How Does an Innocent Friendship Turn Into an Emotional Affair?

When an innocent friendship causes problems in a marriage or love relationship, it is emotional cheating. The “betrayer” may not even be aware that he or she is having an emotional affair – especially if it’s an innocent work or community-based relationship. But the heart has reasons, plans and paths that reason cannot know.

Here’s a brief description of how an innocent friendship that starts at work, church or in any organization can develop into an affair of the heart. I also included tips from psychologists and marriage counselors, and thoughts on whether women are more likely to have emotional affairs or attachments. In Innocent Friendship or Emotional Affair? 4 Ways to Know I describe in more detail how to recognize and prevent emotional cheating.

An emotional affair can be difficult to wrap your mind around. It’s not a physical affair; it’s a meeting of the mind and heart (and thus called an “affair of the heart”). An emotional affair is an intimate friendship with someone who is not your partner. Can you have an “emotional affair” with someone of the same sex? Yes! It’s called best friends, kindred spirits, even spiritual soulmates.

What’s the difference between being good friends with someone of the same sex and an emotional affair? Physical attraction is part of it…but more important is how much you share with your friend. If you are telling your friend things you can’t or won’t share with your husband or life partner, then you are having an affair of the heart.

If you’re curious about physical infidelity, read Why Your Boyfriend Cheated: A Relationship Style That Leads to Affairs. There are differences between emotional and physical cheating, but the reasons for straying are the same. Emotional infidelity doesn’t seem to break wedding or verbal vows, create unwanted pregnancies, or spread disease. And yet it contains a depth of intimacy and connection that crosses boundaries and even breaks hearts.

Intimate friendships cause serious problems in love relationships, and can be as devastating to a marriage or partnership as physical unfaithfulness — if not more so. Knowing the difference between innocent flirting in friendship and emotional cheating (an affair of the heart) is important. It’s a difference that can make or break your relationship or marriage.

How Innocent Friendships Become Emotional “Affairs of the Heart”

Most people don’t plan to be emotionally unfaithful. Emotional cheating starts by casually chatting with coworkers or people they see regularly – and it grows into more than “friends.” They go for lunches, take business trips, or make special efforts to see the person’ to whom they’re getting attached. They think about their “friend” more and more, until it becomes a definite emotional bond. Those are signs of emotional cheating, and they definitely don’t help you achieve your marriage goals!

Internet, online and digital relationships aren’t just popular, they’re necessary in today’s culture and climate. Innocent friendships can start online and public, and quickly develop into an emotional connection that seems better off private.

You know you’re having an emotional affair if you can’t tell your partner about your conversations. If your friendship is a secret, it’s not innocent. And that’s how a friendship becomes an emotional affair: it is kept secret, and it grows bigger than anyone thought it would.

How Innocent Friendships Become Emotional “Affairs of the Heart”
Innocent Friendships and Emotional Affairs

Innocent Friendships Can Start in Person or Online

The internet offers privacy and space for friendships to develop without anyone knowing. Friends may never meet in person. If a friendship does start in person (at work, church, the gym or in the community), meetings are open and innocent. Relationships can flourish in public places like the office or even in more private places, like homes or hotels.

Anonymity is a huge problem with online relationships and internet affairs. The privacy increases the chances that you’ll share more intimate secrets and private thoughts (things you may be reluctant to share with your partner or someone in person). Another danger is the temptation to idealize your friend and create the most wonderful, kind, smart, and funny person you’ve ever known! You haven’t met in person – and you certainly haven’t dealt with dirty socks, disciplining kids, or getting lost in a new city together. Your relationship hasn’t been tried or tested. This is the perfect opportunity for an innocent friendship to turn into emotional cheating or an affair of the heart.

Friendships develop into emotional affairs when people discuss matters that aren’t shared with their own partners. Sometimes husbands or wives talk about their marriage with their friends. If they’re talking to a friend of the opposite (or even the same) sex about matters of the heart, they can grow deeply emotionally attached. This emotional connection is the “cheating” aspect of an emotional affair.

If you already know you’re in too deep, read Emotionally Detaching From Someone You Love But Can’t Be With.

Are Women More Likely to Have Emotional Affairs?

Women are usually the ones who push the relationship further. Women are often naturally or instinctively emotional and connectable. They often want relationships to move from friendship to love, and even from online friendship to in person meetings. Women tend to get more emotionally involved and are more emotionally invested than men.

Men, on the other hand, see the online relationships or emotional infidelity as part of their lives – a nice part, but just one part. Generally speaking, women envision soul mates or life partners; men may just be amusing themselves, having fun, and connecting with new people.

6 Signs of Emotional Cheating

An affair of the heart happens when you:

  1. Discuss your partner and relationships with your friend. You share your fears, hopes, and dreams (this is emotional intimacy).
  2. Meet your “friend” for dinner or lunch without telling your partner.
  3. Keep your computer, files, and internet sites password-protected.
  4. Hide or are secretive about your life, relationships, and activities.
  5. Keep your partner waiting while you spend time with your “friend.”
  6. Stay in regular, intimate contact with ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. Emotional affairs of the heart can develop from innocent friendships with past sweethearts.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming or even promising that you will never have an emotional affair. Instead, focus on developing a good, strong relationship with your partner. Initiate open and honest discussions about your relationship. Have fun together! Fall in love in new ways on new days. Don’t forget what brought you together in the first place.

“It’s so easy,” says marriage counselor Gary Neuman, “to forget why we fell in love.”

Have you had an innocent friendship with a member of the opposite sex that caused problems in your relationship?  Feel free to share your story below.


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148 thoughts on “How Does an Innocent Friendship Turn Into an Emotional Affair?”

  1. I was talking to a random Internet person for 2 years before I was in my current relationship and I was not used to having someone look over my shoulder to see what I was doing. Me and the Internet girl never spoke about anything sexual and being a friend I bought her a gift of a Harley Quinn costume the not bad version but it was as a friend for a friend for her birthday all before my current relationship but because my current girlfriend looked over my shoulder and I not being use to having that done I hid my phone and when asked to see the conversation I said “there are some things that might hurt your feelings” because I knew that if my girl was to see that I bought another female something regardless of the fact we didn’t even know each other at the time I bought the gift it would start a fight and I did not want to do that but because I said what I said I have now been accused of emotionally cheating with her for the past 3 years now even tho I have deleted all of my social media accounts that had her in them. I still do not have my social media sites and do not even talk to anybody anymore because I do not want to be accused of cheating again however my girl has both physically and emotionally cheated on me but still does not want to trust me or believe me when I say that I am not a cheater and if I was to cheat I would end it as soon as said cheating took place. How can I get that trust back and be loved like I was before all of this?

  2. Having had an emotional affair recently…the wound is still open…I am married and meet this guy through a game app…we moved to a messenger app and things got out of control…I have a great husband he in no way deserved what I did….I did tell him everything and he has forgiven me…but I find myself wanting to make sure the “other guy” is ok and let him know I’m sorry…I won’t as I realize I have to end all contact….I was very attracted to him…but I love my husband and don’t wanna lose him….I am proof it can happen to anyone even good marriages… if u are currently in an emotional affair. STOP……u will not only hurt your spouse but yourself as well…’s not worth it…

  3. My husband just recently reconnected with an old middle school friend. He told me about it and how happy he was to reconnect with her and everything. He is back home now visiting family and she lives in the same town so of course he meets with her and her family. They have been emailing each other everyday.

    Well I came across one of the emails yesterday that just tore me apart. It basically said that my husband felt like he couldn’t trust himself around her that he would want to try something with her (like kiss) but at the same time doesn’t want to mess up the great things they both have- their friendship and marriages. He just wanted to let her know what he thinks about when he sees her or hears her voice. That he would try to keep it inside from now on. Key word Try. And then she replies that a part of her is relieved that it wasn’t just a middle school crush. That she finds herself wanting to talk to him all the time and that she keeps checking if he emailed her. She feels the same intensity that he does and it scares her. She looks at her husband and still loves him and nothing has changed since my husband came back into her life which is good. She says that she realizes that he will always hold a piece of her heart which pounds at the thought of him.

    Of course I confronted my husband on this and he wrote back nothing happened. He made sure that he only met her with her family around. That he loves me only. So I emailed him how I felt betrayed and empty inside and of course a lot more stuff. Then he emails he never thought of it that way but he can see how I would feel like that. That he is truly sorry and he will do anything to make it up to me and show me that he really does love me and everything.

    I also emailed the friend. She emailed saying she was really sorry that I got hurt but nothing went on (physically) that it was only a middle school crush. That my husband loves me and he talked about how happy he was and everything. So I replied and let her know how I felt about what went on. That something did happen even if it wasn’t physical. Plus I let her know I wasn’t going to tell her husband to ruin her marriage like she did mine.

    I don’t know I’m just hurt mostly by him. How can he say those things about another woman. I haven’t emailed or talked to him since. I want to save our marriage and so does he but it just hurts so much right now that I don’t want to deal with it. I guess we should see a counselor. I think I will give it another day or two before I reply back to him.

  4. I need to ask my husband about some of his behavior that our 14 yr old son has witnessed and has brought to me recently.

    BACK STORY: Husband works 3rd shift and son is homeschooled, so he’s home with him all day, while I work 8a to 5pm. Husband works for a juvenile center where he has to check jail cells every 15 mins and he often works alone. We talk sometimes at night during his shift, and he tells me about work drama, which includes folk’s names. He and his deejaying partner have a very popular monthly event in our town that he promotes heavily on social media, especially fb (it has its own page).

    ISSUE: 1 month ago, my son just came out of the blue and said “Dad was fb video chatting with a female.” I asked if he knew who it was and he said her name. (I have never heard husband mention this chick’s name, ever.) He also went on to say that he remembers her from about 2 yrs ago when he and dad went to the mall to look at some clothes (husband hates shopping, including window shopping), and she was in the store they were browsing through. He said his dad told him to go to the young men’s section and look for some jeans. Husband and female walked around store talking. Son also said that she came to one of his little league practices and talked to dad in the parking lot. This was a year and a half ago. Another thing he told me is that when they recently went up to his job to drop off some money to his dj partner who works at the same place as he, just a different shift, the female came out the door, which means she works there, too, but different shift. We both have friends of the opposite sex, and I don’t mind him having friends, but why haven’t you mentioned her? My husband has a lot of female friends, some that I’ve met and have become good friends with. The video chatting is an issue because, it’s another level of intimacy, and the chick he’s chatting with works with him and I’ve never met or heard her mentioned. Also, About 2 months ago I asked him if he video calls, and he said he did once, by accident. (Yeah, ok.) He slipped up about 8 yrs ago and had a one night stand with a “friend.” He told me the very night it happened, and we were trying to rebuild trust. That was fine the first few yrs after the fling, but since he has become very popular, there have been issues. My dilemma is how to I bring up the issues my son has witnessed without putting him in it? They are close, but my husband is a strong-willed alpha male type, so I’m afraid of how he will respond to our son.

  5. It takes time to rebuild trust in a relationship, especially in “affairs of the heart” or what seems like emotional cheating in innocent friendships. Sometimes, those hurts go deep…and it takes a long time to repair the damage.

    The best way to rebuild trust with your girlfriend is to be open and honest about your activities and social media accounts. Make promises to her, and keep them! Be an open book…and trust that over time, your girlfriend will love you the way she used to.

    And, remember that love changes over time – especially as relationships progress. You and your girlfriend will never have the exact same love you did when you first started dating, because you’ve both grown and learned and made mistakes and healed. Love evolves — and in the best relationships, love grows deeper and stronger.

    Now, you tell me: how can you rebuild trust with your girlfriend? What are two or three specific things you can do to reconnect with her? If you can’t come up with at least one way, then it’s time to talk to her and ask her what she needs from you.

    What do you think?

  6. My Neighbour Has been having an Emotional Affair with my husband. Our FriendShip is on the Line Because of their “Innocent Friendship.”

  7. My husband of 10 yrs started chatting with an old gfriend. They were together at elementary and I and the girl were together at high school. My husband once told me that he once proposed to her but she refused the proposal. One day through social media these two people connected and now the lady has started an elementary alumni knowing that my hubby will be in the alumni. They chat, write to each other on whatsupp all the time and phone each other when he is at work. The lady is married and lives outside the country and she tells my hubby she is not happy. She suggested to my hubby to start business together and yet this girl did not even want me to know that they were in the same alumni. She never mentioned to me about business venture through our chatting with her, I tried to disagree with my hubby about their venture but it looks like they are already registering the company in the country where the lady lives. I sneak at night to read messages and it looks like some days when he says he is busy at work and not able to send a text to me, he has time to write to her. I have not said anything to him because i sneak on phones messages and he never leaves his phone down. He even wants to go and settle there where the lady lives. What do you call this affair?

  8. Hello everyone.
    I have a question. I have been with my girlfriend for 6 months now and at the beginning, I still had feelings for my ex. I really liked my new girlfriend, but wasn’t completely emotionally distant from the last. She found out I was still talking to my ex and till this day, she never lets me hear the end of it. I have been faithful to her prior to that one day and 6 months later she continues to bring it up over and over and over when I have truly been let those feelings go months ago. I know what I did is considered emotional cheating since I never physically been with my ex. I’m asking you guys wouldn’t it be a form of emotional cheating if she keeps harming our relationship by bringing up past things when she have said she will not talk about those things and she forgives me? She also has been wanting a 3some with either another guy or girl, but I told her I didn’t want that but just focus on or relationship. Am I wrong for telling her that because she calls me selfish for not letting her experience it when I have before in my past. It brought more harm to my last relationship, so I’m trying to protect my new relationship by not engaging in those things.

    I’m not a cheater.. I just messed up that one time during our early relationship.

    1. Wow I was struck by some of the similarities between what you’ve written and what I’m going through right now… I don’t think you’d call your gf behaviour emotional cheating exactly, but it is damaging if she is so unwilling to talk through things with you and I would say you’re 100% right about focusing on your relationship right now without a 3some and its potential emotional fallout.
      I’ve been with my bf for 7 months now, he has never really gotten over his ex and in fact on Tuesday I found him messaging her saying things like “I’ll never love anyone how I loved you”. Not the first time I’ve caught him doing this either.
      This morning was the worst betrayal yet – he left his phone at home and though it was wrong of me to snoop I’ve had a nagging suspicion I couldn’t just let go of and I did look through his texts. Very wrong I know and hate that I did it. He has been messaging a woman and arranging to meet her when I’m at work tomorrow night. I contacted the woman, she knew nothing about me which I believe – they hadn’t met yet but my bf was definately sexting her. He called me on his way to work this morning from a workmates phone and I told him I had found the messages and was leaving him. He begged me to wait and be at home when he gets back so we can talk, but I told him no I couldn’t face looking at him. However here I am, been crying my eyes out all day sitting on the sofa. Packed a few bags into my car but figure I do need to see him face to face to at least ask why. Am even wondering if I could forgive him and we could move past this…. am I a fool? I think maybe I am, I just don’t want things to be over between us.

  9. My husband seems to seek to please, help and be the good guy to many female friends. I feel that I give him attention, etc but it seems to not be enough. I even think a few of these women he has, was, still is having emotional affairs with. When I express my concern he doesn’t want to discuss nor entertain my viewpoint nor will he attend any marriage counseling . I am very unhappy and concerned. I am beginning to think I will have to accept this or leave.

    1. My husband is the same way. He wants to be everybody’s friend and to be able to fix everyone’s problems. I’ve told him repeatedly that it is not something a married man should be doing, but he blows it off as me being controling. We are in the process of starting marriage counseling. I am hoping that it will help and that he will stop messaging other women if the counselor says he needs to stop. I also feel he doesn’t trust me and that he projects his ex-wife’s faults onto me which makes him want to be even more distant.

  10. My husband has quite a few female friends that he’s known since childhood. None make me nervous except one woman. He had a sexual relationship with her when he was high school age (he’s 38 now), and she seems to have grown up to be a woman that likes to get to try be close to men who are unavailable to her (even having an affair with a married doctor she worked with).
    I became uncomfortable with some text messages that she sent him which talked referred to them cuddling when they were kids. It just seems like in her communication with him she is always looking for his validation and saying things to facilitate intimacy. She instigates probably 80% of the communication but I do know that he called her once when he was on a business trip.
    I brought this up to my husband and I was pretty angry with him about it, he in turn, told her that I was uncomfortable with some of the things she says to him, but continued to talk with her but would do so while at work or when I wasn’t around.
    I recently brought it up to him again (after finding her number on our phone bill), more gently this time, and the convo has been more open. He says he understands and that he wouldn’t like it if the roles were reversed and I was carrying on the same relationship secretly. I told him that I can’t make him do anything but what would obviously make me happy would be for him to stop speaking to her. I don’t think he’s going to though! He won’t volunteer these words “I’ll stop talking to her” so it seems like he doesn’t want to.
    I’m trying not to be hurt by this but I am. It does hurt me. I told him I feel that he is choosing her over me. Any advice at this point?

  11. Hi ! I have been married for 10 years and have two kids from my wife..I love my wife to a great extent and have never cheated on her even in my wildest of thoughts..Before marriage she told me she loved having male friends and that it was of great value to her and I accepted that with a pinch of salt -However, since of late she has been chatting and talking on the phone for hours..sometimes it goes on till 7 am in the morning (whole night) ..I hear her saying and discussing things about me good and bad..How I love her some much and how angry I can become etc etc…My point is this emotional attachment with a complete stranger who she never met in person drives me to an extent to believe that she is going insane..I try talking sense into her by making her understand that its unhealthy to discuss marital affair issues with friends and that its not ethical for a women with 2 kids to speak so often on the phone but, she simply refuses to give in and point blank says that my friends are vital..How do I sum up this what can be the consequences, will my marriage break up..I need to know as its my hearts desire to keep the marriage alive and ensure my kids don’t succumb to being a part of a broken home..Please help me?

    1. Hi James, I’ve been in the same issue or problem. And I think you need to sober up sooner than later. In March this year I found out my wife had become so close and emotionally intimate with her colleague and our friend after I allowed her to be free to talk to make friends. Mind you I’ve been married for 10years, I’ve two boys 5 and 3 year olds. So I feel you and I are in similar position or situation in life. My advise to you will be to get to the bottom of the matter before you wife starts physical intimacy. It’s not very far off. If you check. Out well… You will notice that, it’s her who initiates the conversations and not the male friends, you too may notice if you reflect on your last couple years, she has been distant to you. I would say that, you’re lucky to have noticed it, and spoken to her, but I would suggest you take it a note higher to ask her out frequently, ask her to be open with her phone, emails and whatsapp. Do not, for crying out loud… Shout at her or be angry at her… As I was. Just try to understand her. From my experience I learnt that women who have given birth after few years they want to boost their egos and they need more attention, so they go out to get more attention, they change their dress codes, put more time in dressing, and create more time to be away from their spouses so that they can have time with their new lovers. In short, you’re about to lose your wife unless you go back to basics and start taking her out more and increase transparency between you two…

  12. Obsessively Guilty?

    Continuously, almost obsessively, I visit these emotional cheating websites and I can’t help but look at my own situation. An old friend that I started to confide in, that I probably felt an attraction to early on and still told about my relationship problems. I never had a close relationship with my ex to begin with; there was a lot of distance with us, he had substance abuse problems. He also did a few things (i.e. drunkenly groping girls) that pushed me further into talking to this ‘friend.’

    Now, I always tell myself I didn’t go to my partner with problems because he’d ‘lash’ out and I was afraid of his temper. I don’t know if this justifies going to someone else though, and secretly building a relationship (aka. just an innocent ‘friendship’) for maybe 7 or 8 months) and increasingly telling my friend more and more about my problems. Eventually, I began to fantasize not sexually but this person ‘saving’ me from my current relationship (i.e. someone I could run to if my ex really lost it). This is wrong.. I know!! It’s such a female fantasy!! I still feel bad, and people tell me not to feel bad. They see the way I am with this man and our relationship is so close and wonderful.. whereas with me ex people said they always found our relationship kind of distant and off. I nevertheless did emotionally cheat, however… my ex lost it, and continued to harass me for months to the point where I notified the Police.

    Still, though people tell me not to feel guilty, I keep visiting these forums on emotional cheating? WHY?!? It’s like I want validation from people to tell me what I did is not that wrong.

  13. Dear confused,

    The first thing that would worry me is that your fiance keeps talking to her ex boyfriend even though it really bothers you. Her friendship with him may be perfectly innocent – he may be the nicest, goodest guy in the world – but she should put your feelings first.

    The second thing is the emotional and physical distance. That is often a sign of pulling away.

    If I were you, I’d talk to her about the distance. Set aside a couple of hours, and spend time talking about what’s been going on. Listen to what she says without arguing or getting defensive. I don’t know what’s going on with her, but you might be able to find out if you’re open, kind, gentle, and listening without talking.

    Let me know how it goes!


  14. Hello, my fiance has been talking with an ex boyfriend text and pic swap. It really bothers me and she knows it. I even let her go alone to see him after I met him. She says he is a good person. She has become distant both emoitionally and phsically and emotionally. We are together all the time. What can I do?

  15. Dear Mora Leigh,

    If you feel guilty about being friends with him, then you need to let him go — for your own good and his. Whether or not you call it “emotional cheating”, the fact is that he needs to be working on his marriage. He has to start talking to his wife, and investing his time and energy on building a better relationship with her.

    In my opinion, you’re not helping him become a better man. Before he can build friendships with women, he needs to make sure his marriage is solid.

    I’m sorry – I know that you care for him and like spending time with him. I believe this is one of those times that you have to be cruel to be kind.

    What do you think? What is the right thing to do? Think with your head, not your heart…


  16. My friend got married to his ex girlfriend a few months ago. He’s in the marines and was just wanting someone to love him.. Before he went through with it he would tell me he didn’t know if it was right to get married and opened up to me about his feelings. I’ve always been there for him and tried to help. He’s home from out of state for Christmas and we’ve been spending a lot of time together.. We’re really emotionally connected and he’s regretting getting married… I feel guilty about the whole situation and wish the circumstances were different. I don’t want to be a factor in him getting divorced but I think it’s to late that for that… Nothing physical has happened between us.. It feels like we are meant to be together but It feels like we’re doing something wrong at the same time! He goes out I state again soon and idk how things will work out I majorly need advice:(

  17. Dear hurting,

    My advice is to find ways to be kinder and more gentle to yourself. I tend to be the same way – I beat myself up for mistakes and have a hard time forgiving myself for even the littlest things!

    I’ve learned that if we’re hard on ourselves, we’re hard on the people we love. It’s not possible to be harsh and unforgiving with ourselves, and kind and loving with the people we’re closest to.

    I’m forgiving of everyone except myself, my husband, and my closest family members. For some reason, I hold the people closest to me to extremely high standards. This is very painful and destructive for both me and them, and for our relationship.

    So, my advice is to un-learn your negative ways of thinking. I’m a big fan of counseling – sometimes you only need a couple of sessions to start to change how you think and treat yourself. Books are also good — I recommend books about being more compassionate to yourself. I get books from the library – I search for books on self-compassion, self-forgiveness, etc.

    Learning how to be kind to yourself will improve your emotional health, your marriage, and even your friendships with others. It’s so important — I hope you

    Here’s an article I wrote about self-forgiveness and overcoming self-hatred:

    I hope this helps – and encourage you to start exploring ways to stop punishing yourself so harshly! Maybe you need to figure out why you do it, where the roots are. Or, maybe you just need to work on thought-stopping (a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy). I don’t know – this is something you need to explore in person, with a counselor.

    I wish you all the best, and would give you a big hug if you were here! 🙂 Come back anytime, share your thoughts.


  18. Laurie,

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    I did exactly as I described in the original post. I have always been one to punish myself harshly. Self-guilt and shame have always been major issues of mine. I am sure that the man we are speaking of doesn’t even think of all the times we talked to each other. He referred to me numerous times as “his friend”. I referred to him several times as “my friend”. The fact that we were friends was reinstated numerous times. Again, I sometimes think he would have reached for more if I would have let him.

    I just love my husband so very much. I would never hurt him for the world. I always punish myself harshly. It’s hard for me to get over mistakes I have made or wrong I have done. In my heart of hearts, I do not think I engaged in an emotional affair. I think my crime was not severing ties earlier and not “calling him out” when he would try to flirt with me just to keep a level of friendship. I’m a friendly person–I love talking to people and getting to know them.

    I just doubt myself so much. I constantly doubt myself. I think my problems lie in that. I reached out to you, Laurie, for your advice. Can I have your thoughts?

  19. Dear hurting,

    One of the most difficult parts of being married is hurting your spouse, forgiving yourself, and moving on.

    You made a mistake. You regret your connection with this man, and you severed it. You have a renewed focus and dedication to your husband and marriage, and you want to make your husband happy.

    I’m a bit confused about the degree of self-loathing, shame, and guilt you’re carrying around. From what you say, you were chatting with your friend on Facebook every day, but you talked about stuff that you’d talk about with your friends. Either you did more with this man than you describe here, or there is something else fueling your self-perception. It seems like your self-punishment does not fit the crime of emotional cheating.

    Think about how much self-loathing and shame you feel…is it appropriate to the mistake you made? You can answer me here — or just think about it.

    The way I see it, you made a mistake. This won’t be the last mistake you make in your marriage, I’m afraid. I’ve hurt my husband more times than I can count, which makes me feel absolutely terrible. But, I tried to learn from each mistake I made. And I tried to make it up to him by not repeating my mistakes.

    The first few years of our marriage were the hardest, because the learning and growth curve is so steep! Being married is an art, and it takes time to learn it. You’ll make more mistakes — and you need to learn how to forgive yourself and move on.

    What do you think?


  20. Dear Laurie,

    I am hurting. I’ve been married for a little while now, I’m young, and I just started a new job last year. Whenever I started this job, several of the men started to flirt with me. I’ve never really been a very flirtatious person, so I would just be friendly (not flirtatious) back.

    One of these men began messaging me on Facebook. Again, we would just have small talk back and forth. It got to the point where we would talk daily–just small talk (movies, music, books, work, life etc.). I never looked at him as more than a friend. I told him things that I would tell any of my friends. When we would talk, I always referenced my husband often–daily.

    I think this man tried to flirt with me often and I never really picked it up. The times that I did notice, I would always quickly change the subject or not play along. I noticed that he seemed to be very unhappy in his marriage/life. The few times he ever mentioned anything like that to me, I would always tell him that I would be praying that things would turn around.

    We hadn’t talked in a month or so and I was just sick of Facebook in general. I later went on to delete my Facebook–this has been several months ago. I also wanted rid of it because this experience made me realize that not everyone’s intentions are pure. I just wanted rid of the avenue. We still work together and all seems to be well.

    To make a long story short, I feel so guilty. I feel terrible that this person flirted with me and that I allowed it out of partial ignorance and that I merely looked at him as a “friend”. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I do not believe in making mountains out of molehills. I think if I would have “picked up” on his cues, he would have acted on them. I basically think he was “filling me out”. It hurts me and it makes me feel guilty. I absolutely adore my husband–he is the love of my life. I do not want anyone else nor have I ever wanted anyone else. I, by nature, am a friendly person. I enjoy talking to people and getting to know them.

    Laurie, I need your advice. I need your help. I would never intentionally hurt my husband. Every marriage has its struggles and we have had our share of them. However, we truly adore one another and are dedicated to making it work. I just carry around so much self-loathing, guilt, and shame. I find myself breaking down to cry often because I’m so angry with myself.

  21. Also, how long has it been since you and he have been together without him contacting his ex-girlfriend? It took me a long time to get over my husband’s past, just because it takes time to heal.

  22. Dear Stephanie,

    I know how you feel – I was so insecure and jealous about my husband’s ex-girlfriend for the first 3 years he and I were together! And he kept reassuring me that he didn’t want to be with her, that he was completely over her.

    It was my own insecurities that kept me trapped in the web of suspicion, distrust, and pain. I was jealous not because of him, but because of me.

    Is this you?

    Your boyfriend hasn’t emotionally cheated on you, and is physically faithful to you. What is preventing you from trusting him?

  23. Laurie,
    When I first met my boyfriend, I knew he was the one. But then a problem occured – He would call his ex all the time, lied to her on the phone when I was with him saying “No I am not dating anyone, when at this time I had moved in with him, he would talk about his past sex/sextoys with her to me, go visit her, personal favors for her, and pay her bills. We were living together and I said we are not paying her bills.. he agreed, 4 months later i found receipts from stuff he paid for her.. he would talk to her, he saved pictures of her including some naked ones, and when i asked him to get rid of it, he would move it somewhere else, etc. I confronted him every time something happened, and one day i had my bags packed. After that day everything has changed.. he know longer does what he did before. However, his ex is constantly trying to contact him for money and favors. He doesnt give in. I m proud of him, forgave him and moved on.. Things were great, off and on I would think of it, but woukd push it out of my head. A trigger would happen every now and then (seeing the blanket that she was naked in, in a picture) and I would become upset. He is VERY VERY Supportive of me when I have a dream, or have a sad day becasue of it, or a trigger happens. I know he wont do it again, I trust him and love him to the moon and back, but the past is haunting me. I have dreams ALL the time about it, I have triggers in the house that bring back thoughts… when this happens he supports me, but i feel like im holding it over him and thats not my intention cause I want to move forward, for US to move forward. Help me : (

  24. I am very confused. My hubby of 20+ years began coming home from work talking about “Cat”, a new girl at work in his group …..all I heard about for weeks was her. I was getting suspicious because he began to be on the cell phone a lot, of course it was “for work”. Then we went on a trip and while he was in the shower I noticed his cell phone was on. I looked and found texts from him to her that were “more than friend comments”…the last two were “sleep tight :)” and “if I get bored in the middle of the night and can’t sleep I will text you”…..I confronted him, he denied any wrong doing. He also said she is just a friend. Two weeks later, he lost his wedding ring…he said he had to take it off for a work project! He thinks I am crazy and I think he is too close to this girl…..Am I wrong to feel like something is not kosher?

  25. Dear Rachel,

    You’re a good person, who feels guilty for a good reason! Yes, your friend is emotionally cheating on his girlfriend.

    Here’s what I think:

    Is It Wrong to Spend Time With a Guy Who Has a Girlfriend?

    Your friendship isn’t innocent, and it could really hurt your friend’s girlfriend. He is wrong to have an emotional connection with you, and a romantic connection with his girlfriend. It’s not fair to either of you!

    Read the article, and let me know what you think.


  26. Dear Kenny,

    I admire your desire to keep your relationship alive and save your marriage! Many long-term married couples go through serious relationship problems, including emotional and physical cheating. But they find a way to work through their issues and rebuild their marriages.

    Here’s what I wrote for you:

    How Do We Move Past Our Old Problems?

    I’m afraid I don’t have any easy answers for. Your marriage problems are complicated, because human beings are extremely complex! You won’t find the answers you’re looking for in a website. I think you need objective, professional help from a counselor – even if you don’t go for marriage counseling, I think you’d benefit from getting help for yourself. Your daughters will benefit from having an emotionally healthy dad, even if he doesn’t have a perfect relationship with their mom.

    I wish you all the best, and hope you return to let me know how you’re doing.


  27. I love this guy and I think he was committed emotional cheating, not to me but to his girlfriend. We were just “friend” but I think it is more than friends, it’s like we have a relationship. I felt guilt because I know he has a girlfriend and we were acting like a couple.. It’s very complicated in my part, because I felt like a low level girl who is getting love from a person who is committed. I felt guilt deep within but I am very happy with him.. I dont know what to think please help me..

  28. Dear Laurie,
    My Wife and I have been together since she was 15 and I was 17, High school sweet hearts. She got pregnant at age 18 and had our first child who is now five along with two more children ages 3 and 1. We have had our ups and downs in our relationship dealing with infidelity on both sides but, honestly more on my side. I have lately noticed a void between us and asked her about it and she openly admitted that she had a crush on a co-worker for a few years. She told me that she had not pursued him and did not plan on it. I guess when you go looking for trouble you find it because I found that she had been flirting and talking about sex with her crush through messenger, text and at work. When I confronted her she immediately threw up the past. How I cheated on her, physically abused her once and truly regretted and begged forgiveness on my knees, how I am addicted to gaming, purposively ignore the needs of our children, and how I don’t satisfy her in bed anymore, and past irresponsibility with bills, and loosing houses because of break ups. And, debt making it unimaginable for her to finish college. We got over these and they were suppose to be in the past. I am a completely different man. And, heading into my 30’s. All forgiven but, I’m starting to think that they are not to her. I messed up in the past and I am now suffering emotionally from watching her emotionally fall in love with another man. She looks at him like she used to look at me. She told me once that she loved me but, she wasn’t in love with me. I know she’s depressed and unhappy but, I don’t want to loose my marriage or my Daughters. What can I do to fix my relationship/marriage or is all lost? Is a Divorce on its way?

    Regrets of a 27 year old Husband,

  29. I found intimate text on my husband phone, and confronted my husband and rang the woman from his work and both said that there was nothing going on. Then found her name on our car insurance and turned out he was giving her driving lessons without my knowledge. I was upset about that. Then she left work and there was no mention of her for next 7 years until he bought a car that we did not need or can afford and her name was on registration document! I didn’t want it at all and at the time he had bought it, our son was in hospital and really needed him, but he still left me to collect the car from her. I was very upset that I wasn’t consulted. i did not want to be constantly reminded of her! Sold the car. Then year on, found out he had gave her 900 pounds to help her pay her rent while she was living in Italy. We are up to our eyeballs in debt and strugling to pay our mortgage. After I confronted him and told how upset I was that he had put her first and not our family, he gave her more money another 300.I also found out he had a secret facebook with her on it and she had pictues of them together on her which was open to public. He has now block me, and my friends from her after I sent her a messgae explaing how upset I was. She told me that there was nothing going on they were just good friends. But why the secrets? Now for two years he has totally detached himself from me, dispite me trying to forgive him and moving on, and he’s making me feel its all my fault that he is sneaking around with another woman. I am at the end of my tender, I am finding it difficult to keep on trusting him as there appears to be no openess, no respect and no honesty, and it hurts like hell, and I am torned as what to do.I have tried relate and they can only listen but not advise, and my husband stopped going after 2 sessions, saying that we will end up getting divorce, but it feels like that already, and I feel like I am losing my respect 🙁

  30. I think your first and most important allegiance is to your husband, not the friend you’re “emotionally cheating” with. That is, even if your friend is hurt because you can’t be friends with him now, you have to let him go.

    You can’t be emotionally intimate with someone if it hurts your marriage or primary love relationship. You need to choose one relationship, and focus on building it up.

  31. hi,
    just want to know one thing.
    Once we are emotionally attached to a person outside marriage,later we come to know its not right to do so,but we have promised that we will be there for him always.
    i have ended such relation hurting him a lot.Now he doesnot want to communicate further.
    Would that have been good if i continued just as friend?

    Please advice and comment

  32. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    The best way to avoid emotional cheating is to stop spending time with people of the opposite sex.

  33. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Melinda,

    It’s normal and expected to have regrets when you leave a relationship, even if your partner was emotionally or otherwise cheating! Leaving someone you love and built a life with is hard and heartbreaking…even if you’re not good for each other.

    I encourage you to talk to a counselor on your own, and remember that your partner doesn’t seem to want to change or commit to your relationship. As you said, you’re feeling confused and messed up — and the best way to straighten out your thoughts and emotions is to talk to someone in person, who can help you find clarity and insight.

    And, give yourself time and space to heal before you second-guess your decision to leave him! Instead of thinking about your regrets or if you should have stayed, just focus on healing and moving on.

    Call a counselor for in-person support, so you can be sure you’re getting healthy and progressing in the right direction…

    Wishing you all the best,

  34. I have just left a 31/2 year relationship with this man because of emotional cheating, since I left I have had some regrets and keep wondering if I have done the right thing. I truly love this man, but I look back at all his emotional cheating and all the lies that came with it and it makes me very sad and angry. I feel like the last few years of my life have been based on a lie and feel violated. When we first met he made me feel so secure, made me believe I could trust him, that I was the only woman in his life. Then I found out about the calls from his past girlfriend, they would text each other she would send pictures of her breasts to him and much more. His older daughter heard him on the phone one time and made sure to tell her not tell me about this, he had her lie! This went on for our entire relationship. Then I found out about others, his therapist he wanted (I found an email to her), he would go online and flirt with other woman. Then he connected on a website and found some old friends (woman) they would chat endlessly. I found myself feeling very insecure and jealous. I tried talking to him and he said we are just “friends” as well as all the others, yeah right!. Then the last one was an old friend (his younger daughters godmother) her husband had just left her so my “boyfriend” became her connection to make her feel better. They were on the phone 2-3 times a day, texting and connecting on this website. I saw what was happening we would argue all the time, I was tired of trying to make him see me and appreciate me, I was exhausted trying, so I left. So why do I feel so sad?

    In the past three years we tried therapy only to go a few times, and every time I would ask can we make another appt (you see it was through his insurance so he had to make the appointments) he never did. I would try talking he would say I know I’m sorry but then it would continue, this was all done behind my back. Several times I told him please if you don’t want this relationship be honest and just say so, his reply would be I love you and want you, your the only one. But it continued.

    He tries really hard to impress everyone except the people in his direct life such as myself, his daughters (he disappoints them also). He makes sure he finds the time for his “friends” but not his family.

    Another thing he has been doing since I left is ask me to remain friends “a friend with benefits”! I told him you want me to remain your friend and keep you satisfied physically while you continue your phone, internet and texting intimacy, I don’t think so! He has played with my mind for so long I am feeling quite messed up. Another thing we are in our 40’s!

    Please help, I feel like I am sinking!!


  35. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear heartbroken,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s attraction to his old friend — that truly is devastating.

    Yes, marriage counseling is a great idea…and I hope you take comfort in the fact that their attraction is likely based on infatuation and idealizations from the past. They’re heady and giddy from their puppy love days, and are reliving their youths. Adulthood can be painful, and so can marriage — and it sounds to me like they’re using each other as an escape from reality.

    But, that doesn’t heal your heart or save your marriage!

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, and I hope you and he are able to work together to salvage your marriage and rebuild trust. It’s a long process, but if you’re both committed, it may happen faster than you think.

    Let me know how things go, and I wish you all the best.


  36. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Mrs Jackson,

    I’m sad to hear about your marriage…it’s very difficult to be in an unhappy marriage, but not have the financial resources to leave.

    Can you call a local distress line or women’s shelter? There may be sources of financial support in your community — you just have to do a little digging to uncover them! If you explain what it’s like to live with your husband, you may be able to get help. Even if he’s not emotionally cheating or having an “affair of the heart”, it’s clear that you two aren’t happy together.

    Please do make a few calls, and let me know how it goes…


  37. My husband and I are not no longer sleeping in the same room far less the same bed. I am not no longer in love with him I love him because of the child that we share but he is so damn meand to the child it makes me angry. My husband is drowinin in religion that he does not know how to enjoy how to be married. He dose not take care of himself which is a second strike and if he scratches my backs he runs to clean his nails as if I am nasty. He selfish and stingy to his family but to others he is so given. He has walked off and left me three to four times and I realy do not understand why he came back because I have been a single mom for a long time so it was no thing. We dont talk to each other. I wandt to be able to move on and I cant due to fincail reason, but the relationship is so toxic and I am very depress by it .

  38. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Mrs B,

    You have so much insight and self-awareness! That’s great. It’s interesting that this may be less about your husband, and more about your own dissatisfaction with your life.

    The beauty of this discovery is that you have the POWER, intelligence, motivation, and strength to change your life. You don’t have to sit at home and wait to see what happens!

    Let me know how it goes as you return to the workforce…


  39. Thanks Laurie for your support,
    You are letting me see that a lot my feelings are maybe due to my own insecurities which is usually not me at all. I recently lost my job in July about the same time I started recognizing or I should say “focusing” on my husband’s different behavior. I also worked in the same aviation business as my husband and sometimes the same company. I think I view this woman as myself. I feel I should be in her position at this stage of my life and I have to ask myself “how did manage to become unemployed in a very male dominated business when I should be working as well”. It’s very frustrating when you spend your entire life planning, educating and positioning yourself for a better life and at 53 and here I am. It’s like losing control of your life. As you said, I didn’t feel there was a threat when I met Jane but I think physically she really isn’t a threat, I do feel though if there is any attraction to her at all, it is that my husband respects her as much as one of the guys and her independence as women in a predominate male workforce. You’re exactly right, me becoming jealous will not help my situation at all, I will become what she is not………….fearful, insecure and emotional! My husband’s weight loss program started prior to me becoming unemployed but I think maybe due to the loss of my job, I have had way too much time on my hands. I have always worked and been very independent at the same time very supportive of my husband needs…………………he is pretty spoiled and will be the first to admit it. I have joined him in his efforts to lose the weight and become healthier and have made every attempt to tell him how good he looks now that he is thinner and he tells me as well. I guess I have been spending too much time watching shows about who’s cheating on who. Your right, I need to focus on me and my goals and stop worrying about something that may not be an issue at all. As you mentioned “The happier and more secure you feel, the more attractive you’ll be to him”. My goal is to return to the work force and the sooner the better.

  40. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Mrs B,

    I agree that acting like the jealous wife is not the route to take! It’s difficult to stay calm and have faith that your husband won’t get emotionally involved with his coworker…but if you focus on it, you’ll be creating more of a problem than actually exists (the old “making a mountain out of a molehill” thing).

    One suggestion I have is to invite the coworker and her husband over for dinner. Get to know them on a social level. Like you said, when you saw her you felt reassured that she’s not a threat. If you actually get to know her, you may remove the mystery that surrounds her.

    Another suggestion is to read Dr Laura Shlessinger’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” book. Her theory is that the more husbands feel loved and cared-for, the less likely they’ll be to look for affection outside their marriage. Marriage counselor Gary Neuman (who wrote “Why Men Cheat”) says the same thing: if men are emotionally and physically connected to their wives, they don’t need to look elsewhere for love.

    A third possibility is to tell him how it makes you feel about his new behaviors. “I feel afraid when I see you losing weight and wanting more intimacy, because….” You don’t need to accuse him or make him feel defensive. Just tell him your honest feelings when you read those text messages or see his new behaviors. You may be feeling fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, panic, resentment — and that’s okay! It’s difficult to see a spouse change so much, especially because of another woman’s influence. Be vulnerable with him.

    My fourth suggestion is to celebrate his positive changes with him! Tell him how great he looks, how healthy he is now, what a great support he is for his coworkers. Encourage him to be as healthy and happy as possible — and keep getting healthy alongside him.

    I suspect he’s just exploring a new stage of life, and it won’t harm your marriage unless you let it (which you know, which is why you’re here!). He’s jumped on a new train, and I think you should jump right up there with him.

    And on a more philosophical note: whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. Some men cheat and marriages fall apart no matter what the wife does….some women rearrange their whole lives to please their husbands, and some of those husbands leave.

    I encourage you to live your best life, to be as happy as you can. Let go of fear, anxiety, and trepidation….embrace your own love for life, your hobbies, your body, your mind and soul! The happier and more secure you feel, the more attractive you’ll be to him.

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best.


  41. Hi Laurie,
    I have to tell someone about this just so I can get another person’s opinion. I do not want to talk to friends or family.
    My husband and I have been married for 25 years. We have had a really rough time staying employed over the past 5 years and it was taking its toll on a very happy marriage. Either my husband was unemployed or it was me and sometimes both of us. Our sex life was suffering and we would argue over the smallest things. About 2 years ago my husband got a job and he seems to be very happy. He works 4 days a week 10 hours a day until 3:00 am in the morning. His job is all men except for a girl, whom I will call Jane. My husband is a lead mechanic working aircraft maintenance. Jane is also a lead mechanic. My husband is 47 Jane is 30. She has small child and a live in boyfriend. After my husband starting working with Jane (about 9 months ago) he suddenly became obsessed with his weight. He is tall and nice looking and he has always has had a belly. All of a sudden, Jane is sending home weight loss books for him to read. She is a health nut exercises and runs on her breaks at work. Our sex life went from nothing and I mean nothing to 2 to 3 times a week. My husband starting losing weight and has become conscious of his looks. I started to get suspicious and started checking his text messages. They would read something like this. Text from other mechanics. “You need to get out here on the plane and stop laughing and cutting up in the office with Jane” you get the point. She would call him when she was late for work, which is 2 or 3 times a week. Instead of contacting their supervisor, she called my husband. Finally I confronted him about the text and why she was calling him instead of their boss. Of course he became very defensive. He told me there was nothing for me to be jealous about and he had no interest in her, she is just a kid. He stopped texting her but I still was not satisfied that she was not flirting with him. Finally my husband invited me to come to work for lunch one day and meet the crew. I met her and she was nothing like I expected her to be. Not very attractive, tall and thin. After I met her I calmed down some but my husband is still very worried about his weight. His sex drive seems to be the most active after he gets home from work in the mornings………. not like him at all. He still tells me he loves me and bought me nice gifts for Christmas. But I still can’t get over how he is acting. His weight has never been an issue with him. He was maybe 20 lbs overweight. I am about 10 lbs overweight and he never seemed to care about my weight until now, so now we are both dieting. She still calls him at work on his cell but only for a couple minutes at a time to talk, not hours. He is not working a lot of extra hours at work. I did see a call from her after he had left work last week for 15 minutes. If I were to confront my husband about the phone call he would just tell me it is work related and that it is nothing. I am trying not to act like the jealous wife and stay calm but I need some advice.

    Mrs. B

  42. Thanks Laurie for your feedback. I have another question if a girl comes up to me and stares at me (within 12 inches) with her eyes wide open without any smiles, what can that indicate? And if she does this 3 times (but sometimes in a different approach such as turning her back to stare right at me), is she indicating one common desire? I understand that gazing at another person can mean desire in that person.

  43. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Steve,

    I think asking a girl out twice is enough pursuing….if she was interested, she probably would have gone out with you the first time. This doesn’t say anything “bad” about you — it just means you and Courtney may not be a good match.

    There are plenty of wonderful, smart, gorgeous girls out there…why limit yourself to one? Get out there, have some fun, and try your luck with another girl or two 🙂


  44. Hi Laurie, I am just dealing with basically a shovel to my face right now. There was a girl that I liked (Courtney) who rejected my dating request twice (but I decided to continue liking her because she ran to me off a bus stop a month later after my last dating request). I’ve been meeting her in my old college (I do volunteering at their radio station weekly) a couple of times. She seemd really happy to see me at those times. One of her friends (Bethany) created a party scheduled for tonight celebrating her (Courtney) independence as she moved out on her own (on the Facebook page). I indicated that I may be able to attend a couple of days ago, and I confirmed my attendance today at 3 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time). Around 5:35 PST, Bethany cancelled the event. There were only 5 confirmed guests at the event the last time I checked, including myself. What would be your suggestion in this scenario? Do you think I should try to keep pursuing Courtney or go after someone else?

  45. Thank you, Laurie. In my head, I do know all of this and I do know what I must do. Unfortunately, for the first time in my life I had given my heart, soul, love and trust to a man-nothing holding back, and those are the parts that hurt and are suffering right now. I’m hoping they’ll get the idea sooner than later.

  46. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Oh, Whyme….my heart breaks for you!

    But there are some good things happening; it’s like you’re being melted by extreme heat and pressure, and reformed into someone stronger, smarter, happier, and more self-confident.

    You’re learning boundaries, which is wonderful (you know that he needs to go through his personal issues on his own, and those issues aren’t a reflection of who you are as a woman).

    You’re in counseling and support groups, which are teaching you how to stand independent and strong.

    You’re building a sense of yourself as a woman….and, hopefully, you’re thinking about the direction you want your life to go in. And, maybe you’re thinking about the type of love relationships you want in your life.

    Good things are happening, my friend. You just need to go through this “trial by fire” — and you WILL eventually come through it a happier, healthier, more blessed woman.

    Warm hugs,

  47. How can we go on when he won’t admit an emotional affair and give her up? How long do I wait?

    I do believe he is in crisis mode. I think he has some major personal issues to go through…on his own. That means without me over him AND especially without her. But, I guess that’s up to him and not me.

    I’m so confused. I hate the way I feel. I want back in life! I’m working on strengthening myself through counseling and support groups.

    I’m so truly sad and am trying to see all the things to be happy for.

  48. That was powerful Laurie! It also comes right on time for me I believe. On Tuesday night I ‘fessed up to what I had done (keeping tabs) and we got into a huge fight. It led to my taking off my wedding and engagement rings and throwing them in his face. I walked away and spent the night at a friend’s house. Needless to say I was miserable, and so was my husband… I don’t think either of us got much sleep. I came home Wednesday afternoon and we’re working on patching things up. We both realize there’s trust to rebuild and we’re taking it one day at a time… the only way we know how.

  49. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Part of moving on after physical or emotional cheating is accepting that both partners made mistakes, both partners are imperfect, and both partners need to forgive each other. Resolving to ‘fess up about the mistakes that we’re ashamed of is one thing — and equally important is forgiving ourselves and forgiving each other. And, learning from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

    It’s really hard to put the past behind us and focus on creating a healthy new relationship, especially if we want to learn from our past mistakes! But, accepting what we did and what our partners did without letting it overshadow our future together is key to staying together happily, and rebuilding trust (which is a process that takes time).

    How do we do this (accept mistakes, move on, forgive, not let it wreck our future)? That’s the hard part!

  50. thanks. i have a 13 yr old and an 11 yr old, and if anything, i think it only gets harder when they’re older. good luck to you as well, and thanks again.

  51. I must say it’s nice to hear of relationships that have gone through this and have survived. I can only hope for the same.

    I guess as has been said every person/relationship is different and I’m thinking I’ll know if and when the end is here. The motivation that keeps me trying and hoping is looking into my 3 month old’s eyes as well as his 19 month brother. I need to exhaust all means before I give in.

    I’m actually going to go to a separation/divorce support group to see if this can help me. It may sound weird, but right now I don’t quite know what my role in his life is nor does he. I honestly think he’s going through some mid life crisis that I can’t help him with. Therefore, I must help myself. Help myself be strong and create a support group because I don’t really know where this path will lead.

    Averageguy-I agree with Audrey. In counseling state the facts don’t defend yourself. I trusted you, then this happened. Itrusted you, then this happened. Also, even though it’s hard not to, don’t dwell on whether it was physical or not. You could drive yourself insane doing that and your energy is better spent elsewhere. From what you’ve said it sounds like it was an exciting emotional affair. Something safe because it was only emotional. Good luck with your counseling!!

  52. i’m going to ask a question of the women, based on the information I’ve gotten, what do you think, do you think she took this physical, or do you think it was just a EA, just curious for someone elses opinion, thanks.

  53. Hi average guy and whyme,
    I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion that you are going through right now. It will get better, but what you are feeling now seems to be a normal and necessary part of the process. And I know that doesn’ t make it any easier right now.
    My husband has had more than one emotional affair, and we had 9 months of couples counseling and since then he has continued to see a counselor on his own, and I agree with Lee, it took at least 6 months to feel some stability, normalcy. My only condition at the beginning for agreeing to proceed was that if he had any contact with the other woman, I was done and would not continue to have or want a relationship with him, and I meant it. I didn’t use it as a threat, I stated it as a fact. And that relationship was like an addiction for him, it was really hard for him for about 6 weeks not to contact her. The longer he went with no contact, the more clear his head was. He told me later that when I said I would leave if he had any more contact, this light bulb went off in his head and he realized that this behavior was harmful, hurtful, and wrong. He said the next day…”I was wrong, I”m sorry, this will never happen again.”
    Every relationship is different, and I don’t mean to imply this is what anyone else should do in theirs. if I could do it over, I would take a firm stand sooner, and know that even if we had separated when our 4 children were little, it would have been the right thing to do
    Average guy, in counseling ( or any where else:), my husband is/was very charming, funny,and had an uncanny ability to make me look controlling/crazy in front of the counselor. I also knew that he would be able to do this with any counselor, not just this one, although changing did cross my mind.It was SO frustrating! I learned not to defend myself, but to say that I DIDN’T trust him and that these were the things I needed to start that process, that it’s not paranoia if it’s based on something.

    Lee, I love the updates, I think about you often. I signed us up for ballroom dancing shortly after we started our counseling last year, great minds think alike:)

    My husband and I are doing really well, I have never felt closer to him than I do now.

  54. One other thing, I’m really glad I found this forum, I’ve been dealing with this with my wife for a long time, and I haven’t been able to speak to anyone, not family or friends, because everyone thinks we have the perfect marriage. And I feel ashamed, embarrassed, I feel like I somehow failed to give my wife something she needed yet didn’t provide, I know these are just the emotions running rampant inside me, but that’s why I can’t speak to anyone, other than the therapist, and although I’ve only spoken to her once, I know already when we meet with her again as a couple, she and my wife will try to turn this around on me and say that I’m just insecure, and that this is an attempt at control. Like I said before, I know I’m not perfect, and I’ve done things I shouldn’t have, like record her phone calls, but I did this out of a desperation to know what exactly her conversations were about, I know that in a healthy relationship a husband doesn’t spy on his wife, and likewise, in a healthy relationship, a wife is fully entitled to have male friends at work, but that is where they should remain, and those friendships should not be hidden from the husband, and in no way should they become so close that they talk to each other about personal things, I know that a respectful wife doesn’t do that.

  55. as hurt and betrayed as I feel, I have to admit that I still love my wife, and more than anything, I don’t want to disrupt my two kids’ life, 13yr, and 11yr old, they are great kids, we both love them very much, and neither of us wants to take away the life they’ve only know. So I’ll go to counseling with my wife and hope for the best, all I ask is that she be honest, I know I wasn’t the perfect husband, and I’m not that perfect husband today either, but I never resorted to giving my emotions to another woman, and that was a conscious choice. So I know that i should stay in this marriage for my wife, for the sake of our marriage, but I have to admit that right now, even though I still love her, the driving force for reconciliation is our kids.

  56. I’m not sure I’m an appropriate person to comment on this, but I do know the trust issue is SO hard. I, too, trusted my husband way more than 100%! Never had any reason to doubt that. The summer made me suspicious and uneasy and it took a phone record to confirm. I asked him to stop. He said he would. He denied any wrong doing but had been conversing with her on a daily basis (someimtes 6,7, 8 times a day)-he was just helping out someone in need. A week later a cell phone bill appeared in our mailbox with his name on it. (The address was that of our neighbor’s but our mail lady must have just looked at the naem and gave it to us) It was another cell phone he purchased the same night I found the phone records the week before. We got rid of it. 335 text messages the month of August and 437 text messages the month of September. He swore he wasn’t talking to her and now the tracfone minutes. He’s going to counseling with me.

    So, Averageguy, I guess you need to look at the situation and ask yourself if you can live like this? Are you willing to give counsleing with her a try? The trust issue? Only time and a slow rebuilding can bring that back. Is she willing? If your best friend was telling you your situation, what would you tell him? This si a great place to vent but you can’t put everything into your posting most of all the overall feelings of you and your wife and where your relationship is now. There comes a time when we have to look at things and ask ourselves if we feel we’ve fought and worked as hard as we could without results or has it been with or without our partner’s whole heart? We deserve respect and honesty in our relationships-it’s a 2 way street.

  57. Regaining trust in her is a hard, hard thing to do, I’m learning that the hard way. And she is having a hard time accepting that. The thing that most bothers me is that this happened not once, but twice, I take that as a resounding measure that she didn’t care about my feelings, she was caught, I told her how I thought what she did was deceitful, and how much I didn’t like it, and that I expected her to stop this immediately, she said she would, but here we are 3 years later and she did it again. This time I however, I planted a “bug” in our car and heard one entire conversation. It made me sick to be honest. She sees that as an invasion of privacy, to be honest, before 11/2006, I never questioned any of her expenditures, I never looked at 1 single phone bill, and I never asked or commented on any way she dressed, because up until that time I HAD complete trust in her, that has now been shattered. Our next appt with therapist is wednesday evening, yesterdays session was cancelled. Any suggestions, comments, appreciated, thanks.

  58. Hi Averageguy-

    In my opinion, you have every right to check into anything that makes you uncomfortable especially if your wife isn’t being upfront or continues to lie. Trust is a choice. However, if you’re getting gut feelings…there’s a reason. If there isn’t anything deceitful or wrong happening your spouse should have no problem with it, right??? They should be more than willing to accept their responsibility and to work as hard as they can to regain your trust. And, if it takes laying everything out in the open then so be it. I would ask around and find another marriage counselor. Or, go to a counselor on your own.

    My husband and I just went through it once again last night. I went out for the mail and saw his credit card bill. I sat and thought about whether or not I should open it. My husband has as recently as this past Sunday, SWORE that he doesn’t really talk to this woman anymore except for a little at their job. he even commented that he’s been busted every other time so why would he continue. Well, I opened the bill and found billings for Tracfone air time. I think it comes out to about 5 hours.

    And, I posted here yesterday that he wanted to see the counselor on his own. Well, he did and now I really have no idea where I stand. It’s as if he’s going through a mid life crisis. I’m willing to stand beside him through it, to give him time and space while he’s going through it, but not when there’s another woman on the other side. he still says there’s nothing between them. It’s as if he can ‘help’ her with her abusive relationship with no strings attached.

    Lee- While you were in the 4 months of counsleing, did your husband have another woman he was talking to? My husband is willing to do the counseling, but doesn’t appear to be willing to stop with her. Don’t know if we’re both just wasting our time or not.

  59. Hi Averageguy,
    Laurie’s 6 signs of emotional cheating on the top of this page says it all. Any actions on her part that take time and energy away from your relationship and are not directed at you are hurtful to your marriage and that constitutes emotional cheating as far as I know.

    Of course you are suspicious! And sounds like you have good reason. Your wife needs to be upfront with you regarding her passwords, phone calls, texts, time spent with someone else.

    She needs to be sensitive (and the counselor too) to the fact that you have to regain your trust of her. And it will take consistent behavior from her and openness over a period of time.

    When I first confronted my husband about his emails and such, he was resentful and tried to blow it off like it was nothing. He went to see a counselor to “help me.” After about 4 months the lightning bolt hit and he was able to admit that his behavior was wrong and harmful. Bottom line, is that when confronted, the guilty party can take a while to admit their wrong-doing or the depth of hurt it causes. I think some people can readily admit their wrong-doing and it takes others a while. My husband told me he was just being “naughty”. And that it was harmless because he never sent an email, only responded to them. Naughty, huh,….I wanted to clobber him.

    I’m glad you are in counseling. It shows that you are interested in repairing the damage to your marriage. And this may take time.

    It has taken since last March for my husband and I to start getting on the right track. Don’t give up and if you feel like your therapist isnt’ getting it, talk to another.

    Good luck to you,

  60. Hi Everyone, I’m new on here, married 15 years, me 39, wife also 39. Found out in 11/2006 that my wife had been carrying on some kind of relationship with a guy at work. She works primarily with men, she works at the post office. He was a union steward and she was a clerk. She had a grievance against management and since he was the steward he helped her complete a lot of the paperwork. I knew that much. But what she didn’t tell me was that between 2/2006 and 11/2006 a lot more went on that had nothing to do with this grievance paperwork. I found out that they spoke on average 3 hours per month, one month it was almost 7 hours of phone conversations, they exchanged no less than 50 text messages per month and pretty much everything in between, with a peak of almost 200 text messages one month. They also emailed each other, and spoke at different times of the day, night, including weekends. From early 6am all the way to 1to 2am in the morning, you name it, they were talking or chatting. I found out because I started having a “gut” feeling something wasn’t right, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. For one thing she started mentioning him more to me, and saying she felt sorry for him because management was singling him out, there other times she mentioned him so I started becoming suspicious. I looked at her phone when she was in the shower and found no call log record and no text messages, but his phone number was in her directory. I decided to look up the phone bills online and I was devastated. Almost a years worth of dialog, and lots of it. My wife sometimes worked early and she was always telling me not to keep her up late, she wanted to be in bed by 9pm, but when it came to this guy, they were talkng and texting at all hours of the day and night. Whenever I spoke to her on the phone she complained if the phone call went past 10 minutes becasue she said she had to get back to work, and that her cell phone would get hot and it bothered her, but apparently that didn’t apply to her conversations with him. With me, it was calls to tell me to make sure and pick up the kids from her moms, and don’t forget to buy milk, and take care of this, and take care of that, all short 5 minute or less calls. Well I confronted her and she said it was all work related, that these calls were related to the grievance he was helping her with, and further, she did his taxes, so there were a lot of calls related to that, but my question was, what about all those other months? The grievance didn’t go that long, and taxes don’t take all year to do, it’s usually 1 or 2 months in march, right? Additionally, she went out of her way to hide this from me because I knew absolutely nothing about this! She cried and cried and said nothing went on between them, and I did my best to believe her, especially for our two kids. Well here we are 3 years later and I found out that she did it again. This time however I wanted to know what the nature of the calls were. So I decided to put a voice recorder in our car and I caught one of the conversations. This time it was a different guy, 36 years old, also married with 2 kids. I was only able to hear her side of the conversation and boy was she flirting. Giggling, laughing, she knew his birthday, asked him what he was doing for his birthday, somehow they got on the conversation of her wearing a 2 piece bikin and she told him she had “no fat or cellulite”, it was basically a conversation that a couple who is “interested” in each other would have. Then I confronted her, I asked her who she spoke to the day before. She said no one. I asked her agian, looking inter her eyes, is there anything you need to tell me? Her answer, a vehement “no!”, I told her I know who you were speaking to yesterday. her answer, ok, it’s a guy from work, he called me because he needed some information from work. I told her, there are other employees at the office, you were on lunch, why would he call you and talk to you for 10 minutes? She said we did speak but it was all work related and he had me on hold for half the call! Then I told her I recorded the whole conversation and I repeated her side of it word for word. She was devasted and thought I heard what he said also, but I didn’t hear what he said. She begged me for forgiveness, said she didn’t want to lose me, blah, blah, blah. I asked her what it was that I wasn’t giving her as a husband that made her look for whatever it was she was looking for in someone else, she said nothing was missing, that i was a good husband, that she didn’t want to lose me. It’s now been 2 months since I found out about this second guy, and I wonder if I want to continue in this marriage. Again the main factor that keeps me from leaving is the disruption this will cause our two kids. We’re no in marriage counseling and she told me she told the counselor that I am possessive, controlling, that i audit our credit card bills, phone bills, and that I secretly record her phone conversations, oh, and that I also try to control her dress. Now the therapist says that this is all me, and that i am trying to control her. I did mention her dress, and it wasn’t to tell her what she could or couldn’t wear, all I did is ask her if she thought it was necessary to wear G stringsto work and tight fitting pants, when she wouldn’t even wear that for me before, but now all of a sudden she’s wearing g strings to work? Anyways, that’s where we’re at, no she is convinced she did nothing wrong and all of our problems are because of me.

  61. Oh-Kel! I’m sorry to hear of your pain. I’m glad that you’re strong enough to have reached out for help! That says a lot about your character! You were able to see and feel it coming and you made sure your daughter was taken care of. Your daughter needs her mom. WHen I’m feeling pretty low, the smile on either faces of my boys makes it all alright even if it’s for just a second. They’re so innocent and vulnerable. They depend on us. So, keep going!
    I think you’ll be surprised at the inner strength you’re mustering up.

    I hear you about the dad being there physically but not emotionally. My husband is wonderful with the kids! He is there to help and be that equal half of a parent. It almost breaks my heart to watch him because there are times when we’ll sit next to each other with the baby and just gurgle and talk and laugh about his new developments. It’s SO the way it should be.

    I have anger that he tells me that he considered leaving the marriage just before summer last year. I had NO clue! I asked why he didn’t say anything and he says well, we were expecting a baby…like it’s any easier now??? And, add in that instead of dealing witht he problems, he became involved with this woman. That is so not right for me but especially to this innocent little life that was created and dreamt about!

    Things seem so murky and confusing. There were text messages to me at the end of the summer about how he wished I knew just how much he loved and cared about me. I guess, it just seems that there’s so many mixed signs and signals. As I discovered this other woman he became very angry towards me and like he had resentment towards me. Then, in telling me that he was going to try that seemed to dissapate quite a bit-ever so often it resurfaces. And, I think that it needs time. Things can’t just change like that.

    In my last post I talked about how things were seeming so much like they had in the past. He went out hunting and came back and things seemed like there was a tension. SO, of course, I’m thinking he was calling or texting her. We went out to a movie with friends and the tension just stayed although our friends thought things seemed okay. Then, yesterday was strained in the morning. We ended up talking and did it without fighting which was an accomplishment. I told him I just want him to choose me over her. And, he asked if I thought that he was choosing her? To which I replied yes. He said that he really didn’t talk with her anymore. I asked him how he can go from phone calls before work, phone calls right after work and phone calls before bed to nothing? He admitted that it was hard. He apologized but said that it was kind of hard. I asked how she was doing it and he said it was probably hard for her too. Then, he went on to say that he has gotten caught every way and that he doesn’t really feel like getting caught again. Hmmmm…….well, it’s true. I could overanalyze and say THAT’S the reason you don’t talk anymore. Or, I could just accept it and not think too much about it. Anyway, the day went on the closness, hugs as we passed, little chuckles about the baby-it all came back. So, it really was an up and down weekend….but really from him not me. I think. Confusing. Frustrating.

    Okay…a little timeout here. He just called and told me some good, positive news about work and then went on to confirm that we have counsleing tonight and then said that maybe he should just go to the appointment. Wow! never thought I would hear that! Though I’m torn because I wanted some answers and to have discussion about things BUT I also think him going alone would be such a good thing. Darn counselors are so hard to book with though! We don’t have another apoointment for 2 weeks.

    I’m so sorry for babbling here. I’m just having those random thoughts going through my head and trying to quell them and get them in order.

    How do I truly believe he’s not talking to her? He works with her. He asked me if I want him to quit his job and I said yes! And, then, obviously that’s not an option so I told him I want him to tell her that I am his focus and priority as well as our family and he can’t talk with her. I don’t get much response with that. He has such a hard time dealing with conflict. i don’t like it either but this is our marriage and I have to give it my all before I turn it loose.

    I’m guessing, Kel, that this other woman’s fiancee doesn’t know about this relationship?

    My dad was pretty much out of my life when I was 11. It wasn’t an ideal thing. I do want my children to have their father present just as you do. But, it needs to be happily…as in everyone’s happiness, mine, his and the kids. If anyone’s happiness is absent it really makes the whole ‘family’ a negative rather than a positive. Better the kids experience their mom in happy ways and experience their dad in happy ways-even if it is separately. Because if the marriages end, Kel, it doesn’t mean the end of our happiness. It means saddness and grieving. It means hurt and adjustments. But, it also mean a whole world of new opportunities and new chapters. And, if that’s the path we end up on-then, we have to have that positive outlook and find the joy, happiness and peace within ourselves and take advantage of it!

    I’ve jumped all over in this post, please accept my apology. We can do this!

  62. whyme-
    Thank you so much for those words. I truly thought I was reading my own story from a story teller. I hear you on the weight loss… it’s been a few weeks and I’ve dropped 5 lbs just from not eating. I thought I was losing my mind on Thursday so I asked my SIL’s to watch my little one because I could feel the crack coming and it did. I stayed in bed, in the dark all day Thursday and finally got the strength to call a crisis hotline. I’m already emotionally unstable at times (I have GAD) and this was pushing me dangerously close to the edge, where I was having suicidal thoughts. I called and got seen immediately. I’m now on Zoloft (I was on it once before but stopped when I got pregnant) and a sleep aide. Today has been an up and down day, all day. I had a mini breakdown while making my daughter breakfast this morning. I remember giving her the pancakes I made, going to lay on the couch and then I blanked out until her father came home from work early. I called him this morning and told him that I felt like I was about to shatter, so he made it a point to get home as early as he could… if only for our daughter’s sake. The one thing I can say is that our sex life never really stopped until recently. That wasn’t one of my warning signs. He was (is) still interested in sex with me.
    What kills me in all of this is our daughter. She’s very bright for her age. She’s what is called a spirited child. She picks up on things and I’m hurting that she’s old enough to tell me not to cry, that she loves me. Somehow, she’s thinking she’s done something wrong to make me sad and she’s not old enough to understand that it’s not her.
    I like what you said about it not being fair… and I’ve told him that too. It’s not fair to him to be her sounding board when shit hits the fan between her and her fiance. It’s not fair to me that he allows himself to be her sounding board. It’s not fair to her fiance that she’s running to another man with their issues and it’s not fair to her because she just sees what she thinks her fiance should be like. Most of all, it’s not fair to our daughter. She’s old enough to realize things aren’t right and she wonders why mommy cries all the time, or why mommy and daddy seem to fight more. She’ll soon start to realize that mommy needs to take pills to function and she’ll think it’s normal. Our daughter deserves her mother’s attention during the day and her father’s attention when he comes home from work. She deserves daddy and daughter outings instead of doing everything with mommy. She deserves daddy doing crafts or coloring with her… watching a movie with her. She deserves to bank those special times with dad. My husband thinks that I feel this way because I grew up without my father in my life. Part of it is that… but it’s different and more painful when you grow up and your father is physically there for you but not emotionally or mentally. He knows this because his relationship with his own father is volatile at best due to him being there physically but not emotionally. I told him that he should want to do better for his daughter and his family period.
    I don’t know if he actually heard my words this time, but I think I’m learning better than to hold my breath or hope for a change any time soon. My focus needs to be on other things like raising our daughter and doing things I find enjoyable.
    It does help to know that I’m not alone. It helps immensely. I’m starting to realize that it’s now HIS job to get us back on track. I’ve done all I can from my end and it’s now up to him. I will continue my counseling and continue to build myself up so that I can be capable of loving myself as much as I deserve and love my daughter as much (And even more than) she deserves.

  63. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words, Laurie.


    The counseling and the chats I’ve had with 2 close friends has really helped me! It’s so hard when you’re in the midst of all of this and on such an incredible emotional roller coaster! UP, down, want to make it work, done with it, so sad, ready to throttle him and her maybe just into unconsciousness-maybe further. I go about every other day with haveing a tough day. I’ll be fine one day and have faith and strength and the next day I’m a crazed mad woman.

    This past Thursday, I did a mini intervention with him because he made a disturbing comment to me. We happened to be talking about sex (which was all but gone but has started coming back) and how he thought we weren’t doing that anymore until we got us all figured out. I think my jaw hit the ground because he basically jumped me last weekend and then took it a little slower one day this week (NOT that this is what everyone wants to be reading about but it’s why I came to some decisions). He proceeded to tell me that he did it because it was what I wanted. Hello?!?! WE are supposed to be working on this together. So, after the kids went to bed I told him that I didn’t want to start a fight or blame or point fingers but we needed to talk. I had him read an article on the computer about emotional infidelity which included all of the signs as well as how to recover from it. He complained and mocked the whole time but he read it. I then told him that he and I are married. This woman and her husband are married. She and he are NOT married. It’s very unfair to him for her to go crying to him everytime something goes wrong as well as unfair to me as well as unfair to her husband. It’s unfair to me for him to continue to be there for her and as well as unfair to her (because he’s still with me) and her husband. I told him that for US to work on our marriage and move forward, he needed to tell her he can’t talk to her anymore…even at work. (He really needs to admit and take responsibility for what he’s done before we can move forward) I told him it’s as if he is addicted to her. He still said “I don’t think I’m having an emotional affair.” I didn’t push the issue. We weren’t fighting about it. And, I’m taking the baby steps to have my strength to put my foot down and be strong enough if he is walking out the door.

    What I REALLY want………is for him to bring all 3 of us together and for him to say-I love my wife and my family. I’m not going to be able to talk to you anymore because my wife and family are my focus.
    Does it sound like a dream line out of a movie???? Yeah,
    I know…the proverbial happy ending.

    Why don’t they have the strength? Why are they not the same protective man I married???

    We were supposed to go away this weekend just the 2 of us, no kids and into a no cell phone service area. 3 days for me to have him all to myself and see where he’s really at. Well, our one baby got sick and we had to cancel. I was crushed although I worry that I had put too much hope into this weekend anyway. So, last night was okay. Today, he is attentive, touchy and all about me-like he used to be and I haven’t seen that side of him in a few months. It’s like a new-rather the old-man I have. I get so confused too, Kel. Why all of the ‘nice’ things when they are still involved. It’s so not fair to us! We’re being put second. I’ve tried really hard to stand on the outside of this and really take a good look…as if I was reading someone else’s story and what advice I would give them.

    We are allowing them to put us second. Maybe more so because we have the kids (you do have a bit of the situation with your countries, I’m sorry about that). We have 2 kids under 2. I already have 2 older kids that I share custody with and it tears me apart. I would have never had these babies (although I wouldn’t give them back for the world!!) if I had a hint that this would happen. NEVER! But, I don’t deserve to work my butt off in a marriage and not get the respect and love back. He may love me….but not with his whole heart like a husband should…like I deserve!

    I’ve lost about 20 pounds in the last 2 months. People have noticed. People have also noticed that he doesn’t seem the same. I have trouble eating because my stomach’s in a knot. I’m trying so hard because I’m nursing the baby. He sees the physical toll this is taking on me as well as watching me cry and suffer…and, yet, it still continues??? Something’s just not right about that!

    We have counseling on Monday and I’m thinking this is the deadline. i can’t live my life like this. I don’t want to live without him in my life, but I deserve to be happy in life, to have peace and to maybe find someone who truly loves me and wants to be with me. My kids also deserve to have their mom back again. This consumes so much time and emotional/mental energy. If we were BOTH here, present and working together for our marriage-heck yes! But, what does he have to work for when I keep saying oh-you’ve been talking to this woman all sumer, lying to me about things you were supposedly doing….please stop and he doesn’t. Then, that same night he goes out and gets another cell phone which I find out about a week later and I say get rid of it and let’s keep trying. Then, I ask if he’s going to text or call her over a weekend just to check in and he says no, but on Sunday I find a text from her asking if he called from a certain number or was it me? Am I stupid? A glutton for punishment?

    I keep giving him permission to carry on and to still have a home to come home to. I’m allowing him to have his cake and eat it too. Why? Because I want it to work. I want it to work so badly for me and the kids-our family. the family we talked about having. But, do I deserve this treatment. No.

    Neither do you, Kel. It sucks!
    What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.
    It’s hard to make your head stop loving somebody when your heart still does.
    No man is worth your tears and the one that is won’t make you cry.

    Get into that counseling, girl, and get your strength! You can do whatever it is you need to do!
    (Please know, that the advice I give you is also for myself! 🙂

    Thanks for allowing me a space to vent-I truly appreciate it!

  64. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    I’m so sorry. The thought of getting a divorce is devastating. Sure, there are worse things in the world…but a marriage breakup is heartbreaking.

    I wish I had the right words, or I could say or do something that would help you and him get back on track. I hope you and he think again about marriage counseling. Many couples are able to save their marriages, if they both want to. It’s just so difficult when one partner doesn’t want to, or doesn’t know what he wants to do…or who he wants to be with.

    Does it help to know you’re not alone?


  65. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Whyme,

    I’m sorry about your husband, it’s such a heartbreaking thing to go through. That’s so hard to accept after such as short time together. After any amount of time together, really.

    You’re right that his emotional cheating isn’t about you, it’s about your husband’s needs (that aren’t exactly healthy). Did you mention that he cheated with you? That’s a pretty good sign that he’ll cheat again with another woman.

    It’s not easy to leave a marriage, even if your vows were broken. You made a commitment, and walking away is such a difficult decision! But, you can’t save your marriage by yourself…if he’s not committed to working on the marriage with you, it just makes it an uphill battle. It sounds like he doesn’t want to make any decisions one way or another — he wants you to.

    I hope you get the assurance you need, and that your husband sees his way clear to treating you the way you deserve to be treated.

    Best wishes, and come back anytime to vent or offer your opinion to others (like you’ve done, which I really appreciate!).


  66. Hello Laurie, Lee, everyone else who responded
    Things have not gotten any better. I’ve been tracking my husband’s email and Facebook usage and his recent sent messages have made me feel physically ill. He told me that he was at a staff meeting yesterday and that he was going to be home a little late. Turns out, he took her to Wendy’s to eat something (one near her home). During the course of his sent message, he said he was curious about something and then proceeded to ask if she really meant what she said about wanting to cuddle and kiss him. He said that he would like that but that if she were to take that step he would prefer it be in a less public place. I don’t think I have a heart left anymore. This is after him sending me a poem he wrote about how much me and our daughter mean to him, sending me a song dedication, leaving me little lovey-dovey notes all over the house, and offering to buy me a hockey jersey so that we could match for the rest of the hockey season. Not a cheap one either. I don’t know what to do or think and I’m just physically sick. I ache. I tremble. I’ve been throwing up and somehow, the thought of leaving him and getting a divorce fills me with such sheer terror that I can’t see straight.
    Getting separated or divorced isn’t cut and dried in this case. We have our daughter to think of and the sticky part is that I’m still an American citizen living in Canada. Our daughter was born in Canada and her father is also Canadian. I can’t just say “I’m leaving you and taking the baby with me. Have a nice life”.
    I feel like I try and try and try… I put out for him daily and when I can’t do “that” I do other things. I issued an ultimatum and it backfired… we fought about it at his workplace. I was strong until the very end of the argument. I told him that he cannot imagine the hurt and anger and feeling of stupidity I would have if I went home with my tail between my legs. My mother asked me if I was *sure* I wanted to marry him and I was adamant. He would love me like he always had.
    I don’t understand why he wasn’t strong enough to walk away from her, why he wasn’t strong enough to say “My wife isn’t comfortable with our friendship so I don’t think we should pursue one. Your fiance isn’t happy with it either, so we’ll just remain co-workers. Nothing outside of work.” I have swung from one mood to another all in the course of a few days. I went from bitter hurt to anger, to wanting to perform physical violence to simmering anger and finally on crushing defeat. I know there are worse things than your spouse leaving, but that knowledge doesn’t make the sharp, tearing pain any less.

  67. Kel-

    I, too, am dealing with discovering my husband emotionally cheating. All summer I knew something wasn’t right-I had gut instincts. And, with those gut instincts came my shame and guilt for not trusting my husband because I’ve trusted in him 100%. I felt terrible for thinking these things! But, he acted strangely towards me and when I would try to talk about it would get mad at me, his wedding ring was off and on throughout the summer, the cell phone was ALWAYS with him, he didn’t want me around like he had in the past, passwords to his email were changed and he was ALWAYS so open about that. Interestingly, even though there was nothing going on…calls were erased and texts were erased.

    Finally, in September, I had cell phone records ordered because he said we were going way over our mintues. Imagine my surprise when there was a number that showed up 6 or 7 times a day. I called and hear the female voice on voice mail and startred shaking. I haven’t stopped. I confronted him and he gave me the story of it just being friends and he was helping her because she was in an abusive relationship. When I asked why he didn’t tell me he said that given where we were at in our relationship (whatever that means!) he didn’t want to cause any issues.

    Kel, I completely understand the secrets and the craziness you feel in trying to figure things out. My husband lied all summer-going out for runs and he would talk extensively with her, we had our second child and I recently found out the all 3 nights I was in the hospital and he left he had 70-80 minutes of conversation with her (I’m still muddling through the pain of that!), he lied to go out and meet her, there’s been cards and flowers….the night I discovered the phone records, he went out and bought another cell-I got that bill the following week (he had told me that he wouldn’t talk to her anymore). We did end up returning it. He recently told me he was going to try.

    I told him we can’t work on us if you’re still talking with her. He hasn’t all out told me our marriage is what he wants. He couldn’t promise how things would work out but he would try. He hasn’t put the wedding ring back on which meant so much to him (we have been married about 2 years also) He is going to counseling with me. But, seriously, I can’t help if this is all to bide his time. She is supposedly filing for divorce. I don’t believe he doesn’t talk with her-he works with her. I’ve talked to her but that doesn’t make a difference-she apologizes for taking up so much of his time and that it wasn’t right and that he should be working on his relationshi at home and she really needs to do this by herself with her relationship. My point to him is she’s in an abusive relationship-youve been ‘helping’ her through it for how many months and yet she’s still there WITH HER KIDS! It’s the one thing that keeps me from calling her husband.

    And, you know, there’s a lot more to my story, but when I type what I did here and put it out there for objective people to read-it sure sounds like why in the world would I stay with him. In fact, he asks me that. I think he just wants me to end it because that would be easier for him. I’m so torn!

    I, too, think he needs individual counseling because there’s way more to this emotional cheating. It’s not about me-it’s about him getting the thrill of being needed and helpful and appreciated by another person all with no strings attached. Meaning that there isn’t the everyday tasks of a relationship that comes with it right now. If he was to leave me and be with her, I have no doubt he will be doing the same thing again because he did it with me and now with her. he refuses individual counseling and I’m going crazy with doing nothing in my life but thinking about this!

    So, yes, Kel, get yourself some counseling because it’s a great way to vent and to have someone help guide you through this mess. My appt yesterday really gave me the tap on the shoulder about he continues to lie, I continue to obsess while I have these babies who really need their mom, I continue to find things out and underreact or explain things away and all the while he gets to have his cake and eat it too.

    It’s a choice to trust and I’m trying to since he told me he’d try. But, I think I’m going to need a little more assurance that our marriage is what he indeed wants.

    Hang in there, Kel! I totally understand the pain!

  68. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Lee,

    Thanks for asking about me! I’ve actually just returned from three weeks in Europe, and am still catching up on sleep and work 🙂

    I LOVED what you told your counselor — it’s not your job to keep your husband in line. When I first read the bit about coaching your hubby so he doesn’t fall into his “old ways”, I winced. He’s not an 8 year old child that you have to train! So I was so proud and pleased to hear that you disagreed with your counselor then and there; that can be a very difficult thing to do. That you did it not only shows self-respect and insight, it’s also a testimony to the relationship you have with your counselor. It’s very healthy and liberating to be able to disagree with someone “in authority.”

    It may take practice for your husband to start recognizing when he’s flirting WHILE he’s flirting. I find it similar to a compulsion or an addiction to food, gambling, shopping, etc: you just get swept up in the temptation or compulsion, and don’t stop to think of the consequences. But over time, you can train yourself to stop the behavior before it even starts.

    Again, that’s not your job! It’s your husband’s.

    And regarding your “aha” moment — that’s great! It’s not about the other women; it’s about your husband’s need to prove he’s attractive, lovable, desirable. And maybe it doesn’t even matter why he has that need…maybe what matters is that it’s destructive to your marriage, and he has the power to stop flirting. It’s a habit that can be broken. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has the stance that behaviors can be changed and the reasons for those behaviors aren’t as important. Freudian therapy or psychoanalysis works on identifying the reasons for behavior; knowing reasons can help change behaviors. I’m more into the cognitive-behavioral stuff myself.

    Anyway, it’s wonderful that you’re separating yourself from your husband’s problem. You are still a valuable, lovable, smart, accomplished, beautiful, and desirable woman — even if your husband has this need to be emotionally unfaithful! His actions do not change who you are. And, who you are won’t change his actions. That’s all his baby.

    I hope your ballroom dancing class was fun — what a great idea!

    Thanks for sharing your journey here, Lee. You’re growing and learning so much about yourself…maybe this will be one of those things that actually change your life for the better.

    Talk soon,

  69. Hi Laurie,
    Random thoughts here:

    For the last several months I have been beating myself up over the women that my husband has had emotional infidelities with or flirted with. Sometimes I compared myself with them, they were younger than me for the most part, but some were not. In retrospect, there was a common denominator in all of these interactions and I thought that this denominator was loosely threaded through the women. It is not. The common denominator is my husbands craving to have his particular emotional needs fulfilled and his ability to connect with women who are willing to provide that need.

    This is a liberating thought for me. A big aha if you will. And probably a thought that was all too obvious to you, Laurie. I guess I had to discover this on my own.

    He needs to discover what this need is and only then will he be able to understand how to avoid his flirtatious or emotional emails.
    And I don’t think he is in touch with that yet.

    But we are on the road to wellness. Tonight we are going to a ballroom dancing class to learn something new together and to give us another reason to interact more intimately at social functions. I am delighted that he has agreed to do this.

    To Kel, my heart hurts for you. Discovering infidelity has to be one of the hardest thngs to endure. If he doesn’t want counseling, make sure you get it. You deserve it, you need to talk to a third party and not someone in your family or someone at work… If he needs help and doesn’t get it, you can still move on and be whole and have a wonderful life.

    Keep in touch, I would like to know how you are.


  70. Hi Laurie,
    Well, our couples counseling session post golf cart girl fiasco took place a yesterday and it went okay.

    What was interesting was that the counselor told me that I should help my husband by coaching him everytime I see him slipping into his old ways. Apparently he has an “Achilles heel” aka loves flirting with pretty women who are gregarious and outgoing at the expense of his marriage. I told him that keeping my husband in line was not my job. I would let him know that I was unhappy by leaving the situation and not giving silent approval by staying around and watching him go through his song and dance.

    He looked at me and said, …” I like that. That is certainly a clear message that you are unhappy with his behavior and it removes you from being a particpant.”

    In followup discussions at home, I have told my husband that I don’t care for how he talks to other women from his office either and he admitted that he flirted at work too. I always know when he is talking to a female by the timber of his vioce and vocal inflections. And i find it so annoying.

    Why he does this, who knows. It certainly must fulfill some need. And after I mention an incident he can clearly see what he is doing but not during an event so that he can take a detour.

    The best thing I can say about all of this is that we are working on our relationship together. We are both willing to do what is necessary to have a good life. But sometimes I surely get frustrated.

    But in the end, its all good.

  71. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    I’m so sorry that your marriage has taken this turn. It’s a very difficult place to be — the thought of losing your husband is devastating.

    One thing to remember is that he’s dealing with his own issues; the fact that he’s interested in a 19 year old says that it’s not necessarily your marriage that wasn’t working…so, try not to take it too personally. I don’t know why you feel you pushed things this way, but it’s important to remember that no matter how great we are as spouses, our partners sometimes get involved with other people.

    I wish you all the best, and welcome you back anytime you need support or to vent. Also — you might consider getting individual counseling even if he’s not into couples thereapy, as it may help you cope with whatever comes next.


  72. My husband and I have been married for a little over 2 years. During the course of our dating and marriage, he never saw the need for friends, and I accepted that. Until he met this girl at work. He’s 32 going on 33 and she’s 19. It started off funny enough. He’d sometimes chat with her on MSN messenger about trivial things and never had a problem with me looking over his shoulder and laughing at some of the things she said. Then he told me he was going to the movies with her to see Final Destination. After he let it slip that she doesn’t even like horror movies. That made me pause. Why would you go see a scary movie with someone if you don’t even LIKE scary movies? I started getting a strange vibe from it. One night, I was in bed, feeling sick and she sent him an email via Facebook that she needed to talk to him on MSN. Before I knew it, he was sitting next to me on the bed at 10:30 asking me if I minded him going out to have a coffee and chat with her that same night! I was a little stunned, but also sick, and asked him “Would it matter if I said I cared and that I wanted you to stay home?” and he said he would stay if I wanted him to… but the look on his face made me think to myself “You’re being ridiculous. It’s coffee and a talk.” Well, it wasn’t. She picked him up here at our home at 11 pm and then took him to the hub of college student partying and drunkenness- Downtown. They talked and walked and he finally came back home at 2:30 in the morning. Talk about devastating. Then he started getting more secretive. When I was around he would minimize the chat window, if he heard my footsteps coming, he would stop typing and close the window, or ignore the flashing light of a new instant message until he thought I wasn’t paying attention or I left the room. From then on, I wanted to talk to her myself and I finally did. He got so angry when I told him I contacted her and asked to meet her for coffee. Not angry because I contacted her, but angry because she left him an email via Facebook again, saying that the “wife encounters” were getting to her and it would be best if she would back off. Her saying she would back off made him ridiculously angry. During my talk to her, I told her that there are certain boundaries that don’t get crossed… lines that don’t get toed. All for naught.
    Recently I found a message log between the two of them. She said she was drunk and then proceeded to talk about all of the things she wanted to do to my husband. And he didn’t discourage it! Then she tried the “I feel like I’m just a girl who is a friend to you… nothing significant” and he took the bait. When she asked “do you have feelings for me?” my heart started beating triple. His answer ripped at it: “There’s something there, but I don’t know if that’s good or bad”.
    We’ve been talking and yesterday we were faced with the very real possibility that a divorce is imminent. I don’t want to lose my husband and I feel like I’ve pushed things this way, guilty, betrayed, hurt. He says that we can work on things one day at a time and see what happens, but in my heart of hearts, I know he’s made his decision and it hurts me so badly. I wish with everything in me that he had been strong enough to not even go that route with her, that he had been strong enough to tell her that the conversation was inappropriate and that he was flattered that she felt that way, but he was married and she was *supposedly* engaged and that if she couldn’t control her impulse to say things like that then maybe they didn’t need to be friends. But he wasn’t. And he seems to refuse to acknowledge his role in things. He refuses to see someone to talk to, saying he doesn’t believe in therapy and counseling… but I believe he needs it as much as I do.

  73. What do you think of this family I’m married in to?
    Each man in this family gets a kick from publicly degrading their wife.Each explains in graphic detail about their sex lives and finds it funny to discuss this nature in the pub.None of the wives have ever degraded their husbands. I’m on the brink of exposing all of them to their mother at a reunion in Nov.I plan to go round the table individually and see if their mother is amused.or maybe embarrassed at the actions of her family.Of cause I’ll be the troublemaker, for bring it up.I’ve personally had enough and feel this may be the ending point for me.They are all alcoholics and have inferiority complexes.One terrorizes and bullies his wife and elder daughter. The other goes with prostitutes and mine wonders why I don’t like sex with him.The bully took it upon himself to bully my daughter, recently. Out of my presence I must add. My husband is aware of this incident and has done nothing to protect her I plan to challenge him on this, and ask him why he felt the need to this. My husband has no self-respect for himself, for our daughter or me. He would never stick up for us, against him the bully brother.I’m very protective of my daughter and will not tolerate anyone ridiculing her to gain self satisfaction for their own inferiority complex.The sister is also an alcoholic and has never moved out of the teenage stage she’s 50.and spiteful to the core and sticks up for her abnormal brothers.How do I move on from all this vileness? Why do I put up with it.? ‘m finacially sound,I look after myself and enjoy other peoples company.I’m not a depressive person.I do however speak my mind,People find this offensive and don’t know how to take me.I’m not usually a doormat. Why do I let this lot do this to me?
    If you remeber I already sent a message about my husband. He’s the one that stares at other women continually.He has no explaination as why he does this.One woman in particullar decided to take him up on his challange and paraded herself in a bikini in front of him.All to mop her balcony and found the need to bend over at intervals.He says I’m mad for insinuating he fancies her and she him.He’s disturbed I don’t speak to her to her anymore and thinks I should.He say’s he’s not a man anymore for bowing to my needs by ignoring her now like me.Incidently he always brings this subject up when he’s drunk which is most of the time.

  74. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for responding, Audrey, Gini, and Lee! I really appreciate your thoughts about the whole law of attraction idea in relation to emotional cheating — and I’m glad nobody thought I was saying that we can cause partners to be unfaithful.

    Not knowing your hubby was cheating has to be one of the hardest things to get past. It must take a long time to rebuild that trust and intimacy…and that process is full of stops and starts, ups and downs.

    I think all couples should read real life stories about how destructive even “harmless” flirtations and emotional intimacy can be, so they’re aware of the pitfalls! Getting a real taste of the damage that could result might stop people from playing in places they don’t belong.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing here.


  75. Hi Laurie,
    Well, time for my two cents here.
    I had no idea whatsoever that my husband had an online relationship, let alone one that spanned 4 years! And one that started immediately before and after our marriage.

    I was stunned by the revelation. It took my breath away. And I looked at this man who was so good to me, like he was a stranger.

    I really don’t think that I contributed to the emotional infidelity or his recent flirtations. Yes I am sensitive due to the recent infidelities but I think this is human nature.

    We had what I thought was a really whole relationship on all levels. I am not clingy, a whiner, I am a strong professional woman who was single for several years before I married. I always felt that I was better alone than with the wrong man.

    When my husband and I reconciled this summer I truly believed he would make an effort. When confronted with this last flirtation, he was also stunned by the effect it had on me! “There was nothing sexual here, Lee. I was just enjoying myself and being friendly. This is not like writing emails or being emotionally unfaithful.”

    We are slowly learning how to get along, what upsets the other party and how to be happy together. And as you said, I am doing the best I can.


  76. I’ve been reading some of the responses on this topic and find the self-fulling prophecy and law of attraction component interesting as both play a factor in most life situations. I’ve had my own past personal experience in this area of having a partner that cheats emotionally and have worked with clients who’ve experienced this as well.

    In terms of self-fulling prophecy, I’m not sure how that fits in regarding other’s behaviors except that if we expect the same behavior to happen and we don’t change our own boundaries, then it is likely to happen again. With law of attraction, I think we attratct partners into our life who are a match for us on some level. It may be that they match us with similar values etc. or it may be a deeper match where they carry out a behavior that is similar to a parent or someone we were close to growing up.

    So for example, if our father cheated on our mother, we may unconsciouly choose a partner that cheats on us. Or if we were betrayed somehow by someone important growing up, we may re-experience this again and again, until we release the charge from the past painful experience and then no longer create the same scenarios in our life.

    Then we can go even deeper to a soul level, where we are trying to learn certain things in life – like self-esteem, boundaries or perhaps forgiveness so we partner with someone who creates a situation for us to learn, grow and heal from this situation. We only see this of course if we look at it from our spiritual eyes.

    Some may not believe this or even like to hear it, but I believe we create our own reality and nothing happens “to us” without our permission on some level. We can feel like victims but this only dis-empowers us. When we see the role we have played (like not trusting our intution or setting boundaries) we are empowered to change, and when we see the role the other has played for us (providing the opportunity for us to develop intuition, boundaries etc.) we can move into a place of forgiveness and truly shift unhealthy patterns and relationships into healthy ones (which either means the relationship will shift or end).

    It doesn’t work if we just blame the other and wait for them to change. We have to take responsibility for being in this type of relationship and do our own soul searching and healing work.


  77. Laurie,

    I am one of those spouses who never dreamed that my husband would cheat.

    As crazy as it sounds, I didn’t know it was cheating until I found out about the secrets and lies.

    As crazy as it sounds now, I trusted him until that point.

    And I was devastated.

    Now that my self esteem is better, I know that I did not do anything to cause him to cheat or to continue to cause him to flirt inappropriately. Those are his issues and choices, not mine.

    Part of my recovery has been learning to trust my feelings. I know that my husband’s truly innocent flirtation ( which can be and often is with attractive women who don’t cause that “spark” in him) which he does frequently, makes me laugh, along with everyone else in hearing range. I know that my husband’s not so “harmless flirtation” which he does very occasionally and very specifically, makes me feel anxious and inadequate and unhappy. And no one else, except the subject of this flirtation, is laughing. And I had talked to my husband on many occasions about these feelings, in the process of our joint counseling. And both he and the counselor suggested that I was sensitive about this(I was and am) and the counselor said that my feelings were my issue, and that how he behaved was his choice. I stepped back and thought about it and realized that she was absolutely right. My husband did acknowledge my feelings about this subject, but didn’t agree that this flirtation difference existed, or that even if it did, that it was a problem. I had every reason to believe that it would happen again, but hoped right up until it happened again…that it wouldn’t.

    I don’t see our interactions/choices as a self-fullfilling prophecy or law of attraction, although I was happy to consider those options since you presented them:)

    I see them being based on a lack of trust from a recent infidelity.

    Thank you so much for your time and thoughts, I have appreciated them!

  78. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I have to admit that I laughed out loud when you said “do his horse laugh” — I could SO picture it! 🙂

    I’m very intrigued with the idea of bringing cab fare and planning to leave if hubby flirts with another woman. I think it’s a good idea in many ways, but keep thinking about how our expectations influence what happens around us.

    Have you heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy in psychology, or the law of attraction in new age-y type stuff?

    Both theories – self-fulfilling prophecies and the law of attraction – state that when you believe a certain thing will happen, you subconsciously and consciously act in ways that cause that event to happen (simply stated).

    I am NOT saying that anyone here is causing a partner to cheat or flirt….I’m just wondering how a wife’s expectations that her husband will cheat affects his behavior — or her perception of his behavior.

    Just something to think about — again, I don’t believe that partners cause other partners to cheat. I think physical and emotional infidelity is totally a choice the cheater makes….but I also believe we can influence what happens around us.

    That said, many women (and men) never DREAMED their spouse would cheat, and are then crushed when it happens. Obviously they weren’t acting in ways that caused their partner to cheat. So I don’t know how the law of attraction or a self-fulfilling prophecy would work in that case. Maybe it’s a simple as the fact that not all laws are applicable to all cases all the time.

    That’s why I like the idea of counseling: a trained professional can help us objectively see our own thoughts and behaviors, and help us be healthier and happier. Sometimes I think we’re too close to the problem to help ourselves.

    Lee — you’re no dummy, you’re just doing the best you can! You made your best choices at the time, and now you’re ready to try different choices and different ways of responding to your hubby — good for you. That’s what we do: live and learn.

    Audrey — I agree with Lee, you do sound very together. I’m so glad you’re sharing your insights and experiences!


  79. Audrey,
    That’s so intersting to hear you say that you left the situation, because that’s just what I felt I wanted to do. I was in the middle of this golf course, like a sitting duck in a golf cart, watching him be charming and do his horse laugh and I was so mad. I felt trapped like a rat.

    But your suggestion of removing yourself from the situation and not being a passive participant is not a bad idea. Esp if one discusses this in advance in a rational way.

    I will mull that one over.

    You sound so together. When I am faced with a situation I get so upset that I am immobilized with frustration for a while. I now wish I had said something to him a lot earlier and not waited for the situation to go away. He percieved my silence as tacit approval. And now I feel like a dummy for silently observing his actions for so long.

    Being able to remove myself from a bad situation would make me feel empowered.

    Thanks for your comments.


  80. Lee,
    After the emotional affair was out in the open and we were in counseling, I told him that if there was another occasion where I thought that he was flirting inappropriately, I would simply get up and leave and that he would know the reason because I was telling him in advance, just in case….and that he was NOT to follow me or find me or call me, he should just continue whatever he was doing and have a good time, making whatever choices he wanted to. And that when we saw each other again, I did not wish to speak to him about it, that my choosing to leave and this conversation that we were having ahead “just in case” would say everything I wanted to say.
    My bottom line is that I told him I was not participating in his inappropriate( in a committed relationship) flirting ever again. I told him I could not control his behavior, only mine, and I chose not to participate by observing silently, and had already told him how this behavior made me feel.
    A couple of months ago, we were at dinner with a few people who worked for another company from out of town and one of the reps was someone that he obviously had a “spark” with and that was obvious to me and I am sure, to her. I got up and excused myself and told everyone that unfortunately, I was going to have to leave early and that it was nice to meet them, gave my husband a peck on the cheek and left. I took the car, but made sure I had cab money ahead of time, in case I decided to go that route.
    . He did let me know later how anxious this made him, even knowing ahead of time, and I have not seen any behavior like that since. He made an appointment for his therapy shortly after that “to figure this out.”
    I am not suggesting that you do this….just that whatever you do, be consistent with your values and respect yourself and whatever happens in terms of his choices, it’s okay:)

    Laurie, thanks for your supportive comments and you too, Lee. Laurie was right….it’s all good:)

  81. Hi Audrey and Laurie,

    Well, I did confront my husband about the “drink cart girl” and he was silent and walked out of the room. Came back in about 5 minutes later and sat down and said, “I’m sorry, sorry for embarassing you.”

    I was dumbfounded. I had said nothing about him embarassing me…but that’s what he got out of the confrontation. So I explained one more time why I felt hurt when he flirted and he said he kind of noticed that something was wrong last weekend, that’s why he only bought one drink from her. And then proceeded to magnanimously tell me how this weekend will be different and he can’t wait to show me. And that he really did see that he hurt me after he saw a “look on my face” this past weekend when the girl came by. Although he never brought this up until I confronted him.

    Well, duh. After a direct confrontation, if he is unable to change his behaciour toward another woman we really have problems.

    And we are supposedly done with therapy. What I am learning is that he has not learned why he does this at all! Audrey your comment about “when he feels a “spark” he should recognize it, acknowledge it, and NOT act on it, and that means avoiding initiating or returning flirtatious behavior with a woman that he finds attractive, and instead focus on you” is just exactly what he needs to do. When I asked why he felt okay to engage in his flirtations, he couldn’t tell me and evaded the question. He clearly doesn’t get it yet.

    I can see that he is trying to some degree to think of us more closely bonded. But that’s when we are alone together. It’s his relationships with other women is where the test is! And he didn’t get it.

    I am going to suggest that we head back for another session.

    I need one for sure but I would like both of us to go back to talk about this. Without his understanding his behavior we are in danger of another infidelity…

    Thank you so much for your comments.

    Audrey I hope your situaion works out for you. I took took off my wedding band and only recently put it back on-after 4 months. I think that my husband got comfortable and went right back to his old habits. Maybe without even realizing it, because he is not in touch with why he behaves with other women like he does.

    I feel a bit exasperrated.


  82. Lee,
    I think you have every right to be upset about your husband’s “harmless flirtation” with the woman he sees at golf. While there certainly is such a thing as harmless flirtation, that isn’t it. Any time someone in a committed relationship is flirting with someone they find attractive for more than a few minutes, disappointed when they aren’t there or when they leave, and looking forward to seeing them and flirting with the same person AGAIN…..that isn’t harmless in my opinion, for anyone, and especially not for someone who has had a previous emotional affair. Even if he never has any contact with her otherwise, he is spending his time thinking about her in a way that detracts from you and your relationship and it may lower the bar for another emotional affair.
    This is what my husband did in between his emotional affairs ( I didn’t see that behavior in the 6 years that I knew him prior to his first emotional affair), and this is one of the issues he is trying to figure out now in therapy. He now looks back and admits that is how all three emotional affairs started….”harmless flirtation” with someone he was attracted to and looking forward to seeing them the next time and continuing the flirtation.His therapist has told him that when he feels a “spark” he should recognize it, acknowledge it, and NOT act on it, and that means avoiding initiating or returning flirtatious behavior with a woman that he finds attractive, and instead focus on you. My thoughts are with you:)



  83. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    Thank you for sharing your story — what a long journey for your marriage! You’re in such a healthy place: accepting that whatever will be, will be….and you’ll be happy either way.

    I wish you all the best, and hope you return to let us know which direction your marriage is going in next (staying married? divorcing and going your own ways?).

    Either way, it’s all good (and bad — because that’s what life is, right? Bittersweet). 🙂


  84. I have been married for 25 years. Our oldest daughter was born 2 years into the marriage and shortly after, my husband had his first “emotional affair”, although I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. It was with a woman at work who was assigned to work with him for only a month. He came home every day and told me what she said, what she wore, etc, and it was obvious that he was obsessed with her. I was very hurt and he told me that he loved me, that he married me, that he had a baby with me, and that none of that meant anything.”We’re just friends.” I believed him because I wanted to and honestly thought he had listened to me and understood this was wrong for me/us and backed off from the relationship. She was off rotation soon thereafter and that was in the days before personal phones, texts, emails and there was no further contact.
    Fast forward to 7 years and 3 more children later. He became interested in a married woman that he worked with one or two days a week and who also lived 2 blocks away from us. Again, I knew it was wrong and recognized his interest and talked to him about it.His response”We’re just friends.” I asked him to stop the relationship as it existed because it was hurtful to me. He accused me of just wanting to” take away his fun.”As far as I knew, they never saw each other outside of work, and this lasted 5 or 6 years, until she started working in a different area. I never thought they would have a physical affair or break up their existing marriages for each other, but knew that she took a lot of time and thought and energy away from our kids and from me.Again, he told me that he loved me, married me, had babies with me. Again, I believed it, but had to talk myself into it.
    Last year I noticed that he was more withdrawn and distant and I could not connect to him even in small ways anymore. Over a period of 9 months, I started to think about a life without him more and more.I told him I was lonely, unhappy, didn’t feel married and he just started with the “but I love you” stuff. And by this time, I didn’t really believe it. I couldn’t talk myself into it anymore. Then on a Sunday morning while I was near his Iphone, a text popped up( texts don’t have to be opened with an Iphone, they are just instantly visible) from a woman I had never heard of asking him if he was free for coffee that morning because she “really needed it.” I reviewed his other texts and emails at that point and found out that she was a woman he worked with and not even the woman that he was serious about, he was just flirting with her. He had a relationship with another woman he had met on a trip to China 9 months previously and seen on two more trips in that time period. I know there was no sex involved because of her communications, not because I would have believed anything he told me at that point. There were no overt “I love yous”, but lots of miss you, wish you were here, I can just hear your voice in my head, I think about all of our wonderful conversations and time together, etc.
    I never thought this man would keep secrets and lie to me, and I realized at the moment that I found that out that a weight was gone from my shoulders because now I knew that I didn’t have to live like this anymore. And at the same time, I was absolutely devastated. I told him that I knew about these two women without any details and that I was not going to divide my life up anymore with women’s names: the Beth time, the Lori time, the Jamie time, etc. I told him then that I would be happy on my own or someday with a man who made a real commitment to me, and didn’t need “just friends.” I realized how much my self esteem had suffered living with this/him. Even between women, he didn’t make me or our relationship a priority.I made an appointment with a marriage counselor and he wanted to come and work on things and did. He broke off contact with the other women ( but did ask me a couple of times if he could write to the woman in China”as a friend.” ) The answer was that it was his choice, I only cared about knowing about it so that I could make decisions about my life and would. The counseling started off okay, she got him to admit that he had an emotional affair and that was difficult for him. He minimized everything, and said she “wasn’t important.” That hurt a lot… be less important than someone who wasn’t important and also to try and get him to tell the truth, he didn’t admit to anything I didn’t already know. And I had not told him I read the emails, much like Hank from earlier this summer. The worst thing was that my husband is a charming, charismatic, intelligent, funny, man who ends up charming/manipulating everyone, including the therapist. It very soon turned into, you are too needy, he’s just a flirtatious personality, it’s okay if he doesn’t help you around the house, he’s a busy and important man, maybe you should see a counselor, he’s stopped communicating with other women, there’s really nothing wrong with him, you expect too much from him etc.
    I read Hank’s note and that was SO helpful. Thank you, Hank! I acknowledged what I had already done.
    1) Grieved over the death of a man I thought I knew
    2) Grieved over a marriage that was dead, too.
    3) Decided that the two of us had to figure out who the other was and see if we wanted to continue a relationship of any kind and then rebuild.
    4) Decided I did not want to stay married to him, because I thought this is always going to be an issue.
    5) He decided, on his own, to see an individual therapist and start working on some of his own issues, including why he needs these relationships and how not to need that.
    6) Acknowledged my role in allowing our relationship to continue through those years the way it was, and allowing myself to be treated in a way that was not acceptable to me.
    7) Given up control over something I never had any control over……and it was absolutely liberating.

    We are still together for now, as long as he is working on these issues.Because he says he “really loves me” and now it’s starting to feel like he is backing that up with behavior, that it’s not just words. I don’t know how the relationship will work out. I took off my wedding ring the day I found out about the “secrets”. If this relationship works out and we stay married, I will be happy because I know now what I want and need. If this relationship doesn’t work out and we divorce, I will be happy. As far as I’m concerned, our story is already a success story.

  85. Hi Laurie,
    You know, you have really hit the nail on the head. Months or years from now, when we are really whole, this might not bother me. But right now it does!

    And it did take him a long time to get the “emotional cheating” thing. He initially went to therapy to placate me and to get help from the counselor on how to deal with his emotionally overwrought wife. Four months later, he got that it wasn’t about helping me not be upset but about his actions in the first place.

    And I have been saving this hurt for a few weeks now and it IS building up.

    I will definately bring up the issue at the right time and place. Something like, “When you are being super friendly to the young lady at the golf course, it makes me feel anxious and upset. We are healing from an emotionally cheating situation and your bevavior, whether I am present our not, makes me feel uncomfortable and is hurtful.”
    Something like that. Because that’s the truth and his behavior with her is beyond being a little annoying.

    He tips her well, so she come around frequently too! ugh
    I guess I would too if I was single and looking to make a living.

    But thanks again. Your helpful advice and understanding comforts my weary soul.


  86. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    I don’t think you’re a dope at all — and I’m surprised that your husband is behaving this way!

    Actually, I take that back…your husband is totally oblivious to how his behavior with other women affects you. He didn’t realize the effects of his emotional cheating — it took some time for him to realize the damage, didn’t it? I’m not trying to criticize him; I’m just saying that he’s not terribly aware of how his interactions with women affect you.

    I suspect he just doesn’t realize how hurt you are by his “innocent flirting.” I suspect he thinks he’s just being nice and friendly and having fun with her — and since you’re right there, he thinks that you know that there’s no way anything could happen.

    Your husband isn’t unusual: most men are oblivious! Generally speaking, they just don’t pick up on the same things women do, and they don’t realize how their behavior or words can affect women.

    I think it’d be a mistake to ignore your husband’s behavior. You’ll just get angrier and more resentful, and it’ll reach the boiling point: you’ll explode or react in a hugely emotional way to something little, like the toilet seat up (because you’re really angry about the flirting).

    I suggest picking a time to talk about how you feel. Calmly and rationally describe exactly what you did here: tell him how his behavior makes you feel. You don’t have to accuse him of flirting or doing anything wrong. Just say “I feel X when you do X.” And you might even tell him that in 20 or even 5 years, it wouldn’t matter if he flirts a little….but right now you and he are rebuilding trust and reconnecting, so his behavior is key to helping you two bond again.

    A related option is to have this conversation in front of your counselor (you said you were done with couples counseling, but there’s nothing wrong with a “quickie”!). Having this conversation in front of a counselor will help you express yourself objectively and rationally, and will also give you and your husband an outside perspective. And, you’ll learn how to initiate and resolve difficult conversations.

    I wish you all the best — and remember, this is a normal part of being married! Misunderstandings, miscommunications, misbehaviors happen all the time. The trick is knowing what to let go and what to challenge (which you were wondering about). I believe that anything that makes you feel fearful, embarrassed, anxious, or uncomfortable should be challenged. Things that just make you feel annoyed or frustrated could be let go…..but I don’t think there’s any clear cut rules! It totally depends on each marriage and situation — and you’re coming from a “we’re healing from emotional cheating” situation, which makes his behavior with other women a key to your marriage.

    I hope this helps a little….ALSO — it’s normal to take great strides forward and then deal with minor setbacks now and then. That’s what healing is all about!

    Best wishes,

  87. Hi Laurie,
    Well, we are done with couples therapy, had a good vacation, and my husband is really trying to earn back my trust.

    However,…I am not sure if I am being overly sensitive, but we play golf on weekends. But here’s the deal, the girl who serves drinks on the course, who is absolutely gorgeous, comes to visit with us and my husband all but falls over himself when she is around. Misses drives, buys way too many drinks when he otherwise wouldn’t, notices when she is not there, and lets her know the next time we go out to play a round that he missed her etc. He flirts and makes me so uncomfortable.It’s all done in front of me so I think he thinks its okay, but it is not.

    Should I confront this or just let it go…

    I feel so badly because we were making great strides and now this petty flirtation that gets under my skin.

    Please don’t think I’m a dope but it does make me feel badly….

  88. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I totally second what Everydaymatters said, Cynthia!

    You said you “just met” — how long has it been? I’d stick with dating him without talking about marriage, for at least a year. Give him time to get divorced and move on from that marriage before leaping into another one.

    And, if his relationship with his “business partner” is bothering you now, it will likely only get worse. If he can’t cut his ties to her, then you’ll either have to live with it or decide that it’s not worth it.


  89. Cynthia, I would think twice about marrying this man. He’s not even divorced yet. Did your relationship start while he was still with his wife? If he cheated on her, he will cheat on you as well. This “business partner” sounds like more than business to me.

  90. My fiance has a relationship with a so call business partner. He met her during his previous marriage 4 years ago. However, we just met and he expresses desires to marry me when his divorce is final. He claims she is a business partner of his but she loans him money and they talk all the time on the phone. When she calls he is totally into to her conversation and I’m tired of it.

  91. I am in love with my bestfriend although i am already committed. I am always seen with him 5 days a week bec. he’s my co-worker than with my partner which is once a week only. Surely absence makes the heart go fonder, but what will you do if you fall for your bestfriend whom you always see at work? To make matters worst, he just got a partner. To make matters even worst than what it is, we secretly became emotionally intimate at some time within my relationship with my partner and before he’s been recently committed to someone. Now, I find myself brokenhearted bec. my bestfriend has someone he can fully call his own. I’m jealous bec. his time is now dedicated to his new partner. I know before he was willing to be my second but he realized his worth that he can’t be second best for anyone his entire life. he waited all these years for me eventhough he knows that i can’t leave my first bec. i love him, too. but my bestfriend promised me that nothing’s gonna change between us, ever. I know this is the most selfish story you’ve heard, but i am really confused! I wanted so badly to move on and concentrate on my first but i am afraid to lose my bestfriend who occupies most of my mind, or i am just afraid that his feelings for me will change?

  92. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Theresa,

    You need to decide what you can and can’t live with in your marriage — nobody can or should tell you if you should stay married to your husband or not! It’s too big and personal a decision.

    If you do stay married, then you have to expect that he won’t change. You have to accept him the way he is right now, emotional affairs and all. It doesn’t sound like this marriage has been very healthy for you…and few people would suggest staying in a situation that isn’t healthy.

    I suggest you talk to a counselor – especially if you’re struggling with anxiety disorders and feelings of hopelessness. A counselor will help you see your marriage and husband more objectively. I also suggest asking your husband if he’ll go to couples counseling with you.

    Here’s a link to an article I wrote recently, called “7 Ways to Tell if Your Marriage is Over” — it might help!

    I wish you all the best,

  93. My husband started to have emotional affairs with his co-worker when he started new job (10 days after our wedding). I have confronted him many times he needed to stop it. But he only insists there’s nothing going on. He lies about times that he wasn’t home, lies…so much that I don’t trust him at all now. It has been going on for 2 years and still going on yet he denies it absolutely. He suggested I should be seeing a psychiatrist to be evaluated for suspiciousness, befofe becoming paranoid. He has golden reputation around his friends, pretends he is a die hard Christian, who recites Bible instantly… but I found she came over slept in our bed one night when I was working night shift, since then I quit working…his girlfirend is 20 years younger than him, they both are physicians, both are married. They conduct themselves very professionally so that no one suspects anything at work. I remember when I was engaged to him, the head of the hospital told me I was the luckiest woman alive, to have him. And also his church people said samething. Some friends ask his advise regarding their infidelity… here I am, (all his friends, other doctors who work with him) they all think I am a mad woman who is accusing their golden egg. I can’t stop their affair. It’s been very, very hard on me past two years of our marriage. I feel he’s married to her rather than to me. I have lost hope, lost self esteem, developed anxiety disorders. Yet he always tells me he loves me day and night.
    What do you think? Should I stay or should I go?

  94. Lee, Tina, Marlena — all women who discovered their husbands having an emotional affair — I need your help!

    On “Tips for Surviving an Emotional Affair”, Steve wrote in about how his wife discovered that he was emailing a woman from work. He’s devastated and scared he’s going to lose her, and asked for suggestions on keeping his marriage and family together.

    If you have any advice for how he can rebuild his marriage and regain his wife’s trust, I know he’d appreciate your insights! Here’s the link:

    Thanks for your help,


  95. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    You’re very welcome, Lee! I’m really glad you that you share your progress, and support other women here….it means alot to me that you’re willing to reach out to others. And I know it helps them, too!

    For every one reader who comments, there are 100 who don’t. Even if they don’t pipe up, they’re thinking, learning, and growing.


  96. To Marlena,
    You know it amazes me that a man can tell himself that if there is no physical contact in a relationaship, they are not doing anything wrong.

    I am so glad to see that you are confronting your husband, as I did mine. I knew that when I did confront him I had to be prepared for his response. I knew that he would either deny it or make excuses or admit his mistakes. And I was right, he made excuses and then s-l-o-w-l-y started to admit that anything he had to hide from me or share with me was wrong. This process took 3 months.

    We are both in therapy, separately. Soon I hope that we are both in the same session. I want to work things out because I love him, even though things have changed for me. Married life will never be what I thought it was, but it will be okay, just different. I hope I can live with that.

    But what I have learned is this. There is something that your husband is getting out his flirtation and you are not to blame. He needs to find out why he does this, find out how he can get the same gratification from you, and concentrate his energy and attention on you, his beloved wife.

    Good luck to you and to all of us going through these crises.

    And again, thank you thank you thank you Laurie for providing this website to us all.

    Thinking of you, Lee

  97. Marlena No my husband is English she is a Muslim Turkish woman.Can you believe that?
    Anyway I have not spoken or acknowledge her for a few weeks now neither has my husband.That was his doing not mine.She has now got the message.Her children have also stopped calling our names,his in particular.How she managed to pull that off with a 3 and eighteen month old, I not sure.
    We had a very long talk yesterday.I put around 150 questions together on my computer for him to answer.
    He sat down with me and was very good and honest in some respects but not allwith his answers.However ,I confident I will get the answers I was looking for eventually from him.
    On finding a fault with me he couldn’t find one.He said I was a good wife and mother.I explained that he was involved in an emotional affair with her.This he didn’t realize and said he went off on one before, because he said I haven’t touched her.By not going near her or in to her his mind not to touch was OK.He didn’t know the definition of an emotional affair until I explained it to him. He then had to agree. This was what he was getting involved in to.
    I told him she was obsessed with him and that he was leading her on.He totally agreed that there was no ending to this affair that would satisfy her needs.
    Before when I asked the question, if he had ever complimented her in any way he always said NO.Yesterday he admitted that he said he liked her hairstyle.(the one he hadn’t noticed the previous day until I said).This was done without words and through gestures.This was the first time I became suspicious. She went all embarrassed and giggly and said my name to him.As if to say where is she, or why are you complimenting me.He assures me that he has never gestured anything to undermine me (who knows).
    I told him that was the first incling he gave to her and it confirmed things in her mind.From here on they continued.The next week she complimented his new haircut through gestures I saw it.I confronted my husband this day for the first time as per my previous mail.
    A week or so later he had to return to the UK only for 4 days.Her husband asked where he was on her behalf.On his return he sat with me our balcony. My back to her, his face towards her.She was sitting on her balcony.He raised is hand to his face to indicate tiredness and rub his fingers through his hair,with a shaking of the head.I knew ,this was the it’s over sign.The next evening I caught her crying on her balcony and keep looking over to my husband on ours.I blew up at that and said to him she just isn’t getting it, is she?.He pretended he didn’t know she was crying and made the excuse her husband may have upset her.By the next day he had convinced me I should say Hello to her.I made contact with her and was friendly towards her.Low and behold if she and he didn’t start where they left off.This time he went to wash his scooter on the patio in full view of her balcony.She came on the balcony.He must have gestured an alright sign.She was looking at him side on,She raised her shoulder very slightly and pulled a sad face.Then she raised her palm and put it up in front of her face and let it rest on her forehead.Indicating like this is doing my head in type of gesture.She then picked her baby up smothered him in kisses. All the time she had wide staring eyes fixed on my husband.She waved at my husband in a small cupped fist style.She stood and walked in to her apartment.I went out on our balcony and asked my husband to come in.I pretended there was a phone call for him.I confronted him and said that’s the biggest gesture yet.Again he kept pretending he hadn’t seen any thing.I showed him the gestures I had just witnessed.He kept protesting all I did was wave.I reminded him that the wave came at the end of the gestures.
    He has got the message loud and clear from me he knows I will not put up with this stupidity.I said I will take my computer round to her apartment one night.I can translate from English to Turkish for her.I can relate to her what I’ve seen and explain that I have also discussed this matter with my husband. I will then tell her, if she does not back off. I will tell her husband.

  98. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Marlena, I don’t think your husband’s physical and emotional cheating is about you. He’s dealing with his insecurities and fears in totally the wrong way — but many spouses look outside their marriage when they’re struggling with internal fears, anxieties, depression, etc.

    Have you asked him what he wants to see happen with your marriage? Is he willing to recommit and reconnect with you — and maybe consider couples or individual counseling?

    He needs to decide what he wants. You can’t pull your marriage together by yourself, no matter how fit, healthy, and happy you are.

    I’m sorry it feels like he doesn’t like what he sees when he looks at you…….and I encourage you to focus on your positive qualities. Keep liking and respecting yourself, my friend! Don’t let his insecurities and confusion change how you feel about yourself — because you’re not different.

    You’re the same strong, special, unique amazing woman you always were.


  99. I have been married for tweleve years. After the birth of our daughter eight years ago, my husband suddenly wasn’t interested in sex at all. He began traveling to Japan at that time. I found emails to girls soon afterwards. I thought we had worked through it, the emails seemed like just friendly chats, but recently i discovered a much more sinister email from his ‘secret’ email account. The girl in the email said that she wanted to be his friend and not have an affair with him, that she hoped she wasn’t leading him on by kissing him. I can’t tell you how upset, angry, rejected and hurt I have been. I’ve been depressed, having panic attacks, crying all the time. It doesn’t help that he bascially says that he’s not attracted to me because I’m too fat (I’m five foot five and weigh 150, hardly obese) He barely touches me, and cites stress at work. I keep up with myself, walk every day, get my hair done, just about everything you could do including dieting, but he still seems more attracted to asian women. He tells me he feels insecure because he’s getting older and has gone bald. I constantly tell him how sexy he looks, and I mean it, but apparently to him I’m not. I look in the mirror and I like who I see. I truly do like myself, I just can’t understand why he doesn’t.

  100. Angelina, I’m sorry he’s being such a jerk! His behavior is not okay — he’s disrespecting you and dishonoring your vows and marriage. Emotional cheating destroys marriages.

    I can’t tell you if you should leave him, wait and see if he sees her again, or give him yet another chance. But just last week I wrote an article called “7 Ways to Tell if Your Marriage is Over”, which might help. Here’s the link:

    And yesterday, I wrote “Emotional Affairs on the Dr Phil Show”:

    After you read these articles, let me know what you think…but I can tell you right now that the most important thing for a healthy marriage is that both partners are willing to work at it. If your husband can’t stop seeing his friend, then he doesn’t seem too interested in building a healthier marriage with you. I’m sorry.


  101. Hello , my husband and I have been married for 13 years , and just over the pass 3 months i have found out that he is talking to what he calls a ” friend ” .. at first i was ok with them talking as i know who she is , it’s ok for us to have frinds and then one day they stoped talking if i was around , each time i came in the room my husband would close the the chat on the pc , so i let it go for a week or so and just kept watching and i had enough and looked at he’s cell phone and found out Yup there more then friends … there were lots of messages from her and to her on the cell phone , and chats on the pc oh and phone calls from ” our house phone ” so I asked him about it all and he told me that they were talking lots and so of the chats were ” sexule ” wow is all i could say at that time … I felt so used , mad , sad , i wanted to scream … he said it would stop as of right now , and it did he has not talked to her … but he has talked to her sister to get her phone number ( becouse i deleted her number and emails and everything ) said he still wanted to meet up with her this fall …. I don’t know what to do

    1. Do I leave him
    2. Do I wait and see if he meets up with her
    3. or give him one more chance ( so far he’s had 5 chances ) over the past 13 years

  102. Yes, you should definitely show him information on emotional infidelity — because many people don’t understand how destructive emotional intimacy with people of the opposite sex can be.

    Have you read Jane’s comment on my article about surviving an emotional affair? She just left it today; she was emotionally involved with a man, her husband found out and was devasted, and she’s picking up the pieces. Her story might help your boyfriend understand the effects of emotional intimacy. Here’s the link (scroll down the comments to Jane’s info):

    Regarding your boyfriend: I figure that he doesn’t want to rock the boat with his friend and fellow band members — it’s definitely easier to let things ride instead of making waves!

    So what it boils down to is this: what are you willing to live with in your relationship? Whatever his reasons, he’s not willing to give up his friend. (Though, hopefully that will change after show him the possible effects of emotional cheating!)

    If, even after learning about emotional infidelity, he’s still not willing to limit or end his contact with you, then I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do.

    Your boyfriend sounds nice, and it surprises me that he’s friends with a woman who is so cruel and manipulative. What’s up with that? It’s good that his relationship with her has changed, but he still seems to have a blind spot with her. That he would talk with her secretly shows a disrespect for his relationship with you.

    Once you figure out what you’re willing to live with (your boundaries), then talk to him about what you need, how you feel, and why. Stick to the “I feel left out/worried/afraid” sentences, as opposed to the “You’re cheating on me via this friendship” phrases.

    Good luck — and don’t give up on him yet! But, don’t lose yourself, your self-respect, or your dignity just to keep a man.


  103. Hoping to Survive

    Hi Laurie:

    I have been in an exclusive relationship with my boyfriend for nearly four years now, and I am fearful that his friendship with another woman is going to break us up.

    She was not in contact with him the first year he and I were together, but she began contacting him when her ltr dissolved. I have OS frienships myself, so I was not worried or judgemental. He spoke highly of her and i said I`d like to meet her.

    An event came up where we finally met, and the moment he was out of earshot, she started saying things that devalued our realtionship. It became apparent to me that he had confided his doubts and fears regarding our relationship in her, and she couldn`t
    wait to dump it all in my lap.(she ratted him out, essentially)She claimed she was “trying to help me” but her demeanor was condescending,patronizing, and more than a little smug……

    She even used the old “well, you can never really understand him”
    line, which I didn`t buy,and, “i just think there`s someone better for you” really sent up my red flags.

    When that didn`t convince me, she began casting aspersions on his honesty…”Oh, if he said “I love you”, that was just bull*****. I`m not trying to paint him as insincere, but he`s the kind of guy that says that to a different woman every coupla weeks…blah blah…….

    I debated extensively on whether or not to tell him about her duplicity for a few months, and finally decided that I would want to know had one of my friends had behaved that way towards him. So I told him, and was met with invalidation and criticism, “Oh you just heard her wrong” “You should know better than to put stock in anything you hear in a party situation” “She was just being protective of me….”
    He has continued his friendship with her and for awhile it showed
    all the earmarks of an EA, secretive about phone calls, last minute cancellations on dates with flimsy explanations, etc.
    I called him to the carpet about that,and asked him if he had ever heard the term “emotional cheating” and he said no.I tried to explain the nuances to him, and he reassured me that the nature of their relationship has changed, but i remain skeptical,even though she got married a year ago. He still hangs out with her at least once a week, because they are in a band together.

    So, I`m wondering if it would be a good idea to show him some of the articles I`ve come across about Emotional Cheating especially those that discuss the kind of damage that occurs in the aftermath.
    I feel like he doesn`t understand how much pain this has caused me.
    He`s very good to me in so many ways, generous, helpful, affectionate, etc., and i`ve never found someone as compatible with my nature and interests. I`m hoping to stay together, so any input or insight would be most appreciated.

  104. Thanks Lee- It helps me to know that I am not alone or that I am not imagining this hurt. I am going to see a counselor next week, he is going too-cause I told him if we were to get past this, he must go, too. Thanks for your tip, I will try it, I will almost try anything at this point-I am at a low place!

    keep in touch-hope it all works out for you-I’ll pray for us and all those women who have been hurt!

  105. Hi Tina,
    Boy do I relate to you. After I found out that my husband had this “emotional relationship” for 4 years!!!! I was so angry and hurt. The things he said to her haunted me. She is 30 years younger than me and I still obsess from time to time about feeling old and inadequate. And it took him 2 months to see why I was upset and that he was wrong. It took a professional counselor to help him with this. He would say “It was no big deal, it was only e-mail, I knew I would never see her again (she lived across the globe) but he would admit that he hid the correspondence from me because he know I would be upset and angry.

    So then the rationale is if you knew I would be upset and angry and you still did it, you knew it was wrong! He failed to see or admit that. Now he can tell me that when he was “outted” he was embarassed and made up ridicuous excuses to save face.

    But it all hurts, it hurts so bad. i would almost rather he had a one night stand than this prologed thing with this girl. All I can say is that I was good to myself, worked out, took care of my self physically and treated myself special. I had to.

    I was also given another great tip by my counselor because I found it hard to function at work. I hope this helps you:
    She said that when I was so hurt and going through a low point, that I should say to myself, “Save this for later. For this weeknend. For tonight. Or whenever you can let go and cry.” Because you have to grieve. When I found out that I had the ability to table the sad and depressed episodes, I found that I could do it for longer periods of time and almost indefinately. I have more functional time that way.

    But at some point he should say to you:
    “I am sorry.”
    “I did this knowing it would hurt you if you knew, but I was selfish and did this anyway.”
    “I am cutting off all contact with her.”
    “I love you and am willing to do evrything I can to help you trust me again, because I love you and value or relationship more than anything or anyone else.”
    That will help you heal too.

    Keep in touch and let me know how you are. You are not alone.

  106. I found out a few days ago that my husband has been calling and texting a girl from work. I found the phone bill and he had over 30 calls and over 70 text messages for a 4 week period. When first approached, he said he was seeking advice for his mom, that she had the same experience with her mom, and that it wasen’t what i thought it was. Since, I cannot trust him even though he agreed to stop. He wonders why i cannot get over it, and almost gets angry that i can’t get over it. I am terribly hurt and what hurts the most is that he cannot acknowledge his actions and my hurt. He says he’s sorry, but it feels empty-I have sought counseling, but until then how do i begin to heal myself? it has really affected my self-esteem, and now i question my self-worth. i need some comforting and he is so caught up in his pride and anger that he cannot give me waht i need.

  107. Hi Laurie, I just realized last night that this girl is extremely selfish, as she lashed out at me (after asking me on whether I graduated: then she angrily said’What are you doing here!?’) last September because I was at my former college and she hadn’t graduated. I believe that this girl used me when she was at a disadvantage (such as when she wasn’t getting what she wanted out of her boyfriend) when I was studying, then lashed out at me later because she felt jealous. I’ve talked to other girls in a similar situation (as I visited certain social clubs after I had graduated) but they never lashed out at me the way she did. Conclusion: I believe this girl is a head case one way or another and isn’t worth pursuing. I feel really bad that I told her one time she looked better with her hair being untied because had I not said that, I probably wouldn’t have talked to her length for so many times that I felt emotional connection with her.

  108. This is why emotional cheating is so dangerous! Being emotionally intimate with people you aren’t dating or married to leads to confusion, attachment that leads to heartbreak, and misunderstandings.

    Steve, I think it’s great that you connected with her emotionally…but I think you should let her go. She’s not available, and to pursue her while she’s dating someone else just isn’t cool.

    If she did decide to dump her boyfriend and date you, how do you know she wouldn’t do the same thing with another guy? And — how would you like it if some other guy tries to steal her away?

    Here’s what I’d do if I were you: I’d let her know that I’m interested in more than friendship but can’t continue getting closer while she’s dating someone else. I’d invite her to call or email if her life circumstances every change.

    This way, you’re not honing in on the relationship or getting more confused yourself. Leave the door open; she’ll walk through it if she wants to. It may not happen immediately — my husband and I were friends for 17 years before I was ready to date! — but at least you’ll have a clear conscience.

    What say you?


  109. Hi Laurie, thanks for the feedback. My goal in pursuing a friendship with her is to date her consistently. I am focusing on this girl because I was able to get close to her emotionally from our dialogues and I was able to connect better to her than any other girl I’ve dated or met. I later realized that even though she kept talking about her boyfriend, her actions (i.e: talking to me at length often) just didn’t add up. It just seemed like she wasn’t getting certain connection from her boyfriend and talked to me at length (I can’t see her telling her guy about me) to get that missing link.

  110. Laurie,

    Thank you for your response. I’m hoping the counselling sessions go well and I am thinking a lot about what I might say. I want to open up as much as I can to this person as I feel their position will enable to me to look within myself and see, like you have said, why I sabotage myself and those around me.

    I hope beyond hope that she is willing to trust me, in anyway. The thought of even being able to sit with her and have a coffee and speak about how the weekend was encourages me beyond belief. I would love to have my friend back and love to have my girlfriend back even more. I am most MOST willing to invest time into this process. I have learnt from previous relationships what it is like to not be physically intimate with people and I have learnt that my actions are incorrect and I have learnt how to be honest, yet not accusing in my honesty (as in I can admit fault and not place the onus of that fault on my partner) I am hoping I can evolve my self (as in inner self) to join these together and grow as a person to give my partner what she needs in order to heal and to trust again.

    I feel at the moment the answer would be I don’t know, I will ask the question and I will ask her to visit this site and read what I have written as it might give her a more impartial sight of my feelings, rather than being projected from me. Couples counselling is something that has been discussed already, however we both feel that individually there are issues which need exploration before an honest discourse can be achieved…or at least that was the perception I got. I will in light of this ask that question as well!

    I will return, hopefully not too much as I don’t want to replace the rod with the cane.

    With Hope


  111. Hi Mr P,

    Good for you for seeing a counselor! That’s the healthiest step you could take, and it will help you build a strong, happy relationship.

    Your counselor will likely help you figure out why you were prone to emotional cheating, visiting websites that are destructive to your relationship, and sabotaging your relationship. Once you have that insight, you’ll be far less likely to fall back into old patterns.

    And, once you share what you’ve learned with your girlfriend, she may be more willing to trust you again. It takes time to learn to trust after a betrayal….and but if you’re sincere and genuinely regret what you’ve done — are are willing to do whatever you can to make it up to her — she might be able to put the past behind her and move forward.

    I’m glad you shared your story here. It’s great to hear a man’s perspective — not many men are open to sharing why they cheated, or why they visit certain websites! I admire your honesty, and I know others will learn from you.

    Your question was, Where do I go from here? You commit to more honesty and vulnerability with your counselor (and expect it to be painful, my friend). You ask your girlfriend what she needs from you — and I have to commend you on respecting her, now! It sounds like you’re doing everything you can to repair your relationship. If you haven’t asked her how she can trust you again – what you can do to help her trust you again – then ask her today. Maybe she’d benefit from a couples visit to your counselor, I don’t know. Something to keep in mind.

    I hope you return to let us know how things are progressing!

    All best,

  112. Hi Steve,

    Maybe she is emotionally cheating on her boyfriend — it depends on what you two talk abouted. The more private and personal the conversation (if she doesn’t talk about it with her boyfriend), the more likely she’s emotionally cheating. Some people can talk openly about deeply personal issues, and it may not be emotionally cheating because they’re like that with everyone.

    Only you can decide if she’s worth pursuing a relationship with! But if you do pursue a relationship with her, you have to expect that you’ll come in second to her boyfriend. That is, she might not return all your phone calls or emails because her main focus is elsewhere (which is really where it should be!). She may not be wholly motivated to spend time with simply because she’s involved with someone else.

    What’s your goal in pursuing a friendship with her? Of all the girls you meet, why are you focusing on this one?


  113. I am a 25 year old male and I have emotionally cheated on my partner.

    My partner and I have been seeing each other for just over six months, we have however known each other for over six years. We met at work and at one point lived together until my now ex made her life so unbearable that she moved out. We were the kind of friends that when we were together we were very good and close, however we didn’t involve ourselves in each others lives too much, not through lack of friendship/connection, but just because we were getting on with things.

    We took the step from friends to more un December 2008, it was a traumatic time as I had recently (October/November) split with my ex, a mutual friend of us both, however things calmed down after a while and we moved on. We decided to move in together and after a small amount of controversy managed to find a nice place to live and our relationship blossomed into the kind where people feel a little ‘sick’ to be near us as we’re so alike in attitude and personality it is like having two us there at all times! She means so much to me, not just as a girlfriend, but as a friend and confidant. She has moved me in ways I can’t begin to explain and my love for her will continue all the way to the end of my life, of that I am sure…however…A few months ago I sent a message to someone I met online years ago that was nothing short of p*****raphic, recently (within a week), my partner saw this correspondence, she was naturally disgusted, appalled, betrayed and all the other emotions that you would associate with a situation of this type…here comes the hard bit, for both of us;

    I have no idea why I sent this message. Our relationship was everything I was looking for in a person, emotionally, physically and lifestyle wise I am even changing my life and career which is something I haven’t felt I had the strength to do until now!

    So WHY would I do this? What possible reason would/could I have for doing this?!

    This isn’t the first time I have done this, though I hope it is the last…here comes what at the moment the negative side of my brain is calling the excuse…I was introduced to p*****raphy at a young age, 12/13 expanding into internet p**n at 13/14, this p*****raphy started to dominate my life, not just when at home, but my social interactions and thoughts towards woman revolved around this fantastical liaisons that I had witnessed on the screen, which of course in no way mirror real life. I continued into this ever increasing cycle of using p******raphy to ‘solve’ my issues, issues such as mum and dad separating, dad running off with the woman across the road and by running off I mean living across the road with her, my brother verbally and emotionally attacking my mother and my mother confiding and relying on me emotionally for support, pushing myself further into this fantasy world where there are no emotional needs or the emotional needs of men and women can be solved with physical acts. This was a trait that continued into young adulthood. Never really being able to form any lasting or strong social links with anyone of the opposite sex, always with every situation or scenario ballooning it into this fantasy world…

    …Then I met a girl, we started dating and after eight months of being together breached ‘the gap’ of being a couple to being an intimate couple, all the while when this relationship was going I was unrelenting with my obsessions for p**n, still actively surfing the internet for p******raphy sites, ‘meeting’ people in chat rooms and social networking sites, it had become my crutch…The relationship post intimacy went well for about five months. Then the physical intimacy stopped, we were both too immature to speak openly about it so we both introverted it, never spoke of it. I felt desperately self conscious about myself, physically and beyond. Why was this girl whom I loved unresponsive to me, to the point of not letting me touch her!? Again my immature nature led me in just one direction – P**n, my one safe haven the place where everything was fine and the world made sense. Despite my feelings towards my partner we moved in together. A new start and a fresh beginning…Neither is true I introverted more into my world and she into hers two years had passed and we had been intimate (in any sense) four times, of which only two ended in e******n on my part. We moved again to no more avail than before. Then she moved out, almost on a whim and back in with her family, shortly afterwards we broke up…

    …Almost immediately me and my now new flat mate became partners, she was new, fresh, different and had all the skills emotionally/physically that I wanted in someone – she was more like the p**n stars (by past) than anyone I had met…at least in my head. I understood her neurosis less than I understood mine. Now with this new found intimate bonding I would surely stop with the p**n? No, in fact it intensified even more and started to become more diverse (we’re not talking snuff films or children, but we are talking domination and humiliation). The relationship went well for a few months, then something changed. My partner started to put on weight, become introverted, more aggressive, more emotionally ‘unstable’. I tried to ‘help’, though I think I might not have. I suggested going on walks/gyms, we started playing sports all of which she would get angry at and lash out at me. Emotionally stifling me all the time. I had no output and my pride wouldn’t let me talk about it with my friends, I continued on the same path, we went through several housemates who all left for one reason or another, all of whom mentioned that my partner was extremely unstable. I stood by her and defended her to the hilt. She was misunderstood and she needed love, all the while ignoring my own issues and now my dramatically increased debt issues. I don’t think I will talk at too much length about details but again a year had passed without much intimate activity and the emotional abuse became out lashes of physical events (a whole in the wall made by my partner for example). We carried on in this fashion for three and half years until a discussion brought about that we should break…All the time in this relationship I was being an emotional cheat and being emotionally cheated on. I found letters to friends of mine detailing stories, she spent a lot of time with a friend of mine, stayed over, went out with them even to the point of almost completely ignoring me on Christmas Day as I was laid up in bed ill and chatting online to him…I found messages with I love you written to and from this guy and I was no better. I would interact with people online and before the conversation had a chance to fully mature I would turn it to physical intimacy, chains of e-mails written with the most graphic s****l references you are likely to see even compared to the like of men’s magazines. All my frustrations would float away. I was the centre of attention with these women. I was a strong, confident man who was in control!

    That is some of the history behind this way of dealing with reality I have created. For over 11 years I have turned to p*****raphy as my shoulder to cry on and all the other supports that should have been real people, friends, relatives but I was never able to talk to anyone. I was too ashamed, to full of pride to say I needed help. The fantasies started to spill into my reality every situation or activity was turned into something s****l. If I was happy or sad, angry or confused I would m******ate to make the feeling go away. At home, at work, on holiday it didn’t matter. I was obsessed, hooked on the feeling of self gratification to solve all my worldly woes!

    By the time I met my current partner I had realised I had an issue and I was controlling it. Three times I have done something to make her feel ‘icky’ 1) Went to a website for a ‘lads mag’. After discussion I agreed that this wasn’t acceptable and haven’t gone to one since. 2) I m******ated at work, again after discussion I saw why this was an unacceptable thing not just in a hygiene sense, but also for me showing respect to my partner and finally 3) This e-mail.

    Now I have hurt the one person I shouldn’t hurt. One of the people in this world who I have genuine and lasting love for and that is tearing me apart. Even I lose her as my girlfriend, if she moves away and never speaks to me again the one feeling I will have is that I hurt her and there is nothing I can do to solve that hurt!

    I was due to the doctors the day after the event of her finding the e-mail and I found myself for the first time in my life opening up to someone about my issues. My fears that when other people got angry I thought of s*x, when a situation that arose that would require feeling hurt I would think of s*x and what if…what if one day these thoughts went from erotic to something darker and then what if the thoughts turn from thoughts to reality. I had already emotionally hurt someone I thought it impossible for me to hurt what if I did something else I couldn’t think of doing – hurting someone physically…?

    The doctor was extremely sympathetic to me, asking me questions that allowed me for the first time ask questions of myself. So I have taken the first gigantic step in finding out the reason why I have done this. Done this to my partner and myself. So where do I go from here?

    This is my next hurdle, every time I make a step in the right direction the negative side of my personality says “Yeah that’s right Mr Big Head let everyone know your doing this and that. Your just after sympathy you dirty little…”…I’m trying to overcome this response. In a few days I am seeing a free counsellor and I have another appointment booked (paid for) next week to discuss this issue within myself. My girlfriend is still with me, I have been sleeping in the spare room and I am trying to be as attentive to her as possible without being overbearing. I am answering her questions as openly and honestly as I can (with the restriction of not knowing myself) and whilst I know we will never be the same I am hoping we can become something new, different. I am trying to rebuild the trust between us and more importantly I am trying to understand why.

    *exhales* I’m not sure why I am writing this here, I’m not sure if it will help anyone ever, but in my search for a reason/rationale I read through the responses on here and saw a group of open people. Perhaps one of them can help provide an insight for me!

  114. Hi when I was in college, there was one girl that I met. On September 11,2006 she came up to me and said hi and we sat side by side all the time after that. I realized that she had a boyfriend when she told me she ate at her boyfriends’ house. On November 6, 2006, I told her that she looked better with her hair untied and she said “that’s funny”. We exchanged emails that day as well. 9 days later, I met her outside the classroom and she stood right in front of my face (within 6 inches) with her hair untied. She talked about her boyrfriend among other things for 20 minutes. From then to March 2008, I talked to her at length (at least 15 minutes) about 10 times, sometimes up to 50 minutes at a time. I also sat beside her when she was eating lunch, even though we never agreed previously to meet for lunch. Each time she talked about her boyfriend, her problems, and her hopes. As these encounters increased, she didn’t respond to my emails over Christmas. However, when I met her, we often talked at length. I decided against pursuing a relationship with her because she kept talking about her boyfriend. I graduated in April 2008 and met her again in September 2008 and she was angry at me because I was there even though I didn’t attend the college. I felt hurt and decided not to talk to her for awhile. I just emailed her last week telling her what was going on with me. I believe that she may not communicate me through e-mail because she doesn’t want to get caught having a relationship with me. Did this girl emotionally cheat on her boyfriend and is she worth pursuing even if she replies to my recent email? Could you give an advice about this girl? Thanks.

  115. Have you talked to your wife about her friendships with other women? It doesn’t sound like she committed herself to you after you and she got back together. Have you talked about emotional infidelity or cheating with her?

    It’s a little worrisome that she wants to have contact with her friend witout you finding out — it seems like she’s hiding something. Even if she “just” doesn’t want to hurt you or have a confrontation, she’s still living parts of her life that she wants to hide from you, which is just plain wrong!

    Kim, I suggest you talk to her, and figure out why she’s being so secretive. Tell her how it makes you feel to learn that she’s going behind your back, and how hard it is for you to trust her.

    It’s not likely that she’ll quit her job, so you need to figure out if you can trust her even as she works with the other woman. And — maybe it’s not the job that’s the problem, anyway. It’s how your wife is treating you, how she seems to disregard your feelings.

    It’s awfully hard to trust someone who hides stuff from you…and it’s not possible to have a good relationship with someone who hides pieces of her life away. She seems to not know what she wants for sure — and that’s not fair to you.

    I wish I had something smart and hopeful to say…but I don’t. Talk to her…and listen to your gut.

    Let me know how things go.

    All best,

  116. I also have been emotionally cheated on. I am in a same sex relationship. My partner (now wife) was caught with another female, not doing anything but “just hanging out” out at the bars. After a huge fight it was decided that she wanted to be with the other female. A week or so she said she came to her senses and came back to me. I took her back thinking it would all be over. Right before we had gotten married she met up with the same girl from work and they spent all night at the bar together again without my knowledge. Someone who is just her friend she says. Yet the other woman went out and bought her a cell phone and my wife would leave it in THEIR locker at work. It was bought specifically for the purpose of them being able to talk and such without my finding out. I am now unsure how to trust my wife while she continues to work at the same place with the same girl and don’t know how to make these accusations on my end stop. Any advice?

  117. I think the “hgis” it’s supposed to be “this.” Right now it’s 7 am on Sunday morning, and I’m still to sleepy to make up a funnier possibility! (hgis = “how good is she”?? Nah, that doesn’t make sense…see, I told you I’m too tired 🙂 )

    Lee — thanks for your comments, and for helping others through their pain! It’s so great that you can relate, and share your experience.

    Yes, Deb, I think your husband’s and so-called friend’s behavior is emotional cheating….and maybe a step or two beyond! I hate to say it, but I’d be suspicious of more than emotional cheating if my husband was acting like that.

    Is your friend married? I don’t understand why she’d act like that with your husband (whether she’s married or not).


  118. Is hgis emotional cheating??? One of my so-called friends and husband have been secretly talking, on the phone and visits. Also I went to her house when his truck was in the drive, rang ALL the bells and no answer but he did come out a few minutes later saying he was in the basement and did not hear the bell. The second time was he hid his truck a block away and again I rang the bells and no answer. He says she would not open the door for fear of me…huh? Any way I left and walked back, rang the bells and no anwer but a few minutes later they appeared in the doorway. No embrace. I asked her if there was something I should know and she claimed he is just confiding in her, TALK that is all. But now she is mad at me beccause he repeated things I said about her. What should we do? He says he loves me and they are just friends.

  119. Hi Jean and Reen,
    I feel your pain. My husband and I have been in counseling for about 1 month now and it has taken him that long to understand why I am so upset. Our counselor is a man that he can relate to, thank goodness. I needed to hear from my husband, “It was wrong, I was selfish, I did this even though I knew it would hurt you, I will cut off all commmunicate and I am sorry.”

    My husband’s long emotional attachment to this other woman broke my heart, made me furious and very untrusting. We have a long way to go, but I feel like we are on the path to get our relationship back.

    Anytime you are so-o-o upset, no matter what the cause, your spouse should consider what needs to happen for you both to be happy again. This is not about you singly being emotional or acting strange. It’s about preserving your relationship in a loving way.

    I hope your husbands consider counseling. This “harmless fun” is not harmless if your heart is breaking.

    Take care and keep asking him to go, let him know how much it means to you.

  120. Hi Jean,
    I dun understand it either… I am trying to work things out with my hubby. We are planning to go for counselling too…but it had been held off.. Hopefully he’ll sit thru this Friday’s session.
    For you…it’s his work colleague…
    For me…he is chatting on tagged, looking for ladies who live close by and chatting them up..flirting…
    He denied any wrongdoings…cos he knows he’s someone’s husband and a father of 3.. So why he had to flirt and gif the ladies the wrong impression/leading them on i had asked.
    He continued to say that was what a couple of his male colleagues and himself trying to figure out..they were just fooling around and why do the girls normally get the wrong impression…
    He had cancelled his acct..only to resume chatting again when he thinks that it has tide down…
    There was a point the ‘cheap thrills’ and harmless fun had escalated to a physical affair. Therefore, my heart is still sore and I cudnt accept it if he is to say to me..this is just harmless fun…
    I really cant wait for Fri…I wished it could come earlier..Cos I felt like this heart had stopped beating.

  121. My husband is obsessed with our young neighbour.He can’t keep his eyes off . Neither can she, with him.I’m prepared to say I think he was the initial instigater.She knows his times for pool cleaning and makes a point of watching, from her balcony.He sends little jestures to her like the perfect sign with thumb and finger and touches his skin to indicate the chemicals are perfect and won’t harm the skin.He’s really saying I love your skin.He can’t resist looking up continually to her balcony, when he’s cleaning the pool.He has also started to extend the time for sitting by the pool after he has completed the clean.It’s embarrassing when we have company,sitting on our patio by the pool.He can’t keep his head still. She is always sitting staring down at us.She’s married her husband works until 3.00am in his bar.Her life revolves around her balacony and her screaming kids.She’s not allowed out without permission she’s a muslim wife and does not speak English. Though she’s eager to learn, if she had the money.He likes to sit on our balcony nearest to hers to chat, he speaks a little of her language.I don’t but I’m formiliar with key words.I’ve put a curtain up on the balcony and arranged his chair with the back to her.I see him looking in the window of our place to catch the reflection.He pretends to clean the BBQ but all the time his eyes are not on the job.He’s so bad at staring it’s obvious.I’ve insisted that we use our roof terrace for privacey.This enables me to eat in comfort and not to constantly include her in our conversations.Like when were on the lower balcony.She uses her babies to call his name.He reacts straight away.Even if he’s eating his meals he jumps up to interact verbally with them.Of cause she’s always sitting with the kids. I know he complemented her new hairstyle.The hairstyle he hadn’t noticed.When I said she had changed her style.She reacted with the school girl giggle.Incidentally he did this while he was doing the pool out of eyesight of me.I have a birdseye veiw of her but she’s not aware.She pretends her babies keep saying that they love us.I know better.Especially as the one finds it fitting to spit at me then show any affection.She paraded in her bikini a few weeks back.She got away with this as a one off.The neighbours knew she had been on a boat trip.It’s big tabo in the muslim world to do this in front of another man.However,the slight getting away with it,is because we live in a modern circular part of Turkey.I’m certain this ILY gesture has come out between them.He reacted by saying the word (same) in her language.When I said what’s the same he said he was referrng to her boys.Her school girl giggle came out in reaction.I’m not stupid I pick up on points easily and I can tell the body language, between people I’m not asssociated to, by observing.This particular day put him in to a quiet depressive mood for the whole day.His boby was nervous and he kept sighing heavily and staring in to space. He was slow at reacting to my questions and was distant with his talking and grasping sentences.The signs were reminisant to his mind being miles away.I did’nt use this opportunity to ask what the matter was.I continue to observe his unusual behaviour and body language and let him get on with it.My slight variations in our living arrangements were done before I decided to confront him.At no point did he ask why or object to the way I was changing things.I confronted him one week ago this was after very careful observation.I didn’t want to sound the jealous stupid wife with a vivid imagination.I ask him out right why are you leading her up the garden path?His reaction was I was a horrible person that needed treatment.How dare I even suggest such a thing.I never raised my voice I wanted answers to the flirting I had obsurbed.His reaction was to blow up shout and rant.He threatened to go and see her husbqand and to tell all our friends what I had suggested.He then stormed out of the house and went for a walk.
    At first I was intesivly jealous.So much so I wanted to flourish affection all over him while she watched.Now I want to protect what I’ve worked all my life for.I not prepared to let him live off my private pension and possibley think of striking up a relationship.& providing for her and her kids.Our daughter is 20 and I want to change everything to her name so that she has what is rightfully hers.I feel this woman thinks she may have a good life out of near poverty and debt with him.She told me she couldn’t go shopping because they had no money her husband had run up credit card debts.How wrong she is assuming life will be different. My husbands working life finished due to a serious spinal injury that has resulted in him being slightly brain damaged with the body signals to the brain.However,no-one is aware of this, he appears normal.we’ve been married for 30years.I always blessed my self for having such a wonderful husband and didn’t have to compare him to anyone,I had no reasion to.I’ve done every thing for him and protect him with all my heart the same way I do for our daughter.I have never put any undue pressure on him financially or otherwise.He has started to verbally insulting me over the past 18 months and says I’m a horrible ,horrible person and he hates me.This is done after he’s had a drink I must add.I sit and accept his insults as I find to react while he’s drunk is pointless.I always mention it the next day when he’s sober.Sometimes he’s sorry others he elaberates on his reasoning.I’ve never insulted him or put him down in public.I like to keep my life private and prefer to walk outside the house with him if we need to discuss issues as I don’t like sharing my private life with neighbours.I spent a whole night in hospital with him last week he knocked himself out after drinking to much.I said I ‘ve told her about your drinking habits and how I have endured them for 20 years,without complaint. He went ape and said I’m going to tell her myself I’m not a drunkard. She paraded in her bikini one day and went in to fits of giggles.I found this so embarrising as I was sitting with him at the time.He called me a mallicious vile cow!

  122. My husband has had what I consider to be a string of emotional affairs. We’ve been married 10 years and in that 10 years, he had an emotional affair with one of his sailing crew, and two co-workers. The crew member and he emailed for four years at least a couple of times a week if not more. After a couple of years I complained when I found out about the emailing. They also saw each other once a week and occasionally we would meet his crew for lunch or dinner. For the next two years he elected to lie to me by continuing to email her. I read most of them, and although the majority were harmless, they would talk about things and then he would have occasion to lie to me if one of the subjects came up they had talked about. Four years, and then I put my foot down. He had to kick her off of the boat. Very traumatic for him. I didn’t care. Next, he began to chat via email and occasional text with a co-worker that he lied to me about right off the bat. He has numerous motorcycles and all of a sudden, Mr. Single Seat had to take the bikes with passenger seats. He was taking this woman to lunch with her on the back. He would tell me that he went to lunch with someone else. Then he got a new job, and lo and behold one of the managers who worked for him comes forward. OMG they emailed several times a day for weeks on end, and these emails were very emotional, and of course, they ended up playing a suggestive game via email. My husband was not himself. This is a woman that I had gone out of my way to be kind to. Unbelievable. To this day he has no idea I know about the woman who he stole lunches with her on the back of his bike – of course he always paid. He also has no idea I know how close he came to having a physical affair with the woman I thought was a decent person (boy was I wrong). Still, this woman has come to a couple of events with her husband since my husband quit that place. This last time was after I read their game (hands on her a**, miniskirts, etc…). It is unbelievable to me how someone could be so stupid. She went out of her way to be nice and try to talk to me. I just basically ignored her, and I think that drove her crazy. The nerve. Bringing your husband (who she has been married to for 30 years) to an event for your ex-boss who you fantasized with, knowing his wife would be there. People never cease to amaze me. I love my husband but have copies of many of these emails in case I change my mind. My husband has no idea I know. At this last event, he was so nervous it was pathetic.

  123. I have been dealing with “Emotional Cheating” for the past 2 months, I found some of my husbands ims with one of his coworkers, After him pushing me away for a few weeks (he wasnt acting his normal ways.. he was rude, always fighting, wouldnt even let me get near him, if i did got close he would say that i was hurting him or that he was tired i decided to just i guess go thru his computer and phone) I dont know if im overreacting or not… She makes his coffee, (they even named them) on one of his messages she said that it was cold and well he said that his cubicle was warm and that there was enough space for both of them… for st patricks she even told him the color of her underwear (green gstring, i know people joke like that but still i dont think its right). They even had plans for happy hr. he said that they didnt go, but he did lied about her giving him a ride to a company event.. Theres more messages besides those, we usually im during the day, but during those weeks he was too busy for me, while he was actually talking to her, he says that im paranoid that its not a big deal that it was just chatting, how could it be just chatting?? Theres no way i couldve done that, how can he just go and flirt with other people??? after i told him that i was going to leave him he told her that i found the messages and that he couldnt talk to her anymore, unless it was work related… He promised to look for a counselor but he havent because he doesnt think we need the help.. Every day i say something about it, I cant just forgive him and he knows it, he said that he was used to me talking about it so “Oh well” How can someone be like nothing happened ? I get upset every day because i cant just get it out of my head? Is it just me or what? I dont trust him, I cant be like alright lets move on and work things out, because everything i look at him it reminds me of those conversations… What should i do ? Im confused and upset, it makes me sick everytime i think about it. I would like to know what other people think about my issue.. Thanks

  124. I’m glad you have the strength to recognize that you’re better off without him, April! I’m sorry your relationship is over, but I’m glad you didn’t spend years or decades wtih someone who could be such a jerk.

    Did you see any warning signs or red flags that he might be untrustworthy? I’ve heard that we can recognize the signs of a physical or emotional cheater…and I’m curious if you did.

    You’re definitely not the bad guy in all this, and the sooner you get your own place, the sooner you can move on in your life…and the happier you’ll be!

    Thanks for sharing, and best of luck,


  125. I have been in a relationship that has just ended after a little more than a year. We are living together (until we can get moved).
    I just found out that in February he suggested to my best friend that if she and her boyfriend didn’t work out and if he and I didn’t work out that maybe they should give it a go. My best friend of course would have nothing to do with this and has been somewhat cold towards him since. I feel very betrayed by him and was wondering if this falls under the “emotional cheating”. We just ended the relationship 2 days ago and since then I have been told some other things that he had spoken to my bff about. She certainly didn’t encourage his behaviour and she would ask him to stop such conversations because she was uncomfortable. I am inclined to believe her as she has never lied to me and she didn’t tell me in order to split us up she waited until we were. He of course is denying the whole thing but has been trying to throw me under the bus and making me the bad guy in all of this. In light of this there is no question that I am better off without him and truthfully I wish I had known sooner.

  126. Lee — and everyone who is surviving the aftermath of emotional or physical affairs – remember that this could make your relationship stronger, healthier, and more authentic in the long run.

    It’s like getting a diagnosis of cancer or a chronic illness: some survivors say it was horrible to go through, but they’re glad it happened because it changed their lives for the better. It made them appreciate life, people, and being alive more….I think the same could happen for infidelity in relationships (depending on the couple).


  127. Hi There Everyday Matters,

    It was interesting to read your message because it gives me a view of what the other party is thinking when they are engaging in an emotional affair.

    Bottom line, your guts tell you what is okay and not okay. In my husband’s case he kept saying, “It was only email! She was just a friend!” But if you are keeping that companionship a secret, it is wrong. And we had quite a good relationship while he was emailing and her. I was just not in the room or at work, so he didn’t see “where it took anything away from our relationship.”

    But it is good to hear from someone who can admit that they knew it was wrong and hear what they might have been thinking. It is also interesting to see how a simple online communication can get out of hand.

    I am still crushed by my husband’s relationship. I wish I had never found his emails. On the other had, it’s good to know what our relationship was really like. And if we get “repaired” I hope its not the same. Because it wasn’t so good after all and not what I thought it was.

    I hope everything works out for you.

    Thanks for sharing, Every day Matters.

  128. Another reason you don’t feel guilty (and many people don’t feel guilty in emotional affairs) may be because of your relationship with your husband. If he was loving and caring, then you’d feel guilty — well, if he was loving and caring, you’d have no need for an emotional affair in the first place!

    It takes time to leave an 18 year marriage, no matter how bad it was! Leaving the familiar is hard – even if it’s not healthy or good. I’m glad you’re rebuilding your self-esteem and self-confidence…and one of the best ways to do that is to take risks, and don’t take failures personally.

    I’m just curious: are you in individual counseling?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your life with us, everydaymatters. And I love your “handle”!

    Best wishes,

  129. I had no idea that I was having an emotional affair until about a month ago when my sister confronted me about it. I have been in a very unhappy marriage for 18 years. My husband is an emotionally abusive (and physically abusive about 3 years ago) alcoholic. He walked out of marriage counseling 20 minutes into the third session. Because of my low self confidence and self esteem as a result of living with him, I haven’t felt strong enough to leave.

    Over the past 3 months, I have grown very close to a friend that I have known for about a year. I get what I need emotionally from this friend, something that I have not received from my husband for many years. My friend has helped me regain my self confidence and self esteem, and I am getting strong enough that I will be able to leave my husband soon. I am not leaving my husband for my friend, I’m leaving for myself.

    I read your article with great interest, and have reviewed the signs of an emotional affair that you listed to see where I fit in. Here’s what I found:

    1.Discuss your partner and relationships with your “friend.” You share your fears, hopes, and dreams (this is emotional intimacy).
    Yes, I discuss all of this and more with him.

    2.Meet your “friend” for dinner or lunch without telling your partner.
    I have breakfast, lunch or dinner with my friend 2 or 3 times per week. If we’re not sharing a meal, we find another reasons to get together.

    3.Keep your computer, files, and Internet sites password-protected.
    This isn’t something that I do because we do not e-mail each other. We do talk on the phone a lot, and I have him listed in my cell phone as a female friend of mine. We do not text each other.

    4.Hide or are secretive about your life, relationships, and activities.

    5.Keep your partner waiting while you spend time with your “friend.”
    I don’t really keep my husband waiting while I spend time with my friend because in the evenings, my husband is drunk and passed out by 8:00 pm. I have declined requests from my husband to do things that he wants to do (but that I don’t) in order to spend time with my friend.

    6.Stay in regular, intimate contact with ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. Emotional cheating can spring from close relationships with past lovers.
    This does not apply to me.

    I know that an emotional affair is cheating, and I am not really trying to justify my actions… well, maybe I am. I wasn’t looking for someone else, and would have never thought of having an affair. But before I knew it, I found myself thinking about my friend more and more, and looking forward to the next time that I could see him. Anytime I have good news, my friend is the first person that I call. I am guilty of emotionally cheating on my husband, but I don’t feel the guilt that I would if this was a physical affair.

  130. Well,Laurie, I am back from another session with the therapist. My husband and I see someone (We each see someone different) once a month on the same day. We then reserve the night for a glass of wine and dinner somehwere out nice and quiet and private to discuss our stuff. If we come back home after our own sessions and don’t talk, there is too much tension. It is both of our therpist’s suggestion to work through our own personal stuff before we see a couples counselor.

    My therpist asked me, when I was not angry, to look at the things I like/love about my husband and our relationship because the choice is simple stay or go. So if we are to stay together I need to do this. The trouble is finding the time to do this when I am not furious with him. I have fantasies about getting even with that little creep in Algeria too, who helped my husband make a fool of himself.

    Today I am not angry so while I am on this level I am going to make an actual written list.

    The other instruction I have, and its a good one I think, is to let it all out and grieve. BUT, make time for that. My problem is concentrating on work and such when I am upset. So I need to set time aside and say to myself, “I will cry on Sat or tonight, and for no more than 3 hours in total. I know that might sound ridicuous but its helping me get through this week. When I feel sad thoughts creeping in I say to myself, “Not now, cry later.” There are triggers all of the time but when I do this I can be productive.

    I am grateful that my husband sees how this has hurt me and is willing to look at his part in this mess.

    I say to myself, why can’t it be like it was before, we had it all. But you know, I don’t want what we had before anymore, because there was something wrong for the last four years. I just didn’t know it until recently. I want someting better for myself than what I thought I had.

    I would sure be interested in hearing from others who are going through marriage-rebuilding and any counseling advice.

    That’s all I have for now.


  131. H Laurie,

    Well, I am doing okay. Really nice that you have checked in. I have to say that I look at my husband a bit differently after all of this. But I love him and want our relationship to work. He does too.

    My therapist gave me a book to read called Not “Just Friends” by Shirley Glass. Boy does this stuff hit home. The internet has given us all new opportunities to get close to someone else other than our spouses and it is insidious how things can get out of hand.

    I think that my husband clearly knew that what he was doing was wrong, although when first confronted I heard, “She’s just a friend.” Well maybe she was in the beginnning, but he quickly went down a slippery slope. And prolonged the relationship for years until the “friendship fizzled out.”

    Why did he do this? I think because he could. It was invisible to me, done when I was not around, didn’t cost anything and she lived thousands of miles away. He didn’t think he would get caught. And he was 50 and she was 20. Her emails with the subject lines all in cap’s were tremendously engaging, exciting and like candy to a kid.

    But it hurts, esp since the timing was so bad. He sent her pictures of our wedding and honeymoon (with me cropped out), told her about our home, his trips to see his parents (where I was along but never mentioned), you name it. I was the invisible wife. I look at my wedding photos now and I feel like a dope and he looks like a liar. And he kept telling her he would come back to see her, although 8000 miles is not a car ride away. thank goodness.

    I still look at him and shake my head, did this man that I knew for 4 years before we married say all these sweet things to another woman? When he was working hard, mowing the lawn, being good to me, being a good dad…he seemed like the perfect mate- with the exception of his “friend.”

    I have rollercoaster moods from dispair to rage to indifference. I am so glad I am seeing someone…who do you talk to about this?? Workmates, nope. Family, well no, I don’t want them to think badly of him. So its my therapist and you.

    My therapist says, “Lee, this will pass. I know you hurt but this can be overcome. You need time and don’t be so hard on yourself.”

    So I am reading, working out, and taking some time for myself to heal.

    Hopefully after my husband starts seeing someone, his first visit is this coming Tuesday, we can start to pick up the pieces.

    I think that after individual counseling, couples counseling is next on the agenda.

    And now, back to my new book….

    Kind regards,

  132. Lee, how was your “sanity check”?

    I just read something in Gary Neuman’s book, “Why Men Cheat”, and it reminded me of you! Neuman said that emotional cheating is more destructive than physical intimacy with someone else, because it involves the heart (and not just the animal instinct). Your husband just didn’t realize how impactful his actions were. If he had known, he probably wouldn’t have done it.

    And you’re right: men and women do see things differently. Before we got married, my husband and I had heated discussions about what to do with his furniture (which we were both using, as we lived together for a month or 2 before the wedding). Some of it was his ex-girlfriend’s and she didn’t want it anymore — but I thought he was emotionally attached to the stuff! He couldn’t convince me that it was just STUFF, he didn’t care about her in that way, and just found it easier to use the furniture than junk it and buy new stuff.

    The point is, we saw it in totally different ways…and I realize now that he was totally right. It only took me 2 years to figure it out!

    Anyway, I hope you’re doing well. Oh yeah, I also wanted to say that couples counseling can be really painful — but it’s incredibly valuable, too!


    PS if anyone has done couples counseling for emotional or physical cheating, please feel free to share your thoughts here. 🙂

  133. Thank you so much for your response. Your kind words validated my despondent feelings.

    You also gave me hope with your encouragement that many couples can rebuild their marriages. I do love my husband, even though I am bitterly disappointed in his behavior.

    My husband has agreed to counseling and I already have an appt to talk to someone tomorrow. I need a sanity check! 🙂 Hopefully we can put this all together and go on from here.

    Things that made this really hurtful, the other woman is 35 yrs yournger than me, this started about 4 weeks before our wedding and continued for a long time before it kind of fizzled out. I feel like I was a dope planning my wedding while he had a whole under current going on.

    It is clear to me that men and women are wired a bit differently. I told him that I would rather he had had a one night stand than this long drawn out affair. He was incredulous. And I don’t think that if I had an emotional affair he would have taken it as hard as I am. A one night stand for me would have devastated him. Men are so physical and we are emotional- if that makes sense?

    I see a considerable time before I learn to trust him and feel like my home is a safe place again. But i am going to work on this.

    I will keep in touch.

    Thank you for being there.


  134. I’m sorry, Lee. I’ve been married for 4 years as well, and I’d be devastated if I discovered that my husband was emailing another woman all this time!

    Yes, I think marriage counseling would be smart. The fact that your husband would have stopped if you found out shows that he was hiding it from you – which shows that he knows it’s wrong to be emotionally entangled with another woman.

    On the bright side — you have a happy marriage in other ways, right? He may not be as emotionally involved as you think (though his email endings are a little strong). But this is something you and he can recover from! It’ll take time to re-build trust, but many couples build wonderful marriages after a betrayal like this (or worse!).

    Hang in there, Lee. Get couples counseling – an objective perspective will help you and he put things in perspective and move forward.

    Stay in touch,

  135. I found out recently that my husband has been having an emotional affair for the past 4 years. He met someone at a tradeshow in Algeria (we live in the US, she lives in Algiers) but “never even kissed her.”
    Because the relationship was not physical, he cannot understand why he did anything wrong. Although he hid his relationship from me, so I am sure he knew.
    During this time we got married, had a honeymoon and were having a wonderful life together. Now that I know he was emailing her prior to our wedding, immediately upon arrival after our honeymoon and all subsequent holidays, I feel so betrayed.
    I don’t think he understands the impact because they were only “friends.” He sent her pictures of us, his dog, (who was my dog for years before I met my husband) and information about all of our family events.
    I feel so violated.
    He said he would have stopped if I had discovered this at any time. He also said he only responded to her emails, and never initiated one, so he is not culpable. However he ended every email with miss you, miss your voice, hope to hear from you, so how could he perceive that behavior as not being actively involved.
    I think we need a marriage counselor. I feel like I am living with a stranger.

  136. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Yes, Bridgette, it does sound like emotional abuse. You can’t have a healthy, happy relationship with someone who won’t open up to you. Both men and women (but women especially) need to connect on an emotional, mental, and even spiritual level in order to have a fulfilling relationship.

    Read my article on Fear of Intimacy

    I think you’ll see your partner there. At the end of the article is a link to Overcoming Fear of Intimacy.

    If he’s willing to get help with his reluctance to open up emotionally, then you’re on the right track! It takes time to learn to be vulnerable and express your feelings — it leaves you open to rejection, criticism, pain — but a man HAS to open up to his partner. (Or not…but then the relationship will be lifeless and unfulfilling).

    Let me know if you think he’s dealing with fear of intimacy — and if you can talk to him about it!

    Best wishes,

  137. I have often wondered if my partenr is cheating emotionally because he never opens himself to me and it always feels like he is keeping secrets.I have contemplated having an emotional affair myself because I am feeling so emotionally empty because of it. I just want to be able to share myself with him but he doesnt seem like he can or wants to. He says he loves me deeply but when it comes down to it I don’t think he even sees who I am. I seem to be constantly hurt by him too.
    Because there are periods of time when we are eally close and there is huge amounts of physical intimacy where I feel very loved and then when it comes to caring about me as a person it’s non existent, I’ll discover he’s been looking at other women on the internet or isn’t interested in what i think or just spending time with me. Is it possible that he wants to see me as just a sex object and he’s fulfilling himself emotionally elsewhere? This rollercoaster feels like emotional abuse is it?

  138. I just broke off a relationship of five years due to emotional cheating. My ex-boyfriend stayed in contact with an ex-girlfriend out of state off and on but I could always tell when it was happening. The cell phone would be shut off or out of site. If she called when I was around he said it was someone else. He was a bad liar. After a couple drinks one night she texted and then called five minutes later and he admitted he had been talking to her. I on the other hand had about three guy friends that I hadn’t had any sexual relationship that I talked to on a weekly basis. They talked about their relationships with their partners. I listened and tried to give suggestions on improving their relationships but they are men and men are primarily about sex. I just knew how to steer the conversation away from this talk. This does not make me any better than my ex. We both have things to work on.

  139. Yes, if your husband is looking at other women, he is cheating on you. But he’ll argue that it’s not “real” cheating because there’s no physical contact, and it’s not emotional cheating because he doesn’t know them.

    If you feel uncomfortable with it, then you need to talk to him about it…and hopefully, he’ll respect your feelings as his wife, and stop!