Is This the End?
Hello again. If interested, you can review previous posts for the full story.
In summary, WW had a long term EA with some physical violations with her ex-boss (AP#1) from 2017 to this year. She also had a short PA with a separate coworker (AP#2) in 2017. Disclosure has been sporadic with plenty of TT. After revealing the PA with AP#2, I started getting things together to separate and I have since moved out and been on my own for two weeks.
She has seemed remorseful, is reading all the books, listening to all the podcasts, enrolled in the recovery programs, seeing specialist therapists, ect.
But... she kept lying.
I was taking this time apart to figure out the viability of a future relationship with her and to build some confidence that I could make it on my own. We had a little contact and she was working on several prompts from her therapists and coursework, keeping me updated. She created and shared a document detailing all the lies and infidelities (even imaginary) that she had engaged in throughout our relationship.
I thought I had all the information, I didn't think there would be anything new. Well, turns out liars have a hard time stopping a well worn habit.
Maybe it's minutiae, maybe it's not. She claimed there was an event that happened between her and AP#1 in 2018. The night it happened she told me he 'tried' to kiss her. Part way through disclosure she said he landed the kiss, but she immediately pulled away. This document reveals that she knew he was going to kiss her, she went in and kissed him back briefly before shutting things down. Over the last few months I asked her several times about this kiss, what happened, 'did she kiss him back?'. She stuck to the 'he kissed me' answer without faltering. She, once again, looked me straight in the face and lied.
It's not the kissing itself that has broken things for me. The only thing keeping me considering 'R' was the idea that a person who realized they were broken and had fucked up would do everything in their power to make things right and redeem themselves. That every person is redeemable.
However, I made it EXTREMELY clear that no more lies would be tolerated. It was a boundary. If we're ever going to have a chance at working things out, the lies need to stop and we need to have complete transparency. She knew what was required, and kept lying anyway. She told me she had sex with someone else, but she kept lying about this? I extended trust once again, and was given the same lesson. I guess what they say is right, 'you receive the same lesson until it is learned'.
I feel calm. Sad, but calm. I'm starting to accept the fact that you can't have a healthy relationship with a deeply sick person. You can't trust a liar, even if you love them. I think in my heart I really wanted to 'put the past in the past' and move forward with forgiveness and love. But, I'm starting to realize that it's not the person who betrayed me in 2017 that I need to deal with, it's the sick person in 2023.
She says 'everything is out on the table', that I 'know everything now'. She says she's so sorry she didn't tell me sooner and that she sees how she messed up. I've heard this so many times before. I think she wants 'R' and that she wants to be a better and different person, she just keeps failing. It's sad. How many times can a person extend grace and be punished for it? I feel like I see her clearly for the first time in my life. Without infatuation, jealousy, desire, hatred, disgust, or love. She's broken, she's sick, and I hope she gets better, but it's not my problem and there's nothing I can do to fix her.
If I dive back into continued contact, fixing 'us', I feel like I know what to expect. I wanted us to work, but it feels like going down that road is just asking for more pain and enabling an addict. I don't know what else to do.
Is this the end?
9 comments posted: Tuesday, October 17th, 2023
WW's New Heights
I'm struggling today.
WW had a short physical fling (ONS+) and a prolonged, low intensity EA with two different men.
Currently I'm preparing an apartment in the city to move in for a trial separation. Not looking forward to it, but I know it's what I need to do to hopefully get some clarity and break some of the codependency in my marriage. She very much doesn't want me to leave, but has been coming along to help prepare and move.
We've been talking a lot during these weekends moving. She's committed to complete transparency and that's come with hearing some very upsetting things. Previously she described the night of her ONS as 'intense'. I asked her to clarify what she meant by that.
For some context, we were not in a good place in our relationship. We were recovering from some major damage I had done to the relationship due to retroactive jealousy. I had changed, but she was rug sweeping. She went out for a goodbye party with coworkers since she was changing jobs. She had been crushing on this guy for months and had been texting him regularly. She was drunk and high. They were the last ones left at the end of the night on an empty street. She lingered saying goodbye. They looked at each other, knew what they both wanted, and had a passionate make out session. He asked her if she wanted to go back to his place, she said yes, she texted me she was going to be staying at a female coworker's since it was late and she was drunk. They walked over a mile back to his place, got in, stripped, and had unprotected sex.
So, what does she mean by 'intense'? She says she's specifically talking about the make out. She says it was electric. I remember those experiences from our early relationship and asked how it compared. She has pretty much admitted it was a more extreme version of that. She admits there were times over the six years since (in which she had not disclosed) in which the memory of kissing him came back and it gave her a rush. This is incredibly painful. I thought that level of excitement and chemical high was something special between the two of us. Not only has she cheated, but I've been exceeded. It feels like I have never, and (if the relationship continues) will never be able to give her as much pleasure as her illicit make out. It feels like she's never desired me like she desired him. I'm a bit of a romantic and it feels like there's nothing special between us anymore.
The rest of the night she claims was not 'intense'. The kissing stopped to walk back to his place and some of the excitement was lost. She claims she still chose to have sex with him, but it was bad, she wasn't wet, she was tired, and wanted it to be over quickly. I'm also having difficulty believing that she was just having the most pleasurable physical experience of her life just prior to having bad or mediocre sex. These seem like lies and minimizations. If it's true I'm not sure I'll ever believe it.
She claims that she never looked back on the sex with anything but shock, she buried it pretty quick. But the kissing did come back and give her some residual pleasure. She's saying now that she can't think about that experience without shame and remorse for what it's taken from us. But, I'll never know if any of that is true, and I'm not sure that how she feels now will ultimately matter in the outcome of 'us'.
I really hope for R. I loved her immensely. I've never met another person I could be so 'myself' around and we click on so many levels, including sexually. But I don't know if these things can be overcome. I don't know if the excitement we shared being her 'second best' is something that can be accepted in a passionate relationship.
I don't really know what I'm hoping to get from writing this post. But, I'm hurting and writing it out has been a little therapeutic. Thanks for reading.
28 comments posted: Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
Heartbreak & Confusion (D v R)
I've (33M) been lurking for the last several months. I've appreciated a lot of the experience and wisdom from the members of this forum. I feel it's finally time to share my story. Maybe some of you further down the line can make things more clear. Thank you all in advance for reading a LONG post.
Together for 15 years, married for 11, no kids.
My wife and I met when we were both 18 (2008) within the first few weeks of college. I was always a little shy and she pursued me in a subtle way that made me feel comfortable. We became exclusive after a few weeks of hanging out one on one, I was falling for her fast.
A little context, I had only ever dated one person before in high school and was very prudish, taking things extremely slow. I had never had sex and took the idea very seriously, thinking you should only have sex with someone you really love. She, on the other hand, had multiple sexual partners, serious and casual, and was not afraid to flaunt that she was experienced. Though this difference in values was a little disturbing to me at the time, I thought I was just being old fashioned and could appreciate all the other wonderful things about her.
A few months into dating, she was invited to a party by an ex of hers. She decided to go with him, I was not invited, and I expressed some discomfort with her decision. Later that night I get a call from her, crying, asking for help and that she was in her dorm room. I called a mutual friend that lived in her dorm to go check up on her. The friend said she had found her on the floor, puking in a shoe box, a total mess.
About a week after this event, my future wife told me that she was not alone in her dorm that night. She had been escorted back by a classmate (one she had said she thought was cute) and he had proceeded to sexually assault her. I was shocked. I took her at her word. I did take a few days to think about if I should break up with her, but she was very distraught, and I had heard how prevalent rape and sexual assault were on college campuses. Why should I hold her accountable for something that wasn't her fault?
I decided to stay. I thought I could let go of any suspicion, but I was wrong. This leads into the next four years of our relationship through college. We had some really great times, but there were times I was haunted by the suspicion and jealousy around that night. She would talk about her past partners, it would fuel my jealousy. She was only interested in making friends with men, it fueled my jealousy. I ended up making my jealousy her problem, having her break friendships and go no contact with ex boyfriends. I would have episodes of anger and would ask her repetitive and incessant questions, many times getting conflicting answers. Despite these episodes, we had great times in college and were pretty much inseparable, starting a trend of codependency that has been with us ever since.
At the end of our senior year, many other young couples were getting married (midwest values), and she was very interested in tying the knot as well. I knew I loved her, and couldn't think of being interested in anyone else. We had the same plans for after college life, it seemed like the right choice at the time, I proposed. We got married in 2012 and picked up a puppy the day after the wedding (2012).
Life after college was an adjustment for both of us. Over four years we moved three times to completely different parts of the country, I put on a good amount of weight, we both struggled adjusting to professional life, and had difficulty making friends. Near the end of this four year period (2015), I was fat, depressed, and the feelings of retroactive jealousy came flooding back, probably due to my crushing insecurity. I was living in a haze of jealousy, going back to asking questions, not trusting her. Really a good dose of relationship OCD most likely. This went on for about a year, I knew something was wrong with me. I made her feel like she would never be enough for me because of things she did in the past, things she couldn't change and things she said she was ashamed of. No matter the amount of answering or reassurance, my obsession could not be fixed by her, it was squarely my issue and I was emotionally abusing her as a result. She started to mention divorce and we went to see a therapist to address my issues.
After going to therapy for a little under a year, we both decided we wanted to hike a long distance trail together, maybe as the last thing we would ever do as a couple. If we could make it through, it might bring us closer and give us new energy for the future. We took a five month break (2016) from real life and accomplished that goal together. I lost a bunch of weight and found an inner peace that I never knew was there. The questions were over, the past was the past and that's where I would leave it. I committed to being a more compassionate and supportive partner.
After this I tried to talk about how I had acted before and apologize, but she didn't want to talk about it. I thought I would show her things were going to be different through actions and supported her in several pursuits, some of which separated us for periods of time. I ended up finding another professional job, she found something temporary in the service industry.
During this time, she was distant, but only expressed dissatisfaction with adjusting back to a more normal life after such a grand adventure. She was very excited to be working a low stakes job with young people that had very few responsibilities. It was during this time that she met someone I was a little worked about. He worked with her, she talked about him for awhile, but as soon as I mentioned that she was talking about him an awful lot, she didn't mention him anymore. This should have been a red flag, but I was trying to be chill and TRUST. She eventually found a professional job, and went out with her colleagues for a goodbye party, I was not invited. She did not come home that night (2017), but texted very late that she was staying at a female coworker's apartment since she was drunk and tired. I was uncomfortable with her staying out all night, but I trusted her and was trying to be as supportive and amenable as possible.
The new professional gig required a lot of travel with her boss, a man about ten years older. They worked together for about one year, taking many trips together. They would always go out for drinks after work and she seemed to get along with him very well. I always got a call at the end of the night. They seemed very friendly, but she always seemed to relay the content of their conversations. Once again, the jealousy crept in, I told her in subtle ways I was uncomfortable, but everything was in the context of work. They texted outside of work, I snooped, and everything seemed to be friendly, but platonic.
She changed jobs (2018), but kept seeing him when he would be in town to visit over the next few years. Eventually he kissed her, she told me at the time he 'tried' to kiss her, and I calmly asked that she cut all contact with him. A few months later (2020), I see that she's still contacting him, but I thought they were never going to see each other again physically since he lives so far away and COVID was starting. The conversation was platonic and she claimed she was not interested in him, he was the pursuer. I left it, trying to TRUST, and not engage in old behavior.
Once things opened up after COVID (2022) she started travelling for work again with a different company but within the same industry. Early this year I checked her phone messages with him and saw that she was indeed planning on meeting up with him at an upcoming conference. I brought it up, broke down crying, and asked her not to see him one-on-one at the conference. She told me she would have to see him for work, but wouldn't go out with him outside of the professional environment.
At the end of the conference I went down to the city she was in for work to see the sights with her and do a little vacationing. After a night out, she was a little drunk and fell asleep at our accommodations. I checked her phone and saw that she had gone out with him for a drink after the conference. I read back through their entire thread. I saw a few subtly flirt messages, nothing condemning, but enough for me to have questions.
The next morning I was upset and told her I read through her texts (March 2023). She denied anything more than friendship and apologized for going out with him, but there was really nothing to worry about, she didn't want to be rude (she is a confirmed people pleaser). I didn't give up this time. She immediately texted him, told him she could no longer be friends, and blocked him. Over a series of weeks, gaslighting, misdirection, blaming, and outright lying, I got her to produce a timeline of her relationship with her boss (AP#1). She produced a story that showed he was a very attentive boss, took her under his wing as a mentee, and promised to guide her in her career. He created a lot of opportunity to spend time with her on trips and always initiated contact or texting (verified from me reading her texts). She claimed she saw him as a father figure (her dad abandoned her and her mom). She admitted to enjoying their nights out and to knowing he had feelings for her (enjoying the attention), but that she saw that as his problem and didn't know how to distance herself when they were working together. Things were still not adding up, so I kept pushing for answers to fill in the gaps. She was trickle truthing me hard.
Eventually after leaving and spending a few nights at my sister's she gave a new version of the story (April 2023), this one seems to have stood the test of time since her disclosing it. He was putting on pressure, taking her out, showing off, giving her lots of attention and praise, and she enjoyed it. She liked hanging out with and and enjoyed all the validation he was giving her. He started to push the boundaries, and she didn't do much to stop him. He held her hand, she eventually pulled away. When she snuggled up very close to him while waiting on a train he told her he felt like they were having an emotional affair, she shrugged it off, didn't feel the same. During their last night together she got a little too drunk and was 'giving him eyes', but nothing happened. Ultimately, it seems she got off on having him fall for her. She claims to have loved the validation, but didn't love him.
She claimed their relationship after she left the job was mostly platonic. Without the in-person excitement, it wasn't the same. When they met up he would still wax on about good they would be together. She didn't shut it down, but didn't really reciprocate. After he kissed her she knew things went over the line and decided to tell me he 'tried' to kiss her. After agreeing to not text him anymore, he kept texting her and she thought if she wasn't going to see him anymore, what's the harm? She was in denial about the romantic aspect of their relationship and kept telling herself they were 'just friends'.
After travel opened up again she met up with him at two conferences before the one I found out about. The first time, things were platonic. They went out for drinks one night and grabbed a quick breakfast. The second time, he started to put the pressure back on, claiming the only reason he was there was to see her. He asked her for a ride to the airport and made comments about how good she looked. When she dropped him off, they hugged, and because he made a comment about not being able to see her body with the pants she was wearing, she told him 'You may not be able to see much, but my butt feels great in these pants. You can touch it if you want.' The most recent time they went out she said it was extremely uncomfortable. She felt obligated to go, but was desperate to leave and the meeting was very brief. He invited her out several more times during that conference, all of which she declined.
We both started IC and had a few sessions of MC. She signed up for an Affair Recovery course. She started reading books (Not Just Friends, ect). I was committed to getting to the bottom of things and understanding all that happened before making a decision to stay or go. We took a vacation together and it was amazing. She was open, she was honest, we were intimate again. I felt like we could make it through this.
D-Day #2 (June 2023):
Shortly after our trip, I was feeling good about R. But, I noticed after one of her therapy sessions she was pretty avoidant. The next day she said she had something she needed to tell me. I thought it was some minor point in the story I already knew that she had forgotten. She was SOBBING and could hardly get it out. Back before she started her job with AP#1, when she was working at the juice bar, the night that she didn't come home, she had a ONS with her manager (AP#2), the guy she stopped talking about when I questioned her. She was drunk, she was high, he was cute, they found themselves alone on the street late at night, they kissed. It was a rush, she felt free, he asked if she wanted to go back to his place, she said yes. They walked back to his apartment, stripped, got in the shower and had unprotected sex. She felt guilty, but not guilty enough. She called an old friend, told her everything, and was advised not to tell me. Incomprehensibly, a week later he texted her asking if she wanted to meet up. She said yes, went to his place, felt awkward about being there, and gave him a blowjob 'to get out of there quickly'. After that she ghosted him, no contact since.
She had been texting him before that night for several months. She thought he was cute. They would talk about music, he would give her attention and tease her, she obviously like it an played into it. He was younger and didn't have his shit figured out. She was feeling old (LOL) and wanted to escape the inevitable of going back to a professional job.
Immediately after, I asked for space and she went to stay with her family for three weeks. I was fairly resolved on divorce. But, on her return, her remorse, apologies, insight to the 'whys', and improved communication gave me pause.
She's still going to two therapists, reading everything in sight, continuing with her Affair Recovery course, showing remorse, listening without defensiveness, expressing commitment to change herself for herself (disgusted with herself), and expressing a deep desire to work things out, but with an understanding that I will need to do what's best for me.
We currently live in a very rural area and are pretty isolated. I decided I will be moving back to the city to be closer to work and my sister. I told her I would like to have six months to try to get a clear head to decide the future of our relationship. Even though she doesn't want me to leave, she's been helping me prep the apartment on weekends and doing anything she can to help me at any given time.
I have some empathy for her. Most of her infidelities were shortly after my emotional abuse (2015-2016). I made her feel like there was nothing she could ever do to meet my expectations. There was nothing she could ever do to be the wife I wanted. Her self esteem was at an all time low and she was likely dealing with some trauma that I caused her. But, I know these were her choices and they're not directly my fault. She could have divorced me, we could have gone to counseling.
She also has some FOO issues that she never resolved before this. Her father abandoned her, her stepdad was physically abusive, her mom is a narcissist, her grandfather was sexually inappropriate with her. She grew up in a home where everything was a mess and nobody talked about it. She learned to go along with anything anyone wanted to stay safe. She has very poor boundaries, is a people pleaser, and had put a lot of value in being 'desirable' (something I failed at during my worst times).
I also still feel like I love her, we've been through a lot together and I never felt like I was home when we were apart. We 'click' like I've never done with anyone else. Aside from the infidelity, lying, and lack of emotional availability, she's been a fantastic spouse. She's very supportive of me, has been a great household project manager, we enjoy the same pastimes and have the same hobbies. We can spend whole evenings of the week just talking, the hours fly by. The sex was amazing and frequent. We made a great team.
Also, she seems to be doing the work in earnest. She's on a strict diet of self improvement, supporting me, and research. Any 'fun' activities she does are paired with an educational podcast or taking her journal along. She's shared her location with me and told me I can access her phone, journal, accounts whenever I want. She turned down work travel and has let her boss know she won't be able to travel in the future. She really does seem to be giving it her all. I believe people can change, I've changed, and I want to believe that she can be a better, less broken person in the future. With or without me.
However, I don't know if I can cope with this and believe that we could ever be happy again together. I'm heartbroken, I don't trust her, I'm disgusted by her physical infidelities, I'm having mind movies, shaking, brain fog. Every day is an emotional journey and I've been going back and forth between divorce and reconciliation since she came back from the three weeks apart (July). I know I deserve better, maybe she can be better? Will it matter? Could I ever live with myself if I stayed? I'm constantly assessing the viability of a happy relationship with her and it's driving me crazy. For some reason I believe she will never cheat on me again (she seems to have woken up), but I don't know if she can be radically honest, transparent, vulnerable, and emotionally intelligent. Can you live with and truly love the person that gave you PTSD and traumatized you for life? Could I ever trust her after she lied and withheld for six years? Can I trust her after a false reconciliation? Can a serial cheater really change? 15 years together is a lot to throw away, but is this the person I want to spend the next 15 years with?
My heart and my head are at odds. I know a big part of wanting to stay is from fear. I've never lived on my own, I've always had her. I devoted so much of myself to the relationship I've lost who I am. My therapist has supported the separation as a way to break some codependency and build some confidence/independence. I really don't want to leave the comfort of my life, but I feel like I need to know I can live without her and the relationship to ensure if I do stay, it's not just out of fear and lack of confidence. However, I feel better when she's around. She's doing a great job of supporting me. She's comfortable, she's beautiful, she's smart (and dumb, yes I know). I'm struggling, I'm spacey, and she's been there to pick up where I'm falling down. I've committed in word to the move and have signed a lease, I know the reasons on paper, but I don't want to leave her. I'm afraid of the isolation and dealing with all this on my own. It feels like once I go, it's going to be over. I'm completely lost and don't know what I'm doing.
Thanks for reading this mini novel! I'd love to hear thoughts about R v D, her and my seeming viability as a candidates for R, if the separation is a good idea, similar experiences, or any advice/support you can come up with.
12 comments posted: Saturday, September 16th, 2023