In this deeply personal exploration of recovering from an emotional affair in marriage, Linda shares her journey through pain, betrayal, and the gradual process of healing and understanding.

emotional affair

By Linda

While writing this post my emotions took over and I began to feel the pain of all of this again.  I ran up to my little hiding place and had a melt down.  It is amazing how all the negative feelings can be released with a good cry.

Of course Doug was confused and upset with my crying.  I know it was difficult for him to see me like that when all of this happened over a year ago.  I believe that when things are so hurtful we keep it locked up in a little box and try not to think about them, until something triggers us to remember and we relive the pain like it happened yesterday.


To continue my story from yesterday

After Doug told me he had feelings for me again and began to recommit to our marriage, I was the one that became ambivalent.  I never really let Doug know this but I was very afraid that I would never forgive and forget everything that happened after I found out about his emotional affair. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to love him like I should because I couldn’t get over the pain. 

It would keep me up at night thinking I deserved better.  How could he have done this to me? Why was I still with someone who had such trouble loving me? 

Doug would say that it seemed like I would bring up the affair just to sabotage our relationship.  He was probably right because I wasn’t sure how I felt.

Confronting Inner Conflicts and Misunderstandings

I was afraid that if I told Doug how I felt he would have believed that it was all about winning.  He had mentioned early on that the only reason I was working so hard on our marriage now was because he had found someone else. Like I won a contest or something.

I am sure that idea was generated by Tanya, because as Doug knows I am not competitive or jealous, and regardless of how this situation ended, I was the loser. It was not at all about feeling like I had won him from her, or a ploy to boost my self esteem.   I married and committed to Doug because I loved him and my feelings had nothing to do with her.

It was clear that I had to do something to figure this all out and find a way to forgive and forget. 

I began reading a lot to help me understand Doug’s feelings at the time.  I know that his feelings were very real to him.  He also felt terrible that he couldn’t love me and that he would have done anything to make it better.  He just couldn’t pull himself away from the affair. 

So, I compiled a list of ideas that I gleaned from some of my best resources…

I believe Doug’s fascination with Tanya began well before his emotional affair.  I sensed that he may have been attracted to her for some time.  In “Emotional Infidelity:  How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship,” author M.Gary Neuman states that we are attracted to other people on a daily basis.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t love our spouses or are in a terrible marriage.  It just means we are alive.  However, what we do with those feelings is what we need to be careful about.

I believe that Doug thought if he had feelings for another woman then there must be something wrong with our marriage and how he felt about me.  Then after the affair began, he needed to convince himself that he didn’t love me.  Why else would he be having an affair?

Reconstructing Reality: The Affair’s Justification

Together Doug and Tanya recreated the story of their marriages, which was not consistent with reality.  This story acted as a justification for having an affair. Over time, Doug believed this new story and found every fault possible in me in order to confirm his beliefs. He also had Tanya there to discuss his feelings of love.  Obviously she understood everything he was saying because she felt the same way he did.  It is amazing how unique and perfect their love was for each other.

The Intoxication of Affair Love

In Don-David Lusterman’s book,  “Infidelity: A Survival Guide,” he talks extensively about how affair love is the most potent kind of infatuation.  Consisting of a chemical high similar to cocaine, addictive qualities and blind love.  Looking back on Doug’s behavior during his emotional affair, I can confirm that he was not himself.

While writing my previous post and thinking about how Doug treated me during that time, I couldn’t believe it was the same man I married and the man that I see today.  I guess the best way to describe him was selfish, removed from reality and on a high. 

I know that he wasn’t thinking clearly at the time and therefore was confused with his feelings for me.  He was comparing his experience with Tanya to his married relationship with me.  As we know, there is no comparison when you want to be seventeen again and escape your mundane boring life.  Infatuation is the apparent better choice.

Dr. Huizenga’s words helped me tremendously when he said…

“Overcoming infidelity means coming to this awareness and strong belief that you are not at fault, defective, or to blame for his actions.  Accept the fact that you made some mistakes, but who in a relationship of investment doesn’t.  Mistakes in a marriage are often fertile grounds for learning and growing.  Come to the realization that the decision to enter the affair was his personal decision.”

I’ve often wondered if I was making excuses for Doug’s lack of love. Yet, I truly believe he loved me during those eight months of his affair.

I don’t think I was being stubborn or foolish. It was a deep feeling in my heart that I held onto. I was convinced there was a reason he couldn’t love me. It had to be more than just falling out of love with me and into love with someone else.

As I continue to navigate the difficult waters of recovering from an emotional affair in marriage, I find strength in sharing my story. It is a testament to the resilience needed to rebuild trust and foster forgiveness, not just for the sake of my marriage, but for my own peace of mind.



    13 replies to "The Emotional Affair Made Me Feel Worthless – Part 2"

    • Broken

      Linda… I want to understand what you did to overcome the pain of him telling you he didn’t love you… so is it that you believe he didn’t mean it? My H never told me that he wasn’t in love with me anymore, but he didn’t say I love you either during his EA. I want to believe that he did love me during the EA, and I want to believe that he still loves me and is not just staying here for the kids, house and financing. How do you know that Doug is really with you for all the right reasons and that he didn’t mean all the things he said before, any advice would be helpful, thanks.

      • Linda

        Broken, at first I wasn’t certain why he stayed, I believe initially is was for the kids, finances, etc. and that is very hard to live with. I think as time went on he began to see everything for what it really was. I feel he has learned so much about his affair, marriage and himself through research for our site and has admitted it was a selfish, stupid thing for him to do. Did his revelation make the pain go away and dissolved my insecurities? No not really. There are days when I question why he is still here, wonder if he misses her and if his life would have been happier with her. Then I have to stop myself and look at where we are, we enjoy each other’s company, enjoy the same hobbies, food, music,etc. we are communicating, appreciating each other and living a real life not an illusion.

        I know deep in my heart that he would never have those things with her, and believe that is the main reason why I didn’t give up. This is strange but from the very beginning I always felt that their relationship was incomplete, something was missing and even though he had difficulty seeing that it was so evident to me. I knew that we truly belonged together and I wasn’t going to let him go.

        Everyday I make an effort to see the positive signs that he is here because he loves me. A hug, wanting to sit next to me on the couch, asking me to spend time with him, a look, a joke, holding my hand, holding me all night (this list was for you Doug) and tell myself if he was only here because of the kids and house would he be making the effort to connect with me. He does because he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

        I know that it is not fair that we have to keep reminding ourselves that our husbands love us, it was something I rarely questioned before the affair. I know with time I will become more secure and will not need to reassure myself as often. I also want to advise that you take some time away from reading all the affair/marriage stuff and find some books that will help you, one book that I loved was “Happy For No Reason” by Marci Shimoff. This book helped me come to grips with my pain and gave me a different outlook on life. I borrowed it from the library, however I want to buy it so I can highlight and read it whenever I am feeling hopeless and sad.

    • Broken

      Linda… I understand where you are coming from with the thoughts you mentioned about wondering if Doug thinks about Tanya. My H works with the OW so I wonder if he thinks about her and the past relationship they had. I’m sure it is only natural for those thoughts to come up in their brains. Often times when my H and I are doing something together I wonder if he would rather be with her. Then I just try and block it out of my brain and not think about it.
      My H also tells me that if he didn’t want to be here, that he wouldn’t be and that he would have left a long time ago. He also attempts to makes things better with me, so I guess that is what I should think about when I feel down.
      I am getting a little overwhelmed with reading about marriages and affairs, I think I should research more material about self happiness and self help books. Thank you for that advice! I think I need to concentrate on me more.

      • D

        Broken, Once you’ve learned enough about affairs to understand what you’ve been through and are going to go through, the self-help books are a far more productive way to spend your time. Ultimately, the only thing we have any control over is our own emotions. We can’t make anyone love us, but we can learn to love ourselves.

        As to your H still harboring feelings for OW, he probably does but they are diminishing. This is just the process that has to take place and we have to find the warrior in us to battle the pain and discomfort if we feel the marriage is worth it. Trust the process. Every situation is different, but my wife and I are slowly making inroads to a more honest relationship – and part of that honesty is facing the reality of letting go if that’s where our journey’s take us.

        • Broken

          D… thanks I understand now that I have to concentrate on myselft, but I have a feeling I’ll vent every now and then 🙂

        • Doug

          D., that’s very good advice, and that is where Linda and I are in our process now. Though we have our occasional affair bump in the road, we are now working more at strengthening our marriage and ourselves personally than we are at surviving an affair. In fact, we were talking the other day that we will be introducing more posts that are geared towards that stage of the recovery process.

    • luna

      I have been following your website for sometime but never posted before. My story is complicated and do not feel like going into details at this point, but I was wondering one thing. As hurtful as it was to hear Doug say he didn’t think he loved you, anymore, do you think that in some way him telling you that honestly probably was needed for you guys to know where to start to rebuild your relationship, or do you think you could be where you are today even f he had kept that to himself ?

      • Linda

        luna, that is a very good question. It was definitely a wake up call when Doug told me he didn’t love me, however with an affair in the picture complicated everything. At the time I was also unsure about my feelings for him, we were under a lot of stress, stop spending alone time together and basically were two ships passing in the night. I knew that we couldn’t go on like this much longer but I kept hoping that life would settle down and things would improve.

        However by adding the affair in the picture changed everything, not only were we learning to be a couple again we also had to deal with all the hurt and betrayal from the affair. When Doug told me he didn’t love me anymore I didn’t know that he was involved in an affair, by telling me is was unhappy was enough for me to do everything I could to save our marriage. Later I keep feeling that something was keeping Doug from totally committing to our marriage, that is when I found out about the affair.

        One important lesson that I have learned from all this mess is talking honestly about your feelings and telling your partner what you need in a marriage is less painful than finding someone else who you feel can fill that void. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t feel the pain of the affair and wish that it never happened. Linda

    • Alyssa

      Hello all… I am struggling and much of this is overwhelming. I know myself to be insecure somewhat anyhow and calling my H out on the EA was huge. I felt much better. Since then we’ve had a couple of talks and he says he loves me and wants to be committed to making the relationship work and yet still at times claims he did nothing wrong… that she truly wants our marriage to work. She has left the job and I am hoping that daily proximitiy would be helpful and he told me they’ve discussed lessening their friendship and yet I checked the cell bill and tons of texting even the last 2 days. I don’t know whether to do what Linda says and just focus on me and what I will do if this ends or continue to call him out on his behavior. I cannot fathom what you can text about for 30-40 mins at a time and when she is at the lake with her family. They’re in denial – still.

      • Hannah

        You need to give him an Ultimatum, there can be no healing in that relationship as long as he is still contacting her. And he doesn’t want it to heal if he refuses to stop. When my boyfriend had his EA I made him call her and tell her to stop contacting him in front of me. I wanted to make sure he made it clear that they could no longer contact each other in any way. It took him about a week but he finally did it, when I checked his email and saw that she had emailed him.

        If he really cares about your relationship he will stop talking to the other woman.

    • Jackie

      Glad to have found this site. It has been a year and a half since my H revealed his EA. His co worker rejected his advances to have an affair early on, which made H become deeply depressed. A month or two after the rejection, a few therapy sessions, and medication for depression, he continued to say he didn’t love me, and justified his affair by rewriting our history…blaming mainly the marriage and me. This continued for a year. At the same time he mentioned that the EA was a “Fantasy”. (So many mixed messages!) Wouldn’t stop seeing her.

      He is now with a 3rd therapist for 3 months (longest with any one therapist), on his 4th medication for depression, but finally seems to be acting more like his old self. From reading “Codependent No More”, I understand more about his denial, his addictive behavior to this woman, and getting a high off the relationship which was going nowhere but he was unwilling (or unable) to stop. He basically abandoned his marriage and family for the “Fantasy”.

      Today I struggle with triggers, some fear of talking about the EA, because every time I did in the past, all I got was verbal personal attacks and outbursts. I seem to be on a waiting mode presently. Angry about what had happened and wanting to talk about it, waiting for his depressing meds to stabilize, wondering if and when he will be willing to work on repairing our relationship. I am continuing with improving my life and working on repairing me, in spite of the background feelings above.

      For the last 4 months, I found that not discussing the affair and the other woman worked best . It seemed to give H a chance to look at himself and figure out what he wanted. Pressure from me to “fix the Marriage” seemed to just make him defensive and focus his attention on what was wrong with us and our marriage.

      He is acting more attentive and caring these days. More like his old loving self. He still works with the other woman, who early on, she pointed out to my H , “Affairs are wrong! Go back to your wife and family!”, so I don’t believe she is the problem. Wish more people would recognize how wrong affairs are and stop it in it’s path. I was lucky the affair didn’t go further as my H wanted.

      I hope H continues to get over this EA, but am cautious, and realize we have a long way to go to repair our damaged relationship. He also has to take care of his problem with depression which sometimes seem to be related to affairs.

      Just thought this would give people insight into one spouse engaging in an affair. The affair seemed to take on a drug like addiction. A sort of “High on Affair Fantasy “. H didn’t even need a participating affair partner to wreck havoc on the marriage. (He still was protective of the affair person, and thought she was perfection. She became the beautiful person, and me the witch. I just was in the way of his good feelings he felt being around her. ) It seems affairs are a fantasy created it in one’s mind. Kind of scary really. When the affair partner reciprocates, it gets even more complicated and more focus is placed on the other person, when the real problems lies within the spouse.

      I think the focus for us victims of affairs should be on ourselves. Our spouse in the affair clearly has issues that they must come to terms with, in their own time, by themselves. It is so hard to watch someone you love seem determined to self destruct right before your eyes and bring the whole family unit along for the ride. It is even harder that many things I naturally would do to stop it, seemed to make it worst. I find it easier to think of the affair as a kind of addiction. Only there is no drug inhaled, or taken orally…instead it is all created internally in the head.

      • Linda

        Jackie, thank you for your comment, I agree with everything you said. I think the hardest part for someone who just started this journey is to take the fantasy away from the affair and deal with the real situation. I agree that letting it go and focusing on yourself is the best thing you can do. I found the more I questioned and talked the more I pushed Doug away. When I stopped controlling Doug’s thoughts and actions was the time that I finally felt free from affair. Linda

    • AnnaB

      Linda, my H accused me of doing something similar: pushing him way. I think that when I kept talking about the OW and telling him they deserve each other, I was probably testing him to see if he would stay no matter what. In fact I convinced myself that I didn’t need him – if we didn’t have children I wouldn’t need him!!! I used to feel very inadequate that my H looked elsewhere, but lately I’m not taking it personally, and it’s not a conscious decision, miraculously I just feel that way. If he wanted more excitement that was his problem. I can be exciting and fun, but we have two children so they come first. I’m proud to say that I’ve always put them first, but not in a heavy way. The OW didn’t do that, which makes me feel better about myself. I’ve told him this, and lots more truths about her, and he’s realising who is the dignified, loveable one. She’s just a slut who’s out for a good time. Since all of this blew up I think he’s realised I’m feisty and good company, but with morals. I think that’s sexier than someone who doesn’t give a damn about her ‘nearest and dearest!’

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