Welcome to Dear Jane, Jezebel’s advice column.
Hi. This is a heavy question, but it’s one in which I’m sorely in need of advice. I’m 33 and my husband, whom I’ve been with for several years but have only been married to for 1.5 years, has been having an affair. I discovered this a few weeks ago after stumbling upon selfies of a woman in his email. The other woman is from his past, someone he never officially dated and merely shared a kiss with shortly before meeting me. She moved out of state and told him they wouldn’t be able to have a relationship. I asked him not to speak with her anymore once he and I were committed because I knew he still had feelings for her. He obliged, or at least, I thought. I’ve discovered that he created a secret email address to strictly communicate with her over the last five years and over the last six months this relationship has become a full-fledged affair—sans the sex. It was a long distance, emotional relationship. Did I mention that I’m just short of seven months pregnant with our first child?
Needless to say, I’m devastated. We’ve had our share of problems, some I know were inflicted by me. However, I don’t consider myself deserving of being cheated on because of past problems. As a feminist, my brain tells me to divorce him and accept that he has a moral character flaw—one I don’t want to associate with. However, we are a few months shy of welcoming our baby into the world and I’m in no financial/physical position to pack up and leave. In fact, I don’t think I can afford to get a divorce or live separately from him anytime soon.
My friends provide conflicting advice “get a divorce, duh!” and “You should forgive for the sake of baby, duh!” I do still love him and parting ways would be extremely painful. However, I’m having a VERY hard time believing that we can survive this even as he pleads for forgiveness. I don’t think I can trust him again no matter the strides he claims he will take to make amends. Not only is the trust gone, but I’m pretty damn angry to have been taken advantage of like this.
I know we will have to co-parent, regardless of the outcome, so we are both seeking counseling in order to work through issues to be better parents. I just don’t know what is right, or at least, what other people would do in a situation like this.
What would you do if you were me?
Sorry, but I don’t have a funny name for this very long question
If I were you I’d stick with him for at least six months. Not because you want the relationship to work, but because having any sort of built-in support system or help during the newborn phase is a boon. You will be doing your future self a favor by putting some of the brunt of baby-rearing on him. And honestly, what better punishment for cheating than getting up five times a night to feed a screaming person? You have him on a string—use it.
Also, you need some time after the baby to become your sane self again. That can take up to a year or two. Right now you are a bundle of hormones and emotional nerves and it’s not a great time to make huge changes. What’s the worst that could happen in the short run? He keeps jerking off to pictures of some lady who lives in another state? I mean, it’s heartbreaking, I understand that. But if you can just stall for a minute, take his help with the newborn, and then screw your head back on and make a good proactive choice for you and your child, you’ll feel better about whatever decision you make.
Or you can dump him. He sounds like a piece of shit.
I’m a single 47-year-old woman who hasn’t had a date in 20 years. Yes, you read that right. I had two long-term relationships in my twenties that ended badly. So I swore off men for good. Apparently I’ve done a good job at that. I have a rich life with a daughter I adopted 12 years ago and have rarely felt the need or desire for male companionship. But recently, something has been slowly gnawing away at me. I think it’s loneliness. This could be due to the fact that I only have one or two friends that I stay in contact with since becoming a mom. But I think I’m finally feeling the absence of having someone to connect with intellectually, socially, and physically. So how does one like me enter the dating world after having been away from it for so long? Can it happen organically or do I need to turn to online dating? Should I be honest about not dating for 20 years or should I pretend to be a much hipper version of myself?
Single So Long
Your relationships status has nothing to do with how hip you are, so you can stop worrying about that. There are very hip nuns.
Also, I am of the opinion that no one ever has to reveal their dating or sexual history to any other person if they don’t want to. So, if you find the topic uncomfortable, don’t bring it up. And if someone asks when your last relationship was, you can say “years ago” or “a while back” without being a liar. Once you’ve established more intimacy, feel free to talk about it, or not. Your romantic past shall have no bearing on your future.
Now, how to go about dating: how the hell would I know!? Do you live in a city where dating apps actually work? Then go ahead and try one. One approach I’ve used with great success is sending out an email to friends letting them know I’m available for fix-ups—even when it doesn’t result in a love match, the universe receives the message that I’m open. Or you could just start going out more. Give yourself the gift of a babysitter one night a week and be out in the world where you may run into someone.
It sounds like your decision not to date was the main thing keeping you from dating and now that you’re deciding otherwise I’m confident you’ll find plenty of success.
I’ve been in a relationship for over a year. I’m a 35-year-old man, she’s a 24-year-old woman. I am completely in love with her. It is because I love that I overlook what some might say is suspicious behavior. She forbade me from posting any photos of us together on social media, she lives with her father and I am not allowed to visit their home (I own my own home so we’re okay there), I support her in many ways financially (I pay for her car insurance and miscellaneous bills), I am absent-minded and at times have difficulty hearing (I suffer from anxiety, it could be the cause) and she has a very short temper with me. I love her with all my heart but I feel like I have a pet tiger (if I’m not careful I’m going to be torn apart). Am I being used? Am I too old and this is how young people act? My mind is telling me these things but my heart just doesn’t care. What should I do?
Wow wow wow. Yes, you are definitely getting used. But so is she, right? Let’s be honest, she’s either super hot or has amazing head game or both. You must be getting something special out of this or you wouldn’t be paying her bills and helping her hide your relationship from her boyfriend or husband or girlfriend or wife or cult leader or whoever it is she actually lives with.
ON THE OTHER HAND: You have anxiety so severe that it shuts off your ears. That’s major, man! What if she’s just modest and short on cash? I don’t think that’s the case, but that level of anxiety could definitely lead you to question her actions and blow things out of proportion. Your first priority should be getting that in check. Once you calm down you will be able to see—and hear—this situation more clearly.
And no, you aren’t old and no this is not “just how young people act.” I know some perfectly well adjusted and mature 24-year-olds and some 35-year-olds who act like idiot children. Everyone is free to be the worst at any age.
Have a question for Jane? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please change names and identifying info; this advice column unfortunately is not aimed at destroying lives.