Five months ago I started an online relationship with a married man. I'm married myself. We started out having fun, having casual online flirting that turned into sexting and Skype video chats. He lives in the States and I live across the Pacific Ocean. It was a relationship that was not initially meant to last nor ever be consummated in real life.

After four months, he said he was in love with me. He says he cant live without me and I pulled him out of depression from being in a sexless marriage. My marriage is almost sexless but not as dire as his. And his continuous attention and words of affection made me fall in love with him too. We made plans to see each other at least once in our lifetime. And he says he will find a way. It’s all very romantic and dreamy.

A couple of days ago, he told me he wanted to take me out to a nice restaurant and then see the new Aquaman movie. He said he’s pissed that he couldn't do that and we proceeded to talk about sitting in a movies theater and making out. He then needed to shovel snow and left his phone unattended. His wife found our conversation about the movie. He says it’s all she read because he deletes our conversation every time he logs out. But we did talk about making out in that thread.

The next day, he profusely apologized and we talked about what happened. He and his wife had a screaming match, accused each other of things lacking in the marriage, and then his wife asked him for sex at the end of the argument. The next morning she was sweet and affectionate. That left him confused.

He told me we needed to find a new way to communicate and created a new account. I'm now supposed to ignore him when he’s online in his original Skype account. He says he doesn't want to lose me and the sex with his wife was fucked up and left him confused. He says he still loves me. But he was visibly chipper when we Skyped and seemed amused by what happened. If I read it correctly, he was happy he had sex with his wife and got away with telling her I'm a friend from work that he had been flirtin with harmlessly. He told me he thinks his wife is afraid to lose him and felt guilty for not being affectionate with him. And now, she’s trying to be more affectionate but he doesn't know if it will last.

Should I take all of this as a sign that he doesn't need me anymore? Should I be worried that he couldn't tell me he’s getting what he needs from his wife and doesn't need me to fill that void for him? He’s very open but I feel like he’s also afraid to hurt my feelings so he might want to break it off with me in a round about way.

His presence online has declined significantly, Dan. He used to say he was addicted to me like a drug and would chat with me all throughout the day, even at work! Now, he says with the stress of his job and his wife checking his phone all the time, he’s finding it difficult to get online. He talks to me once a day, late at night when I should be sleeping. He’s still around everyday but the quality and quantity of our talks have declined. I asked him several times if he wanted to take a break and he tells me he couldn't live without me.

What should I do?

Confused About This Connection Halting

Forgive me if I'm brief. Or long-winded. Or incomprehensible. I'm on a long flight, the WiFi is spotty, and I have a migraine and my migraine meds are in the bag I checked because I AM A MORON. A moron with a migraine.

What should you do? Take that break you offered him.

You've never met this man—not in person—and even before his wife found out he was "harmlessly" flirting with a coworker and was inspired to fuck him (in a fucked up way), be sweet and affectionate (in a confusing way), and start monitoring his phone (in a suspicious way), CATCH, you were planning to "see each other" maybe once in your lifetimes.

If he could "find a way."

So he wasn't planning on leaving his wife for you and you weren't planning on leaving your husband for him. All this relationship was—and all it was probably ever going to be—was an online thing. A fantasy. Which is not to discount the connection you felt, CATCH; people can catch perfectly real and perfectly legitimate feelings for a person on the other side of the world via text, email, and Skype. (Feelings for the person that person actually is or feelings for the person that person led you to believe they were.) But this thing you two had was supplementary, it was an exciting diversion, a little cybersomething on the side that made your marriages a little more bearable. It was romantic and dreamy because it was tested against mundane reality and never would be.

Maybe if you'd met in person before his wife read his phone, CATCH, you would've been inspired to end your dire and direr marriages and run off (or swim away) together. But his wife found his phone and his actions ever since—he's basically unavailable to you now—demonstrate that, however strongly he feels for you, his marriage is his first priority. He literally doesn't have time for you anymore. So he can no longer be what you needed him to be, CATCH. He can't be your exciting diversion. At least not for the time being.

Don't ask him for permission to take a break. Take it.

P.S. My bullshit detectors may not be firing at full capacity right now, due to this headache, but I found myself wondering why this man would tell his wife he was flirting with a coworker. A coworker—someone he sees every day—is infinitely more threatening than a married woman on the other side of the ocean. That was a clumsy lie or a telling one.


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