Don’t Be Caught Off Guard – How to Recognize An Emotional Affair: Suspicions, Signs, and Symptoms

an emotional affair

What is an emotional affair?

To boil it down to its essence, an emotional affair is a set of feelings for another person of the opposite sex that ends up blurring boundaries and supporting behaviors (based on those feelings) that are destructive to a marriage.

These things put together can spell the beginning of the end for some couples, all the while the participants may not even know or understand what is happening. The betrayed spouse in this situation often knows something is certainly off, but exactly what is off might be difficult to identify.

Seth Meyers, PsyD, defines this phenomenon as such: “Emotional infidelity refers to behavior that one partner engages in that fosters emotional intimacy in the here-and-now with someone else, and sometimes promotes the possibility of sexual intimacy in the future. Many people maintain secret or semi-secret friendships when there is a clear mutual interest or attraction, while others may not be interested but encourage others’ interest in them for the sake of boosting their own ego or distracting themselves from a sense of boredom with their partner.”

That’s a fairly inclusive definition since most people get an ego boost when they know someone of the opposite sex thinks highly of them or even acts in a flirtatious manner towards them. If you would like a different and personal account of the emotional affair signs that were evident with Doug, Linda wrote a  wonderful post about it all here:  http://www.emotionalaffair.org/emotional-affair-signs/

So, we’re going to discuss different suspicions you might have about the possibility that an emotional affair is occurring in your marriage, some signs and red flags that you might see, and symptoms of an emotional affair as viewed through the lens of what it does to a marriage.

Suspicions

Perhaps recently you have felt that something is off in your marriage, yet there is nothing specifically that you can identify as the cause. Regardless of the evidence, that funny feeling in your gut won’t go away, so we invite you to figure out what is causing it.

The first step you need is to do a mental inventory of everything – both good and bad – that is happening in your life and in your spouse’s life. Even though this is a mental exercise, it is very helpful to write it down. Consider everything that is going on with you, with your spouse, with in-laws, with work, with money, and all the other life stressors.

The reason you need to write everything down is because affairs can be deceiving. Some affairs show no signs, or at least the kind of signs you might have heard of according to conventional wisdom.  So, when you have suspicions, you need to dig deep and write down everything about your life, even if it seems unrelated.

The thing is when your gut is telling you something is wrong, trust that something is wrong – but it may not be an affair. For example, your husband (or wife) might withdraw from you, seem irritable during small talk, lose interest in sex, and rarely answer his/her phone at work, but that doesn’t mean an affair is going on – just that something is wrong. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), such signs could point towards major depression – especially in men. There are two things that the NIMH specifically notes as signs of depression in men:

  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry
  • Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities, including sex

Conventional wisdom tells us that when a man loses interest in sex, there is probably another woman. It’s true that a man could very well lose interest in sex due to either an emotional affair or a physical affair. But, it could also indicate major depression or even low testosterone levels.

Just as his sudden anger and irritability toward his wife could be a sign of an affair, it could just as easily be that he has developed major depression and refuses to tell anyone. Many men keep silent and try to hide their depression and might act as if they are keeping a secret. They are indeed keeping a secret, just not the one you might suspect. Some of the reasons men often hide depression include feelings of failure, a profound sense of shame, or even fear.

Couple enjoying dinner

Signs of an Emotional Affair 

Let’s talk about signs that you will see that could indicate your spouse is having an emotional affair. First, we wanted to discuss friendship between men and women and what is normal and what isn’t. Any of the behaviors that are not part of a normal friendship serve as signs that a spouse’s relationship has crossed into the territory of an emotional affair. (We have our own views on whether or not married men and women should be friends in the first place, but that isn’t within the scope of this article.)

For several years, women have been working outside the home just as much as men. Depending on what field, the ratios of men to women could be larger or smaller. For instance, in the information technology world, it is a very male-dominated environment, especially in Silicon Valley. In the healthcare field, it is a female-dominated environment.

Still, in any workplace where there are both men and women, a possibility for friendship between the genders develops. Many men and women work together on a day-to-day basis within small teams or within a large office environment. Men and women could be spending long hours working on the same projects together, and because of this, a type of camaraderie will develop.

There was an interesting study published in PubMed where scientists performed an experiment to test if faces, whether attractive or distinct, become more attractive as familiarity increases. Their findings state, “Several studies have shown that facial attractiveness is positively correlated with both familiarity and typicality. We showed that attractiveness ratings were positively correlated with familiarity ratings. In our second experiment, we demonstrated that increasing exposure to faces increases their attractiveness, although there was no differential effect of exposure on typical and distinctive faces. Our results suggest that episodic familiarity affects attractiveness ratings independently of general or structural familiarity.” 

At least in the study, familiarity does not breed contempt – it breeds attraction. In fact, this might even explain why many affair partners, if working with the spouse of another, cannot even hold a candle to the wife or husband in any area, whether it is physical attractiveness, intelligence, or accomplishment, etc. (Of course, just because familiarity of a face increases one’s perception of attractiveness  does not mean that this attraction will or should be acted on.) 

In a word, having men and women in the workplace together can be bad news within the context of potential for attraction between the sexes. So while working with the opposite gender could be a problem, it does not have to be a problem. It takes two to tango and if either party refuses to dance, no tango is going to happen.

The thing is, we don’t believe that most people wake up in the morning and believe they would be the type to have an affair. Most would think affairs are for others, but not for them. So what gives? We could say that affairs develop as a result of the familiarity and false sense of intimacy that can occur at work.

Research on this is sketchy, but we have seen figures as high as 86% of affairs beginning at work. When people work in close quarters, friendship can genuinely happen. When two people share the same experiences day in and day out, they tend to bond because they have something in common.

In fact, shared work stress tends to magnify attraction. It could stop there and go no further, but some people start to irrationally believe that their coworker knows them better than their spouse. Some start to irrationally assume that their coworker could be a better partner and that their own marriage might have been a mistake. If both coworkers feel this way, then an emotional affair can begin if someone doesn’t choose to put a stop to it.

So, how can you as a spouse (betrayed spouse or offending spouse) differentiate between a normal working relationship and an emotional affair?  The following infographic spells that out…

Normal vs EASymptoms

Now how does all this effect your marriage?

Just like the flu virus, your marriage will be unhealthy and there will be symptoms that will become evident as a result. Your spouse might withdraw from you, start to verbally compare you to another man (or woman), attempt to pick fights with you, and drastically change his/her attitude or routine.

Your mate may suddenly like music and TV shows he/she used to despise, take up a hobby he/she always hated, or even purchase you presents at random times or presents that your mate is aware you don’t like. Your spouse may daydream more often, seem caught in his/her own world while smiling or sighing when it has nothing to do with his/her surroundings, or they may just seem “off”.

Now, take a moment and refer back to the mental inventory that we had you create earlier and compare it to the chart above. See if there is anything going on in the chart that might be backed up by items you identified in the inventory.

Finally, search your heart and listen to your gut to see what it might be telling you. After you have done this, you might want to talk to a trusted and discerning friend who feels neutrally about your spouse and who is generally supportive of your marriage. Finally, it is best to wait, watch, and observe until you can identify more patterns.

A couple of years ago researchers from the University of Michigan found that for the most part, any way you cut it, emotional affairs can potentially be more damaging to the betrayed female spouse than a sexual affair. (Whereas sexual affairs tend to be more damaging to the betrayed men). The reason is because it hits at the heart of what is important to women: the tight emotional bond that they share with their husbands and their desired to be loved more than anyone else.  However, we can certainly argue – based on the experiences of the men who frequent this site – that an emotional affair had by a man’s wife can damage him just as much or more than if his wife had a sexual affair.

If you see some of the warning signs, you might be able to work out your relationship with the help of a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist before the emotional affair gains more ground.

Finally, if you need more information on emotional affairs, please browse our site as it has hundreds of articles on just about every aspect of this topic (as well as infidelity in general).

As always, we wish you well on your journey. And no matter what, never lose site of the fact that you are perfect just as you are and that you deserve wholeness in your marriage.

Please add your experiences and/or comments below!

 

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70 Responses to Don’t Be Caught Off Guard – How to Recognize An Emotional Affair: Suspicions, Signs, and Symptoms

  1. Shifting Impressions March 22, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    I truly believe that this is an extremely valuable post. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was terribly off during my husband’s EA, but I had no idea what it was. I basically asked myself many of the questions that are suggested……actually, I was relentless is my search. I looked for everything but an affair……….as I believed completely in my husband’s honesty and integrity.

    Twice in out 40 plus year marriage have I had that deep gut feeling, that something was really off. After my first D-day a little over two years ago I was shattered by another d-day only to be enlightened that there had been another EA fifteen years prior.

    During his second EA, three years ago, I actually asked the question “Is there someone else?” I asked that question, more than once,but not really believing it was a possibility but because I had exhausted all the possibilities. The night before I accidentally stumbled upon the incriminating emails I asked the question one more time. The man I loved completely with all my heart looked me straight in the eye and answered me no there wasn’t someone else.

    My point is this……….listen to your gut. I feel encouraged to know that my instincts about something being very wrong were very right. It helps me trust that should this happen again my instincts will go on high alert.

    • Elisa March 30, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

      I listened to my gut. One night when he was at work something told me to log onto his facebook account and there it was – or she was – a coworker whose profile he had visited. I confronted him and from his reaction I knew this was not a one time viewing. As time went on, and I looked into more and more things, I found that he visited her FB page daily, made notations in his calendar of when he saw her with smiley faces, and finally confessed to having bought her a gift that you just don’t give to a “friend”. Your gut will never steer you wrong.

  2. Tabs March 22, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    I actually had two very realistic dreams. Each one accurately exposed both affairs. While awake, I would have never thought my H would cheat on me. But somewhere in the night, my subconscious told me to open my eyes and face reality.

    • TheFirstWife March 24, 2016 at 8:59 am #

      Same here. Dream led to awareness and then I found out about the OW. Never would have suspected my H.

    • Ann March 24, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

      Tabs
      Interesting about dreams.
      After I married my CH which will soon be 25 years ago, my dreams would start with my husband in them and then he disappears and I always end up going to look for him, and most times I do not find him and then I wake up.
      I still have dreams like that today.

  3. Falling Ash March 23, 2016 at 3:46 am #

    I too had increasingly regular dreams that my OH was having an affair over the two years prior to DDay. On DDay itself, when I found the incriminating texts, but didn’t tell him that I had, I did tell him I had a dream about him having an affair though. His answer? ” I am NOT having an affair, honey!” He texted her again that night, as I found out a year later when I finally got the phone bills. All those years of my gut telling me there was something wrong and him insisting everything was fine. All to cover an 8 year EA. Is it any wonder why I am still struggling 2 years after DDay. I trust my gut implicitly now.

  4. Pushing Forward March 24, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    Thank you for this. I had actually asked my husband if there was someone else and he denied it at the time. I just couldn’t shake that feeling that something was terribly wrong. Later on I got to hear about how incredibly intelligent she was and how she could do no wrong. In reality, she is a terrible excuse for a human being. She pursued my husband until he “fell off the cliff” as I put it. She wanted my life. My husband. In the end, she failed and he opened up those eyes of his and realized that what he did just about destroyed us. This article is spot on. I don’t post much, but I do a lot of reading. This month has been extremely hard for me as this is the month that I found out 2 years ago. It’s been a heck of a journey, but we are still together and are working hard on our marriage. He now realizes that this terrible excuse for a human being is a nasty, evil woman.

    The terrible excuse for a human being cyber bullied me on the internet and stalked me. I’m 100% sure she still does, but that’s her problem. She made me out to sound like this horrible wife that I am surely not. She said I was abusive, controlling, and a neglectful wife. How he hated me and wished he had never married me. I was called all sorts of names, said she wished I would just die, and she tried her hardest to get me to leave my husband so she could be with him. They were “soulmates.” I do not believe in soulmates. She played the victim and got to run off into the sunset. I was the one who had to pick up the pieces. I still get angry and am learning how to manage my anger. I never thought in a million years this would happen to me, but it did. I am so sorry to the ones of you who are going through or have been through this. My motto is to keep “pushing forward” hence the name. My train of thought kinda goes all over the place, but it sure feels good to get the thoughts out no matter how jumbled they are at times. All in all, do trust your gut. I’m glad I did. Thank you Doug and Linda for this site. It has been a life saver for me.

    • TheFirstWife March 24, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

      Sorry for all of this. If our CHs could only see these women for how they really are. I would hope they would think twice about even saying “hi” to these poor excuses for a human being.

      The OW tend to be real nasty when the affair is over. And the revenge they undertake is horrific. I think often the CS is shocked when they see the behavior that occurs.

      • Ann March 24, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

        I don’t believe my CH wants to see this OW for who she really is. Texts that I have read indicate he wants this OW under certain conditions. Who does that when you are really in love with someone. There were no conditions with me when we married.
        This OW has been nasty writing me that I am abusing my power as his wife and that I am controlling,and there could be more to come from her as this second affair which turned two years old in February is not over yet. I should have bought my husband a cake with Happy 2nd anniversary on it.
        So far I don’t see my husband is shocked by any of her behavior.

  5. TheFirstWife March 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    Here is the cheaters manual (if I had to write one ).

    1. When confronted by spouse DENY anything is going on
    2. Make spouse out to be crazy and jealous over nothing.
    3. Text AP everything – all the details of your spouse’s accusations
    4. Spouse finds evidence of affair.
    5. Cheating spouse continues to deny anything that is not in black & white (foolproof evidence)
    6. CS denies “loving” the OM or OW.
    7. CS blames spouse for affair
    8. CS refuses counseling (or goes along reluctantly)
    9. Healing is led by the BS
    10. CS does little towards recovery unless the BS threatens to leave

    • Tabs March 24, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

      TFW,

      For item 6, my CH never denied loving the OW. In fact, he proudly admitted it. After all, how could he sleep with someone he didn’t “love”. Item 7-10… BULLSEYE! Those four items are probably the reason most of are here on this blog.

    • Ann March 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      TFW
      # 1-4 I think are right on target.
      #5 CH didn’t deny with the first OW, he just stayed quiet when confronted.
      #6 CH later denied loving the first OW because she stopped the affair, but CH said he has feelings for the second OW because she continues to pursue him. If she stopped and told to take a walk then I think he would say that he never had feelings for her.
      # 7 -10 are right on target.

    • HauntedByHer May 19, 2017 at 9:11 am #

      How do you tell your spouse that enough is enough stop talking to the woman who nearly destroyed your marriage, when he is still convinced that their emotional affair involving secret meetings and deleted correspondence wasn’t an affair. If her comments on his social page bring back painful fears that his actions helped to create, why is it so unreasonable for me to ask him to unfriend her or block her? i believe I have been gas-lighted since the first time he denied he was talking to someone in a way that could threaten our marriage. He has me and everyone in our world convinced I’m mentally fragile, problem is my psychiatrist and therapist think I have valid concern to ask more questions and trust my gut. I’m certain my psychiatrist thinks i am in an abusive relationship with a controlling psychopath. But mental abuse does not leave visible marks. I put everything I was into my marriage the kids are grown and gone but they still let me know in there own way that I need to stick it out with their dad because somehow my leaving would destroy him and they remind me how strong a person I am, but then they have not been exposed to the insurmountable evidence of his betrayal and his behavior when I ask him about it, I just figured they shouldn’t be. Should I contact her? if so what do I say? I would love to post a dozen “Dear Other Woman” letters to her public page all at once so the world can see who she is, or message her current husband at inform them of their past and ask him to tell her to stop talking my husband her former affair partner but I think that would just make me look crazy and desperate.

      • Shifting Impressions May 19, 2017 at 7:28 pm #

        HauntedByHer
        That would absolutely make you look crazy and desperate…..plus it would not solve anything and probably make things worse

        The statement that he has YOU and everyone in your world convinced that you are mentally fragile is very revealing. You need to ask yourself…ARE YOU MENTALLY FRAGILE?? I would dig deep for the answer. The fact that your therapist thinks you have a valid concern should not be a PROBLEM, rather it should be VALIDATING TO YOU!!

        As for your grown children….that is simply not their call to make. When my grown children found out about my husband’s EA they told me that whatever I chose to do they would always love both of us and be there for me….no matter what.

        Remember, you have choices and you only have control over your own behavior. There is personal power in that. My suggestion for you is to work with your therapist to find your personal strength and power, whether you decide to stay or leave.

        There is lots of good advice and support on this site….take care of you.

  6. Hopeful March 24, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    This all hits home. I asked over the years about other women and he would always say no. And whenever I tried to discuss our marriage he always had an excuse. All good work, helping his parents etc. I still cannot understand how he was able to live and act the way he did for ten years. I question if I can be with someone like that. I have been told so much contradictory information from him, and maybe it is really that way all grey etc but he contradicts himself so much about what happened. He will say he did not care about these women and they meant nothing. But he felt he has to be fair to one of them and her kids and break up with her. Since being involved with a married man who was not going to leave his wife was not fair to her. And how he has more respect for one ap than the other, the one he respects the most is a single mom who pressured him for four years for his phone number, planned to get dropped off at a bar so he had to drive her home and was willing to have unprotected sex with him. None of it computes. What mother does that? Sometimes I just think if that is how he felt or feels we are not meant for each other. I could go on and on but the denial that things meant nothing yet you have one ten year affair and one six year affair that you tried to end over and over but just couldn’t is just contradictory.

    It is interesting how they all have the same lines, patters, excuses etc. maybe there is a separate personality disorder….

  7. Mandy March 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    At this point I have read so much information on emotional affairs, physical affairs and all other affairs, I am worn out. I really cannot find any information on the specific type affair my husband is involved in. He is fully enmeshed in an emotional affair with his 27 year old daughter, my step-daughter. I know it sounds crazy, and it has al out driven my crazy. All of the red flags, the gut instinct that I was being plotted against. There is absolutely nothing sexual here, but it does not hurt any less than if he had a girlfriend. We are both older, second marriage. She is an only child and was “pased” by her now deceased mother. A ver emotionally manipulative girl. Always a victim, a liar, but daddy sees nothing she does. It is mainly about money with her. Best estimate I can come up with is over 100k so far. College money, wedding, honeymoon and now she “works” for him. Came up with a 40k down payment for a 325,000 home at 27 years old? I have read all of the information here about how t spot an EA and what needed to be done to end it. Guess what, I am totally screwed over here, no father is going to stop having a relationship with his only daughter. Looks like I will be the one that has to end my relationship with him. Anybody ever experienced this?

  8. Tabs March 24, 2016 at 11:55 pm #

    Mandy,

    You husband and step-daughter sound a lot like my father and my niece. As my brother puts it, my niece is a chaos maker. She creates situations that are “never her fault” and are “because someone else wanted to do her wrong”. Thanks to her, my father and brother are now estranged and she has destroyed any chance of them ever reconciling. She feeds into the my father’s anger and manipulates him into giving her money. Most kids I know get their money from their parents. But most parents will eventually tell the kids, “You’re on your own”. However, my niece has made a career of asking for money so she doesn’t have to work! We live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and flights here are expensive. Yet I see her twice a year, like clock work. My dad is 84 and can’t keep supporting her. I’ve tried to tell him, but he’s so taken with his grand daughter that he won’t see her for what she really is. My father hates when I talk to him about her, but what else can I do? If you ever find something that might help, please let me know.

    • Mandy March 25, 2016 at 1:25 am #

      Tabs,
      Thank you for the reply. I see that manipulative people know no boundaries. I have actually thought that my SD will continue to bleed my husband dry until there is nothing left. There is not time or space here to go into all of the things that my husband has done for this girl behind my back. I always get the “spidey senses” when this stuff is escalating. Just as these articles on emotional affairs have described, I have lost my trust for hm. I have confronted him about the money and some other things that he has done without my consent or knowledge. I really cannot blame her, he offers it all to her and she of course is glad to oblige him by taking anything she can get. I have 15 years invested in this relationship, 11 married. Sadly for him, I will more than likely start some divorce proceedings soon and then he will be stuck with her selfish ways and I will be very happy with my large extended family that cannot stand either of them. I sorta feel sorry for him. She really wants nothing to do with him, unless it is at “work” and involving him giving her money. She recently had a baby (5 months). My husband, her dad was told by her that she would let him know when he could come to the hospital and see the baby, to stay away until she let him know. He has not seen this child but twice and both times were through a car window while he was asleep in his car seat. I on the other hand have 5 beautiful granddaughters that I see almost on a daily basis, and I don’t even have to fork over large sums of money for the privilege.

      • Sarah P. March 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

        Hi Mandy,
        I had to jump in here and give my two cents.

        I see several things going on with your husband and his daughter and I wanted to chime in. I will say upfront that starting divorce proceedings sounds like a very healthy thing to do when you are ready.

        You have obviously recognized the situation is not going to change so why be along for the ride on a dead end street?

        So what is going on with those two? Just from reading your summary I am going to take a guess:

        1) A small degree of covert incest for both of them
        2) Codependence for both of them
        3) Narcissism or Borderline Personality Disorder on the part of the daughter
        4) Spoiled brat syndrome (I made this one up because there is no clinical term for the spoiled brat. And yet, they cause REAL problems in families and can drive folks to divorce).
        5) Very poor boundary setting on your husband’s part

        I wanted to talk more about the covert incest part. Covert incest does NOT involve sexuality. But, it involves the kind of emotional dysfunctional that one might see between husband and wife or lover and lover. In a way, he is acting like a sugar daddy to his daughter. But, they are also tied in a slightly codependent relationship with one another. Finally, I would say that the daughter has some kind of personality disorder by the behavior you mention, especially since you mention she is manipulative.

        I wonder what he (your husband) gets out of the situation– we know what she gets out of it — but what does he get out of it besides a thinner wallet and having his daughter involved in his business?

        • Tabs March 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

          Sarah,

          My niece was diagnosed with both Narcissism and Borderline Personality Disorder. Your points are all dead on. My father doesn’t believe my niece has any problems. Do you know of any books on the subject. Perhaps he’ll believe a specialist.

        • TryingHard March 26, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

          Sarah P
          Do you agree that it’s almost impossible to show or explain to someone who is in a toxic relationship with a narcissist/borderline what and who these people are? I believe they only see the manipulation/pathos only after they are out of the relationship and some never get out.

          Why would the daughter give up her EA with Daddy Moneybags? And he is so neck deep in co-dependency on her he will never get out of it. I hope Mandy runs for her life. And Mandy DO NOT feel sympathy for these people. It’s the weakness sociopaths prey on. Take care of you and get out.

  9. Chrissy March 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    A bit off topic but I need a sympathetic ear. I just stormed out of marriage counseling. I started becoming angry when the couselor asked me, “What was your husband getting from this other woman that he wasn’t getting from you? ” Then he told me I was “overgeneralizing” when I said that I felt that my husband put others above me and didn’t treat me like I was important. I was also told that I was “exaggerating” and “shoulding” because I said I thought my husband should defend me when his family was disrespectful to me. I also was asked when I become such an expert on affairs when I said that my husband had inappropriate boundaries with other women and that’s how affairs get started. I finally had enough and left yelling, ” I am the victim here, why am I sitting here being attacked? ” BTW, my husband had a 2 year long EA\PA with a drug addict who has prostituted herself for drugs. I think I am seen as the bad guy because my husband is now disabled and very mellow now due to Zoloft. The affair began before he was disabled and medicated She was still texting him last week. This was only our second session and I was already turned off to this guy because he told me he thought all cell phones should be password protected and privacy respected when I told him that I first caught wind of the affair because I saw suspicious texts. I have been on the fence about reconciling, but this really is making me not want to. I know I am not perfect, but I have been a good wife.

    • TheFirstWife March 26, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      Find a new counselor for you. Not you & him but you.

      My therapist was wonderful and I feel lucky to have found him. He did tell me at times things I found hard to hear but not once did ever say I was the cause or contributed to the reason for the affair.

      Find someone you can relate to. If that person works then ask your H to join you for sessions.

      Leave both the losers in the dust when it comes to counseling.

      • Hopeful March 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

        I agree get a new counselor. I do not want to have someone sugar coat it for me but these comments back to you are not professional. my husband is in he mental health business and he was worried about me seeing someone because he said there are so many bad professionals out there. Many let their personal past affect how they conduct their therapy. Also he said there are a lot that blame the betrayed and or also not pro marriage. And he did not push me to pick a certain type but I know this from his years of private practice. I found someone who only does marital therapy and a large part related to infidelity. He has been amazing. He has been so supportive and has so much experience. He is sensitive to my spot and also knows the right thing to say. My hard part is my husband does not come with me. But that is another issue. I would say search for a new person. I drive and hour and fifteen minutes to go to this therapist but it is worth it.

        • Shifting Impressions March 27, 2016 at 12:15 am #

          Hopeful,
          Interesting how someone working in the mental health field won’t go for counseling themselves……I am in the same situation. My husband has a fair bit of experience in the counseling world but also is unwilling to come with me for counseling but is encouraging about me going for me. It makes me crazy when he is the one that had two Emotional Affairs over the years.

          • TheFirstWife March 27, 2016 at 11:09 am #

            My H did not/will not go for counseling either and he had two affairs. First was EA snd second was Ea/PA.

            My therapist said most men will not go for counseling as it could make them face or deal with issues they don’t want to deal with or they are really ok and there is nothing wrong.

            So even though the CS has the affair(s) more often than not it is the BS (based on this blog) that goes for counseling.

            My H went 2x for counseling and I know he was going to find the strength to end our marriage. I was spot on with that call. A few months later after he ended counseling he did ask for a divorce.

            The guy instinct never is wrong.

          • Hopeful March 28, 2016 at 11:49 am #

            It is a huge struggle for me and my therapist. My husband is top in his field high paid and sought out by many from great distances. To be honest that makes it hurt more. He cannot claim ignorance. It is a huge struggle for me. And through the years i would try to talk with him about our marriage. I would ask him if he had ever met any women or about the women that work for him. He said never it was not like that. It is so hard for me. And his reasons are just lame and pathetic and contradictory. He hates to talk about it. I know why he does not want to go, he does not want to talk about it. I think he has not told me the 100% truth. I think he is ashamed and does not want to admit to another professional what he did based on what he does. Basically he told himself whatever he had to. These women were great, I was the problem whatever it took to make himself feel less guilty. The issue is I can tell this is an issue deep within him. Someone does not have nightmares and break down crying when they are fine. I have zero mental health training and I feel like I am more in tune. But in this field I think people that are good at it almost have to compartmentalize in order to make it through each day. I told my therapist last time it sucks that I feel like I am in marriage counseling by myself and then have to go home and do therapy with my husband. And he knows all the right things to say etc so that makes it even harder to trust him.

            Good luck!

  10. Mandy March 25, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

    Sarah,
    Thanks for your spot on analysis on the situation. The only answer as to what he gets out of this is that he is so guilty about her childhood. He is recovering alcoholic, spent most all of her childhood drunk and missed out on much of it. He will, in my opinion, never be able to do enough to get rid of his guilt over this. I believe that he feels no remorse or sorrow about his treatment of me because I don’t seem needy to him. I really do feel sorry for him, my daughter says that is why I have stayed so long. Throughout the last couple of years, I have scoured the internet, read everything I could find trying to put my finger on what was going on. I have come to the conclusion that he has some manifestation of narcissism. That has helped me tremendously in handling our day to day. No more letting him know that I am upset about what he does. I used to cry and try to get him to open up to me like a normal person would. I am a Christian and want to face issues in the marriage and get them forgiven and forgotten. After discovering what his true personality is, that is totally the wrong way to interact with him, I always thought that I detected almost a smirk from him when I was baring my most painful feelings, I was correct. I also agree that the daughter is very much like her father in that she wears that smirk almost all of the time. My daughter described her as looking like the proverbial “Cheshire cat” or like I know something you don’t every time you are around her. No matter, I completely disengaged from her or anything to do with her about 3 years ago. It has helped me with my anger issues and I have as much peace as is possible with two of these individuals in my life. Knowledge is power, coupled with divine intervention, every plot they have hatched has been exposed and he doesn’t understand how I find out every time. I am getting stronger and stronger and with Gods help I will be free of them soon.
    Chrissy,
    Read up on narcissism, they all have a lot if the same comments and reactions to being caught in infidelities, random lies. Whatever you do, if you do suspect he is a narcissist, do not go to counseling with him. They always high jack the sessions and charm the counselor over to their side. It’s just what they do.

  11. TryingHard March 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Chrissy
    I am going to unequivocal validate your anger and indignation. You absolutely did the right thing marching out of Dr Quack’s office. There are so many bad therapists out there and you found one. I hope you never go back.

    I think better than marriage counseling you need to find individual counseling. You are right to be sitting on the fence with regards to your reconciliation. Matter of fact I am hoping you have one leg dangling on the side of getting out!!

    Have you considered he’s abusing drugs? He’s not working, he’s on Zoloft, he’s in an affair with a drug abuser??? Just sayin here but I would insist on a drug test before you even consider reconciliation. Something isn’t adding up. All these changes in his behavior indicates there’s more than an affair. I’d even say he’s dependent on the AP as his supplier. You’re screwed if that’s the case. If he does have an addiction he could ruin you not only emotionally but physically and financially as well. I’d do some serious investigating of what he’s doing while not working.

    Please don’t be wearing rose colored glasses about reconciling and don’t gloss over his very bad behavior. Stay angry and use that anger to protect yourself and your children if there are any. I truly sense the affair is just the tip of the iceberg where your husband is concerned. I hate addictions and truly believe the only person who can deal with the addiction is the addict. This is all on him. He needs to get off his ass and GET A JOB!!!only then should you even consider reconciliation.

    Sorry if I sound harsh but I am on your side. I want you to be on your side as well. Hugs to you and courage and strength.

  12. TryingHard March 27, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    Seriously Doug. My feelings are getting hurt :). You know we BS have a low tolerance for rejection

    • Doug March 28, 2016 at 8:24 am #

      Sorry TH! I have no idea why the gremlins that monitor the comments doesn’t like you. There are a few of you whose comments have to be approved most every time. I don’t understand it! You must have made them mad somehow 😉

  13. TryingHard March 28, 2016 at 8:43 am #

    Haha Doug!! No doubt:)

  14. TryingHard March 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    Hopeful
    It sounds to me like he is afraid of facing his demons because he KNOWS who and what his demons are. He may know he’s a narcissist or worse a sociopath and just can’t face it being confirmed by another person in his profession so he just denies and yes compartmentalizes?

    I don’t know what worse. Someone who knows what their problem is and refuses help or someone like our husband’s who go to get help kicking and screaming the whole way.

    I’m sure your husband may be a sought after professional for his specialty but I would bet his specialty is NOT infidelity!! Even if he doesn’t want to go to therapy, which I understand is very hard for most people in the profession to do, he has to talk to you about the affair. That much he knows. It sounds like he is refusing to humble himself and swallow his pride and just come clean. Surely he knows this. I have a real problem with cheaters who refuse to humble themselves because I think a sense of humility is imperative to healing. Humility brings vulnerability and I think cheaters are scared shitless to show vulnerability to us. It’s a vicious cycle right?

    I would give up on counseling your husband. If there’s anyone who knows what he should be doing it’s him. Focus on your own therapy. I feel sorry for your husband. It sounds like he’s suffering but as the saying goes “Physician heal thyself!” Tell him no one has ever choked from swallowing their pride!

    • Hopeful March 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

      I agree I am focusing on myself. My therapist believes he needs to go or go with me. Yet he thinks it will be ineffective since he thinks he will say just the right things. I have actually brought up personality disorders and sociopath issues with him. I do not think it is sociopath not so sure about other issues. I honestly think it is his upbringing of being indulged and entitled. He was an athlete and pretty much got to do whatever he wanted and also lots of attention for that. I would say being selfish is a trait that is common in his family.

      He is very remorseful and expressed huge amounts of guilt. I have had concerns that this is being said to preserve what he has. Yet my therapist and my husband both think that after a year of this if he did not mean it he would not be able to carry on like this every day.

      My therapist says it is the most remarkable transformation he has seen anyone make. Is that good? Yes in many ways. Yet I am skeptical. And my therapist says good to this. He says I need to protect myself.

      It is hard for both of us based on what he does. And honestly he does see a decent number of patients about this topic. And probably what is bad is many cases are way worse that what he has done. He has never said it makes him better yet in some way it does desensitize him. He deals with custody cases a lot and other issues with kids and has through the years told me to stop making a big deal out of stuff and that it is nothing compared to what he sees. He has stopped that narrative since dday.

      It is all very confusing.

  15. Emily March 28, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    Love this article but the comments are sort of alarming. Why is there so much emphasis placed on the OW / OM in the situation? I was cheated on by my husband and we are divorced and he dated that other woman for a while after we seperated however; he cheated on her as well. And then he cheated on the next girl and the next girl and the next girl. Point being it was not an OW problem it was a husband problem!
    I just really feel like if a husband cheats it’s because of something in him. It’s not something his wife is doing wrong, it’s not something the new person gives him, it’s a selfish thing. The only way to heal a marriage (should you choose to) is to deal with the root cause in the person that created the problem. For expample does your husband not feel heard in the relationship – if so is that maybe because he isn’t good about expressing himself?…things like that!
    I just feel like the ladies on this comment thread are selling themselves short by focusing on the OTHER person in an affair.

    • TryingHard March 28, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

      Emily
      You need to read further. There is NO ONE here that doesn’t put the responsibility squarely 100% on the cheater. And you’ve made some good points. Him not being heard does not drive someone to cheat. He has a mouth he can talk so freaking talk!!! We have focused 100% on the cheater. Doesn’t mean we don’t deny the OP played a role. They are not innocents in the whole mess. And we certainly don’t have to love or forgive them. They really are non- entities. Not worth giving a second thought to.

      Like I said, read further.

    • TheFirstWife March 28, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

      Very good point. I know it was my H’s issues and his sole responsibility for cheating.

      I think we “blame” the OW/OM b/c they know the person is married and instead of walking away they choose to get involved with a married man/woman. Many of us on this blog would NEVER get involved with a married man or woman.

      Added to the AP’s bad decision is the situation where the CS does end the affair and the AP exacts revenge on the innocent parties – the spouse who did not cheat and/or the children. Some of the stories I have read here are awful. Adults stalking and harassing kids of their “soulmate”/AP via Facebook etc

      So many of the CS do end the affair but the AP refuses to accept the fact it is over. My H’s OW tried for round 3 with him. He was furious with her and never responded to her. Boy did she get revenge – on me. Hateful and spiteful and nasty revenge against me because she could not have her way.

      So that is what we live with. The CS is solely to blame – but the OW/OM sure does add to the mess.

      And many times the CS, to deflect responsibility, does blame the spouse for the affair. As in “you don’t (fill in the blank) and that is why I had an affair”. Really!? I had to tell my H the reason he had an affair. Because he wanted to. As simple as that. Selfish childish behavior. Plain & simple.

  16. Tabs March 28, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

    Well put TFW! “Selfish childish behavior”.

    The barely 20 something OW would send unbelievably explicit texts to my CH. Even after he told her to stop, she continued texting. Of course, I don’t know how emphatic the message was to stop. But she knew I was reading them, which probably made the sexting even more fun.

    I really hope what goes around, comes around.

    • TheFirstWife March 31, 2016 at 8:35 am #

      I agree on the karma aspect. I hope all the CS get what is coming to them at some point in their life. APs too.

      I know it is mean but it is my way of revenge. I’m not going to do anything BUT it does give a bit of satisfaction

  17. Emily March 29, 2016 at 1:04 am #

    Agree with you guys for sure. Having experienced it I just know firsthand that the time you spend on thinking about the Ow/OM is wasted time and doesn’t help in the healing in any way.
    There is no excusing cheating that is for sure so regardless of the reason a spouse gives it doesn’t matter. What matters is if you want to fix the marriage that you dig really deep to figure out what went wrong and why and I know the answers to those questions lie in stuff that led up to the cheating. It didn’t cause it because choices are choices but it LED to it.
    In my experience I just felt in my heart that my husband would not be capable of change and I was right! Hoping my comments about not blaming or wondering about or being angry at the OW will help someone not waste the time that I did.

  18. TryingHard March 29, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    Emily
    Do you believe what led your ex to cheating on you and all the subsequent women was his sense of not being heard? That’s a lot of people not listening. Maybe he mumbles? I don’t know.

    I believe what drives him to cheat is a lousy character, a sense of entitlement, and a low or non-existent moral code. Some people learn from their mistakes by digging deep and humbling themselves to learn this about themselves. Some don’t. Sounds like you were right to move on from this sociopath. I hope you are at peace with your decision. sounds like it was the right one to me

  19. TryingHard March 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

    Hi Hopeful

    I think you’ve got this girl. Sounds like you have a reallly good therapist. I am glad you are being advised to keep your eyes open and be aware. Maybe he has changed. Time will only tell. My h has done such a 180 that I am constantly wondering when he will revert. Five years out and he’s only getting better and more thoughtful. But LOL I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    To compare one person’s pain versus another’s (whom THEY perceive as being worse off) is insensitive at best and self serving at the very least and not the best advice. You should turn that advice on him. When he doesn’t want to talk about the affair remind him how other cheaters have it far worse off and he shouldn’t be complaining about having to talk about it. Matter of fact he’s damn lucky he doesn’t have to answer all those horrible questions that other worse cheaters have to answer 🙂

    When my husband gets indignant about a question I ask him I tell him to calm down and not to take my questions so personally. Surprisingly this works!!!

    Try this concept on him. When your are happy no one tells you that you have no right to be happy because after all, there are people who are MUCH better off than you and you have no right to be happy comparatively!! So why is it different for pain, anger or hurt?

    Wonder what therapist husband says about that? My therapist loved it and said she uses it all the time 🙂

    • Hopeful March 31, 2016 at 12:20 am #

      I agree and we have had these type of discussions. What is most interesting through the years he hated when I brought up about issues in our marriage and he would blame me or have some defense I would confront him and say if I was a patient in your office what would you tell her. Oh he hated it. I mean it did not sit well with him. I would challenge him on that and I would get a million different reasons saying he didn’t want to talk shop at home blah blah blah. It all makes more sense now. So now he has changed his perspective. Things are very different between us. I however feel that he has not really dealt with himself or not sure if he can ever do that. And I do not think he has been truthful or honest with me about many parts of his affairs and life over those 10 years.

  20. Emily March 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    TH – absolutely. Find out out my husband cheated ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.
    And no. I wasn’t saying “not being heard” leads people to cheat. I was using that as an example of an underlying problem that I’ve heard builds in relationships and can eventually lead to huge issues like cheating. It starts small but when there is a communication or marital strain that starts small it builds and then later down the line big disasterous things happen. I was saying if you want to try and save your relationship you have to get to the heart of the matter and the heart of the matter usually is not that the other person seduced your spouse and took advantage of them or something like that. It’s usually not about the other person at all is what I was saying.
    I hope everyone here reading this find relationship peace somewhere and lots of times that means you just have to face the fact that the spouse you chose was the wrong one but that the right one is out there! or that your relationship went wrong somewhere but can be made right – although truthfully, I don’t really believe that to be the rule. More of an exception. I commend you guys that want to stick around and work it out. So hard!

  21. TryingHard March 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    I hear you Emily. I admire you for making such a life changing decision but obviously it was right for you. I’ve found that people who have been cheated on and divorce often go on and do better for themselves. The cheater, not so much. Too bad for them and that’s called karma right?

    • Emily March 30, 2016 at 1:27 am #

      It’s true! It is SO true. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me and then after a while it was the best thing that ever happened. Sometimes it takes a big shake up to realize some unhealthy patterns that have developed in your own life. In my case I hadn’t even noticed how far off my path I had gotten. And I did have feelings that something was going on but I could not put my finger on what it was. Because I didn’t have the information, I was jealous and insecure and very defensive and once it was all out in the open its like I realized how exhausting all those emotions that I was bottling up for so long were. instead of feeling more upset I was just tired. then the tiredness just sort of grew into I don’t really care.
      And like I said previously, my ex is still the exact same person living the exact same life with just a new person occupying my chair. She gets to feel insecure and jealous and defensive and she gets to wonder where he is or if he’s lying and I get to be free of all of that.
      People don’t change!

  22. TryingHard March 30, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    Emily
    I am so happy for you that you were able to make a decision for yourself and move on. I’m assuming you didn’t have much of an investment in the marriage i.e. Children and assets? Uncertain you will move on just fine without your ex in your life. I also hope you know what to look for in your next long term relationship. Sometimes we move on without figuring that out. I know lots of people who kicked the bum to the curb only to end up with the same kind of person. Simply trading one set of problems for another. I saw hope with my husband and I’m glad I did. Although I keep my eyes wide open. There’s no wiggle room for any kind of disrespect. Cheaters are everywhere and can be anyone. Narcissism is at an all time high. Guard yourself and your heart against these kinds of relationships.

  23. Emily March 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    We do have children so I have to interact with him but it’s easy for me now. We co-parent well. The divorce part was hell but after it was over it was like a whole new life. The divorcing with children and property and all that stuff is scary but survivable.
    I admire you for sticking it out! I definitely learned my lesson in that relationship and haven’t made those same mistakes. Difference between us is there was nothing to redeem. Once I found out the gravity of all my ex had done it was just too much. And I believe it was happening through out our entire relationship. 8 years. From the start. I don’t believe there was ever a time he was faithful. So there really wasn’t anything to save.

    I have read that relationships can improve for the better after infidelity. Hope that’s the case with yours!

  24. TryingHard March 30, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    Emily
    That is awesome that you two can get along and co-parent well. That’s the most important thing after divorce is to remain somewhat civil because you still have little ones who are dependent.

    Thank you for the support. Actually our relationship is very good. Sometimes it scares me how good it is and how much he talks to me now even sometimes to the point where I think aaacck enough! We have a lot of fun together. I don’t know if it’s a function of him, and me realizing what was almost lost or our age. We are not spring chickens although not with canes either 🙂 So yes it’s all good but it was good before the affair too.

    You know Emily it’s all just life. If anyone gets to the end of it unscathed by any kind of unfairness, that’s a rarity. Infidelity is just ours right?

  25. Mandy March 31, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    I’m back, with good news for me. I am several days into an “in-house” separation. It started as another blowup because I did not want to hand over paperwork to my husband for his CPA. He is heavily enmeshed with his adult daughter my SD and I refuse to send anything with personal information to his place of business where she “works” for him. I met with the CPA yesterday and have calls in for an attorney. This has been a long time coming, he says he will not fight me this time. I believe that I have asked for a divorce at least 5 or 6 times in the last 6 years. He has just ignored me and continued his EA with his daughter and it has finally destroyed our relationship. We have agreed to dissolve our marriage, sleeping in separate bedrooms, seeing an attorney as soon as possible to get things started. Thankfully we have no children, I actually have slept through the night for the last tw nights, that has not happened in so long. Sometimes your body knows before your brain catches up. I am looking forward to a new life without the pain of living with someone who chooses their child’s wants and needs over their spouse. That is indeed. It a marriage. I’ll keep you posted and thanks for listening.

    • TheFirstWife March 31, 2016 at 8:32 am #

      I am happy you are getting away from the nightmare and will get to a better place. Good for you.

    • Tabs9 April 4, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

      I’m envious. I can’t just divorce my father. I have to work with and get him to see what’s really happening.

  26. Rachel April 4, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    Oh Mandy you will be in a much better place once you are away from this toxic behavior .
    Good luck and keep us posted.

  27. Stella April 21, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    My partner has been having an EA with my sister. He has spent the last four years using pronouns “i”, “we” “you” “us” “me” to talk openly about her and the two of them….an extreme form of gaslighting! I was told I was mental, crazy, insane. He still denies it. I have no proof just a gut feeling. My sister and I were close once and I feel like I am living with her because he has taken on all her mannerisms (mirroring) and talks like her too! I had hit rock bottom drinking, depression, feeling joyless but found the strength to get my life back one day at a time.

    • TheFirstWife April 21, 2016 at 11:42 am #

      Everything here on this website and others will show you the same pattern of behavior.

      My husband had an EA for 3 years. Denied it every step of the way. Stonewall. Gaslight. I am crazy. I have no proof. All in my head. This went on for 3 years.

      I finally got proof when his last OW / affair came to light. She told me he admitted to her that I knew about the last EA he had with a girl in grad school. Yup same girl. So he admits it to a stranger but never me.

      Trust your gut at all times. I told my H to watch his back with the grad school girl from the second I met her. He ignored me and laughed. She pretended to be my friend for years to remain close to him and have access on the weekends to him to socialize.

      Knowing what I saw and based on my own experiences, you are probably right. You are not crazy but since you have no “black and white evidence” he can get away with it.

      However once I had proof of my H’s affair with emails given to me by the OW l of his lies were exposed. So when the most recent affair came to light and hecwas exposed, he promised to be truthful and honest 100%. And I believed him. Every word. Until his former OW sent me emails which exposed his lies. Every one of them. All damaging.

      I ended up telling him that I know he pursued her. He made the affair happen. It was not her coming after him like he led me to believe.

      Don’t worry about getting him to admit it. It will not change a thing. Until you stand up for yourself it will not change.

      My life now is me first & kids, my needs are met by me. I don’t look to my H for anything I cannot do myself or provide for myself. He is no longer my #1 priority in the world.

      Put yourself and your well being first. You will be surprised at how your life can change. For the better.

  28. George April 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    This post is/was less than applicable with my CS as i never so much as even heard of his name during years she worked with the OM until DDay. (Almost 4 months ago) I knew about the day to day interactions she had with other coworkers and customers and who most of them were. Work was frequently her dominant topic.
    I could pour my guts out on this forum, but selfishly, it won’t change a thing for my situation. My CS had a nearly year long A that turned physical quickly. Yes, she is remorseful and yes she has cut as much contact with the OM as she can while maintaining her gainful employment. My gut tells me that theres one more shoe to drop, but it may be due to the TT experienced after DDay. Were finances such that i could extract her from that job, i would have already done so. College isn’t cheap.
    Opposing shifts, night classes, and purpetual fatigue put a strain on a marriage. I get that, but its not an excuse. Nor is thrill seeking or craving attention. If you want something from your spouse, be willing to do for them what you want. Shock the hell out of them if thats what it takes. It will likely take more than once to spur the change in thought. Anything beats the unadulterated agony following an impromptu conversation, in my case, from the OM’s wife and my CS’s words “we need to talk”.

  29. Angela September 11, 2017 at 1:14 am #

    I feel like this article very aptly describes how an emotional affair can develop in the workplace. But it also could apply to the same kind of feelings of attraction, camaraderie, teamwork, and familiarity when someone is participating in games, chat rooms or activities online. I feel like the article failed to point out that particular situation but of course that’s because my situation was an online emotional affair where my spouse never even met the other person. Since I ended up taking away access to the game that he was playing and he never gave it up himself, I’ve been battling the feeling that I could never meet his needs or be good enough and plagued with a sense of inadequacy, no matter that I felt like the most cherished and beloved woman prior to that. He pursued this activity like it was an addiction and when he had never pursued me that way or seemed to need me or obsess over being in touch with me or near me the way he did this gaming partner, I’ve been left without closure in that aspect of it. Because people can pretend to be whoever they want to be online it left me questioning why had I never seen this charming, overly affectionate, assertive person towards me, and it left me with the sense that I just wasn’t the right woman for him, since I didn’t inspire the kind of urgent obsessive need he showed toward being with her, even though it was not in person. I wanted the man who persistently sought out the woman he called “sweetheart” and whose attention he sought every waking moment of the day. When I say every waking moment, I mean those words exactly. He only logged off that game to sleep a few hours and would already be back at it before I woke up each day. I was not the first thing he thought about in the morning and wondered if I ever had been, since he treated her that way. Who was this charming, pursuing man, and why had he never been that way toward me. If that’s who he really wanted to be, but could only be that man in an “anonymous” way, was I ever dealing with the person he really is? Or was it just her that inspired him so magnificently? He became the man I had always needed, but for SOMEONE else. Then, of course, my usual self-confidence and self-esteem became something I had to hold back, in trying to draw that same charm out of him toward me. It’s been a devastating 3 years. Today is the beginning of what I call the D-Weeks, rather than D-Day, because there was a solid 2 weeks of fighting, sneaking ways to contact her, and more and more lying to keep me from being able to see whatever was going on. He intimidated, manipulated and gaslighted his way into being able to continue what he was doing until I found the woman had sent him a highly inappropriate photo of herself (it actually wasn’t even her because she turned out to be a catfish). He knew she was probably a catfish, but how could I know that if he was talking about her as if he believed everything she said was true? I was finally, at some point, able to determine that he was not having the kind of feelings for her that I thought, and he had not been getting involved with her, but he was being so dishonest and trickling out the truth for so long, that by the time he came around to admitting all the truth (which I verified for myself by paying an IT specialist to retrieve every chat, and phone records to read their texts) the trust, insecurities and fears brought into our marriage were now set in stone and my marriage has never been the same. He is “trying” to empathize and help, but I’ve slipped into a pained and grieved depression, still looking for the same urgency, need, and obsession to save us as he displayed for saving his “game”. Each day that goes by that he’s not panicky to save us is just another day of not seeing the man she inspired him to be.

    • Shifting Impressions September 11, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      Angela
      Everything Trying Hard said!!!!

      There was an “addiction” going on….you really don’t want that type of obsession toward you or your marriage. Addictions are another whole story. Someone told me that an ex addict told them they would have killed their own grandmother to score a hit while in the throes of their addiction.

      I hope you get some help for yourself sorting all this out. His addiction was never about you….even though it shattered you. Not fair….I know. Please take care of you.

    • Terry October 13, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      Angela,
      I hear you. His energy, time, emotions, etc. went into this “relationship” instead of into your marriage, creating so many bad feelings and memories that affect the meaning and sense of “us”. It changes your view of who you married and it changes who you are too. You see it happening, you express your concerns and needs, yet they choose to act this way. You can’t control them & you can’t even go back to the “way you were” beforehand. You saw another side of him, an attitude you wished you could have directed at you (in a healthy way), incorporated into your relationship with him. I know it hurts. My h had an EA right at the start of our marriage (he didn’t come into the marriage with his whole heart – he loved another, but managed to be in her life socially and as a co-worker – she was married & beautiful and he thought of her as his real wife/GF). Only after the honeymoon did I start to see him openly doing more and more with her, like he was “safe” to chase her because he had me for the physical stuff, talking about her after work, going to lunch with her, chasing her at social gatherings, telling me to go away- he wanted to me with her. I was in shock. He was treating her like his wife and not me. I’ve been longing to see the same personality, having wonderful conversations about his feelings and getting all his attention, but he’s been derisive towards me. Counseling didn’t help all those years ago – MC believed “no sex=no real problem with husband’s behavior”. I don’t believe he ever wanted to marry me, but used me to get access for sex, while his emotional energy was reserved for her. All I ever heard from him about it, before he swept it under the rug, was “she treated me better than you”. Blaming me for his choices of how to act. They just don’t seem to understand and/or care about you, and show they care more for the OW. Jerks.

      • Candy October 13, 2017 at 11:37 am #

        I signed up for these updates a couple of Years ago. I am awaiting the Final Decree for my divorce. I am happier than I have been in a long time. I am 63 years old and jut could not deal with the deception, lies, betrayal anymore. The EA was with his daughter (29) and she’s never going away.

      • TheFirstWife October 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

        Terry. Do not let your H rewrite your M. The things he is saying justifies his choice to cheat.

        Also do not let him make any excuses for his cheating.

        And if you really think your M is a sham and he lists after the OW – get out now. Move on. It woukd be miserable (IMO) to stay in that relationship knowing I was 2nd choice.

        And how dies the OW feel? Does she see what he is doing? Does she encourage his behavior?

        Because this could be a one-sided EA. On the part of your H only (and she may not be anything more than polite or friendly but has NO intention to be involved w/ your H).

        It may help YOU to get counseling for yourself to deal with this. Get your stkf confidence back. Know you are valued and loving and a good person.

        Just too bad the “guy” you are married to doesn’t see it.

        And just think if you tell the CH the M is over and you have had enough / Thst could be enough to have him stop this stupid ridiculous behavior. Permanently.

        But you will need to start controlling the situation and getting your power back.

        It worked for me. My H is very different now. But until I told him to leave and I was going to D him – nothing changed and may not have changed.

        • Terry October 14, 2017 at 12:02 am #

          FirstWife,
          Thanks for your comment.

          It wasn’t a one-sided situation. We both went to college together, were in the same co-ed fraternity (we also had an alumni social group), and all 3 of us worked a large company, so I knew her and her husband (from college & the frat). She’s a flirt, tells a lot of white lies and talks a lot. I considered her a casual friend.

          Even if it was mostly felt by h, and OW was just not understanding how he was reacting to their conversations, the time spent together away from me (when he had a choice of the two of us, he spent his time with her vs me) and the flirting, and the deep conversations, and personal information being discussed, it is just as hurtful. His mind, energy, attention, effort and emotions were focused on her, not his new wife, me.

          I put up with his long after work dialog about her in the beginning of our marriage (we didn’t live together until we wed) because I considered her a friend and I was interested in trying to listen to him and show interest in what he said after a long day away from each other. It got weird when I tried to add my 2 cents here and there when I differed from her opinions – he got defensive of her. He was also very sullen when telling me about her miscarriage. I’ve yet to see him that affected by any events in our long-term marriage.

          An example of how she was part of it – a few of us from the frat group went to a New Year’s Eve party (our first as a married couple) at a member’s apartment. OW and her h were there too. Well, come about 11pm to about 1pm, my H and OW were off by themselves on a balcony away from everyone else. Her h (who I knew well and I knew he was the responsible one of the pair) and I sat in different seats in the living room, watching Dick Clark, making very short comments to each other, waiting for our spouses to wake up and join us. You can’t control people’s choices and neither of us wanted to make a scene. After this, her h dropped us from the social group – we were only invited to official frat alumni meetings at our college, but not to go out with the group anymore. Her h felt his marriage was threatened by my h’s behavior towards his wife and he could read my face about how pissed I was at his “innocent” choice of who to ring the new year in with. Wonderful first New Year’s Eve memory with my new husband.

          The s**t hit the fan with me when one day at work – he called “do you want to go to lunch?” I asked him if it would be just the two of us because I knew they were doing lunch a lot (they worked in the same closed off room and it was “convenient” to head to lunch together, or so he said). H hesitated then said yes. He shows up with her in the front seat of his 2 door car and indicates for me to get in the back seat behind him. She doesn’t offer me the front seat (and she wasn’t disabled or pregnant) – showing a lack of respect for me as his wife. I play along for the ride. I wanted to see how this all went down for them at lunch. Well, we went to a fast food place that you needed to wait on a line for about 4-5 minutes just to get to the register. They were in front of me, talking and having a great conversation (personal things, not about work because it was classified stuff). I stood behind watching, observing. They didn’t include me. I heard a guy say “Hey (h’s first name), is this your wife?” He had been behind all 3 of us on line and noticed them, heard them and watched them. H said no, that’s my wife and pointed at me. This was a co-worker of h. He looked at me and was visibly upset at the situation that he saw happening – I think he left. At the table, they continued the conversation. They still didn’t include me. I tried to enter the conversation. OW was receptive. My h glared at me and mumbled something about “shut up”. I asked a non-invasive, basic question pertaining to the topic. He was protective of their time together and I wasn’t allowed to be part it. Really. You ask me to lunch and then completely ignore me. That evening I went to the college to study in the library for a Master Degree course’s midterm. H stopped by. I don’t know what he was thinking – he came over and started making fun of me being uncomfortable at lunch. Somehow, I made a quick move – I took off my wedding band and engagement ring without him noticing and then grabbed his wrist and put the rings in his hand. “I done. It’s her or me”. He knew I had a job that paid more than his and I could live on my own. He knew I was serious.

          He said he called her about not being able to see each other anymore and said they cried. Were the tears about losing her or almost losing us? Don’t know.

          He wants it in the past, but still won’t clear the air. MC didn’t hold him accountable – some MC are crap. H has baggage from his parents that wasn’t addressed either. I think he is depressed, a narc and/or has narc behavior patterns from father.

          I’ve realized a few things about him. His parent’s marriage devolved into a frigid relationship and father had his emotional support woman – his legal secretary – they went out on his boat frequently and those days were long. I had asked him while dating – how do you feel about how your father treats your mother? H told me he didn’t like it and wouldn’t be that way with me. Lies. All lies. He has two brothers and two sisters. The mother’s joke is all three of them are clones of their father in the way they treat their wives. When I’ve talked to the sisters about h’s behavior, they said “you could see for yourself what they would become – you knew what you were getting yourself into”. One SIL calls her husband by the father’s first name when he pulls the crap – a type of safe word – no matter what he is doing or saying, it tells him he is being just like his father and to please stop. One syllable.

          I have a strong sense of self and don’t internalize his comments and behaviors and attitude. He is damaging the “us” relationship, not my “me narrative” – I don’t define myself or self-worth by him – that is just how I am about life. I see it as a big problem he still struggles with and I’m trying to support him – that was my vow. He has made changes, but he falls off the wagon and my early memories are triggered again because of non-closure. Recently, I’ve ordered books about EA’s to see if I can find new ways of showing him the impact of his actions in a way that he doesn’t shutdown and block out what I am saying. Even his words echo his father’s fighting with his mother. I tell him I’m not your mother – I am a different person. I’ve been ready to walk several times. I don’t like his mother’s personality much as the years have gone by. She’s a difficult person to get along with. They basically had an arranged marriage. They were “older” and the parents pushed them to marry. It wasn’t a good match.

          H has been “man-caving” in the basement (family room, wet bar, office, bathroom) almost every evening for years and drinking. We’ve talked about it and it’s affect on him, us and our daughters, but that is how he chooses to live his life. He doesn’t drink when we travel, so he doesn’t think he has an addiction. My daughters and I seem to live a parallel life upstairs in the evenings. His dad did the same thing with a den (a door to close him off) and then a porch with a door. Isolating themselves. We can open the door, ask them to come out and be a part of the family evening, but they don’t and that is their choice to be lonely. His dad died the other year, 2 years after having a stroke. Boy, the comments I heard family members say about my MIL throwing him in a nursing home as quick as she could to get him out of the house, to be finally done with him, and that he was replaced by 2 kittens. She visited him on her terms while he has in the nursing home.

          I talk openly and calmly with my daughters about his behaviors and attitude. I want them to know to if they choose to marry, find out a lot about his parents and how they really act towards each other. Even if he says he doesn’t want to repeat bad behaviors, most likely he will in some way. It will save you a lot of grief. Don’t emotionally into the deep end until you observe parents. Don’t do the dating circus – changing BFs every few months. Wait until you are pursued by a special guy. Pursuing means you mean something to the guy. Have guy friends that screen out the jerks. My male frat brothers were concerned about h’s behaviors during that first year. And I was the one to pursue my h for dating and in retrospect, he just seemed to go along with it, and never formally proposed marriage, just gave me the ring. If he isn’t emotionally mature enough or strong enough to pursue a woman and propose, maybe he shouldn’t be marrying anyone until he figures himself out. A lot of people are single all their lives. Some aren’t marriage material.

          We moved to a new state a while back, where he had no access to her. I am in the IT field and DO monitor his phone and computer. NC with OW.

          Just wish pre-marriage counseling would have been able to uncover his real attitude towards “the wife” figure, and instill in him how any behaviors towards another woman that put that OW ahead of your wife (mind/energy/time/emotional intimacy) count as infidelity, not just sex and are detrimental to a marriage. Maybe a survey that asked lots of non-direct questions about behaviors & attitudes, that would indicate he didn’t get what he was committing to in the vows, would have uncovered his feelings for another woman, and would show he wouldn’t see these behaviors as damaging. I mean, there are open marriages – every person and couple have a right to their own lines/boundaries on behaviors tolerated.

          Thanks again for letting me vent. Hanging in there for the long haul. We have had some good times. Everyone has issues. No marriage is perfect.

          • TheFirstWife October 14, 2017 at 7:06 am #

            Terry. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

            My H & I were both inbred same co-Ed frat for business majors in college. Lol

            After reading your story I was reminded of my H’s first 4 year EA. The EA lasted that long b/c at first I saw it but laughed it off b/c I wasn’t threatened by it. It was one sided in that she was in love with him but knew she was married. He just enjoyed her friendship. She pretended to be my friend for years.

            Long story short I realized in the last year of this “friendship” was escalating on her part. She was really in love with him.

            And I was gaslit and stonewalled by him. He denied the relationship was an EA or inappropriate. Refused to discuss anything.

            And then she made “her move”. She wanted to invite him to an event as “her date” b/c she “had no one else to take”.

            I exploded at my H and didn’t speak for days. And then the contsct ceased. He realized it was time to end it – b/c I was extremely angry. But he never admitted anything was wrong or the EA occurred.

            And it was rug swept.

            So then 15 years later he has a 2nd EA – except this escalated to him wanting a D.

            I won’t bore you with the details but I was blindsided and devastated. The A lasted about 12 months. It ended with me telling him our M was over and get out!! After 25 years of M I was being replaced by a younger model.

            She knew about the D before I did.

            But as soon as he was free to go he decided he didn’t want to go. And he has made some very big changes and is now the perfect H. He understands his mistakes

            And I know he knew the first EA was wrong but would never admit it to me. He did admit it up the OW and she told me.

            So now we have a better M. And our M was good before his EA and during his 1st EA. The second EA things were BAD – but luckily we were able to recover.

            I’m sorry you are in a M that appears so unfulfilling. It is hurtful to see how it affects your family and the poor choices your H makes.

            • TheFirstWife October 14, 2017 at 7:07 am #

              Darn autocorrect – not inbred (lol) it should be involved in a co-Ed frat

  30. TryingHard September 11, 2017 at 7:44 am #

    Angela
    I find it si interesting how men in particular get caught up in these fantasy affairs. This OW wasn’t real. She was a ghost, a specter.

    Do you remember the game boys played and I assume some girls, called Dungeons and Dragons. These emotionally immature people got so caught up in the game they actually took on their persona of the character they were playing. They became obsessed and started speaking with foreign accents. These fantasies take over. That’s what I see happened to your husband. In this case it truly wasn’t the real him but this other made up character who could be anything he wanted to be. I can’t imagine there was one iota if honesty in that relationship. Much like other affairs it was an escape for him for whatever reason he felt he needed such an escape. Plus it was accessible 24/7!! This “affair” had nothing to do with real life. You don’t want to be pursued the same way plus you can’t be. Hell he may as well have fantasizes about an elusive unicorn.

    I think your h needs a good therapist to help him with this. There’s lots of info about this kind of in line obsession. It’s very bizarre I believe. I’m not trying to downplay your pain. But for all you know this person could have been a man. It also reminds me of a movies where the guy falls in love with a robot.

    The internet is such a scary place. Oarticularly for those who don’t have a very good grip on their emotions or who are very immature!! And kudos to you for hiring the IT professional to help you sort it out.

    What I have to say to you is this is not about you. You are enough. You deserve someone’s undivided attention not some fantastical bot. You did nothing wrong. It is your husband who needs the help. Please stop comparing yourself to a fantasy because no one is better than a fantasy. No one can compare to a persons fantasy. It’s not real. I hope you too have gone to therapy about this.

    I’m so sorry for your hurt. No one should be treated this way and ignored and made to feel second best. I hope I’ve helped you.

  31. Angela December 28, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    Have you joined the Higher Healing Forum, Trying Hard? I’m considering it for us.

    TY for the support here.

    I’m back in here today as I’ve hit the usual trigger; the most painful and deepest; the one that has the utmost fear attached to it and that is:

    In all this time, H explained to me many times that he was playing a game, and trying to find out enough information to bust this catfish in “her” lies. When he says that, it sounds perfectly innocent enough, but I remember the days of him hiding their conversations from me, lying about who was calling, then going outside to call her back, and saw that he would casually betray me in even the simplest request, and saw how obsessive he was to keep the whole thing going. (On D-day he was sneaking off texts to her when I turned my back even long enough to go to the restroom) and I can’t help but feel/fear that some other feelings on his part were driving his desperation to be in touch with her and maintain the status quo in their little world.

    So this trigger of fearing he actually DID have romantic feelings for her, or at the very least felt more wanted/needed by this OW, (because I AM an independent creature to a fault) was what really drove his behavior, and not “playing a game” or “catching a catfish”.

    It triggers the fear that I bought his bullshit and he got away with a very inappropriate relationship. Thus, making a fool of me and he never has to face the consequences of what he REALLY did. I fear that he really did “cheat” and just tricked me into believing he didn’t.

    This is my worst and most painful trigger.

    It took him sooooo long to get it, and I put up with a solid wall of denial, a lack of empathy for my perspective, and mostly anger for 3 years. I literally believed for 3 years he was just pretending to not have a clue what I was saying because he is a person with a HUGE fear of revealing his mistakes or misdeeds. Given that huge fear in him that I’ve always known was there, my trigger is tripped anytime I come across information or situations that remind me how he was acting back then.

    If the cornerstone of an EA is keeping secrets then he definitely had an EA.

    He denies feelings for her adamantly and always has, but he is very comfortable calling what he did an Object Affair, with the “object” being his quest to bust this game partner in her catfish tale. However, he says that in spite of the fact that he committed every crime in the cheater’s script, he had absolutely no feelings for her whatsoever and did not enjoy or get any ego boost from her pursuit of him. He says the game forum was his “happy place” and her drama and issues made problems there. He tried to help sort out her drama because she was messing up the fun in the game. He kept all this from me, he says, because he feared I’d have my usual response to such bullshit and say “stop playing”.

    When he says that, it just sounds to me like he’s saying “it’s your own fault I lied to you, because you’d make me stop playing.”

    I come across this trigger and just don’t know whether to believe him all over again. Common sense says you don’t keep secrets unless there’s something to hide.

    I’ve told him this would actually be easier if he DID have an affair with her because then I’d have all the answers I need.

    Knowing for sure, even if they have “cheated”, has to be better than not knowing. At least you can feel like you’re choosing to be with this person on honest terms or on the terms they want you to think.

    I’ve gotten some flack for my use of the words “cheating” and “affair”, so for clarification, I consider the whole time frame of this bad behavior as “cheating” and an “affair”, but in general I’m using that term to mean actual involvement with an OP. By that definition, he claims no cheating, no affair, though his behavior was cheating me and was an “object affair.”

    I wish his “object” had been golfing or something that didn’t involve such intense levels of contact with an OW. Then this trigger wouldn’t exist where I end up wondering if he is just never going to admit it or it really wasn’t about an OW. I really don’t want to live with a trigger that pops off at random times telling me that I don’t really know if my H has been faithful. His lying about ANYTHING to do with an OW has brought this on us and it keeps the fear alive all the time.

    I said it would be better if he HAD cheated because I’d know for sure. His inability to admit shortcomings just created a fear and insecurity for me, so now we’re both an insecure mess. I was once a whole, confident person. The only way to lose this nagging pain is to lose him. If there is some other way, I’d sure like to find it.

    • Angela December 28, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

      PS- The IT pros I paid to retrieve every iota of data were actually the IT people who work for my brother, who is a pastor. He runs a high-profile church in our city with a need for a great deal of security and technology. He’s even on TV a few times a month! So, even though they are pros at their job, they were “hacking” for me. They are the ones who alerted me to the inappropriate photo bookmarked in my H’s device! I truly want to believe my H in all this, but I can’t imagine she showed him that photo without some kind of belief that he would be reciprocal to such a thing. But then again, last Summer, we found out without a doubt who that photo belongs to and we know he was NOT talking to that person. This may have been a “professional” catfish that wrecked my life. They set out to disrupt, destroy, and play games, but someone has to be gullible enough or stupid enough to open the door for it to happen. Enter my H. The man I thought would never put me at risk for injury or hurt of any kind, let my life get wrecked for a mind game? Given that she was pretending to be a hot 26 year old, am I to believe he went for the catfish or that he bought the catfish story himself and loved being pursued?

      • TheFirstWife December 29, 2017 at 6:55 am #

        Angela

        Your story resonates with me because I had a similar experience in that my H had a 4 year EA and very inappropriate friendship with a girl BUT REFUSED TO ADMIT IT!

        I knew about her friendship from day 1 and told him after I met her the first time that he needs to watch his back b/c she likes him more than just a friend. He laughed.

        The next few years I watched her pretend to be my friend and my H loved the ego boost and attention. He would never ever admit this friendship crossed the line.

        We had arguments about it and he would just gaslight and stonewall and not say a word when I tried to discuss it.

        And then I found out he knew it was wrong b/c he told the last OW (from his second A) about the first 4 year EA – she in turn told me.

        I understand your frustration and pain in not getting anywhere with your H on this issue.

        He will not admit anything. No acknowledgement that what he did was wrong or that he lied. He should at least admit that!!

        My H admitted to nothing even after the OW called and asked ME if it would be ok if my H went with her to a wedding!! As her date as a “friend”. That was her move – and she had other ideas I am sure.

        And when I found out that my H KNEW it was wrong and crossed a line and did admit it to someone else I was furious! I still am bothered by it to this day and it was 4 years ago I found out.

        I have had to accept it. And process it and move on from it.

        But your situation is a bit different b/c I understand your H may be vulnerable to this situation. I think you are correct he was not trying to “catch” her b/c if that were the case he would have told you.

        He clearly was in over his head in terms of the emotional connection and feelings he had. Just ADMIT IT! But I guess his ego won’t let him.

        When I Asked my H WHY he admitted his first EA to the second OW he said that he was stubborn and felt I could not tell him who to be friends with. So that is why he did not end the first EA.

        I believe he LOVED the attention and that is why he did not end the first EA.

        It is hard to reconcile with someone who doesn’t get it. It is maddening and frustrating. But I have done everything I can to make myself safe in this M.

        Including an iron clad post nup and $ in my own name he cannot touch. I can not control him but I can control and prepare for an outcome I don’t want. That provides me security and peace of mind.

  32. Deanna May 8, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    I keep reading, hopeful that I’ll find one like mine, but I haven’t.
    22 years of marriage and my perfect husband has been watching very degrading
    Porn all along.
    Has been flirting with anyone he interacts with including cashiers and to top it off
    he has been having an EA with a woman who use to work for him.
    He admits to mastrubating to thoughts of her, they posted on LinkedIn for years and when he got a new phone he did not give her the number for fear she would continue to call
    and text him… though other co workers he flirted with texted him.
    He maintains he never had sex with any of them but did go out on his ex.
    Remorseful now. Wants the marriage to work.
    Willing to get help based in his abusive Mother issues.
    Talks to me but I’ve caught him in more lies. Swears it’s all out there now.
    How do I trust him again?

  33. TheFirstWife May 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm #

    Deanna. I’m sorry you are in this tough situation. It really stinks how your spouse morphs info someone completely unknown to you. Definitely not the same guy you first married.

    My H had two EAs – and the question if trust is a big one.

    You start to trust when he shows you he is trustworthy. If he says “home at 8” he is home at 8. If he says “I’m not texting any other women” you can ask for his phone and he gives it to you and you see where he is not txting random women.

    Unfortunately he has created a lot of damage and scarring to your M. if he has a porn addiction you see him getting help and starting to move away from that addiction. I don’t have experience with that particular issue but like anything else, people can change if they want to.

    Watch his actions and not his words. Talk is cheap. But getting up off your butt and doing something about your problems or issues shows much more.

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