I’m a writer. After one of my essays ran in a national magazine, a reader who was, like me, in his sixties, emailed me about it and we began a pleasant correspondence. (I’ve always thought that connecting with a reader like this would be a terrific way to begin a romance…)
After we’d emailed back and forth for a few weeks, he wrote to say that he hoped it was okay if he continued to correspond with me.
“I like you and your writing,” he said. “And I think you’re attractive.”
“I’d love that,” I wrote back, “as long as you aren’t in a relationship.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
My last relationship, I explained, had ended when I discovered that the man I’d love and trusted for 20 years had a secret girlfriend on the side for over a decade.
My ex and his side chick exchanged thousands of emails, a spent hours on the phone and enjoyed secret intimate phone calls for years without my knowledge. Because they rarely met in person, they didn’t consider this infidelity.
But, when I found out about it, I sure did, and threw him out.
“I’ve learned that people have differing ideas of what constitutes cheating,” I told my new pen pal. “Maybe I’m oversensitive, but If you have a wife or a girlfriend, I don’t want to email back and forth behind her back.”
“I’m single,” he wrote back.
So I did what I always do when a man shows an interest in me. I find him on Facebook so I can send him a Friend request.
Joe’s Facebook profile said that he was married.
Joe, it appeared, was really bad at infidelity. I hadn’t gone to Facebook to snoop. But the dude had claimed to be single. And his profile said he wasn’t.
Maybe there was an innocent explanation. It could be that he wasn’t married but, like several women I know, he claimed to be on Facebook to deter unwanted romantic interest.
So I scanned his page — and quickly found Jill, a woman with the same last name who frequently posted on his page, lived in the same city, and was in lots of Joe’s photos.
I checked her Facebook page. She, too, was married.
So… maybe they were separated?
But separated isn’t single. All Joe had needed to say to me was “I’m married but we’re separated.”
But he hadn’t.
In his next email, Joe complained that after our initial warm and friendly email exchanges, I suddenly seemed “hostile, cold and suspicious.”
“Please believe me,” he wrote. “I am definitely single. As in not married.”
Was I nuts? Was he stupid? Why lie about something that is so easy to research? And to a librarian?
Maybe Joe and Jill were cousins with the same last name? It could happen.
What to do? I did some basic internet research on Jill. She and Joe were married, all right. To be absolutely certain I wasn’t getting this wrong, I even found a photo. It was the woman from Facebook.
Sorry, Joe, I thought, but you are so busted!
I figured I’d end his little flirtation by sending him a screen shot of his Facebook page, including his married status. But when I logged onto Facebook — Joe’s profile had vanished!
So now we were playing hide and seek?
I asked my friend Maria to sign onto her own Facebook page to check. She searched for his page — and there he was!
“He’s still on Facebook,” she reported. “He must have blocked you so you couldn’t check his page.” Not only that, but he’d also removed all mention of his married status. Now, there was nothing on the page about his relationship status.
Maybe that wouldn’t be admissible in a court of law, but to us this was clear evidence of guilt.
It was obviously too late to send Joe an incriminating screenshot of his own Facebook page, so I took a screen shot of Jill’s page instead, including her married status, and emailed it to Joe, with the question, “If you aren’t married, then who is this?”
I fully expected to never hear from Mr. Infidelity again. But the next day, he wrote back. “Why are you so hostile and suspicious?,” he asked. “I would try to explain the situation to you but you obviously wouldn’t understand.”
“You’re just unhappy because I caught you in a lie,” I responded.
Maybe there was an explanation. Maybe they were in an open marriage. Maybe they were separated. Maybe they weren't, but for some reason she’d given him permission to pursue pleasure elsewhere. There were plenty of reasons why you could be married but still available.
Why not just come out and say so instead of claiming to be single?
I figured that was the end of it. And it was for two days. Then he sent me an indignant email claiming that he’d never lied to me about anything and that my “forensic investigation of his social media profile was a violation of his trust.”
I belong to a Facebook group of single librarians who share our dating experiences with each other. I described the situation to them — without mentioning Joes name — and asked “So what do you think? Am I violating Joe’s trust?”
“Uhhh… it’s not like you dug through his trash,” was the first response. “He put stuff up on Facebook and you saw it.”
“You always check Facebook when a guy comes on to you” another seconded. “That’s basic.”
“You asked if he were single and he was foolish enough to lie about it and then, when you called him on it, he tried to turn it around and claim that you violated his trust?,” huffed another. “Hogwash!”
“Trust! Does he even understand the meaning of the word? You did not violate his trust. He did — yours, his wife’s, the rest of his family, and all the other single women he’s probably led on. Sheesh.”
Needless to say, I didn’t respond to Joe’s “violation of trust” email. And? I never heard from him again.
So what’s the takeaway?
If you’re married and you want to write flirty emails to single women in which you claim to be single, you might want to make sure your Facebook status doesn’t say you’re married.
Even better? If you’re married, don’t write flirty emails to single women.
Put all that flirty energy into your marriage where it belongs. Or get out.
But if you’re feeling flirty and you’re in your sixties and you’re truly single? Get in touch.