Dear Amy: I was involved with a married man for 15 years. It was a beautiful and loving relationship. We shared nightly phone calls, managed to take vacations together and saw one another on weekends.
Then COVID happened. I moved away because of the pandemic, but we still spoke every night.
I couldn't adjust, and I missed him terribly. Our conversations were not as interesting. I blame it on myself. He was working from home and not struggling as much with his relationship with his spouse.
I saw a therapist, but it did not help. My life was a total lie.
My affair partner and I have not spoken in five months. I want to call him every day. I am jealous. His life went on, while I am miserable.
Sometimes, I will write an e-mail to his wife, letting her know about our affair, but I don't send it. I check on him (and her, and their family) all day on social media.
Are there resources to help me with my obsession?
Amy says: I'm going to sidestep a specific reaction to your long-term extramarital affair, except to say that the end was inevitable. Once the pandemic interrupted your physical relationship, he went back to his wife.
You need to return to therapy. If necessary, find a different therapist. Be completely candid in your sessions.
In the shorter term, I can help you with your obsession. Were you ever a smoker? Or addicted to Ring Dings? (I've been both.) The way to break an addiction is to stay away from triggers, but you are constantly triggering your own anguish and addiction by checking on him — and his wife and family. It is hurting you. It is also creepy.
Disconnect from him on social media. Go for a walk, or to a coffee shop. Leave your phone behind but bring a book. Observe the world around you. Write down what you see, and write down what you're thinking about.
You need more contact with other people. Call an old friend or family member and concentrate on them.
In short, you need to build a life that is open and authentic. This will take time.
Dear Amy: I have a dog, "Sandy." She is pretty well behaved, and I am working hard with her to attain and maintain good habits.
I've always hated it when dogs jumped up to greet me. I find it scary. I also don't want for my dog to beg for food, bark for attention or "ask" to sit on someone's lap.
We're working on these things, but I've noticed that when people come over to visit, they tend to let — or even encourage — my dog to do the very things I'm trying to stop.
I'm not sure what to do. Any ideas?
Amy says: Like many people, I acquired a dog during the pandemic — my first. And I've noticed guests sometimes encouraging negative behavior or undermining the dog's better habits.
I've started saying to everyone: "Please forgive me, but for the first 10 minutes while you're here I'm going to discipline the dog while we talk."
And then I spend 10 minutes ending every sentence with "Molly, down!" As in: "How are you Molly, down!"
This seems to work. It gives the humans some notice that things are going to be a little wacky at first. It shows them the behaviors I'm discouraging. It also lets the dog know that the house rules are consistent, even when we have guests. Everybody seems to settle down quite nicely.
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