Relationship

Should I end my affair with a married woman who has a young child?


I am in love with a married woman who has a young child. We have been lovers for six years, having met before she got married or pregnant. Until recently I was content with us being just lovers. I chose non-monogamy as a lifestyle, having meaningful relations with more than one woman at a time in a transparent and conscious manner.

Around 16 months ago, she told me that I was the love of her life and that from the moment she met me she knew she wanted to be with me. I also started to spend more time with her and her child, and began to fall more deeply in love with her.

We decided we wanted to build a life together and that she would leave her husband. But, at the moment of truth, she failed to do so and instead confessed only to a mild affair and sought her husband’s forgiveness. I felt very hurt and kept going with my life, dating other women. But I was comparing them with her and did not manage to truly bond with any of them. We got back in touch recently, and she is telling me again that she wants to build a future with me. She gets incredibly jealous of my other relationships, even though she sleeps with her husband every night.

I am torn, because I feel that if she truly loved me she would treat me better, which is the advice I get from my close friends. At the same time, I have never loved anyone the way I love her. I am 40 and already divorced once. Even when I’m dating intelligent and attractive women, I find it incredibly hard to open up and reach a connection like the one I share with her. Should I give it one last chance, or move on and try to forget about her?

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I think the time to move on and forget about her should have been when she got married to some poor sod who had no clue that his wife was already in a relationship with someone else. Non-monogamy is fine if all parties are in on it, but when they’re not it’s just deception.

You and your lover sound pretty selfish and really emotionally immature. Neither of you seems able to truly own your feelings or to be able to consider the feelings of others. It’s all about what you want and don’t want, and even that changes. Your lover says she knew she wanted to be with you from “the moment she met you” but she still went ahead and married someone else. That sounds like self-harming through matrimony. And then she had a child with this man (you gave no indication that the child is yours). The way you talk about her husband, as if he is just some disposable “add-on” whom you can airbrush out of the scene, shows a real inability to empathise. It sounds like a mess, and when a child is involved, the grownups really need to be… grown up.

Of course people make mistakes and marry the wrong person, but instead of owning up to this, breaking up with her husband and being with you, she’s stringing both of you along. And now she doesn’t want you having other relationships either. I wonder if the incredible connection you speak of is actually you both acting out some fantasy that, outside of her marriage, would be unsustainable. Real connection comes through honesty, not deception.

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Going for unattainable people is a classic sign of fear of intimacy. When you have a relationship with someone who isn’t really available, you can fill the gap with your fantasy of what you would like them to be, which often has very little to do with who they really are. This is a futile but ultimately safe pursuit for those who fear intimacy because it is a relationship that is unhindered by reality. And with none of the drudgery of domesticity, it feels heady and exciting: a perennial honeymoon stage. If you were truly together, I wonder if you would lose some of the excitement. So maybe, far from wanting a deep connection, you actually fear it. This might be worth exploring.

In the meantime, consider moving on from this woman, because it doesn’t sound very healthy, or much fun. Not to mention actually viable. Don’t try to forget about her, but remember her: how else will you learn not to make this mistake again?

• Send your problem to annalisa.barbieri@mac.com. Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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