Dear Kiki: I’m having an affair with my daughter’s friend — and I’m not ashamed of it

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Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Illustration by Jav Ducker

Dear Kiki,

Throughout witnessing a series of traumatic events happen to my daughter over the course of a very difficult year, I’ve developed strong attachment to and connection with an eighteen year old friend of hers. I’m thirty-five and in a relationship with the father of my younger children. This young man and I have been having an incredibly mutually amenable, emotional, creatively inspiring and sexual affair for the past few months and are both developing real feelings for one another. We have made my family aware of our activities. My daughter and partner are very hurt, but I am having trouble feeling ashamed as this has been and continues to be such a fulfilling experience for him and me. I do not at this point wish to envision my life without this young man, but have no real idea how to navigate the circumstances I’ve chosen for myself. How do I maintain my family and my muse?

Can I have my cake and eat it, too?

Dear Cake,

This is quite the layered love triangle. I will begin by addressing the fact that you’ve recently witnessed a series of traumatic events. I am inclined to believe you have been suffering from PTSD as a result. We normally associate post-traumatic stress disorder with veterans who have returned from combat, but there are many negative experiences that can cause someone to suffer for months to years following the event. And the suffering often causes more suffering.

When someone is suffering, she may develop what I know to be called STERBS—short-term emotional release behaviors, which include activities such as drinking too much alcohol, abusing drugs, sleeping or eating too much or not enough, behaving recklessly and, in your case, infidelity. These activities make the suffering disappear or dissipate, for the short term. Usually, however, the long-term consequences are traumatic in and of themselves, so she ends up crashing from a massive “sugar rush” like you would from binging on too much cake.

Let me give a specific example. I know a women who endured years of infertility that included multiple miscarriages. She was also prone to depression after experiencing multiple traumas in her childhood and adolescence. The combination of suffering led her to abusing alcohol and cheating on her spouse. From the article “PTSD Spirituality: Cheating Spouses, Infidelity, and PTSD” by Dr. John Zemler: “The alcohol is an effort to dull the memories and any ongoing physical [and emotional] pain. The promiscuity is often an attempt to try and feel alive and sometimes an attempt to feel they have enough personal worth so as to be desirable by another person, even if only for a sexual quickie. The trauma they survived eats at their sense of self and diminishes their ability to realize their own self-worth.” I recommend reading this piece in its entirety, as it goes on to discuss the repercussions that often include alienating the life partner because she feels she doesn’t deserve the love of the person who truly loves her. It’s a vicious cycle, with multiple victims spinning with her.

I’m sure it feels amazing to have a much younger lover taking you away from all the “adulting” you have been doing, especially being a mother who is worried about her newly adult daughter. In and of itself, watching your daughter becoming an adult could be triggering a younger version of yourself with a sweet tooth, making her friend a tasty dessert. You may soon find you need to cut down on the sugar before you gain many pounds of unwanted baggage.

I wish you the best, my dear, as well as those who love you.

–Xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 247.

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  1. [This comment violates Little Village’s reader comment policy and has been removed]

    1. it is obvious by your choice of words and behavior that you have been hurt by someone who acted like they didn’t care about hurting you. hurt people hurt people. I strongly suggest that before you continue to retaliate through aggression, you look into your own wounds so that you no longer stay stuck in anger and avoiding your own victimization – becoming a perpetrator, instead. perpetrators are just another form of victim. the kind that would rather hurt others than feel their own pain. you are doing exactly what you say the sufferer in the article is doing. judgement is a great place to see our own suffering.

  2. Don’t mock the symptoms of mental illness. You wasted a good argument by undermining science. Why not just stick with good old fashioned swear words?

    1. Oh yeah, someone who thinks Iowa City is a “liberal hell hole” is likely to be big on science.

  3. This is ridiculous. She said her daughter went through trauma and you jump to using that as an excuse for her selfish behavior that ALSO hurt her daughter. She’s just trashing people’s lives to make herself feel good in the short term and all you can do is give her excuses and say cute things about her “sweet tooth.” Just a terrible column.

    1. [This comment violates Little Village’s reader comment policy and has been removed]

  4. Dear Cake,

    How brave of you to find love and joy despite some very difficult situations.

    What you are experiencing Is called polyamory, and is not abnormal despite being wildly unpopular. Good for you for not hiding or deceiving others about your new love.

  5. Does it make it worse if the friend of the daughter was also having the same type of relationship with the daughter at the same time?

  6. [This comment violates Little Village’s reader comment policy and has been removed]

  7. It sounds like someone is grasping onto thin filaments of their fading youth. The fear of growing older and the attentions of a younger man have her receding backwards as an adult instead of moving forward as she should be. You can’t tell me that an 18 year boy is in love with a 35 woman with multiple kids. Sounds like he saw his way in to a sexual relationship and took it. What horny 18 year old male would turn down a woman who makes sexual advances on him?
    This is a fleeting relationship and once it’s over, she’ll be confronted with the fact that her family has abandoned her and she has ruined everything she worked for. Maybe before starting this relationship, she should have ended her current one and maybe not started the relationship with a friend of her daughter’s. Sounds like a bad partner, bad mother and overall, just a crap person.

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