Dear Ms. Peirano,

Since January 2022 I have been having an affair with what he said was a very happily married man (married for 16 years, two children, 10 and 12 years old). We got to know each other six months beforehand, but didn’t get involved in this sexual affair until many harmless and friendly chats later. With the agreement that his and my life should not change as a result.

I was in an unhappy relationship at the time and separated from my partner in March 2023 to enjoy my single life and my independence. At the same time, I also enjoyed the non-binding and sexually exciting affair.

I felt that my affair also enjoyed living out our sexual fantasies together, and he always let me know that. We often chatted about everyday things, but also about our fantasies, and were always aware of our limits. Nobody wanted a committed relationship.

Then suddenly he wrote in December that he would be moving in two months. But he would like to keep the affair going.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I accidentally asked when he decided to move and he said “in the summer” that it hurt me deeply. I felt cheated and asked him why he hadn’t mentioned it in the summer. He replied that he didn’t think it was important until the move date was decided. I found that very insulting because he wasn’t playing his cards close to his chest; after all, we were in regular contact and there were plenty of opportunities to bring it up. When I confronted him about my injury, he blamed it on my “excessive expectations that he obviously couldn’t meet,” and I replied that I was just interested in open and honest communication and trust. Again he blamed it on me.

I then asked him if he had perhaps met someone and he said no, saying: “No, I’m not that kind of person.” I replied: “Of course, after all, you have been cheating on your beloved wife with me for years. Of course you are one of those people and could do the same to me.” He laughed about it and sent a smiley after the sentence “You’re right about that.”

I then exploded and said that if he continued to trample on my feelings like that, I would have to have a straight word with his wife.

Since then there has been radio silence – or a “break from broadcasting” that he requested – and for me anger and sadness alternate. How can I better organize my emotions and find closure? This unpleasant ending could have been avoided.

Kind regards, Olga L.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. During my doctorate, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.

Do you have questions, problems or heartache? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.

Dear Olga L.,

I had to think for a long time before I could answer you. For me, this is always a sign that the situation is complex and contradictory and that there is no simple, “smooth” solution.

One point of interest to me is that you yourself have agreed to have an affair with a happily married man and father of two children. This means that you are dealing with a man who does not stick to agreements, does not play with open cards, only gives out selective information and gets the best of both worlds for himself.

And of course he also avoids conflicts that would arise if he were completely honest.

Women who take on the role of mistress often think that the man in question is honest with them because he loves them and the wife, so to speak, takes on the ungrateful role of the lied to and cheated woman. However, this is far from reality, because anyone who manages to have an enjoyable affair over a long period of time without remorse shows that they are generally able to exploit their advantage at the expense of others.

Very often I have to point this out to women who are in an affair with a married man because they don’t want to admit it. But you are very aware of this and have told him so yourself. I find that very thoughtful and courageous of you to take a close look at this sore point! Apparently this sore point is something that you were aware of in your head the whole time, but did not penetrate into feeling and acting.

Only when you experienced (for the first time?) that the concealment and dishonesty were directed against you, because the man had deliberately hidden from you for months that he was changing his place of residence, did the penny drop. This bitter realization then penetrated your feelings and caused great pain and injury. And his “joking” reaction (a smiley face) made it worse and trivialized your feelings.

They are angry and sad. I can understand that well. Finally, you opened up to him and had an imaginative and erotic time with him. In order to be able to have something like that with each other, you also have to get involved with each other and open up. They had a common, secret realm of freedom and their own rules of the game beyond everyday life with common agreements. He has now set his own rules of the game and has decided for himself (or probably together with his wife) to move away and thereby change the affair with you. You won’t be able to see each other as easily anymore.

So he has excluded you with his decision (or with his wife). Clear statement: I do what I want. That was a violation for you, and it also has an air of exercise of power: I’m changing the rules of the game without consultation, and you have to comply.

You resisted this power by threatening to tell his wife about the affair. You have, so to speak, put your finger on the red button on the atomic bomb that could detonate him and his family. In doing so, you have clearly shown that you cannot simply be ignored, but that you have sharp weapons in your hands.

Did it do you any good to defend yourself? Are you seriously thinking about carrying out your threat to get revenge? Do you think you would feel better afterwards? Or maybe even worse? You are entering very explosive territory here, and I would recommend that you go through these points calmly with a trustworthy person (friend, therapist, coach). Because, as I said, there would be massive consequences if you blew him and his family up.

Maybe just realizing that you could do it at any time is enough. It also affects children who would suffer if their parents had a crisis or separated. At the same time, with the atomic bomb threat, you have of course reached a point where there is no turning back. You have presented him and yourself with a fait accompli. The game is over! Things just get messy from here.

You now also have to live with this radical end, in which you are not uninvolved. A farewell conversation could be very difficult under these circumstances, as the trust on both sides is completely destroyed. It would probably be wisest to leave it alone. So now you’re figuratively alone, with your finger still on the red button, but pressing it wouldn’t improve your life or ease your pain.

Now it would be best to look at yourself and treat your pain. Write your anger and sadness off your chest (twice a day for at least half an hour), send yourself voice messages and answer them as if they were from a dear friend. Go for a walk, lie in bed and cry if you feel like it, or hit the tennis balls around the court (or jog, swim, dance to Gianna Nannini, etc.).

If necessary, go for coaching. Accept that it will take a while to get over this affair. Only at the end, when the storm has subsided, can you ask yourself what you have learned from the whole story.

Herzlich Gr├╝├čeJulia Peirano