Emotional dependence again - help!

I started a thread a few weeks ago about emotional dependence that had some helpful responses - thank you to those that read and responded. I’m in trouble here and would really appreciate your input.

I got into an emotional affair with somebody at work. Marriage has been crumbling for some time. I had always thought to hang in there until our youngest graduates next year. This isn’t something I was looking for but it happened nonetheless. I’ll call him Mark.

Mark started having strong feelings right away but was also in a relationship. He didn’t say or do anything, nor did I, but there was always that vibe. We were friends. A couple of times we worked alone together, but nothing at all happened. No romantic gazing, brushing hands, nothing like that. He told me later he never though he had a chance in hell, I was married and also not the type of person to ever consider doing something to break my vows. He was divorced but living with somebody.

Well, several months ago we had a conversation and the feelings came out. As time went by we became extremely attached to one another, spending hours talking, texting, messaging, etc. We also met when possible. I told him many times that this was wrong and to give me some space, which he did. Every time I would only last a day or two before contacting him. It would have been easier to give up eating and sleeping than to give up this relationship.

He left his SO in April and moved in with friends. Things began to get more physical but we did not and would not cross that line. I decided in May to leave as well but wanted to wait until the end of the school year so my son could finish before I moved out. I though long and hard about what to do and the guilt was, and is, terrible. It’s easy to judge things like this until you are the one experiencing it.

My husband was aware of some of what was going on, he’s not an idiot. He came to the realization that he wanted to try and hold things together and hoped that I would come to my senses.

I left in June and moved in with my parents. I also had lost my job over this. If you would have told me that this sort of thing would happen to me I would have never believed it. I’m about as straight an arrow as you can find. Friends and family that know have each said I would be the last person to choose this. Fact is, I was in a long term relationship with somebody very emotionally and physically closed off and introverted. I asked, no begged him to please meet me halfway and he would always say “This is just how I am”.

One time I decided to see how long it would take for DH to approach me and hug me, kiss me, take my hand, or touch me in any way whatsoever besides wanting sex. I lasted over a month before giving up. I went back to hugging him or whatever and him giving me that back-pat thing. I hate the back pat. I’m not exactly a troll, it’s not that he found me unattractive. He always just said that’s not something he needs, at all. I am the polar opposite and would love a demonstrative partner. I felt like I was in an emotional void. Hell, I was in an emotional void.

So, there it was. I met somebody I was attracted to on every level. He could not have been more attentive and it was like two halves of a whole, like nothing else I had ever experienced before, ever. I had often thought that there was somebody out there waiting for me and I was in the wrong place with the wrong man for years. Once I found that, I wasn’t capable of giving it up.

Living with my parents was awful. I didn’t have my job or routine, missed my son and dog and house and neighborhood, and soon found out the hell of living with somebody with dementia. Mom confided things about their marriage and our family history that were very emotionally damaging to me, at a time when I was already fragile. I have a history of anxiety and did have a depressive episode 13 years ago. I’ve long since recovered but underestimated the potential for that to return.

to be continued…

Do you feel as if you have free will in this, or do you feel driven, or compelled, or in some other way unable to make decisions?

I’d have to know a LOT more about you, but to me, just reading what you’ve written, it sounds like you don’t want to become involved in this emotional affair, don’t want to betray your husband, don’t want to ruin your marriage… It’s as if someone else were making decisions for you, and you, somewhere inside, know that they are bad decisions.

If you had full control over your choices, I’d simply say, “Stop doing this.” Choose more wisely.

But if you don’t have full control over your choices, I’d say GET PROFESSIONAL HELP! See a psychologist. At very least, go to a marriage counselor.

I’m fully sympathetic to the sense of helplessness. However, it is extremely dangerous. It’s already mucking up your life. If you can’t fight it on your own, get help.

And…I may be 100% wrong, and misreading you entirely, and my advice might be totally wrong. All I ask is you look at it and see if it makes sense.

Good luck!

(I, myself, am that kind of fool who never fell in love. Who’s to say which is worse?)

The first week I kept busy, exercising, cleaning, meeting with friends, studying, etc. I saw Mark four times. He was working overtime and was exhausted. When we weren’t together we missed each other, the connection was very strong. We still talked on the phone, texted, etc.

Ten days after I left I met with my husband to go over the bills. We met in a restaurant parking lot. He kept overdrawing the account, it was very frustrating. It was a hot day and after a while I wanted some water. We went in, sat down, I got some water and he got some ice cream. I used the ladies room and it was nice to have a table. I made up a budget and we talked about the bills and he gave me some paperwork. When his ice cream arrived I used my spoon to take a couple of bites. He ate the rest, using his own silverware. That was it, we parted ways.

When I next talked to Mark he asked me what I had done that day and I told him. He got upset, very upset and said that sharing ice cream was an intimate thing. During the course of the next week he wouldn’t talk to me on the phone or see me, instead communicating via text. When I look at those conversations now I can see that he was trying to say how he felt and I was fearful that he was going to leave me. It was almost like two different conversations.

He finally started coming around (via text, still) and said that he has been badly burned in the past and had walls up for a reason and trust issues. He pointed out the times we had shared ice cream together and that it was an intimate thing to do. All I could say was that I didn’t mean to upset him, it wasn’t anything the way he pictured it, and moving forward we could talk about these things and figure it out. He said that he missed me.

Problem was, Mark had time off during the week of the 4th of July and made no move to see me. Nearly two weeks had passed and with everything else that was going on, it was enormously stressful. I started to go into meltdown mode. My folks were getting very concerned. I wasn’t eating, slept a couple of hours each night, and talked incessantly. I do that when I’m stressed. Sort of like this post, right?

My folks called my husband; he helped me years ago when I was in a bad place emotionally. He took one look and told me to come back to the house. No strings attached, he would sleep on the sofa, but it was clear I was headed to a bad place and also obvious the environment I was in with my folks was toxic. I agreed. I was comforted by the familiar environment and began to take Celexa and Xanax. He made me eat and kept an eye on me and made absolutely no demands or tried to talk about anything relationship wise. I’m 5’ 7". In April I weighed around 150. Today I weigh around 130. My blood pressure is quite low for some reason, 88/57.

Meanwhile, Mark finally called me a week ago Saturday to talk. He told me that he has walls up for a reason, but loved me and wanted to take things slow. He said he really was upset about the meeting/ice cream thing and I once again told him that I never meant to disrespect him and can’t change what has happened but we can talk these things out in the future. I told him I loved him too. I do.

Sunday he texted me and said that he tried to call but I didn’t pick up. That has happened in the past, I have a new phone and I’m still getting used to it. i didn’t see any message or anything on the caller ID. Monday morning I tried to call, no answer. I sent a text wishing him a good day and that I had tried to contact him. Monday afternoon, he sent me a text saying he tried to call me, was tired of my games, and to please refrain from contacting him.

I texted a couple of times, received no response. It’s been a week now, nothing.

What the hell?

I feel your pain - I know what it’s like to be in your shoes - to be lonely and then meet someone that you fall head over heels for.

I had a “Mark” in my life once. My friends hated him and constantly railed at me to be rid of him. It took a while for him to do something that even I, in love with him as I was, could not forgive. I only wish I’d come to my senses sooner. I lost a lot of sleep and weight over that guy as well.

Sorry, don’t really have much advice, but just wanted to know that I know what it’s like. I hope you come to your senses sooner than I did.


Now I feel as if I’m obsessed. I may as well face it, I am obsessed. Recovery from an emotional affair is extremely challenging and heartbreaking. I want closure and don’t have the opportunity to get it. I’m depressed, anxious, and in a terrible place emotionally. It feels as if I had found everything I’ve been looking for for years and now it’s been taken away.

Saturday I decided to take the bull by the horns and get some answers. I went to his friends’ house and saw that his car was in the driveway. I felt that after everything that has happened and everything that I gave up to be with him, I deserve the respect of meeting face to face to find out why he did what he did.

His friend greeted me kindly and invited me in, surprising me. I asked to talk to Mark and she said she wasn’t sure if he was home and went to look for him. She was gone a few minutes and returned, saying he wasn’t home. Yeah, sure.:rolleyes: She invited me to sit and asked what was going on. I told her he was suddenly refusing to speak to me and I needed closure on this. She asked what could have led up to that and I mentioned the meeting with my husband. She said that Mark had talked about that and was upset by it.

I did feel better after I left. I was able to tell her how I feel (devastated) and knew she would talk to him. She let me know he was really upset so at least I know it wasn’t a BS reason to dump me, which is what I thought. I can have the dubious comfort of knowing that I tried. Anything that happens from now on is beyond my control.

The next day he deleted his Facebook account, our only remaining connection. Guess I got my answer. :frowning:

I’ve been going to what was supposed to have been a marriage counselor since May. The original intent was for it to start as individual therapy for each of us and then migrate to couples therapy in time. I don’t think that will happen any time soon. At this point the only thing I feel for my husband is friendship and gratitude. I’m back at my folks’ house for now and dealing with it the best I can. I do wonder if he drove past, saw my car at the house I shared with my husband and jumped to conclusions.

I have an appointment with another therapist tomorrow and will continue with the one that I have. I have good friends and family to provide moral support and am still completely messed up, more than I have ever been. I’m taking meds. I miss him so much that it feels like I’m in hell.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. It’s cathartic to get it out.

What did he do? How long were you with him? How did you recover from it?

You’re doing three very good things for yourself: therapist, meds, and self-expression. Be proud of yourself for taking these steps. I’ve known people who didn’t. You’re being responsible and facing the problems head on. It’s also very good that you have supportive friends and family. It won’t be easy listening to them, but if you can, you should.

For what it’s worth, a handful of total strangers, here on a general-topics bulletin board, are on your side, and have hopes for you.

Good luck… But, more importantly, make your own luck. Make your recovery happen.

Your husband sounds like a really great guy.

I agree with much of what you’re saying. My core beliefs are not in keeping with what has happened (or so I thought) and this has messed up my life. If I could separate my emotions from my common sense this would be a lot easier. However, what I want and need in a partner is not what I had received for years.

I have a lot of work to do to wrap my mind around all that has happened, and to forgive myself. It’s obviously more respectful to leave one relationship before beginning another and I have a lot of guilt over that. What’s done is done and all I can do at this point is move forward the best way I can.

Yes, it does feel like a compulsion and I do feel that strongly about Mark. Unfortunately his recent behavior is so different than what I had come to know before I left the marriage. I knew that he had trust issues. I knew that his childhood was very difficult and his most recent long-term relationship damaging to him. I was aware that this would not be an easy path to follow and was, and am, willing to do what’s necessary to make it work. How realistic was that? If I were to be honest, knowing what I know now, clearly not from his POV. He cut off communication and I doubt I will hear from him.:confused:

Your husband sounds like a good friend- however, I can see how you may not want to be married to a friend. It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of passion or romance in your marriage, and this guy came along and offered it. But I hope that you can see now that his behavior towards you after you shared ice cream with your husband was abusive and manipulative, and that if he has cut things off, it’s doing you a favor. And it doesn’t have to be a him or him situation- it’s okay to be by yourself, at least for a while until you can figure things out. I wish you well.

He is. He completely surprised me with his reaction to all of this. Not many people would be able to put their own emotions aside to that extent to help the person that hurt them so badly. And yet, he did.

You say there were issues with your husband before you met Mark.

And you’ve gone back to your parents even though things aren’t working with Mark.

Perhaps (and this is just an idea), you needed the *ideal *of Mark to realise your marriage was over. If so, then he’s served his purpose and you surely don’t need the BS ‘not talking to you’ games he’s been playing. You *did *deserve a face to face explanations and he’s behaved like a schoolboy.

Don’t get me wrong, your husband did a great thing taking you in and supporting you when you needed it. Does that mean that

has changed? Or even become less important to you?

These are things you’ll be discussing with your counsellor, I’m sure.

It’s a shitty situation, and you have every right to feel shitty. But like others have said; You’re taking the right steps and us internet strangers are behind you.

You’re right. Mark’s behavior was passive aggressive. A more normal reaction would have been to be pissed for a while and talk it out face to face, not go into a tailspin and refuse to communicate other than via text messages. I let him know that I’d be willing to work these things out in the future with him but he held onto his negative feelings regardless of what I said or did.

I know that he has had some life experiences that were physically and emotionally abusive at a very young age that, as near as I can tell, contributed to such a strong reaction. Perception is reality for all of us.

It’s good that you can be understanding towards his behavior, but please don’t accept it and think it’s okay for someone to treat you like that, regardless of his past experiences. This reaction was over-the-top and indicative of future behavior. If he acts like this over something so minor, what would he do if you did, or he perceived that you did, something really “bad”? Smother you with a pillow? I can understand if you feel like things need to work out with him after you’ve left your husband and everything, but hear me- you don’t deserve to be treated badly.


This is very strange. I was just thinking about you today at school and was going to write to you to see how you were doing. I’m so sorry that this has taken this turn. However, I can assure you after having dated this man twice (ok, two different men but so much alike) that THIS IS NOT THE MAN FOR YOU and you (even though you feel like shit right now) are so lucky to have gotten out of this when you did.

It was the same with me, a compulsion that we both felt, as if we had no choice in the matter but to obey it and let it pull us in. And it ended, both times for such ridiculous reasons that I can say for certainty that most of the issues that he has are not about you at all. This kind of feeling/passion/compulsion isn’t sustainable. While it may feel like the best thing ever it will kill you in the end if you let it. And, I realize that I’m being a little dramatic, but the first time around with the depression that it caused, it almost killed me when it ended.

So, as everyone else as said, keep on keepin’ on. You’re doing the right things. Please, please don’t look back as hard as that may be. Once again I offer that if you ever need to talk to someone when you’re desperate to talk to him, send me a PM or an email. It’s hard, I know it is, but you’re doing the right thing.

Alice is exactly right. You certainly don’t deserve to be treated this way.

It’s really easy for Mark to look like an awesome, fun, exciting guy when you hardly know him and he doesn’t owe anything to you.
The asshole behavior he’s showing now is where the facade is starting to crumble and you’re starting to see the real him. The perfect guy you fell in love with was an illusion.

There are lots of people who had bad childhoods and don’t take it out on other people. Unless you want to end up in a bad relationship again, you need to stop making excuses for him.

The Mark guy is kind of unstable (sharing ice cream= betrayal) Jesus Christ. Move on. Seriously.

While your hubby may be a good guy, if he really is that low affect the problems you had are just going to come back. The problem is that (not being judgmental, just factual based on your OP) you do not sound like you are strong enough to make a break and go off on your own.

My ex-wife tended to (and still tends to) get into these high schoolish emotional affair psychodramas with co-workers and they invariably blow up in her face when the guy does not reciprocate the quality or intensity of her feelings.

Spend some time healing, but you need to let him know in no uncertain terms the lazy “that’s just the way I am” non-emotional, low affect relationship is not going to work.

In the end it really sounds like you are going to have to get divorced in order to move on. My fear is (and I do not intend to be rude here) based on your OP it does not sound like you make very good planning decisions, and that you are susceptible to falling apart under stress.

Some women in your situation come to an arrangement with a low sex drive or low affect spouse to have an partially open marriage (assuming the spouse is OK with that), but that requires the ability to erect walls between those relationships and it does not sound like you have the inclination or ability to do that, so that’s not a likely plan for you unless you can compartmentalize.

You need in some manner to be planning for a life on your own if that is financially possible.

Yeah, I think the OP got lucky and dodged a rather large-calibre bullet. Mark sounds like a righteous pain in the arse. To scream ‘betrayal’ because you shared an icecream with your Ex does not really indicate a normal, well-balanced bloke. Either he was looking for a reason (however flimsy) to exit the relationship, or you saw the beginnings of what would have ended up an emotionally controlling and dare I say abusive partnership.

Whatever, you are lucky to be out, and I wish you well.