Q: We are both 35, and in a live-in relationship. I was not in the best frame of mind the last eight months, because I had lost my job in downsizing; I have a decent job only since the last month. I have had trouble with depression because of this. But we have always got through it together. I noticed she was starting to get weird about her phone; being obsessive with Whatsapp and generally ignoring me, even when confronted. I chalked it down to social media addiction. We have had a short breakup or two in the past but have always ended up together again. We always worked well together. She can at times be controlling and overbearing, but I know she did and still does love me. I however noticed her Facebook logged in while she was on holiday with her women friends from work. I couldn’t resist, as I had my suspicions. Sure enough, there it was. Months of conversations with her bestie, detailing her infatuation with this other guy; and hundreds of messages about the said emotional affair. She was smart enough to delete as she apparently cared enough to not actually friend the guy. She is apparently very non-resistant to compliments and flirting with several men. Our sex life has been up and down over the years. I wasn’t very sexually active when I was in depression, so perhaps there is some cause for blame there, but the last few months have been fairly normal to great. It seems to be my responsibility to initiate sex, as she has told me that she fears my rejection, which possibly may have been an issue while I was low. She came back from her holiday yesterday. She told me of her friends sleeping with several guys a night, which immediately made me paranoid as I had found the messages of this affair. We talked about things, and in an attempt at honesty she told me they did rent a room together but did not have sex, which I have a hard time believing as she had been planning the weekend with her friend for months. After she told me about the hotel, I have had to move out and am now staying with friends, wondering what to do. She sends me texts of regret, yet does not admit so to my face. She is expressing her guilt, sadness, and longing for me. I feel like I am settling down or now I am desirable again. She has been my best friend and lover for over seven years. But I struggle to think how I can get over her basically pretending I didn’t exist for six to eight months, living a single lifestyle of going out with her single mates and getting trashed. I have no involvement in her social circle and am now worried if I do go back it will take forever or maybe never get that trust back. It’s tearing me up thinking I will have to throw away the last seven years but I really don’t know what to do. There is definitely a deep love there; an understanding and kindred spirit. But it is too much to expect me to come back – as I have in the past. I have never had to deal with the possibility of a true breakup before, but this feels fucked up. What am I to do?
You guys obviously care about each other a lot and seemed to be emotionally invested as well. From what I can tell from your narrative, you seem to have also had a very intense relationship with each other.
Before I attempt to give my opinion of the situation you have described, I would like to suggest moving away from using a language of blaming. Blaming not only makes it hard to put the issue in perspective but also takes us further away from problem-solving. So, you being depressed and struggling with lack of libido are no one’s fault, not yours nor your partner’s.
Relationships are difficult and no one prepares us for those challenges. In fact this is the only arrangement and stage of life, for which we are ill-equipped as also loaded with painfully dysfunctional ideas and expectations. Life-long monogamy is one of them. I am fully aware of how common this expectation is and how frequently people fall short of fulfilling it and seeing it fulfilled for themselves. I am not giving a license to your partner’s behaviour; but dangerously treading the line between explaining it, and making an excuse for it.
The key to your emotional balance, or something close to it, lies in your understanding the whole story and narrating it to yourself in simple human terms as opposed to creating a victim of yourself and a monster of your partner. If you cannot forgive her and feel that you will never be able to live with her because you can’t trust her, then you know what to do. Let her go. But if you think you can get a bird’s eye perspective of it, and observe the whole situation in a way that you see others, with human limitations and not monstrous intentions, then you just need to give it time. Resume the conversation when you have reached a relatively non-blaming and possibly accepting place in your heart: for others, life, and more importantly for yourself.