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I'm Cheating On My Boyfriend And I Don't Want To Stop — WTF Should I Do?

"I don't feel like I'm leading my boyfriend on, because I love him."

Hello, world. My name's Stephen LaConte, and this is Hey Stephen — a cozy little corner of the internet where BuzzFeed readers like you can DM me for advice.

Today, we've got this woman, who's cheating on her boyfriend — and doesn't want to stop. Can she keep dating her boyfriend while sneaking around with her (married, and much older) coworker? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:

My reply...

Your question essentially boils down to, "How do I navigate this mess without getting hurt?" But the thing is, you will get hurt. Your boyfriend will, too. That's an inevitable consequence of cheating; people get hurt. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you can actually deal with it, and start the painful process of making things right.

And here's the good news: Heartbreak isn't a death sentence. It sucks, but you will survive it, as millions of others have before you. Your boyfriend will heal in time, too — and he'll certainly be better off in the long run, knowing the truth. There are far worse fates than being heartbroken. You happen to be living one of them right now.

a woman with her back to her partner in bed while on the phone

So, my first piece of advice is to tell your boyfriend the truth, apologize sincerely, and break up with him. You're not in a position to try to repair things with him. By your own admission, you're willing to risk your relationship with him for a chance to be with your coworker. That's a good sign that it's time to walk away. Your boyfriend deserves a partner who doesn't view him as a plan B.

You write that you don't feel like you're leading your boyfriend on, because you really do love him. But loving this guy isn't enough to justify a relationship with him. If you can't be honest with him, if you can't respect your relationship's most basic and fundamental boundaries, then having love for him is actually not that useful. Let your boyfriend move on. Accept that any pain this causes you is a reasonable consequence of your actions and it will pass in time.

a woman crying

My second piece of advice is to end the affair. By which I don't mean convince your coworker to leave his wife for you — I mean, stop seeing him. Cut him out of your life. Change jobs if you can. I don't know much about this guy, but the little I do know tells me that he's not the right partner for you, either. He's two decades older than you, he's married, he's got three kids at home. I understand that you love him — but just like with your boyfriend, the love you have isn't enough to overcome the reality of what this affair actually is.

So yeah, if you wrote to me hoping I'd tell you which man to pick, I'm sorry to say that my answer is neither. This is not The Bachelorette, there is no final rose. You're in two bad relationships, when you should be in none.

And hey, maybe some time spent as a single person would be healthy for you. One thing that's clear from your DM is that you're pretty focused on yourself right now. I don't mean that to sound shady; there's nothing wrong with deciding that you don't have space in your life to consider a partner's needs. But singlehood is a much better solution to that than cheating.

That brings me to your last comment: "I know that I'm a terrible person." I actually think that's an unhelpful way of looking at this. You're not a terrible person, but you are doing a terrible thing — one that you can stop doing at any moment you choose. Don't resign yourself to being a bad person. Try, with everything you have, to be a better one. I believe that you can.

That's all the advice I'm giving today, folks. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @stephenlc. And if you happened to miss last week's column, read on!

Last week, we heard from this young woman, who's got a huge crush on her high school teacher, and thinks they might even be flirting. What should she do? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:

Instagram message that says a girl has a crush on her high school teacher and can't tell if she's flirting and wants closure

My reply...

Alright, let's start here: There's nothing "bad" about a high school student having a crush on their teacher. That's a perfectly normal teenage experience that, in my opinion, doesn't really violate the terms of your current relationship at all.

You aren't doing anything wrong, just by having feelings for an adult in your life. You would, however, be doing something wrong by acting on those feelings. And there are a couple things in your message that raised red flags for me in that department. So, let's break this down.

The first red flag: possible flirting. You write that you're picking up some potentially flirtatious vibes from this teacher, but you're not sure if it's just in your head. For the record, I hope it is in your head — students can have crushes on teachers, sure, but the reverse is obviously not true. Any adult who would pursue a relationship with a minor is a predator and abuser. Full stop.

Is it possible your teacher is flirting with you? Sure, maybe. Some adults are indeed predators. But if she is flirting, you should remove yourself from that situation immediately. That is not a person who has your best interests at heart. That is a person who could hurt you. If she's flirting, change classes, avoid any alone time with her, and please tell a trusted adult what's been going on.

But your DM also notes that this flirtation might be more of a fantasy — something you're "telling yourself," as you put it. That seems plausible, too. Sometimes when we have crushes, we see what we want to see, not what's actually there. Your teacher is a decade older than you, she's married, and most educators would never cross that line with their students. Unless you're leaving out more incriminating details, it seems possible that the "subtle flirting" you're noticing is actually just a teacher being kind to a student. At least, I hope that's what it is.

someone about to write on a whiteboard

Which brings me to the second red flag: your need for "closure" with this teacher, which you say you could get via "rejection." And here's where I think your crush on Ms. Teacher reaches a hard limit: You're entitled to all your feelings, but you are not entitled to a response to them. This crush is something you can indulge privately all you want, but it would cross a line to bring it to her attention. This includes flirting with her, asking her out, dropping hints, making a move, etc. Please don't do any of that.

There's a hard boundary that must exist between educators and students, and it would likely make your teacher really uncomfortable if you ever attempted to cross it. And if it didn't make her uncomfortable, well, that'd be even worse, because it would mean you were dealing with a potentially dangerous abuser. No good can come from this, either way.

You write that you know you can't ask this teacher out, so maybe this whole spiel I'm giving is unnecessary. But I'm writing it anyway because I think it's important to emphasize: Yes, your only way out of this is indeed to move on.

A person putting their head in their lap

So, how do you do that, without the closure that rejection might bring? Well, first of all, I think you have to remember that this kind of student-teacher crush is always best left to fantasy. Sure, in theory, it's fun to imagine yourself in a relationship with this person you really admire. But I promise you that the reality of it would look and feel quite different. Imagine how disturbing it might be to see this role model in your life suddenly assume the role of, well, a predator in your life. If you and your teacher were ever to date, it would signal that something was profoundly, deeply, fundamentally wrong with her. What healthy, well-adjusted adult wants a relationship with a minor? Would you want to be with that person?

In my opinion, teacher crushes should be treated like celebrity crushes. They're perfectly harmless, so long as you understand that they're not meant to actually manifest in the real world. Privately, you can crush on this teacher the same way you might with, like, Kristen Stewart. But you're not going to end up with either of them, and you don't need closure to accept this reality.

Kristen Stewart

So, instead of focusing on what this crush can't be, I think you should focus on what it can be: an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself. What are the qualities you most admire about this teacher? Does she change the way you view yourself and the world around you? How does this crush make you feel about your current girlfriend? Are you happy with her? Would someone else (not your teacher!) make you happier? Or are you better off single right now, as you navigate this period of self-discovery?

You're young, and you probably have many more crushes ahead of you. Not all of them are going to end in relationships, but ideally, even the unrequited ones will leave you with more clarity and perspective about who you are as a person, and what you want out of life. That's the best possible outcome you could get from this crush. Everything else is best left to the imagination. Good luck — I'm rooting for you.

Got a problem you want solved in this column? DM me! My inbox is always open. Just read the fine print below first.

THE FINE PRINT:

All DMs sent to me are for publication on BuzzFeed only. I do not respond to individual messages or provide any advice one-on-one. Please don't submit a question unless you want it published on BuzzFeed. We'll always keep you anonymous. You must be 16 or older to submit. Also, please try to keep your DMs as concise as possible. Instagram has a limit of 1,000 characters per message. Try to fit your whole problem in one message if you can. It will greatly increase your chances of getting picked!  If you want, here's a handy character counter you can use to draft your question before DMing it to me. Thanks, y'all!

PS: If you've got any advice for today's DM'er, sound off in the comments! I'll be reading...

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