Disclaimer: The following article is for the “other” person in an affair or a love triangle. Before I get a slew of angry email asking me how I can condone affairs, let me just say that affairs and love triangles happen. Being a coach I do not judge people but try to help them. Given that love triangles and affairs happen, the people in these situations need help and support, just like people in any other complicated relationship situation. This article does just that - it offers help and support to the people who need it.
To be in love with someone who is in a primary relationship or marriage with someone else can be the most excruciating and at the same time the most seemingly beautiful experience of your life.
The experience is excruciating because it is hard to stop or change it. It ensnares you in a situation that you may not be able to get out for a long time, one you may in fact not want to get out of. Your inability to make the situation into exactly what you want makes you suffer.
The experience is beautiful because the person that you are having the relationship with seems like your perfect, ideal partner — your soulmate. There is a very special connection between the two of you. The attention from your loved one and the way he or she feels about you is deeply satisfying. The bond between the two of you seems magical.
In spite of the beauty and the connection in the relationship, you suffer tremendously. It’s as if you are on a roller coaster ride, up one moment and more in love then you have ever been, down the next and in more despair then you have ever felt.
Below you will discover the reasons you are suffering in your relationship and coping strategies to ease your suffering.
#1 Reason for your suffering – you think your loved one is “the one”
At times you want to leave the situation, but you don’t feel you can
- you feel your loved one is “the one”, the intended one for you. Not
being able to be together with your “the one” all of the time causes
you pain. But when you try to leave, you feel agony. The pain of having
a part-time relationship is great, the pain of leaving is even greater.
The pain you feel when thinking of leaving or trying to leave reaffirms
to you that your loved on is in fact “the one”.
Coping strategy to consider: What if this person you are in love with is not “the one”, not your soulmate? What if this relationship is only a step — a big, significant step – but not “the one”? What if you are not trapped in the situation, waiting for your intended one to extricate him- or herself from someone who is not “the one”?
In fact you are not trapped. You feel trapped because you feel the person you are with is “the one”, and that you cannot let him or her go.
How do you know if he or she is “the one”? The pain of trying to leave is not a reliable way to tell. That pain can be attributed to other reasons, such as your deep fear of being alone - which most people have - or how much of your needs are getting met in the relationship and how much you don’t want to let that go.
You will only know looking back if your loved one was “the one” for you. Most people with love triangles in their past say their loved one turned out to not be their soulmate. When the suffering gets to be too much, start to wonder if in fact your loved one is your “intended one.”
#2 Reason for your suffering – you think there won’t be another love after this relationship
You are suffering because this love feels like your only chance at the kind of love that everyone dreams about. Even more, it’s hard to imagine being in a relationship and being satisfied with anyone else.
And so you are trapped.
All of your needs are not getting met in your relationship, yet all
the while you are not free, nor do you want to be free, to get them met
elsewhere. In fact, you don’t think there could be or will be anyone
else to meet your needs in such a way again, to love you this well.
Coping strategy to consider: What if there can be love even deeper than your feelings now, a love where you share ordinary moments with a special person, instead of only special moments stolen in secret?
Start to wonder if the whole package of your needs could be met in another relationship. People do find happy, fulfilling, loving primary relationships.
When the suffering about being alone yet again, at night or on holidays, gets going, focus on the fact that in the future you will have a loving relationship where your needs will be met.
If you need to, say to yourself a thousand times that you will be happy, your heart will be happy and all of your needs will be met. You just don’t know by whom yet.
#3 Reason for your suffering – you stifle your anger
Another reason you may be suffering...
is that you feel anger at your loved one, yet try to stuff that anger inside or pretend you don’t feel it.
You may feel angry at your loved one for staying in his or her primary relationship while being in a relationship with you. You may feel angry at your loved one for making promises that are not being kept, or because you have to spend weekends, holidays and most nights alone, even though you are in a relationship and in love.
Coping strategy to consider: You have every right to feel angry, so go ahead and feel the anger.
This does not mean you need to be mean and belligerent to anyone, including yourself. But it does mean you need to acknowledge your feelings to yourself and to your loved one and it does mean that you need to be authentic about your feelings.
This could mean that sometimes you choose not be with your loved one because you are too angry with him or her for the situation. At times you may need to cry, write in your journal, or hit something safe to get your feelings out.
Have you checked the Help for the "Other" Person in the Affair page: three resources to help you now?