Question: Dear Luise: I met and fell hopelessly in love with a married man (my professor) when I was 19 and he was 44. He had many deaths in the family due to an illness (which he himself eventually beat), divorced his first wife after he had an affair. Anyway I love him so much it was painful to be apart from him, so we were together, secretly, for 20 years of my life. He used health/ stress as an explanation why it couldn’t be different (him leave his wife) and I would have done anything for him anyway, so I acquiesed. He finally beat the disease two years ago. He began to tell me that he was going to work things out and be with me, leave the marriage. But she discovered who I was and he freaked out and shut down, shut me out completely, and over nine months said he was trying to figure things out but there was still hope for us to be together finally. At long last he left me once and for all in a 2-line email!! It was cruel and I am crushed to smithereens. He refused calls from me never checked on me knowing what this would do to me. I am so heartbroken I cannot almost sometimes bear to breathe. It is too much to even consider perhaps that he did not love me?? I cannot bear it. It’s like he’s two different people–the man who loved me and this man, who got caught cheating. I guess I want to know if I will be able to have a family–a happy relationship of love and desire with another man. I cannot imagine anyone taking his place. But he deserted me. Right now I am repulsed by the idea of being with any other man–I feel extremely violated all the way to my core. Thank you for any kind words you have. Luv, S.
Answer: Dear S.: I think it is easy sometimes to believe what we want to believe. The guy was a cheat and you saw him as quite wonderful for two decades. That’s amazing. You knew he was a cheat…you were the person he cheated with. His wife probably feels violated to the core, as well.
My guess is that you have a good chance of finding a meaningful relationship. You’re a lot smarter than you were the first time around and you’re still young. (I married a great guy when I was your age.) There’s no way of knowing, of course, but you can give it your best shot.
Be kind to yourself as you heal. We all make mistakes and most of us are willing to learn from them. Start seeing yourself as worth being treated with respect. As you build self-respect others will see that in you and respond accordingly. Blessings, Luise