I’ve been living with my girlfriend of 13 years since getting engaged a few years ago. When we moved together, I learned that she’d been cheating on me. She finally admitted it and we stayed together, but didn’t address ways to improve our relationship.
We slept apart, she tried to regain my love, but I was cold and internalized everything. Finally, we attended counselling (she’s changed for the better in many ways, yet I feel I haven't). I couldn't forgive her and our relationship hasn't been the same since.
Meanwhile, I’d developed a strong connection and deep feelings for another woman who I can’t shake from my mind or my life.
It’s an emotional affair; we haven’t crossed any lines. But it’s developed into more than a reaction to infidelity. I revealed this emotional affair to my fiancée a year ago and she decided to stay with me, work on the relationship, and trusted me to end this affair.
Recently, I asked my fiancée for time apart. I decided it was in my best interest to end the relationship but she begged me to stay and I agreed to try, with a positive attitude. We went on vacation; I tried to enjoy get-togethers with friends and family. Things are going well but the negative thoughts are overpowering.
I’m afraid that the only reasons I’m still here are the longevity of the relationship, and the fear of going through the process of separating and being single again for the first time in half my life.
Also, while I told my fiancée that the emotional affair had ended, it continues and I hate myself for it, but can't shake it off.
I constantly find the other woman on an emotional level and wonder: What could a relationship be like with her? Will I regret not trying something with her? Is she even interested in me romantically or just sees me as a dependable friend? Should I reveal my feelings to her?
My fiancée has all the qualities I can dream of in a woman and I should be honoured that this amazing woman loves me the way she does. But a chemistry has been lost, I’ve checked out, and can't get past the betrayal.
I can't respect her the way I once did. I can't even respect myself anymore. Any suggestion?
My Mind Is Spinning
Sometimes, marital counselling is accepted but not internalized, and becomes a band-aid solution that doesn’t heal the ache inside.
You’re walking around wounded, looking to one of these two relationships to end your pain, but not looking inside yourself.
Your fiancée cheated, that’s her bad, not yours, though a 10-year relationship without a clear future, before finally getting engaged, may’ve contributed to that act on her part.
Meanwhile, you’re still suffering from it. That’s why I strongly suggest that you get individual therapy to probe why.
This other woman looms like an escape route, yet you’re unsure she even wants a romantic relationship with you.
The reality is that these are not the only two women in the world whom you must choose between.
Choose yourself, for now. You may need to take another break to do this, or perhaps can handle it with your fiancée’s support. But it’s professional guidance that will help you probe why you’re stuck between the life with your fiancée, the daydreaming about another woman, and the haunted sense of having lost part of yourself.
FEEDBACK Regarding the couple fighting over whether the bride will take the groom’s last name (Dec. 29):
Reader #1 – “If he’s so keen to share a last name, why doesn’t he take hers? Or, since she doesn’t want his surname, and he refuses to consider hyphenation, why don’t they merge parts of their two last names?
“Even as someone who happily took her husband’s surname, I’ve thought this the best solution in these more enlightened times. They could create a shared surname that reflects who they both are (e.g. Resisty-Controlling?)”
Reader #2 – “I’d do anything to have kicked myself every time a red flag like this name issue popped up with the man I’m now divorcing a decade later.
“Control issues start small and escalate quickly. Giving in early on things I didn’t always feel okay about, set up an expectation that I’d always concede. Later, when I didn’t, I was called “stubborn,” “cold,” and “a crazy feminist.”
Tip of the day:
Can a marriage thrive after one partner cheated? It requires mutual effort including self-reflection on both parts. Therapy helps.