How do I stop being infatuated?
November 29, 2015 4:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm a 40-ish married man. How do I stop being infatuated with a younger woman that I know very well?

Married 8 years. 2.5 years ago I met Lolita, a girl 10 years younger and was smitten, which was very surprising to me (I vividly remember seeing her for the first time). She was married, I was married, we became friends as we share a common social circle. Today, she's recently divorced and my marriage isn't the greatest (sex once in last year, associated issues). Lolita overheard me telling someone that my marriage was on the rocks, asked to buy me coffee to discuss. Had coffee, I explained my status, she sympathized. I said nothing of my infatuation (and still haven't). We began texting the next day, and have been texting for the past 2 weeks relatively consistently. She has texted me that she's glad she has someone to sympathize with. Now, this is killing me - I want to tell her how I feel, but recognize it's a mistake. Note - I'm in therapy, therapist knows the details. I recognize that I need to "deal with my own issues", but I'm constantly waiting for the next text. If I was single I would pursue without question, but I'm not. The marriage needs serious work and might not survive the unrelated issues, but my wife deserves my full attention to our issues. But how do I get off this train ride of infatuation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Step 1: Block her number and stop texting.
posted by cecic at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2015 [38 favorites]

Not to be too blunt about this, but first I'd try thinking of a 30 year old woman as a woman, not a girl, and maybe pick a different anonymous name for her in your head.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:02 PM on November 29, 2015 [225 favorites]

You stop feeding it. Quit being buddies with her. Don't text her and don't hang out with her. You can give her one polite "you're swell but I have to quit hanging out and focus on my marriage" and then cut off contact.

If you keep hanging out with her and texting her you will only get in deeper. There is no way for you to keep one foot in and one foot out. It will not work.

Not easy, but very simple.
posted by mattu at 5:03 PM on November 29, 2015 [32 favorites]

If she's a real friend and you tell her "I am going to stop this back and forth texting because I need to put sincere effort into fixing my marriage. Thanks for your help, but I have to wrap this up" and then follow-through, she will understand and fade on you. If she's playing games, she will not.

Look, realistically your marriage may not survive, but it's crappy for everyone if you sort of have someone lined up just in case it doesn't. If it's more helpful to you to say "I am going to stop texting Lolita (really?) for six months and then if my marriage still sucks I will start up again" just to buy yourself some time, go do that.

This is the brain drugs talking and they lie to you. Don't let them tell you lies about how to be a "good friend" to Lolita or even in this case a "good friend" to yourself, a guy who needs a break. Focus on your marriage or decide you don't want to be married anymore and follow through with that. Don't be the guy you're being now, that's not a cool guy to be.
posted by jessamyn at 5:03 PM on November 29, 2015 [72 favorites]

I've had some pretty intense infatuations in my past. There are two things that have made a difference: 1) seeing the object of my infatuation do something that made me lose respect for them 2) distance and distraction.

There are some great scripts above for how to back away from the texting. You also need to adjust your social engagements to avoid her as much as possible. If there's an optional event and she is likely to be at it, don't go. Do something else.

Good luck. Infatuation is hard, and I sympathize.
posted by bunderful at 5:08 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Stop interacting with her. The infatuation is only there because you're in touch with her.
posted by xingcat at 5:08 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lolita overheard me telling someone that my marriage was on the rocks, asked to buy me coffee to discuss.

This woman is blatantly trying to end your marriage and you're playing right along. Honestly? If you're not strong enough to do the obvious thing which is to Just Stop? Replace the number under her name with that of an expensive divorce attorney, because that's where that call is going.

"Sympathized," really? Come on.

I'm not saying this to be mean. I'm saying, if you want to divorce your wife, that's an option; and if you want to stay with your wife, that's an option; but the part where you hang out with and text this woman you're infatuated with, but somehow at the same time solve your marital issues, is not an option.

This woman knows it, by the way. She wants you to fail at fixing your marriage (even if she has no intention of winding up with you. Misery loves company.) When you think of her, think about the ugly reality of divorce, because that is where she is leading you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:09 PM on November 29, 2015 [33 favorites]

That which you water, grows. You have to stop watering this if you want it not to grow. No "just friends," no "just acquaintances" even; you really do have to block and go no contact for a while IMHO. You have to choose to focus on your marriage, or else choose to end it; either way you can't be carrying on with this (fully grown adult) woman while that process plays out.
posted by KathrynT at 5:09 PM on November 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

I assume your Lolita has some flaws, right? Bites her nails, tips poorly, bad taste in music, etc. Start focusing on those. Every time you start obsessing over her, think about her flaws instead. Nothing takes the edge off a crush the way a dose of reality does.

Also, the way you describe things going down raises a big fat red flag. She learns someone's marriage is on the rocks, and all of a sudden she wants to be best buddies? As they say, if they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you.
posted by fox problems at 5:09 PM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Go no-contact. She's maintaining a fine line of plausible deniability, but honestly people don't make friends by asking them out to talk about their failing marriage. She's getting something from your attention, something similar to what you're getting from hers. She wants the distraction and drama and juicy sweet neurochemicals of a dangerous liaison, and so do you.

So stop doing it. And stop making up pretty lies to tell yourself about what's happening. Tell her you are going no-contact to focus on your still-existing marriage.

And if you do leave your marriage, do it with your head up and dignity intact and pants zipped. Once you officially, kindly, and cooperatively end your relationship you can do whatever you want with other people.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:09 PM on November 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

Not to be too blunt about this, but first I'd try thinking of a 30 year old woman as a woman, not a girl, and maybe pick a different anonymous name for her in your head.

Oh, I was going to be blunter. The exact comment I had in my head was, "Ew, gross. She's a woman who was friendly to you, empathizing with you, knowing that you are going through a similar situation as her prior divorce. You realize Lolita is what older predators call their younger prey, right?"

So, start with not being gross. This will include stopping texting, and not thinking of her as a sex object. She's a coworker for God's sake.

This advice would go twofold if she is in fact trying to horn in on your marriage. Avoid with prejudice.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:11 PM on November 29, 2015 [29 favorites]

Ah, misread, she isn't a coworker. But you share friends. This makes this even more dangerous, for you if she has no ulterior motive, and also for you if she does.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:14 PM on November 29, 2015

A couple of years ago, I had a serious crush on a friend of mine. For awhile, I had to actively avoid situations where I was tempted to flirt with him or be alone with him. So, not texting with him, really repressing my urge to try to charm him with humor and playful flirtation, and all of that. I was so crushed out I was afraid I was going to do something stupid like make a pass at him. I set a few boundaries for myself, saw less of him than I wanted to for awhile, and at some point realized the crush was over.

These things do pass. A couple of years ago, a good friend of ours started dating a guy that my partner and I both found so attractive that it was distracting and uncomfortable to be around him. I realized awhile ago that we'd gotten used to him and this was no longer a problem.

Your goal is to keep yourself from doing something stupid, no matter how tempting it us, until your strong feelings pass. It's not easy. But it's what you have to do. So stop with the texting, no more one-on-one coffee dates, no more using her as a sounding board about your marital problems. You can't stop being infatuated while you're feeding the infatuation this way, but if you control yourself for awhile it will fade away.
posted by not that girl at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think the situation is pretty simple. Imagine you were carrying a small child with you, one that you loved very very much. You would be cautious about what company you kept, what neighborhood you ventured into, what you said, etc.

If you want to honor your marriage act consciously about what neighborhoods you wander into, what company you keep, and as the buddhists might say, consider engaging only in "right speech".

This is not complicated at all, and you are clearly bright, so I am guessing that your infatuation is getting the better of your mature judgment. It is really understandable given your description of your unhappiness. We all have strong impulses to avoid pain. That being said, you will likely regret it if you do not show some discipline here. Work hard to organize your life so that you will have less regrets - life is sufficiently difficult without excess regret. kind regards, jcw
posted by jcworth at 5:35 PM on November 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

can you ask your wife if you can go outside the marriage to have your needs met, and then with that permission, can you have a frank conversation with your crush?
posted by PinkMoose at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a bit younger than you (depending on what you mean by "40-ish," I guess) and I'd be the first to admit that it is flattering and exciting when another woman (and especially a younger woman) shows a bit of interest, even for a person in a good relationship. As Jessamyn says, "This is the brain drugs talking and they lie to you," and holy crap those brain drugs are powerful things.

In other words, it's on you to do the right thing, whether that is cutting off contact (even temporarily) or ending your marriage. You won't get there by following the feelings of infatuation or in trying to have your cake and eat it too. This is the time to put on your big boy pants, pick a path, and live with the consequences of that decision.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:44 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you are working on your marriage, tell her, "I'm in a vulnerable place right now and I need space to deal with my marital issues. Our friendship is veering into a dangerous area for me and I need to back off. Please don't text or call me for now."

Seriously, be honest, be firm, be a Mench.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:50 PM on November 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

Calling her "Lolita" is a big gross red flag for me.

She's not married to your wife. You are. She can't "lead" you into cheating. You are not a horse. She's a younger woman who is also a friend of friends. She's been through a bad patch and is lonely and vulnerable. She reached out to you, and you're repaying her by crushing on her and (it appears) implicitly trying to blame her for your infatuation.

Solution is very simple. Stop texting. Don't meet her. Explain why. Tell her "thank you for your kindness. it meant a lot to me. However, I'm not in a place where I can accept that kindness without misinterpreting it and I'm taking that as a sign that I finally need to resolve things with my wife." Then do it.
posted by frumiousb at 6:03 PM on November 29, 2015 [24 favorites]

The Edith Wharton version is go abroad.

Here's my plan for you:

1. Stop texting her .
2. Start working out, or working out more, hard. Burn off that physical charge. You could also tackle physically demanding house projects if you have them. Both will make your life better anyway.
3. Take your wife out at least once a week doing whatever you would do with crush-woman if you were dating. You may reconnect, you may not, but you will have tried.
4. Tell your wife one true thing a day that you would text this woman. Whatever little detail..."love the flowers at reception" etc.
5. Don't text this woman.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:06 PM on November 29, 2015 [38 favorites]

Here is my comment on a previous question.

I think the best ways back from infatuation might be:
- magnifying the negative attributes of your crush,
- imagining the terrible pain of your primary relationship ending and realizing what a trivial sidebar this is,
- focusing on the real work of fixing or ending your primary relationship,
- not engaging in any more of this flirtation, and
- replacing the flirtation with another addictive sidebar, like watching some long running TV series.
posted by salvia at 6:12 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Imagine a mature relationship with her instead of imagining the honeymoon phase of a relationship with her. Eg. consider how it would drive you up the wall to be in the shoes of that person who eventually had to divorced with her. The relationship with her was likely unpleasant to be in, and she (nor him) was presumably not entirely blameless in that. The grass always looks greener when it's not you that has to put up with the shit. Don't overlook the shit. Instead, focus on it.

Alternatively, if it seems like a plausible way forward for you and your wife, find out if your wife is interested in an open marriage.
posted by anonymisc at 6:14 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

The only thing to do to take the deliciousness out of this is to tell your wife about your infatuation, tell her you want marriage counseling and then make an appointment with a marriage counselor.

That's it. Once it's out in the open the bloom will be off the rose and you'll be able to see the stark reality of who you are and what you're doing, and then start down the path of figuring out what you want.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:29 PM on November 29, 2015

No more contact, period. Tell her that you need to refocus on your marriage and you've been using her as a distraction from dealing with your issues. And, don't burden your wife with tales of your crush; if you're already disconnecting from her, she feels it and doesn't need your inappropriate dalliances detailed to prove the point. Instead tell your wife that you'd like to strengthen the marriage, be a better partner, and refocus on your relationship. That means spending dedicated special time together on the regular, focusing on increasing how supportive you are if you've started taking the marriage for granted (have you read the famed emotional labor thread? That's a good starting point), and possibly counseling. Marriage is challenging enough without you drilling holes in the lifeboat. Refocus yourself. This sort of thing can be a slippery slope, be glad you caught yourself before making a spectacular mess.
posted by quince at 6:57 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

When/if your marriage ends, do you want to look back on the lead up and say, 'I'm glad I gave it my best shot, but sh*t happens', or 'gee, I'm glad I have someone else lined up'? Of course, if you are looking for an excuse to end the marriage, a fling with an accommodating younger woman is probably as 'good' an excuse as any.

On the other hand, if you are serious about your marriage then work on it conscientiously. This Lolita is not going to help you do what is necessary to resolve your marital issues, and will in fact make them worse.
posted by GeeEmm at 7:21 PM on November 29, 2015

I'm going to be the voice of dissent.

I'm not saying this is your situation, simply that it could be- my therapist taught me about the "explosion" method of getting out of a relationship that is probably not toxic/abusive but is simply not working. It involves a third party. Per my (wonderful, tboughtful, helpful) therapist, even if you/your partner never talks to or about the third party- in your case, Lolita, which, I agree, is a gross name- the die is cast, and the pall is thrown over the relationship. The explosion method names a concrete cause ("One of us developed feelings for someone else ") that is easily explained to yourself, your partner, and others. It's naming what you know deep down but don't want to admit without great cause.

I have found that, even in the liberal ramparts of mefi, people scramble and fight for "marriages" to survive when, if the parties are merely under the "cohabiting" label, the responses are move on, dtmfa, etc. I frankly don't get this mentality at all. Long, difficult marriages DESTROY people. Staying married for the sake of staying married isn't a win, it's a profound lose.

My two cents is that life is short. Figure out what you *want*, not what you feel obligated to do, and go after your happiness like a bird dog retrieving a duck. If that is your wife, good luck and godspeed. If it's not, you are not evil. You still deserve joy, love, and even infatuation.
posted by Athene at 7:32 PM on November 29, 2015 [31 favorites]

My goddess, whatever you do, do not discuss this infatuation with your wife! If you want to work on the marriage, work on it, don't add yet another issue to the pile. If you don't want to work on it, end it honorably and without the mean parting jab of telling her you're infatuated with a younger woman.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 7:41 PM on November 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

And I picked the name on purpose to illustrate to myself how improper/f'd up I'm being.

In the book, Lolita is 12 years old. I hope you can see why people are saying "eww!" about your use of that name, and it is not because there is a small age gap between you and this woman.

It does feel like you are going to extremes here, including picking this name; if your real life actions mirror those extremes, I suspect you are going to have some difficulties. A common theme in most of the answers so far is a calmer middle ground, and if you can take that path you will, at an absolute minimum, have less drama.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:56 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with Athene, if you want out just get out. You're in a sexless marriage. You don't mention kids so I assume you don't have any. If you are unhappy and sex is something important to you then clearly this marriage is over. This infatuation is just a symptom. If you have an affair you will hate yourself and the divorce will be that much more difficult. End it respectfully and as amicably as possible and then see where you are.
posted by whoaali at 8:15 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

First, I would either just stop texting this woman with no explanation, or tell her that you need to focus more on your marriage and then stop texting her, but I wouldn't tell that she has been distracting you or had any influence on the state of your marriage, because there is a possibility that she isn't just lonely and sad and is instead actively trying to get you to cheat on your wife with her. If you tell her that she's been distracting you from your marriage, or acknowledge your crush to her in any way, then she might take that as a sign of encouragement. And if she really doesn't think of you that way, and has just been innocently talking to you, then I would be very upset--in her shoes--to be told by some guy that I'd been talking to for 2 weeks that I was "distracting" him from his marriage, or anything like that.

Secondly, I think you're the only one who knows if your marriage is worth fighting for, and if it's just run its course, then I think it's okay to leave. But don't leave your marriage because of this woman. I mean: while you are still married, she might flirt with you or have long, deep conversations with you, and she might even try and get you to physically cheat with her, but that doesn't mean she will actually want to date you once you're single. In fact, there's a pretty high likelihood that she will disappear the moment you actually become available (if you become available). We see that happen on AskMe all the time. So stop contacting this other woman and try to evaluate your marriage on its own terms, without reference to things that you hope might happen with someone else.
posted by colfax at 12:47 AM on November 30, 2015

Why are you staying with your wife? If there's no sex, one or both of you isn't keeping your vows.

Why not explore the idea of ending it and see how things go with your friend? It might not work out long term but it might be a lot of fun in the meantime. This might be just the thing to give you the courage to end a rather dull sounding marriage.

I can't see anything wrong with texting her. If your wife would be upset if she found out, it's her fault for buying into the obviously silly idea that you're both supposed to be all-in-all to each other to the exclusion of all others. Adultery is when you have sex with someone outside your marriage. Otherwise it's just good fun.

Just don't sleep with her until you've separated from your wife. Lucky you - have fun!
posted by JeanDupont at 1:01 AM on November 30, 2015

Do the above if you'd like drama-fuelled, confusing, angry and distasteful years ahead.

EVEN considering your distant sexual relationship, your wife doesn't seem to warrant this kind of disdain and disrespect. Your would-be paramour is also in a tough place and doesn't need your participation in her post marital reckonings. In a similar situation, I asked my husband if he would consider an open relationship (I had no one in mind, or lined up). This wasn't possible so we split up. Even six months later was too soon to indulge my infatuations with a new person.

Stop texting. Even if you end your relationship with your wife, you are not going to be in a good place post-marriage for some time. And let's note that your post is explicit about infatuation. You are just after an affair, and it could fuck up your whole personal life. Be brave enough to admit that you really need to step up and take your situation with your wife seriously - whether it is to commit to unwinding your marriage, or to mending it. Texting and flirting is just bullshit behaviour in the face of the big job ahead.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:04 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

You need to come clean with your wife.

Invite her to lunch and afterwards, say the following to her.

"Honey, we need to discuss the state of our marriage. I'm very unhappy and have been for a long time. We only had sex once last year. That's not okay. I'm seriously considering having an affair with someone I know. That's how bad it is. We need to go to couples counseling, or maybe we need to separate. What do you think?"

Then, if she wants to save the marriage: Great!!! You stop texting Lolita and you fall back in love with your wife. If she's okay with separating, you text Lolita.
posted by Piedmont_Americana at 4:05 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Recognize what you're doing, and call yourself out on it. You and your wife have problems with your marriage, and apparently haven't decided what to do - basically, you're standing at the edge of a precipice, trying to decide whether or not to jump. Choosing to either stay and work on your marriage, or to break up, is an overt action on your (and your wife's) part - that's taking a leap off that precipice with eyes wide open. That can be difficult. However, now you've got this third option, where you can tell yourself that this other woman is leading you into something and oh gee you're smitten and just maybe you'll keep on texting and who knows what will happen ...

That's putting on a blindfold, turning around, and backing yourself off the edge of the cliff. That's forcing things to happen while pretending you aren't making a choice. But of course you are, and I'd encourage you to recognize that.

I see you've said you will leave this woman alone, and I hope you will. In addition to that, I hope you and your wife will both throw yourselves into making a decision about your future together - whether the two of you decide to stay together or break up, making this decision actively, together, is more responsible and humane than just 'seeing what happens' and essentially making such a mess of things that you force your wife to divorce you.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:27 AM on November 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

In Nabokov’s telling of Lolita, we (the reader) know nothing, really, of Lolita. We don’t know what she thinks or what she feels, because the entire narrative shows Lolita only the object of Humbert Humbert’s desires, “light of my life, fire of my loins.”

It’s interesting reading some of the responses here, because we (mefites) also know nothing of this woman. We don’t know if she is a kind, sympathetic friend, a manipulative person trying to break up your marriage or something else entirely.

But in this instance, this woman’s intentions are perhaps irrelevant. What’s more interesting is what you're projecting onto her (and your nickname for her is potentially telling).

Maybe do some reflecting first. Also, go check out a copy of the real Lolita from your local library.
posted by twill at 7:18 AM on November 30, 2015 [6 favorites]

You know, I've been the "younger" woman on the end of a very similar infatuation. Similar story actually sans marriage (the fellow was in a sexless, long term relationship, no one was communicating, seemed pretty doomed, etc.). It wasn't ENTIRELY obvious to me at first that this person was developing a major crush on me so I welcomed the friendship as I had also just left a long term, sexless relationship and was just looking to connect with people. Then he started inviting me places, messaging me randomly (via Facebook...we didn't exchange numbers), and discussing his relationship woes with me, becoming more and more infatuated until it finally was obvious to me what was going on. Again, as I have always been the nurturing sort I just sort of assumed that he wanted advice as a friend. I look back at it and feel sort of gross but also sort of duped. Eventually he broke up with his partner and immediately pursued me. I was preoccupied but he didn't relent, so after a month or so, I gave it a shot, figuring he legitimately wanted to date me. That was when the reality of who I was, rather than the epitome of a perfect vision he had dreamed up, hit him hard, and he began picking me apart on our dates and generally being sort of a dick head that realized he was single and could date around now that he was free but whoops I already sort of have this other women that I've been dreaming about for ages what to do?! He still clung to me, though, and thus I was not only an infatuation but a rebound. Now that is imploding I am left feeling extremely annoyed and used and our friendship is barely what it used to be, if anything.

I don't know this woman's motives for interacting with you, but it's not fair to assume they are aligned with yours or malicious against your relationship. She may genuinely want to be your friend. You need to think of your wife and your marriage first (or don't) but you also don't need to drag this person into your life under the guise of friendship just so you can deflect your inability to address the issue at hand onto idealizing and lusting after her.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:19 AM on November 30, 2015 [12 favorites]

I think you have to decide whether you want to be married to your wife. Don't discuss your marriage problems with a woman you're attracted to! Come on, that's Decency 101. Discuss them with a therapist, yourself, your wife.

You may be done with your marriage, which is okay. You may be trying to blow up your marriage in a hurtful and deceitful way, and that is not okay.

Man, you have got to get a grip on this highly dramatic and juvenile fantasy in which you are powerlessly pulled along on a bullet train to infidelity, and realize that YOU are the engine. Admit you have control here, you have choices. Defuse the drama and the mythology a little; this friend of yours cannot save you from your life and your problems. I promise you, her pussy is not magic. Her being 10 years younger than you is not a tractor beam, pulling you unwittingly away from your marriage. Don't be silly. Even if she is more compatible and even if you'd have a happier relationship with her than with your wife, you still have to do the work of ending your marriage decently before that can happen.

If you want my cynical reading, you are looking for a cop-out, and Lolita (yeah, sorry to pile on, but ick) is rebounding from a very recent divorce. If you want to pursue it anyway, be a mensch and separate from your wife first.
posted by kapers at 7:21 AM on November 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh my gosh. You are infatuated with her because it is one-dimensional (LOLITA) and you share such a small sliver of each other's lives that you are filling in the remaining 90% with rainbows and sunshine.

You are engaging in shitty behavior, but so is this other woman. Overhearing you discussing marital problems and then asking you for a cup of coffee to "sympathize"? That is straight up manipulative. That is bad person behavior.

Use jessamyns script above and stop texting this woman. Then decide whether you want to keep working on your marriage. But first- cut this shit out. I can tell from reading your question that you aren't morally bankrupt. You are better than this.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:33 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a very easy situation to get into and a very difficult situation to get out of. Shut it down while you can (by that I mean while you still have the emotional strength to do so). It's a very slippery slope and you WILL regret going down this path!

Tell her you need to focus on your marriage and then break up all contact to her. Avoid her at all costs! It will be worth it - trust us MetFi internet strangers to give you good life advice.
posted by Fallbala at 9:01 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband (46) did this, and kept texting her (28). And having coffee. And confiding. And eventually fucking her. And our otherwise really great marriage was poisoned, totally. He moved in with her. The bloom left the rose. She turned out to be angry, manipulative, a terrible partner. She likely discovered that he's selfish, thoughtless, a liar, a cheater. It didn't even last a year.

He moved back home, and he's living in my basement, like a specter with no soul left. He's desperately unhappy. I am angry, hurt, and so so so tired of being sad. I don't know how she feels, but I'm sure it's not anywhere on the good end of the spectrum of feelings (and frankly, she fucking deserves to feel that awful). Our daughter (12) is angry and distrustful of him, and ashamed that her own father would be so awful to her mother.

Do you want to make your wife so hurt and angry?
Do you have children who will end up intensely hurt and angry?
Do you want to lose your self-respect?

Keep texting her, and this is your future.

Be a man. Cut it off. Focus on your wife. You loved her, remember? You loved her enough to marry her and swear to be faithful and loving for the rest of your entire life. And you no doubt knew that that vow would subject you both to some good times and bad, plateaus and valleys and peaks. This is a plateau, not even a valley, and you can't be man enough to focus on your wife and leave this little thing on the side alone. Find your spine. Be a husband, not a selfish dick. Tell the other woman — once — that it's over, and block her texts. Go out of your way to avoid her. Don't go to her and ask — again — for commiseration over how much you're going to lose by losing her friendship (oh boo hoo). Go to your *wife* when you've got something important going on. Don't go to someone else, someone of breeding age, someone physically attractive to you and confide in her.

And don't worry about hurting your little friend. She's actively insinuating herself in your marriage, trying to drive a wedge in there. Let her hurt; she knew that was a risk, and she knew that her actions were going to cause serious pain to a woman who had never hurt her. How could you even respect her?

God, you are in serious dirtbag territory.

Yes, I realize these words are meant for my husband, and that the judgment I'm expressing is all about him. But your wife doesn't deserve what I've been through, as I don't deserve it. Don't do it to her.
posted by Capri at 4:45 PM on November 30, 2015 [19 favorites]

I think these responses have veered wayyyyyyy too far into the "what a gross asshole" camp - and also into the arguably more icky "screw that manipulative hussy" camp. You and this woman have been friends/in the same social circle for 2.5 years. You both are now having relationship troubles. Commiseration in a situation like that seems to me like the most natural thing in the world. The possibility this younger woman is a crappy shitbag waiting to pounce and tear apart your marriage is no more or less likely than the possibility she may genuinely want to be your friend. I don't think you're an asshole at all (although, yeah, Lolita? no, dude).

HOWEVER: You have identified this as a danger situation (and good on you for doing so!), so you need to back well away from it. As others have already pointed out, the best way to stop this is to just stop it. No more texting. There is absolutely no need for the incredible super-drama that will result from actually blocking this woman via phone and social media - which, I'd also point out, has the potential to make her feel absolutely horrible in the not-unlikely event she is NOT an aforementioned crappy shitbag.

So, here is what you do. Tell her the commiserating is making you feel worse, not better. Wish her the best in handling her situation, and tell her you're going to have a go at fixing yours, since it sounds like that's what you want to do anyway. Then go back to interacting however you interacted before you started with the texting.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 7:53 PM on November 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also, one more thing: being attracted to someone who is not your partner does NOT make you a terrible, irredeemable jerk. At all. It makes you human! What makes you shitty is acting on that attraction by knowingly breaking the rules of your particular relationship. So what you've done here - acknowledging the danger you're going to break a rule if you continue this and affirming that you want to stop before you do - is Not Being Shitty: Step One. That deserves a thumbs-up, not a bunch of name-calling.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 8:03 PM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Let her know that you can't continue the contact. Kindly but firmly. Then block all mechanisms that allow you to have contact. All of them.

Then wait six months to a year for your innards to stop churning. In the meantime do what warriorqueen suggests. Get as right and clear with yourself and your wife as you can. See what can be made to work. See if you want to be in the marriage. You're asking yourself that question currently and you don't have an answer yet. Instead the answer is "hot young thing!" That's not a grown up answer. A grown up answer is yes or no with respect to the marriage itself, seen as clearly and as stone-cold-sober as you can get yourself.

It is possible that your marriage is dead. It is possible that it is not, that it has a beautiful future ahead if you can find a new rhythm. People differ on advice about whether to struggle to save marriages, or struggle to save lives from marriages gone off the rails. That's something you have to decide on your own. But keeping the texting-and-lusting relationship that set this question in motion going during the process of making that decision is guaranteed to make you, your wife, and the object your infatuation hurt more than necessary.
posted by ead at 8:43 PM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's a whole chapter in a very, very good book called 'Soul Mates' by the psychotherapist Thomas Moore which talks about infatuation and infidelity – it asks you to look much more closely at why you're dissatisfied in your marriage; what it's not answering for you or doing for you anymore, what you might really want, and why it is that someone else, who is – after all – a flawed human being just like everyone else, is currently deemed so worthy of your deep and obsessive attention. I really recommend getting hold of it and reading it. It will give you new ways to think about this situation and may be very useful.

I like the commentator here who pointed out that Humbert Humbert never, ever affords Lolita agency, will, autonomy, fallibility – until he's forced to. As his object of obsessive adoration, she has to be unreal – he can't bear it when she's real. I think it's relevant in that it does sound like you may well be pedestalising this woman and projecting what you want to see onto her, rather than seeing her as a whole, complex, flawed human – who recently got divorced and so probably has an awful lot on her own plate right now, emotionally speaking. It's so much easier to do that with someone a little sexy and unfathomable and unknown, compared to the person you've been down in the trenches of marriage with for however long. But you have to take a really long hard look at things and decide which one really does mean more and why you're doing this. Do you just really want your wife to want and adore and have sex with you again? Would that help to shake you out of this?

As it is, I have a friend in her early 30s who recently split with her long-term partner (and father of her children) and got together with a man in his early 40s, who left a sexless marriage (and two children). My dear, dear friend is the 'Lolita' in this case. She met the man *after* he left his wife, it must be said. But the wife is still furious. Deeply hurt and betrayed and furious. I feel for her – it's a completely dreadful situation for her and even though they had already split up, so much damage has been done - and the new relationship is suffering from it, too. I urge you to be as compassionate and thoughtful as you can be towards your wife, whatever happens. It's so important.

Finally, here's an excellent advice column on the matter. It may help –
posted by considerthelilies at 11:32 AM on December 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

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