We received a comment over the weekend that is significant in that it is from a reader who is actually involved in an emotional affair, and has been for the past four years.  It sheds some light on the emotional confusion that one can feel when involved in an emotional affair.  It also confirms (at least in our minds) that this person she is involved with is satisfying a deep emotional need that perhaps her husband cannot–or will not. It’s obvious that this person has  sincere feelings for her affair partner that will make it difficult for her to end the affair.

What we’re hoping for by posting this comment is to initiate some serious, constructive dialogue that might help in guiding this person towards a positive resolution to her situation.

Here is the comment:

“Hello and thank you for your website. I have been searching for information/help for me; the cheater not the cheated on. There is very little out there for us wearing the Scarlet A and yes, as you stated in your blog, coming to this place is as difficult in some ways as learning about it. This is a little tricky for me…I am the one engaged in the emotional affair, not my husband. I have been involved with the same man for more than four years now. When I look back on the past four years, how my relationship began and where it is now I am full of mixed emotions. I can at times logically think things through but really it is not a logical place I find myself. It is a crazy mixed-up emotion laden place I find myself in.

My husband and I have been married for almost 19 years; more if you count the three years we lived together before getting married. We have two teenaged children, one boy and one girl. Until recently I have been a stay at home mother and a trailing spouse. This is a term used by companies for the spouse who follows their husband or wife as he/she relocates for work purposes. My husband comes from a very different background than I do. Interestingly enough so does my lover. He and my husband are actually closer in background than I am to either of them. For many years I felt lost and alone in my marriage. My husband went to work, and as a true work-a-holic (person with a strong work ethic) spent many hours each day at the office. His need for social interaction was fulfilled by the daily encounters he shared with his work colleagues. Me on the other hand, well my life was spent around our children and the home. At times it was very lonely and although I really loved the challenge of moving in and out of the US and Europe, it is difficult to relocate every 4-6 years and begin a new life. (Gosh this is long but amazingly helpful to begin writing it down.) When we moved to our present location we left the only place that most of us truly considered home. It was a difficult and expensive move both financially and emotionally. In some ways it has proven to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I have more to say but I don’t know how much to share or how you can help me. I am confused, recognize the fallacies in the relationship I have with my lover and don’t have the strength to leave an imperfect marriage that is in need of repair nor to leave a dead-end relationship with my lover. I feel the need to tell you that my lover and I try to be upfront with one another. We are on one hand very close friends, which also makes ending it more painful because the hole it will leave is HUGE, however I also know that I am not “the one” for him. I am 10 years older to begin with, of a different nationality and different religious persuasion as well. Although we both love each other, he has made it perfectly clear that one day everything will change and what am I doing to prepare myself for the inevitable? We have tried to end it before but end up back together. I guess our attempts have really been half-hearted because we both give each other something we need in the present, even if we don’t think there will be a long future. This must sound really screwed up to you. It does to me. I can’t help it. Despite everything I have found to read, I feel that I love him. That the love I feel is real and true, not a figment of my imagination. I love and respect him as a person and as my lover. I guess if you spend 4+years with someone it isn’t a fleeting passion but it is still wrong and unhealthy.

I am lost confused crazy sad depressed a myriad of mixed up emotions that fluctuate between panic fear happiness anger and love.”

Please submit your constructive  comments!

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    10 replies to "Reader Involved in Emotional Affair"

    • admin

      Congratulations on taking the first small step. It’s amazing hoe therapeutic it can be to get these things off your chest, even if it’s in writing.

      The first question I would have is whether or not you have communicated your unhappiness and unfulfilled needs to your husband? If so, what was the result? Next, is it your true desire to save your marriage? If it is, then as difficult as it may be, you need to end the affair and begin to work hard at rebuilding your marriage.

      Please feel free to add more to your story so that we all can better understand and guide you.


    • Elaine

      I have a question? My husband refuses to give up his OW completely. He still calls and texts her everyday saying he is pulling away from her to see if our relationship can make him happy. I tell him he has to stop contact with her before we can do that. He insists he needs to be sure we’re going to work before he can do that without regrets or anger. We’re at an impasse. I don’t want to act like were working on our marriage if she’s still there and he doesn’t want to give her up if our marriage won’t work. He can’t tell me what he’s looking for other than he wants to make sure we can be happy for the long-term, that he’s staying for the kids and wants to make it work but needs to see some signs that he can be “in love” with me. He thinks he’s being shallow and stupid but isn’t 100% sure about that, that maybe what she is giving him really is what he wants. He’s so confused and lost and I’m not sure what to do now. He is in counseling but I think the counselor is telling him to take his time to figure out what he wants, which is OK but he expects me to be a loving wife while he’s doing that. When I back off and kind of ignore him he gets angry and uses it as a sign we aren’t good together. I don’t know what to do. I want to make it work but I’m tired of being a “doormat” and want to take back my life from this hell. I feel like the affair has engulfed my life for the past 5 months and I’m sick of it. I don’t want to push him away but I’m tired of trying to pull him back! Any suggestions?

      • admin


        Your situation is similar to ours, so let me answer that from the aspect of the person involved in the affair. You see, I too hesitated at first to come back fully to Linda, and it was primarily for 2 reasons. 1) I enjoyed the way I felt when I was around Tanya, as infatuation is like a drug, and 2) I harbored some resentment towards Linda for the way things were previously in our marriage and I was unsure that things would really be different with us permanently. By completely ending my affair with Tanya, combined with improved communication with Linda, we were able to turn things around. And as documented on this blog, we began to act and do things as if we were just starting to date again and eventually the feelings of love began to snowball. Basically it sounds as though your husband is having a classic case of “having his cake, and eating it too.” He can’t work on a relationship with you if he is still in contact with her. At some point, it may become necessary to tell him that “it’s either her or me.” –and mean it. In the meantime you need to begin working on YOU and start to get YOUR life back. Do some things that you want to do, go out with a supportive friend, take a class, etc. Show him that you are strong and that you are preparing for the possibility of life without him. Eventually, he might have an “ah ha” moment and realize he was being stupid all along. Best wishes, Doug

    • Lisa

      Thank you for posting my blog. I really want to share more and any guidance you can provide me with is much appreciated.

      Two years ago my L and I broke up. Well to be honest he initiated it and G-d it hurt. I fell completely apart. As I broke down my husband was there, picking up the pieces that had become me. When he asked I confessed to him that yes I had been involved with someone. He told me if I loved them that he would let me go and I could be with them. But truthfully that wasn’t an option. So I lied. I told him that I had decided to stay with him, my husband and that my relationship was over. This initiated a conversation with my husband that, although helpful, didn’t lead to any changes in our relationship. He continued to believe that we did not need therapy, only to find common interests and that we also needed to get over the huge and difficult hump of raising two teenagers. He maintains this same opinion to this day. My relationship with my husband is a little unusual in that we have know one another since I was 16 and he was 22. Although we lived in different countries and had very seperate lives he has been a part of my life for almost 30 years. That is an incredible amount of time and not easy to kiss good-bye. Well within a few weeks my L and I were back together again, a slightly more guarded version than previously, but this soon gave way once again to more deeply seeded feelings. Really I don’t think they ever went away. I believe my L is better at compartmentalizing and maybe even rationalizing his feelings than I and this serves him well when the guilt gets to be too much for him. He can fall back on his beliefs that I am “not the one” but for me I just find this painful. Even though I know it isn’t realistic to believe we could have a true future together. You also need to know that my L and I differ in educational level, outside interests, and even status within the US. He is not in a position to do whatever he likes here in the US, while I am afforded all of the comforts of a US citizen. My husband has a green card and makes significantly more than my L. My L isn’t really in a position to care for me in the manner in which I have always been accustomed, but in the long run this hasn’t made any difference to me. I remember thinking…it would be safe to have an affair with this man. Well that wasn’t true. The heart knows no boundries. We have a very strong physical attraction but he can not offer me anything that I am accustomed to. We are educationally, socially and intellictually very different. Can I tell you, none of this really matters to me. Isn’t that interesting?

      I guess that is a very round-about way of saying yes, my husband is well aware of my feelings and disappointment in/with our marriage, but we differ somewhat in how we believe it should/could be remedied. I wouldn’t know a life without my husband because he has been a part of mine for so long. This may or may not answer your other question.

      Today has been difficult. It seems like we’re playing those games we did two years ago (my L and I). This sucks! I feel whiny, ashamed, embarassed by my questions and neediness and tonight in dance class I felt panic wallow up inside my chest. I feel alone, desperate, rediculous because well don’t I deserve this? I brought it all on myself! I really need help.

    • Lisa

      Hi Doug, Thank you for your response. I understood your posting until you got to the point where you stated “Basically it sounds as though your husband is having a classic case of “having his cake, and eating it too.” ” From this point on it confuses me. It is me, the wife, who is involved with someone else not my husband. Although my L definitely is ‘having his cake and eating it too’ because he engages with me, says he loves me, but doesn’t want a more permanent committment. Where in your blog have you documented your work on coming back together? What heading should I look for to better understand your situation? How many years were you involved with Tanya? Did you and your spouse seek counseling? What about when a spouse refuses counseling? If the couple had gotten themselves into such a mess, one that led to the affair in the first place, how will they be able to remedy their marriage all alone? Did you ever get a panicky feeling when you were drawing close to the time when you felt the affair might end? How do you handle the panic and how do you stop the tears?

      • admin

        Sorry Lisa, I was responding to Elaine and forgot to put her name on the comment. There are many posts that document how we have got back together, and we are adding more all the time. Here are a couple: That Loving Feeling & How it All Started that might help you out. There are many posts here that address some of your questions, so you should do a search perhaps.

        Linda did persuade me to go to a counseling session. I felt it was OK, but what the counselor recommended seemed like common sense to me. And at the time, I was in no mood to go to counseling. I guess you can say that eventually we self-counseled our way through things. It wasn’t easy, and in some situations I wouldn’t recommend it. We were fortunate in that Linda turned herself into a self-made marriage counselor and guided us through.

        If you can’t get your husband to go to counseling I suggest that you try doing some research on the subject. One reference that addresses that is available on our site and it’s “Save the Marriage” by Lee Baucom.

        I think the only time I got a panicky feeling was when I thought my MARRIAGE might end. There’s no doubt that your feelings for this man are real and it will be difficult to end things with him, but I think you realize that you must. And in your previous comment the one thing that struck me was your husband’s apparent lack of interest in changing and/or working on your relationship. In my opinion, you need to stress to him how you are feeling and that you feel you must work together to save your marriage.

    • Darla

      I guess since I’ve been out of the “dating” game so long, I didn’t realize what I was committing was an emotional affair. At the time I didn’t see anything wrong for connecting with an old friend on Facebook but because I kept it from my husband, I can see why it would be considered just that. I had only communicated with this guy for 10 days. I wasn’t looking for anything from this “connection”, only curious as to what he had been up to for the last 40 years. I am so sorry it has basically destroyed my marriage. I still love my husband but he’s at the point that he can’t stand being in my presence. HELP!!!!

    • michael

      Darla.. That’s how it started with my wife and ex-boyfriend of hers from 18 years ago. He was again unhappy in his now Third marriage and found my wife on facebook. I’m sure she felt the same way, that she wasn’t cheating on me, he is in another state. It went on for about a month, hours of phone conversations, over a thousand text messages, and than came the flirting. I’m sure he helped convince her how terrible a husband I was, and helped her see how unhappy she was. They would talk and text while she was at work and while he was home before working a late shift. Her continued resentment of me grew as she became more distant. And I, in return, became just as distant. She even added him on our cell service as one of her friends. I think she found out how much or bill was and knew she was going to get caught.
      So one night she went out drinking with friends. When she came home, completely drunk, she told me. After that it was a constant struggle with getting over him for her and a lot of work healing on my part. We are now approaching our 3rd month since I found out and 4th month since it started for her.
      For me everyday is still a struggle. It gets as whole lot better. But than a lie or an attempt to hide something from me pops up and I’m back to having no trust again for her. I do think and hope its over and everything that I check, when I feel a lack of trust, seems to confirm that. But I don’t think she is ready to really work on what got us here. But I have patience. And I hope she has patience for me. Hope this helps you see the other side of what is going on for your husband.

    • Carla

      To Lisa…
      “We have a very strong physical attraction but he cannot offer me anything that I am accustomed to. We are educationally, socially and intellictually very different. Can I tell you, none of this really matters to me. Isn’t that interesting? ”

      Lisa – yes, but it WOULD matter if you lived with/married your lover! This man may have added an extra dimension to your life, but he is not your WHOLE life and you and he are not dealing with the trials and tribulations of day to day living. It is a well known fact that we are more likely to succumb to an affair when we are lonely or bored. This seems to have been the trigger to your affair. If you are to break free from this relationship you perhaps needs to re-evaluate your life. I know my comments are negative but believe me you are only investing in more heart-break the longer you maintain this affair.


    • Michael

      Darla… I had one question for you. In the beginning why did you keep this info from your husband?
      I’m only trying to better understand what my wife might have been thinking when she started to talk to him. Like you they had years that they didn’t talk. I’m not sure how involved you were with the guy you spoke with, but my wife dated him and they were broken up by his parents. So their time together didn’t get a chance to end on its own. I had started to get on Facebook just before she told me. And she did I had an old friend, which I had history with, get a hold of me on FB. But I would hope to think that I would have told her about my friend. Up until the day she told me, I thought our life was not that bad. I had learned to have less and less expectations for the fulfillment of my needs. I just thought that’s the way married people were. And I knew that there are just things that I won’t get from her. But in settling without, I believe I started to do less for her.

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