Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I've gotten myself into a bit of an emotional mess, and I need advice. I know I'll sound like everyone else who writes you, but I swear I'm a good person, and I think I'm a catch. I have a great education, I'm extremely professionally motivated, and I take care of myself.
Two years ago, I met the man of my dreams. He's successful, hot, charming, outgoing and has worked his way up to an important and influential position with his company. Our life together has been exactly what I dreamed of; we have an amazing home on the Hillside, we go to glamorous events, we take the best vacations and we have a ton of fun and chemistry together.
When I met him, he was married. We had an affair. So I knew there was a chance he'd cheat on me and maybe even start looking for Wife 3. I knew he'd cheated on girlfriends before. I was still devastated when I found out a month ago that he was sleeping with someone from work. I was angry and hurt and I lashed out by hooking up with a mutual friend of ours. This guy (I'll call him "Bill") rapidly became more than a one-time thing. He was caring, present, affectionate — and now I'm afraid I've fallen in love with him.
Here's the deal: I still have enormous love for my husband, and I can't imagine leaving him or the life we have together to be with Bill. Bill worships me — and our passionate connection is incredible — but, I'll be frank, Bill is broke, and he doesn't really have a career, and he doesn't even own his home. I love how I feel with Bill but I don't know if I can give up my life with my husband — who, BTW, swore he would end the affair, but I have proof as recently as a few days ago that he hasn't.
I don't know what to do.
You aren't in love with Bill; you're in love with the way Bill treats you in the wake of your husband's unforgivable betrayal. Your relationship with Bill began because you were using him to make yourself feel better, and you're still using the poor guy to make yourself feel better. The kind and gracious thing would be to end things with him as soon as possible.
Though we may be well past the kind and gracious stage, not only because of your reactive fling following your husband's affair, but even dating back to the very foundations of your relationship, which you say began when your husband was already married. With relational roots in such an unsavory start, it's not surprising that today you're surrounded by and co-perpetuating toxic drama and superficial-sounding happiness.
If a house on the Hillside and tropical vacations are all you need to be happy, then stay with your husband. But know that he'll probably always cheat on you, and you may continue to cope in unhealthy ways that even drag other poor people into the ensuing mess.
If you really want to make a healthy choice, choose yourself and choose a fresh start and divorce your husband. After a grace period of resetting and healing, and perhaps some soul-searching therapy, try dating someone who's truly single, and explore the really wonderful happiness that can come from committing to someone who is completely devoted to you and understands what it means to be faithful and honest.
Faithful and honest? Wanda, you missed the part where our letter-writer started sleeping with her now-husband while he was married. She needs to understand — and embody — what it means to be faithful and honest before expecting it from someone else.
Oh letter-writer — are you really surprised that everything has turned into a massive train wreck? Well, expect the carnage to continue. First, you'll dump poor (literally and figuratively) Bill. Then your husband will start sleeping with his gal pal again and/or someone else. And then you'll get so mad at him, again, that you'll get him back by sleeping with someone else. And then you'll ruin their love life, too. And repeat.
Or you could do something really radical like leave your cheating husband and change your approach to dating. You know, like not hooking up with married men and not using innocent men for revenge sex. I know — wild concept.
You have control over the life you lead. You can go on awesome vacations by yourself or with someone who isn't constantly cheating on you. You can live in a nice house by yourself or with someone who isn't splitting time between beds. You can change the trajectory of this runaway relationship.
But you haven't. And you can't see yourself doing it. Because you thrive on this drama. Life would be boring and basic without it. So have fun with all of that — just please try to minimize the collateral damage along the way.
Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.