I’m 44, Married 21 years, 3 great children, own my own house and have never cheated on my wife. A year ago, a lady started at my company, we became really close friends over the last year. She was going through very hard times, her second divorce from a man who mentally and physically abused her.
I tried to be her friend, listened when she needed an ear, a shoulder when she needed a cry. I even loaned her money to start her divorce process, helped her get a car (she had 4 repos with her husband because priorities of his) in her name and rebuild her credit. She does have 4 children, and she sees 2 of them every other week (1st divorce), 1 child was adopted at birth, and the third child, the youngest still lives with the husband. Again, he manipulates her and will not let her see the child, the only time she has seen her child in the last year, her husband raped when she was there. She did file a police report and the judge gave restraining orders against him. But the police would not pursue because she willing went to the house to see her child.
A week ago, she stopped talking to me. I went to where she was living, but she moved, she wouldn’t answer my phone calls or anything. About 4 days ago, she called me to tell me she never wanted to see me or talk to me again and that she moved back in with her husband and cancelled the divorce.
My Question: Why am I so sad and depressed? I think about her subjecting herself to that again after she fought so hard to get out of it and I just break down in tears. I feel I have failed her and at times I just feel useless like just laying down, never giving up because then I wouldn’t hurt this bad.
Why? I feel used, but I don’t. I know, her husband mentally torments her and I can imagine that is why she went back because of her child. Why am I feeling so bad, and when will this pain end.
A: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your concerns. Let’s start by understanding what was happening. You were having an emotional affair. Emotional affairs can sometimes be more powerful and more devastating than sexual ones. The reason you feel so bad is that the affair is over.
You are also with a woman who needed to be rescued, and it seems as if she needed that on a lot of different levels. You provided support, listened, and even gave money.
Her vulnerability gave you the opportunity to feel important. Emotional affairs happen because some support of the marriage you are in isn’t satisfactory. While you were being validated for helping her it felt good — now that you know your efforts were not successful it is natural to feel all the things you’ve listed.
I would highly recommend refocusing on your marriage to try and find out what there needs attention. My experience has been that unless this happens another emotional affair is likely to happen again.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Mar 2014
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Sadness And Depression Are Ruining Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/15/sadness-and-depression-are-ruining-me/