Q: I’ve broken off with the married man with whom I’m in love, though he’s also in love with me.
I know that he’ll never leave his wife and their three children, and I respect and love him more because of his loyalty and responsibility to them.
We didn’t intend to have an “affair,” but working closely on a project caused us both to see and admire qualities in each other that drew us close.
His wife of 15 years is a good person (I knew her years ago but we were never close friends). She hasn’t changed or grown intellectually in the same way that her husband has.
She’s a good mom and a devoted wife, and his feelings for her are mostly gratitude and him caring about her and protecting her. He’s told me that he doesn’t love her.
We tried to talk our way out of an affair but ended up finding a time and place to be together sexually a few times.
It was so perfect, that I knew I couldn’t do it anymore because it would break my heart every time he’d leave.
So, now I’m alone. I ended all contact with him, explaining my reasons. He’s in pain, too, but offers me no other choice than to keep meeting secretly.
I’m 37, single after a couple of serious relationships of a few years each. Did I do the right thing for me?
- Alone Again
A: Yes. He was clear that there’s no immediate future for you two.
Sure, maybe in five or ten years they’ll split up. It may even be his wife who calls it quits, tired of the underlying distance of his just “caring about her.”
But you’d be foolish to count on that still-remote possibility.
Also, if you kept up the affair longer, the sex would draw you, but the secrecy and his no-future dictate would eventually make you resent him.
You’ve given yourself a new guiding purpose: Look after yourself emotionally, walk away from heartache, respect the “good person” who’d be the betrayed wife, or any future woman who trusts that her partner’s faithful.
Rely on your close friends and family so that you’re not “alone” in support. And date only unattached men.
Q: My friend of 15 years is often inappropriate in his behaviour which causes discomfort and embarrassment for me to be with him.
At a dinner where I’ve invited other friends, he’ll talk with his hands moving wider apart to make his points, and dominate the conversation.
Recently, at a funeral, he asked close friends of the deceased, what the relatives and the widowed spouse were likely to inherit.
He’s consumed with money, talks about being “poor” yet lives in a very nice home and travels widely on vacations.
He’s been a loyal friend to me personally, and would be horrified and hurt if I said these things to his face, even though they’re true.
How do I handle this without ending the friendship completely?
- Awkward Friendship
A: Appreciate his loyalty, see him on his own to catch up, but not at get-togethers where he’s bound to embarrass you.
If you do consider whether you should ever tell him about your observations and feelings, think it over carefully.
If your purpose is to change him, forget it. This is a major part of his personality.
If it’s to say why you don’t want to attend social events with him, you’ll offend him and lose him completely.
Ellie’s tip of the day: A secret affair with a married partner insisting on no future together, usually ends in resentments.