Dear Carolyn: I cheated on my husband. I have no excuse. I confessed and cut contact with the other man, whom I had met a month earlier.
At least I tried to. He’s managed to stay in my life through various social media accounts, which he often uses to speak to me indirectly. When I have asked him to delete these accounts, he does, but they inevitably pop up again.
The big problem is that I am flattered and intrigued by all of this. I developed strong feelings for him that have yet to wane. He thinks he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but I think he’s just unhappy and clinging to the otherness that I offer. Still, I wonder . . .
All of this has made it difficult to repair things with my husband, though I am trying. I don’t think there’s much I can do about the other guy, short of telling his wife, which wouldn’t end well for anyone. So I need to find a way to put on blinders and begin the internal process of getting over this silly affair. Any advice on how to do this, when the other guy is still so THERE?
— Ending Infidelity
Ending Infidelity: Unless your livelihood depends on social media, you don’t need to be on it. Therefore, you can delete your accounts.
Please also see that you’re “flattered and intrigued” because you want to be flattered and intrigued. Take it from someone not blinded by him: His actions aren’t just wrong, they’re icky-wrong. He’s being horrible to his wife, and he’s ignoring your requests that he leave you alone.
If he truly loved you, then he’d separate from his wife and stop contacting you, because that’s the honest, selfless thing for each. He has done neither.
You’re hampered, meanwhile, by your unhappiness, which left you vulnerable to flattery and “clinging to . . . otherness.” So get offline and get into the office of a reputable therapist. Explore, responsibly, what’s really going on.
Dear Carolyn: A dear friend of mine went through a rough period and found great comfort in becoming a born-again Christian. Before this she was an atheist, as am I. I’m happy that she’s doing better, but I’m not sure how to deal with how much Jesus Christ has become a part of our conversations. I’m used to us cheerfully expressing differences (“Bernie Sanders is great.” “No, he’s the worst”). But I feel like it would be really inappropriate and disrespectful to say, “You know, I’m not a believer.” And so mostly I stay silent, which means me smiling blankly while she talks for 15 or 20 minutes about God’s grace. How should I navigate this?
Friend: Saying “Bernie’s the worst” is sacrilege in some quarters, too.
Seriously, though — why has it become “inappropriate and disrespectful” to say what you believe? Especially when it’s something she herself used to think?
Besides — monologuing “for 15 or 20 minutes about God’s grace” is not an issue of faith; it’s an utter hijacking of a conversation. Imagine smiling blankly through a 20-minute monologue on . . . free trade, let’s say. Would you be asking how to navigate this?
Faith is a topic, not a ticking package. Handle accordingly.