Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Shortcuts: “My Husband Is Having an Emotional Affair”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

I have just found out that my husband of 23 years was having an emotional affair with someone he met online. I always said that if he cheated I was out the door. Well, I haven’t left yet. Does this make me a hypocrite for wanting to work it out? We go for our first counseling session this week. — Hypocrite?

 
No, it makes you human. After 23 years of marriage, it would be a little crazy to MOA — over an online emotional affair, no less — before trying to work on your relationship first.

I’ve been with my boyfriend for about 20 months now, and I love him. He’s everything a girl could want — loyal, kind — and we have great fun together. We are due to move in together in the next couple of months, but I’m worried as recently I’ve been looking at other men and having fantasies. I’m starting to worry that it means I’m wanting to be single. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never moved in with someone before and it’s a big commitment, but I’m freaking myself out. I guess also despite having a good sex life, I’ve never felt as much lust and wanting for him as I have with some other boyfriends, and maybe part of me misses that. The difference being that those other relationships didn’t last long and I can see this one going a long way. I guess I’m just confused about why I’m having these thoughts and how I can make them stop. Please help! — Having Fantasies

 
Read this. And then be proactive in spicing up your sex life and creating some of the passion you feel is missing. And hold up on moving in together if you’re feeling uncertain. What’s the rush? Slow down and wait until all the aspects of your relationship are fulfilling.

This year, on my first Sunday back to church, I ran into an old church friend. She welcomed me back and told me her friend has been asking about me. I asked her who, and, when she said the name, I almost fainted. Come to find out it’s a guy that I was dating at 17 (I’m 24 now). He was the guy I have had the strongest bond with, but we ended up losing touch, and I’ve been looking for him for years. I gave up in 2010 because I found out he had moved to Georgia, but in 2011 I slept with his pictures under my pillow, and in 2012 I put his picture in my living room as decoration. Now, as of January of 2013, we are back in touch. I never thought I’d see him again. Anyhow, he is in Texas, and I’m in Pennsylvania. We talked over the phone and caught up, he booked me a flight to see him, I went, and few days later we made it official. I’m moving down there. Everyone thinks I’m moving too fast. I gave up my job and apartment and shipped half my stuff over there already. I keep getting cold feet. I think I may have ruined my life. I move next week, and I’m left with no choice but to go. Ugh! What do you think? — Fast Mover

 
I think it’s a good thing very few decisions in life are irreversible and that you still have the option to cancel your plans, ship your stuff back, try to get back your apartment and job — or find new ones — and slow things down until you know each other better. Or, go to Texas for a trial run, give it a few months, and move back if things don’t work out. This doesn’t have to be forever and you’re being overly dramatic to say that a move a few states away will “ruin your life.”

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

110 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MissDre March 8, 2013, 9:06 am

    Not sure why but the last letter sounded really fake to me. Seemed like she was being purposely over dramatic.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 9:10 am

    “in 2011 I slept with his pictures under my pillow”

    Um, creepy?

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    • the_optimist

      the_optimist March 8, 2013, 9:31 am

      This is apparently some sort of superstition in which placing a picture of the person you want to be with under your pillow will bring them to you in real life. Oh hell. Okay, full disclosure: when I was eight I slept with a picture of Mark-Paul Gosselaar under my pillow in the hopes that our [significant at the time] age gap would do nothing to dissuade him from coming to Queens and making me his child bride. Shockingly, it did not work. (But yes…creepy.)

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 8, 2013, 9:58 am

        I did the same thing! Not really. But I did love me some Zach Morris.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:05 am

        Being 8 or 12 and sleeping with a celebrity picture under your pillow- normal. Being 22 and sleeping with the picture of a dude you hooked up with a few years prior? Total creep status.

        Holy hell I just read there was a picture in the living room for decoration. WHAT?!

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 8, 2013, 10:26 am

        Oh, I totally agree. I just really wanted to comment on Zach Morris. Dream boat. Even with the gigantic cell phone in his backpack.

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      • the_optimist

        the_optimist March 8, 2013, 1:03 pm

        “Hey, is that a gigantic cell phone in your backpack or are you just happy to…”

        Never mind.

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      • avatar

        mcj2012 March 8, 2013, 11:52 am

        this made me LOL!

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 9:36 am

      Also, ouch! I’m picturing a framed 8 x 11.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar March 8, 2013, 9:51 am

      If you sleep with wedding cake under your pillow you are supposed to meet your future husband within the year.

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      • avatar

        MissDre March 8, 2013, 10:03 am

        I heard that whoever you dream about that night, you’ll marry.

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      • Stonegypsy

        the_other_Wendy March 8, 2013, 10:25 am

        I think I’d spend too much time washing pillowcases to meet anyone

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      • FireStar

        Firestar March 8, 2013, 10:37 am

        I always though the cake probably wouldn’t last though the night. I gave my best friend a quarter of a wedding cake to take home and share with her husband…and she ate the whole thing on the ride home…about a 7 minute car ride. In fairness she was pregnant but STILL.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2013, 11:47 am

        I think you’d meet a lot of ants.

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    • avatar

      MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:46 am

      Reminded me of the Kates… both Middleton and Holmes had posters of their future men on their walls growing up. One of them seemed to work out 😉

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  • katie

    katie March 8, 2013, 9:19 am

    LW3 is fake. theres just no way.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle March 8, 2013, 9:25 am

    LW1: If you are having your first counseling appointment, that means you’ve already taken the steps the move past this & mend the marriage—that means you WANT to work things out. Don’t let an arbitrary feeling of “What kind of person am I to stay with a cheater?” make you doubt your own decision. You’re not a hypocrite.

    LW2: Fantasies are normal. I feel, almost like in the first letter, that you’re letting random “shoulds & shouldn’ts” direct your life—“I shouldn’t be fantasizing when I’m with such a wonderful guy!” Well, why not? Most people do.

    However, it also kind of sounds like your fantasies are indicative of a larger problem? You’re moving too fast, for one—& it doesn’t seem like your sex life is very fulfilling (reading between the lines)? So listen to Wendy & get that stuff in order.

    LW3: Uh. You’re getting cold feet because (hopefully…) you realize you’re being cray? I mean, dropping everything for a guy you haven’t been since you were 17 is…impulsive, at best. And I’m not even gonna go near the pictures of him under your pillow/in your living room thing. Please, just don’t do things like that anymore.

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    • beelzebarb

      beelzebarb March 8, 2013, 1:22 pm

      Fabelle, re LW2, I totally agree. Fantasies are normal. I’m happily married but today I was sitting in class looking at my prof and outta the blue thought “omg I would totally hit that.” But if they are tied to anxiety about moving in w your bf and you’re stressing, you should probably listen to your gut.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey March 8, 2013, 9:32 am

    I think it’s time for LW3 to start sleeping with a different picture under that pillow. Maybe that of a therapist?

    Girl, if this letter is real, you’ve got WAY more issues than a simple case of cold feet going on here. Let’s first talk about the obsessive inability to move on, the ever-so-slightly unhealthy picture-pillow incident, and the fact that you’d gladly give up your whole life for someone you barely know.

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    • avatar

      MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:48 am

      “ever-so-slightly unhealthy picture-pillow incident”

      sounds like a great album 🙂 I would only add, even more unhealthy decorating impulses.

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  • avatar

    Sasa March 8, 2013, 9:39 am

    LW 2: I’m biased because I experienced the same thing before moving in with my ex, and in my case it definitely was a warning sign I should have heeded. I say do not move in with him if you’re not sure about the relationship, breaking up when you live together is so much more complicated (I can attest to that). I don’t think it’s possible to judge from the outside whether you’re just a little nervous over making a commitment or you have doubts that should be taken seriously. For me, the formulation that you’ve never felt as much lust for this guy than for others is at least something to think about. If you’ve truly never felt as much passion with him than with others, then it can’t just be a matter of this being a more long-term relationship in which the initial lust may have lessened somewhat. Even so, I think there are relationships that start out intensely passionate, and others in which passion may increase over time, so I would again (from the outside) not take that to be necessarily worrisome. It’s your own intuition that matters. My own experience has been that no matter how much spicing up I did with my ex (and I tried pretty hard), it never got close to being as satisfying as the sex life I now have with another guy. I can’t tell you exactly why that is, and I’ve only really understood it by comparison. But I had a definite intuition with my ex that it wasn’t “enough” for me, which I didn’t listen to for a long while because I really connected well with him on many other levels, just not this one level. Again, your case may not be like mine… I can only tell you not to dismiss your intuition like I did.

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    • avatar

      Sasa March 8, 2013, 9:44 am

      Question: For me, having a good sex life and feeling lust for somebody/ strongly wanting them are closely connected – others care to weigh in on that one? I would say the 2nd is a precondition for the 1st?

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle March 8, 2013, 9:59 am

        I tend to agree—lust brings the passion into the sex act. You can be having sex in all sorts of positions all over the house, but if there’s no passion, it’s still gonna be…boring? Unfulfilling? in my opinion.

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    • katie

      katie March 8, 2013, 10:01 am

      i agree with you, but i wonder what she exactly means by passion/lust. like, has she had very intensely passionate relationships that were all kinds of wrong? you know like the 50 shades of grey OMG ITS SO INTENSE I CANT EVEN WALK AWAY EVEN THOUGH THIS IS UNDOUBTEDLY UNHEALTHY FOR MY LIFE kind of passion?

      if you talking about that LW, you should learn to be happy with boring. boring is sustainable. passion fades and ebbs and flows. you gotta enjoy all of it- a long term relationship isn’t 100% passion all day every day.

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      • avatar

        Sasa March 8, 2013, 10:24 am

        I agree with you, that’s why I find it very hard to judge. Expecting constant passion would be crazy, but what if it was never really there in the first place? That’s a problem.

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:51 am

        Exactly – does she just want to be hot for/with her man; or does she think that someone needs to come riding in on a horse and take her away in a wild embrace of passion and LURVE. Big difference, one involves reality and the other, well fairy tales and romance novels.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 9:40 am

    For some reason the one thing that jumped out at me in all of this was LW 2’s “20 month” relationship. It’s like her relationship is a toddler. Do people refer to relationships that long in “months”? Also, when do people stop referring to children in months? A friend posted a picture on FB of her “20-month old” and it took some higher math for me to figure out the kid is basically 1 and 1/2, almost 2. Other than that, WWS x 3.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary March 8, 2013, 9:43 am

      The referring to kids in months thing should stop after 1 year, in my opinion. I want to yell when someone says “He’s 18 months old” “So…he’s a year and a half”

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 9:44 am

      Haha that caught my attention too. Like she didn’t want to say a year and a half because that doesn’t accurately describe how long they’ve made it last.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 10:51 am

        Well, you hit some major milestones between from month 18 to month 20, you know. So best to be specific (or “pacific” as I used to say until I was like 11).

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle March 8, 2013, 9:50 am

      Yeah, that stuck out to me too—who counts months like that after a year? Shouldn’t she just say “about a year & a half” or “almost two years”? I’ve only heard it phrased like that in regard to children (which I also think is stupid, haha)

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:02 am

      personally, I use months up to 12 (so like each individual month) and then 18 and 24 months. The interesting thing about little kids is they change so incredibly much each month that the markers can be important when discussing with other parents etc. Childrens clothing is also sized by month up until 24 months so there is that.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 10:08 am

        Is that an etiquette approved rule? And 24 months – don’t you mean 2 years 🙂

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:16 am

        Well, just for the developmental milestones (and clothing sizing) I think it makes sense. A 3 month old and a 9 month old have totally different sets of needs/developmental milestones (like one is barely rolling over and the other is eating baby food). After 2 years I think it’s silly to use months.

        Emily Post has no opinion (that I could find) on months v years when refering to age 😉

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 10:21 am

        What would happen if you found out Emily Post was an evil dictator of a Communist island in the middle of the Baltic Sea *and* that she killed and ate her children *and* she did not have chairs at her weddding?! I think your world would implode. Also, thank you for being such a good sport when we all pick on you and your rules. 🙂

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:52 am

        Why does it have to be the Baltic Sea?? just wondering… 😉

        And I am glad that I wasn’t the only one who thought unless your talking toddler age (or maybe deployments) 20 months sounds off. But I would rock an 18 months GG… don’t let them get you down. You’re almost at 70 days!!!!

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:54 am

        Thank goodness!! Invitation assembly and addressing this weekend- I think I’m going to need a few drinks!

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 11:54 am

        YES to drinking. NO to drinking on the assembly line… nothing would cause a worse freakout than merlot all over the stationary! Just keep the glasses on a separate table and all will be fine 🙂

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:53 am

        You’re welcome 🙂

        The real Emily Post is dead anyways. And I do totally recognize some of the things I say are bonkers. But I stand by the chairs. (Or I sit in the chairs…)

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 10:57 am

        Lol, GG!

        Also, attention attention, I win! I win! I win! I got GG to say, “ome of the things I say are bonkers”!!!!!!!

        Wendy, do I get a prize or something? Or do I forfeit my prize for using so many damn exclamation marks?

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 10:58 am

        fuck, *some of the things

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    • avatar

      ktfran March 8, 2013, 10:04 am

      Well, on my last birthday, I told people I was 30 plus 36 months. I liked turning 30, but I kind of just want to stay there.

      However, people who refer to their relationships in months are whack jobs. Same with children. Whack jobs I say.

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:53 am

        Nothing wrong with that… I’m celebrating the 7th anniversary of my 30th birthday this year!

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      • avatar

        TheGirlinME March 8, 2013, 2:31 pm

        I’m fond of telling people that I’m 21 with 21 yrs of experience. It’s kinda fun to watch their expressions as they figure it out 🙂

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    • avatar

      bethany March 8, 2013, 10:07 am

      Yesterday on people.com there was an article about Jennifer Garner’s 12 month old son. He’s a fucking year old!! Seriously, the “month” thing annoys the shit out of me.

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    • avatar

      Riefer March 8, 2013, 10:10 am

      The reason parents refer to their toddlers in months till about two years old is because that’s how all the milestones are measured (when they walk, when they talk, etc) so that’s how the parents are tracking them. It’s also how baby clothes are sized. So it’s not that weird because that’s how the parents have to look at it, due to outside factors. It’s the same reason pregnant women talk about how many weeks along they are, instead of months, because that’s how your doctor is tracking it, and that’s how all the books etc talk about it, so you tend to do the same.

      But yes, it’s weird to do that with the length of a relationship. At the very least, if I wanted to be exact about it, I’d call it a year and 8 months instead of 20 months. But why does she feel the need to be so exact?

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      • avatar

        MissDre March 8, 2013, 10:16 am

        Plus as a baby/toddler they are developing so quickly. The difference of 2 months could be huge in terms of their development.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow March 8, 2013, 10:19 am

      I’m 373.5 months old.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 8, 2013, 10:22 am

        Actually, 373.615

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 10:27 am

        Haha, I’m about 411.5 months old. I wear clothes though for 450-500 month olds so I have some work to do on my bod.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 8, 2013, 10:36 am

        I’m 380.66 months old. uugh.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 10:47 am

        Gawd you’re just a child.

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      • BriarRose

        BriarRose March 8, 2013, 11:29 am

        I’m 399 months. I feel like I should have a party next month when I hit 400!

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 1:58 pm

        Wow, next month is the big month!!! Let’s have a DW party for you.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2013, 11:56 am

        I’m 605.44 months. I’m glad I don’t have to give that all the time.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 9:43 am

    I’m always kind of baffled when people speak of their sex life in such a passive manner. You don’t have the lust and passion of previous relationships you say? Why not, um, do something to change that? Lust isn’t some internal wiring that remains the same in your life and you must find the perfect matching puzzle piece or there will be no lust.

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    • avatar

      Desiree March 8, 2013, 10:49 am

      I kinda disagree with you about lust. On one hand, over a very long relationship lust does become something that I think both partners have to work on. However, I do think there are differences in lust early in a relationship. My last and I had “okay” passion early on; my fiancé and I had really intense passion from the start. That super intense passion is really high on my dealbreakers list. Just to clarify, it’s really strong physical/sexual attraction (not passion stemming from super-crazy drama or anything).

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle March 8, 2013, 11:11 am

        “really strong physical/sexual attraction” <–yeah, that's how I'm defining it as well. Although people definitely use "lust & "passion" as synonyms for "crazy, up-and-down drama punctuated by vicious make-up sex sessions" but. I wish they wouldn't, haha

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  • avatar

    bethany March 8, 2013, 10:05 am

    LW3– Let me tell you a little story. A girl (woman, actually- she’s 31) I grew up with started dating a guy (long distance) in October. She gushed all over facebook about how “When you know, you know” and how he was the best man ever and how they were in love, blah blah blah…She posted about how people needed to keep their judgments to themselves and just be happy for her. in December they got engaged. They planned to get married in February. She planned the wedding, quit her job, sold all her stuff. Last month she was supposed to move up the NY to be with him. He drove down to PA to pick her up.
    Instead of picking her up, he broke up with her.

    The moral of the story is if you and all your friends think you’re moving too fast, you probably are. What’s the rush? You don’t HAVE to go. You really don’t.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:07 am

      Woah…meeting to married in 5 months? I would judge.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar March 8, 2013, 10:16 am

        I have a friend that met a guy on New Years and was married by mid March. That was about a year ago. Insanely too soon for me …but she seems happy.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:18 am

        I’m sure it works for some but goodness. I hadn’t even met my fiance’s family (any of them) 5 months into dating him!

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      • avatar

        bethany March 8, 2013, 10:19 am

        She has a history of not making the smartest decisions, so yeah, I totally judged.
        Oh, and they’d actually only hung out like 5 or 6 times before the got engaged, because they were long distance and the kicker–this guy had 6 kids!!!!

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 10:09 am

      The other moral of the story is that there is a direct correlation between bragging on facebook about your S/O and relationship and how terrible that relationship is.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar March 8, 2013, 10:21 am

        Seconded. I will never understand the point of bragging about your husband you told me last week is lazy and kind of stupid. Or the one who got into a brawl with you and called you a c–t but today he is “the best hubby ever!”

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 8, 2013, 10:29 am

        Thirded.

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:57 am

        Fourthed. Can this also hold true for parents? Otherwise somehow, despite all statistical probability to the contrary – everyone I know is the absolute best parent ever and every small child is a future Einstein/Mother Teresa. 🙂

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2013, 12:00 pm

        Even though I’m Catholic I have no dreams of my daughter being a Mother Theresa. I’d love some grandkids in the family more than a saint.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 8, 2013, 10:37 am

        I called my husband “the best husband ever” on facebook once… But he bought me a Scooter for my birthday, so I thought he deserved it 🙂

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:56 am

        I said “best fiance ever” on instagram once, but it was because he surprized me with the Walking Dead compendium of comics. so I thought it was warrented.

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 10:58 am

        I think we can carve out an exception for wanting to openly thank your husband for doing something extraordinary, especially if you want to include a photo of said fabulousness. But not for making the bed or changing a diaper, k?

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 11:05 am

        I don’t get why you can’t just turn your head to the side and thank them. But yeah this irks me a lot less if there’s a scooter involved. The worst are the “Happy 6 months babe! ;)” Or the “I have the best hubby ever” – with them tagged in the status. First of all, foul for the use of the word hubby. Second of all, you’re clearly just begging people to ask what he did. Third of all, I know what he did wasn’t that cool, because you’re not cool, and I’m now questioning what’s wrong with me that I have people like X on my facebook feed. Those are literally the thoughts that go on in my head every single time I see a status like that. I am judging the hell out of their relationship and that person.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 11:12 am

        My 17 year old cousin put “happy 6 months, love you (tag of BF who changed his name to Jason Derulo RealLastName)” on FB this morning. I wanted to reach through the computer and slap her. She also put up a happy 3 month post.

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 11:58 am

        Slap-worthy because she was saying something TO him she should have/could have said in person or more intimately.

        I feel like there may be a rule needed here… AP??

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      • avatar

        bethany March 8, 2013, 11:37 am

        I did thank him, but I also wanted toe world to know about my awesome scooter!!!

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      • avatar

        bethany March 8, 2013, 11:38 am

        AND I posted a picture of my scooter.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 11:51 am

        Okay fine – scooter wins out this debate.

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 8, 2013, 11:57 am

        Exactly! you weren’t using FB as a means of expressing things TO your husband you could have told him personally, you were telling your friends/family “look what I got – see awesome picture – my husband rocks”

        I may be drawing a fine line here… made all the more entertaining that I have no dog in this fight as I don’t really post anything on FB.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 10:59 am

        You’re both unacceptable.

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  • avatar

    MJ March 8, 2013, 10:05 am

    LW2, sex with someone can get routine after awhile. If most of your past relationships were short-lived or with guys who were emotionally unavailable (you had to chase them for scraps of attention), then it makes sense that this one is different.

    Don’t freak out. Ask for what you want. Create some spice on your own and don’t wait for it to just magically happen.

    Also, thinking about other guys is normal and natural. It happens to everyone, and it doesn’t mean anything significant.

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  • avatar

    Anna March 8, 2013, 10:17 am

    What exactly is an emotional affair? Just talking/emailing with another woman and talking about their lives? Sounds kinda like…a friend. A friend who happens to be of the opposite sex. Unless they are having romantic/sexually explicit conversations or she’s helping him plan his escape from his marriage, I don’t really see the big deal.

    Anyone else have any insight on this? I never thought of affairs being strictly verbal/emotional because I don’t consider it cheating to talk to a person of the opposite sex about emotional issues. Your SO literally can’t be your one and only source of support in life; you need others too. And I don’t think it’s fair to say that anyone who is in a relationship can only have friends/confidantes of the same sex.

    I’m not saying the husband isn’t doing anything wrong because I don’t really know the situation…just putting down the thoughts that went through my head as I was reading.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:22 am

      “I don’t think it’s fair to say that anyone who is in a relationship can only have friends/confidantes of the same sex.” I definitely agree, but I do think emotional affairs can happen. I do think it’s a VERY individual thing as every couple and person has a different level of comfort as to what is and is not appropraite to share with an opposite gender friend. Some people are totally okay with their partner sharing their hopes/dreams/fears/desires with the “friend” and some aren’t.

      I think the real line is when the relationship with the “friend” takes priority over the relationship with the spouse/partner.

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      • avatar

        Anna March 8, 2013, 10:29 am

        Ok, I can get behind that logic. If the relationship with the other person takes priority over your SO, that’s not acceptable. I wish the LW had included a little more detail about this emotional affair. That term really confused me. She could have a totally legit point where she is suddenly being ignored all the time in favor of communication with this other woman. That wouldn’t be right. But if she just found a few emails back and forth between friends that weren’t romantic or sexual in nature, it could be an overreaction.

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        Lindsay March 8, 2013, 11:12 am

        It definitely can get confusing what each person means when they talking about cheating or emotional affairs. But it sounded like she and her husband have already defined what it was, so she didn’t really need us to weigh in on that, which I assume is why she didn’t go into great detail.

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        Anna March 8, 2013, 10:34 am

        Also; if meeting people on the internet and talking about your deepest emotional stuff is having an affair, then by definition I “cheated” on my ex with all of you on DW. 😉 There are even a few guys on this site!

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        ktfran March 8, 2013, 10:38 am

        I think you hit the nail on the head GG.

        I’m not proud of it, but I once had an emotional affair. I wanted and needed to talk to and see this person more than my then boyfriend/fiance. Did we ever fool around? No. Did being “friendly” with this guy take precedence over my relationship? Yes. Do I fantasize about being with this guy? Most certainaly.

        Like I said, I’m not proud of it, but I don’t regret it. In hindsight, the emotional affair came about because my needs weren’t being met and I wasn’t completely happy in the relationship. I wish I would have figured it out sooner than having this affair. But I learned from my mistakes and in the future, I think I could recognize when something wasn’t right. I also think we’re all happier because of it.

        Any way, emotional affairs are a real thing. And I still think men and women can be friends, because I also think that if you’re in a good, solid relationship, any kind of affair will likely not happen.

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    • Stonegypsy

      the_other_Wendy March 8, 2013, 10:33 am

      I think it becomes an emotional affair when the person on the other end starts becoming a higher emotional priority than your SO. But it can be a fine line to draw, definitely.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle March 8, 2013, 10:34 am

      I always thought an “emotional affair” was, like, everything but physical cheating? meaning the conversations aren’t just confiding like you would in a friend—it’s more like, “I can’t wait to be with you, you’re so gorgeous, beautiful, I want to feel your ______ all over my ______ & all I can think about it _______ing your sweet _______.” (Got a little too into that, sorry)

      But for real, this other definition of emotional cheating is confusing to me. Even if a person is prioritizing someone…emotionally?… over their partner, that’s a different issue & doesn’t fall under “cheating” to me.

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      • Stonegypsy

        the_other_Wendy March 8, 2013, 10:52 am

        I suppose I probably define cheating very differently. That’s what I would consider an emotional affair. But I also have zero problem with my husband sleeping with other people, as long as I know that I come first (uh.. no pun intended, I promise.), and that tends to be the general rule for our relationship. As long as we make each other and our relationship the top priority, and are honest with each other at all times, there’s no problem.
        To me any major dishonesty = cheating. But that definition only applies to myself and my relationships.

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        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 10:59 am

        From wikipedia- “Emotional Affair “A relationship between a person and someone other than (their) spouse (or lover) that has an impact on the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall dynamic balance in the marriage. The role of an affair is to create emotional distance in the marriage.”

        I think it sums up what the_other_Wendy and I are saying nicely.

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        MMcG March 8, 2013, 11:02 am

        Damn you GG, I wanted to wiki first 😉 We were right on the same page… I was actually going to copy/paste the whole list of characteristics because it was so interesting

        This type of affair is often characterized by:
        Inappropriate emotional intimacy. The partner being unfaithful may spend inappropriate or excessive time with someone of the opposite or same gender (time not shared with the other partner). He or she may confide more in their new “friend” than in their partner and may share more intimate emotional feelings and secrets with their new partner than with their existing spouse. Any time that an individual invests more emotionally into a relationship with someone besides their partner the existing partnership may suffer.
        Deception and secrecy. Those involved may not tell their partners about the amount of time they spend with each other. An individual involved in this type of affair may, for example, tell his or her spouse that they are doing other activities when they are really meeting with someone else. Or the unfaithful spouse may exclude any mention of the other person while discussing the day’s activities to conceal the rendezvous. Even if no physical intimacy occurs, the deception clearly shows that those involved believe they are doing something wrong that undermines the existing relationship. In other words, if there was really no harm in meeting with a friend, both parties would feel comfortable telling their partners the truth about where they are meeting and what they are discussing.
        Increased fighting. When a person becomes emotionally involved with a third party, they will almost without fail begin to discount their primary partner, if not view the new person as all good and their committed partner as all bad. This person may blame their interest in the third party on their committed partner, which will lead to increased fighting and strain on the relationship.
        An emotional triangle -one that may only be known to the unfaithful, who then struggles to keep the other two from knowing of the impact of one upon the other. Denial will likely characterize the unfaithful person’s response to an invitation by their spouse to reflect on the competing demands of the relationship with the other person.
        Sexual and emotional chemistry. Sexual and emotional chemistry can present itself based on a physical attraction one might feel for another person. In addition, it can also be related to an increase in dopamine, a hormone that produces feelings of pleasure, and norepinephrine, which is similar to adrenaline and causes an increase in excitement. This may or may not lead to physical intimacy, however, if nurtured it may present itself. The time between the first meeting and a first kiss can often be very lengthy, but the time between the first kiss and sexual intercourse may be very short. In most of these affairs, however, an unspoken attraction exists. A partner may spend extra time getting ready before seeing this “friend” or may buy new clothing or change their appearance to seem attractive to them. They may obsess anticipating phone calls, emails or text messages.[8]
        Denial. Denial of the presence of sexual behavior, sexuality or even of an atom of limerence. “Limerence is an involuntary cognitive and emotional state in which a person feels an intense romantic desire for another person. It is characterized by intrusive thinking and pronounced sensitivity to external events that reflect the disposition of the limerent object towards the individual.” This denial can be exhibited by the cheating partner and/or the partner being cheated on, especially if the partner cheated on is male. If the cheating partner accepts that the element of sexual attraction exists, however, and physical contact starts, it can cause the current relationship to start collapsing.

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        MMcG March 8, 2013, 11:03 am

        Wow – lost all formatting. Sorry guys 🙁

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        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 11:07 am

        I read all of those and I think it explains it well. I totally understand some people (where is BGM? too early on the west coast I guess) who don’t “beleive” in emotional affairs- and I think that’s totally fine. But it can be a very real thing for some people/realtionships.

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        ktfran March 8, 2013, 11:28 am

        Yep. I had a textbook emotional affair. At least I did it right, I guess? I kid.

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      MMcG March 8, 2013, 11:01 am

      From the almighty wiki, please discuss. Bonus points for whoever takes on “chaste nonmonogamy” first 🙂

      An “emotional affair” is an affair which excludes physical intimacy but includes emotional intimacy. It may begin innocently as a friendship. It may also be called an affair of the heart. Where one partner is in a committed monogamous relationship, an emotional affair can be a type of chaste nonmonogamy without consummation. When the affair breaches an agreement in the monogamous relationship of one of the partners to the affair, the term infidelity may be more apt.

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    • BriarRose

      BriarRose March 8, 2013, 11:40 am

      My ex-husband had an emotional affair with a co-worker while he was gone on 6 months of training. I’m sure it just became easier for him to talk to her about his day, his life, etc, since she was right there in front of him and I was in another state. I suppose people who haven’t experienced it can say it’s not a huge deal, etc, but it was heartbreaking and part of what precipitated our divorce. I had never felt so lonely/alone/unloved in my whole life. There were plenty of times I wished he had just had sex with her once and that was it. THAT we could have recovered from. Hour long phone calls and hundreds of texts exchanged, and him confiding in her and telling me all these great things about her….that honestly felt like a worse betrayal than sex. He was never particularly open with his feelings, and to know he was sharing them with another woman and not me…yuck. I can’t even call those feelings back up, it’s too painful.

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    • theattack

      theattack March 8, 2013, 12:10 pm

      It’s simple. Emotional affairs are when you have shared romantic emotions with them. It’s basically taking the emotional part of a relationship and having it with someone else instead of your partner. It’s definitely cheating. There can be “I love you”s exchanged and everything. It can be a full blown relationship with just no physical aspects.

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    • sobriquet

      Sobriquet March 8, 2013, 12:36 pm

      I think in order for it to be an emotional affair there needs to be a sexual attraction. You talk a lot to that person and maybe spend time with them secretly, but it simply never crosses the physical line. I have a very hard time classifying that as cheating, but I’m not sure what else you would call it. Just an inappropriate relationship?

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  • lemongrass

    Lemongrass March 8, 2013, 10:22 am

    Lw3- you sound like a stalker up until your cold feet. If you aren’t fake, slow down. If he’s right for you, he’ll stick around.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow March 8, 2013, 10:26 am

      How hard is it to even “find” someone these days? With Google, all the social networking sites, and apparently the friends they had in common, she actually sounds like a really bad stalker.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. March 8, 2013, 10:45 am

    The picture-under-the-pillow story reminds of something. When I was a kid, there was a family who lived across the street. They had a little boy, M. We were good friends and played together all the time. My mom and his mom were best friends. When we were 6 years old, he asked me to marry him and of course, being 6, I said yes. But, things went on and they moved away. Fast forward 31 years. M now lives in Sacramento and my mom is in touch with him. She tells me that ‘we should go out. I haven’t seen him since I was 6, I say. I’ll bet he’s changed since then. She then informs me that he is coming to dinner and I am coming too. I go to dinner, and this guy pulls a picture of my 6-year-old self out of his wallet and tells me he’s carried this picture with him ever since. (It’s in pristine condition, by the way, despite being 31 years old.) I am freaked out. After dinner, Mom tells me again that we should ge out. I tell her it is creepy that a 35-year-old man carries a picture of a 6-year-old girl who is not related to him in his wallet. She gets all offended and says it’s a crush. I tell her it’s creepy and not normal. So, moral of the story: sleeping with the guy’s picture under your pillow is unhealthy. Please realize this and try to figure out why you are hanging on to this guy so.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. March 8, 2013, 10:56 am

      *sigh* 29 years. I should never try to do math in the morning. Or at any other time, really.

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  • avatar

    Taylor March 8, 2013, 10:49 am

    “I think it’s a good thing very few decisions in life are irreversible”. Wendy, where were you when I was single, in my ’20s, and desperately needed to be told things like this?

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  • avatar

    Lindsay March 8, 2013, 11:07 am

    LW3, were you not the least bit curious as to why this guy was SO into you moving down there? If a guy I hadn’t seen in such a long time wanted me to move to be with him, I’d be sort of creeped out. I know that you were OK with the idea, too, so I apologize for this, but I’d find it sort of desperate or recklessly impulsive if a guy suggested that. Though for him, it’s a lot easier because he can continue living his life without any risk. What happens if you move down there and you guys find, as many people do after dating for a couple of weeks, that you’re not actually right for each other? I’d definitely stay put and try to reverse whatever decisions you’ve made.

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  • avatar

    watersedge March 8, 2013, 2:54 pm

    Lw3, this is unconventional advice but I think you should go. You’ve been obsessed with this guy for years. This is the only way to satisfy your obsession. Either it will work out or it won’t, but at least you’ll have answers.

    For the record I think it will go down in flames.

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  • avatar

    bondbabe March 8, 2013, 5:33 pm

    To me, if the relationship has to be kept a secret, you shouldn’t be in it. So by that, an affair could physical and/or emotional.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark March 8, 2013, 5:45 pm

    LW1) Obviously, the spark has gone out of your marriage. Why is that? Work together to reignite what you once had. Nobody who is in a great marriage — male or female — seeks out and emotional affair. So, take this as a wake call to figure out what’s wrong.

    LW2) Clearly, you’re just not THAT into him… MOA. Deep down you know that you are just stringing him along until something better comes along. It’s not very nice. And imagine how terribly you would feel if this was being done to you… Being everything a girl could want matters precious little if the girl in question simply doesn’t want you.

    LW3) Okay, the picture thing under the pillow thing? Downright bizarre. Borderline creepy… That said — I say: GO FOR IT. Sure it may wind up a disaster or just may merely prove to be a blah and boring bust… But if you don’t go, you’ll never know. Look, you are still in you early 20s, so it’s not like you have much of a career to blow up. (Seriously… was life in Pennsylvania REALLY that great?) Worse case scenario, you return with your tail between your legs. Oh, well. It won’t be that much of a big regret. But… say you DON’T go. The years fly away and suddenly you are 42 and alone and wonder what ever could have happened had you just taken that really big chance oh so long ago… Trust me, you don’t ever want to be THAT person. So, GO! Don’t have unrealistic expectations and see what happens… Life is an adventure, and if you don’t occasionally do wild and crazy things you might as well be dead.

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  • avatar

    Esteban March 16, 2013, 7:55 pm

    To Fast Mover: Quite often resistance from people who love us is the very proof that we are onto something great. Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

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  • avatar

    Brian G. March 16, 2013, 8:09 pm

    She should know that if he lives in Texas, he is probably Republican vermin like George W. Bush, the biggest war criminal who ever lived, and who destroyed the lives of millions of women, children, minorities, gays, the disabled, and the elderly, in order to make Big Oil and Halliburton rich. I’d bet this guy works in the oil industry, destroying the planet for profit, while poisoning the air and killing an noted number of women and minorities as a result. Stay in Pennsylvania lady.

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    • avatar

      Esteban March 16, 2013, 8:36 pm

      Or Democrat vermin like Ann Richards and ilk. Either way: Objection. Relevance. Sustained.

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