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An Accidental Online Affair

 

Sarah,

I’ve been married for 22 years. The relationship has been up and down. I don’t really love him and haven’t for a number of years. But, I care for him and he says he loves me still.

The problem is we don’t have much in common. Our personalities are polar opposites, our opinions on current issues vary widely, and we fight over most things. The first few years of our marriage he was physically abusive to me. That ended when I threatened to have him arrested and put in jail. He didn’t stop because he loved me, he just didn’t want to go to jail. I’ve always known that.

By then we had a child and I had given up my career. I had no income to support myself and a lack of references to get a job. Our son is autistic and he could never function in public school. Our town had nothing to offer him in way of help. So I was it. I devoted myself to our son.

And then I did what I could to bring in some money by taking in disabled foster children. (My husband has never kept a job for very long and spent long stretches unemployed.)

I asked for a divorce 4 years ago, but we decided to keep things together until our adopted daughter finished high school which will happen in June. So here I sit.

I’ve never strayed from our marriage, never had an affair, never wanted to have an affair, never wanted to look for anyone else.

When I connected with someone on Twitter in July I had no intentions of forming a relationship. But 3 months later and hundreds and hundreds of emails later, I found myself “in love” with another writer. We share nearly everything in our lives as a common interest, we agree on most issues that arise, we’re both artistic. But he’s 15 years younger than me and I’m still married.

So when he showed up at my hotel in another state without me telling him what hotel I was in, I freaked out. I refused to talk to him, walked out of the room. He screamed, got ticked off. For a while we both pretended it hadn’t happened. But I couldn’t let it go and finally said something about it.

He immediately tried to deny it ever happened and has multiple times since then.

I honestly don’t think he intended to harm me. We were in a public place, after all. I think he might have been trying to surprise me because I’d said I wanted to go to this state and go star gazing, which is a passion we both share. But I had gone to say goodbye to someone who was dying. I was emotionally a mess and couldn’t handle his “surprise”.

Ever since I mentioned this episode, he’s shut down, tried to pretend nothing happened. But I know I upset him. I know I hurt him without meaning to.

Our initial conversations included him telling me that he was planning on working for another two years to be ready to move to the farm he has (another passion we share), so in my mind I was thinking two years. In two years I’ll be divorced, I’ll be resettled, I’ll be able to move onward, and I’d really like to move onward with him. Two years, he kept telling me. So I was holding back, not moving too fast, despite his surge otherwise.

But in trying to get him to talk about what happened, he just shut down further.

Last week I decided I just needed to be at peace with myself and told him I cared but could only be friends for now. (Although I really do still love him.) He said we should part ways. I told him that wasn’t what I wanted, but I wished him peace because I really do love him and want him to be at peace, as much as it hurts to let go.

Then, I got this anonymous love poem sent to me. I have a hard time not believing it was from him. It fit with everything we’ve talked about so perfectly And he’s started liking my posts on Facebook after 6 weeks of not acknowledging I even existed.

Now I have no idea what to do. I’m not going to contact him right now since he asked to part ways. But why would he make contact with me? Is this some game he’s trying to play?

Like I said, I never expected this to happen to me. I wasn’t looking for another mate, but now I see all the possibilities that are out there. And I’m hopelessly in love with this guy despite our age difference or places in life.

 

Hi.

Do you really see all the possibilities that are out there? Because, from where I’m standing, you only see one.

I know you’re attracted to him, and it’s exciting when you find someone who shares so many of your same beliefs, but, I must ask: Does he have similar characteristics to your husband? Are you attracting the same type of individual? (I’m just asking!)

If he did, in fact, “surprise you” in another state, what might that say about him? Possessiveness? Control? You’ve had no more than an online relationship, and your only in-person encounter with him ended badly. An encounter he’s denying ever even occurred? Something is very, very strange about that whole story.

If you’re the same person you were 22 years ago, and you’ve never had a moment to live only for yourself, how will you truly know who’s right for you?

Give yourself a break. Figure out what’s best for you.

With ONLY you in mind, and not another soul in the picture, ask yourself:

What do I want?

What do I need?

What will truly make me happy?

What kind of people truly make me happy and bring out my best qualities?

Leaving a life you’ve come to know so well, happy or sad, takes courage. This guy has pulled you out of your discontent and distracted you. Are you sure you’re not hopelessly in love with the idea of him? With knowing that there are other people out there who can make you feel this way? People who make you feel alive?

Whether you meant to or not, you allowed someone to come into your life, so you’re obviously searching for something. I think you’re searching for a purpose. Something that will give you life when the one you currently have is behind you.

Having someone in your life does make it easier to move forward, but don’t let the feeling of comfort fool you. Don’t let comfort make the choices for you. Make your own healthy choices and be honest with what you really want.

Technically, you’re separated from your husband, right? Why don’t you use this time to work on you? Take some time to rediscover your desires and happiness.

When this happens, your revelations will guide you in the right direction and give you the confidence to choose who truly deserves to be a part of your life.

Yes, you want to be loved, but you need to be loved the right way. And, you need to figure out what is right for you.

To answer your question “Is this some game he’s trying to play?” is difficult because this is such a one-sided situation. More so than I’m used to answering.

But…

Really…

It’s not about this guy. It’s not about your husband. It’s about the decisions you need to make to change your world. Your choices in men will always stem from how you see yourself, and you won’t know if you’re choosing the right person until you feel everything is okay with you.

Focus on creating healthy, loving relationships.

Focus on you, first.

Then, you’ll discover the answer.

3 comments

  1. Great advice, Sarah. I’ve been married and divorced more than once, and I will tell you that for a long time I felt compelled to have another person in my life. It felt unnatural to be alone. When I figured out why I did this, I saw that I learned from my family that to be alone was failure. If you’re in a relationship, even if it’s a bad one (or more than one), then you’re okay somehow. I eventually learned that I needed to know who I was, what I wanted out of this life, my purpose–not everyone else’s purpose, and I had to learn to love myself. Once I did those things, I knew how to love another in a healthy way. Thanks for sharing.

    1. The support, or lack of support from family can really play a big part in the decisions you make, so it’s wonderful that you pushed through their expectations and managed to make those realizations for yourself. Thank you for sharing some of your story!

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