Dilemma: I can't leave my partner but I'm in love with someone else

Katharine Whitehorn / 30 June 2016

A reader's partner is emotionally and financially dependent on her, but she has fallen in love with another man.



Dilemma: I can't leave my partner

I am a widow and nearly 60; two years after my husband’s death I met my current partner. But a year after we started going out he became ill and was very disabled for a while. 

I have always been there for him both emotionally and financially; we have lived together for four years and he would find it very difficult now to manage without me. 

But a couple of years ago I met someone else and the attraction between us is very strong - he is younger than me and I have never felt so strongly for anyone. 

We have not had an affair because neither of us would feel comfortable going behind my partner’s back, and he has commitments too to his family (not a wife). The trouble is I cannot get this man out of my mind.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

Perhaps you shouldn’t even try – and that doesn’t mean you have to cheat on your partner. 

We live in an age when we assume that it’s an affair or nothing; but many a very demanding relationship between two committed people-husband and wife, say- has been made bearable by an amitie amoureuse, a romantic friendship, with someone else. 

The two of you might in fact bear your committed burdens better if you knew you had each other to sympathise, cheer each other up, love maybe. 

Your situations could change eventually; you might grow less fond of each other; but I’d say you could stick to your commitments and still keep this one bright light in your dutiful lives.

Read Katharine Whitehorn's answers to more dilemmas

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