There’s always been a sense that women ought to maintain a silence about unacceptable behaviour, but we should no longer be dictated to by the rules of the boys’ club

The dilemma I was in a six-year relationship with a man when I found out that he was married. I never questioned his marital status because I had known him as a colleague for eight years prior to our relationship and he always presented himself as a single man, dating many women “looking for the one”. I never would have imagined that he had supposedly already found her! When I discovered the truth and we split, I tried to get him to change his ways: either to leave his wife or discuss an open relationship rather than lie to her. He refused and said that he could not leave her and she would never agree to an open marriage. It has been two years since our relationship ended and he has not changed his lifestyle. Clearly what he is doing is a form of abuse. The women he dates think he is single and his wife thinks he is faithful. I have never told his wife, any of his girlfriends, or colleagues what I know. Is it wrong for me to keep quiet when I could tell these women the truth or should I mind my own business?

Mariella replies A master of subterfuge! I’m tempted to say, “Calm down, dear” or use some other patronising platitude from the enormous store we’ve built up to deal with troublesome females. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” the saying goes – and the fact that a phrase coined 420 years ago by a male playwright is still how we sum up a woman in emotional pain says much for our lack of progress in creating a culture fit for both sexes. The inference remains that revealing a lover’s deceit is a path only a nasty, vengeful, harpy would go down: meddling in the affairs of another woman, bringing pain and misery in her wake, simply because she couldn’t detach the man in question from his rooted relationship. But that was back in the dark old days before #metoo and the realisation that we’d been far too silent about way too much for far too long.

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