Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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Community, I need your advice please:

My 73 year old mother started an online relationship over instagram with a man in his 60's.
It started innocently and now turned into "He loves me, I love him and I am moving".

So my mother is married to my dad and it will be their 50th anniversary this Nov. The relationship was always rocky. But my dad has been trying. My mother is very difficult and can be mean.
My dad did cheat on her when he was in his 40's. He apologized.
My mother never, ever lets anything go. She will take every chance to bring up who did her wrong and how he did he wrong and what he didn't do in the course of their 50 year relationship.

Anyway, when she started this "relationship" online with a stranger, I knew it would be trouble. I am an adult in my late 30's.

So I tried to talk to her calmly. Tried to reason with her. Offered to pay a therapist for her to talk to since I am not getting through to her.

So of course the relationship escalated online. He lives in Texas, she is in Canada with me.

She said they are madly in love after talking for 2 months. At one point, both my dad and I told her to leave. We will completely cut ties with her and that's that.
I will take my dad in (73 years old) and we will be our own family.

I can't believe she has no common sense, no reasoning. It really changed my relationship with her forever.

It got bad.

Anyway, we had a huge family meeting. And she apologized and said she would stop all contact and stay with my dad. That they would BOTH work really hard to be better with each other.

Well i found out my mom lied and was miserable, moping and missing the guy, that she still wants to see him and go down to Texas. My poor dad is trying so hard and he is better for the first time in a long time. He is honestly trying and I am on my dad's side. I never was until this shit happened.

So now I don't trust her. She said she stopped, will not pursue anything. But I can see she is down. She did say she wanted to get back at my dad. I told her this is not the way to do it. It is never a way to get back at someone by being dirty too.
Especially since this is an online relationship.

I tried to reason, I try to explain this is emotional cheating, it is not a real relationship. I am at my wits end.
Literally I am shocked that a smart woman at 73 years old is now suddenly STUPID. I can't handle it.

I don't know what to do.

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    I'd say let her meet him. On-line relationships tend to be fairly intense, since one has more time to figure out what they are going to write or say to each other, so tend to be less awkward than in person. And physical distance means that inhibitions are lower, so one tends to be more bold in their communications. Add to this, in your mother's case, the thrill of the illicit and the desire for payback. And she's dealing with the fantasy, rather than the reality of a relationship. So of course she thinks she's in love with this guy. Actually spending time with the real guy rather than the fantasy might knock some sense into her. Or she might stay with him. Quite frankly, either of those outcomes are better than the situation you have now. Because your mother is not going to get over this fantasy any time soon, making both her and your father miserable. Except they've been miserable for a long time.

    The thing is, if she never forgave your father for cheating on her thirty years ago, she should have left back then. So they are stuck in a marriage where they are both miserable and just staying together out of... habit? Spite? So your mother should have a chance to be happy or learn a hard life lesson and your father should get out of a situation where both he and his wife are miserable.

    Human beings are wired to resist change, even if it's positive. And watching two people split after fifty years is a huge change. But if what you describe is accurate, the current situation is untenable for all involved. So send your mother off to Texas - heck, drive her to the airport.

    reply to Jill
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    Chiming in to agree with Jill. If your mother does not go to Texas, she will simply spend the rest of her life mourning the loss of the relationship she believes she has. And she'll continue to be miserable to live with or visit, as she takes out her feelings on your father and you.

    However, missing in this equation (at least right now), is what your dad wants. It's not clear to me if HE knows she's "miserable, moping and missing the guy" (although he must at least suspect it). But even if he knows she's miserable, is he aware that she still wants to zip on down to Texas to actually be with this dude?

    If he is, your father needs to work up the courage to let her go. This (or any) relationship isn't working, won't work, and *can't* work if one of the people in it is actually far more interested in being in a completely different relationship with another person. (And is also bitter and difficult about it, and is unable to change that.)

    I don't say this lightly. These are your parents, and it's heartbreaking to see that relationship end. But it's MORE heartbreaking (in the long run) to enable a continuing marriage that will be sheer misery for both of them. And for you.

    I'm really sorry. It's a lousy situation all around. But remember that it's *definitely* a lousy situation -- for everyone -- if she stays where she is. At least it's *maybe* not a lousy situation for her if she tries Texas. And it's *maybe* a less lousy situation for your father if he doesn't have to spend the rest of his life with a person who is clearly miserable, malicious, and mooning over someone else.

    Let her go. I'm not claiming it will be easy, or pretty, or without emotional turmoil. Just that it has reasonable potential to be a better situation overall than the one that exists now ... and certainly not a worse one.

    reply to Kal
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    Hey, isnít anyone concerned for this womanís safety? Would you let you daughter fly across the country to meet some online random? Iíd be going with mom for safety but stay in the background. Can you also do a background check on the dude to make sure she isnít handing over money. Itís all well and good they Ďloveí each other, but catfishers are real and dangerous.

    reply to Maria
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