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Emotional affair partner wants 'normalization meetings'

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Over the last few years, my marriage has felt stagnant and unfulfilling.

About a year ago, I grew close to a friend and colleague (he is single), slowly at first, but then becoming more and more intimate. There is mutual sexual attraction and we share many of the same intellectual and cultural interests.

We both knew I was in no position to divorce, as maintaining a stable environment for my young family is my priority. We tried to keep the intensity level low, which we did at times, but then the intensity kept returning. We shared a brief and limited physical element.

Eventually, I realized I was not at peace. I ended contact with him. I realized I needed to put the energy I was putting into my emotional relationship back into my marriage. Things are better and I am glad I am working on the marriage. But I know (actually I knew for years) that my husband and I are not really soul mates and that we are a cultural and intellectual mismatch -- the elements that draw me to my friend in the first place.

I still have lingering, and often very strong feelings. I keep wondering if these feelings are preventing me from further improving my marriage. My friend has been fully understanding about why it is probably best for us not to have contact.

During one of our last conversations, he said his concern was that we might end up over-romanticizing or over-idealizing each other in our memories.

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As emotional (and lightly physical) partners, we did not have to deal with the day-to-day issues of a "real" relationship, and could focus more on the intellectual and cultural connection.

He suggested I consider an occasional "normalizing" meeting: a coffee or lunch in which we remind ourselves that our relationship at its most intense was meaningful but not really realistic.

I am torn. I think I am over-romanticizing. But I am not sure if a "normalizing" meeting would bring my feelings down to earth -- or simply re-spark the attraction.

What should I do?

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