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Love Letters

Seven-year affair gives her ‘50 Shades’ of excitement

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Q. I’m a 41-year-old woman, married, and I’ve been having an affair for the past seven years. I had been traveling a lot for work, so it was easy the first six years to jet off to his city and meet up. Going into this affair, I knew that he was also married, had a girlfriend (besides me), and had pursued many flings. Last fall I was laid off from my old position, and in my current position, I don’t travel as much. Most of our relationship has been through text and sexting, except for the four times during the year that we’ve been able to see each other, and only half of that time did we have sex.

Most of the time he makes me do “challenges” to prove I want to be with him; some make me feel degraded. I feel that I need to have his constant approval. I buy him things and shower him with gifts all the time.

My close friends who know of this affair claim he is a narcissist and just using me to make himself feel good. But I just can’t quit him. I love my husband and we have a wonderful marriage. But there is this “50 Shades” of excitement thing that this other man brings to my life. My friends say I should just walk away now, while he’s calm and less interested. How can I leave something so exciting that’s gone on for so long?

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A. “How can I leave something so exciting that’s gone on for so long?”

1. Acknowledge that this affair is no longer simple or rewarding. 2. Admit that it’s making you miserable enough to confide in friends (and this advice column). 3. After you come to terms with those points, make the decision to walk away.

You will feel a loss — a void where there had been texting and strategizing with this man — but there are many other ways to fill that time. One is to figure out whether you can bring some of this excitement to your marriage. You mention tests and “50 Shades.” Can you get those shades from your husband if you ask for it?

I am confident that the Love Letters comments section will deal with the fact that you’ve been cheating for seven years. Commenters might also address whether you should tell your husband what’s been going on (something tells me you have no intention of sharing that information). My big request is that you think about what can make you happier at home. I don’t get the sense that you’ve talked to your husband about what you like. He might be very capable of understanding what you need.

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Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

You have got to be kidding. You don’t have a wonderful marriage, and this affair is not providing you with what you want/need either. “Quit” both and figure out why you [did this to] your husband while allowing yourself to be [taken advantage of] by some other guy.SUNALSORISES

Your core problem is that you need your husband in place to make the affair exciting. If your husband is taken out of the equation (by telling him what you are doing and him divorcing you) then the affair with Mr. Multipartners loses all its luster, and you are just a booty call. You need to figure out why you need the cheating in your life to make you feel “alive.” HEYITHINK

Meredith, I think you left out a big issue. This isn’t simply about deciding how to be happy in a marriage. No one chooses to be deceptive for seven years just from not being happy. Something is fundamentally wrong with this letter writer, that she seems to have no conscience about being deceptive to someone for so long. Her letter is about how to hold on to her boyfriend with no thought about the harm she has caused/is causing by keeping [her husband] in limbo for seven years given that he has no idea that her attention and energy has been to someone else.BKLYNMOM

You need excitement? May I suggest mountaineering, skydiving, rock climbing, white water rafting, and bungee jumping? Buying a kitten? QUADROPENTA

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“I love my husband and we have a wonderful marriage.” No, you don’t, and no, you don’t. PCMD101

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.