Emotional affair puts relationship in jeopardy


My boyfriend of four years and I moved in together and got engaged. Things were going very well initially — everything I had hoped. However, I had been a little suspicious of his coworker, “Missy.” I confronted him and he confessed they had feelings for each other but nothing happened. I believe nothing physical happened but it’s clear from texts he showed me that he emotionally cheated.

Missy has moved to another state and he has agreed not to reach out to her again. But I am deeply hurt that he “fell” for someone else while we were beginning our life together. He proposed to me during this time and I feel deeply betrayed. He says I am overreacting and that crushes like his happen in long-term relationships. Am I overreacting?

Dear Fiancée: I’m far more bothered by the idea of being told, “You’re overreacting,” than by an extra-relationship crush.

Both do matter, though, of course, and each unto itself could be grounds for ending the relationship, depending on what you find when you start to dig a bit more.

That digging, painful as it will be, has to be your first step. You don’t want to be with someone who already needs more emotionally than he gets from you, and he doesn’t want to cement that deficit into a marriage, either — even if his current choices suggest otherwise.

You also really don’t want someone who can’t tell the difference between disagreeing with you and dismissing your opinion. You’re hurt, angry, and mentally replaying his proposal as a fraud: He can acknowledge and empathize with those very real feelings while still holding to his belief that crushes happen.

The question is, will he? Or when the next crush comes along, will he text his way across the line again, while professing that “nothing happened”?

Please talk again, starting with the “overreacting” issue, because everything else is moot if you don’t respect each other’s feelings. Find out now whether you and he can communicate to get closer and solve problems, versus communicate just to get your own points across.

For “everything I had hoped” to bring you lasting fulfillment, it has to translate into the two of you looking out for each other. Now’s a painful time to find out whether it can, but better than postponing it till it hurts even more. Good luck.

Re: Crushes: Yes, they do happen. Actively committing to you — proposing — WHILE he was acting on his crush rather than walking away from the temptation of it, however, does not. That’s a choice. No, you are not overreacting.

Dear Anonymous: Walking away from it or reckoning honestly with it, yes.

Plus, I almost forgot to mention: What does the other woman’s out-of-state move solve? Texts don’t travel? New women won’t be tempting?

Re: Crushes: I’m close with several friends and tell them things I don’t tell my boyfriend, mostly stuff I don’t think he’d be interested in. When would this become emotional cheating? — Emotional Cheater?

Dear Emotional: When you’re having conversations you can’t tell him you’re having, when he’d want to be the one you’re talking to, when you get a thrill out of talking with this other person — e.g., being excited to check your messages.

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