Can I be happy again after dumping my married lover
04:47 GMT, 11 March 2012
I was in a relationship with a married man for more than a year.
He’s 45, I’m 28. I never felt like the ‘other woman’, as he spent all his free time with me.
We went on holidays together and it was like a normal relationship, not a clandestine one.
Initially, I didn’t know he was married, and by the time I found out it was too late because I was in love.
I’ve always been a cynical person, not a believer in ‘we can’t choose whom we fall in love with’.
To cut a long story short, his wife found out – and although he never cut me out, he spent less time with me thereafter
Being involved with a married man was something I always frowned upon. Perhaps this was my penance for being so judgmental.
Yet he was the love of my life. I loved him more than anyone previously.
He constantly assured me he would never leave me, and said that if his wife found out, he’d tell her she would have to accept our relationship or leave.
I never wanted him to leave her. I didn’t want to break up their family.
To cut a long story short, she found out — and although he never cut me out, he spent less time with me thereafter.
He didn’t keep his promise of telling her he couldn’t live without me.
He kept saying he loved me, but that I’d have to be patient for a few years, until the situation calmed down.
The final deal-breaker was when he said he and his wife were working on improving their marriage and might resume sexual relations (which he had always maintained were non-existent while he was seeing me).
I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost all faith. Even though he begged and pleaded to be a part of my life, I left him.
It’s been two months since I last saw him. He still contacts me, but I ignore his pleas.
I can’t wait for the day when I wake up and don’t think about him.
I’m in a new relationship with a wonderful man my own age, but I can’t stop thinking about my married ex.
I know time heals all wounds, but it kills me to think that he and his wife may now be happy while I am broken-hearted and hollow.
I pray that I will love again, the way I loved him and was loved by him. Bel, when does it get easier When will the pain go away
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There are two letters on my desk — yours and one from Jon. I couldn’t choose which to print, but yours was shorter. Still, let me introduce you to Jon.
He’s a middle-aged, married man who had a two-year ‘intense affair’ with a Scandinavian woman 12 years his junior. He would visit her every six weeks, falling deeply in love.
Understandably, she wanted to know where things were going, he says, ‘but in classic, married man style, I was delaying things while really believing I intended to do something about it’.
Now the lady has finally called time on the relationship and Jon is utterly miserable: ‘It feels like a bereavement, only worse, because the loved departed is still walking the earth.’
So here we have different stories representing two sides of the same coin. An extra-marital affair which ends in sorrow.
When I murmur this is a tale as old as human time, I am not trying to diminish its colossal importance for those involved, who are suffering as if for the very first time.
I find Jon’s long letter strangely touching, even though he has deceived the wife for whom he still feels ‘affection’. He writes: ‘Many would say I deserve this, but I am only human and feel desperately let down and heartbroken’.
That’s how you feel too, isn’t it, Candice
Since Jon’s right and there will be plenty of people to tell you both that you are deceivers who deserve unhappiness, I won’t add judgment to the chorus of condemnation.
Speaking as a sinner (and who isn’t, in different ways) I know people are indeed ‘only human’ and make mistakes, causing unhappiness to themselves and to others. Who am I to say their passionate loves — unwise and perhaps wrong — were not real
But I also know the time does come when they manage to pick their way through the wreck caused by their mistakes, and gradually feel life return to their numbed hearts.
Read the quotation at the top of this page: it gives hope, which is as true for bereavement as lost love.
At this point, how can these two stories end The affairs are over. So I hope your ex-lover, Candice, does indeed mend his marriage, and that Jon, too, realises it’s time to rebuild his relationship with his wife.
Affairs can be a symptom of something very wrong — but they can also be the (difficult) means to establish a new dynamic within a marital situation.
Since I suspect neither marriage is dead, I hope they can come to life again, because the alternative is very stressful and lonely, not to mention painful for the offspring (of all ages) of the unions.
You, Candice, did the right thing to break off the love affair, and I applaud you for your strength.
It’s good that you’ve now met someone your own age, and all you can do is remind yourself again and again that the day will certainly come (even soon) when you do not think about your married lover even once.
I hope you’ll turn with relief and joy to the new man who comes with no strings attached, and reassure yourself that you deserve an honest relationship, rather than one which hurts another woman.
Jon, meanwhile, must tell himself that the woman he loved has shown how much she deserved that love by being as strong as you, Candice — turning her back on a clandestine love affair that looked like it was going nowhere.
Did you read last week’s ‘And Finally’ It was from a young man ditched by the woman he thought was the love of his life, who still feels love for her but knows that he has no choice but to accept what happened and get on with the rest of his life.
He wrote: ‘To all those people who feel total despair about the break-up of a relationship, I say: “It will get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel” — and mine has been long and deep.’
Think of that light, Candice and Jon, and walk towards it.
MY RICH, BOASTFUL FRIEND MAKES ME SEETHE
I feel very bad about myself at the moment.
My husband and I both work very hard. I’m a nurse caring for the elderly, working nights and weekends.
Katy, who works very hard as a nurse, is frustrated at her rich friend's attitude to money
My husband drives for a small company and is not well paid.
My friend works in insurance and her husband is taking early retirement from his banking job.
My problem is I’m seething with anger at her unthinking attitude.
She goes on about her husband finishing work and what a difference the fall in income will make.
But my jaw dropped when she told me what his pension from the bank will be — not far short of what my husband and I make between us!
I’m so angry about this (I feel the banks are the reason things are so bad now) and wonder why they are still paying out massive amounts to staff.
When I said it seemed a decent amount, she got defensive and pointed out he’s done a lot of banking exams.
I have a Master’s degree, so by that logic ought to be equally well off.
My friend is quite well paid, gets perks, works flexi-time and admits her job is easy.
She does not seem to see any unfairness in the situation, and I hate feeling envy like this.
I can’t explain my feelings to her, as she will think I’m jealous — which I probably am.
So do you think it would be better for me to pull out of the friendship
Surely you have learned by now that life can never be fair
Your work must have shown how one person copes with old age so much better than another; how a man who has played sports will be afflicted with arthritis while a couch potato will remain sprightly, and so on.
Similarly, there is no ‘logic’ to what makes this person earn a high salary while that one (equally deserving, on paper at least) ends up being paid far less. Personality is just one of the illogical imponderables to be thrown into the mix.
I detest the virulent, unthinking resentment of ‘the rich’, which is the hallmark of this society.
We know a delightful man who worked very hard and became one of the richest people in Britain, but my own current pressing anxiety about interest rates doesn’t make me envy him or avoid his company.
Anyway, my life is far less stressful than his. Just as your work might actually be far more rewarding than your friend’s.
So what’s to be done
You are making yourself very unhappy — no one else. And for nothing.
It sounds as if your friend trusts you, otherwise she wouldn’t have confided what her husband’s pension will be.
I detest the virulent, unthinking resentment of 'the rich', which is the hallmark of this society
She’d be wiser not to prattle about her standard of living, but people chat to their chums without always thinking of the effect of their words.
Of course, you could drop her — but you might find you end up feeling even worse about yourself, and transferring your anger to your husband, wishing he were more successful.
Or you could realise that getting rid of a friend is subtracting from your life, when what you need to do is add some generosity.
If I were you, I’d write a list of everything you have to be thankful for, stare at it, then phone her to suggest you get together.
AND FINALLY: WHY DO WE DESPISE THE ELDERLY
To my surprise, I’m still receiving comments on the letter from ‘Eva’ (February 4) who has no one to leave her precious possessions to, especially her photograph albums.
I had a lovely email from that terrific stage and TV actress Nichola McAuliffe, who writes: ‘I want to tell you that my husband Don and I went to an auction in Edinburgh. An old lady had died and all her belongings were being sold.
‘Most of them were wedding presents from the 1930s — but her fianc had died before the wedding.
‘We bought her wind-up gramophone, her cherished picnic set and a photograph of her in her youth. We have no idea who she is, but we treasure her and her lovely things. Her photo is in pride of place in our dining room.
‘As Tennessee Williams wrote in A Streetcar Named Desire: “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.” ’
Many readers wrote of the importance of usefully giving to charity shops, and thereby doing good, but there’s also a widespread sadness that the grandchildren are not interested in Gran’s things. In other words, one old man’s trunk of memories is a younger man’s trunk of junk.
And not unrelated to the loneliness at the heart of Eva’s original letter is the other subject which goes on provoking your responses: that of grandparents feeling alienated from family life.
The worst case is when they are not allowed to see beloved grandchildren. More common and everyday is just a feeling of being marginalised, and no longer needed.
I find myself wondering if there’s a connection between these two subjects in our attitude to old age in this society.
The worst case is the outrage of how appallingly the elderly are treated in hospitals and nursing homes. More common and everyday is a spreading ageism — for example, in a recent suggestion from some officious whipper-snapper that older people should downsize their homes.
I detect a truly worrying distaste for age. One day, those who can show neither kindness nor respect will reap what they sow.
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week. Write to Bel Mooney, Irish Daily Mail, Embassy House, Herbert Park Lane, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, or email [email protected] A pseudonym will be used if you wish. Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.