'Both My Husband And My Affair Partner Want Me To Choose Them'

How do I forgive myself after doing something so hurtful to my friends and family? How does a person know when it's better to leave a marriage or stay in it because it makes sense?
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Reader Guilty Girl writes,

I got engaged at 22 after moving for a great job opportunity. Got married a year later at 23, and now I'm asking for a divorce before our one year wedding anniversary. My fiance is a great person, very thoughtful, loving, and willing to do anything and everything for me. I thought I could be married because I know that I couldn't find anyone who would treat me better than him. It seemed like the logical next step: Find someone who loves you and treats you well, and get married.

But I wasn't happy. I never wanted sex from him. He bored me and annoyed me and I never wanted to spend time together. We never talked about how I was feeling, just proceeded with life, co-existing. He wanted more from me but I kept pushing away, pretending everything was okay.

Over Memorial Day weekend two of our friends came up to visit. "Jane" has been my close friend since high school and her boyfriend "John" and she have been on and off for 7 years. John and I crossed the line over Memorial Day weekend and had an affair for a month until my husband found out.

My husband wanted to stay together but I couldn't be married to him any longer. I asked for a divorce. He moved to stay with one of our best friends until he got back on his feet. I still struggle everyday with my decision and how to deal with it. I went to therapy myself and definitely am doing better but still feel so much hatred towards myself for what I've done.

We had a close friend group of four couples and no one has disowned me, although my relationship with my friend who my husband is staying with has been damaged. I don't know how to forgive myself. I also miss Jane as a friend but she obviously has no interest in forgiving me. My husband and I were having an amicable divorce until he and Jane started becoming good friends. Now they both just talk about everything I've done all the time.

I've taken responsibility and full accountability for my actions and tried to apologize as many ways as I could. I know I can't expect them to ever forgive me but I still want it. I'm still friends with my affair partner, John. He's the only one who truly understands how I was feeling because he was going through something similar so we bonded over it. He knows I do not want to be with him, although he wants to be with me.

What do I do now? How do I forgive myself after doing something so hurtful to my friends and family? How does a person know when it's better to leave a marriage or stay in it because it makes sense? Should I still be friends with John? It's been six months now and the divorce is almost finalized but I still wonder about my decision every day.

Dear GG,

It certainly seems like you feel bad about what you've done, and it seems that you've made this clear to everyone involved. At this point, I believe it may be time to create a new kind of life for yourself. The group of couple friends sounds like it was a lot of fun while it lasted. But, as you're realizing, there is likely no way to bounce back from cheating and divorce and go back into the welcoming bosom of this friend group.

If you don't want to be with John, tell him so in no uncertain terms, and end contact. You can't just be friends with this guy again like nothing happened between you. You had an affair, and it ended your marriage. This is a new era, and John deserves to be cut loose if you don't want to be with him. Your ex would likely be a lot happier if you were out of this friend group too. Of course he is talking to Jane about what you guys did. He is looking for social support after being blindsided.

I believe that it may be time to reevaluate your life and what you want and need. What is it in your upbringing that led to you feeling like marrying a guy you didn't love, or didn't love that much, was the appropriate course of action? Did you see a loveless marriage growing up? Did you see infidelity and/or divorce and want a husband who was so in love with you that he would never leave? Well, you got it, and you also have an affair partner that wants to be with you. Whatever else, you can at least be confident in your ability to attract men, although it does seem like the men you attract enjoy drama and also enjoy not being someone's definite #1. It is likely that they are insecure and don't think they can get women who prioritize them and are head over heels in love with them. Read about other people's dysfunctional relationship dynamics to understand how early life experiences may have shaped the patterns you fall into.

I believe that you need to nicely and firmly extricate yourself from this group of people, take a breather, focus on therapy and your job or hobbies or friendships outside of this couple quartet, and regroup. If you understand how and why this all happened, you can then one day be better situated to enter into another marriage if you so desire, and one that may last forever (or at least more than a couple years). Good luck, and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, The Unexamined Life Leads To Problems Like This.

This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.

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