QUESTION: I met an older man online a couple of months ago; I’m 28 and married, and he’s 43 with a girlfriend. It was an instant connection. We talked online every day, which led to eventually talking over the phone. He told me he was in love with me and I told him I was in love with him. My husband found out about our phone conversations, and shortly afterwards, my online guy developed odd behavior—like keeping conversations short, saying he was busy—after I told him that my husband had found out. After a few weeks, out of the blue, I stopped hearing from him. I’m beginning to think something happened to him, because it’s unlike him to not call or text. Could something have happened to him, or is he purposely ignoring me because he has no more feelings for me whatsoever?
CHELSEA SAYS: You sort of answered your own question here. I’m not ruling out the very remote possibility that something happened, but based on what you said about his behavior changing, I’m willing to bet this man just wanted out. And it was easier to just disappear than to tell you the truth and have to deal with the “breakup.”
I’ve found that for a lot of people, talking to someone online and over the phone is different from having a real-life affair—yes, it’s an emotional affair, but it’s not the same as having sex with someone else. I’m guessing that’s why your relationship with the older man never progressed to anything physical. There’s something thrilling about connecting with someone new, but he was probably never serious about a relationship with you, even though he said he loved you.
When your husband found out about your private phone calls, it all of a sudden became real for this older man. He probably just decided that it wasn’t worth it for him to mess around with a married woman, especially once her husband caught wind of the relationship. Plus, he’s got his own relationship to worry about.
So, long story short, I think he just moved on, and you should probably do the same, especially if you’re trying to work on your marriage.
TRENT SAYS: I’d like to say he stopped contacting you because he’s a secret agent and has been in the field trying to save the world, but I think the reason for his silence may be a little more pedestrian.
There are a lot of unknowns in this scenario—like if you and your husband are still together, or if your older man lives nearby—but it sounds to me like he either got cold feet, the thrill of the hunt lost its lustre, the online fantasy became too real for him, or his girlfriend found out.
Maybe he liked the idea of having an emotional affair—it’s safe and isn’t really going to go anywhere. An online emotional affair also means he can present himself in the most positive, perfect light possible. The idea that you told your husband about him might have made the notion of you two eventually meeting a reality, one he couldn’t live up to.
Maybe he’s an online serial dater who thrives off the idea of being liked and needed. Nothing matters except his so-called emotional needs being met. Or perhaps, like many relationships, he just decided it wasn’t worth working on and something better came along. After all, you were the better thing that came along when he had a girlfriend; what’s to say the same thing didn’t happen with you?
My experience is that when a woman wants to move on, it’s because the relationship is dead, but for most men, moving on to greener pastures is a short-term physical event—and we hope our partner will take us back should they ever find out. Online relationships can end in the blink of an eye with the click of a mouse. And I think, unfortunately, that’s what this older man did to you.