Dear Virginia, I'm having an affair with a married man. He keeps saying that he'll leave his wife for me, but he never does. I'm thinking of sending a letter to his wife telling her all about us and including copies of all the intimate text messages and letters that he has sent to me. Perhaps that will finally make a difference and force him to act. What do you think? Yours sincerely, Claudia

Virginia writes:

Of course sending his wife copies of his letters and texts would make a difference. A big difference. It would make his wife utterly devastated. It would make him furious. It would ensure that his children, if he has any, suffer from the horrible atmosphere that would ensue. It would, if you have a smidgen of niceness about you, make you squirm for months on end with regret about how horribly you had behaved. It would ensure that this man never, ever had anything to do with you again even if, at any point in the future, he did leave his wife. It might even result in him and his wife becoming closer, united in their loathing of you... Do you want me go on?

The answer to your question is that no, you must not on any account send this bundle of bile to his wife. She is utterly blameless and doesn't deserve to be hurt. If anyone deserves to be hurt it is, first, this two-timing creep who is just having a bit on the side, and making promises to you that he knows, in his heart, he won't keep. And second, I'm afraid to say, you are not at all without blame yourself. If you play with fire, don't whine about getting your fingers burnt. Even a child knows that it's madness to get involved with a married man. Yes, of course, there is the odd married man who does, eventually, leave his wife and go on to have a wonderful relationship with his lover. But it's rare.

Even if he did divorce his wife and marry you, you must know that a vacancy would be created. A vacancy for a mistress. Almost certainly, you'd shortly find yourself in the same position as his wife, forever worrying about whether he was lying to you or not, examining his collar for lipstick, sniffing his shirt for alien scent, staring, worst of all, at his underpants. That's no life.

In order to prevent yourself, in some drunken mood, from hurting this innocentwoman - though she may know exactly what's going on because it's happened before - I'd erase all the texts and burn his love letters. This ammunition is as dangerous as a nuclear power station. Disarm yourself at once just in case, in a mad mood, you are tempted to take steps that you certainly will regret and from which, eventually, you will suffer the fallout. Chuck them for your own sake, as well for hers.

If you feel you have to write a letter, the person to write to is your lover. Give him a timely ultimatum. Either he leaves his wife by the end of the year - and you mean leave, not just telling his wife he's in love with someone else - or the whole thing's over. Send it to his work address, in case his wife opens it by accident, and mean business. The longer you go on seeing this wretchedly weak man, the worse it will be for you, and the less time you will have to find someone who is kind. And free.

Readers say:

Leave him to his life of deceit

Why would you consider sharing your private life with a stranger? She may be his wife, but he has free will; if he wanted to leave her he would have. I suspect you know this and are clinging to the hope that what he tells you is true. Unfortunately, it isn't very likely when your relationship is founded on deceit.

My father has had numerous affairs, and when the women contact our family home the same situation always arises. They are surprised to hear they are not the only ones he has"fallen in love with". They resort to desperate measures, leaving letters and gifts at the home and phoning to disrupt our life.

It saddens me that women keep falling for such men. Leave him to his deceitful life and find a man who treats you well and is willing to commit without coercion. Do you really want to break up his family only to suffer the same fate when he tires of you? Good luck, Ihope you go on to find happiness.

Name and Address supplied

Give him an ultimatum

Do not under any circumstances send copies of texts or letters to your married boyfriend's wife. Why would you want to hurt her in this way? I have seen some texts my partner received from the"other woman". It is devastating - I felt humiliated, useless, unloved. My life felt like it was collapsing. The lovey-dovey texts were heart-breaking; he'd never sent me anything like that.

It is your"boyfriend"who should tell his wife their relationship is over - if it actually is. If he's not up to it, that should tell you something very important about him. Set a time limit, and if he's not left her by then, finish it. Do not, whatever you do, inflict pain on someone else like this. It's an awful thing to do.

Cathy

by email

Where's your self-respect?

Yes! Send his wife the letter and give her all the information she needs to expose you both. Save the poor woman from the lie she is living and give her the chance to move on.

I'm sure the difference it will make will be to leave three empty lives rather than just the one - yours. If you think exposing your lover will bring you closer together, you may be in for a big shock. My advice would be to regain your self-respect, move on and realise he's only telling you what you want to hear so he may have his cake and eat it.

Name and Address supplied

Go ahead, do it

I think your suggestion is exactly what you should do. His wife deserves to know what a love rat he is. However, you'd better be prepared for the onslaught. He may be very angry with you and finish with you, and the wife may well beat you up or verbally abuse you. It's no more than you deserve for carrying on with a married man.

Adiella Black

Portmahomack, Ross-Shire

Dump the rat

Sure, why not? Tell her all the gory details of your sordid affair, because that's what it is. Don't kid yourself that it's a great romance. Your lover won't leave his wife for you; why should he when he's got his nice home and family, with you ready whenever he wants?

If she finds out, the only long-term benefit to come out of it will be that, hopefully, she'll realise what a cheating low-life she married, and she might be able to find happiness with someone who won't sleep around.

It's possible he'll come crawling to you when his wife kicks him out, and you'll be ecstatic thinking you've won. But you'll soon wonder where he is and what he's up to. He did it to his wife, so why wouldn't he do it to you? And one day, you'll find some younger, prettier woman on your doorstep telling you your man is having an affair with her.

Wise up, dump the rat and get out there and find a single man who's more worthy of your love. Leave the married ones alone.

Karen Hayes

Blackburn, Lancashire

Next Week's Dilemma

Dear Virginia,

I had a brief affair with a man. At first I thought he was great, but I went off him. He was far more interested in me than I was in him. I told him how I feel, but he's pestering me with texts and calls and has appeared at my door with flowers. I don't want to hurt him, and I know it was my fault, but I feel a bit threatened. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Corrie

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