DEAR AMY: My girlfriend and I have been seriously dating for almost nine years. She has a son whom I have helped to raise. In January, I received several messages from her female co-worker’s boyfriend, indicating that they were having an affair. I asked for proof and was provided screenshots of texts. When I confronted my girlfriend about it, she initially lied, but when I told her I had proof, she came clean. She tried to blame me for this affair, indicating, “I wasn’t around to talk to her.” She swears it was only an emotional affair. We are trying to work through these issues as gracefully as we can. She has gotten a promotion and transferred to another location for work. This promotion is slowly consuming her life. She never leaves work on time, refuses to call me to tell me when she will be late. She even takes work home with her now. We were due to arrive at a surprise party this past Sunday, and she didn’t leave work on time, which made us late. She acted as if it was no big deal. She senses my anger and frustration, but tells me I am controlling and she is trying to excel in her career. I am trying to be patient and supportive of her newfound success and ambition, but she doesn’t understand the impact on me, and how this is tearing me up. Am I wrong for requesting a simple text or call indicating that she will be late? Am I wrong for worrying she’s cheating again, and this is why she isn’t communicating with me? Am I wrong for wishing she wouldn’t go into work on her days off because they are short-staffed? Please help me. I am on the verge of a breakdown.
DEAR BROKEN: It’s OK to be angry. Anger is definitely called for, as a reaction to infidelity.
Even though this affair was “only” an emotional one, your partner is avoiding problems at home by throwing herself into her work, and she is blaming you for her infidelity. That needs to stop.
You don’t mention what kind of support your partner’s child is getting right now, but I’m assuming that in her quest to avoid her home life, she is skipping out on him too. How unfair.
Do you want this boy growing up in a household where everyone is angry and no one talks about it? I don’t think anyone wants that for the children they love.
All of her behavior, which you are fixated on — her lack of consideration in texting or calling when she’ll be late, her refusal to work hard to reassure you that she is being faithful, her overall disregard for you — and your reaction to her behavior seems within bounds.
Start an honest conversation. It’s time your partner faced the music she’s been running from for months. Your relationship is very much on the line.
DEAR AMY: I am a 63-year-old woman with strong feelings for a wonderful guy I met three years ago. He has expressed love for me, but we are still platonic. There was always something or someone (other than me) that occupied his time. First it was a granddaughter that lived with him, his grown sons and their activities, and now it’s “Buttons,” his recently acquired dog. Buttons is a rescued beagle that sheds hair all over his home, urinates all over his carpet and captures all of his attention. The last time he invited me for dinner, he and Buttons stared at one another constantly. He shows her constant affection, and she sleeps in the bed with him. When he invited me over, I was under the impression we would share some intimate moments, but Buttons was always physically between us. When he invited me over again the following weekend, I declined his invite and told him it seems that we were just meant to be platonic friends. I haven’t heard a thing from him since then. Now I’m worried that I messed up. Should I have been more considerate of his relationship with this dog?
Missed the Boat
DEAR MISSED THE BOAT: Please don’t tell yourself that a man who prefers a dog over you is a good catch. Time for you to play fetch elsewhere.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).