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Sunday, Aug 28, 2016
"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I had an affair with Y two and a half years ago. Y is a distant relative and he is much older than me.
At that time, my boyfriend P was overseas and did not know about the affair. It started off as chats over the phone and we ended up going on vacation together. Two months after my vacation with Y, my boyfriend P broke up with me, citing distance as the reason.
The problem is, I can't get over P because he is a wonderful guy and I know he is right for me. Y and I share amazing sexual chemistry, but that's about all.
A couple of months later when P and I met again, we decided to give our relationship another shot. We have not looked back since and we are very happy together. Meanwhile, Y who was stationed overseas, is back in the country for good. We get to meet occasionally.
After I got back together with P, I told Y that I wanted to end the affair because I am in a relationship. But Y uses emotional blackmail to keep a hold on me. He said I had used him and did not keep my promise to be with him. He claimed I am more than a sleeping partner to him; I'm someone he can talk to and connect with.
I told him I did not want to continue the affair as it was driving me crazy. I can only ignore him for a while. Then he will turn to emotional blackmail again. So far, I have pacified him by pretending that the affair is still on.
I have tried countless times to end it, but we only end up quarrelling. How do I handle this? I really want to end this affair with Y but I don't know how to do it. Talking doesn't help as Y can be very manipulative. I'm still studying and I don't want this to distract me from my studies. Please help me. - Going Mental
Dear Going Mental,
Two and a half years is a long time. The crux of your problem lies in the fact that there is a lot of secrecy. This secrecy gives Y power over you.
You entered into this relationship with Y while you were still with P. Though it was a long distance relationship, it sounds like there was an agreement that it was an exclusive relationship and yet you pursued a relationship with Y in secrecy.
When P broke off with you, technically it was no longer an affair as you were single. This is true unless Y was in a relationship with someone else. However, it will be assumed that Y is not attached as you made no mention of it.
Then P comes back into the picture. You are happy because P is a great guy and is loving to boot. Yet, the relationship with Y continued because at this point, Y says that it is more than just a sexual affair. As far as he is concerned, it is a legitimate relationship.
You say Y uses emotional blackmail whenever you try to end your relationship with him. What does he do? Does he make you feel bad? Does he threaten to hurt himself? Or, does he threaten to tell others about your relationship?
It is difficult to ascertain why it is so difficult for you to leave Y. What is the worst that can happen? It seems that the worst thing that can happen is that Y may show up at your home or at P's home, and comes clean about the affair. Therein lies the crux of the problem for you - your bubble will burst.
The truth is that it is not what Y is making you do or not do. It is what you don't want to do. And that is to come clean about the actual situation. You are being dishonest with both P and Y. You lead P to believe that you are faithful to him. And you lead Y to believe that you are true to him.
The source of your mental stress is this dishonesty. The only way out is to be honest and just come out with the truth about you and Y. Tell P about it. He has the right to know.
Right now, he is basing his relationship with you on a lie. He should be able to make a decision about his future based on the truth of the situation. P may leave you, or he may not. You will have to face that reality.
Tell Y that it is truly over and face the consequences of whatever may happen after that. He may be hurt. He may feel cheated. He may retaliate. But then again, if he knows how you really feel, he may just accept it.
Until and unless you face up to this, you will continue to let Y have this power over you. As long as you are silent, he knows he has the advantage.
What can happen? He may bombard you with calls. You can choose not to pick up his calls. You can bar his number. You can hang up on him. You can choose not to reply to his messages.
He can show up at your house and inform your parents about what is happening. In that case, you will just have to face the consequences of them knowing. There will be repercussions. You cannot get out of this unscarred.
You may have been careless and made a mistake. You may not have thought things through. Whatever the case, you would have to bear the consequences of your actions. You cannot escape that.
Honesty is more than just a virtue. One has to live honesty. There is no grey area - you are either honest, or you are not. It is hard being honest. Being dishonest has its share of difficulties. People get hurt when there is dishonesty.
It is never too late to be honest. You can start right now if you want. - Thelma