"I'm married. He's married. We haven't done anything physically, but we are so connected, to the point that we are both willing to leave our respective spouses. Is there a right way of doing this? Am I wrong? I haven't touched him out of respect for his wife, but I still feel bad." --J.D.
You should feel bad, and if your partner-in-adultery has any conscience, so should he. It sounds like you're having an emotional affair, and there's no way around it: It's just plain wrong. I appreciate that you've kept this illicit relationship from getting physical so far, but it's troubling that your motivation is respect for your sort-of-boyfriend's wife, but not respect for your husband, your marriage or even yourself. That tells me a lot about your union, this secondary relationship you've pursued and your self-esteem. You're in way over your head, and whether or not you know it, you're about to sink. I'm not so sure that your partner -- the other man, not your husband -- will go down with you.
The scenario you've described reminds me of that ill-fated and eventually very public relationship between former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his married, mother-of-two mistress, Christine Beatty. They had a deep connection, too, one that stemmed back to their teen years. During their affair, they exchanged thousands of text messages in which they frequently confided how much they loved each other, how intimate their emotional connection was and how they had always belonged together. So deep!
In 2003 Beatty left her husband, hoping that Kilpatrick would eventually leave his wife as well. "I can't see living this way with us being a 'secret' forever. I love you so much and I want to tell somebody, some day!" she wrote. Kilpatrick responded: "Please know with all our hearts and soul that I love you. And you will never, never be alone."
Sounds good, right? But things didn't turn out as planned or wished: Kilpatrick never left his wife. When rumors of the affair came to light, he denied any involvement with Beatty (of course), even under oath. And when the affair was confirmed, he sat in a church with Mrs. Kilpatrick beside him, apologizing for cheating and lying about it "specifically" to "the four people I love most in this world" -- his wife and his sons. Notably, Beatty's name didn't make the list. The last time we heard from her, in 2010, she had "lost everything," was depressed and moving to Georgia, according to her lawyer.
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