Q. I was seeing a man for three years, and over the course of our relationship we both said we loved each other and talked about a future. We were very affectionate, warm, and kind to one another. He is in his 50s and has four children (three are grown, one is a teenager).
For the past two summers, he’s traveled across the country to work a summer gig and spend time with his family out there. He was never good at communicating when he was out there — something we talked about and he admitted to. We talked about me joining him out there last summer, but I delayed my plans because of a work emergency. He said he understood.
When he returned at the end of August, he was uncharacteristically distant. I asked him what he was feeling, and he said he was trying to figure out his finances. But I found texts between him and another woman that were emotional and intimate, him telling her he loved and cared about her. I confronted him and asked if he was cheating, and he denied it. (I never said I found the text messages. Perhaps that was a mistake?)
I was angry and upset. I told him I loved him but that I drew the line at cheating, and walked out. He called a few days later to say he was feeling like he had high hopes for our relationship, but we were not reaching the deeper level he was hoping for.
On the one hand, I feel betrayed and lied to, and on the other hand I feel guilty for not being more compassionate and hearing him out. Perhaps he might have responded differently if I had told him what I saw, and said that I wanted us to figure things out. After three years together, and given the amount of affection and warmth that was between us, I feel that what we had was worth working on. His breaking up with me feels like a rash decision, and the result of hurt feelings and some bruised egos.
I don’t think his emotional infidelity is acceptable, but I do think people make mistakes. He has contacted me twice over text message to say he thought I was doing a good job with some of the projects I was working on (he follows me on social media so he can see what I am up to), but I haven’t known how to respond. Should I reach out to him for another conversation, or simply move on?
A. If you need more information, it’s OK to reach out. You can tell him that you snooped, and were disappointed that he didn’t tell you about this other woman. You can explain that you had hoped to try to make things better.
But please prepare yourself for the possibility that the conversation might not get you anywhere new. Maybe he was having doubts about the relationship before he engaged with this new friend. Maybe his decision to break up was a long time coming — for him. The point is, you can’t assume that if he gets over this woman everything will be fine.
At this point, you should be spending your energy on making this relationship better or figuring out how to move on. If you don’t know which category you’re in at this point, ask questions and get some final answers.
You seem to be thinking up ways to fix this relationship, but that’s only useful if he’s involved in the process. Find out if he wants to be.
He was distant, then had an emotional affair, lied about it, broke up with you, and you are trying to rationalize all that and give him a pass. Moreover, you do not trust him, feel disregarded, and snooped on him (while lying by omission). What are you hoping to rebuild at this point?
This entire letter is you trying to convince yourself that this can work. It doesn’t work for me — and it’s not working for you. You can’t base your future on the fact that it was warm and loving at one point.
I think by accusing him of cheating and walking out on him you sort of forced his hand.
“Is It Really Over?” I thought this referred to Christmas and I thought, thank God yes.