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He's Married. Is She Required to Report the Affair?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am a widowed retired Air Force officer. I have been dating a senior naval officer for the past six years.

I found out last week that he is married and that he has been married since way before we started dating. Besides the emotional upheaval, for which I am now going through therapy in order to regain my footing, should I report the situation to his chain of command?

I have been told that by not reporting the adulterous relationship, I am participating in the lie even though there is no longer a relationship.

Please advise on how I should proceed. Thank you.

-- Confused

Dear Confused,

I'm very sorry to hear about this. I have to be honest and say that I receive letters about your situation quite often. It's interesting to know that people will pretend to be someone they are not for long periods of time. How could he keep up a charade for six years, and why would he do that?

I have been in sessions with men who said they, too, were living a single life and having affairs with women who didn't know they were married. Then at some point the "other woman" would naturally want more from the relationship. For example, more time with him, vacations, to move in together and, of course, marriage.

Instead of ending the affair, the men reported they would set up a situation for the other woman to conveniently discover they were married so she would break up with him and move on. This is exactly what the married man wants to happen because it lets him off the hook.

However, do you think he returns home to his wife, vowing to be a better husband? No, he finds another woman and starts over again! I wonder if this is what your married boyfriend did to you: conveniently allowed you to discover that he is married. I mean, he lied for six years!

You deserve better, and you did right by ending the relationship. I also applaud you for seeking the help of a good therapist. Surely, you are still in shock and baffled, beating yourself up and asking how you could be so blind. Well, don't beat yourself up. There are very skilled liars out there.

Now, back to your question. I think it's all about your healing and not about the great pretender. Whatever you decide to do, I will support you. You must be willing to accept whatever happens when and if you do report him.

For instance, you could report him to his command and they do nothing about it. Suppose they laugh at you and say, "Lady, you're crazy! I know this guy and his family. He would never do such a thing!" What will you do and how would this make you feel? If you would feel re-offended, then perhaps you shouldn't do it.

By the same token, suppose he loses his career and calls you up crying and saying, "You ruined my life"? What would you do and how would you feel?

If you can live with whatever happens, then OK. After all of his lies, it's about you at this point and not about him.

Let me know what you decide to do. I appreciate you.

-- Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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