I told myself I would never post a relationship question, but here goes: My boyfriend had, what amounts to in my mind, an emotional affair that's been going on for the past 6 months. I need help deciding if this is worth salvaging. There are, of course, lots of details inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
He and I have been together for close to 6 years, living together for almost 3. I'm 26, he's 30, and this only the second serious relationship I've been in. There have been trust issues from the very beginning on both of our parts, and we are both very insecure people. Despite that, we are compatible on many, many levels. We want the same things in life, agree on family and religion, and have discussed marriage. At our best, we have supported each other through really tough emotional problems and brought out the best in each other. At our worst, we are weak and avoidant and tend to let things go without addressing them. For full disclosure, I also had an emotional affair with someone online about 2 years ago, which he found out about. At that time, we were both so intent on things going back to "normal" that we never really addressed the underlying issues.
The Current Situation:
I looked at the messaging part of our phone bill and saw that he had been texting someone every day for the past 6 months. Sometimes for hours on end. When I confronted him about it, he tried claiming he didn't know who it could be (she has an area code for a city she doesn't live in, so he claimed he didn't know anyone from that city). He eventually admitted she has become a close friend, and that he didn't tell me about her because he knew I would be jealous. Since then, he's admitted that they had feelings for each other, that they had addressed these feelings with each other, but that it's never veered into anything sexual. He also (again, only after I asked) admitted that they saw each other at a convention in September, but adamantly maintains they were never alone together.
I believe him about 90% about it never becoming sexual, and them never being alone together. It's not his M.O. I won't go into details, suffice to say I think the close emotional bond is what he craves the most. He has extreme abandonment issues, especially with women, which stem from childhood. Since I've known him, he's been been extremely insecure, which has led to an almost addictive need for external validation. Because of his profession, he has a strong internet presence and is followed by a lot of people. These are usually the avenues he uses to seek validation because he knows that, unlike his real-life friends, these people only know his best qualities. He is also almost pathologically secretive, even about the most minute, innocuous things. This has not helped the trust problems.
Where We're At Now:
He's betrayed my trust in the past (never anything this serious) but I've never once heard him admit these things about himself until now. He is finally admitting that he needs help and has already started trying to find a therapist. He said that this relationship was out of his need for attention and affection, and admits that he thinks he is addicted to validation, especially from women. He knows he will continue this pattern unless he addresses these issues with lots of therapy. He is 100% willing to go to couple's counseling, and says that he will work with me in whatever way I need him to. He says he genuinely wants to become a better, stronger person, and that he wants to be the type of person who "can be happy with the great life I already have" instead of this endless quest for affirmation.
The thing is, I can't help but feel like one of those girls that says, "Oh, but he's going to change." I've been lied to (or deceived) for a very long time by someone who supposedly loves and cares for me. Before this, things had become sort of stagnant and I was in this "break up or get married" mindset where I felt like we either needed to step up or move on. Part of me feels like this is the answer I needed. Another part of me feels like this was the impetus necessary to force us to address the problems in our relationship so that we can make it healthy again.
Does this sound like a salvageable relationship? Am I a total idiot for wanting to work things out? Am I stupid for believing him? Has anyone overcome anything similar and had it work out for the best? We are broke, so couples counseling is a big decision, and I want to know if it'll be worth it. I'm worried things will be great for a while and then a few years down the road he will do the same thing again. I am hurt, confused, angry, and sympathetic all at once. I'm having a hard time looking at this clearly, for obvious reasons. I am obsessing about this other girl, and am absolutely sick with grief. Any tips on dealing with that are also appreciated.
Boyfriend of 6 years has an emotional affair with someone that never becomes sexual. Has hidden it from me for 6 months. Now that he's been caught, he seems genuinely remorseful and, for the first time since I've known him, is admitting he needs professional help. Is this a sign he's really ready, or is he just trying to keep from losing me?
Sorry for wordiness. Throwaway: firstname.lastname@example.org