What Not To Do in Relationships

What Not To Do in Relationships

Dear Evan,

I have been married for four years (I married at 21) and I have been unhappy for quite some time. I had an affair early in our marriage due to my husband being emotionally unavailable and I felt I needed to fill the void he had left. Recently, we have been having more problems than usual as I find myself searching for my own identity; after a few years I feel as though I lost who I was as an individual, instead of as a part of a couple.

When we started to spend time with a new social group, my husband and I were having a great time. A few months ago, one of the more popular men in this group and I became very close friends. After spending a lot of time together (both in private and in public) I began to realize that my feelings were beginning to go down another path and upon telling him this, he very pointedly said that he would not have an affair with me, because he respects my marriage and my husband. So I thought, okay, not a big deal.

Kids who get married before the age of 25 have a 75% divorce rate.

He was recently selected for a new job (his “dream job”), about 1000 miles away from where I live. When he found out he was leaving in a few weeks, we began to spend more and more time together and I found myself in love with him. I separated from my husband with intentions of divorce a week before he left. When he told me he loved me and wanted to be with me, and that we would find a way to make it work, we ended up spending a night together. He was very sweet and said amazing things to me that no one ever had. But…

Within three days, he started to disappear. Now he’s at his new job and explains that the job he took requires the first two years to be spent training in various locations around the US (he apparently didn’t know this when he applied). He’s become very distant, doesn’t answer (or return) my calls, and now I’m incredibly confused.

Was I just a hookup because he was leaving? Would a guy exploit a friendship like that?

Thanks,
Annie

I debated as to whether to run this letter, since I really didn’t have much advice for you, but then I figured that it was such a good snapshot of what not to do in relationships, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it with the world.

What not to do in relationships:

1. Get married at 21. I’m not sure why you got married at 21. I suspect it had to do with chemistry, sex, being in love, and that sneaking suspicion that you were an adult and were ready for the next step with your boyfriend. Either way, kids who get married before the age of 25 have a 75% divorce rate. Caveat emptor.

2. Marry an emotionally unavailable man. It’s not like your husband became an entirely different person after you married him. You deliberately chose to hitch your train to an insensitive man in your early 20’s before you’d had experience with lots of other adults.

3. Have an affair early in your marriage to fill the void of your emotionally unavailable man. I feel for you, but the answer is marriage counseling or divorce, not cheating.

4. Justify the affair as if this is healthy standard practice. On the bright side, your matter of fact tone indicates that you don’t feel the least guilty about this first transgression. Which means that you have, at best, a loose sense of ethics and morality, and would be drawn to similar men.

5. Become close friends with a popular guy from your social group. First of all, popularity exists after high school? Second of all, it’s basic Marriage 101 stuff: Thou Shalt Not Develop Close Friends of the Opposite Sex Lest The Temptation Be Too Great. If you’re an emotionally deprived wife, searching for connection, you’re pretty much begging for an affair when you do this.

6. Confess to your popular close friend that you’re falling for him. You could have pulled away and said nothing, but you chose to bring this to the surface. Why? Because you wanted to have another affair. Can you see how you’re coming across, Annie?

Thou Shalt Not Develop Close Friends of the Opposite Sex Lest The Temptation Be Too Great.

7. Fall in love with another man in the weeks before he moves. Another opportunity for you to pull away cleanly without your husband knowing, but you dove in, headfirst, and convinced yourself you “loved” this guy.

8. Get separated from your husband to be with a man who is going 1000 miles away. As much as I’m beating up on you, it’s in the realm of possibility that you can fall in love with another man while you’re with your husband. But to consciously fall in love with a man who has one foot, two arms and five packed bags out the door? Kind of poor short-term thinking, no?

9. Become surprised that the man who said he was disappearing has actually disappeared. The fact that he was sweet to you, slept with you, and said nice things before he left is sort of predictable. It’s hard to sleep with someone when you’re mean to her, and it would be surprising if his final words to you were that he never planned on seeing you again. He was in the moment. You were in the clouds.

10. Ask a question like this: Was I just a hookup because he was leaving? Would a guy exploit a friendship like that? Huh? You make every mistake in the book, cheat on your husband repeatedly, seduce a guy with an out-of-town job who said he respected your marriage, and then complain that the guy “exploited” your friendship?

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me, Annie.

Look in the mirror. Get into therapy. And start taking responsibility for your behaviors.

I feel bad that you’ve made so many mistakes, but you’re not going to remedy them by continuing on this childish, selfish and immoral path.

12
7

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Comments:

  1. 1
    SAL9000

    Unfortunately, detached narcissistic world views are not uncommon. It’s gonna be a long hard road for “Annie” to fix herself. It is hoped no one in the story had children.

    1. 1.1
      starthrower68

      Amen. I’ll get in trouble if I say any more.

  2. 2
    DinaStrange

    Totally agree with Evan. Good words, my friend!

  3. 3
    Melissa

    You are on point…Cold hard truth, tough love it’s called. I wish I could afford your one on one but I look to joining your group session in the coming year!

  4. 4
    Nancy Greco

    That was the best post ever!! Great one Evan! Live and learn…and if you don’t, you deserve it!

  5. 5
    John

    When I read how messed up this OP is, it makes you wonder the validity of her claim that her husband was emotionally unavailable.

  6. 6
    karen

    OY! This girl needs to find herself first and stop looking to a guy to fill a void that is obviously within her. No man will ever “make” you happy. You are way to young to be worried about marriage. Go date, find what makes YOU happy on your own. Reading your letter shows your immaturity and inability to be in a committed relationships.

  7. 7
    SparklingEmerald

    I had a hard time believing this letter was even real. She writes an letter where she is OBVIOUSLY wrong on so many levels (really, I have never heard anyone complaining that an affair partner they had whilst married “disappeared”.)

    If this letter writer is for real, she sounds like some spoiled little hottie. Like the drop dead gorgeous little princesses from high school, who had all the guys in the world falling at their feet based on their looks alone, and then they marry whatever guy they happen to be with shortly after graduation and proceed to be a crap excuse for a wife. (I think anyone who cheats is a crap excuse for a partner no matter what the reason)

    I am not even so sure that her hubby was the UA one. I suspect that she was UA from the git go, and he withdrew because he was tired of giving his love and getting none in return. Why am I being so harsh ? The whole tone of her letter. Her whole “big deal, I had an affair” attitude. Her whole indignant response that her back door man, that she pursued, slipped out the back door. Her whole ME, ME, ME, attitude. Marriage isn’t “All about ME”, it’s all about WE.

    Call me a heartless bitch, but I have ZERO sympathy for the Orig LW.

    1. 7.1
      Mickey

      Sparkling:

      You are not “heartless.” On the contrary, your analysis, like Evan’s, was spot on!!!

    2. 7.2
      Julia

      Well I wouldn’t assume she is hot. I know plenty of very average people who act like that.

  8. 8
    Monica

    Wow! Go easy on this girl. She married young! She’s still young! She’s inexperienced at love and dating at best. My two cents are to cut her losses by going ahead and getting the divorce and then chalk up following in love with someone new as an important life lesson. Take time to get to know yourself and what you want. You’ll gain some wisdom with time and experience. Good luck!

    1. 8.1
      Androgynous

      Yes, she is young but youth does not excuse her behaviours or a lack of responsbility for them, particularly when they affect other people. At least her husband (being emotionally unavailable is not good enough reason to be cheated on) is a grown man and can or should take care of himself. But thank heavens it does not appear she has a kid or the kid would be the innocent third party irreparably hurt by her “youth” and “inexperience”

    2. 8.2
      Liz

      Let’s be real here, inexperience is not her main problem. SELFISHNESS is. That’s not inexperience and youth, that’s just a bad person making selfish decisions. Let’s call it what it is instead of dismissing it as ‘youth’.

  9. 9
    Selena

    It kinda sounds to me Annie that you may have realized it was a mistake to marry your husband not long after the ceremony. That happens sometimes. But you also seem to be the type of person who can’t let a relationship go unless you have another to move right into. Essentially you’ve been trying to cheat your way out of your marriage instead of admitting it was a mistake. Cowardly among other things.

    Your question and concern though is this: “Was I just a hookup because he was leaving? Would a guy exploit a friendship like that?”

    My guess is when you made it clear you would sleep with him the first time and he declined your offer, it wasn’t because he considered you a friend and respected your marriage – it was because he didn’t want to offer you a relationship. That and perhaps he didn’t want to have to look your husband in the eye afterwards given you shared a social circle.

    Then he takes a job a thousand miles away. He won’t be in that circle anymore What the hell. Sleazy? Yeah. But he’s probably rationalized it just as you have cheating on your husband. I see this as karma-in-action. You behaved without integrity and you got lack of integrity right back. Maybe one day when you are a little older, a little wiser, you may come to see this guy actually did you a favor. He showed you who you don’t want to be.

    1. 9.1
      Androgynous

      Very well said Selena.
      I think the minute Annie told her close friend that she was prepared to cheat with him, was the moment he decided she was not someone he wanted a relationship with. The friend probably didn’t feel any obligation to do things right by Annie. Hopefully Annie will realise that you will be treated the same way you treat other people.

      1. 9.1.1
        Selena

        Annie wrote:” I separated from my husband with intentions of divorce a week before he left. When he told me he loved me and wanted to be with me, and that we would find a way to make it work, we ended up spending a night together. ”

        To me this sounds like the friend led Annie to believe they did/would have a future together. His subsequent actions however indicate he just wanted to *do* Annie before he left town. I can see why she would be confused.

        But maybe all the future talk was being caught up in the moment? That when it sunk in she HAD actually left her husband and he WAS moving 1000 miles away he gained clarity that a relationship with her wasn’t something he wanted?

  10. 10
    Goldie

    Oh geez. What a train wreck. And I mean everyone in this story, not just Annie.

    Annie: “When he found out he was leaving in a few weeks, we began to spend more and more time together and I found myself in love with him.”

    No. You found yourself having a crush on him. These things do happen to married people. Don’t act on one and ignore it till it goes away. Worked for me.

    EMK: ” the answer is marriage counseling or divorce, not cheating.”

    Truth.

  11. 11
    Shelly

    I will readily admit to doing both 1 & 2….but that is where it stopped. I was young, silly & thought he loved me. He came from an abusive family, and was too busy protecting himself to ever let anyone else in.
    We stayed married for 17 years, he is the one that had the affair, and I left him.
    Annie, you need to look long and hard at yourself and your values. Running from man to man isn’t good, more so seeing as you are married.
    Divorce your Husband and work on yourself, otherwise you will be a very lonely woman

  12. 12
    deannie

    It’s a fair post. So glad you called the morality card!

  13. 13
    Clare

    The self-absorption of this letter really smacks you between the eyes. She doesn’t mention her husband at all except to say that he was emotionally unavailable… apparently failing to recognise her own glaring emotional unavailability! This is pretty normal for someone in their early twenties who hasn’t figured out who they are, and what they want to do, yet.

    She has a long way to go, and this disappearing guy is not her problem.

    I don’t know that we need to be so hard on her, even though her selfishness is blatantly apparent. She needs to get out of this marriage, move on from this affair, date other guys, find herself and learn about the world and relationships, and just basically BE a twenty-something. She needs some self-awareness and a reality check, and it may take a while.

  14. 14
    Teresa

    I love you Evan!!! Point blank and to the point truth…people don’t change over night, it was always right in front of your eyes you just failed to see it’s true form. Sad but true, when you’re in love with being in love, you fail to see people for their trueself, you only see what your heart wants/lets you see. Love is blind, love is not always patient nor is it always kind.

  15. 15
    BostonRobin

    Wow, I have read so many of your posts, but this one is probably the most powerful. Thank you for standing up for the values I also believe in. This LW needs that tough love of yours, whether she realizes it or not. I hope she comes to her senses and it able to thank you some day!

  16. 16
    Henriette

    Oy. Why would anyone on this earth think it a good idea to marry at 21?

    Other posters already adequately expressed the disgust I feel towards this letter writer. My only addition? I strongly advise you to divorce; get therapy; not date whatsoever for at least 2 years while you work on yourself *gasp* without trying to lose yourself in a “romantic” relationship; not marry again ’til you’re at least 32 years-old.

    I don’t know if your husband is a good guy or not but this is a reminder to me that for every woman who’s been jerked around by some nasty guy and feels entitled to bitterness because of it, there’s a man who’s been deeply hurt by a selfish female and might have some sound reasons for being cautious. No sex has the corner on selfishness, thoughtlessness or lack of morals.

  17. 17
    Steelheart

    While I agree with everything everyone’s saying about the LW being self-centered, making a lot of bad moral and intellectual choices, and needing to work on herself a lot, the ferocity with which some of you are throwing stones is… interesting. Nothing excuses cheating, but I can’t help but wonder what people would be saying if the LW had started with a sob story instead (“I married at 21 to escape my abusive parents” or the like).

    1. 17.1
      Selena

      I re-read her letter and then thought about what my response might be if she hadn’t written about the infidelity. Spending alot of time with someone before you move, telling them you love them and will find a way to be together sounds like a lot of effort to put in just to get laid before you leave town. Especially since she made no secret of her feelings a few months before. We may be bothered by her offer to have an affair with him, but he might not have been.

      I still think it’s possible he didn’t intend to have a relationship with her. I also think it’s possible he did care for her, but realized he didn’t care enough when it came time for him to go. He’s the only one who knows the answer. All she can do is move on.

    2. 17.2
      Clare

      I agree. To be perfectly honest, she sounds a lot like me when I was 21.

      She’s made a lot of mistakes, but, ya know… she was 21. That’s kind of what people in their early twenties do. They do stupid things, they make mistakes. I wouldn’t do any of that shit now, but when I was in my early twenties, I was in real danger of doing all the things she has done.

      I just hope she learns from the situation, apologises to those she’s hurt, works on herself and moves forward.

      1. 17.2.1
        Julia

        Yep, young people are stupid. This is why you don’t get married at 21.

  18. 18
    Dawn

    I just want to applaud your reply!! :-)

  19. 19
    marymary

    Oof, is there a problen in your past or present that makes you pursue these men as the answer?You’re choosing men who make things worse.
    I know a few women who married young and are still married over twenty years later, but their husbands are very loving. And no one cheated.
    On the plus side you’re still young enough to turn your life around.
    Your disappearing lover is irrelevant unless you got pregnant.

  20. 20
    JustWondering

    I think I actually wouldn’t call what Annie did cheating. What I get from her letter is that she separated from her husband because she wanted to divorce him. In my point of view this means that the relationship was over (even if not legally) ergo she didn’t cheat. And while her actions show that she is immature, naive etc., I do not understand the outrage.

    1. 20.1
      faded jade

      I must be reading it differently than you. It sounds to me like she is describing her first affair as being early in the marriage, and this current affair, with the “friend” who disappeared another different affair. And it sounds like she she separated from this man so she pursue a relationship with this guy.

      1. 20.1.1
        JustWondering

        Yes, apparently, we read this differently. Interesting, isn’t it. I see this as one incident and I admittedly do not care why she separated from her husband, I only care that she separated before she had sex with her “friend”, so I do not Interpret her actions as “cheating”. Mind you, I am not saying that her decisions were wise and should be considered a role-model. Far from it. But I see them more like the actions of a child who does not know how to be in a relationship or how and when to end it – which is not surprising as this is most probably her first serious relationship. I also think that it always takes two people to make a relationship work and two people to ruin it. And Annie and her husband seem to have treated their marriage like a plant … that will flourish if you push it into a dark corner and never ever water or otherwise take care of it.

        Ah, well, and I have to admit that I totally skipped over this semi-sentence with her affair early in her marriage. Sorry. I only concentrated on her current situation. … But no, I still feel no outrage.

        1. Locutus

          JustWondering,
          You gotta be kidding me right? Too hard on the girl???? She sounds like a totally self centered jerk who cares nothing about anyone else. These types of people in my opinion are capable of anything. I wouldn’t want someone like this as a friend, let alone a girlfriend. Cut her some slack??? She married at 21 and this is 4 years later, so that means she is 25. She STILL feels the SAME way as she is asking this question today. This is not an issue of age. If she can’t identify her mistakes by 25 that says exactly what type of person she is. She is so self absorbed it’s incredible. She’s careless, heartless, and basically doesn’t give a shit about anyone else, but herself. You defend her, but I bet if she were your friend she’d probably walk all over you too and think nothing of it. That is why I can not even be friends with people of this type. I know both women and men who are like this and they make me sick and I don’t want to have anything to do with them- not even as a friend. If someone owns up to their mistakes and realizes how awful they have been then I am always willing to forgive and help them out, but when someone shows no remorse then I think they can stay far away from me. Fate always seems to have a way of getting back to you. She’ll probably meet a guy she’s crazy about and he’ll probably end up cheating on her. People who treat others with no respect get zero respect from me.

        2. Joe

          Just because she didn’t bang the guy until after she separated from her husband doesn’t mean she didn’t cheat with him. It was emotional cheating long before they played hide the salami.

        3. Julia

          @Joe completely agree. Emotional cheating is still cheating. Though the point is moot because they are divorcing, the marriage is already over. Maybe with some age this woman will gain more perspective.

        4. JustWondering

          Hi Joe,
          I see. I did not consider this.

        5. ScottH

          It takes two people to ruin a relationship?!?  Really?  
          What is my spouse just decides that marriage isn’t for her and gets up and walks away?  Is that my fault?  What if my spouse turns into a drug abuser and refuses treatment?  Is that my fault?  What if my spouse turns into an unrepentant serial adulterer?  Is that my fault?  What if my spouse isn’t willing to deal with the issues that are the result of being married and thinks it’s just too hard to deal with?  Is that my fault?  
          Come on!!!  It takes two to make it work, PERIOD and if one isn’t willing to make it work, then that is not the fault of the other.

  21. 21
    Sunflower

    Live and learn! Hopefully….

  22. 22
    Locutus

    Emotional cheating is irrelevant here because, as Emerald pointed out, the OP had an affair early in the marriage, so she had sex with someone else almost right from the start- actual cheating. This latest guy is the second person she has cheated with and no she never stated they separated first at all. The OP is now 25, so please stop saying she is a young 21 year old that messed up!! She still feels the SAME way and will likely never have any remorse and will probably continue in her same ways from the way she speaks. Geez, in a previous post some were ready to hang a guy who cheated once, admitted he was wrong, and went through crazy punishment from his GF and they were not even married!!!!! This girl is 10 times worse because she was married and speaks of this stuff almost as if she’s proud of it!!!!! And now we have people saying to go easy on her?? Hypocrites!!!!!!!

    1. 22.1
      Clare

      Jeez Locutus, emotional much?

      You are actually standing there saying that someone can never change from who they were at 25? Even Evan is continuously saying that one is not the same person at 25 as you are at 30, not the same person at 30 as you are at 35, and so on. What about you? Are YOU the same person as you were at 25? No, please don’t answer that.

      You say she “will likely never have any remorse” and she “speaks of this stuff almost as if she’s proud of it” and of course she “will probably continue in her same ways”. Are you a mindreader now? An expert in human behaviour? Do you have information on this girl that we don’t? No?? Then this is a response based on your own projections and feelings.

      No one is saying this girl didn’t do anything wrong. Just like no one is saying the guy in the previous thread didn’t do anything wrong.

      Your emotional and harsh response does speak volumes about your own prejudices though, which have already been shining through from your other comments.

      1. 22.1.1
        Locutus

        Clare,
        You couldn’t be more inaccurate with your assessment of my previous post. My point is that people rarely change and if they do change they don’t change by much. When Evan says someone is not the same person at 30 versus 25, he is saying that at 30 their wants and desires change and they also have gained much more experience in life. He is not saying that people change the way they are. If a person is a very self centered person who could care less about hurting others that is pretty much the way they will be for their entire life. These poor qualities are a combination of a persons psychology and what values were instilled upon them at a young age. I bet you could probably ask the OP how she can do what she did to her husband and not feel any remorse about it and I bet she probably wouldn’t comprehend why she should feel any remorse. It’s just like women who sleep with a married man and think there is nothing wrong at all with it when in fact they are disrespecting the wife of the man and marriage itself. It’s classless, disrespectful, and dishonorable. I would never sleep with a known married woman because that is classless and dispicable in my book, but some guys would do it and think nothing of it. I don’t want to be associated with classless and disrespectful people. Do you understand what I am trying to say here?
        I am IN NO WAY speaking out of emotion. I am speaking realistically and out of experience. I make my assessments of this girl based on the fact that people rarely change and also the fact that she has not changed ONE BIT at 25 from the way she was at 21. That is a FACT not a projection. Yes, she is almost proud of her ways because she shows no signs at all of feeling sorry for what she did or has any apology to her husband, so I’m pretty damn accurate when I say she has no remorse. I didn’t say anything harsh- I spoke reality. You must like things sugar coated and probably call people harsh when you don’t like the reality they speak. That is your issue.
        So, could this girl change? Sure she could, but the odds are most certainly stacked highly against it. If I were a betting man I certainly wouldn’t bet any money on it!!!!

        1. Clare

          Again Locutus, there is a whole lot in your post which you actually have no way of knowing. You don’t know that she feels no remorse. All we have to go on is this letter.

          And she is still only 25. That is really a baby in the grand scheme of personal growth. Almost everyone I know has grown and matured and learnt at least some of the error of their ways since they were 25.

      2. 22.1.2
        Locutus

        Clare,
        You have to be absolutely kidding me??? Of course I’m going by her letter…and in her letter there is not one bit of remorse- actually the opposite, she asks selfish questions with no regard for her husbands feelings. She doesn’t even identify that she should even have any remorse or feel sorry about anything. I’ve seen these types of people million times (many were friends of friends both male and female) and let me tell you- they DON’T CHANGE!!!!!! She doesn’t give half a damn about anyone but herself!! At 25 years old I surely damn knew what it meant to be selfish and what it was to mistreat others. My God, my 15 year old niece could easily identify with that, nevermind sticking up for a 25 year old!!! I’m baffled how you can go out of your way to come up with excuses to defend this girl. She is a pretty horrible person!! I’m all about helping people out when they admit their mistakes and they truly feel sorry for what they have done, but this girl is light years away from doing that.

        1. Clare

          Yes Locutus. I apologise. I bow to your all-knowing wisdom.

      3. 22.1.3
        Locutus

        It’s not all-knowing wisdom, Clare. It’s written right in her letter……

        1. NK

          @Locutus – I’ve seen these types of people million times (many were friends of friends both male and female) and let me tell you- they DON’T CHANGE!!!!!!
          DISAGREE. The belief that people don’t change in terms of values, emotional make up, maturity etc.. is quite limiting in my opinion. From a personal perspective here is my story (I am basing my opinion mostly on my own experience, your reply portrays projection form your part and It would be mature of you to admit that projection is influencing you, just like I am admitting my story as projection on some level as well). 
          As someone who has studied ways to live an authentic life and take responsibility of my own actions and (try my best!) not to take on other peoples emotional baggage as a reflection of my self I have learnt to become objective about my own actions and have worked hard (5 years of therapy) to move into this mindset. If I can do it, anyone can. My story:
          I am from a poor broken family. I had to exist in a explosive relationship between a depressed/disordered mother who parentified me and a violent father who turned out to be a low level sex offender. I went into foster for two years and was my father was given full custody. The relationship with my mother suffered and my father wasn’t always emotionally available. At 16 I became sexually active and was deliberately looking for casual relationships, until I meet my ex. He was a decent, caring and more emotionally stable than me. We were together for 4.5 years. He was quite traditional and we most certainly headed for marriage. Throughout this relationship I felt not good enough, I felt like I couldn’t express my true identity, I had low self esteem and eventually I started to push him away, by distance and emotionally. I tired to break up but he convinced me to stay. Then towards the end of uni I cheated by making out only with a male mate, didn’t tell him and decided to stick with it. After a short while I started talking to a peer at uni and we had a common musical interest. I decided to go to a party with him and we slept together. I instantly knew I couldn’t go on and told my boyfriend the next day. I was a COWARD. I knew I had to end this relationship but I didn’t have the nerve as he was ‘perfect’. Why would I get rid of such a good guy? He was heartbroken and after a few weeks begged me to try again. I said no. I felt he deserved better than me. Despite still loving him. I started a doomed relationship with the guy I cheated with. He turned out to be emotionally abusive and even hit me twice. I went back and forth with him for 18 months. I turned real crazy when I was with him, I was a pain in the ass for my friends who begged me to leave him alone. I picked up other guys for attention to either move on with or just to sleep with. In fact I used a lot of good guys during this period and I also meet a few more jerks. I was not able to just grieve the loss of my previous ex AND  take the time to look at myself and feel the feelings and be UNCOMFORTABLE.  I took myself to therapy. I should of went to therapy way earlier, but I digress. the relationship with my parents was terrible at this point, I almost homeless, without support and had next to no finances, despite working, I wasn’t earning enough to hold my own. I was a mess. I couldn’t focus on my self or look after myself. 
          It took about a year to get myself out of the struggle and found a well paid, stable job (this was 2008 the recession) where confidence in myself wasn’t high, neither was the economy. I said good bye to the abusive BF and continued therapy and worked. I was promisicous and slept around looking for comfort in either a promising relationship or sex. I felt empty, but I was growing and thing did start to get better emotionally. I became more comfortable with myself and I faced some huge demons with my parents. My dating experiences varied between flings, casual hook ups, fun, character building and were sometimes painful. I had two abortions in one year (one using contraception, one without). I constantly wrote personal development plans, I read online sources of info and purchased books. I visited and purchased baggage reclaim, Evan Marc Katzs book, ‘They F*ck you up’ amongst others. I explored meditation, exercise, volunteering, I poured myself into my career. I struggled with my guilt about cheating on my ex, my own emotional unavailability, what I needed, my boundaries (or lack of!), my promiscuity and my selfishness. I went over these values and flaws over and over. I fell into a deep dark depression at one point. I suffered a couple of career lows. I tried to kill myself. 
          And now in 2013. At the age of 28 I have a pretty good idea of who I am and MOST IMPORTANTLY who I want to be. I am sure that I will continue to change, but one thing that wont change is my commitment to looking at myself and working on myself. 
          I know I was a lost girl who couldn’t bare to face her true feelings and was fiercely independent. I know I will never cheat on my partner. I know when to recognise issues before they become detrimental. I have learnt how to communicate my needs and how to meet my spouses. I am no by means perfect of course. But I have most DEFINITELY changed. I had a few good tough love chats throughout these last 5 years and they really hit home. I am now in a 6 month LTR, still earlyish but healthy and loving. I am moving towards other developments and I know what I need and want. 
          So Annie/OP. Take a long hard look at yourself. By the sounds of it you are emotionally unavailable. You probably wouldn’t married a EAM if you were not. Go to therapy, find a hobby that is all about you for personal space and feel those feelings. All of them. The guilt, the shame (I hate shame but I digress it is likely you’ll feel that), the loneliness, the uncomfortableness that you cant put your finger on – or whatever it may be….because thats part of growing up you’ll move on and become a better person if you commit to your own development.
          Don’t get stuck in thinking you cant change. Because you can.  

  23. 23
    Erika

    Can’t believe what I just read, xD
    You’ve gotta be fucking kidding us, Annie.

  24. 24
    Tim

    Women say they cheat because they need a shoulder to cry upon…not for sex.

    Why is it that, more often than not, the shoulder in question belongs to a man much more physically attractive than the husband?

    1. 24.1
      Julia

      Well Tim, I’ve never been married nor have I cheated so I can’t really answer your question. It seems like you have some extreme biases not really based on anything though. We have no idea what the people look like in this letter so you are just making assumptions.

  25. 25
    JoeK

    To those questioning/looking for clarity on her history – she has now cheated TWICE:

    “I had an affair early in our marriage due to my husband being emotionally unavailable and I felt I needed to fill the void he had left. Recently, we have been having more problems than usual as I find myself searching for my own identity…”

    She had an affair early in the relationship. And now she’s talking about “today” when she says “recently we’ve been having more problems…”.

    She then goes on to describe meeting with another man, *while still married*:
    “…I began to realize that my feelings were beginning to go down another path and upon telling him this, he very pointedly said that he would not have an affair with me, because he respects my marriage and my husband. So I thought, okay, not a big deal.”

    While still married, she sought out this other man, and propositioned him – why else would he say “he would not have an affair with me”.

    Ok, she separated before they “technically” did the did, but she proffered it before then. Guilty as charged.

    Hope they finalize the divorce quick – she’s no catch, which is what her affair-mate realized: if she’s willing to cheat WITH you, she’ll be willing to cheat ON you.

    As others have said – her questions are pointless. She needs to get divorced and work on herself.

    (Dangit Evan, what happened to the formatting options? I can no longer use italics/bold etc. Or is it just me?)

  26. 26
    Mickey

    And, to no one’s surprise, she’ll be wondering why she can’t find a decent guy.

  27. 27
    IPIA

    in this case. too early to trust a man. you really don’t know who the man is. and because you adore someone else beside your husband, you separated from your husband. i think for marriage we need a mature think and try to give a question for your self.. is marriage good for you or only for status….

  28. 28
    Amy Zimmerman

    WOOHOO!!! Tell it like it is!  Such a relief and a breath of fresh air.  Thank you Evan!  Sweet Jesus.

  29. 29
    ScottH

    The answer for Annie might be to either get divorced or get counseling but if there are kids involved, or other circumstances, those options might not be viable nor the only options.  What if divorce isn’t an option (for many reasons) and the spouse isn’t willing to work on the issues?  Then what?  This situation is real for many many people (and I was one of them) and our needs don’t just go away because our spouse isn’t interested.  Marriage and relationships (and people) are far too complicated to paint with a simple brush.

  30. 30
    India

    If you have been unhappy for so long, just get divorced. Stop wasting your time.

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