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confused--trapped in an EA/A?

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splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 09:19 AM

I'm a WW. My BH has zero idea that I've had an EA/A for several years.

I love both men, just differently. I have no interest in leaving my M, & were I to, I would not want an actual relationship with the man in my EA/A; it would be a disaster, and we are not compatible like that. Even knowing that, I can't seem to break out of the A. My A has been rocky for years, & yet, I keep allowing myself to fix the relationship. When it's gone, I's a tremendous grief that I can't overcome. It's almost as if I need it. Not like a drug...the A started as an EA for a reason. He fills a gap in me that my BH can't.

Has anyone else struggled to end an EA/A? How'd you get out?

Aubrie posted 3/31/2014 09:47 AM

He fills a gap in me that my BH can't.
Nope. He fills a gap that YOU can't fill within yourself. So you self-medicate by distracting yourself with someone else.

You have the best of both worlds. Stability and safety at home, and a wild fantasy on the side. Best way to break that fantasy bubble would be to confess. And yes, I'm opening a whole can of worms and the great "confess/not confess debate" is going to start. But hear me out.

I had several As. Husband didn't have a clue about the last one. I could have carried on with it indefinately. My AP worked in IT. He showed me every way to cover my tracks to hide my A. My husband can barely turn a computer on. He never would have caught me. My AP and I were beginning the planning to take the EA to PA. But I couldn't cross that threshold. Sounds crazy, but knowing that EA was going PA "woke me up".

I confessed. Why? My husband deserved to know what he was married to. He deserved to know I broke my vows to him. He deserved to have all the information so he could make desicions about his life. Scary? Absolutely. But it was the first step in me fixing myself and starting to live an authentic life.

You aren't actually trapped. I know the feeling you're talking about. You want to have your cake and eat it too. The real feeling is actually selfishness. Not trapped.

Let me ask you this. Do you like you? Are you happy with how things have and are turning out for you?

Deeply Scared posted 3/31/2014 09:48 AM


In order to break off the affair you just have to do it. It's like quitting any bad habit.

All the energy and effort you're putting into your affair would be much better served if you focused all of that time and energy on your husband. Bring the excitement back into your marriage by being emotionally invested in it.

We will help you

splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 10:28 AM

I've thought about whether the A is filling a gap in me & not the relationship, and I don't think it is. I'm content in my M; it's not perfect by any stretch, but it works. I'd also be fine with living alone. I don't need the EA/A to validate me or anything along those lines. And were it not for the kids, I suspect my BH & I might split, mainly because I think we'd be happier with other partners that are more compatible overall.

See, here's the thing. BH & I married when we were young. When we grew as people, we grew apart in some ways. Our worldviews are very incompatible, but those are things we came to know after the M began; were we to meet now, it'd be highly unlikely that we'd move past the friend phase. I can't shift his thoughts on everything from politics to religion, and he can't shift mine. But that doesn't make me love him less; it just prevents me from connecting on those levels anymore. I don't really have a workaround. We still talk about things, I still confide in my BH, I do put energy in making BH feel important/valued/listened to.

My A started as an EA, but even the EA was an accident. We were friends. Truly. That's it. If my A were to disappear forever, I wouldn't seek out a new A; I didn't even seek out this one. And yes, I know how pathetic "it just happened" sounds, but it did. We don't even live in the same state. We're not each other's type physically. We were friends when we were young, and we fell back into friendship when he moved stateside again. Having the nature of our relationship change was unexpected for both of us.

I've already taken steps to limit/eliminate the physical contact aspect of the A. That's easy, as that was never the focus of our relationship. But the rest of it is what's so unbelievably difficult to walk away from. Ideally, I want to find a way to get this back to "friend" status, and I think that's why I struggle with leaving the A. If he were female, it'd be simple, as there would have been no issue with the love/sex part getting in the way, and no one would begrudge me a female friend that I had an intellectual connection with. But he's not female, and we did cross that line. I just want the reset button.

splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 10:37 AM

Just to clarify--My A was supposed to be a "safe" friend. The prospect of us being anything other than friends was so absurd to both of us that neither of us had an issue with a male-female friendship like ours. There's no wild anything where we're concerned. We're in no way each other's fantasy anything, and I would run like hell rather than get in a long-term relationship with him were I to leave the M. Friendship is an entirely different matter...that's what I miss, that's what I keep trying to repair.

splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 10:49 AM

And another clarification--

I've tried to end the friend aspects of the A, too. I spend the last 3 months having very little contact with him. I relapsed the other day though & had a long conversation with him, which reminded me of all the things I do miss about our friendship. We actually managed to have the conversation from beginning to end with no animosity, no hurt. That was a nice shift, as the EA/A complications took a huge toll on our friendship.

But that one conversation was all it took for me to let my guard down again. I can tell I'll continue talking; I want our friendship in my world in a healthy way. That's the root of why I struggle with nixing it. It is kinda like having my cake & eating it, I suppose, only it's closer to using two people to meet the needs that should be met by one spouse.

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/31/2014 11:05 AM

splitintwo - I've thought about whether the A is filling a gap in me & not the relationship, and I don't think it is ... I'm content in my M; it's not perfect by any stretch, but it works ... Friendship is an entirely different matter...that's what I miss, that's what I keep trying to repair.

And in the inherent difference between these two statements, this is where the gap / hole / brokenness lies. If you weren't forced into the affair by gunpoint, the reason lies within you. Ultimately, you had to make a decision to step out on your marriage. The "why" will give you a place to start your journey of self-discovery.

splitintwo - I spend the last 3 months having very little contact with him. I relapsed the other day though ... I can tell I'll continue talking..

If you really want to stop, the simplest 2 step process is to confess to your H (its amazing how disclosure can make you rethink things) and going NC. NC doesn't refer to physical contact, it means NO CONTACT at all. No emails, no chat, no phone calls. Its amazing how this can lead to a fresh new way of looking at the affair once the fog has lifted.

splitintwo - I want our friendship in my world in a healthy way.

You can't have this. Its called cake eating. The ability to have the best of both worlds usually comes to a halt once you confess and let your H know that you are cheating on him. Your friendship right now is based on lies and deceit. If you really value your AP, let him have a friend who is honest and full of integrity and honour. Right now, the best he can say is that his online GF is a lying cheat. Sounds harsh but its a more honest and blunt description of "online friendship", doesn't it.


BaxtersBFF posted 3/31/2014 11:14 AM

An excerpt from -

7. Outsmart the body.

A little biology lesson here. When you are infatuated with someone, your brain chemistry whispers lies into your ears that can have you doing really stupid stuff. The spike in dopamine and norepinephrine produced with heightened sexual tension might tell you that all your troubles would end if you only kissed the handsome guy you just friended on Facebook, or ran off with the barista that makes you a perfect cappuccino. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University, author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love,” explains why emotional affairs feel so good:

Love is a drug. The ventral tegmental area is a clump of cells that make dopamine, a natural stimulant, and sends it out to many brain regions [when one is in love]. …It’s the same region affected when you feel the rush of cocaine.

Thus, identifying the physiological components of infatuation can be a strong ally in fighting the war against infidelity.

8. Treat the addiction.

Categorizing an emotional affair as an addiction is helpful in two ways: First, it depersonalizes the experience, making it easier to let go of, and it also provides some tangible steps a person can take to kick her habit. Addictions induce a trance-like state that allows the addict to detach from the pain, guilt, and shame she feels. She buys into false and empty promises—a flawed sense of intimacy and fulfillment—until reality hits. Hard. And the addict is forever vulnerable to buying into this distorted vision, which is why recovery from emotional affair never ends, and involves one smart decision after another that fosters true intimacy.

For some reason the above information really put things into perspective for me when I was trying to end my EA. I would suggest you read the rest of the article too.

Beaker posted 3/31/2014 11:27 AM

I suggest you try being honest with your B.h. you might find his point of view is completely different. You also might find your point of veiw changes. I know that trapped feeling to and agree that it was just selfishness.

I dont know if your familiar with the affair fog but it clouds judgment and prevents rational decision making. The only way out is to be honest, it may help to see things clearer and realize all your martial problems are your own and see that your justifications for the A are the lies you tell yourself so you dont have to face your own problems. From experiance I can say that your A has nothing to do with you b.h. and everything to do with you. But being honest with your b.s. and yourself though scary as hell will lift a waight off your shoulders. It wont be easy but it is right. You owe it to you b.s. and yourself.

God bless

stupidgurl posted 3/31/2014 11:40 AM

FWW here, and I have to say that "it just happened" is probably really common so don't feel like you are a wierdo. I would describe my situation like that.

What I do believe would be helpful is to go No Contact with him, you said you tried then relapsed, first you need to be direct with him and let him know that as much as you would like to continue the friendship you cannot do it any longer because you no longer wish to continue the affair. And you have to realize that although you wish you could be buds with him forever and not have an A, it will always go there, there is no going back from that. You can try over and over to just be friends, but because you crossed the line once, it is always going to lead there. So the friendship is no longer salvageable.

I can also relate on the personal beliefs part of your marriage, me and my H are so different in how we feel politically, religious ideology, parenting, and yes it can drive us apart at times. We too got married young, but we try to focus on the things we do enjoy about each other. If we solely focus on our differences we have no shot.

That said, during the fog, all I could focus on was our differences! It sounds to me like you are deep in the fog, you are seeing glimpses of reality, you are here afterall, but you are still not out yet. Once that A fog lifts you will have a clearer picture of what is really going on with you, and the fog will not lift as long as your OM is in the picture. He needs to be gone for good.

splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 11:56 AM

Not sure how to quote, but this makes sense to me:

BaxtersBFF: "Love is a drug. The ventral tegmental area is a clump of cells that make dopamine, a natural stimulant, and sends it out to many brain regions [when one is in love]. …It’s the same region affected when you feel the rush of cocaine."

I tend to dismiss that characterization because in my mind, I equated it with this first bit: "The spike in dopamine and norepinephrine produced with heightened sexual tension might tell you that all your troubles would end if you only kissed the handsome guy you just friended on Facebook, or ran off with the barista that makes you a perfect cappuccino. "

I don't get the spike from heightened sexual tension, I get it from intellectual connection...talking, "arguing," all that. hmm. I need to give this quite a bit more thought.

splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 12:15 PM

HUFI--I agree with you re: that it is cake eating, but this is inaccurate: "Your friendship right now is based on lies and deceit." There's no deceit within the A. And I want my AP to move on to a different relationship, focus on another person. I actively encourage him down that path. I talk with him re: overcoming hurdles with potential partners, all that. My AP is adamantly against NC.

It would be accurate to say that lies have become a significant aspect of my marriage, though it's the lie-by-omission kind.

Confessing the A to BH is off the table. I refuse to put my kids through that. I'd rather quietly divorce than create the hellaciously toxic environment that would result from confessing. A few years ago, BH & I went to counseling for a few months because we were having trouble hearing each other, listening...and during our counseling I learned that he, too, has moments of being here "for the sake of the kids." The counseling experience helped BH & I find ways to bridge some of our disconnect.

stupidgurl--"during the fog, all I could focus on was our differences"--this was true for me, but only pre-A. My A brought clarity, a sense of peace. It made those differences in my M not matter because I had an outlet for those aspects. So within my M, I could focus on the similarities & not be distracted by the differences. It made the problem areas go away.

And yes, I'm here, so I know that's a start. I wish it had been a different type of A. I struggle with feeling guilt about my A because "it wasn't like that." I get that it's incredibly selfish behavior to have an A of any type, to make the choice to go outside of my M, all of that. Maybe I'm a classic case of a WW in denial, who knows. But if you were to look at the checklist of my M, it wasn't a recipe for an A. By measurable standards, things were/are healthy--We talk & support each other through life's various whatnot, we're active participants in caring for the home & our kids, we have a healthy sex life. All of it. Every factor gets us a check & has us sent on our merry way for a long life together. Except for the aspects that don't show up on checklists...that's what my AP fills.

[This message edited by splitintwo at 12:20 PM, March 31st (Monday)]

IntoTheLight posted 3/31/2014 13:09 PM

I've been lurking for years and your post finally prompted me to register and post. I was you just a few short weeks ago. I had a EA/PA that lasted years and I felt trapped. My affair was someone close to our family- our lives were intertwined and NC was impossible without making drastic changes that would be difficult to explain to dh. Confession wasn't an option because of the unbelievable destruction it would cause. I tried to end it a thousand times. Like you, I couldn't give up the friendship- when the communication stopped I would mourn and go back to him just to be friends and we would always end up physical.

The affair was slowly destroying me and my marriage. I decided about a year ago to give it a year- if I couldn't end it I was going to leave my marriage- not for AP but for me. AP had no intention of leaving his wife and I didn't want him too- I knew we would never work in "real life" and that there was no happy ending for us. I just decided I had to live honestly- I hated the double life and I hated being a mistress. I started therapy and bible studies and prayed. I confessed to a Christian friend and tried desperately to focus on my husband and children. Early this year I was convinced I was finally past it- the feelings were most definitely there and we were still talking some but the affair was over. My marriage was happy. A few weeks after telling my therapist with great confidence that I was done for good, I found myself kissing OM.

My confession to DH was like a dam bursting. My Christian friend had been telling me for months it was the only way to "heal" which infuriated me. Confessing was going to destroy lives and for what? So I could heal?? So I could repent? So selfish. I'd rather burn in Hell, I thought. I could never. Then 4 weeks ago I just blurted it out- the unthinkable. 2 days later I gave him the rest of the horrible truth- the "who" part. For years I've been so torn because I've been in love with two men. But when I saw my husband and father of my children fall to the ground and weep? All of those feelings for OM were gone. It wasn't love. And now I see he wasn't even my friend- he just wanted sex with me. I was used. My therapist was right.

I am heartbroken for my dh and the mess I've made is worse than I ever realized. I am devastated for the wife of the OM and terrified they will not be able to reconcile. At first, I thought my therapist was right- I should have ended it and taken it to the grave. Confessing was a horrible mistake. But after a little time I see now that confessing was the only way to end it and most importantly, it is what was fair to my dh. He needed to know who he was married to. This wasn't a little indiscretion- it was a major betrayal and he had to know. He needed to know and then decide if he still wanted to be married to me.

I can't believe it but dh wants to reconcile. We are in counseling and in church and it feels like a miracle. It's going to be a long, hideous road but I believe we will make it. God wants to restore our marriage and He wants to restore yours, too.

Keep us posted.

Jovie posted 3/31/2014 13:15 PM

I have no experience in this type of situation, but I just wanted to post to point out that people have given you some suggestions and answers to your question of "how to get out", but you seem to be defending your actions and making excuses for why your situation is different and special.

I just don't think there's any easy way or any way to sugar coat it... the bottom line is, you need to cut contact 100%. There is just no other way.

But I'm curious, and I think it might help us (and yourself) to understand, why change now? You don't seem to care about your M either way, so what is the motivation for trying to revert your relationship with AP? Is it pure guilt, fear of being caught and hurting your children? Whatever your reason, let that be your motivator.

BaxtersBFF posted 3/31/2014 13:21 PM are free to dismiss whatever doesn't fit your situation. It was just a brief explanation that I read (another SI member sent it to me) and I had my "A-ha" moment and started pulling my head out of my ass.

So, there was absolutely no sexual tension in your EA? Just so you know, for the entire duration of my EA, there was only one instance where things got a bit racy, and even then it was g-rated compared to some things I read on SI. So, I understand that sex is not necessarily part of an EA, but still, deep down, you really have no attraction to this guy? And the intellectual might want to look at that a bit harder. You won't really see what it is until you remove yourself from it. When you are finally free of this EA, intellectual will likely be the last word you use to describe it.

One of the common themes for us WS's is that we all make fools of ourselves during the A. There might be an exception here or there, but it's rare.

Please stick around and challenge your own thoughts and ideas about your EA and the OM. Many of us have been right where you are right now.

[This message edited by BaxtersBFF at 1:22 PM, March 31st (Monday)]

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/31/2014 13:22 PM

splitintwo - but this is inaccurate: "Your friendship right now is based on lies and deceit." There's no deceit within the A.

I disagree. Your whole A is based on a bed of lies.

First of all, there is the pattern of deceit that you and your AP are practicing in regards to not being upfront and forthwith regarding the status of your affair towards your BH. This means that you are both guilty of dishonesty with regards to a fairly important part of your marriage vows, i.e. the faithful part.

Second of all, there is the practice of self-disillusionment and rationalization that you are practicing. Your still seeing your whole affair through the rose colored glasses of a foggy WS. I say that because your still calling your affair a "friendship". Frankly, it is nauseating. This shows me that you are still romanticizing your affair. Perhaps you can get a little more on course by calling your friendship what is really is. A cheap and tawdry affair. And then, you can continue the defogging process by more accurately calling your friend what he is: the other man. The third wheel in your marriage. There is nothing romantic or special about cheating. The more you can do to de-romanticize it, the more quickly you'll reach indifference.

Until then, you're still in the A in your head, and you will not be able to fully recover. When you stop lying to yourself, then you will be able to see this in the true light of day.

splitintwo - It would be accurate to say that lies have become a significant aspect of my marriage, though it's the lie-by-omission kind.

Gently said, this is minimizing the impact of your lies. When your H wakes up to the reality that you are cheating (and the odds are that he will discover it before you confess), it won't matter to him that the betrayal happened due to lies of omission as compared to lies of commission.

I think that if you can say that lies have become a significant aspect of your marriage, then you really should be taking a very hard long look at the whole marriage thing. It could be that your H would appreciate being in the know so he could make his decisions based on a honest look at his marriage. The first step to honesty is to stop lying.

The journey between being an honest man and a two timing cheating bastard was not marked by a single solitary act of dishonor or a single lie. No, it was unfortunately marked by a whole lot of small "white" lies, a sprinkle of half truths and a pinch of trickle-truthing. Hmmm, perhaps that now explains why I don't see an honest, truthful man in the mirror anymore in the mornings. Pity, what a shame. I kinda of miss him and I know my BS does. During their affairs, honest people learn to lie and liars learn to sound honest - HUFI

splitintwo - I wish it had been a different type of A

Can you clarify this? Are you feeling that your EA is worse or better than other forms of affairs?

splitintwo - But if you were to look at the checklist of my M, it wasn't a recipe for an A.

This too is not uncommon. Many of us, including myself, were in good marriages before our affairs started. This reality is the reason that we say that its not your marriage that brought you to the affair, its "you" that brought yourself. And that of course refers to the "brokeness" of the WS. The "why" that drove you to seek something (validation, approval etc) from someone else.


Wisdom from Dobler33 - People have affairs for myriad and varying reasons. Some are far sleazier than others, but the consequences are always the same - hurt, confusion, emotional trauma, the blowing apart of the foundations of your life.

Edited ... to include the link about creating emotional indifference to the AP.

[This message edited by HUFI-PUFI at 1:28 PM, March 31st (Monday)]

IntoTheLight posted 3/31/2014 13:24 PM

Maybe I'm a classic case of a WW in denial

Exactly. I've been there so I know it's hard to hear. You'll see it one day. I can't tell you how good it feels to be out of that fog.

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/31/2014 13:35 PM


splitintwo - Not sure how to quote ...

Copy and paste the words from whatever source that you want; into your new reply. And left click and highlight the text. Once you've done that, on the left side of the dialogue box, click on the quote button.

That automatically gives you a quote box when you finally post your post.

The same goes for bold and italic text options. And for adding smiley faces.


End of T/J

[This message edited by HUFI-PUFI at 1:40 PM, March 31st (Monday)]

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/31/2014 13:40 PM


IntoTheLight - I've been lurking for years and your post finally prompted me to register and post.

Welcome out of the lurking woods!

end of T/J

splitintwo posted 3/31/2014 13:40 PM

Jovie--why change now?

That's a good question. And damn. That's triggering a completely unexpected response from me. When things went sideways with my AP for various reasons that had nothing to do with our PA/EA, he let me down completely when I needed him as a friend. And so now that we're in position of reconciling, of moving past that hurt & fixing our friendship, I'm afraid of getting hurt again. I posted on SI thinking I was trying to stop the A for my M & was having trouble with NC, but it's actually a selfish motivator, self preservation. Wow. That makes me sound like a horrible person. Totally hypocritical.

And I'm the queen of justifying, so my apologies if it's coming off that way--I don't mean it to be. I'm actually attempting to own my behavior. Talking about this is new to me; my AP is my only other outlet re: my A. No therapist, no friends I'd tell. I'd already come to the NC conclusion, I'm just weak & failing in execution. If we continue to go with the drug metaphor, conversation is that fix for me.

I'm just not ready for IntoTheLight's step re: confessing, and I don't know if I will ever be. That probably speaks even more to my selfishness in this regard. I tend to frame it as not wanting to put BH through that. And that remains fact--he's a good man, and he doesn't deserve that pain. I know that were I to confess, it'd lead to a divorce; reconciling would not be an option. Given that highly probable outcome, I'm with InTheLight's therapist on this one; I intend to take it to the grave even if we split down the line.

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