Addicted to Affair That's Over
Q: I worked with a married man for several months. He's 38, and I'm 23. At first we were simply good friends, only talked on the clock and only about work. After I moved to another city several months ago, we began e-mailing, and then we started getting close, 100 e-mails a day, phone calls, and eventually confessing feelings for one another. We disclosed information we've never told anyone and could truly trust one another. His wife cheated on him and he is completely crushed. At first I tried to be here for him as a friend and never suggested he leave her. But then our conversations became centered on sex and fantasies.
However, after telling me it's a bad time, he quit contacting me as much. We went from talking first and last thing each day and all weekend to strictly during work. He's made no mention of why things have changed, and when I asked he says he's tied up with his daughters, stuff around the house. I'm almost addicted to talking to him all the time and now cannot get my mind off him. I want to know why our relationship changed, how I can stop thinking about him all the time, what I should do about him. --Stephanie
Dr. Susan: Face it: you and he had an emotional affair and now it's over. He's decided to stick with his marriage, his family, his kids, and to play it cool with you. Getting over any kind of addiction is tremendously challenging, but the first step is to recognize what's going on. This was an affair. You both aroused one another with plenty of sexual talk, and you shared secrets you'd told no one else. By doing that, he locked his wife out of his private life with you, and that bonded him to you and made the whole thing more thrilling. I can see why got caught up in this: His wife cheated on him first. But eventually he seems to have realized that tit-for-tat doesn't get you anywhere in a marriage. He's come to his senses, and now you have no choice but to do the same. Healthy relationships aren't about having secret talks about sex -- or anything-- with someone else's husband several times a day. By not letting go of him, you're only cheating yourself out of the possibility of finding a REAL relationship with someone available. He told you "It's a bad time," which is a very nice way to say, "Get lost, please. You're complicating my life." All relationships change, and this one's come to an end. Don't analyze it to death. Just move on. Anything else would make you look pathetic and make you feel even worse than you do.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.