Patricia Redlich

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Can't Forget Him

I've just ended a 5-year affair with a married man. I love him dearly, but it's time for me to move on. I'm 48 and single.

At first he was the perfect answer for me, since I had just come out of an abusive relationship. I had found a man I could trust, someone who was at first a friend, and then a lot more. For at least three years I loved the idea of having someone part-time, anticipating every visit with pleasure, and vowing it would last forever. I was happy with it.

Then I found myself changing, wanting more, which I knew would never be possible. Not only would he never leave his wife - he had told me that - but I knew I wouldn't want it anyway. For the past 18 months I've been meeting single men. I promised myself that if any of these guys came close to being like my married guy, I'd go for him. But that didn't happen - until very recently, when I met someone.
So to-day I ended the affair. Or at least I attempted to. My lover completely understands where I'm coming from, although I didn't tell him I'd actually met someone else. I just said that it's time for me to move on, get a life, and see a brighter future. But right now I feel like crap. I thought I would be happy to be free, to move on, to fall in love with someone else. But I can't make it through even one hour without feeling so heavy in my heart and so full of regrets.

I have no idea what to do now. I don't want my new man to see how unhappy I am. I have no explanation I can give him for such sadness. I'm trying so hard not to think about what I had to do, or dwell on how I've broken my married man's heart. We had become best friends as well as lovers. And despite the distance between us, we managed to at least phone each other every day. I never used to want the day to come when I wouldn't know him. And then, I wanted the day to come so that I could free my heart for someone who would truly love me and be there for me all the time.

I'm more than ready for a long-term relationship. So why does it hurt so much to let go? I thought it would be different. I thought that when I found what I was looking for I'd be up there in 7th heaven. How can I just let go?

You can't. That's what you've discovered. When it comes to emotions, things are not so clear-cut. The interesting question is why you thought your feelings were something you could simply switch off.

Maybe that emotional blindness is connected to the other theme of your letter - namely the fact that you're not being truthful with either of your men. You haven't told either of them of the other's existence. That leaves you seriously lost in emotional no-man's land.

How can you say that you and your married lover are best friends, and that he completely understands where you're coming from, when he has absolutely no idea what is actually going on in your head? I mean, did you even tell him that you were seeing other men over the past 18 months with a view to moving on?

And how can you think you've met the man of your dreams, when he knows nothing about you? You're having an affair with someone, you continue that affair during the start-up of this new relationship, you're heartbroken at having to say goodbye to your lover, and your new man knows nothing of this? Where is the emotional intimacy which is so essential to any real togetherness? I'm not talking morals here - although they are, of course, a consideration. I'm talking about you, about the loneliness in your head and heart, about the huge gap between your behaviour and your feelings.

What has happened to you? Do you adore a man you can't have? Is your heart secretly beating with a terrible rage because he insists on an affair, can't or won't leave his wife? Does it kill you that he just says he understands, when you tell him you're leaving? Because that's what he's done. He doesn't even know you've met someone, yet he's immediately accepting your departure, without any real questions.
He doesn't love you dear girl. He doesn't even know you. The terms of your affair dictated that you knew your place. And you've played your role so well that you lost sight of your real emotions. You thought you could calculate it all out, date others, meet the man of your dreams, and walk away, unscathed - much like your married lover is effectively doing.

Grieve for the man you loved, the man who was harsh and unyielding and unloving in the deal he made with you. Drop the romantic notions and see what was really there. And then let it go. As for the new man in your life, work out a way of getting some time and space to do your emotional homework. And then try and judge how safe it feels to let him in, at some level. Of course you're entitled to your secrets. But don't leave yourself unnecessarily lonely.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design