At what point is a relationship with a member of the opposite sex considered “cheating”? I have recently discovered that my husband was having a more-than-friendly relationship with a co-worker. He set up a post office box for her so she could write to him while she was away for an extended period.
I found her letters and read them. They described how she missed my husband and “couldn’t wait to feel” his arms around her and his lips on hers again. She said he had shown her what real true love can be. She is 12 years younger than he is.
My husband says they never had sex, but did kiss on several occasions, and he enjoyed their deep, open conversations. Because my husband is not a big conversationalist, that has been very hard for me. The idea that he had meaningful conversations with this woman hurts me more than the physical things they admit to.
He says it’s not actually cheating if they never slept together. I say, with everything he has admitted to and the fact he has opened up to her in ways I have begged him to with me, he has DEFINITELY cheated!
This is the second time in our 16-year marriage this kind of thing has happened. Obviously, his definition of cheating is not the same as mine. I say an emotional affair is almost worse than a physical one. He sees cheating as sex only.
– Hurt and Lonely
in New England
Dear Hurt and Lonely,
When someone gets a post office box so that he or she can carry on a furtive romantic correspondence, it is cheating. When he kisses and embraces someone in a romantic fashion, that’s cheating, too. When he confides his deepest feelings to a woman other than his wife, what he does is widen the gulf between them.
On the deepest levels, your husband has been unfaithful to you. It appears he has perfected the “art” of lying to himself in order to justify his behavior. My heart goes out to you.
I was seeing a therapist for several years. I began going because of abandonment and trust issues. Over time we became friends outside of therapy, talking to each other several times a week. I trusted her completely. During our therapy sessions she shared her life and problems with me to the point that I feel I know as much about her as she knows about me.
A couple of months ago, she suddenly decided that ethics had been breached and she was setting new boundaries. She said there would be no contact outside our sessions, but during the sessions she would say how much she missed me and thought of me as a daughter, and she would cry.
Now she has decided that she can no longer be my therapist. She has blocked my number and expects me to respect her demands. I know you can’t speak for her, but is this normal behavior for a mental health therapist? I no longer trust therapists.
– Confused in Texas
No, it is not normal behavior; it is highly inappropriate. Your therapist appears to have had as many or more unresolved emotional issues than you did. By ending your sessions together, she has done you an enormous favor.
While you may not trust “therapists,” it may require the efforts of another one to help you work through this. When you go for your initial interview, be sure to tell the therapist what was done to you.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.