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  • #330193
    Emma
    Participant

    Hi everyone. I feel lame even writing this, but i’m feeling a bit stuck and I don’t always trust my feelings.

    I’m in a long term relationship of 10 years and engaged to be married next year. 3 years ago, my partner and i had drifted a bit, despite living together we were both just doing our own thing. I was on holiday with friends and met a guy who I had an instant spark with. Short story was when I returned home, I had a short affair with him, he wanted something with me at the time but he also sometimes backed away and wanted me to sort it out myself, he’d say things like I’m not here to help you, you need to do this break up for you and not for anyone else. I’d cut him off and tell myself I was stupid and then he’d come back saying sorry and that he did want to be with me. But I didn’t trust it, there was something in my gut that was scared. I ended it and confessed all to my partner. We went to couples counselling to rebuild our relationship and I haven’t seen the other guy in over 2 years but every now and then I find myself still thinking about him. He messaged me about 6 months after it all ended telling me he was heartbroken and sorry for the mess he created. I went to therapy myself and it did help me to an extent. I went back through childhood stuff and learned a lot about my reliance on other relationships/people pleasing/suffocating my needs etc, it helped me see where the affair had grabbed my attention and has helped me become a better person. I just want my thoughts of the other guy to go, but it’s been 2 years, I’m starting to feel like I’m going to have this my whole life. I really try and distract myself and do all the right things, exercise, hobbies, focus on being a good person, my gratitude on my relationship, look at all the great qualities of my partner and what we have. But it still rears it’s head, even sometimes in my dreams. I feel like if I ever saw him, my heart would stop dead.

    #330295
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Emma:

    I wonder if your thoughts about the other guy increased (or re-appeared)  since the time you and your current boyfriend decided to get married next year, or as the wedding date got closer?

    anita

    #330325
    Nekoshema
    Participant

    Wow Emma gotta say, your story is eerily similar to crap I’m dealing with.

    I too have been in a relationship for ten years and am getting married next year. We also drifted apart some time ago, but where our stories differ is the affair [though if I’m honest mines an emotional affair] So I know how you feel having thoughts of this other guy and wanting it to stop.

    I’m going to mention Polyamory, but I’m not advocating it. I know many are against it, but if you feel your relationship is strong enough, discuss it. If you’re a monogamous type ignore this point. [I’ve always been fine with Polyamory, I just know I couldn’t handle it emotionally at this time]

    SO, advice. Firstly, I would continue with your therapy or at least some form of self-help work [journaling for instance] to work through these thoughts. Suppressing or ignoring will cause it to fester. Distance is another wise move, blocking this person is a wise move to ensure he doesn’t appear again. Contemplate what draws you to your fiance as well as this other guy. [personal: my fiance and the other guy are very similar, but the other guy is new, exciting, fun, while my fiance is comfortable, safe, predictable. So we’re ensuring we have date night once a week, talk more, surprise each other with little things] You might also consider the old fashion pro’s con’s list, but there’s one my therapist gave me that’s four squares, pro’s and cons of things staying the same, and the pro’s and con’s of things changing. That one helped me with a few decisions.

    I would also throw out the old “cold feet” argument. You’ve chosen this one person forever, this shuts the door on other people forever. That’s scary. You’ve given up the freedom, a small part of your personal power. Henceforth, you’re a unit, and can’t simply go to the movies after work with friends, you need to text your husband and inform him of this [and vice versa if he wants to randomly hang with his friends, he needs to check with you] for some people, this is a level of control, and it can be scary. You are technically losing things [hypothetically] but think of all the things you gain. I know how easy it is to look at the closed door but think of all the things you gain with your partner. Think of all the reasons you love him. Think of the future you see with him. You may wish to compare it to the future you see with this other person, but depending on your mental state [I can get stuck on an idea/thought and spiral] you may wish to avoid fantasizing.

    Good luck to you.

    #330399
    Emma
    Participant

    Hi Anita and Nekoshema,

    Thanks so much for your comments.

    Anita – yes I think it has started to come back a bit, the closer we get to the wedding. I’d say it’s always been there but I’ve always been able to manage it. Whereas lately it’s bothered me a lot more. I think the big mistake I made was even entertaining the affair, I did it because I had never felt such attraction/passion and I immaturely believed i deserved to explore it. When it ended I kind of left it on a cliff, if it had a of been a relationship in normal circumstances it would have ran it’s course in one way or another. But as an affair that you suddenly stop, you grieve what could have been with another person, even though you know it may not have been right. Secondly I do think I have a bit of fear about getting married, it’s a big deal, so perhaps these fantasy thoughts act as an escapism.

    I think what’s always kept my on the straight and narrow since is that I believe you could hop from one relationship to the next and 10 years down the line you might be vulnerable to external attention again, but you can’t keep hopping from one to another, if you are going to create a marriage, you have to commit and knuckle down. I don’t think I had the maturity before to realise that.

    Nekoshema, thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like you’ve decided to knuckle down and stay put. I very much agree with what you have said about listing qualities. I did just that, the new one was fun, made me feel alive, sexy, he was easy going, fun, up for a laugh, cute etc. But you notice there I haven’t written anything there about qualities. Things that put me off him were how he said I was too emotional, he once said he didn’t feel bad about the affair as he didn’t know my boyfriend and also other little things like he once said he thought he was quite a selfish person. Things like this made me see that perhaps he wasn’t the most emotionally mature, and how I was behaving wasn’t either!!

    Whereas my partner is the kind of man who is strong, resilient, caring, the kind of man that in the future of marriage if I was sick or we had a baby screaming at 3am, he’d get up and take charge.

    I think you are also right about giving up freedom, I think a lot of this is often about how I feel a bit trapped in giving up that care free part of me who can do what she likes. When I was a kid my father when through a five year spell of alcoholism and during that I grew up too fast, trying to look after family and I think part of me just wants to be care free. I fantasise about going off on solo holidays and meeting new people etc. I think that would always be there though, if we split up now and In future I found someone else to commit too, i think i’d still crave that freedom.

    It’s refreshing to chat about what can scare us, in a world where places like instagram make relationships look perfect.

     

    #330447
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Emma:

    You are welcome.

    Reads to me that you are mature and responsible, in your description of the affair, you didn’t blame your soon to be husband, or the other man, you didn’t even blame your childhood. You simply stated facts, a few details- sensible, insightful, mature, responsible, I am impressed.

    Also reads to me that what happened, and you are aware of it, is that during the years of you “taking care of family”, as a child still, a craving was born- to be free. Like you stated, this craving will remain regardless of who you marry or if you marry. But this craving intensifies when you feel trapped or otherwise distressed.

    I think the affair didn’t have much to do with who this man was, nor did it have anything to do with an excellent communication and emotional intimacy with the man. It had to do with that wonderful feeling you had when your craving for freedom was temporarily satisfied.

    Because you are about to get married to a good man, and he knows of the affair and trust has been rebuilt, it will be a terrible mistake to break this rebuilt trust. It may not be recoverable. Therefore you need to notice that craving, notice when it intensifies, and when it does, do not let it overwhelm you, so that you are still in control of your actions.

    It is likely to help if you express this craving in ways that will not break your soon to be husband’s trust in you. It can be done by writing, drawing, painting, a particular hobby and/ or more counseling or psychotherapy. A big part of my therapy was learning what is called emotional regulation skills, meaning when you feel any intense emotion- lessen it, so that it doesn’t take over and we .. find ourselves doing things we will later regret.

    Have a Happy New Year and post again anytime.

    anita

     

    #330917
    Emma
    Participant

    Thank you Anita for your reply. You are very kind to take time to respond with such consideration.

    I completely agree with your suggestions, i have actually been painting a lot to help my mind. I think my concern more is I just want the thoughts and feelings to completely go, but they never do. Sometimes they are intense like they are at the moment and sometimes they are dulled down, but they never disappear. I find myself wondering if he has found a girlfriend, might he still feel the same etc. I have even gone to write a message and then deleted it as I ask myself what will this achieve. I’m not sure how to get rid of the feelings or will I just always have to cope with them knowing that i’m making a better decision to stay put.

    #330933
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Emma:

    You are welcome and thank you for your words of appreciation. If you did send  a message to the man, that would not have been one of the ways for you to “express this craving in ways that will not break your soon to be husband’s trust in you” (a quote from my last post to you). It could only increase your distress.

    But you do need to express this craving in a way that will effectively reduce the craving so that it does not overwhelm you and wear you down to the point of you feeling desperate and doing just about anything so to feel better.

    How about psychotherapy s to process that childhood experience where that craving was born?

    It may help for you to share about your childhood here. Part of you may not want to do that and prefers to be distracted by the issue of this man, but if you push through that resistance and share, maybe it will be a start for you. You can try it and if it doesn’t work for you, stop at any time. It is always your choice, here.

    anita

     

    #331325
    Emma
    Participant

    Thanks Anita. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the weekend and I think it would be as you say very wrong to get in contact. I want to stay with my higher self and think about the values of being a good person.

    I think i’m going to talk to my partner about our intimacy. After the affair when we re-built our relationship we had couples counselling and did get back to a place of having better sex. However I still find myself thinking about this other guy during sex, which is not good, considering it’s been years.

    I feel like the affair was a symptom of really not knowing myself well. Since my teens when my parents were slightly absent due my dads problems, I have gone from boyfriend to boyfriend. Even when single I’d get hung up quite a lot on particular guys, obsessing over when they’d text back etc.

    I think with my relationship now, I’ve been in it since I was 21, over 10 years. You change a lot as an individual in that time and i certainly didn’t know myself sexually, until I probably met this guy I had the affair with, he brought out a different side to me, a side that felt more empowered, sexy, like a woman.

    I don’t want to hurt my partners feelings, but feel perhaps I should talk about this with him in a careful way. I think my fear deep down is I don’t want to get married to the wrong person, or someone who doesn’t meet all my needs, but then I also feel like I need to grow up and accept that marriage is about accepting someone as they are and loving them all the same.  It’s hard to get the balance between being selfish and being a good person.

    #331327
    Emma
    Participant

    Thanks Anita. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the weekend and I think it would be as you say very wrong to get in contact. I want to stay with my higher self and think about the values of being a good person.

    I think i’m going to talk to my partner about our intimacy. After the affair when we re-built our relationship we had couples counselling and did get back to a place of having better sex. However I still find myself thinking about this other guy during sex, which is not good, considering it’s been years.

    I feel like the affair was a symptom of really not knowing myself well. Since my teens when my parents were slightly absent due my dads problems, I have gone from boyfriend to boyfriend. Even when single I’d get hung up quite a lot on particular guys, obsessing over when they’d text back etc.

    I think with my relationship now, I’ve been in it since I was 21, over 10 years. You change a lot as an individual in that time and i certainly didn’t know myself sexually, until I probably met this guy I had the affair with, he brought out a different side to me, a side that felt more empowered, sexy, like a woman.

    I don’t want to hurt my partners feelings, but feel perhaps I should talk about this with him in a careful way. I think my fear deep down is I don’t want to get married to the wrong person, or someone who doesn’t meet all my needs, but then I also feel like I need to grow up and accept that marriage is about accepting someone as they are and loving them all the same.  It’s hard to get the balance between being selfish and being a good person.

    #331661
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Emma:

    When you do talk to your partner about sex, never ever mention another man in this context, telling him anything at all about how sex was with other men. Communicate to him all that you need to communicate with no reference at all to any other man, especially not the one you had the affair with.

    I don’t think you intended to do what I am suggesting that you don’t, but I am brining it up just in case, you get carried away somehow in conversation and say something that once said, cannot be unsaid.

    Gently tell him what you need, when the two of you are calm enough. Be willing to teach him, show him, give him positive feedback when he does well and take it from there!

    anita

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