Still Hurting and Hoping

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Several years ago I had an affair. It was deep emotional, torrid,
dramatic, and exciting. We’d known each other for a few years through
a volunteer group. I was single. He was married. Insert all the usual
platitudes about a wife who understood his “needs” but didn’t fulfill
them, and his assertion that he had her permission to fill them outside
the marriage, that she knew he did so, but they didn’t talk about it,
and that no one would get hurt. Wrong, wrong wrong!! I got hurt. I fell
madly in love with him. I still think the first year of our affair was the
best in my life. I felt free, desired, appreciated, adventuresome. All in
all, I felt seen. It petered out because health issues on my part left me
less available and slowly we returned to our former ability to be in a
room and not feel like we were on fire. But it still hurts. I miss the joy
of it and in the wee hours hope he’ll come back. Now one of my good
friends has confided that she is on the edge of a similar relationship
with a guy from her office. She needs someone to talk to, and wants
my advice. What do I say?

Still Hurting and Hoping

Dear Hurting:

You tell her the truth. Part of the reasons affairs are so exciting is
exactly the allure of the hidden and forbidden. It adds a layer of
mystery and excitement, one that is organic in new and true love, and
is intrinsic to the heightened intensity of an affair. You also tell her the
truth of the down slide, the months of sadness and hurting that you
experienced after the affair ended.

The reality is that once someone is besotted with lust, it is very
difficult to dissuade them that the pain they will experience later is
actually inevitable. Most people believe that their affair will be
different, that their prospective lover might actually transform into a
future mate, or that somehow they will escape the fate of most
mistresses: spending lots of time waiting for calls that don’t come and
visit that don’t happen. Most people who cheat on a partner do so in
spurts, and want a fresh, new stimulant each time. Your old lover isn’t
coming back, and hers will likely repeat the pattern. But you will have
a friend to talk to about it.