"I fell in love with a man online... behind my husband's back." — Ask Charles

Dear Charles:

I have been married for a many years. We've been through a lot and are generally not very happy together... but we stayed for the kids. Recently, I met someone on Facebook, and we became friends. I told him about my situation, and we had a very good connection—and fell in love after a few months. We thought about meeting before taking any decision or changing my situation (meaning: divorce), but we live in different countries and it seemed complicated. I told him that I finally found in him the man of my dreams and I need him to help me go through this. He was ready to wait for me. But suddenly, he disappeared for a few days and told me then that he needed a time to think—that we can not do this. He doesn't want to be "that guy". He said that he has feelings for me but he is going to do the right thing—and now he's gone! He unfriended me and stopped answering my messages. I don't know what to do. I understand that he is feeling a little bit guilty, but I don't want to give up on something great we just found... and I really want to be with him. Can you tell me what to do? Do you think it is really over before it began or do we have a chance to make it?  —D



Dear D:

Firstly... you are still married. If you are unhappy in your marriage, my strong advice is to solve things with your husband. I don't mean that you *must* stay married... I mean that you can't start a new chapter of your life until you close the last one. Starting a new relationship without first ending your marriage is a path to anger, drama, resentment, chaos, and major life complications.

Secondly... I need to be straight with you about your new guy. Meeting people online and then not quickly bringing the relationship in the real world is very dangerous for your head and your heart. When you meet someone in a chat environment, there's no real "Get-To-Know-You" process. In the real world, both parties communicate via verbal and non-verbal cues. You spend time with that person and can see how you might fit together in life and love. But when you meet someone the way you did—and you don't get time with them in person—initial impressions, introductions, and the spoken/unspoken “Please allow me to introduce myself” process is virtually non-existent.

Even worst is that your entire investment with this new guy is mental/emotional. The unfortunate truth is that you don't really know him... you have only met his online persona, not the real person. Getting to know someone takes time... and takes in-person investment. When you only have interactions online, it can lend itself to a false positive impression of “connection”, and lead you to believe that you really know them… when, in fact, they don’t know them at all. In truth, you don't know what his life is like on his side of things. For all you know he is married with kids... just chatting randomly with people because he's not getting HIS emotional needs met. There's too many variables or possibilities.

Most importantly, you can't leave a marriage for someone else; you have to leave for you—especially after many years in a marriage. You don't have enough distance from your old relationship to effectively evaluate anything new. 

My advice: Disconnect from the emotional affair you've been having and discover what you want to do about your marriage... FIRST. From there, you can make good choices for life and love, and do it while keeping your integrity intact.

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