Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy Gay Pride 2015

This morning I spotted that google had a web site called androidify that let's people create their own Android character. So I spent a few minutes creating a GB pink piggy bank character :-), which waves at you with its right hand, while carrying a glass of decent red wine in it's left hand:

There's a gay pride parade happening in both London and New York this weekend, so Happy Pride everyone :-).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Discussion with a gay guy who had an affair

Back in February, over the course of a week, I exchanged a lot of emails with a reader who lives in Singapore. The reader had been in a gay relationship for 20 years, but he'd started having an affair with someone else and he didn't know what to do next. One interesting issue that these emails discuss is whether one should tell a partner about an affair or not, once the affair is over. Another interesting aspect of these emails is how the reader gradually changes his position, and eventually starts to focus on what he needs to do to try and save his relationship. The emails were as follows:

Dear GB,

I've been reading your blog for many years now and would like your advice about my current situation.

I am an Asian guy brought up in US, and after graduating from university I moved to Singapore for work where I met a wonderful Caucasian man. For nearly two decades we have been in a very loving, faithful, monogamous relationship. We both started our careers in separate companies in junior roles and worked our way up to senior management roles with lots of overseas business travel and time apart or away from each other. We were both very happy and accepted that business travel and the time apart were part of our routine. We are both around 40 years old and reasonably attractive, so we have had our fair share of people hitting on us both individually and as a couple. We have never strayed or acted on any advances in the past, as we believe we should be committed to each other. I have to admit he is only my second bf and I am his first ever bf so we are not "players" as to say.

This was all very well and swell until about two years ago when head office decided to close its APAC operations and made me redundant. At that time I guess I was a bit distraught about being jobless but also excited about having the means and time to travel and explore the world before getting back to a full time role. This is where my problems begin. During the first few weeks/months it was great as I thought I was basically on an extended holiday break. My partner and I planned several holidays together and I was having a whale of a time in my new found freedom from work. After my partner returned to his normal work schedule it dawned on me that I was basically alone for much of my time in Singapore. I felt lonely and a bit needy which is not like my normal personality. I have tried to seek full time employment but nothing seemed to be a good fit in my line of business, and no roles which were similar to my previous job attracted my attention. I am currently doing part time consulting work but that is very sporadic and not very challenging.

In my downtime I found myself looking at gay apps and initially chatting and flirting with guys but never meeting them. I tend to chat to Caucasian guys in different countries to justify/deceive myself that I wasn't cheating or betraying my partner. Then about a year ago I was messaged by a guy in the US and initially it was the same thing of chatting / getting to know each other but after about four months I decided I wanted to meet the guy in person and to book a ticket and fly to US to basically meet a stranger. This was so unlike me and I was both excited and racked with guilt of having an affair/cheating on my partner that I went back and forth of cancelling and rebooking the flight/hotel to US.

Eventually I went ahead with the trip and met the US guy. There was an incredible explosive chemistry between us when we first saw each other for the first time. We got on so well together, had loads in common and it was way more than just physical attraction between us. We literally talked the whole time about everything and just had such a fantastic time together. Initially I booked the hotel room for just the weekend and I was to return to Singapore afterwards. US guy asked me to stay longer and I extended my trip and spent a whole week with him at his home. We played happy family the whole time and I got to know US guy more. He explained he was previously married to a woman but he's now divorced. He was totally in the closet about his homosexual tendencies till after his divorce when he initially met guys off the gay apps and chatrooms. He did have a long relationship with an Asian guy that lasted eight years. They broke up after the Asian guy finished his studies in US and moved back to Asia and since then he has been alone until he came across me on one of the gay apps. US guy also knows all about my background and current partner situation. I also suspect that US guy hasn't moved on from the relationship with the previous Asian guy, and is still holding out that he will return one day, because he is still in regular contact with him and has been on several holidays to Asia to meet up.

My dilemma is that I have been seeing US guy for about a year now and I would fly to US every two/three months to spend a few days with him in the city where he lives and also a few days at his home outside of the city. When we are not together we chat/text/skype several times daily. This whole time since the start of our affair was on the understanding that I would not leave my partner in Singapore and he would be able to date guys in US. I was all fine with this arrangement as I would have time to figure out what I was going to do with my life/job situation and existing relationship. Recently I have thought about moving back to US permanently and breaking up my 20 year relationship as I am besotted with US guy that I am willing to take a risk on him. My friends in Singapore think I am having a mid-life crisis and have gone totally loopy with this way of thinking. US guy has also pulled back a bit when I told him I was thinking of ending my 20 year relationship to be with him. He has told me he doesn't want to be a home wrecker and feels guilty about the whole situation and maybe I should take more time in deciding and in the meantime we should maybe cool things down a bit. I have tried cooling things down but after a few days or a week of not being in touch I have an urge to contact him and the cycle begins all over again.

I am totally lost as what to do, I can't sleep, function properly and constantly irritated about minor stuff that wouldn't even register in my mind before. Even friends advise about seeking professional family counselling so would like your advice or any comments on my dilemma.

I look forward to hearing from you!

When I read the email, I couldn't help thinking that his friends were right that he was having a mid-life crisis, so I replied promptly as follows:

Sorry to hear about everything that's happened to you. Your email talks about your partner a lot in the beginning, and then you don't mention him. Looking into the future, I can't envisage any sensible scenario where you don't end up talking to him about everything. Are you really thinking about walking out of the door without any explanation? After 20 years, he would surely deserve to know why! You write that you need "... to figure out what I was going to do with my life/job situation and existing relationship" but how on earth can you do any of that without talking to him?

Indeed, it occurs to me that you're lost because you think that you can't talk about how you're feeling to the guy who's been the most important person in your life since you became an adult, i.e. your boyfriend. You have no idea what he might be thinking, or if you do, you don't disclose it in your email. He's likely to feel that you've grown apart given what you've been doing, but is he looking to try and repair or is he also looking to move on? He may even have his own secret lover, but I have no idea how likely that is. Would he contemplate a move back to the US with you, if that's best for you professionally? Maybe he can think of things that you haven't thought of, after all, that's what good boyfriends should try and do when things get tough. A good relationship is "... for better, for worse ..." and this is obviously part of the "worse" but that shouldn't necessarily mean that it's the end.

You are indeed having a mid-life crisis. If you've read a lot of my posts then you'll have heard me say many times "The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence" and that's certainly true in this case. Your email implies quite strongly that US guy isn't looking for anything more with you, so you need to consciously acknowledge that it's unlikely that any relationship with him would go very far at the moment.

As I said, in the second paragraph, it's not plausible that you don't end up talking to your boyfriend about everything. It's likely to be a very difficult conversation indeed, but please, don't just walk out without any explanation. Once you've said the difficult things then I think you will feel very slightly better, even if that turns out to be the beginning of the end of your 20 year relationship. But (again something that I've said many times before), good communication is the key to deep rewarding and long-lasting relationships, so if you don't try and repair, you relationship is doomed anyway. It's even possible that your boyfriend will understand everything that you wrote in your email to me, and then find ways to give you all the support that you need at this difficult time.

So, please talk to your boyfriend as soon as possible. Also, please let me know what happens.

Within a day, the reader had sent me another email:

Hi GB,

Thanks so much for your prompt reply.

It's quite reassuring that you/another person can understand my predicament and my feelings of being lost and not knowing where to go and how to move on.

I actually have spoken in a roundabout way to my bf regarding my current feelings of being underemployed and also the feeling of loneliness when he is not around for extended periods of times. Whereas he understands and has even tried to push me into finding a job or role (charity/volunteer work) that will occupy my time, I feel I need his emotional support rather than the financial support.

We have even talked about moving to US together (he is not from US) but willing to move in a few years "when the time is right". He has a senior management job looking after his company’s global markets based in Singapore, so travel is part of his role and I understand that and in effect I am taking a back seat in order for him to succeed. I do not and will not expect him to give up his job for my sake. I need to find a way around his travel schedule to stay connected to him. We message and FaceTime daily now when he is away, so I am making an effort to rebuild our relationship.

He does not know I had had an affair and will be devastated if he knew I was with another guy. He is very old school and has very high morals. I know he has never cheated on me and I do not believe he will ever do so. Even when we were living in separate countries for a year due to different jobs we made the effort to travel between the countries every other month to be with each other. He would even feel guilty and tell me if a guy cruised him in the gym or made any advances on him.

Now after my affair, when I am with my bf doing couple things and spending time together, my mind wanders to US guy and what I would be doing with him in the US. I know the grass is not greener on the other side and have seen some of my friends split up after long relationships who have then regretted not trying to make things work out between them, so I do know I have major stakes on hand if I just give it all up and move to US.

I guess you are also correct in the fact that US guy may be scared off as I know he is seeking a relationship and I was rebound guy for him and he’s not actually sure if he has moved on from his previous bf. We have talked at length about his previous relationship and he had admitted he is still in love with his previous bf but as he’s moved back to Asia his ex has moved on. I have tried since the New Year not to contact US guy so often and try to work things out with my bf. But it always seems after a few days I cave in and send US guy a text or he messages me with a Hi. We haven’t actually said anything lovey dove for a while now so I guess things have died down for him ever since I brought up moving to US and splitting with my bf. US guy did say he does suppress his feelings for me as he knows he doesn’t want to break up my relationship so I know also he’s holding back. I guess I am taken in with his attentiveness and messages of courtship that I should be seeking from my bf instead of US guy.

Thanks for your help!!

At this stage, I felt I needed to be blunt about what I thought was necessary to make robust repairs to his 20 year relationship, so I replied with the following:

You're in denial about the need to talk to your boyfriend about everything. You think that one possible course of action is to hide your affair and continue with your relationship, but it won't work like that. It's become far far too big, and as I said in my first email, your relationship is doomed if you can't communicate properly with him. You say it yourself in your recent email that what you need is his emotional support, and you'll never really have that again if you don't talk to him. Can you survive in a relationship for the rest of your life without proper emotional support? You're thinking "What should I do", instead of working with your boyfriend and thinking together "What should we do", so at the present point in time, your relationship is effectively dead anyway. So I still don't think there's any sensible scenario where you don't talk to him about everything.

Within a day, the reader replied as follows:

Hi GB,

I don’t think I am in denial about the need to have better emotional communication with my bf. I totally understand that I should be more open with my feelings with him rather than project my feelings and emotions onto my affair with US guy.

On the topic of US guy, I guess the affair has run its course as he has been quiet and distant since Christmas/New Year. I take that as a sign that he has moved on and I was reading more into what we had as it seems he was seeking something closer to US so as not to deal with the complexities of another long distance relationship. I understand that US guy has been providing me with the emotional support that I've been lacking in my relationship with my bf. I guess after nearly 20yrs together we have drifted apart and need to work on forming a closer bond and not look to third parties for that support.

On that point, I have realised any meaningful relationship with US guy is not possible and I have consciously decided not pursue any further romantic friendship with him. I have communicated this to him, hence the silence on his behalf. His last email/text in early February was that he was still in regular communication with his previous bf (in Asia) and awaiting his uncertain return to US, but in the meantime he is exploring new friendships in US with SE Asian / oriental guys. I guess that means he is seeking physical connections with guys in US and not seeking anything more at the moment. This is not the type of friendship I seek nor want. As you state in your previous email, I need the emotional support from my bf and not just the physical relief.

I am trying to be more emotionally open to my bf and spent the past few days talking about future plans together and scenarios of being apart and me travelling with him when he is away on extended business trips. One such trip will take place in April where he will be in North America for one month and I have decided to travel with him for some of that time. I will refrain from contacting/seeing US guy while I am nearby, and have already contacted friends to occupy my time there. I realise that having an affair or seeking what I lack emotionally with my bf is not the solution to my insecurities.

I really appreciate your advice and some comments have made me re-examine my relationship with my bf and how I should deal with my current situation.

Thanks so much for everything!

Before I'd had a chance to reply, the reader sent me another email:

Hi GB,

Second email for today as I'm feeling a bit worked up as having a great weekend with my bf with everything seeming to come together and moving ahead and now just had a shock at having come across the US guy online on one of the gay "social" apps seeking a hook up.

I know in my mind that things are over between us but feel extremely betrayed that he is choosing to end our friendship and seeking hook up with strangers. He had deleted all of his gay apps a few weeks ago but seems to have set up new profiles and changed specs in order to disguise himself, i.e. age/height/weight etc. I know it's him even though he's not putting up photos of his face because I recognise specific photos of his home/furniture/body markings etc.

I guess this was inevitable that he would be back on the apps. Do you have any advice, apart from not being on the apps myself, to help me not feel so devastated knowing that US guy is online again?

Both emails were avoiding what I thought the main issue was, namely the need for the reader to have a proper chat with his boyfriend about everything that had happened. But more than that, why was the reader still checking the apps himself, and still letting US guy's behaviour worry him? My response was as follows:

The fact that the actions of US guy concern you gives me cause for concern about your existing long term relationship. Emotional support should be coming from your boyfriend, not me. It only serves to reinforce my view my view that you're in denial about the need to talk to your boyfriend about everything. What's likely to happen over the next year or so is that something will go wrong with your relationship because there's this big thing that you're hiding, which means that you can't communicate properly, etc etc. The fact that you're still checking apps is further evidence that you're not committed to solving the issue with your long term boyfriend. It's up to you of course. I'll take no pleasure if you need to email me later because your relationship does end up breaking down :-|.

When the reply came, I was glad to see that he was finally starting to address the disclosure issue:

Hi GB,

Thanks for your reply. One of the reasons why I'm emailing you is the fact you are a stranger and can look upon my situation from a third party non biased point of view so I thank you for your comments and feedback.

Another reason is that my bf is away on business again as I usually do not go on the apps when he is around or feel the need to seek out guys when he is here.

Also I don't know how to go about approaching him with the subject of my affair or me being on the gay apps when he is not around as I really don't meet the local guys and I'm not on them seeking casual sex.

On the subject of disclosure of the affair, I have done a lot of research and read a lot of material on the internet and some people have advised not to disclose the affair for the sake of feeling less guilty on oneself as it may cause more damage than good.

I have sought advice/feedback from my friends about this subject and they have responded by saying forget about US guy and have fun on the apps and don't get emotionally attached. I was seeking feedback from you and hoping you had a different take on this.

I guess in a way I am in denial about my long term relationship as US guy has totally got me taken in. I was very much smitten with his affection and sweet talk at the time and a bit naïve thinking I was falling in love with a genuine guy. Turns out he is hooking up with several guys and on the lookout for more hook ups at any opportunity.

I did a stupid thing where I responded to his profile today pretending to be someone else (fake name/random blurry pic etc) and he replied back basically with the standard hi/nice profile/what you into/when you free response. I know I shouldn't care at this stage and to a point I don't, as I know for sure what type of character he is now, so I don't regret faking a profile for this outcome.

I guess I will need to work on my relationship and address my emotional support from my bf further. Thanks again and I don't believe you would take comfort or pleasure in hearing that I have succumbed to a relationship breakdown.

At last, the reader seemed to be starting to see the truth about everything that had been going on :-). Looking back at all these emails now, my response that followed was perhaps my best contribution to this debate:

Thanks very much :-), because now we can debate a very important issue, i.e. "to disclose or not to disclose".

FYI, I think that you're at the point I was at when I told my boyfriend number 1 that I'd been away on holiday with boyfriend number 2 (see A conversation with boyfriend number 1). I decided to disclose because, as I said before, it had come too big and I had developed feelings for boyfriend number 2. If you've read my blog you'll know that I eventually split up with boyfriend number 1, even though I never wanted that to happen. One of the reasons for that outcome was that boyfriend number 1 has never been very strong emotionally, and he was unable to handle the idea that I was still in love with him after what I'd done. He also didn't like the idea of an open relationship. However, I would expect your boyfriend to be emotionally much stronger given his job, so if you disclose and you split up then I'd expect it to be for a very different reason.

Disclosing is not to make you feel less guilty. It's so that you can try and rebuild. Until you disclose the truth I don't see how you can do that in a meaningful way. That was certainly why I disclosed to boyfriend number 1. You're already back on the apps, still pining a bit for US guy, so how long before it all happens again? Everything would be different if your boyfriend knows that when he's away you might use apps. You could discuss whether you need some kind of open relationship, although perhaps that would still be unacceptable. I now seem to have grown out of my need for *activities* with other guys, and some things in your email suggests that you want to ditch the other guys too. I don't see that happening without the strong support of your boyfriend.

What does "doing more harm than good" mean? That your relationship will never be the same? That it might cause you might split up? Yes it won't ever be the same again and Yes you might split up. It will almost certainly be the biggest crisis point that you've had, and the outcome is impossible to predict. However, without doubt your relationship can be much better than it is now, because at the moment you're not getting the support that you need, and also your boyfriend doesn't have the relationship that he thinks he has. If your relationship does survive, it'll be much stronger. Alternatively if you hide this and try and tough it out, my guess is that you'll gradually become more and more unhappy and detached from your boyfriend, so that even if you still live together it won't be much of a relationship.

Another thought, though, is that I have no idea what your boyfriend must be thinking. Do you really think that he hasn't noticed anything unusual in your behaviour? If he really does work very hard then it is just about possible, although more likely is that there's something in the back of his mind that he doesn't want to address because he's too busy and he knows deep down that he might not like the answer. Unless you do talk, if he does have a niggle then it'll always be there, and that's not healthy for the two of you either.

I've never posted the following snippet before, but a few years ago on the day after Christmas I got an email from a guy who was at the very top of his profession. Undoubtedly the guy was a very hard worker, perhaps like your boyfriend. The email started as follows:
"My bf number 1, we've been together for 19 years, is cheating on me - he has been for years , I've pretended it was a mistake etc but now he's having a mid-life crisis as well and keeps saying he doesn't know what he wants! I'm left hurt and angry and crying and he's making his mind up about what he wants. I always said the first time would be the last but then I wasn't thinking of love, and I do love him, very much."
I'm not saying that your boyfriend will have the same reaction but there are some similarities. The crisis point had been reached, and at that point the guy's reaction wasn't even what the guy thought his reaction would be, because he realised that he still loved his boyfriend in spite of the forbidden cheating. You give me the impression that you do want to stay with your boyfriend, and if so, that should make the conversation a bit easier. In the snippet above, the boyfriend doesn't seem to know what he wants.

It sounds like I indeed have a different view to the friends that you've spoken to. And in fact that's yet another reason to disclose. A situation where (presumably) close friends know such an important secret about your relationship and your boyfriend doesn't know it is very unhealthy. Might your boyfriend eventually find out through the grapevine? Incidentally, advice to "enjoy the apps" sounds appallingly short term to me, and ridiculously inappropriate for someone like you who's been in a long term relationship for 20 years. Are they jealous of your relationship?

The reader responded as follows:

Hi GB,

I find emailing you very therapeutic as I have been basically letting you know all about my affair / dirty secrets in the hope of seeking some sort of redemption or absolution for my infidelity. I know this is not what you are about and do not expect anything but brutal honesty and feedback from you.

In the whole 20 yrs of our relationship I can honestly say I have not felt this low ever. The reason is inexplicable as I seldom have the need for hook ups or one night stands, but in saying that I am not a saint and have a few (less than a handful) of sexual encounters with other guys in the whole 20yrs of us being together. Each time afterwards I feel incredibly guilty that I have betrayed my bf and it doesn’t happen again for literally years.

I know I need to take ownership and admit my guilt or at the very least open up to my bf about my real feelings and rebuild the mess I have created. What is fundamentally different from your situation with your break up with bf1 is that you wanted an open relationship and he did not. I also do not want an open relationship nor does my bf, we have talked about this in the past as we have friends that have open relationships and seen the implications and problems it causes with one partner seemingly getting left out in the relationship while the other partner seems to be having more fun. This inequality in the relationship is probably the reason that we have stayed monogamous. I guess you are going to argue that in effect of me having an affair that I am being unfair and shutting out my bf and hence having more power or the upper hand than him hence the inequality?

This time with the affair with US guy I don’t feel so guilty and in a way he has made me realise that I am seeking more than monogamous companionship with my bf. I think like you with your relationship with boyfriend number 1, I want more adventure in my relationship rather than being settled as I am currently am with my bf. I think I am looking at this as being the greener pastures on the other side. I know this is not reality and stupid of me to seek further friendship with US guy on this basis. I often wonder if the reason that I am besotted with US guy is that he is the very opposite to my bf. US guy comes from a very blue collar industry. He likes/thrives on US pop culture and generally very down to earth or "common" to use a more horrible turn of phrase. So I guess when I was spending a week at US guy's house playing his bf I enjoyed all the washing/ironing and cleaning which is something I haven’t done in all the years of living in Singapore as we have a full time maid that does all the household stuff. To say we move in different social circles is the best way to describe it so I guess it was a thrill to meet someone so different that showed an interest in me. Needless to say that was all very fine through the rose coloured glasses and now reality has kicked in and it's no longer all happy ironing or vacuuming. Sorry that seemed to poke fun at the situation but I don't really know how to describe the situation or the circumstances any other way.

You are correct that my bf does not know what has been going on or have an inkling I had an affair as he is away often he only sees the fake "happy me" side of things when he is home. If I did disclose to him I been with another guy he probably won't believe I would be capable in the first instance. I did have a bit of a meltdown around Nov/Dec last year where I did contemplate walking out on the relationship to be US guy. At that time he associated my moody behaviour with me being out of work and stress of the Christmas/New Year holidays where we were going to be with his parents and friends. Usually I get on great with his family and friends so he did delve deeper and asked if there was anything troubling me but I bottled out and said everything was fine and I was concerned about the job situation and money side of things. He was great and re-assured me that he would take care of everything and that I don't need to rush to get another job until I'm ready to re-join the workforce.

Still a bit confused on my next moves as bf is away at the moment but back in Singapore for Chinese New Year. I will be with my family for most of the time this year (usually bf and I go on holiday somewhere). My family does include or ask him to join in dinners or gatherings as they know of our relationship, but he doesn't want to be subjected to three whole days with my dad so I guess I will have some alone time with my family and he with our mutual friends.

Look forward to chat to you soon!

When I got this email it was clear that previously the reader had previously been holding back. It's not that he'd been misleading me on purpose, but to some extent he had been deciding on what I needed to know, filtering and putting the right spin on what he disclosed. However, with more disclosure now about previous infidelities (which he implied had never occurred in his first email), and with comments about "… the mess I have created", it was clear that the reader was now starting to was taking ownership of the situation and focus on possible solutions. My next email was quite short:

I'm not going to have any time to email you in the next week or two, but it seems like we're increasingly on the same page about this.

Not sure exactly what you meant about the inequality in your relationship. Perhaps you meant that when you had a job, was his job much better paid than yours, but that wasn't completely clear.

My main thought I don't think it's possible to separate your relationship issues from your career issues. You won't be happy and stable again until you've got something meaningful to do while your boyfriend is away or at work. Nonetheless, I suspect that getting your boyfriend's support and understanding to help you solve the career issue is going to be an important part of the answer.

Anyway, please let me know how it all goes, GB xxx

Even though I'd told the reader that I wasn't going to be able to respond, the following email came through relatively quickly:

Hi GB,

No worries about getting back to me in the next few weeks due to your busy schedule. I'm just happy that I've been able to bounce some of my anxieties off you over the past few days.

When I was in full time employment we both had a very similar salaries that afforded us a very luxurious lifestyle. My bf is still in a very high flying role and with bonuses / incentive schemes he can more than look after me without having to compromise my lifestyle in any way.

What I mean was in having the upper hand in the relationship was that one partner was seemingly more happy than the other in a relationship.

I guess you are correct that as I'm now without a meaningful job I have too much time on my hands and end up seeking chat on the apps or validation from 'friends' in an otherwise un-fulling passing of my days.

I've decided I will stop stalking US guy on the apps as nothing good will come of it as I know he's the type that will be looking for casual sex whilst maintaining the persona that he is not seeking hook ups. I’ve now caught him on three occasions over the course of the past four months on separate sites seeking fun whilst he's sworn to me that he’s turned over a new leaf and deleted the apps. His own words of wanting to be a better person and not want casual hook ups. But it seems he regularly deletes one profile and set up another whilst maintaining similar specs in an attempt to prove to me that he has deleted them. So in hindsight I can now see he has been lying to me about our "special" connection.

Feel a bit of a fool about that bit so in the cold light of day I know I must move on and work on my long term relationship with my bf and not throw away 20yrs over a short sighted affair.

Keep well!

As I had indicated, I was unable to reply. However, three weeks later the reader sent me an update:

Hi GB,

I hope you are doing well! Just to give you an update of how I’ve been as it's been a few weeks since we last emailed each other.

I'm doing better and have taken decisive steps of moving on and patching things up with the bf.

US guy has been in touch with me via text a few times, just casual "how are you/what you up to?" type of messages but I've been ignoring them. Then last week he sent another message to ask if I was ignoring him as it had been two weeks since he sent the messages and I didn’t respond. I eventually sent him a reply and told him I can’t continue to be 'friends' with him as I want to work things out with bf and as he is in US and looking for a long term relationship with someone there and that person can’t be me. I left it at that and didn’t go into details of knowing that he had betrayed and lied to me over the period of ‘us’ being together last year and also logging onto the apps looking for casual hook ups whilst maintaining that he has been with friends when I now know he was with other guys. (Even today I can see he is online on several different apps!)

I've also started to remove him from my daily routine (i.e.) deleting his photos, blocked him on WhatsApp, and Facebook and basically refrain from looking him up online. Even though I deleted the majority of his photos, I can’t bring myself to completely extinguish his memory and I have saved some photos and videos on a secure external hard drive hidden away. I guess some part of me still has feelings for him and I don’t want to completely let go of that but I know I have to remove him from my daily routine and hopefully over time I will think of less of him.

Things with bf are better. He’s still traveling a lot for work a but usually home for the weekends so we can spend some quality time together. We are discussing relationship things like emotional and work stuff and we having physical activities but I still haven’t told him I had an affair. We chat on FaceTime and several times a day when he’s on trips and are planning an Easter holiday together in Europe and I am genuinely excited about that so fingers crossed that we are on a healing path.

I guess like the old mantra of time heals is true and hopefully it's not too soon before I will move on from this episode.

Look forward to chat to you again soon!

PS: THANK YOU it has been quite an emotional time for me over the past few months and I have been feeling so much better since I contacted you and you have been a great part of the healing process!!

The reader now sounded like he was genuinely on a healing path in terms of his long term relationship. However, I still had some concern about whether it was possible to brush everything under the carpet and not disclose what had happened, so the last email I sent the reader was as follows:

Glad to hear that things are getting better :-). The risk of not telling him in a controlled and calm way is that it might end up coming out if you go through a bad patch and have arguments in the future. And if you have told anyone about your affair, there's also the risk of him finding out through the grapevine, and perhaps also a risk if there are any "clues" lying around that you might have forgotten to get rid of. Anyway, I'm very glad to hear that things are on the mend :-). GB xxx

I haven't heard from the reader since March, so I assume that everything he has now sorted himself out. But the issue about whether it's best to disclose an affair or not is still an open question. If any readers have any thoughts on this subject, please leave comments :-).