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Tip of a Horrible Iceberg

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SuchMickleCare posted 3/14/2019 18:00 PM

My apologies for the novel. I recently received a message from a young woman who confessed that she & my partner had been seeing eachother during his out-of-state trips throughout 2018 (she apparently learned the truth that he was in a relationship all along and she was feeling guilty). She is not the only AP, but the first one to reach out to me personally, and the only one heís admitted to having sex with. But more on that in a minute. Iíve been adding up all the events over the course of the relationship, the times I had that sinking feeling in my gut, all the times I confronted him about late night messages & crossed boundaries, all his work trips that left me feeling anxious & nauseated...and Iíve just got to accept it was all one enormous lie from the beginning, because heís *drumroll please* a serial cheater.

Weíve been together since 2012 and starting in 2013, a few times a year, blips on my radar would pop up but I naively thought they were just hiccups everyone deals with (also, I didnít want to be seen as jealous/paranoid).... and I now feel like an total idiot for believing his lies whenever Iíd confront him then. Throughout the years, Iíd see his mask slip occasionally, Iíd see more and more red flags with his boundary issues and other women. We did 6 months couples therapy in 2015 (after discovering heíd been intimate with 2 other women the year before), and the therapy improved our communication, or so I thought. In hindsight, I think it just taught him how to assuage my fears with more convincing sincerity. His pattern was to go about 6 months incident-free, then something would pop up on my radar again, and they were escalating too. At one point, he received a package at our home filled with chocolates and a love letter from a woman heíd met on a plane during a work trip the week prior! After some time playing detective, I believe the number of women he has actually cheated with (anywhere from inappropriate/explicit texts to dates, intimate touching, kissing and/or sex) is between 5-8. His chronic trickle truth means Iíll probably never really know for sure. His effortless lying + my eagerness to believe/love/be loved by him convinced me ours was something worth saving. But he never did get the individual counseling I asked him to, and now I realize whatever rose-tinted aspects of the relationship I thought I was seeing all along were actually carefully curated by him to keep me hanging on. He said all the right words and did so many things perfectly, with eerie precision, like he borrowed from too many rom-coms. Heís handsome, book-smart, goofy and charming, and so for all these years I felt lucky (courtesy of my low self esteem). Being with him also helped my career too, because we often worked together on projects (both artists who work at home) so if Iím being honest with myself, I was also afraid of losing him as a resource as well. But it was never worth it, and now I feel hollowed out, used, incredibly stupid and ashamed.

Iím already in therapy for depression and codependency, and Iím currently working on detaching & saving up to move out. He and Iíve been doing everything separately since AP messaged me 3 weeks ago. Itís gonna take me some time to save up enough, so we might be under the same roof for a while. But right now, just looking at him makes me fall to pieces. When heís not compartmentalizing, he appears genuinely crushed, although who can say why (Regret for getting caught? Sorry that he canít fix it this time? Sad that he hurts people & loathes himself?). Maybe someday heíll feel inspired to finally work on himself, but I try to remember thatís not my problem. Heís mostly been staying out of my way but he does try to engage me (not aggressively, but like he learned in counseling, ďWe can talk about more if youíd like to? Iíll answer any questions you have about it...Ē) but I just canít bear looking at him and I have nothing more to say anyway, so I just cry and stick to my task at hand. Heís out of town right now for another work trip and Iíd bet money heís drowning his pain in another woman. But at least I have the place to myself to get my work done!

As for me, total roller coaster with some days feeling like Iím in the right direction moving forwards & detaching...other times I want to give him a 100th chance (he puts on a pretty convincing show, after all). I keep reminding myself of all the ways heís hurt me and will continue to. I have a note in my phone with a tally of all his cheating/lying, and I look at it when I feel like giving him yet another chance.

I feel like up Iím just waking up from this 7 year spell.

nortonj posted 3/14/2019 18:21 PM

I am so sorry you are here.

Please review the Healing Library.

Understand that he is who he is, not the person you thought he was. And please continue your individual counseling.

Sometimes we make wrong choices in partners, and it hurts.

ShutterHappy posted 3/14/2019 19:07 PM


Do you have a friend or family nearby who you can move with? Or, at the very least can support you in this time of need? You are doing the right thing by detaching (read about the 180 in the healing library).

It is hard to believe "he is crushed" after cheating on you 8 times. It is hard to believe that youíll ever be happy with this man.

Continue to detach and move out as soon as possible, and also get tested for STD. Eat well, drink plenty and take care of yourself. One day at a time... you will get better. Keep on posting as much as you need.

psychmom posted 3/14/2019 19:25 PM

I have a note in my phone with a tally of all his cheating/lying, and I look at it when I feel like giving him yet another chance.

SuchMickleCare, one should only give the gift of R (or even the possibility of R) to another who is deserving of such a rare and generous gift. Because that gift means life to a truly remorseful cheater. One willing to look deep within him/herself to understand why for them betraying someone who loves them is a viable option. Someone strong enough to endure the wrath and pain of the one they betrayed. Someone who will your pain ahead of their own shame, guilt, truth of who and what they allowed themself to become. A often recommended book is "How to Help Your Spouse Heal After Your Affair" (or to that effect). In that reading you'll find a list of characteristics of those deserving of R, and what actions they need to take. The cheater also needs to read it to learn what is expected of them if they are to receive this gift of R.

All to say, do you believe in your heart your partner is R worthy? Is he ready? What are you willing to accept from him if he is less than perfect? There are many difficult questions we must ask ourself, then accept the truths often told in the answers.

Enough about him. How are YOU doing? You have discovered a living nightmare from which it will take some time to wake out of. There are many people here, better at laying this all out than I am, who will be soon to offer their support. But the Healing Library is a good place to begin. And it's also important that you prioritize your health. Eating, physical activity, getting tested for STIs are a few things that immediately should be addressed. You sound like you are at the start of the process of detaching, while also holding that mandatory ticket for the emotional rollercoaster of loving them-hating them, seeing the bad, seeing the good that many of us lived through. It is a living hell. Agony unlike anything I'd ever experienced before my discovery of how my H was betraying me.

You can find good support at this site, new friends to help you navigate the highs and lows. You only can control yourself. As much as we may want to make or see our partner change, it will only happen if they want it, if they choose to do the work to make change happen. That is outside of our control.

Mene posted 3/14/2019 19:42 PM

When there are no kids involved in the relationship and youíre dealing with a serial cheater, the advice I give is... RUN. Youíre young and you will rebuild your life with someone who will respect and honour you. Youíve dodged a bullet. It would have been massively complex had you been married with kids.

manofintegrity posted 3/14/2019 19:55 PM

At least he was a "con" artist and not a "predator" preacher like I busted in 2017. My POS OM is a psychopath. He actually believed he would get away with it just one more time, with my WW being his last. He should have taken notes and researched me a little better, like he did all of his women.

Men like your partner throw the charm and charisma on all of the ladies in hopes of scoring a piece of tail. That is it. Once they succeed, they are on to the next girl up for grabs in the "unhappy marriage" or with low self esteem or that are going through menopause. They usually work on several at the same time, keeping them in different stages.

The preacher had been preaching for the last 8 yrs pulling these shenanigans on his 2nd wife of 12 yrs. The world is full of loser men like this with no integrity. We are supposed to be the leaders, setting the example and this is what most are all about. Sad. Good luck.

[This message edited by manofintegrity at 10:08 PM, March 14th (Thursday)]

The1stWife posted 3/14/2019 21:10 PM

The pain and agony when those rose colored glasses come off.....

WhatElseToDo posted 3/15/2019 04:08 AM

SuchMickleCare, I could have written this same post 3 years ago, but I stayed with my cheating husband, only to have catch him in a motel room with a hooker 10 days before Christmas. 13 years of my life, when I knew a long time ago that our needs and behaviors did not align. Consider yourself lucky to learn your lesson now. Good luck as you transition and please don't let him suck you back; he'll never change. At one point I remember bargaining with myself that maybe I should just accept his behavior because so much else was good, and I realized "i'm sitting here trying to figure out how I can accept such betrayal just so we can be together, when he isn't even willing to stop such betrayal so we can be together". You can't fix him. Run!

manofintegrity posted 3/15/2019 06:17 AM

^^^^This^^^^ Run.

Iíd find somewhere else to live. It is too easy to give in to his false promises of change. Heís counting on that.

SuchMickleCare posted 3/15/2019 13:56 PM

@manofintegrity & @shutterhappy
I work in my home studio with 2 massive deadlines to meet soon, so unfortunately Iíd rather be here at home than at a friendís place for now. Maybe I should ask him to stay somewhere else instead? He works from home too so he might resist and if he argues about it I donít think I have the energy to fight it.

We had false reconciliation back in 2015 during couples therapy, so giving him the gift of R now (love your phrasing) would be mean signing up for more of the same. Itís so hard to admit that.

Your story is mind boggling and Iím so thankful you shared. I hate this sick feeling and that itís become a familiar one. And hearing several people tell me to run is helpful, itís more effective than my tally-of-cheats note in my phone.

Itís INSANE to me how many similarities there are in everyoneís stories. Itís like cheaters read the same How To book.

[This message edited by SuchMickleCare at 2:10 PM, March 15th (Friday)]

sisoon posted 3/15/2019 14:22 PM

The roller-coaster is normal. Feeling awful is normal.

But your last line of your first post coupled with the line about therapy - those are priceless. They are the most hopeful lines I remember reading in JFO.

I'm sorry you have been cheated on. You didn't deserve that. I think your partner may be genuinely crushed. I'm sorry he's not crushed enough to change.

I'm really glad you're getting yourself together. You are awesome.

FEEL posted 3/16/2019 11:06 AM

I am sorry for your situation. However, I must say it is refreshing to see someone put in the effort to understand what is happening and the situation for what it is. I know how tough it is and the roller coaster ride can be very bumpy. It's great you have a plan in place to get out of this. Stick with it. One day at a time. Some may be tough but overall you're moving towards getting out of this and it will be better. Stay strong knowing your getting yourself better and doing what you need to to make things better for you.

SuchMickleCare posted 3/16/2019 18:51 PM

Rollercoaster update: like I said in my original post, heís currently out of town. At some point he met with his mother who has since messaged me:

ďWe all love you and hope things work out. He is so sad and wonít discuss except to say he screwed up. He wants you back. If thereís anything I can do please let me know.Ē

I told her that heís been cheating on me with several women over the years and that maybe she can help him get therapy, because he never listened to me. She wrote:

ďI am really sorry, I am so shocked, I would be upset if I were you too. Years? That is awful. He needs counseling and I will work on that with him. He knows he is wrong and feels really bad. His demeanor is so sad, he wonít talk. I feel badly for you too. You are the best thing that ever happened to him and I told him he needs to fight for you and show you how much he loves you.Ē

At this point I didnít want to continue so I just thanked her for always being kind to me. My emotions are all over the place after hearing from her. She sees his remorse, but will I? Even if I do, the general advice is to RUN from someone like him. He returns home in a few days. What if he agrees to get IC and go to couples counseling (again)? Has anyone ever worked through a serial cheaterís bs and saved their relationship? Is this my codependency talking?

pureheartkit posted 3/16/2019 22:29 PM

I understand a bit. We are both creative professionals. He travels but we work on projects together. You don't have to decide anything today. Finish what you are working on. Plan solo projects and look for other collaborators. It's awful having a great working relationship with someone who is being a Romeo away from home.

It won't be easy but this is your time to pursue your own ideas. Work on your strengths and don't allow any lies. The OW in my case thought she would get favorable job opportunities and travel and big movie credits in exchange for freaky sex.

I feel for you. You share your heart, your creativity, your everything and he can't stop his selfish games. Get strong. You can do it. You can dream as big as you want to. It feels intimidating at first, but that passes and you gain confidence.

Sorry he never took the opportunity to grow. It's his loss. You don't have to go through this any longer if he's not going to respect you. Trust in yourself.

SuchMickleCare posted 3/19/2019 05:15 AM

Update number three:

Like I said, heís been away on a work trip. AP just contacted me again asking ďwhat is the status of your and _____ís relationship?Ē

Ugh, Iím not mad at her per se because he lied to her as well. But my gut says that since heís there in her town right now, theyíve met up again. I wish she hadnít messaged me. I asked her if thereís anything I should know.

I feel sick. He returns home tomorrow and I donít know what that conversation is gonna look like.

[This message edited by SuchMickleCare at 6:12 AM, March 19th (Tuesday)]

annb posted 3/19/2019 06:08 AM

Hi, welcome to SI.

It seems your partner is not only a serial cheater, he is a master manipulator using his mom to convince you of his "true" remorse.

Don't allow yourself to get sucked back in.

As a matter of fact, since you are in IC, I would focus on what made you put up with his crap for all these years.

D on't
E ver
T ry
A nd
C hange
H im

He has shown you repeatedly who he is, I am glad you are finally believing him.

Get out of that toxic situation as fast as you can. It's not healthy emotionally.

I agree with the other posters, don't walk, run away from this relationship. You deserve so much more than this serial cheater who continues to play games with your life.

MamaDragon posted 3/19/2019 08:45 AM

How are you doing?

You should message the other woman and ask her what her relationship with him is like - because your relationship with him, depends upon many factors namely OW1, 2, & 3...and you think she is #4. (EVEN if he doesn't have anyone else, let her know she is NOT so special to him)

Then I'd tell him his side piece is contacting you & see how he reacts. That will tell you if he has seen her.
I'd trust nothing the OW says, nor him.

WhatElseToDo posted 3/19/2019 14:18 PM


In my story, after the last A in 2016 (after years of essentially rugsweeping), I kicked my husband out for 6 months while he stayed with family, and my WH did go to counseling, and we read books, and we did a bit of marriage counseling. He told me he would never be that person again and he had never seen this level of devastation in me, etc... And then then this December I caught him with a hooker. I'm not saying it's not possible to R with a serial cheater, but that's not how my story worked out. And all I can think is - how many other things did I not find out about? What are the odds that he kept up this behavior over so many years if every single time (as he claimed), I found out?

If I could go back and do it over again, I like to think I would have left sooner, but without knowing what I know now, I wasn't strong enough. I had to know I gave it my all. But after this last time, the thoughts of R still came back (and still do), but I keep reminding myself.. how lucky I was to catch him again. Pure luck. And I might not be so lucky going forward.

cocoplus5nuts posted 3/19/2019 14:44 PM

His mother isn't seeing true remorse, either. If she were, he would have admitted to her what he had done. He didn't, so you had to tell her. She is obviously on her son's side. Detach from her as well.

I would not let him come home. Tell him to stay where he is.

I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.

Odonna posted 4/3/2019 09:06 AM


I just realized you never came back. What happened after his trip? Did he start IC? Oh dear, did he suck you back in? Are you in IC for yourself?

There is support here for you if you want it.


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