Q. I have a friend we’ll call Bill. We don’t live in the same state, and we’re not all that close, but he always struck me as a decent guy. I learned that he’s getting married, and I was surprised, as he and “Sally” haven’t been together for even a year. But as time passes and the wedding gets closer, I’m worried about several things. Neither has a permanent job, they’ve been living at her family’s house with a lot of other people, and this economy stinks, but I don’t feel right saying, “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t get married yet.” Recently, though, a mutual friend, “Abigail,” confessed to me that she and Bill had an online emotional affair.
Abigail also lives in another state, and though the two have never actually met, the exchanges have been intense and explicit. It seems Bill has cooled off with his wedding coming up, and Abigail is going more and more off the rails. As the date gets closer, Abigail has told me she cries herself to sleep, and she has started to make cryptic comments about “not being available” after a particular date this year, which would be after the wedding. I keep trying to talk her out of confronting him in person, but it seems every day she’s losing it more and more, despite the fact that she’s seeing a counselor.
Should I confront Bill about what he’s doing to Abigail? Am I obligated to get word to Sally about the affair? (I keep telling Abigail not to do that, but she does have damning proof.) Most of all, I’m terrified Abigail will do something to harm herself. She feels completely alone while the happy couple goes on with their lives.
A. I know it is tempting to try to salvage the situation, but you really have no place in this mess, which truly sounds like it’s a cross between Pandora’s box and a box of snakes. Do not be the messenger. It is their business if they want to live in a basement with no jobs, and the “emotional affair” part clearly does not involve you. I suspect Abigail is not wrapped real tight, but if the suicide threats continue, I would recommend you call a mental health facility or a suicide hotline for guidance.
Q. May I expand on an answer you previously gave? There are two likely explanations for a husband spending every night in his office until 4 or 5 a.m.: He is up looking at porn as up to 20 percent of American men are now doing, or he is on Internet sex or sex chat sites. In either case, these are signs he is a sex addict.
Any woman who is living with this situation should install Web-tracking software on his computer to determine whether this is what is going on. If that is the case, she should try to get him to attend meetings of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. More information can be found at www.slaafws.org. And marital counseling with someone who understands sex addiction may also help. SLAA recovery has saved my life. It could save her marriage.
A. Thank you for the cyber-gumshoe suggestion, as well as the link to the organization. It is wonderful that you were able to climb out of the deep well of dysfunction. Not everyone is willing to go anywhere for help, however, because they don’t view it as a problem. And therein lies the rub.