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Boy on the Side

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 10/17/2001

My husband of 10 years just told me he is seeing another man. I'm still in a state of shock. I'm horrified and I can't help thinking it's somehow my fault. I always thought we had a good marriage, even though we weren't able to have the kids we wanted. I thought our love life was fine--not spectacular, but fine. I'm racking my brains to understand, but I don't. We've always had gay friends, but I just didn't see this coming. He says he loves me and wants to stay married but that he couldn't keep this a secret any longer. He even wants me to meet his lover. I don't know what to do. Can you help?

In the Dark

Dear Dark:
First, stop blaming yourself. Homosexuality is not as common as heterosexuality, obviously, but since it has existed in all classes and cultures throughout recorded time, it must have some natural purpose. Otherwise, it would have evolved out of the species when we shed our body hair and started walking upright. There is no blame. Second, although alternative sexual orientation is not unnatural, our society is filled with loudmouthed moral bigots who would have us believe otherwise. Fear and shame are powerful inhibitors, so it's possible your husband couldn't acknowledge it to himself until recently. So it must have been incredibly painful for him to have to tell you.

This is not to say you don't have a right to your own pain and anger--you do. Your husband betrayed you, and that's like being run over by a Mack truck twice, no matter how or with whom. And you need to get an AIDS test immediately. Some women find it relatively easier to accept a male rival--somehow it's less devastating to be compared against totally different equipment. But unless you have a fondness for triangles, I'm not so sure staying married would work. If you and your husband have always been good friends, it's possible that after you separate you could be good friends again. But even if and when you can find it in you to understand and forgive, he's asking a lot to want you to get chummy with his new love.

My boyfriend is now working in Europe for a "short" period of one or two years. I love him a lot and I know I'll always love him. But as time started going by, I went from feeling lonely to feeling weird, and now I feel awful because I really need him. But I've also started to forget some feelings I had, and my attitude on the phone is more sad and distant every time. Time and distance are cooling off my passion, and I don't know what my feelings will be when he comes home for Christmas. I can't tell him to come back now. I know he needs to do this job and I encouraged him to go, but I wish he'd never left. What should I do?

Painful Distance

Dear Distance:
One minute you're lonely (you miss him, he's so wonderful, and you love him so much). Then you feel abandoned (if he really loved you, he would never have left you), envious (he's doing something exciting and exotic, and you're stuck in your plain old boring old life at home), fearful, and jealous (Europe is chock full of beautiful, available women just waiting to get their hooks into a great guy like him). Then you're resentful (he's taking an awful lot for granted expecting a fabulous gal like you to just wait around till he gets back). Then guilty (you've got no right to complain when, after all, you told him to go). Then, as if that isn't confusing enough, when a few hours go by that you're not obsessing about him and your relationship, you panic that you'll walk right past him in the airport because you can't remember what he looks like.

Calm down. Love isn't easy for anyone, and long-distance love is even harder. Having these conflicting feelings is normal, but fretting and worrying all the time isn't helping you. Of course you miss him, but in his absence it is up to you to keep yourself busy, see friends, pursue or develop interests that will engage your artistic and/or intellectual capabilities. Whatever else you do, stop sulking on the phone. Make it a point to have something interesting to talk about with him in every conversation--a movie you saw, a book you're reading, gossip, anything amusing that will let him know you're still the fun gal he fell in love with. It's OK to tell him you miss him, even to shed a tear or two, but if that's all you've got, it's a pretty dull call. Earlier this year I might have told you to get off your butt and on a plane to visit him, so you could see where he lives and leave your scent in his bed, but now that's a much bigger decision to make. But you can send and ask for photos. It's easier to feel connected with visual aids.

When he comes home for the holidays, give yourself--and him--time to readjust to each other. You've both changed some from the last time you were together. Your passion may be reawakened instantly--hooray!--but if it isn't, try to keep from jumping to any negative conclusions. Expecting too much leads to inevitable disappointment, but there's no need to decide in those first awkward moments that the romance is doomed.

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Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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