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Dear Debra
Dear Debra, Advice Columnist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1852
Experience:  I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
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Im experiencing the end of a relationship, one that was conducted

Customer Question

I'm experiencing the end of a relationship, one that was conducted with a married man for 11 years. I believed what he told me about how he felt about me and us and he was in the process of divorcing his wife, or she was actually the one who filed but now he has stopped that action, said he wants to try with her even though he doesn't love her and he is stopping communicating with me.

I'm having trouble letting go and need advice, but I'd rather not have someone tell me, it is what it is, get over it. I need to know how to get over it.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dear Debra replied 6 years ago.

He is right now trying to stop a divorce because he wants to stay with his wife. You now feel like you and him are at the end of your relationship because he is trying to work out his relationship with his wife, even though you feel like he doesn't love her. He must have feelings for his wife if he is trying to stop her from leaving him. Unless it has something to do with finances. There could be many reason why he is trying to stop this from happening. But you feel like you need to move on and let go. Every relationship that needs to move on will go through many emotions. You will feel these emotions and begin to heal. Every day will get better. He right now feels he need to work on his marriage. He wants a second chance with her and it sounds like he has made a decision to work thing out with her. I know you have been in this relationship a long time. But it is time for you to heal and move forward because he has made a decision. Right now you need closer in the relationship. You need to talk too him and ask is this over and that you are now going to move on.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I don't "feel" that he doesn't love her, he told me for years he doesn't and he told her he doesn't. She told me he told her he doesn't love her. She rants and raves, calls me names, calls him names, but then says she wants to stay with him and where did they go wrong?


There is a strong sense of Catholic guilt in play here, she is wanting to stay together for family and honoring the wedding vows. He suffers from panic attacks and he was feeling pressured to meet the deadlines from the filing of the divorce papers, etc and told me everything was just closing in on him. He told me he needed to get over this hurdle so he could get back to us, he missed us, but then he turns around the next day and talks with her and calls me and says he feels it's the right thing to do to see if their relationship or close it but without me in the picture. I asked him who is he going to make happy doing this and he said, his mother, his kids and probably her (wife).


He has been struggling with his guilt, his not wanting to be the bad person, his not wanting the divorce to be about our relationship and his deserving to be happy. He is the type that sacrifices/martyrs himself. Finances are a big issue with him and he would call me and say "tell me I'm going to be okay", etc.


We were househunting, talking about moving in together, planning the future. Then he says all of this closing in has made everything muddy.


I haven't hurt this much in a long time and even though I deserve someone who would never have treated me this way, it still hurts. I've been told that he is "damaged" and I've dodged a bullet as I took on a caretaking role and would have that the rest of my life. But I'm having trouble going from constant contact with him to none and am wondering how he can do this as he relied on me for a lot?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I guess what it really gets down to is that he has told me for years that I complete him, we have the total package of mental, physical and emotional connections, that he misses me terribly when we are not together. Is his shutting off our relationship part of his guilt and martyr complex? I guess I'm asking myself--is it me or is it him, so I don't take it so personally?
Expert:  Dear Debra replied 6 years ago.
He sounds very torn on what to do. He does want to do the right thing, but he also need to realize that he needs to be happy as well. You can't live a life that you are unhappy and having panic attacks. He has admitted he doesn't love her. But something stops him from leaving. He sounds so confused about what is happening in his life. Feeling guilty about everything that is happening. You know he misses you and after he sorts all this out he is going to realize he shouldn't have said anything that might have hurt you. You mentioned he rely on you as well. This is going to be a life change when he realizes how he really feels. I know you are experiencing a lot of emotions and trying to work through on what to do in this relationship. I am here for any questions you are having. I feel that he is trying to shut off his emotions thinking he is going to work on his marriage, but I do feel he will miss you and be trying to get you back in his life. The decision you have to make is whether you want this relationship.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thanks. I do think you are correct in that he is conflicted as I've watched it for years. But I don't think he will reach out to get me back in his life. He knows that neither she or I will tolerate a relationship that involves us both and it will be safer for him to stay in the marriage--as he said his doing so will make his mother happy, his kids (all grown and out of the home) happy and probably his wife.


I know he won't be happy staying in the marriage, I know they never had and will never have what he and I had, but I don't quite understand how he can just give himself up like that. Or me! :-)


I'm getting a handle on my emotions but still am struggling--he is weak and did not put me first, he was always first, and I know I don't want to share my life with someone like that, but I'm still experiencing the loss of this relationship.


Of course I don't know how they can overcome an intensive 11 year affair, where in effect he was living two lives. How does that work?

Expert:  Dear Debra replied 6 years ago.
He seems like the type of person that would give up his life to make everyone else happy but himself. He wants to please his mom and be their for his children. But he also had an 11 year affair. He is not happy in this marriage and found an escape. He discovered he had feelings for you and the affair has lasted years. This is not going to be easy for him to get over and I feel he doesn't realize. He will have no where to go to handle his unhappy marriage. If you move on, he will begin to see how he really feels. But he still is that person that will stay in a marriage just to please everyone else. He is stuck. You mentioned he lived two lives, he did and this is going to be a huge adjustment for him that he doesn't realize. You are going through a break up and it's not an easy one it has been 11 years. You need to work out everything that has happened and he did not put you first. He made a choice and now you know how he feels to get closure of this relationship. I know you feel like he will not try to get you back, but he is going to miss you. He is going to realize feelings he never knew existed.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks. I'm having some painful withdrawal symptoms--I have this strong urge to contact him which I know I shouldn't do. I'm trying to focus on my work, etc. but it is really hard. Any helpful thoughts?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hello???!!! Are you there? It's been nearly 24 hours!
Expert:  Dear Debra replied 6 years ago.
If you feel you should contact him, I would, just to see how he is doing? If you feel this is something you need to do to make you feel better. Don't stop yourself. It is a step in healing for you to keep getting closure. If you feel that it would bother you more to contact him. Then you need to keep distancing yourself. You know what is best for you when it comes to getting over this relationship. This is a relationship that lasted 11 years this is not going to be something that you just don't get over in one day. You have got use to this relationship for many years. You had a life with this person. If you feel that remaining friends is a better choice that you both could still be a pert of each others lives in a new way. If you both feel you need to be a part of each others lives then you can both remain friends. But these are the choices you have to make.