the problem is, you don't know who this woman is.

A lot of us, our first reaction is "Oh that poor thing - you should email her, for the sisterhood, and because she is hurting." That's because we're picturing a situation in which we, sane as we are, would be driven to contact people our spouse had once slept with.

But you don't know if that's who this woman is.

What if she IS his wife - his crazy, violent, jealous wife. It's unfortunately a somewhat common combination. She could be planning to sneak over to your house and knife you, once she establishes your identity.

Given the decision matrix here, the only sensible choice is to ignore the letter. Keep it, in case "something" happens and you need evidence. But don't respond to it.
posted by ErikaB at 5:24 PM on January 12, 2011


She didn't e-mail the poster. She sent a "letter," like the kind that has paper. So anonymity is futile. She knows who and where she is. She has her phone number too.

The "nothing happened" thing is ridiculous. Something happened. He misrepresented himself and they "cuddled." That's really horrible! And there apparently are "others."

Still, I wouldn't answer the letter. The guy might seek revenge for the poster ratting on him. I don't think this is paranoid. He got found out. I would not want to be a part of this ugliness. It's not an easy situation. The fact that the wife offered to send wedding pictures might be kind of a "sisterhood" thing, like telling the poster that the wife has been horribly hurt and she doesn't want the poster to be, too. Or it might be an angry "get your mitts off my man, he's taken" thing. You just don't know.

I agree with what somebody up there said, to the effect of, STOP meeting strangers on Craigslist and cuddling with them. Too dangerous.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:39 PM on January 12, 2011


Good points above about how this is likely a physical letter. I'm just too emailed-up to see the importance of the word "letter", and forgot that upstanding people and criminals do this on paper too. It's as old as the post.

It doesn't change the equation. Distraught spouse? Blackmailer? PI using this as a pretext to something else entirely? You don't know. You don't have to know.

A physical letter does not make it less likely that it is a con. Without further data, the likelihood that it is a distraught spouse cannot be measured against the likelihood that it is a con by someone who has a stolen laptop or guessed a hotmail password...or a dozen other possibilities.

Sucks, anon OP. Hope it doesn't bring you down too much. Don't give up on meeting people because of it.
posted by graftole at 6:20 PM on January 12, 2011


Christ, you all are paranoid. Imagine the wife posted on AskMeFi: "Found evidence that my husband was cheating on me via craigslist hookups. I am not sure if he's telling me the whole story or what. I have contact info for some of these women, should I contact them?" What would you tell her to do? How does that fit in with what you've advised the OP to do here?

Yes, there are some not-so-savory types on the internet, such as the cheating husband cruising for chicks. But that doesn't make every wife looking for answers some psychotic killer or someone masquerading as someone else for malicious purposes. If I had to place bets on this situation, it would not be on the OP getting conned, sued, or murdered. Calm the eff down, already.
posted by Fuego at 6:28 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You do know that in some jurisdictions you can be sued for participating in infidelity, right? That it's even illegal in some (but I assumed you were in the US, for no good reason). That you can be compelled by a court to provide a deposition in a divorce case, and that deposition is generally public record, so it'll show up in Google somewhere?

You are aware you have no idea of the veracity of her claims, who she really is or how unstable she might be, right? And she might fixate on you and seek to make your life miserable, regardless of your actual involvement?

You are clear that cuddle-boy might not react well to having this person filled in, right? And that he might be dangerous to you?

If ever there has been a "do not touch" situation, this is it. If you, for whatever crazy reason, decide you have to respond, do it through a lawyer: have one draft a letter stating your non-involvement and stating in no uncertain terms that any and all communications is to happen through the lawyer. Seek the lawyers advice on restraining orders in your jurisdiction, and the advisability of preemptively getting some.
posted by kjs3 at 6:32 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Fuego: The wife didn't post to a semi-anonymous, uninvolved, Q&A list. She sent a letter, apparently to a physical address, to someone who had dabbled with her spouse, saying implicitly "I know where you are, and I know you had some involvement with my husband." You have no idea, at all, how far this other person is willing to take this.

You can place your bets wherever you like. That's your choice and your risk assessment. But ask anyone who, you know, actually deals with these sorts of situations how often domestic disputes turn ugly, fast, and have no concern for collateral damage.

So, poster, no...don't stupidly "calm the eff down", whatever that "advice" means in this context. Make sure you don't get sucked up in someone else's trainwreck.
posted by kjs3 at 6:57 PM on January 12, 2011


The writer of the letter assumes you were "victimized" (?) and assumes that you require some kind of proof.. why? When a person goes out of their way to offer proof that they're telling the truth, before you've even said anything skeptical about their story, I think it's odd. I think you should ignore it and not respond. Not worth your time.
posted by citron at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2011


Christ, you all are paranoid. Imagine the wife posted on AskMeFi: "Found evidence that my husband was cheating on me via craigslist hookups. I am not sure if he's telling me the whole story or what. I have contact info for some of these women, should I contact them?" What would you tell her to do? How does that fit in with what you've advised the OP to do here?

The answer would be to leave those people alone. They don't even know you. Your problem lies not with those strangers but entirely between you and your partner. You two are the ones theoretically in a relationship. A relationship with a cheating husband, therefore a known asshole, doesn't automatically rate involvement with duped innocent others. Hell, if she has any common sense, she'll document your communication, and mark you down as a possible legal or other threat; as has been overwhelmingly advised here. Angry, jilted women contacting complete strangers are are not a subset of people that anyone at-all rational would ever willingly become involved with.

TLDR : I'd tell her to leave complete strangers alone.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:13 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


If nothing else, the fact that our Anon allowed a stranger from CL to know her home address seems to mark her as terribly naive, and terribly naive people are the bread and butter of scammers and grifters.

I would not answer this letter (for all we know it could from the original guy, setting up some weird con), and I would be very, very careful about any sort of unusual communications, offers or situations going forward, in case Anon has ended up on some sort of Easily-Duped list.
posted by taz at 11:47 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


i would write her back for sure. if i was worried, i might use an anonymous email, but probably not. in general i have faith in the good intentions of people, take that for what it's worth.

what are the chances that this isn't a woman in pain, but in fact some other dude, a completely psycho woman, a crazy internet stalkerpath, etc etc? i'd say almost zero. that stuff makes good movies, but people looking to swindle others can do it much more easily ON craigslist than from addresses and names of ladies some one dude cuddled with one time. The chances that the wife of some guy who was hanging (or screwing) around with other women, found out about this is good. so i completely believe that this woman is who she says she is.

i guess it's interesting to think of the legal implications of writing her back, but honestly, the chances that writing her back would inconvenience YOU in the future are so slim, and the chances that this would help her are much greater. especially since what you have to tell her is so small compared to her probable fears of what was going on.

good luck! sorry you have to deal with this!
posted by andreapandrea at 9:28 AM on January 13, 2011


i guess it's interesting to think of the legal implications of writing her back, but honestly, the chances that writing her back would inconvenience YOU in the future are so slim, and the chances that this would help her are much greater.

You have absolutely no reason to think this statement is true, and I would really be fascinated to understand the thought process that led you to this conclusion. Seriously. A significant part of my work is in the disaster recovery/business continuity space. I get clients all the time who say things like "well, he was an employee so there was no reason to believe his bankruptcy would result in him stealing tens of thousands of dollars in equipment" or "we knew he was a bit disgruntled, but the idea that he'd set a fire in the datacenter never occurred to us". It never ceases to amaze me how bad people are at assessing personal risk and how quickly they overestimate their personal importance in effecting situations.
posted by kjs3 at 9:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


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