Anonymous asks:

I am in a situation I don't know how to deal with, I have met a married woman online (she is in the U.S me U.K) and over the last few months we have spoken every day, by either messenger or Skype. 

Truth is it has got fairly serious (online physically) but she says she can't leave her husband until the kids are grown which is at least 5 years away. 

She tells me she loves me and all those things and it is killing me inside, I want her like mad but feel sometimes that I should just end it to not cause trouble. 

She means a lot to me now but I cannot see a way forward.. Please help.

 

Psychologist Richard Reid says: "I think this is a tricky one because when we haven’t met somebody in the flesh and we’ve only met them online, we can start to formulate a view of somebody which may not be fully representative of who they are. Online meetings gives us very little context - they may tell us all about certain aspects of their life but how we really get to know people fully, is when we see them in their everyday environments. So, if this relationship is purely online, it is very hard to ascertain whether what we’re tended to invest in is actually right for us. 

Agony Aunts on Female First

Agony Aunts on Female First

This is even more complicated when there is a husband and children involved, certainly not without difficulties. 

I think there’s also some truth to the idea of 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' and when somebody’s removed from us, when maybe they are not immediately attainable because maybe they’re in another relationship, it can also prompt us to want that even more and that can skew our rational view of whether something is right for us or not. 

So, I think the things to take into account and just looking at this story in particular, at the moment the wife is saying it’s going to be at least five years until she’s in a position to do something. I think five years is a long time to wait for anybody, it’s a long time of your life to partially put on hold so that would certainly raise alarm bells for me. Also, it’s not uncommon for people to put these kind of guidelines in place, as a way of avoiding having to make a decision about something. So therefore, it may well be that this lady is not fully committed to the idea of leaving her husband or she may have lots of reservations about the idea of doing that and so to put pressure on her may be to force the issue or to prompt her to make promises that she’s unable or unwilling to keep.

I think that there is something about having a very honest conversation around some of the drawbacks and about some of the potential concerns and really just encouraging both people to just be very honest about where they are with this, because it is likely that somebody’s going to get hurt. I think that it’s not just about these two people it’s also about the husband and the children and so, whatever decision they make, needs to be taken with an extra err of caution because it also involves other people. 

It’s not to say that this relationship wouldn’t work, but I do think it’s one where it needs to be taken much more cautiously and slowly. 

I think one of the risks with online conversations is that they are driven by impulse and there is not much opportunity to reflect and the more that we respond quickly to what is being said and done online, the more that raises our senses and the less able we are to think about things from a rational point of view. So, slowing things down but also having a very honest conversation about the potential pitfalls of a relationship is a really good way to actually take a more measured view on what’s possible and realistic."

Richard Reid, Psychologist, Author and Founder of Pinnacle Therapy - www.pinnacletherapy.co.uk

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