Dear Prudence

Help! My Long-Distance Lover Died. Then I Met His Wife.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Chinnapong/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Q. Feeling Betrayed, Angry, and Sad: Nineteen years ago, I met a man on a dating site. He lived on the West Coast, while I live on the East Coast. He told me he was divorced and was very specific about what problems had led to the divorce. At first, we would meet each other in a romantic way. He always came to visit me because I didn’t have money to fly. Sometimes we would meet each other in his hometown (also mine) because that was only a 5-hour drive for me.

Occasionally we would meet other places, like Washington, D.C., but always within driving distance for me. Eventually it turned into a close friendship, with no romance involved, because a long-distance relationship is hard to do when neither are willing to move.

At one point in our friendship, I had a suspicion he might still be married. I had sent him a gift, and I found out he was using a P.O. box instead of his real address. I confronted him, and he denied he was married and gave me a plausible reason: that he used the P.O. box address for his businesses. He became seriously ill, and I knew his ex-wife was helping him out. No big deal, my ex-husband and I are great friends. He died on June 3. His ex-wife texted me that he passed away. A week later, I saw the obituary online saying he was survived by “his loving wife.” I texted her and asked if they had remarried. She said no, they had never split up. But she was finding out that he apparently told a lot of women he was single. I guess you saw that coming, right? I never did. I feel betrayed. I was the “other woman” for a time, even though it was unintentional. I feel angry that even though we were friends (I thought close friends) he never told me the truth. Now I am mourning not only my friend, but our friendship too. I can’t confront him because he’s gone. How do I move on from this?

A: All of your feelings here are valid and reasonable—you lost someone you cared about but you were also deceived by someone you cared about. You’re grieving and you’re also reeling. It may not seem like grief support groups are built for a situation like this, but they are. Grief doesn’t discriminate, and it doesn’t always make sense. In fact, it rarely makes sense. So talking with people who are also grieving, some of whom may also be angry, frustrated, or even betrayed, will help you feel less alone. If a support group isn’t appealing to you, an individual therapist can also help you to process these feelings. What both options are going to lead you to is, hopefully, something like closure. This will take time. You have a nearly two-decade relationship that you’re reexamining. Allow yourself the space to take this slowly.

Classic Prudie

After meeting my now sister-in-law, my brother washed his hands of our family and his former friends. We used to be quite close and to the extent of my knowledge there wasn’t a specific incident that led to his current behavior other than meeting his wife and adopting her lifestyle and family.