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ktfurlong 1st February 2017 5:37 PM

I had an Emotional Affair
 
Hi everyone, I am 21 years old and have been with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years. I guess I'm just seeking some advice and/or insight into the situation.

A little over a year ago, I was having one of the worst times of my life. I had been struggling with a chronic pain condition and had just had a surgery that I unrealistically thought would eliminate all of my pain; it didn't. I was so depressed, angry and bitter. Meanwhile, I felt my relationship crumbling. I felt that my boyfriend wasn't there for me during that time and that he no longer cared about me the way he used to. I felt like I wasn't a priority for him... Just an option. I felt that we didn't connect the way we had used to and that he didn't value that closeness with me anymore. During my surgery recovery, I felt that he constantly chose to be with friends instead of being by my side. I felt that he didn't understand all that I was going through, nor did he care to try. I felt miserable, angry and resentful towards him. Finally, one weekend I sat him down and suggested that we take a break. I explained to him that I felt he didn't love me anymore and that I knew I wasn't what he wanted or needed. I explained that there were so many things I needed from him and that I constantly felt alone. I explained that I felt we had disconnected and that I just wasn't happy anymore because of the way I was being treated. At the time, I felt that my boyfriend had a significant temper and it was usually directed at me. I was never ever physically abused or anything like that, but I was constantly on edge about what he would or wouldn't get mad about. I was mentally drained, hurt and exhausted. The break only lasted 2 days and although I felt that we needed more time, I missed him and we decided to try and make things work.

A couple weeks later was when I met Dean at work. Immediately when I met him, I was blown away by how much he listened to me when I spoke. Whenever I said anything, it felt like he shut out everything and just listened. Over a couple of weeks, Dean and I became quite good friends. At work, we would casually chit chat and it was a bit flirty, but I am such a bubbly person that I didn't realise that I was doing anything wrong at the time. I began to think of Dean as one of my best friends and felt that our conversations were so wonderful. One day after work, Dean suggested we go next door to quickly grab a bite to eat. We had a quick appy and chatted the whole time about school, travelling and I also told him about my boyfriend. I brought him up so that Dean didn't get the wrong impression and knew that I wasn't single. There was one other night that we went to get food after work. I felt that it was fine because I had laid everything out in the open that I had a boyfriend. Both of those nights, my boyfriend and I were fighting, so I didn't tell him. I looked at the situation as though Dean was my best friend and I needed someone to talk to. That night went awfully. We drove in Dean's car and ate quickly. Then Dean was going to drive me home but he took a long detour and I had no idea where we were going. I kept asking him to go home but he kept telling me that we would be going home soon. It was extremely awkward and uncomfortable. Finally, he stopped and there was a wide open space out in front of us, filled with stars in the sky. He then told me that he liked me. I had no idea what to say. I told him that I was flattered but I had a boyfriend that I loved. I explained that although me and him were going through a rough time, I still was trying to fix things. Dean was okay with that and he drove me home. I explained to him that we could only be friends and then we parted ways.

Over the course of a couple weeks, Dean and I continued to talk at work and I knew that he continued to like me. He would make comments to me at work about how much he liked me, wish I continued to just kind of brush off because I valued his friendship. I felt important and deep down, I loved the attention. I wasn't getting it from my boyfriend. I began confiding in him more and more and eventually started confiding to him more about my relationship problems. During those weeks, I would go out the bars with my girlfriends and I would see Dean there. We would all dance together and me and Dean would also just dance ourselves. During those times, he continued to tell me that he liked me and that my boyfriend didn't treat me right and that I deserved better. He made me feel as though I was being mentally abused by my boyfriend and he kept telling me that there were so many guys out there that could treat me better. Meanwhile, nothing really changed between my boyfriend and I. I still felt so disconnected with him and it seemed that everything my boyfriend lacked, Dean didn't. The bigger conversations that Dean and I had would be after a night at the bars when we would see each other, we would be completely intoxicated, and he would call me later on once he got home. There were probably only 3 of those conversations but we would talk about life, travel, music, etc. We never ever talked about sex or any intimacy as such. Although he told me numerous times that he liked me, I would tell him that I loved my boyfriend and that even though I wasn't happy with him, I was trying to make things work. Everything escalated one night when we were all at a bar and we saw each other. I saw Dean kiss my best friend. At this point, although I didn't admit anything at the time, I must have liked him because I got jealous. He saw me watch them and then walk away. After the bar closed, I was outside waiting for a ride when he came up to me and started questioning me about why I was mad at him. I kept telling him that I wasn't and he kept saying things like "You can't be mad because you say you don't like me!" I would yell back saying that I don't like Dean, I am in love with my boyfriend. Dean kept yelling that I didn't love my boyfriend over and over again. Then, he grabbed me and kissed me. At the time, I didn't even realise that I had kissed back but apparently I did. When I finally caught wind of what I was doing, I stopped and thought "oh my god, this isn't my boyfriend, what did I just do?". About a week after that incident, I saw Dean at a bar again and he pulled me aside to talk about what happened. He told me that even though he initiated the kiss, I had kissed him back. I was disgusted. I explained to him that I had to cut off ties with him completely and that I needed my space. I told him that we had both crossed so many lines and that I couldn't have Dean in my life anymore. After that, I never spoke to Dean again.

A few days after the kiss, I sat my boyfriend down and told him half-truths. I told him that we had kissed and that Dean liked me but that it was all initiated by him and that I played no part in it. I told him that when Dean kissed me, I immediately pushed him away and told him off. He also had no idea that me and Dean were as close as we were- that we had lots of conversations and that I shared personal aspects of my life with him... Things that I should have been talking to my boyfriend about. My boyfriend was so forgiving but he asked "are you sure that's all that happened?", I said yes.

It has been over a year since that situation and the closeness with Dean lasted about 3-4 weeks. At the time, I talked to a girlfriend who had been in a similar situation with a male friend. She suggested that if I knew that it would never happen again and if I was truly sorry, I should just leave it and not tell my boyfriend the complete truth because it would only hurt him. For a year, I hid the full truth from my boyfriend and we stayed together. Our relationship has become so strong and wonderful. We are both two COMPLETELY different people. After that situation, we both started treating each other better and I began to realise that I was hugely part of the reason our relationship was falling apart. I had so many things going on emotionally that I taken so much of it out on him. He had done the same to me. The past year has been the best year of our entire relationship. We had an apartment together and we also now have a dog. I did so much reflecting over the past year about the Dean situation and I began to realise that I had had an emotional affair. Although it began purely as an innocent friendship, I had crossed lines. I never told Dean that I liked him or was interested, but I didn't end the friendship when I knew things had felt stronger for him. I continued to share more and more with him- things I should have been talking to my boyfriend about. I disregarded thoughts of knowing that I shouldn't be on the phone with him or dancing with him at the bars. I justified them in thinking, "well, my boyfriend gets mad at me for anything I do, so whatever". I justified it by the fact that it never was physical, up until the kiss. I subconsciously justified everything by continuously telling myself and the people around me that "DEAN IS ONLY A FRIEND". I am not sure that I even realised at the time that I was doing anything wrong, but I sure realised it soon after it was over. During that period I was so unhappy- I partied and drank all of the time, I spent more time with my friends than with my boyfriend, I was in constant pain and I was just completely miserable. I can honestly say that I never intended for things to go as far as they did and even though I knew that Dean liked me, I saw him just as a good friend. It wasn't that I was attracted to Dean or wanted to be with him- I just liked the way we could talk about anything and that he made me feel important. I was in such a mental fog at the time that I lacked any good judgement about the situation. Until I was out of it, I didn't realise how much I had lead Dean on and not stopped it all when I could have.

Hindsight it 20/20. If I was so unhappy with my relationship at the time, I should have gotten out of it. It is also NEVER a great idea to confide in a person of the opposite sex about relationship problems because that opens so many doors and pathways without you even realising it. It is also a terrible idea to do anything that you know would make your significant other uncomfortable. I should have never went to grab food twice with Dean because that also opened up doors for him to come into. Although I tried to constantly make it clear that I had a boyfriend, I was doing so many things to negate that it mattered. What I thought was harmless at the time, might be the thing that is going to destroy my 5 year relationship with the man I love.

As I said before, our relationship has been going great but I have lived with the guilt for over a year. I woke up the other morning with a thought out of knowhere that I can never get married to my boyfriend and make vows to him if he doesn't know everything about me. Impulsively, I wrote him a huge e-mail telling him the absolute truth of everything about Dean. I didn't even think before I sent it and although I knew it had the potential to ruin my relationship, I knew it was the right thing to do. As soon as the situation with Dean had ended, I am not sure I even fully understood the magnitude of my actions. It took me months and months of reflecting and analysing everything I had done and realising its impact. I finally realised that I had had an emotional affair. My heart had wandered and I shared parts of myself with someone other than the person I loved. I thought back to how damaged I was at the time and how vulnerable I had been. Thinking back, everything that Dean added to my life, I had told him that my boyfriend lacked. I literally told him the things I needed in a partner and he took that and ran with it. He fed off the information I handed to him and manipulated my thoughts to feeling even more disconnected with my boyfriend. I truly believed that Dean loved the chase with me. I'm not sure that he would have even known what to do if he had successfully played a part in breaking up my relationship but he tried so hard even after I had given him rejection.

My boyfriend is extremely hurt. He feels that I betrayed his love and trust, which is all so understandable. What makes everything so much worse, is that I moved across the country almost 1.5 months ago for a school placement. I told my boyfriend everything in the worst way and at the worst time. I feel absolutely terrible for what I did to him and I can't think of a time where I won't be kicking myself for the awful things I did. I thought about the situation almost every single day over the past year and would oftentimes wonder if there would ever be a day that I wouldn't feel guilty anymore. At the time, I didn't tell my boyfriend the truth about everything because I felt it was unfair to put him in a position of so much hurt. I thought that telling him would only relieve my guilt and put him through so much pain. I figured that having to sit in my guilt would be punishment enough. I also feared losing my relationship, because after everything had happened, I felt as though it was a wake up call. I began realising everything that I lacked in a girlfriend for him and I realised exactly what I needed in a partner. We started communicating more and being so much better to each other. The situation had a big enough impact on me to know that I will never ever put myself in a situation like that again. Once I caught wind of what I was doing, I stopped. I broke contact and I tried to make things right with my boyfriend. I haven't been able to eat for days and I cannot even bare the thought of losing him. He has made little contact with me since I sent the email, just a couple of messages telling me that he doesn't know that he can be with me anymore, that he has never been so hurt in his life, and that he doesn't think he can ever trust me again. Everything he is feeling is so fair. I broke his heart and I disappointed myself so much. I went against all of my morals and values and got caught up in something I never thought I could. This situation is so unreflective of the kind of person I am. I have so much love for my boyfriend and I can't forsee my life without him. I am trying to give him his space and let him think. I have to respect the possibility that he may not want to be with me after this. It hurts so much because it happened a year ago and we both have changed so much... I have changed so much. I hurt him even more by waiting so long to tell him the truth.

If anyone has any advice or thoughts about all of this, I would sincerely appreciate it. Thanks for listening.

zeeohsixer 1st February 2017 5:48 PM

You have a good heart and I admire your honesty. The thing is you're only 21. Don't get married before you're 30. You will thank me in 9 years.

Have fun, don't get too serious and live life. If you don't do it now, you will end up married to this guy, two kids by 25 and full of resentment.

Space Ritual 1st February 2017 6:40 PM

What a sad story that could have been totally avoided...totally avoided

I am going to be a bit harsh on you because by the length of your post and the over abundance of "I" statements that would indicate to me that you really don't quite understand the true gravity of what you've done.

It's not personal, but hand holding and telling you everything s going to be alright and it's all going to be ok would be doing you a total disservice, because as much as that is what you would like to hear it is not what you need to hear.

Part of being an adult is accepting responsibility for our actions whether they are good or bad. Hiding this for a year is hardly accepting responsibility. And on top of it when you did spill the beans even then you didn't even come fully clean, you withheld things not with any intention of not hurting him, but not having to face any further consequences for yourself.

You didn't get caught up in anything...you made CHOICES, and poor ones from start to finish. That's the sucky thing about making poor choices is that they usually end up hurting someone else far more than our choices ever hurt ourselves

For many people EA's are far more destructive than a physical affair. However in any event the constant lying that takes place either by comission or omission are usually the things that make these situations a total deal breaker.

This is now for all intents and purposes out of your hands. If you really want to do something right, then work on yourself, not for your boyfriend, but FOR yourself. So that you can be a safe person to be around in the future in your next relationship.

The best advice you'll get is to let this guy go, an then move forward with working on yourself so you can learn be an adult and live with some integrity. This could be the best teaching moment in your young life you could possibly get. I had my most teachable moments after I had done something totally foul to somebody else. It works the same for everybody.

I suggest you take advantage of the moment and work on yourself.

Good Luck.


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