I saw what I think is a hint to a concept in the 7th perek of Tanya in this week's parsha, parshas Nasso (Bamidbar 5:22).
The Baal Hatanya, in explaining the severity of forbidden intimate relationships relative to the aveira of hotza'as zera l'vatala, says that in forbidden relationships, the sin is harder to rectify because the chiyus the person delivered over to the side of evil found a vessel in the other person with whom he committed the aveira. A connection remains between them, even after the aveira is over because of that, even if the person claims that he has no connection to the other person.
This is not the case with respect to hotza'as zera l'vatala, however, where there is no other person involved to serve as a vessel for the chiyus he delivers to the side of impurity.
In the parsha, Rashi on the above-cited pasuk, explains that not only does she suffer a terrible death when she drinks the Sota water, but the person with whom she sinned, who is not present at the time, also dies when she drinks. If the two have no connection between them because each merely used the other for their own benefit, by what process could her drinking of the water affect him?
The explanation could be, based on Rashi's explanation, that the connection is, as the Tanya explains, in his chiyus which unpleasantly binds the two of them together.
What you suggest does explain very well why he only gets punished when and if she drinks. If for whatever reason she doesn't drink, he also does not get punished. Why not? Must be like you are saying.
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