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Lingering Feelings For My Old Affair Partner

Question:

My problem might seem small compared to everyone else’s, but I still need help. Two years ago, a relationship ended very badly. I know it couldn’t have ended differently, because it was an affair, and I wasn’t ready to leave my husband. I have finally forgiven my lover, but don’t talk to him anymore, and I still miss him. Things are getting back to status quo with my husband (who never found out, by the way), but I still have these lingering feelings for my ex-lover. How do I get over these feelings? It’s been two years, and I know I shouldn’t obsess over him like this.

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Answer:

You don’t say whether you left your affair-partner or he left you. You only say that your affair ended because you weren’t willing to leave your marriage. I gather that you loved this man you had an affair with very much and that it was fairly traumatic to see him go. I also gather that while your marriage is “status quo” now, and probably has its’ share of comforts, that it isn’t terribly exciting for you, or at least that it is lacking in some quality that you have been hungry for, and which was provided in some fashion by your affair. You’re grieving the loss of this lost relationship, I think. It is maybe taking longer to occur than it might under other circumstances because of the secret nature of the affair, and the fact that you can’t really talk about it with anyone you know. I think you need to talk about it and maybe cry about it. Probably the best option you have for talking about your affair and the meaning of the loss to you is with a professional therapist, because such a therapist (a psychologist at least) will be able to offer you confidentiality; he or she won’t reveal what you talk about to anyone, unless ordered to do so by a court of law (which is highly unlikely).

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    Hello Anne, I am the author of the above comment about lingering feelings for my ex-lover. I agree I need to talk to a therapist about it, I guess I just keep thinking I can do it myself. And you're right, I did love him very much. The break-up ( I caught him cheating on me, we'd been together for over two years) caused more pain than I've ever known. Also, we worked at the same two places, and he refused to quit either of them, so I had to quit and find another job. To compound matters, I rebounded right into the arms of one of his co-workers, which at the time I knew was wrong, but I was blinded by my pain. Thankfully, that didn't last very long, and I now have a great job far away from both of them. Unfortunately, I received a fresh batch of pain when my ex-lover contacted me about 8 months ago, and wanted to apologize for the pain he had put me through. I wasn't ready to hear his apology I just wanted him to tell me it wasn't my fault--or that it was my fault. He never said either way. After much searching, however, I was able to tell him that I forgave him, which is really what he was looking for, I guess. And he's completely over me, he got married in April. Still haven't heard from him or contacted him, but now I live in almost a kind of fear that I'll bump into the happy couple someday. Anne, I know you're not a therapist, but just talking to you really helps. Thank you so much.

  • Julie

    Hi, I dated Kevin for more than a year. During the first three months his drinking became apparent. After six months he was on again off again and also had depression. Being a kind person, I rode through this mess with him and confronted him and he just didn't have the tools to totally cope. We broke up twice, nostly because he was in denial, but he'd contact me and get clean, and it didn't ever last more than 3 months. This is not co-dependency, which I differentiate because that would assume I want him sick or dependant, or that I felt more neede with him not being whole. The fact is, he must have done that to so many women. But I really hoped I had caught him at a more mature age and that he'd be ready to change now and tired of his pattern, so I urged him to go to A.A. He started to go. After 2 months in, he was feeling better and even proposed to me. I paniced, having had flash-backs of his behaviors. He assured me that he could remain sober for up to a year without relapsing, but that just wasn't good enough. How could I live under the constant fear that he would relapse and become what he was before? So I disappeared and didn't contact him for 4 months. I was that scared. Of course, he blamed me. He got another girlfriend immediately who was also in A.A.. That's just par for the course, huh? And I was left with the lag time of all that had passed and didn't understand the full situation or how it would effect me later. For example, in this time we went to Boston to pick my dog up from the airport that I had imported. As a puppy it had long legs like him, so we used to say it was his son with my hair coloring. He had a New England accent, and taught me about seafoods and east coast stuff, and he was a tradesman who could build anything, plus he was verbal adept and witty, and he had a boyish charm that got him out of many an incident just because he could talk his way around issues and throw red herrings to change the topics... And for the last year I just hid behind a good friend who was an artist and we hung out. I did art. We went to events and showings. I moved on. But recently I met someone I really like, and only because my neighbor sent him to talk to me about my plumbing leak. "I'll send my brother over to help you. He's a plumber." So who shows up? A gorgeous, soft-spoken man with an east coast accent. he not only fixes plumbing but walls too and knows a bit about everythiung and he stays behnd to talk to me, and he loves my dog and could I please lone out the dog so they can go running together? And he's got a Brooklyn accent and eats the same foods that the old one did, and the similarities are overlapping...only this one is not alcoholic. I'm both scared and intrigued. I find myself bumping into walls and gazing at him, and he finds himself gazing back. Soon I'm cooking him dinners and he's coming over and staying over, and the dog loves him. And the neighbors are giggling that we look so cute together. Then I go on a trip to New York, and as I fly over Boston, I am flooded by a sea of tears. I remember picking up the puppy. I am filled with anger and confusion that is only now releasing. It only triggers now, while he says or does things the way the old one used to. And I find myself saying, "If he had been as healthy as you he might have done it this way too." And I can't decide if God is playing a trick on me or just loves me finally, and maybe there is some hope here because he seems to keep coming back over and we talk about everything except plumbing. And recently he acted jealous when I told him about the men I met on my New York trip, but he was glad and proud that I saw where he grew up. The undoing is very slow. It's like a ghost that haunts me at every turn. It's like over-writing all the most loved things that don't want to be overwritten, and on top of them is great sadness, pain, loss, terrible hurt. And I used to writye poetry about it, but now I just let the feelings pass and hope that they come to rest some day. I am filled with fear and remorse for having to start over. I am hopeful and irritated that I have to start a new relationship again, and there is so much to say or not say, and I don't know what to hold in or what to share, and certainly guys don't want to hear about your previous guy, so mostly, I cry and mourn in silence, alone. Pictures of fog towers or east coast scenes make me cry. Cranberry juice makes me sad. It amazing the things that got tied up in him that mark this enormous loss. It is very much like a death. So, the person doesn't have to die for you to mourn. But bereavement is much worse. It goes on and one in layers and waves. It just comes like a sea and leaves you feeling so torn up. And for this, all I can say is that I really loved, and this is being human. And I can still love, so there is still hope for me. And one day, I will have peace. My mind is not still, so I pray for stillness and release and to lose my mind in forgetfullness. But to fortget things that you loved, that were sacred, is not easy task. So to all of you out there who were forced by circumstance to tear away from one that shared your souls with you, it hurts like hell. And I'm so sorry for your loss. I know exactly how you feel.

  • Anonymous-2

    my husband had an affair with a co worker. it caused me more pain than i could handle. still have a problem with it.and we are not together now. he didnt care it caused me pain. oh i work with both of them too. and still do. any pain you got you aksed for and more. people like you just walk up and take anything. i hope all of you feel it all and more..

  • Anonymous-3

    its been years since this was posted but if you, or anyone in a similar situation to you ever reads this, i hope you have healed and have great perspective now. it is easy to wish someone pain, if they or someone like them has caused you pain. but the truth about affairs is that they are just a ton of pain for everyone involved. its like a car crash where everyone gets hurt, whether at fault or not.

    i hope that u have moved on and good riddance with the ex-man. he had no problems taking another mans wife or cheating on a woman. and more than likely is causing his new wife pain too. just think how wonderful it is that the man you are with is not the one who caused you all this pain. and let someone else have that ex-man.

    v

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