My husband had a girlfriend in University almost 30 years ago. To my knowledge, they haven’t been in contact with each other since then. She now lives in another part of the country. I’ve never met her.
I discovered recently that they’ve been in contact for the past two years, sending each other texts that became increasingly suggestive.
She’s asked all kinds of questions about what he’s doing with his time, but never asks about me. She’s even suggested that they meet.
My husband always replied, even to messages that were provocative.
I decided to admit to my snooping and ask my husband what this was all about. He said he’d intended to tell me but hadn’t got around to it.
I have difficulty believing him, even though he said he’d never cheat on me. But isn’t having an emotional affair already cheating?!
I expect they’re still friends on social media, though he’s blocked me.
Should I become friends with her just to see what’s really going on? A friend said “No, because she’ll then be in your life forever.”
Talking to my husband about this makes him very angry. But that leaves an uncomfortable silence.
We’ve been married 25-plus years and have had a wonderful life together, until now. His same-age girlfriend has also been married for many years.
I strongly need to talk about this. My husband would refuse to see a marriage counsellor so I met with one on my own. I was told that after so many years they likely have little in common and that in time their communication will end.
Why am I having such difficulty putting this behind me?
It’s the secrecy. After so many years together, had he told you that a past girlfriend had contacted him on social media, you likely would’ve said something like, “Tell me about her.” From there, you could’ve noted that she sounded flirtatious and asked how he was handling that.
That’s the kind of conversation that couples who are open with each other, have. It’s about keeping the trust. Instead, he’s shut you out of this private relationship without explaining why.
That’s why it’s so hard for you to let go. I doubt he’d have reacted any differently than you, had the situation involved you privately texting with a man from your past.
You’re not alone in this situation. Ever since the prevalence in our lives of the internet and online searches, people have reached out to past friends and lovers... often just to see where it goes.
The pandemic has accelerated those searches, as so many people who are isolated, lonely, and bored during lockdowns, go trolling online for amusement and/or adventure.
I believe this past girlfriend was doing just that. One clue as to why your husband took the bait, is that their former relationship may’ve been ended by her and he was hurt at the time. In that case, it’s not so much emotional cheating as resolving an old emotional pain.
I suggest you calmly tell your husband that he’s broken a trust with you by not telling you from her first outreach, and not reassuring you that it had no impact on the marriage that he shares with you.
Tell him that you haven’t changed, but he has and it’s both hurtful and divisive. If he continues to be secretive about this woman, say that he’s risking all the good that you two have built together in the past.
Reader’s Commentary More regarding the man considering buying a half-share of his girlfriend’s unconstructed condo (May 7):
“After waiting five years until built, and getting minimal interest on deposit, down payment, etc., she walks in at the starter price of $100,000 and now it’s worth $200,000. And he wants to share ownership at the base price? Really?
“I suggest he become her tenant, with or without a lease, month to month agreement, anything that doesn’t mean equivalent to married/common-law. They pay groceries, phone, hydro, and their agreed-upon rent, increased at regular intervals. (The owner pays taxes).
“Before they met five years ago, maybe she had a live-in or marriage, but she could make a down payment and carrying costs herself, qualify on the one income, never loaned, always on her own.
“Or maybe they’ll buy something together but keep the proceeds of her investment for herself. And use only their newly earned money. “
Tip of the day:
When a long-time spouse has a secretive flirtatious relationship with a past lover, the marriage suffers lost trust.