QUESTION: The love that I have for my husband has been dying every single day since I met another man online. We've known each other for almost a year now, and I love everything about him: his beliefs, the way he cares for his son, the way he makes me feel every time we speak. The thing is, we've never even met face-to-face! He told me that he's afraid to come to see me, and then not be able to go back home with me. My husband and I had issues before, but after meeting this other man online, I'm realizing that there are many things about my husband that I don't like, and I can't make love to my husband without fantasizing about this other man. Is it possible that a woman can love two men at the same time? I feel so confused! Do you think that I'm going crazy?
ANSWER: Your question reminds us of a woman we know who established an online affair with a stranger. She, too, fell in love and thought that she knew him completely -- so much so that she left her husband and daughter and went overseas to be with her virtual lover. Unfortunately for her, he had no intentions of leaving his wife. For him, it was all supposed to be a game. She not only destroyed her marriage, but also lost the love and respect of her daughter.
Now, we're not saying that the circumstances are exactly the same for you. But like this woman, it's what you don't know that could wind up hurting you. For example, is his stated reason for not meeting you face-to-face the truth, or is he simply doing some virtual cheating because in his mind that represents a misdemeanor instead of a crime? In the real world, how available is he? (Remember, after a year, you have never met him.) To take it a step further, in the real world, who is he? Is he also married? How do you know if he even has a son? Does he work where he claims he's employed? Many of us say that looks don't count, but if he appeared radically different than the real or imagined picture you have of him, could that in any way color your feelings for him? Do you really know anything about this guy other than what he's telling you?
Realize that you've turned your imaginary lover into the "perfect" man -- someone who never has existed and never will. So it's no wonder you're confused: A real human being and a real relationship are no match for a fantasy. But don't think that you're "in love" with this imaginary guy whom you've never met. In fact, since you mention that you and your husband have issues, it sounds to us like you may have conjured up this image about your virtual friend as a way of avoiding your marital problems.
You state that you and your husband are still sexual, and that you still love him even while you "love" your imaginary online companion. Since this is the case, we strongly suggest that you hit "delete" on your computer the next time you see your address, get a new cell phone number, do whatever it takes to allow yourself to make every effort to work things out with the real man in your life -- the one who also happens to be your husband.
The first question to ask yourself is why you were trolling the Internet for a relationship in the first place. Explore the traits that you desire so much in this virtual friend, and see if they are indeed really missing in your husband. If so, is there a way to incorporate them into your marriage? Perhaps your Internet companion makes you feel good because he listens when you speak. Why not try really listening to your husband, and then seeing if he'll do the same for you? What about those beliefs that you admire so much in your virtual "love"? Are they really important to you and missing from your marriage? If so, talk about them. You also like the way your online friend says that he cares for his son. Do you have children? If so, is there something that you and your husband disagree on regarding their upbringing? We'll say it again: You've got to communicate.
Do we think that you are going crazy? Well, not based on what you've written. But we do think that you're nuts if you put your marriage and happiness at risk for a fantasy.
Source: Relationships & Love