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April 6

The end of the affair

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:38 am

Getting over it on October 5, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

Here’s a tough one. I can’t believe I’m writing, but I’m looking for some sort of outlet here, for a problem that no one seems to want to acknowledge or address: how to get over the end of an affair so I can move on with my life.

You see, I’ve been in a virtually sexless marriage for almost 7 years. We got married very young (23/22), and even though we were sexually active, and enjoyably so, before we got married, my attraction to him started to wane before we got married. Trying to be mature and patient, I attributed this to the new responsibilities we faced as adults and believed that we would get back on track once we were living together and got our lives moving. Unfortunately, we never ending up addressing the problem, and basically avoided sex and never really developed a sexual relationship in our marriage. In the meantime, we continued to build a good marriage in many other ways, and have been loving, compatible companions.

Anyway, here’s the real crisis (or the additional one): several months ago I had a very brief affair. I had felt so lost for so many years, had doubted my basically ability to feel desire, and once I did, and had the opportunity, I took it. I never thought I was the kind of person who would be unfaithful in a relationship, but now I’ve learned that it’s not really a “kind of person” kind of thing. The other guy was going through a divorce, and we had been friends at work for several years, and suddenly things started happening, and we both let it happen, fully conscious (I do take full responsibility and won’t fall back on the “it just happened” excuse). Anyway, he ended things, saying it was too hard for him that I wasn’t fully available to him, and that he knew I needed to work things through with my husband and find out where all that was going, and he wanted us to continue our friendship and put up some boundaries between us. I agreed in theory, but felt so lost and confused and rejected in a way, knowing all the while it didn’t make any sense, but feeling hurt all the same. Well, I couldn’t handle any of it — the deception, the doubts I was feeling about my attraction to my husband, the confusion, and when my husband asked me, I told him the truth. He was devastated, shocked beyond belief, and actually became violent and smashed things in our apartment and went to my office to dig around and find out who the guy was, and went to his house and punched him. He is not usually a violent person, though he has always been very jealous, but I must say that this was out of character for him (and me, as well, or so I thought).

(As I write this, I can’t believe this is my life.) Anyway, my husband has calmed down, and wants to work things out, and we have started marriage counseling and are both in individual therapy as well, trying to come to terms with how we didn’t deal with such big issues in our marriage and how we can figure out what is best for us now.

Here’s the additional problem — I can’t seem to get over the other guy. He had said that it was very important to maintain a friendship, and that he would be there for me if I needed to talk things through, and we did talk a few times after everything happened. But suddenly, he decided to write me to ask him not to contact him anymore, without any specific explanation. I wouldn’t dream of continuing our affair — I know it would just distract me and wouldn’t be fair to any of us, most importantly my husband, but regardless of what is practical or right, I’m feeling so lost and discarded and used. In a way, I feel as if he took the moral high ground once we had finally slept together, after promising me that he would never lose respect for me and that he would help me through everything. God, don’t I sound stupid???

So, here’s my real question — how do I go about getting over the feeling of being rejected and insulted and foolish? Please understand I’m not trying to remove any of my responsibility for the situation or for the hurt I have caused myself and others. But I’m just so stuck — I always had a very hard time getting over relationships, and this was such a life-changing event for me, that I don’t know how to stop obsessing about it and move on. I really had a connection with this person, and I so desperately wish I hadn’t lost such an important friendship. God, I’m not stupid — I know it can’t “work”, but knowing that doesn’t seem to stop that feeling of hurt that goes so deeply.

Help me please. I’ve written about 5 times before this and kept deleting it before sending it. I would so greatly appreciate a response!

Thank you for being out there. I’ve recommended you to all my single friends…

— Lucinda

Dear Lucinda,

Wow, you’re smart. “‘It’s not really a ‘kind of person’ kind of thing,” etc., etc. Heady stuff. You’re off to a good start.

And we’ll let Belleruth take it from here: “You should know that it’s very normal to obsess over a relationship like this, and, even if you didn’t want this guy at all, you’d still probably feel this way. You probably think your sexy feelings and desireablity are tied to him. (They’re not, but it can sure feel that way.)

Newly divorced guys, by the way, are not to be trifled with. They’re too vulnerable. He’s smart to protect himself. So you might want to not do the ‘Oh I feel so used’ thing. It’s pointless. You’re both using each other and you’re both not really using each other. End of story.

Now. Yes. You do need to look at the underlying reasons for your celibate marriage and how you want to proceed (or not) with your husband. Also, how did you feel when he became the Incredible Hulk and started smashing things? Think about that, too, when you think about the biggies: do you want to stay with him? Do you want a sex life? Do you want both together? Those are the issues.

You should also remember that your affair, while not endorsed by BG.com, did give you a great gift: a reminder that you are sexual. This is good.

And maybe you two can eventually be friends again. But now is not the time. Better to focus on the marriage and what to do with it.”

Finally, good call on recognizing that marriage counseling is not a “kind of couple” kind of thing. Yep, smart. Good luck to you both.

Breakup Girl


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