Ask Ellie: Extra time spent with female client seen as emotional cheating

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: What qualifies as emotional cheating?

My soon-to-be ex-wife of eight years announced we’re through because she believes my friendship with another woman was “cheating,” though we never had sex.

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My ex and I are early-40s. It was a second marriage for us both. I thought we’d be together forever.

When a client needed help with the technology side of her new business, I met with her weekly over two months.

And I always asked my wife to join us for a drink after we finished.

She always said she was “too busy,” or tired, or going out with friends. Then she accused me of cheating. I was shocked.

Within a day, she’d blocked me from every form of communicating with her, saying that we’re now separated and will be divorced as soon as possible.

I still love her and am heartbroken. I had no sexual feelings for my client. I immediately ended the technology sessions with her.

Does a business relationship qualify as “emotional cheating” simply because the person is of another gender?


No, but appearances matter. Nevertheless, the fact that your then-wife didn’t alert you to her suspicions, and ask you outright if anything was “going on,” makes this split a blow for which you were totally unprepared.

However, her repeated refusal to join you for drinks with your client, was a clear signal you missed: You were prolonging the contact instead of meeting up with just her.

An emotional affair is sometimes seen as a “gateway affair.” To your wife, your client’s gender mattered.

Had you given the same attention to a man, she might’ve resented the amount of time as workaholism, but not as cheating.

Dear Ellie: I’m a dovorced man in my mid-60s, semi-retired and financially solvent. I’ve been long-distance dating a woman who is 60.

She was married twice, both husbands were very controlling. I’m the complete opposite. She’s not financially well off and sometimes I help her out. She has never asked for money.

We met through work. I wasn’t interested in a relationship but she kept pursuing me. After a couple of months, she said she loved me. I soon told her the same.

We were intimate for a while, then that stopped. I believed she was post-menopausal so I backed off. We got along very well and enjoyed each other’s company.

Then, abruptly, I stopped hearing from her. Eventually, I got a reply saying we’re done, she needs to fix herself emotionally before she can share herself.

I didn’t contact her again. Ten months later, I emailed her a birthday wish and she immediately sent a long message.

We’ve since communicated twice weekly for about a year.

We’ve not gotten together because of COVID-19. I messaged that if she doesn’t want to communicate, I understand. I also said: “You know I still love you.”

She stated that she wasn’t seeing anyone, likes hearing from me and in her “own way” loves me.

Sounds like she has commitment issues. But why the communication?

Am I wasting my time to end up getting hurt again? What would you do in this situation?

I’m Lost

It’s what you want to do that matters. Me? I’d stop the communication because there’s too much frustratingly unclear.

She reels you in periodically, mentions “love,” then distances it in her “own way.”

However, if you’re satisfied with friendship only, continue until it’s possible to meet after getting vaccinated against COVID.

You’ll soon know if she’s In or Out beyond online contact only.

Feedback regarding the woman who sees herself as so “small and pretty” that other women wrongly assume she’s after their husbands:

Reader: What a condescending, egotistical and presumptuous woman. If she had a specific problem with other co-workers, fine. Don’t generalize about every marital situation.

Reader 2: I love the letter from “the other woman” (who never IS the other woman).

I’ll never understand why women cheated on by their husbands blame the other women when it’s their husband who makes the choice to cheat.

So long as women keep blaming the woman more than their cheating husbands, we’ll remain considered “the weaker sex.”

Ellie — Here’s why I gave space to the “smaller and prettier” woman’s long letter:

Many people are nursing pet peeves and real grievances due to the restrictions and difficulties we’re all experiencing. This was a look at “the other side” of accusations/blaming.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Emotional cheating may exist in the hurt view of a partner especially if “another” woman or man is involved.

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