Ask Stavroula: I Want to Break up but Something Keeps Me Stuck with Him

Dear Stavroula,

I am married with children. My husband and I have been together for many years. He’s a very good guy and a very good father. I can’t say I fell madly in love with him but I do love him, he’s my man and I never had any complaints. He cares about me, never neglecting me, my walks, my travels, my gifts….

Six years ago, out of curiosity I started flirting with someone (the second after my husband) with whom, to make a long story short, we began an affair that lasted for some years. I started with him out of curiosity; I didn’t even really like him. But his persistence moved me and he made me feel like the only woman for him. He was single, I felt sorry, pressure, terrible. I told him we should break up, that he should find someone else, but he insisted that he loves me, that he couldn’t live without me, even though I had told him from the first moment that there was no chance I would divorce my husband. I tried many times to put an end to all of this, begging him to find another woman and end this torture. And he found her. When he told me I was a mess, I was in shock. We stopped going out for a year, until at some point he sent me a message again. And we started all over again. He tells me that with the other woman he was just with her not to feel lonely and that I complete him in every way. I don’t know what happens to me. When I say it’s over, he pulls me back in again. I don’t understand why this is happening to me. I think this relationship is wrong. I never made the first move, I have tried to cut off communication, but I always reply right away when he sends a message.

I would really like to end all this because it is soul-destroying…he’s stuck in my mind at great cost to my daily life…What should I do?

Monica

 

Dear Monica,

Many times, the relationships we choose are based on criteria that are not so much about the person we choose, but about ourselves. Although most people feel the need to have a partner, for some this need is so imperative that just finding anyone is more important than the actual person they choose to be with. People who feel this way may exhibit different behaviors in their relationships. Sometimes they are constantly changing their sexual partners, because they cannot stand the emotional insecurity they feel when they’re alone.

Others, again, marry their high school sweetheart and never leave them, because the emotional security of having someone by their side is the top priority. Even when they have an illicit affair, it takes place within the secure environment of the permanent relationship, so that there is no risk of losing the precious sense of security.

Behind these behaviors may be the belief that “I’m not worthy,” “I’m not good enough,” and that is why those who feel that way find it hard to break off a relationship that fills this gap, even if it is not what they really want.

Does something similar happen to you? Maybe all you really need is to find a way to love yourself?

You write to me that you married your first love, though you never really fell in love with him, but you’re in a long-term relationship, which you don’t want to break off. Does your husband give you what you need to feel covered romantically? Does he show you that he wants you, that you are important to him, that you are not only the mother of his children, but the woman he loves? If not, you may first need to redefine your relationship, and work on your marriage while there’s time. Think about what happens if he accidentally finds out about your illicit relationship and decides to divorce you. Are you ready to handle such a situation? Also think about how unfair this is to the man who shared his life with you. How would you feel if you learned that he had an illicit affair?

What should probably make you think more deeply is that you don’t even like the man with whom you are having an illicit relationship. So why do you continue a situation that gives you no joy or pleasure or even hope for something better in the future? Is the situation itself the only thing that is causing you strong emotions in the end, the fact that someone is pursuing you so much, confirming that you are worthy of love? Would anyone, as long as he “chose” you as an expression of his love, move you in the same way?

In any case, you may have to dig deeper and find out what is keeping you stuck in a situation that is problematic and deadlocked. It is a situation that is psychologically damaging and you may need the help of an expert to resolve it. An expert can help you understand what are the most profound causes that keep you emotionally trapped in such a painful situation.