Dear Wayne and Wanda,
During the past year, I accidentally started a virtual affair with my ex. I say “virtual” because we haven’t actually seen each other in person yet. He is in another state and we hadn’t talked in years. I live with my boyfriend and the last year was hard. He kept working but I was laid off and felt trapped at home. I was lonely and bored a lot of the time, so I started reaching out to friends, and my ex was one of them.
He seemed excited to hear from me and we started texting a lot. Soon we were video chatting during the day. He was the first one to make it more than friendly conversation. He talked about how he missed me and had thought of me. I won’t be too graphic but he was also the first to suggest we be intimate over the video chat.
I’m now so torn. Reconnecting with him has been exciting. I feel more desirable than I have in years. But I also feel terrible for betraying my boyfriend. I do love him and we’ve been through so much together, I don’t know that I want to leave him. But I feel like I need to sort out things with my ex one way or another. He is coming up this summer to visit family and he wants to see me. I know I shouldn’t, and yet I haven’t told him no because I feel like seeing him will be the one way to know for sure how I feel. I don’t have anyone I can talk to about this. What do you think I should do?
Well for starters, you should take some accountability. You’re letting yourself off easy by claiming you “accidentally” started an affair. Make no mistake, you created the opportunity for the affair, you willingly have participated, and with every passing day, you’re purposefully being deceitful. Regardless of how thrilling your virtual hook-ups and long-distance flirtations are, you must — or at least you should — feel mostly lousy for actively perpetuating a colossal and selfish display of unfaithfulness.
You should not be involved with your ex if you have a boyfriend — not virtually, and definitely not in real life. And frankly, regardless of the ex and whatever you do with him, you probably shouldn’t have a boyfriend at all. All signs point to you needing to be on your own and better understand what it is you need to be happy.
There’s this egotistical and ironic delusion that almost always occurs where the cheating partner doesn’t want to leave and/or be truthful with their significant other because they are afraid of hurting them. This mindset assumes your partner is better off with you even though you’re actively cheating on him. Don’t you think he’d rather be with a faithful partner or single than with someone who’s lying and disloyal?
Seriously, the only way to make this worse is to meet up with the ex while continuing to lead your boyfriend on.
And yet, you still have time to retain some slivers of pride, reputation and self-respect if you just stop it all now.
Virtually speaking, you’ve rounded second base and the third base coach is waving you over, but you still haven’t technically physically cheated IRL. So if you truly love your partner and want to stay with him — and you think you can find different hobbies other than virtual cheating for when you’re bored — tell your ex that you cannot and will not meet with him when he travels north, that it’s been nice talking with him and you wish him all the best moving forward but you also cannot and will not communicate with him anymore. Then live by those words. Period, the end. If you’re really especially feeling guilty and looking to get right with the BF, you could try some honesty and tell him about this whole thing.
If you can’t bring yourself to show your ex to the exit ramp, or you’re even still struggling with the thought of it, then grow up and break up with your boyfriend and go for it with your ex. Stop the lying and deception. Stop the excuses and hand-wringing. Stop setting your relationship up as a fallback plan in the event things don’t go well.
Just don’t take either approach halfway: commit to your relationship fully or cannonball into a new life that includes taking a gamble on an ex.
I am curious why you broke up in the first place, though. And I’m also wondering how maintaining the whole trust thing will go between sneaky you and your complicit ex if you do consummate this long-distance affair. Good luck with all of that!
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