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Can an affair turn into a good relationship?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  July 29, 2011 08:54 AM

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For the record, this person is a regular lurker and knows that cheating is very, very bad. She told me she was worried about getting yelled at for her cheat and not getting advice. So ... make sure to get some advice in there. She needs it.


Q: Dear Meredith,

I am a 30-year-old female (divorced, no children). I experienced some tough things growing up, which made my high school years difficult (I won't get into it because I want to remain unidentifiable, but my high school years were bad for my self-esteem). I met my husband when I was a freshman in college. We married when I was in my mid-20s and then moved to Texas in search of a cheaper and warmer way of life. We were homesick and lonely, and the experience drove us apart instead of bringing us together. Even before that, we had a pretty depressing and unexciting relationship. I thought that we worked well because we didn't fight very much. What I didn't realize was that there was almost nothing (no emotion, no feeling, no passion, no love) between us.

After starting my new job in Texas, I became entangled in an affair with "Brad." When I started this new job, Brad was extremely persistent in pursuing me. Brad and I had a mutual attraction and friendship, and he was very clear that he wanted more with me (for example: asking if he could touch me, making comments about my body or looks, etc.). He was married with a son and 10 years older than me. By nature I am shy and reserved, especially with men, but I could only resist his extremely forward advances for so long. Before I knew it, I relented and let down my guard. We talked and emailed all the time, went out for lunches, drinks after work, etc. He was funny, strong, caring and supportive of me. I fell madly in love with him and started one of the worst periods of my life. As anyone who has been in love with a married man/woman probably knows, an affair is isolating, heart-breaking, guilt-inducing, self-esteem lowering, etc. I couldn't handle the guilt, the stress, the secrets, or the sadness, and tried to break if off with him unsuccessfully many times. Somehow, even though I felt guilty about the affair, I had become completely dependent on him and I honestly felt incapable of living without him in my life. I always knew that the only way I'd be able to break if off permanently was if I left the job where we both worked.

Last year, I set 3 goals for myself: talk to my husband about our depressing marriage, leave my job, and end my affair for good. I am happy to report that I accomplished all 3 goals by the end of the year. My husband agreed we didn't have much of a marriage and we have since divorced. I found a new job that I love. I told Brad that we could not have any contact, and that I was going to live my life thinking of our relationship as dead and that we would never have a future together. After millions of tears and countless self-help books, I turned a corner and started feeling stronger than I have ever felt in my life. I was amazed at my capacity to live on my own, to build my own life, and find my own happiness by rediscovering the things I love to do. I even slowly started dating for the first time in my life and have been having a great time.

Recently, Brad came back into my life and told me that he and his wife are getting divorced. He thought that I would immediately run back into his arms and was shocked when I didn't. I was not ready to leave all of the happiness I had worked so hard to build on my own behind. He started texting and emailing me constantly, crying, and pressuring me to go back to him. He has said some pretty hurtful things in this time period as he has tried to convince me to go back to him (no lie, one of his many emails was how he has met somebody else at work who makes him feel the way I used to, so that if I don't go back to him now, I'll never have the chance again).

I feel as though I’m at a crossroads right now. Part of me wants to leave Brad behind and continue building my life without him in it. The other part of me remembers how much we loved each other during those two years and is scared to lose out on this opportunity of being together that we had dreamed about for so long. He has told me that this is the only chance we will ever have where we are both single and available for a real relationship, and if I don't take it, there will never be hope for a happy future again.

Wise Meredith and readers, which path should I choose? Do I continue living on my own with the hope I will eventually find a love like him again, or should I give the two of us a real chance?

– Torn, Texas


A: I don't want you anywhere near Brad, and I am willing to bet all of my favorite T-shirts and pajama pants that 99.9 percent of the wise and beautiful people reading Love Letters today will agree with me.

Brad is super annoying. Brad is a selfish, thoughtless person. Brad pursued you, a married woman, by talking about your hot bod and asking if he could touch you. And now, after all of this, Brad is threatening you. Brad is pitiful.

You've created a wonderful life for yourself and for the first time ever, you're happy on the inside. You're confident about your decisions. You're being honest about what you want. Please don't ruin that. Brad took advantage of an isolated, unhappily married, younger woman with self-esteem issues. Go find someone who wants to date a beautiful, confident, fun, and single woman who knows how to live on her own.

And for the record, I'm proud of you. I hope that doesn't sound patronizing. It's just … not many people do all of those amazing things in one year. Keep living the good life.

Readers? Any reason to consider Brad? Am I missing something? Is it weird/wrong that she's done so much in a year? Should she be dating? Anyone on Brad's team? Should I have more empathy for him? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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