Relate Medway and North Kent
01634 380038

Unfaithful ex broke my heart - now I'm the cheat

24th March 2017

Dear Bel (Daily Mail),

I’m in a long-term relationship and I’m having an affair with another man.

My partner moved in with me a year ago and for the first six months it was great. But in the last few months I’ve actually wanted my space back.

He’s caring, funny, all my friends and family think he’s great and he’s just an all around lovely guy.

I really fancy him but I’ve never been sure if I love him in the way I should — with the same intensity that I have felt in the past.

He has serious abandonment issues and it consumes him. I’ve tried getting him to talk to a counsellor but he just won’t.

I think he believes that nothing will ever make him feel better about what his parents did — except having his own family.

He says I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Also, the major issue in our relationship is that he has a physical disorder which impinges drastically on our relationship.

We’ve been waiting over a year to see another specialist but to be brutally honest, I’ve had enough of it.

We sleep in separate bedrooms and the intimacy in our relationship has waned as a result. And I’m the main breadwinner.

Six months ago I met another man and the attraction was instant. We’re now having an affair.

He works in the same field, is emotionally mature, and financially on the same page as me. We are both career driven. And yes, the sex is amazing. Tender, loving.

My best friend thinks he’s ‘the one’. I can just be a woman and be taken care of for a change. I don’t have to be the one organising everything. I don’t have to be the strong one.

But ten years ago, a man that I still consider the love of my life shattered my heart by cheating on me.

Yet here I am doing the one thing that I was so opposed to.

Who am I and what have I become? A lying cheat. How could I inflict the pain I felt on someone else?

I feel terrible. I just don’t know what to do. One day I want to make my relationship work. And another day I’m daydreaming of a life with someone else.

Please help me to make sense of this confusion.


Your very long email gave me many details about your partner’s family history and his illness and other things, too — which I am respectfully keeping private, as you wish.

But I do want those readers who will rush to condemn a two-timing woman (as they might say), to realise that life has been pretty tough for you in this relationship.

Your life with your partner is complicated, and it seems to me that quite a burden has landed on your shoulders.

In any case, how could anybody possibly judge you more harshly than you judge yourself? Your guilt and misery are clear and sincere and I feel sorry for you in this terrible predicament. Knowing full well what it is like to be hurt by somebody you adored, you quail at the thought of inflicting such pain on your partner.

But it should be obvious to you that the longer you go on deceiving him, the greater the harm you are doing — to everybody.

I often point out that it’s quite possible to love two very different men at the same time. This is because our feelings are rich and complex, and can alter as we change, month by month. A successful relationship shifts and changes, but too many people find themselves trapped within static sadness.

A young woman enchanted at the thought of ‘mothering’ her needy new love can feel very different as the years pass and she is thrust into a role she never really wanted.

You have fallen out of love with your partner, but like him as much as ever, as well as feeling anguish at the thought of telling him that the relationship is over. That is how your situation reads to me —and that’s why your lover has been able to fill the void.

An easy piece of advice would be to get away and be alone to think this through. But you work, so that’s probably impossible.

I could also suggest you make an appointment with Relate or a private counsellor, to talk the issues through in front of a trained third party.

Neither of your men needs know about the appointment; it’s about clarifying your thoughts — and would do you good, although I must say I admire the clear way you set out your dilemma in your letter.

Maybe you should try to act on both suggestions. Perhaps a weekend away with your best friend might be timely, followed by the counselling appointment.

My gut feeling says you desperately want to pursue a long-term relationship with your lover. Does he feel the same?

If he is ready to be with you in the way you imagine, and you think of him every night, then you have to tell your partner. No choice. You cannot go on lying to him with every waking breath, nor stay with him out of pity.

It will do you no good to continue to think of yourself as a liar and a cheat.

No life can sustain such guilt, deceit and negativity.

Were you married with children you would have every reason to struggle on, but that’s not the case. It’s time to be honest.

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