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Getting over an Emotional Affair

(27 Posts)
redletterday Wed 20-May-20 12:36:43

First time poster but long time lurker. I have recently come out of an EA with a colleague which lasted the best part of a year. I am 44, married with 3 teenage kids, he is single, lives with elderly mum and is 35 (unlikely pairing I know, he’s actually not my type at all bizarrely ) It has been his choice to cool things and this happened at the start of lockdown. I have tried to reach out to him a number of times but after starting out nice in messages he becomes cold and distant and has suddenly left the conversation at times, leaving me hanging. I can now recognise the addictive nature of my behaviour and the subsequent withdrawal feels horrible. Over a period of 6 months we messaged every day and night and I miss hearing from him despite in the back of my mind knowing how wrong this all was. I have been going about 7/10 days before I cave in and message him and the anxiousness cycle starts again about how and when he will respond, sometimes immediately, sometimes after hours. I have decided once and for all that this has to stop (last contact was 1 week ago) but I just can’t get him out of my mind. It’s likely that I won’t see him until September now but I just feel sad that he doesn’t want my friendship and that this has happened - we were good friends before this and I have been his shoulder to cry on during some really tough work situations he’s been in. Apart from the obvious guilt that I feel towards my husband and family I just can’t believe that I’ve found myself in this situation. My saving grace is that my husband is unaware of all of this.
I realise that I sound like a terrible person and I expect criticism for my behaviour, I know that I have crossed a line. EA was never physical but came very close on 2 occasions, an embrace, but no kissing.
Lockdown is amplifying everything in my mind and I wish it would just stop and I didn’t feel this way.
Has anyone experiencing/experienced similar?
Btw I have read Not just friends and Esther Perel advice, both are useful.
Thanks for reading and sorry post was so long.

OP’s posts: |
Raidblunner Wed 20-May-20 13:26:59

There's clearly no mileage in any of this and dilly dallying around emotions with this man is going to get neither of you anywhere.
Turn this on its head and imagine your husband getting up close and personal with another woman, texting her constantly and flirting about. Just about every poster on here would be telling you to get rid of him. What your doing is selfish and damaging, rather than falling in to woe is me think how your husband & children will feel if and when they find out. Put it in perspective and find your way out of this.

One1 Wed 20-May-20 13:58:03

It’s hard, been through similar for 3 months and almost 3 years later still think about the person every day. Went 1 year NC, she got in touch again, but things were never the same, friendship was ruined and we are now worse than when we broke things off in the first place. The highs and lows are the most horrible thing, and yes, it is addictive like a drug. Haven’t felt the slightest joy in the last couple of years when talking to them, only pain.
If you can, maintain no contact. It’s really hard, but you can do it. Your AP is suffering as well, put yourself in his shoes, he may want to find someone unattached with whom he can build a life with.

redletterday Wed 20-May-20 15:17:14

@Raidblunner thank you. I desperately need some perspective and you are very right, I’d be devastated if it were the other way, as would my husband if this ever got out, nobody in my real life is aware, they’d be utterly shocked. I’ve been very foolish and it won’t ever happen again.

@One1 thank you too, yes to the highs and lows and the addiction like nature, I’ve let them consume me at times. I’m sorry that your situation is the way it is, why is it only pain now if you don’t mind me asking? I think I’ve accepted that we can’t ever go back to how things were. I’ve heard today that he has been v down the past few weeks which may/may not explain his behaviour towards me but I know what I need to do and I won’t contact, as raidblunner quite rightly says no good will come of it. He did want to meet someone to settle down with and I do appreciate that, you’ve made me think of that more which has helped. Thanks again.

OP’s posts: |
Nosuchluck Wed 20-May-20 15:36:08

A very interesting thread, my H had an emotional affair just over five years ago and I can’t even explain how painful an experience it is. I was diagnosed with PTSD and was in absolute agony for about three years and regular agony for at least another year. My life and happiness will never be the same.
All the can say is just stop messaging the man, it sounds as if he’s really not interested and hope to God your DH never finds out.

Raidblunner Wed 20-May-20 16:40:40

Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh, having been on the other side of someone's cheating I felt the best advice to give someone before it gets out of hand is to be brutally honest! You can turn this around and even if your relationship with your DH has run into difficulties or mundane work towards a solution. The hurt of being deceived is awful and nothing is ever quite the same. You can still walk away from this keeping yourself and family intact.

justkeepmovingon Wed 20-May-20 16:58:56

I'll only say that there will come a day in the future, maybe 2/3/4 years when you'll look at a photo of him, think about him and laugh and think omg what was I thinking, that's when your husband gets you back, and not a moment before, so try to get there sooner before the main relationship breaks down fully.

Your age has a massive effect on what you are feeling, this is you permi Menopause boost of last minute make baby hormones before everything starts slowing down, the urge to find a new fresh younger male, it's so primate but that's what you are facing.

The hormones are literally crazy like a reverse teenager, the emotions are real I promise you that, but that's why I also promise you it will go, it's a very very odd transition stage and I really understand how hard it is.

I wish it was highlighted to woman who hit 40

redletterday Wed 20-May-20 18:03:04

@Nosuchluck I’m sorry that this happened to you. For what it’s worth it’s taken me to tell my situation to strangers on here for me to eventually wake up and realise I need to stop all contact.

@Raidblunner no need to apologise, I appreciate you being straight with me, I need to hear it.I am also sorry that you’ve been cheated on too. My relationship with my husband has throughout this always been great, I was just flattered by extra attention from a younger man which made me feel desirable. At the time my husband was working away a lot and I guess I was a bit lonely, there was a gap and EAP sneaked in it, that’s how it started. I enjoyed the attention and it made me feel more alive. @justkeepmovingon you make a really good point there, thank you. I’m not justifying my behaviour but I do think I was having / having a mid- life crisis of sorts, I am definitely peri-menopausal and my hormones are raging. For the good of all I am determined to put this behind me and learn from it. I thank you all for your candid replies, you have all really helped me. I wish I’d posted weeks ago.

OP’s posts: |
Nosuchluck Wed 20-May-20 18:17:24

Good on you for making the decision and I wish you future happiness and contentment.

Gutterton Wed 20-May-20 18:42:04

Be delighted with yourself and b relieved that you never got caught and your DH and DCs have not suffered this. Because if they found out you would not then be in control of the outcome - your DH may choose to divorce you or stay and have distain for you - your DCs could have total contempt for you — and all for what?

Decide that you have all dodged a bullet - be grateful and gracious.

Now you need to think of what you need to give back to your DH and DCs after what you have taken during the EA - headspace ? Emotional priority - start putting them first again. How can you start to work out what is missing in your marriage - and look to build on it.

thecatsarecrazy Wed 20-May-20 18:50:03

Its not easy. I used to talk to someone every day. We saw each other the Friday before lock down. He would message every day. We both had feelings then one Saturday afternoon he stopped all contact. No warning no crossed words. Its been 4 and a half weeks now and I'm still hurting. Its probably for the best but I miss having him to talk to

CiarCel Wed 20-May-20 18:50:19

I'm glad those books have helped you but I suppose one of the things about those books is giving the betrayed partner the chance to engage with the process and decide what they want from their future relationship etc. I'm not saying you should tell your husband - that's up to you, but the cold, hard slap of your betrayed partner's reaction does snap people out of the limerance/limbo you find yourself in right now.

Do you know OM's number off by heart? You do need to try to delete/remove all means of contact as much as possible whilst you're going through the NC cold turkey stage. It is an addiction very much like any other and you need to allow your neural pathways to re-wire - every time you don't contact him when you think you want to is like every time you don't have a cigarette when you think you want to - each time you don't do it is actually breaking old dopamine pathways and helping to form new ones. It takes a few months so stick with it because you know in the long run it is the greatest favour you can do for yourself and for those who love you.

In general you will need to eventually learn to close down your habitual thinking about him (CBT can help with this) but for the moment, if this is the first time you've posted and are finding it useful to talk about, then do. What do you think this OM was getting out of this? Why was he pissing around with an "emotional affair" with a married mother of three? Because you know your 'attraction' to him was all about you and what you needed to feel due to hormones, your feelings of deadness/drudgery/loneliness or whatever... he's engaged in this never-going-to-go-anywhere nonsense with a married woman for long enough too... and is now doing the 'starting out nice but then leaving me hanging' shite. For observers without rose-tinted glasses... he doesn't sound much of a catch... it's very easy to project and romanticise in your position.

thecatsarecrazy Wed 20-May-20 18:58:48

Last year I was in a similar position. I had a friendship with a single man, I'm married. We messaged all the time, went for coffee etc. He wanted a relationship and I could never give him that. I was gutted every time he would go cold. We were always blocking each other. In December we fell out over something silly he was talking crap late one night and I was probably rude and said it was late I need sleep. He blocked me on facebook so I did the same.
He messaged me the other day on whatsapp and apologized, said he would like to be friends and said hes seeing someone now. I am happy for him. Didn't bring up any jealous feelings at all and I wished him the best. But as my other post suggests I haven't learnt from my mistakes. I met this other guy through twitter sad

CiarCel Wed 20-May-20 19:13:40

Once is a fuck up many people have let themselves fall into... "I met this other guy through twitter"... you are actively looking for it. Why?

redletterday Wed 20-May-20 19:34:06

@Nosuchluck thank you, and you too.
@Gutterton, yes I do need to do that, and these are wise words of yours which I will certainly take heed of:
“Decide that you have all dodged a bullet - be grateful and gracious”
@CiarCel you are right he really is no catch, certainly couldn’t match up to my husband in anyway and yet I found myself becoming attached to him. What he got out of it all I really don’t know, maybe a thrill for him too or maybe the chance of something physical. He doesn’t seem to have many people to confide in and is also a bit of a fantasist. I always made it clear it would never go anywhere. The habitual thinking about him is never far away atm and I’m guilty of romanticising which needs to stop as I’m sick of feeling like this. I don’t know his number off by heart, contact was via messenger or snapchat (which is also a bit embarrassing at my age). We still have to work together in same office and are connected via work what’s app group but I’m staying away from that atm. Like I said it’s likely we won’t see each other until September (work in a college).
I’ve found posting on here has really given me some much needed clarity and I actually feel empowered to really remove this situation from my life and get back to giving my family 100% of me so thank you once again to all.
@the catsarecrazy why do you think this is happening or has happened again? I totally understand the hurt and the missing. I hope this thread has helped you too.

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CiarCel Wed 20-May-20 19:46:38

It's good you don't know his number. Delete snapchat and block from your phone. You can find online directories for online therapy. I honestly think some online private CBT could be good for helping to get rid of the habitual thoughts if this isn't coming easily on its own. Your family will have noticed that you have not been yourself for a bit - it's not so surprising that people are feeling quite anxious at the moment and need to talk to someone to help them deal with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. This pandemic is an utter nightmare for everyone - for you, however, the lockdown could be the silver lining taking you out of what has been a dark year for you.

Sugartitss Wed 20-May-20 22:20:24

Don’t be selfish, tell your husband so he can decide if he wants to be a cheat or not.

Tell him how you’re feeling bereft when this man doesn’t contact you.

You’re making an absolute idiot out of him.

downtheplug Wed 20-May-20 22:28:59

Don't tell your husband.

Work on yourself. Decide what you want and look at why you did it. Work hard before you destroy your relationship

Raidblunner Wed 20-May-20 23:07:11

On this one occasion against my hetter judgement, don't tell your husband. Don't ruin what you have, you know your penance in all of this and you must live with it! Everytime you look at your children and him let it be a reminder of how close you came to losing it all.

One1 Thu 21-May-20 08:17:02

Hi Op, we never spoke about what bothered us in the first place, never admitted fully on how we felt and how hurt we were. Our egos got bruised but never acknowledged each other’s pain let alone say sorry. It felt like healing a wound with the knife inside and whenever she would get in touch later on was like twisting that knife in for the wound to bleed a little.

Nosuchluck Thu 21-May-20 08:20:54

Don’t tell your DH and don’t make any sort of ‘I’m back’ big gestures. The inconsistency will be hard for him. Even though he doesn’t know about your EA every text and thought about your AP was a thought or some of your energy taken away from your family and marriage. You need to make them and yourself your priority. When lockdown has finished you could make an effort to see girl friends or even now as we allowed to meet one person in an outside space. This may take your mind of your ex AP and a change of scene could give you some perspective.

thecatsarecrazy Thu 21-May-20 11:19:10

It probably keeps happening to me because my marriage is shit. We don't have any shared interests. We argue all the time, when I tell him how fed up and down I am I just get uhh hur or so what you going to do about it? If it wasn't for the fact we had a 3 year old I would give up. I guess the other men gave me attention, flattered me. Things I don't get at home

CiarCel Thu 21-May-20 11:52:18

When he asks "so what are you going to do about it?" have you suggested marriage counselling?.. If he's not going to even try to listen (if you talk to him during a non-argumentative phase, in a non-confrontational way, in a moment where it's just the two of you at a calm time) maybe you should tell your husband you've been getting attention elsewhere and have closed it down because you love him and don't want to give up on the relationship... yet.

Raidblunner Thu 21-May-20 11:53:26

Why on earth would you stay in a relationship if it's not fulfilling you? Your clearly unhappy and wouldn't be seeking attention elsewhere otherwise. Surely your child would benefit much more from having a happier single mum rather than a miserable one.
A partnership should bring something to each other, make each other feel valued and loved.
Definitely time to call it a day.

CiarCel Thu 21-May-20 14:33:49

Presumably thecats married someone she loved and had a child with him. It may well be 'time to call it a day' but worth properly exploring whether there is something still good there before just walking away (unless he's abusive of course). But there's no point making idle threats about being 'fed up'. "So what are you going to do about it?" means he doesn't believe you would ever leave and so has no incentive to get off his arse and work with you to make things better. These rubbish 'relationships' you are having with other men for attention (honestly, the we kept blocking each other, fell out of over something etc. etc. sounds really juvenile) are never going to be fulfilling - they are a harmful distraction at best. Work out how you could live apart from your husband then try to work on your relationship with your husband knowing you have an actual choice to make not just an idle threat/fantasy : stay or go.

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