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Just Found Out :
10 years later, I'm back, with new partner

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 weirdsituation (original poster new member #83949) posted at 9:17 PM on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023

SerJR - That definitely rings true for WBF. His occupation is also essentially para-military and nearly 100% male, which contributes.

I do think, when he was home last week, I was a safe relational container - actually now that I think of it, my sharing was all very calm. (This does not include the first hours when I'd found out. I don't actually remember what I said in those first hours, after the initial confrontation. Definitely nothing so bad, but I might have been displaying anger.) I only cried once, when he talked about how mean he felt I was being, in the spring during that bad period. I felt deep regret and remorse, cried, sincerely apologized...that was the only display of emotion on my side. When he came home, he cried; I held him. (I could have, perhaps should have, gone further and comforted him or said out loud that it was perfectly fine to cry but I was mired in my own confusion at how numb I felt; had expected to feel angrier.) I had discussed everything with several friends and then with my therapist only a few hours before so I calmly said that I felt hurt, overwhelmed, confused, and angry. I said I was sad that our communication and intimacy had gone so far awry that I didn't know this was happening. Anyway it was all very calm from my side. Very unlike with my ex.

And...I've been a safe person for him to share with in the past, although he often discusses the deepest traumas only when he's drunk...definitely suggests that he's not comfortable. I'll continue sharing in a calm way, and going forward, even if I don't catch my own irritation early enough to express it calmly (the goal!!), if he calls and I'm upset, I'll just tell him I need a few minutes to myself and then I'll call him back. I can only learn from my mistakes and do better.

ThisIsSoLonely - All extremely pertinent questions. I think if he did the work, he would be able to tolerate uncertainty. I think he would be able to tolerate conflict. I think we never would've ended up here....

Here's a tidbit. We had an argument a year ago. (A YEAR ago.) I felt unsettled afterwards, like he was still distant and therefore, I reasoned, hurt or angry. I asked him about it. He said he just needed to process. I asked him about it again, days later. He said everything was fine. Last week he finally said everything was not fine, that that's what kicked off the rough patch. I felt devastated by the foolishness of it all: We could have dealt with it then! For goodness sake. Instead he proceeded to go on a trip with a friend (ahem...run away), which led to that huge medical problem and consequences. And we never dealt with that argument at all in any way and I felt that he was still distant for at least a month afterwards. But what could I do?

Anyway with regard to, what kind of a person does this, how serious are they about the relationship...I think the person who does a thing like this is, deep down, insecure. The OW lives literally across the world, 14 hours flying. When he downloaded the apps, he was in that country. No chance of a true relationship. Those facts make me think he knew he wouldn't get caught. Also! When he did this... we were at a great place in our relationship. We both felt like my therapy was helping and things were looking up. We were happy. So...he started talking to OW again when we were in a rough spot. But then he never stopped. He didn't call off their little trip. Seems to me, he was still afraid to have all his eggs in one basket (basket being me...not so sure about this metaphor). Or simply didn't want to. Don't know. But it does raise more questions that I hadn't thought of.

[This message edited by weirdsituation at 9:20 PM, Tuesday, October 3rd]

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Gunnut ( member #63221) posted at 9:24 PM on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023

Since he knew how much it would devastate you and did it anyways, it must be extra painful. Dating for two years, you should still be in a honeymoon phase. Things will get more difficult and stale as time goes on and what will he do the next time that he thinks that you may break up.

I won’t say whether you should stay or go, but cheating after only 2 years and being unmarried, I think you should at least strongly consider breakup up with your cheater.

posts: 467   ·   registered: Mar. 29th, 2018   ·   location: Minnesota
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ThisIsSoLonely ( Guide #64418) posted at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, October 4th, 2023

I won’t say whether you should stay or go, but cheating after only 2 years and being unmarried, I think you should at least strongly consider breakup up with your cheater.

I agree - unless your guy is making changes right now to try to figure out why his response is not only to avoid conflict, but to run to something else to soothe himself - you likely will find yourself here again with this guy. Ask me how I know.

*Hint: After the A and aftermath I have learned that my WH cheated on or at bare minimum had very poor boundaries with every person he was with before me - which wasn't many, but it was enough to establish a clear pattern. He was close to a serial monogamist in that he jumped from one relationship to the next, but in 2 cases there was overlap between the person he was leaving and the person he was with next. In the other cases he clearly had boundary issues, flirting rampantly with a few different women via text/phone - and while nothing came of them physically it is pretty clear to him that the only reason they did not is because of distance (most of them were from his home town area which is no where near where he lives now). His almost 4 years of IC has taught him a lot about himself that he has shared with me - and a lot of it isn't pretty. It's serious work and honestly, if I could meet him again for the first time knowing I would have to do all of this, I would not have started a relationship with him.

I tell you all of this because unless your WP does some serious work on himself AND wants to do it FOR himself (e.g. he realizes HE is the problem and that he is also the solution), you are in dangerous waters.

You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with. Act accordingly.

Constantly editing posts: usually due to sticky keys on my laptop or additional thoughts

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 weirdsituation (original poster new member #83949) posted at 9:24 PM on Wednesday, October 4th, 2023

Gunnut - I guess I'm looking at it a little differently. When people cheat, I guess I think it's not really about the relationship, it's about the person making the choice, so the timing is kind of irrelevant. And for what it's worth I don't think we'll ever have another 6 month stretch so awful. For full context, the timeline:

* Through summer 2022, we lived in the northeast, where we both had good social networks and were very financially secure.

* Late summer 2022, he bought a house in a rural town in the west and we moved there, thinking I'd be able to build a network there. I tried, but felt very lonely and isolated especially while he was working offshore.

* In early fall 2022, he quit a job for the first time ever. (Stressed him out a lot.)

* Then we had a big fight relating to his family.

* Then he took a trip with a friend. During that trip, my estranged mother died and it rocked me. I did not ask him to come home even though I wanted him to (my bad), and he didn't offer.

* Literally two days later, he was seriously injured (so he couldn't work in his field and also couldn't get short-term disability because he'd quit his job and was going to start the next one in a few weeks).

* Medical care in our town was poor. He was also frustrated by this. I started pushing to move back to the northeast and rent out the house he bought. I thought it's what we both wanted. I found out LAST WEEK that he didn't want to move back as much as I did. At the time he was very enthusiastic and supportive and excited about my offers and new job.

* January 2023, I started my new job, we moved back to the northeast; found an apartment in a competitive and high-stress market but had to live in Airbnbs ($$$$$) for 3 months while we waited for it to come open. He had no income, for the first time in his adult life. I exhausted my savings and was working 65-70 hours per week for the next 3 months.

ANYWAY. None of that is an excuse because I lived it too.

And YES I absolutely agree with both you and ThisIsSoLonely... he has to become a safe partner. I've said that from the get-go: we both have to work on ourselves. And he has to want to, and it's going to be difficult and it's not going to feel great, exposing all of this stuff to the light and examining it. And working 14 hours a day offshore for two weeks straight is going to make it more complicated; it's an extra barrier.

I think what I'm struggling with right now is determining exactly where my boundaries lie. I know the general shape of them: I want a safe, secure partner. To become a safe, secure partner, he needs to clean up his side of the street...he needs to work on himself to understand why he did this, to develop better strategies, and to learn to communicate first within himself, and then with others (me).

It's the rest that's fuzzy. He found the information to start therapy via his company's EAP the day I found out...September 24. It is now October 4. I asked last weekend if he'd called/what the status was; he said he hadn't called and he thought he'd be able to today, Oct 4. I'm looking at it from all angles: yes, it's a difficult phone call to make, especially while he's at work with no privacy. Yes, with his background it's very difficult to even think about getting therapy. Yes, it has to be his decision. But I think it's also fair for me to ask: BF, how are you working on yourself? We agreed that we both needed to work on ourselves for this relationship to move forward. I know you're working 14 hours a day, talking to me for an hour a day, and you have no privacy. I'm in therapy, watching the videos my therapist recommends, journaling, and practicing mindfulness. What are you doing?

Or does it need to be more specific? And what's appropriate, given all of his constraints? Idk.

[This message edited by weirdsituation at 9:27 PM, Wednesday, October 4th]

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SerJR ( member #14993) posted at 12:42 PM on Thursday, October 5th, 2023

I think what I'm struggling with right now is determining exactly where my boundaries lie. I know the general shape of them: I want a safe, secure partner. To become a safe, secure partner, he needs to clean up his side of the street...he needs to work on himself to understand why he did this, to develop better strategies, and to learn to communicate first within himself, and then with others (me).

I think that's a good start, in the sense that you recognise your needs or interests, and it's important to express those to your WBF. I think you might be trying to rationalise things through the perspective of positions, or yes/no gates on actionable items?

For example:
Interest - I need a safe partner
Position - My partner must call me every day at noon to tell me where he is

The interest is the fundamental driver, while the position is something that addresses it. With boundaries, we often think about things in terms of the more tangible positions, but this is where it can sometimes fall apart. Some positions are obviously non-negotiable (e.g. no more affairs), but those that don't need to be can set you up at an impasse because the intrinsic structure of a position is non-negotiable. In the above example (I need a safe partner) the position might not be 100% feasible due to other factors, and there can be multiple other actionable items to address the interest (for example, giving you passwords to all online accounts, calling you during the day when he has a few minutes, getting an STD test, etc.).

My suggestion - make a list of those interests or needs, and speak with your partner about them. Put the ball in his court and ask him how he thinks you can meet those needs with tangible actions. This creates a much deeper dialogue that allows for you to both find a path that can work, should you decide it's enough to meet your needs, and lets him take an empowered role in potential reconciliation.

Me: BH - Happily remarried.
Hope is never lost. It exists within you - it is real. It is not a force in and of itself - it is something that you create with every thought, action, and choice you make. It is a gift that you create for yourself.

posts: 18627   ·   registered: Jun. 15th, 2007   ·   location: Further North than South
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ThisIsSoLonely ( Guide #64418) posted at 2:20 PM on Thursday, October 5th, 2023

My suggestion is to watch and see what he does. Any pushing from you even if he seems interested doesn't count. Frankly, one of the biggest things I have learned from this is that people really do show you their intentions - their level of interest/investment - and all you have to do is watch. Detach and watch. You detach for you - so you don't emotionally intervene or get angry or try to manipulate your partner into doing what you want. You watch to see what they do - how important fixing the problem is to them.

My WH put off calling that therapist for a long time, and when it finally did it, it was at my bequest. Guess what? It made no difference because he was doing it "for" me - frankly I think was doing it to appease me, but at that point (in between d-day 1 and 2) I don't think he even believed he was the problem. I think he still believed I/"we" were the problem, as in our relationship. He was unhappy with me/with us - and he spent the better part of year in IC bitching about me and trying to work out why he was so unhappy with me. He now admits he didn't talk much at all in IC during that time about why he cheated on me with his co-worker's wife, who was also a co-worker, who was also a good friend of his, in a work situation that could have cost them all their jobs, and ruined his work reputation and the majority of his social life, which also stemmed from work. Why on Earth he would do such a stupid, hurtful thing, especially as the hurt was so far reaching - what inside of him made it okay to even consider that for more than a second, nevertheless start down that path?

Address all that?!?!?! No way - that shit was scary. There is no way he could be responsible for such a disaster. I had to be the problem - our relationship had to be so bad that he was driven to madness....

No, at that time he had no interest in doing that work. And, had I been watching, AND detaching, instead of making excuses for why he wasn't doing things as quickly, or as in earnest, as you would expect - as I would have done if I were in his shoes - It would have been as easy to see as my hand in front of me that he was not in fact very invested in the process, and certainly did not see him as a problem that HE needed to fix.

I'm afraid that is where you are with his guy OP - and never fear, I would say like 99% of posters on this site are in those same shoes at this stage of the process.

He found the information to start therapy via his company's EAP the day I found out...September 24. It is now October 4. I asked last weekend if he'd called/what the status was; he said he hadn't called and he thought he'd be able to today, Oct 4. I'm looking at it from all angles: yes, it's a difficult phone call to make, especially while he's at work with no privacy. Yes, with his background it's very difficult to even think about getting therapy. Yes, it has to be his decision. But I think it's also fair for me to ask: BF, how are you working on yourself? We agreed that we both needed to work on ourselves for this relationship to move forward. I know you're working 14 hours a day, talking to me for an hour a day, and you have no privacy. I'm in therapy, watching the videos my therapist recommends, journaling, and practicing mindfulness. What are you doing?

When I read this I think to myself - there are a bunch of excuses here, which indicate to me that he does not think - not really - that he is the problem. It's 2+ weeks later, and he works 14 hour days, but there is still time to make the call you are talking about. There. Just. Is. And, if this were a priority, he would have done so (and I think, although you are nicely not saying it in those terms because you want to protect him a bit - you are thinking the same thing). You aren't seeing what you need to feel safe, and I'm guessing you are afraid to rock the boat and push. Well, there is no need to rock the boat and push - what you need to do is get your ducks in a row so if you decide you are tired of waiting that you can leave.

I am NOT telling you to leave - I am telling you to prepare yourself so that you can if you need/want to later on. I didn't do that initially and then after a year and a half I was tired of waiting for my WH to do "more" but I could not leave immediately because financially I was unprepared - my employment made it difficult - and I was stuck. In hindsight I should have started preparing immediately after d-day 1 just in case - I should have bet on myself, and big. You should too.

Why? Because doing this gives you some power - some control over your own life instead of waiting for someone to act in your best interest - someone who has already shown you that they are very capable of acting against you. With control comes clarity and peace - it really does. The sooner you take control of your life - the parts you can - the better you will feel and I think the better you will feel about the decisions you make about your relationship with your WP.

I also know that taking this advice - and not thinking "yeah, this isn't my WP TISL is talking about - it's hers" - is hard to do. I also know I was told similar things and didn't do them myself. But it's worth thinking about.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 2:26 PM, Thursday, October 5th]

You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with. Act accordingly.

Constantly editing posts: usually due to sticky keys on my laptop or additional thoughts

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Gunnut ( member #63221) posted at 2:48 PM on Friday, October 6th, 2023

When people cheat, I guess I think it's not really about the relationship, it's about the person making the choice, so the timing is kind of irrelevant.


I agree that it’s about the person, but I strongly disagree that the timing is irrelevant. He quickly started cheating on you and I think that shows a strong lack of character and entitlement behavior.

I would have considered finding out my WW was a cheater so soon in our relationship a gift. It would have saved me 18 years of her cheating on me and 6 difficult years attempting R. You can simply just divide up your CDs and walk away now. It is much more complicated after 25 years of marriage and 3 kids.

You have no idea that you won’t have an even harder 6 month span of trouble in the rest of your life, will he feel entitled to cheat then to. You didn’t deserve this, it’s ALL on him and not on difficult life situations.

posts: 467   ·   registered: Mar. 29th, 2018   ·   location: Minnesota
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 weirdsituation (original poster new member #83949) posted at 6:56 PM on Friday, October 6th, 2023

Oh my gosh, SerJR, that delineation between interests and positions was SUPER helpful. It's very simple to identify which is which and it clarifies my thinking a lot. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My brain wants to get caught up in the tangible, in the planning, but that's not my responsibility. I'm already doing my own tangible work.

On a related note, to nod to items raised by ThisIsSoLonely and Gunnut - fortunately I'm already completely independent and self-sufficient, financially and otherwise. I'm financially secure, have a large group of friends and a local community network. That's the biggest change I made after my divorce - I was never going to be caught in that position (having to stay and squirrel away money) again. That was miserable. For a long time afterwards I taught financial literacy and planning courses to women - it was so rewarding and thinking about it makes me want to do it again...

But, TISL, you are right -- I'm trying to watch and observe, and just be really clear about what I need and want. For me it is very tempting to get caught up in the details and it's very easy for me to be compassionate...where I struggle with true intimacy is in naming my needs and wants and communicating them to a partner. So...that's got to be a focal point of the work I'm doing. (This is a reminder to myself!)

Gunnut - I think each relationship is different. I'm not considering any logistical complications (kids, marriage), and as my plans don't include kids, and I'm very financially secure - it'll never be all that complicated for me. I'm only looking at the relationship I have and the person I'm in a relationship with. (And yes - the person I'm in a relationship with is, it turns out, capable of cheating on me. That's information to consider. But there's a lot of other information that gets left out. You'll have to trust me that there's enough stuff here that, despite my baggage, despite no legal ties, despite no financial dependence, I'd like us to grow and work on ourselves together.) The question now is: can he be a safe, secure partner, with whom I can grow and develop?

posts: 16   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2023
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Gunnut ( member #63221) posted at 1:06 PM on Saturday, October 7th, 2023

In my experience in real life and what I’ve observed over and over on this site is that, there isn’t such a thing as a special cheater or unique cheating situation or relationship. Cheaters follow a similar script and even use the same vocabulary to explain themselves and blame shift their destructive choices onto their partner, whom they’ve just abused by cheating.

If you want to R, by all means do, just please do it with your eyes wide open. You do have much more flexibility than most if you don’t want to marry, or have kids with him and that you’re financially independent (good for you!). You are the only one of on this site that specifically knows your wayward bf and therefore you are the best one to know if he is a good candidate for R or not.

The biggest mistake that I made in R was telling my wife that I wanted to R right away. It made her too comfortable and she didn’t put in the work until I reached my limit and I was halfway out the door. A lot of cheaters just want to maintain the status quo and their cake eating. It’s like they don’t snap out their cheating ways until they’re forced to image life without their faithful partner.

Also, don’t believe anything that your cheater says right now. Part of the cheater’s script is to blame shift, minimize and to continue to lie. I would have saved myself a lot of pain if I didn’t believe my wife on Dday1.

I believed that my wife was special and our relationship was unique too, I was wrong, she was just a common cheater and liar like most of them.

[This message edited by Gunnut at 4:21 PM, Saturday, October 7th]

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Justsomeguy ( member #65583) posted at 3:36 PM on Saturday, October 7th, 2023

OP, I havent been following this thread closely, but rather popping in occasionally to see some hoped-for good news or developments, so sorry if I'm not totally up to speed.

When people cheat, I guess I think it's not really about the relationship, it's about the person making the choice, so the timing is kind of irrelevant. And for what it's worth I don't think we'll ever have another 6 month stretch so awful.

Correct me I'm wrong, but don't these two statements stand at adds with one another? If I'm reading this right, your second statement suggests that your WH's cheating was situational and the implication is, if you never let it get bad again, you can affair-proof it. He also seems resistant to doing the work, which does not address the first statement.

I'm an oulier in my positions.

Me:55 STBXWW:55 DD#1: false confession of EA Dec. 2016. False R for a year.DD#2: confessed to year long PA Dec. 2 2017 (was about to be outed)Called it off and filed. Denied having an affair in court papers.

Divorced 20

posts: 1835   ·   registered: Jul. 25th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8810921
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 weirdsituation (original poster new member #83949) posted at 4:42 PM on Saturday, October 7th, 2023

You're right, it is irrelevant, JustSomeGuy. (Also, by the way...I remember your username from when I was here after discovering my ex was cheating for the first time. SerJR too.) The ONLY question for me is: can WBF become a safe partner? If he can, and he does, then circumstances could be worse (goodness hopefully not), for longer, etc., and it won't matter because he'll have the tools and behaviors and self-awareness to act in a way that aligns with his values. And that's the only way I will feel safe and secure, and I deserve to feel safe and secure.

Gunnut - There is definitely a 'script' or a template of behaviors; it's uncanny... I was so disappointed and a little shaken to hear near-identical irrational minimizing from my WBF. Felt like I'd slipped into another dimension.

I'm trying to maintain a curious and fact-based approach/view. WBF is not protesting about privacy, demanding to know where I got my information, turning things around on me. He is watching videos and reading books. I expressed an interest to him yesterday, that it's important to me that he has energy for me, for the relationship, and for self-growth, even though he's busy at work. Asked him how he thought he could accomplish that and he came up with some answers and texted me today to let me know how he's putting one into action.

Right now I think it feels harder for me because while we text throughout the day, and talk on the phone when he's done for the day, I'm not there, he's not here...it's just different.

And sometimes, particularly on weekends when I feel lonelier (let's face it: weekends are couple-time), I let myself get sucked into these caves and holes. For example. Yesterday I went to my calendar and marked the days he reactivated the dating app, and the days he was with OW, and looked at what I was doing those days, and then looked at my journal that I've been maintaining during therapy.

Here, here we go, I'm going to dive into my cave again. On 9/16, he called me from vacation twice, his morning and his night. He sent me pictures all day. We had great conversations. I identified the feelings behind my thoughts as contentment, confidence, love. But he was re-activating dating apps...and I was feeling so happy with our relationship. And he said he felt so happy with our relationship. (Emotions now: confused, overwhelmed, angry, hurt.)

And it just freaking sucks that I can't talk to him real-time when these things come up. Or get a hug. I journal about them and sometimes I write about them here or in my therapy journal. (Usually all three for the biggies, like that one.)

Anyway. I know WBF needs to do the emotional work, not only finding practical solutions (looking for a shore-side job - which is great and I'd love that, but it's not the whole picture). If he can't identify his emotions, then he won't be able to identify his needs and wants, and if he can't identify those things, he has no chance of communicating them to himself or to me.

And that's the hard part. It's still hard for me!!!, months into therapy, and having some familiarity from past forays into therapy.

[This message edited by weirdsituation at 4:44 PM, Saturday, October 7th]

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SerJR ( member #14993) posted at 10:11 PM on Saturday, October 7th, 2023

Your post is very encouraging (((weird))) - you're definitely standing on your own two feet here and you should be proud of that fact. I know it sucks not to have any definitive answers at the moment, but they will come in time when you're ready.

You've gotten a lot of good advice from the posters on this thread. Without speaking for them, I think we're all looking at it from different perspectives so that you can make the right decision for you, when you're ready.

To open up a bit, when my first marriage blew up (gosh... 16 years ago now... holy shit!) I did put R on the table, even though my xww left me for her coworker and flaunted it in my face. Yes, it certainly would have been easier to close my heart off entirely. But the decision to put R on the table wasn't for her or the save the marriage. That decision came from both mind and heart to save myself. I had to know that I did everything I possibly could to give our marriage a chance because I believed that it could be done if she were to have truly been remorseful. I did it because I could put myself in her shoes and understand what she was going through, even though I certainly didn't condone it. I did it because of my beliefs and my value system, and because I had to know that when that point was reached and she crossed those boundaries, that I did everything I could for my family. I did it because I believe that to find the good in the world, you have to be willing to look for it, and I did not want to close my heart off to finding beauty and joy.

My path may or may not be right for you, but hopefully it's another bit of a reframe. What I'm trying to say, is you have to do things your way and do what is right for you, with both your eyes and your mind wide-open and understanding what you have a right to in your life and what you have a right to not put up with in your life. You do have a really good handle on this, and you're focusing on the root causes and what's needed for a strong foundation of wellbeing in your life and relationships. I know it's tough right now and that there are some challenges for you. Just have a little faith and patience with yourself. smile

Me: BH - Happily remarried.
Hope is never lost. It exists within you - it is real. It is not a force in and of itself - it is something that you create with every thought, action, and choice you make. It is a gift that you create for yourself.

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BreakingBad ( member #75779) posted at 1:06 AM on Sunday, October 8th, 2023

One of the elements I notice throughout your posts here is your ability to analyze your own actions, your own thinking, and their impacts. Your willingness to take responsibility for how you contributed to difficulties in the relationship is also obvious.

You were aware and reflective as things in your relationship got tough.

You were in the same relationship that he was. You were also feeling unsatisfied and uncared for. Yet, you were aware enough to get into counseling.

He turned to dating sites, another woman--basically external validation.

His reasoning is that he thought your relationship was headed for a break up. Yet, you weren't broken up. He didn't take steps to break up. He spent energy monkey-branching to the next possible relationship.

As you say, he is avoidant.

On top of that, you suspect that he may have cheated on his ex wife (and fathered a child outside of that relationship). It sounds like he has never been forthcoming about this with you. If it's true, this all flags more avoidance--his actions in a previous relationship, not telling you, etc.

Avoidance is a deeply ingrained trait.

If this is one of his traits, changing it would be difficult.

He may also have a track record for cheating that goes beyond your relationship with him.

Food for thought, as you move forward.

You're a great thinker. Take your time making decisions. Keep talking with your counselor.

You have a lot going on that speaks to your strength in this situation, and I'm so very sorry that you are facing it again in this current relationship.

[This message edited by BreakingBad at 1:07 AM, Sunday, October 8th]

"...lately it's not hurtin' like it did before. Maybe I am learning how to love me more."[Credit to Sam Smith]

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phmh ( member #34146) posted at 11:59 PM on Sunday, October 8th, 2023

Not sure if you’re a reader, but let me suggest the book « The Science of Happily Ever After » you can probably get it from your library. It goes over characteristics of healthy relationships, and I hope that had I read it when I was dating my WXH, I would have left instead of wasting more time with him. I haven’t read it since 2014, so I can’t be much more specific. I see there is a revised version out and several people who I have recommended this book to in real life recently have thanked me and told me it helped them see things more clearly.

I’m over a decade past divorcing my WHX and I’m 8 years into a relationship with my partner. I still feel like we are in the honeymoon phase, so it makes me sad that you are dealing with this less than 3 years into a relationship.

Dating is basically a try out and he has failed. It sounds like you have a great life professionally, financially, socially. It doesn’t seem like he’s adding much except anxiety and possible STDs.

What you’re attempting to do sounds like so much work — you’re very likely throwing good money after bad here. You don’t live together or share finances/kids. Every day you stay with this person who intentionally cheated is a day that you’re not healing or finding a true partner that values you. What would you tell your best friend if she were in your situation?

I wish you the best of luck in finding peace and happiness.

Me: BW, divorced, now fabulous and happy!

Married: 11 years, no kids

Character is destiny

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 weirdsituation (original poster new member #83949) posted at 3:41 PM on Friday, October 13th, 2023

SerJR - thank you for sharing that, really, from the bottom of my heart. That's very much how I feel about WBF, and that's my value system, too... I'm not a perfect person - I have coping strategies and thought patterns that are dysfunctional, too. I have a lot of compassion for WBF because this stuff - the emotions - is so foreign and difficult and overwhelming to him. His one experience in therapy was terrible. (When he had to move to this country to be with his bio-mom who had previously abandoned him, they put him in therapy - he spoke English at basically the level of a 1st / 2nd grader, at the time. It was frustrating and unproductive.) I also understand how it must feel for him to have the worst pieces of his character exposed, to have violated his own values and have that be known.

My therapist has been tremendously helpful in reframing my own cognitive distortions, keeps us out of the swamp for the most part. I'm really nervous about going on vacation for a month, starting next Tuesday, with no access to therapy...and limited access to my friends...but I know everything I need is in my own mind and I do have the tools. They're just new and, well, as my therapist said - I'm trying to use new tools and my partner is using the same avoidant tools he's practiced using for over 30 years. Of course it's hard.
'
BreakingBad - thank you, thank you for this thoughtful message. I believed, and now have evidence, that this need for external validation goes way, way back. I finished my investigation a couple of days go and discovered that he's downloaded dating apps for anywhere from a couple of minutes, to a few hours, to a couple of days, at a time, since: (1) we had been dating for 10 months, and we were in, from my perspective, a great place at the time; (2) during the relationship that came immediately before this one, (3) during his marriage, and (4) during the relationship before his marriage, which was his first relationship. This knowledge doesn't really change anything; it's as I suspected and in any case... I knew 2.5 weeks ago that he has a problem. It still boils down to the same thing: can he grow? can he become a safe partner? or can't he? That's still the question.

phmh - Thank you for that book recommendation! I'm hoping I can get it on my Kindle since we'll be backpacking for a month. It's a little difficult, assessing whether 'dating' for us is a try-out...I guess for starters, I'm not planning to get married or have kids, so I haven't really viewed long-term relationships as a try-out. There's basically a try-out period before I decide if I want to move in, then a try-out period when we're living together. We're well into the living together stage - even though he lives at work when he's working, his 'home' is here.

Your question of what I'd say to a friend is an interesting and difficult one. A month ago I would've believed there are good men with good careers who don't cheat...because I thought I had evidence of that in my relationship. Now I don't know what I'd say. I see infidelity in so many people's relationships - even my most mature, kind, wise friend disclosed to me last summer that she and her BF (also not planning to marry - they've been together 12 years) were in couples counseling because she had slipped into an EA. One of my other close friends was just cheated on (by her husband). Another one suspects it and I think she's right. I think I'm a little jaded at this point...it seems like infidelity touches every relationship. I don't know where the other steadfastly loyal people are. I thought I was with one.

posts: 16   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2023
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SerJR ( member #14993) posted at 7:57 PM on Friday, October 13th, 2023

I think I'm a little jaded at this point..

And I think you're showing incredible self awareness. After a traumatic event, it's normal to see things in terms of hard and fast rules - "I got cheated on, therefore all men are cheaters". You know this isn't true on a rational level, but it's a survival instinct that kicks in to protect yourself, even if making erroneous assumptions it's playing it on the safe side to keep you away from further pain. The fact that you recognise being jaded means that you are capable of recovery, healing, and trust. Again, you can only control your own choices, so there is always at least some element of risk with relationships - but that's what can make them so beautiful at the same time. We don't know if he is capable of, or desires, growth, but we do know that you can rise to meet the challenge either way and do what's ultimately best for you, when you know.

I'm really nervous about going on vacation for a month, starting next Tuesday, with no access to therapy...and limited access to my friends...but I know everything I need is in my own mind and I do have the tools.

Absolutely spot on - you are capable. Sometimes our emotions can get the better of us (and that's a good thing against a direct threat), but there's always a pause to be taken if we give it to ourselves. You can always take a minute to process something and then decide on your reply or what to do, even if that's to say "let me think about this". That gives us a second to let the initial hurt subside so we can better focus on the issue at hand. It might feel strange or awkward at first, but that little moment can mean a lot in finding your power.

Me: BH - Happily remarried.
Hope is never lost. It exists within you - it is real. It is not a force in and of itself - it is something that you create with every thought, action, and choice you make. It is a gift that you create for yourself.

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The1stWife ( Guide #58832) posted at 9:02 PM on Friday, October 13th, 2023

Cheaters follow a similar script and even use the same vocabulary to explain themselves and blame shift their destructive choices onto their partner, whom they’ve just abused by cheating.

That’s why we call it the cheater’s handbook lol. Excellent point made.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled. 10 years out from Dday. Reconciliation takes two committed people to be successful.

posts: 13978   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
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annanew ( member #43693) posted at 5:59 AM on Monday, October 16th, 2023

Just popping in to say - definitely do NOT ignore that email you read from his ex.

And… you said he’s done "solo trips" in previous relationships. Now that you know what a solo trip is, for him, you kinda already know that he has cheated in previous relationships.

It’s hard to process everything at once. But I think you are in for some more ugly truths, when you are ready for them.

Single mom to a sweet girl.

posts: 2500   ·   registered: Jun. 11th, 2014   ·   location: California
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Stillconfused2022 ( member #82457) posted at 6:35 AM on Monday, October 16th, 2023

I have no great advice — and you’ve already had so much! I just wanted to commiserate on the point about this being your second go around. I wasn’t cheated on twice so I wont claim to know how you feel (it must hurt so much). But my dad had cheated, moved out and lived with a coworker for 3 months, and then my parents did the whole messy reconciliation all through my teens. Still together at 80 but no real love.

Anyway, it was sadly the defining event of my young life and I chose my spouse in the most deliberate way to avoid a second trauma. My husband was well aware of my obsession.

But the point is, it didn’t matter. It’s like your boyfriend and my husband had to make the mistake for themselves. There is no learning by proxy. They are still first go-arounders even though we are second go-arounders. You sound like you are well aware of this aspect, so again this is just commiseration. But its kind of a mind fuck for the second go-arounder in the couple. And frustrating. But you also have some compassion on some level for the fact that they are first go-arounders. So I can understand why you are compelled on some level to maybe give him a shot to fix it—-even though it must be so exhausting for you to do this a second time.

I felt like my husband’s betrayal of me had quadruple intensity because I’d already been betrayed in my mind. But over time I realized I can’t hold my husband responsible for my dad’s cheating. So there is one part of my trauma that is my husband’s fault but one part that sorta isn’t all his fault. It’s like bad luck. (Yes I know he shoulda realized but he didn’t…)

It sounds like your pain was severe (maybe more on second go around? I am not sure you said specifically….Or maybe it is never as bad as the first time…? It is hard when infidelity pain is so massive to even know what « worse » would even mean). BUT…it also sounds like maybe your coping tools are well honed. Maybe that gives you an edge. Mine most certainly were not well honed as I was a child and thus never really processed.

I hope you have an edge. Whether you choose to give this particular guy the gift of using those tools is obviously up to you—and a lot to sort out. I wish you the very best in that process. Wish you had not been hurt again. The other thing second go-arounders have in common is the seeming certainty that the men of the world are cheaters. I found that hard to work through. Luckily you already have SI. For me seeing all the really great men on this site who have been through the exact same thing as us, at the hands of female cheaters, helped me better understand it wasn’t just a guy thing. Maybe you already figured all that out. It took me 50 years to fully realize that men experienced betrayal trauma too. I’m kind of embarrassed on that score.

posts: 396   ·   registered: Nov. 27th, 2022   ·   location: Northeast
id 8811783
Topic is Sleeping.
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