I’m a woman, 38, whose same-sex partner seems to be spending a lot more time with her female co-worker, though she swears the other woman is straight and nothing’s going on.
But I feel they’re having an emotional affair and it hurts me just as much.
I overheard my partner refer to something about her past (a rape by a relative) that she’d once said she could only confide to me.
I felt that’s part of what’s special between us… not just the physical affection, but also the trust and intimacy of sharing secrets.
She keeps insisting that since nothing’s “happening” then I’m overreacting, and she’s acting angry with me when I’m the one who feels betrayed.
Excluded and Hurt
Her anger’s the clue that she knows she’s over-involved with this person, emotionally. And that’s a distancing fact, no matter what isn’t “happening” sexually.
Sharing her deepest secret was also a bonding move. Even if that woman had also been raped, it’s more common that your partner would’ve told you about the conversation they shared, rather than you just overhearing some of it.
If she keeps up the angry pose, it’s a tactic to block you probing further. Tell her you’re not buying that pose. Either she recognizes that she’s hurting you, or you have to re-think your options.
And mean it.
Commentary - If I didn't snoop, I would never have found out the truth. I asked my ex-husband several times during our marriage whether he was cheating on me with co-workers and he always replied no.
He was lying. I needed to know the truth.
And once I did, I divorced him. We were married 25 years.
Ellie – Understood. In hindsight, you feel snooping was your only option.
I hear this from many spouses who’ve stayed with cheating partners for years, and then finally found the evidence.
I get it that some don’t want to rock their seemingly comfortable family situation, or they naively think he or she will change.
But I believe that if they’d had the confidence in their own intuition, and in their own value that they not be taken for fools or have their hearts broken, or be at risk of sexual diseases, they would’ve insisted that the lying end and marital counselling start, or the marriage is over.
That statement, delivered with firm conviction, and bolstered by spelling out what a spouse’s legal rights and financial entitlements are upon divorce, has actually made some spouses reform their ways.
Or it ended the sham of a marriage and the suffering of the betrayed spouse.
In your own case, you suspected this at least several times during your marriage but didn’t take action until you were angry enough to snoop.
Unless the circumstances in some cases are very different, I expect I’ll continue to advise people to follow their gut instinct, and confront a cheater. It can either improve the marriage, or give the spouse a chance to improve his or her life and sense of self-worth, by moving on.
FEEDBACK Regarding the Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law rift (June 25):
Reader – “I suspect that the mother may’ve made some remark about the "unexpected pregnancy" at the shower or the wedding ceremony.
“There was no need for her to mention it in her letter to you unless she has some problem with it.”
Ellie – Good observation! She worded it curiously, “My son married earlier than planned due to an unexpected pregnancy. The quickly scaled-down wedding…” etc., as if it were the bride’s fault.
Reader #2 – “The problem isn’t with the daughter-in-law but the father-in-law. If he had any empathy for his wife, he’d visit his son and daughter-in-law only with her, not on his own.
“I have a daughter-in-law who lies to my son about us, and about many things and instances. She tells him what to ask us for, such as, to transfer our house to my son, put his name on our credit cards, and give money for things they want.
“My husband and I act as one. We decide when we’ll visit them in the U.S. However she talks to us, we respond in kind – she’s extremely pleasant when she wants something.
“For our three grandchildren, we pay for their extra activities which is done only through my son.
“My husband would never hurt me, as this husband does to his wife, by visiting their grandchild without her.”
Tip of the day:
When a partner seeks emotional comfort elsewhere, ask why, and re-think your relationship.