Got a personal dilemma that’s stressing you out? In this brand new column Dear Therapist, trauma expert Natalia Rachel untangles your knottiest issues and answers your burning questions about life, love, and everything in between. If you have a question, you can email us at magherworld@sph.com.sg or slide into our DMs at @herworldsingapore on Instagram.

Dear Therapist,

Confession time: I recently started dating a married man. I knew he was married when we met each other, and no, it’s not what you think: He’s not promised me that he’s going to leave his family. He’s made it clear that he loves his wife and kids. We have a lot of fun together, and he’s kind to me.

I was on the same page until recently, and now I have a small problem: I have started falling in love with him, despite knowing that I will always be the other woman. Help!

Should I Stay or Leave


Dear Should I Stay or Leave,

When we feel that aching desire for someone, walking away can feel completely impossible.

Let’s look at the facts

While no one has a right to tell you how to live your life, it’s important to look at the facts so that your choices are fully informed.

Choice 1 – Stay with him

If you choose to stay with him, there will be a limit to the time and attention he can give you. He’s also been very clear with you that your relationship is ‘just for fun’. So if it ever becomes un-fun, he may walk away. Are you happy being ‘just for fun and temporary’? Dig deep and find the answer.

Choice 2 – End it

If you end it, you’ll likely have to sit with some pretty intense feelings that may range from anxiety, to grief, anger and aloneness. On the other side, you will also free up your energy and heart to meet someone who can be fully available to connect with and love you. Is this something you want? What would stop you from this? Take time to consider your desires and the blocks towards fulfilling them.

Understanding the origins of why you’re attracted to an unavailable man in the first place can be a helpful step towards letting go

Learn about your map for love

Understanding the origins of why you’re attracted to an unavailable man in the first place can be a helpful step towards letting go. We are often attracted to unavailable men due to our ‘map for love.’ Somewhere along the line we have learned what love looks like.

Our map for love tracks back to how our mother and father showed us and/or each other love. As children, we crave and need love. If we have unhealed attachment wounds, our unconscious inner child may often lead us to look for similar partners, hoping for a better experience of love, but ironically recreating the same unhealthy dynamics again and again.

Redrawing our ‘map for love’ is a complex process and often requires us to process some of the feelings about not receiving the love and care we needed as a child. One of the things we have to process is how alone we may have felt.

It’s often this loneliness that is driving us into the arms of people who can’t love us well. Begin your exploration by considering ‘how was love demonstrated to me?’ and ‘how is this showing up now? Answering this inquiry may bring up emotions and memories and feel destabilising. Before you begin, make sure you have the time and space to sit with them and if possible, some close others who are able to support you through your healing.

Sending you a warm hug as you learn to lean towards love,

XO,
Natalia Rachel

Natalia Rachel is the founder of Illuma Health, author of Why Am I Like This, and a trauma expert

Disclaimer: The Dear Therapist column is for informational purposes only. The advice given does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.