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.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

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


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.