Dear Charlotte,

My wife is no longer attractive to me. I have become deeply involved with another woman and I feel passionate in a way I never have with my wife. We have three kids together and I like our life but it’s extremely boring. 

I don’t know what to do but I should do something soon, either way, because I can’t go on living this way. 

How do I decide what to do? I’m deeply torn.

Dear Torn,

There’s a sense of urgency and strong swell of emotional pressure that, from what I gather, has been intensified by your entanglement with this other person. My sense is that you’re prone to limerence (many wonderful people are) — it’s a state of passion, infatuation, a kind of radical appreciation and exuberance. Young adulthood traumas can get reactivated and in some ways, limerence is both reparative and destructive. It’s mesmerising and life enhancing and intoxicating. 

Your desire has landed on one particular person and it may feel as though the fantasy of glory is suddenly within reach. It can be the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve heard people describe it as a sense of being born again, rejuvenated, saved from a life of quiet desperation. Your life with your wife might  feel upsettingly inadequate and ordinary now.

It’s incredibly hard yet tempting to take action and escalate at these moments. It might even feel as though you’re compelled to drive forward the story of your life — to develop the plot, even if it’s risky. ⁠I think limerence can be a kind of life force, an alert that you can’t stand a sense of stasis and stagnancy. You want to feel the full force of your existence and you’ve gotten a taste of rich depths you might have always longed for and somehow abandoned.

If your marital relationship feels bland in comparison, the core conflict is the strong clash between what’s safe and “good” and what’s exciting and liberating. You may have outgrown what might have worked well once upon a time, and in other ways, you’ve realised that you overlooked and ignored disappointments and you’re no longer able or wanting to pretend that the relationship is what you want.

I think it would help to ask yourself what really matters to you— what you value. There are other ways to make life less boring, if you do stay with your wife.

All the best,

Charlotte Fox Weber is a verified Welldoing psychotherapist and the author of What We Want: Understand Your Deepest Desires and Live a Fuller Life