I had to walk away from an online love

About two years ago, I began an online friendship with a woman who was married. For over a year, it was a friendly chat about common interests, funny stories, and the two of us just being an ear to each other. More than a year passed, and I always respected boundaries surrounding her marital status, although I definitely developed feelings.

Earlier this year, the conversations turned a little more risqué. Eventually she broke down and told me she had fallen in love with me and revealed she was dissatisfied in her marriage. All of this was discussed online one evening. The very next day the husband found her phone and read just enough of the chat to understand what happened. She decided she could no longer speak with me, but two days later completely changed that tune and wanted to keep the friendship.

She insisted that we were just friends, but that did not last long. In her words, "the pull was too strong." We continued our online sessions, she had cut off sexual relations with the husband, and eventually I travelled to see her. Plans were made to see each other again, but again, the husband uncovered this and was obviously livid. At first he agreed she could go for a “fling” if she gave him a year to prove himself. Within days, though, he backed away from this and threatened to leave her with the house and child (yes, I know), which ultimately backed her into a corner of having to end the relationship as well as the friendship, which was far more valuable to us both. Beyond obviously involving myself with a married online friend, I wish I knew how I could have stopped the runaway train that took my best confidant away. Where did I go wrong?

– Offline


"Where did I go wrong?"

Everywhere, basically. I could make you a list, but I think it would make you feel bad.

If you take anything from this experience, it should be that falling in love online can be misleading, in general. It can be easy to get caught up in emotional intimacy before you're sure there's any potential in real life. It's also easier to cross boundaries – because those lines don't feel real to begin with.

The next time an online friend tells you they're married, consider how you'd treat them in person. The rules should be the same.

The good news here is that you've learned you want more than friendship from someone. You could have kept things platonic with this woman, but you longed for something else. That means you should be looking for that kind of attention from people who are more available. Instead of mourning the lost confidant, focus on the romance. Then think about where else you can find it.

– Meredith

Readers? Is he really missing the friendship? Is it easier to get caught up in online love?