Is falling in love with someone else when you’re married possible? What I mean is, I’ve heard many people say that they fell in love with someone else while married, and I just don’t know.
On one hand, I could see how someone who was in a marriage and unhappy for a long time could possibly meet someone and fall in love. The person would have had to have been very lonely for a long, long time, and known deep down inside that the marriage wasn’t working, and/or that the spouse wasn’t the right person for him or her.
I could also see situations where the husband/wife is abusive, doesn’t treat the person well, is disrespectful, is rude, ignores the person, makes no effort in the relationship, or is hard to live with making the spouse detach and decide in their mind that the relationship is over, even if they stay. So, maybe they meet someone and fall in love.
All that said, I have to wonder, is falling in love with someone else when you’re married really love? Is it possible that you THINK it’s love, but really it’s lust, infatuation, the newness, the lack of loneliness, the Band-aid for your happiness?
I have to say, I think people who are married and who think they are in love with the person they are cheating with are fooling themselves. Why? Because they are in a no-win situation. What I mean by that is, let’s say they decide to leave the spouse to be with the person they think they are now in love with. It might feel amazing at the beginning–an immense sense of relief that you are FINALLY with the right person.
But, as time goes by, and the newness becomes old, and the two settle in the relationship and get to know the real versions of themselves (not the lovestruck ones who have blinders on for the first couple years) things change. Maybe guilt starts to creep in. Maybe the person who cheated and left for the other person starts to realize that things at home weren’t so bad, that he or she misses the kids and being a family. Maybe the person starts to feel a little resentment for the new person, like he or she pushed them to get out of the marriage.
I’m not saying that falling in love with someone else when you’re married never works out. I’m just saying that if you are reading this because you are in this situation, think carefully before you decide to end things with your current spouse. I can’t count the number of people I know who left their spouse for someone else and ended up divorced again. There are plenty. But, I also know couples who fell in love while one or both were married and are still together with the new spouse and say they are happy.
My advice is this: If you fall in love with someone while married, and you decide to leave the marriage to be with the other person, don’t marry the other person for a long time. Staying unmarried and just being in the relationship will really give you time to get to know the person when the two of you aren’t hiding, sneaking around, and when the relationship is out in the open. This way, if things don’t work out, you don’t have to go through divorce #2. Plus, not being married right away will give you the chance to reflect on what went wrong in the first marriage (instead of rationalizing that he or she “just wasn’t the right person.”
Here is an email I received from a woman who said she is falling in love with someone else and is married:
My husband and I are both in our forties. We have a seven year old. We have some significant compatibility issues in my eyes. He disagrees. I have attempted discussion with him in multiple capacities since our daughter was born, and it took me telling him I’m thinking of separating for him to take it seriously.
We have really built a great life together, but it’s more about our house, neighborhood, financial security, and what he doesn’t do (cheat, lie, etc.) rather than what he does do (participate). I love and respect him as a person, and he states that me leaving would “crush” him, and be “devastating.” I love him as a human being, but he feels more like a brother.But here is the worst part. I met someone. I think I am falling in love. So, what do you do when you’re falling in love with someone when you’re married?
Advice for this woman who is falling in love with someone while married:
Here is what she has going for her in the marriage:
2. “We have built a great life together.”
3. “I love and respect him as a person.”
5. “This man I love as a human being.”
I am not going to minimize her feelings. If he feels like a brother, that’s a problem. If the two have different child-rearing philosophies that’s a problem. If she is bored, that’s a problem. BUT…..there is so much good in the relationship, that I think she owes it to herself and to her husband to try to work in out in therapy.
Here’s the thing about falling in love with someone while married. I think it’s easy to “click” with someone at the beginning of a relationship, and out of the ballpark sex really really really really clouds sound judgment. We are human beings with needs and this woman felt lonely and needed to escape. But, I think it takes at least a few years to really really know someone. So, don’t know how she is going to feel with this guy down the road. Everything in a new relationship seems blissful–for a long long time.
My advice to her is that there is an order of things that makes sense. I’m not saying she shouldn’t be with this other guy, but before she decides that divorce is the best option, I would go to a few therapy sessions with her husband. They probably won’t do any good or change her mind at this point. Love and lust are very very powerful, especially at the beginning of a relationship. But at least if she goes, she can say she tried, and never have to wonder. It also may be a safe place to tell the husband about this other guy. And, it shows the husband that she tried.
Another option is, get separated and give each other some space. Maybe she dates this other guy for awhile–maybe give it a few months, and re-evaluate how she feels. Then again, the husband might meet someone and if she tries getting back together, he might now want that. The third option is, end it with this new guy. That is the only real way she can give her marriage a fair try. But honestly, most people in this situation are just too far gone. When they are falling in love with someone, it’s just too late.
In closing, here are some choices:
1. End the affair (I know that isn’t easy.)
Go to therapy with your ex and truly give the marriage a try. If it doesn’t work out, the guy she loves might still be there waiting, or he won’t be. I’m guessing this will be her least favorite option.
2. Go to therapy.
Either alone and/or with the husband. Maybe tell him in this safe space about the guy she’s falling in love with, and see how he responds.
3. Separate without moving forward with divorce.
Take some space, date the guy she’s falling in love with. See what happens. But, don’t expect the husband to wait around. He will date, too, and when that door opens, anything is possible.
This situation is so difficult. I’m sure this woman is in pain, confused and scared. But, staying in an unhappy relationship isn’t good for anyone, cheating isn’t good, and having unrealistic expectations about the new guy isn’t smart, either.
I think being married to someone and living with anyone for a long time can start driving people crazy. Marriage is hard! It takes work. And that might be the case with the guy she is falling in love with. But, she won’t know that for several more years if she chooses to be with him.
This is the thing. The new love always has an edge, because in our minds, the idea of what the relationship will turn into will always be much much better than the current marriage. The marriage can’t compete with the fantasy the cheater has in his/her mind about how amazing the new relationship is going to be. I’m not saying it won’t turn out amazing, but rather that the brain has a way of projecting that it is going to be blissful, and that isn’t always the case. And that is the reason why 70% of second marriages end in divorce.
Like this post? Check out my article, “9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship”