Dear Ellie: I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for about a year. We’re used to seeing each other at least three times weekly and talking daily. The catch is, he’s married.
Along came COVID-19 and he’s quarantined at home with his wife and kids.
We have zero way of seeing each other,since what reason could he give to leave the house alone? We hardly have the chance to speak to each other.
How do I get through not being able to see/talk to him? How do I deal with him being with his wife 24/7?
The Virus Ruined Our Romance
Getting together could have been worse. Since you’re the “outsider” to his family, from an infection-risk perspective, you might have convinced this married “boyfriend” to find an excuse to get together.
That might have brought exposure to the virus to his own health risk, as well as his family’s something for which he’d forever be responsible, along with you. All for another illicit sexual tryst.
But he didn’t slip away to see you, and that’s his message of silence: His family comes first.
It’s a signal that it’s time to consider what you really have with this man and the chances of something more in the future.
While some cheating husbands do eventually leave their wives — or get kicked out by them — the majority of thrice-weekly shags and daily texts add up to just flings. And become dim memories in a string of his infidelities.
That’s the risk you are taking that has nothing to do with the virus.
Here’s a better way to use this time of being apart, than complaining about his (unsurprising) loyalty to his wife and children:
Ask yourself how long you want to be second-place (or third, fourth, etc.) in his life. And what you have of companionship and respect beyond those stolen hours?
Consider, too, that if he needs the ego-boost of getting away with cheating on her, will he need the same outlet for self-indulgence when he’s with you?
COVID-19 has given you an opportunity to do better with your life than wait around for another family’s husband and father.
Feedback: Regarding the father’s interest in the possibility of his adult son’s giving up smoking and vaping to be less vulnerable to the coronavirus (May 6):
Reader: “What worked for me was learning: “Every craving WILL pass, whether you satisfy it or not.” Total light bulb moment. I took control. And I’m stubborn.
“You get to choose not to satisfy each particular craving, and to get busy with something else instead (like unwrapping a hard candy; the interruption of the craving thought process and the delay of getting a lozenge out, unwrapping it, and putting it in your mouth instead of a cigarette, combined with the hand-to-mouth mimic of smoking).
“By the time you’ve done all of that, the craving would’ve passed.
“So just take a deep breath (your lungs will remind you why you’re doing this!), and ride it out.Repeat as necessary.
“It turns out that the craving will go away by itself if you ignore it. Knowing that, it’s easier to ride out.
“Learning to experience and delve into discomfort was also an interesting aspect of not satisfying the cravings. Some pain isn’t so bad if it facilitates a breakthrough.”
Ellie: I wrote in that May 6 column about quitting a smoking habit many years ago and included some online smoking cessation helps.
But I’m not a crusader. It’s a personal choice requiring determination.
Feedback: Regarding the person whose “needier” friends continually call during the pandemic to vent their serious problems. But they’re making her feel anxious while also afraid to hurt them further by not listening (May 8):
Reader: “That was my question you answered and your advice contained good ideas that I hadn’t considered.
“I particularly appreciated the practical idea of my listening with full attention up to a five-minute limit (while having a soothing cup of tea for myself).
“Other things I have done to allow some conversation to continue are: Iwalk within my apartment to keep up my own energy (and surprisingly put one mile of steps on my tracker) and I dust and change beds while lending my ear.
“Since these friends’ lives are complicated, I also appreciated the advice that, if nothing’s changed, I could suggest that they get online counselling during the time of staying home.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
When a married lover’s spouse and family come first, you don’t.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.