The Thinking Other Woman

What you should know BEFORE your affair.


What Could I Have Done Differently?

Posted by The Thinking Other Woman on January 3, 2022 at 6:00 PM

For the longest time, a married guy I had a four-month emotional affair with kept lurking around my website. 

Even when he started hiding behind a VPN, I figured out it was him, because he would go directly to a post or two I had made specifically to him when I was still trying to figure out if it was him or not, and he would read them over and over. 

Now and then, he would forget the VPN, and I could see the locality the visit was from. Yep … right from where he lives.

Last year at this time, he was checking my blog every few days. He even showed up on Christmas.

I could only conclude from this that things were not too good at home. The last time we spoke, I learned that marriage counseling had not gone well and the problems in the marriage were returning to same-old status.

Now, he very rarely shows up anymore. Last seen: December 18. 

I would be very surprised if he ever shows up again.

You would think a guy would just go on and leave if he's not happy, but not this one.

So, now I've given up on him, and I am very sad.

Well … not entirely. If the end of the visits mean he and his wife went back to marriage counseling, worked out their problems, and now they can be happily married, then I'm happy about that. They both had tough childhoods, and they have wonderful adult children, three beautiful grandchildren, and a lovely extended group of family and friends who love them both.

If they can finally be happy together after forty years, then they should be.

What I'm afraid of is that none of this has happened, and he's just resigning himself to dying there in that house in the same relationship they've had for decades now. When maybe we could have had a shot at being happy.

We couldn't, of course. His entire family threatened to disown him after he moved out that one time, and they didn't even know about me. Who wants to have a large extended family, and everyone refuses to speak to you because you got tired of having a bad marriage and decided to give yourself a chance at a better life?

It's been done, of course. And relationships with family tend to work out eventually … most of the time. 

But the skills to deal with the disapproval while still encouraging some tolerance and understanding from the family members who've had their bubble burst will forever elude this guy. Buckling down and learning them takes a more stalwart soul than this person will ever be.

In the meantime, I've lost someone with whom I had a bridge of understanding I don't expect to find with any other human being.

I keep asking myself what else I could have done. The answer is: Nothing.

I played the entire thing exactly as I should have.

I mean, as long as I was observing a guy who'd moved out and said that house was like death to go back to, and he really needed to divorce, what was I going to say? No?

We hung back and decided we wouldn't date until his divorce was final. We had a couple of lunches together - in public - and we spoke from time to time on the phone.

The only thing I could have done to change this outcome was to grab his arm and pull and not let go. And I looked at that option, hard.

I just couldn't do it.

I couldn't do it for a number of reasons. First of all, I had to think about all the disruption and upset it would cause everyone. If people wanted to disown him simply over a divorce, think how bad it would be if they found out there was another woman!

Then I had to think about his low self-worth. He's an adult child of an alcoholic. When he said things like, "I thought no one would ever love me if my wife didn't love me," and "I thought women found me repulsive," I knew those weren't put-ons. How would I be helping his self-worth if I showed him how lovable I thought he was … through some filthy underhanded trysts, in a car somewhere?

That kind of thing is Scarlet Letter stuff. It's not for me.

Then I had to think about the perverse effects trying to hang on were likely to have. Instead of his wife trying to coerce and direct his every move … now it was going to be me. Isn't the whole idea of codependency recovery supposed to be about finding the self, and not a new taskmistress? My horoscope and every tarot card reading I did kept telling me I was too controlling.

Sad to say, they were right.

I didn't trust myself not to be controlling, so the only thing to do was let go.

If you hang on to someone, telling them and telling them what you want them to see, in the face of family and others giving them a dozen reasons they need to not upset the apple cart, what are you going to get, anyway? A person who's arguing with you why being with you is the wrong thing to do. A person who starts taking up for his wife instead of noticing that she's handing him more awful behavior that isn't likely to change.

It didn't matter how many times I would end up telling him that, if he went back, she would never change, and he'd end up right back where he started. The most effective way of making that argument is to let the person go back … and end up right back where he started. 

No argument is more persuasive than the facts that stare that person right in the face, again and again, for forty years. He would see that more clearly if I wasn't there to tell him over and over.

And: If we'd stayed in contact and ended up sneaking around, what would have happened? He'd be satisfying his needs for an emotionally close relationship with me … an hour or two here, an hour or two there, every other week.

And that's nothing. This guy deserved so much more than that. He'd be settling for a crumbs-under-the-table relationship, which wasn't what he wanted or needed, while everyone else goes home to a full meal of togetherness, friendship, companionship, love, and sex every single night.

I wasn't letting him get away with that. I wasn't letting him get away with lowballing himself. (Or me.) Yet again.

And lastly, if I'd hung on and fought, he never would have gotten well from codependency and low self-worth. Just the simple fact that it was an affair would have made him feel soiled, and if that didn't do the trick, the reaction from family and friends would have taken care of it. He would have felt so badly about "Having an affair!" that he would have accepted every mean thing anyone said about him. 

He would have been led around by the nose by other people for the rest of his life, and he never would have learned to value, find, and fight for himself. 

I saw that played out in a series of horoscope transits, and, thinking about everything I've ever read about codependency and codependent relationships, I didn't doubt it would have been the truth.

So, I couldn't hang on. I couldn't fight for the relationship. I let go and walked away, hoping he'd see the light one day.

Now, I have to just walk away altogether.

I know I did the right thing. But that is some lonely consolation.

Folks, this is why they tell people to stay out of affairs.

Categories: Current Happenings, Post-Mortem, Now That It's All Over, Love.