Cheated On My Fiancé


I’ve got a messy one for you. I was in a 16-month affair that just ended. It’s still a total secret. The affair was with a man I’ve known for years. He’s 20 years older. He’s wonderful (though obviously in a tumultuous state right now). I’m in love with him.

During those sixteen months, this man (who’d had other affairs, too) finally got up the courage to leave his decades-long marriage to pursue sexual freedom. He makes a huge effort to see his kids. Also during that time, I got engaged. I’ve been in a relationship for seven years, and, until having this affair, I thought it was a sure thing. I’d always planned to say yes (though I didn’t know it would take some distancing between us for him to even ask), but I also know I shouldn’t have under the circumstances. I now see more clearly the issues in our relationship that made the affair possible for me. He becomes easily complacent, whereas I’m always looking forward. He has a dream job with an odd schedule, and I’m often alone. (I’ve told him the schedule doesn’t work for me — we’ve talked about it for years — but I also don’t want him to give up the job.) He has a notable pot habit, whereas I don’t smoke at all.

Finally, our sex life is bad. Worse than I knew before. It would take a lot of work to get to a level I could call good. (It also seems very telling that he never caught on to the affair. Not a good sign.) All that said, believe it or not, we have a very comfortable, functional, loving, easy-going, happy life. We enjoy a lot of the same things. I care immensely about him, admire him, and don’t want to hurt him (seriously). I can imagine raising a family with him. I know this whole story will sound awful to most people, but the truth is, I’d do it again. I passionately love the man I had the affair with. However, I assume (and have always assumed) that no future is possible between us because we’re at such different places in our lives. It ended because it got too emotionally and logistically tangled to keep up. So what I’m trying to decide is how to approach my engagement. The relationship is largely intact. I mean, yes, we’re feeling the distance, but I think by some combination of trust and naiveté, it could be natural for us to move forward. Yes, we have a lot of issues to work on. And moreover, affairs open a Pandora’s Box that can’t be closed. I won’t ever see the relationship in the same way. And it’s clear he shouldn’t trust me right now (even though he does). We both deserve to be with someone who can meet all our needs. So should I cut and run for both our sakes? Lay low, work hard, and see how it goes for a few months? I can’t have perspective on this (I am still somewhat grieving my break-up), so please tell me: Is the writing on the wall?

— Messy situation


The writing is all over the wall. You should end this engagement right now. Even if you hadn’t had the affair, I’d be concerned about the way you describe your relationship with your fiancé. You use the word “love” twice in your letter — but not about him. There’s not enough good stuff to keep the partnership going forever. And that’s what you’re promising with a marriage, right?

“We both deserve to be with someone who can meet all our needs.” That sounds right, doesn’t it? You know what you need to do. Grieve both relationships — because it sounds like they’re both already gone.

Readers? Should she work on her relationship? Should she talk to her fiancé about the affair? Is it over?

— Meredith

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