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Confused about what to do - It's complicated...

Ging3rly posted 4/29/2020 12:00 PM

Hello SI community! This is my first post on the forum after spending some time perusing nearly ALL of the relevant threads. I understand these situations come with a lot of "tough love" responses (I got ripped apart on Reddit trying to ask for help), so I'm prepared to hear anything, but I'm hoping you can provide some insight, suggestions and recommendations, or simply some advice for me.

I wasn't even sure where to post this, as my situation seems to cover multiple categories (WS/BS/reconciliation/divorce), so hopefully this is okay!

Long post warning - backstory:

My (29F) partner (40M) ended our relationship after 10 years together - it's now been nearly 6 months post-breakup (unmarried, living together, no kids). In the last year of our relationship, I got involved in an affair with a coworker, which went on for several months. My BS went through my phone and found out about the affair a few months in, confronted me and I owned up to it...but didn't end things. I was so caught up in the fog and didn't realize the severity of the situation -- honestly, the stupidest thing in hindsight...I can't believe it. My BS said he understood why I did it, I presented my "whys" at the time and he wasn't surprised, but he just said he was going to use the time to work on himself. Maybe that didn't rattle me enough to stop doing what I was doing, not getting in enough trouble, not getting the reassurance from my partner that he was going to work with me to fix the things that were my "reasons" to be unfaithful. It's going to sound completely ridiculous, but I wasn't out looking to cheat, and I was pursued by the AP and went along with it. Never even entertained attention from other men before - I've always had my blinders on. I got caught up in a secret affair because of unmet needs in my own relationship that I was too stubborn to address.

I continued the affair for a few months after D-day, even though I wanted nothing more than to work on fixing my relationship...but the lack of interest from my partner pushed me away more. I just felt like he wasn't interested in me or the relationship anymore. I was stubborn and wanted to see HIS initiative instead of me feeling like I had continually been putting in effort and getting rejected (Note: I didn't consider how much of an emotional and mental toll this had taken on him...it breaks my heart). Honestly, I can't even make excuses...I made the decision to do what I did, and I feel horrible about it. Eventually, my BS told me he was moving out - no set timeline, no real "plan", just that he was moving out. So, it was a few days before he moved out where I discovered that his D-day 2 had already happened, which triggered the need to move out ASAP. He had been going on my computer when I wasn't home and found photos, realizing it was still going on. Then *my* turn of events...I had found out he was going on my computer because I found a USB in some of his moving boxes, labelled "pictures & misc." All of my phone pictures from the previous 2 months were on there, along with...pictures of another woman. There was MY dose of D-day medicine...

I was devastated. The guttural punch that he had experienced came at me full-force. It took me all of maybe 2 minutes to find out who this OW was from social media. I confronted him, but I figured it was pretty hypocritical of me to be upset when I had wronged him for months. I had been particularly mindful of how much he was always on his phone, closed off and wondered if there was someone else he was talking to while all of this had been going on, so it didn't surprise me that here it was...right in front of me. So I asked about her - they met through a mutual friend, she reached out to him a couple of months prior and they started talking, and they admitted to having feelings for each other. He hoped I wouldn't find out (no kidding - don't we all). We had a really good conversation, guards down, waving the white flag for screwing around with each other's emotions and just generally being unintentionally cruel to one another. This sort of behaviour was SO uncharacteristic of both of us, but when your trust is broken, the lizard brain goes crazy.

Our conversations were some of the deepest ones we've ever had, there were a lot of misconceptions and missed connections about each other that should have been addressed way earlier. He didn't know that I wanted to fight for the relationship and I wanted to help him heal after what I had done. He didn't know that I still loved him (more than ever, coming out of the fog). He figured I was completely checked out, and therefore when he had a new shiny thing approach him, he went along with it. The part that we will never agree on, is that he said he felt like there was no "us" for so long, so he had checked out of the relationship before moving out, and when the OW came along, it was okay to pursue because he was planning on leaving...we were already "not together" in his mind, even though we were still living together and hadn't even uttered the word "breakup". I still consider it an EA (she's in another province - they'd only been talking and exchanging photos, emails, etc. up until this point...to my knowledge). Perhaps my naivety didn't piece together that moving out meant breaking up, but we never discussed it. He just left. He was going to stay with his parents for a few weeks before moving in with a friend, so I drove him to the airport. Conveniently, the OW lives in the same city as his parents, so I knew for a fact he was going to see her...and he did. They got together (he confirmed this when I asked him a month ago), and I wasn't surprised...just deeply hurt. So maybe I entered the realm of being a mad hatter at this point? Or because HE decided we were broken up, then it wasn't considered cheating? Honestly, like I said, those details will never be agreed upon. It *feels* like betrayal, but we both hurt each other. He just ended up pursuing her right out of the 10-year relationship, and that hurt me the most.

So...queue the confusion... When he first left, he told me he loves me and he'll talk to me soon, gave me a kiss and off to the airport he went. I told him that I would leave it up to him to connect with me because he said he needed space and time to figure himself out. Fair. Being in NC was horrible...I had so many questions. Were we working on things? Was he pursuing a new relationship? How much time did he need? What could I do to help? How long was I supposed to be in NC? I've been conflicted about the no contact though - since he broke up with me and needed space, I figured I should retreat entirely, even though I want to talk to him. After he moved out, we still got together a few times to talk things through, and he would always give me a kiss and tell me he loves me, but he wasn't emotionally or mentally prepared to start over. This cycle repeated every single time - we were intimate a couple of times, and he'd always leave by giving me a kiss and saying we'd talk soon. But I only hear from him maybe once a week/two, wait for him to initiate contact, text a few times and then it just stops. The feeling of being in limbo is so tough to experience. And every time I'd ask what's going on with OW, he wouldn't really address it. "There's no plan or anything," "it's long distance, so that's a factor," etc. But no specific "this is what's happening/not" - but I know there's still something going on. So I feel like I'm getting breadcrumbs and I hang onto every little thing with such hopefulness. He says there are still feelings for me and he thinks about me all the time, but he's trying to figure himself out and is "mourning the loss of the relationship". I guess I just have to let him pursue things however he chooses for the time being, but it's so hard when I'm trying to reconcile and he's got options. I'm actually not even sure if I'm an option or if he's just trying to keep me around "in case"... I've even straight up asked if this is done for good or if there's still a chance and he couldn't give an answer. When we do have conversations, they're really mature and we cover a lot of ground. When we text, it's cold and reserved from his side, and I don't recognize who that person is. Again, I'm not expecting happy, fluffy messages when such a traumatic series of events has taken place, but it's hard not to read into tone whenever there *is* conversation.

I desperately want to fix things. In our time apart, I started seeing a therapist, have read numerous self-help/relationship books and articles, have done a lot of soul-searching and reflecting on everything, and I've seriously been taking his feelings into account, which I hadn't done initially. As a WS, I didn't realize that seeking any type of forgiveness isn't quick or easy. I didn't consider how much hurt a BS experiences (thanks SI forum for the insight!!), and I've had so many epiphanies in the past few months that have really shifted my perspective. I'm trying to do everything I possibly can to reconcile, to better myself and take care of my BS...he's the love of my life, and I really messed up. I've been so remorseful for everything, and it absolutely breaks my heart knowing that I was capable of causing such devastation to someone I care so much about. I just finished reading "How to Heal Your Spouse", and resonated with everything in there. I know I'm committed to doing whatever it takes, for however long it takes, and my BS knows this. I sent him a few letters over the past few months and he knows I'm genuinely remorseful and everything I say is heartfelt - I'm not putting on some front just to woo him. I've presented my list of promises to him, I've mentioned that I want to take care of HIS feelings and do whatever I can to help ease his mind after the affair...anything. I'm 100% committed to rebuilding. The only other current caveat is he and his friend moved into a new place together and signed a 1-year lease, so even if reconciliation *is* on the table, I have to be mindful of the fact that we won't be moving back in together for quite awhile. The uncertainty of not knowing what he's doing or thinking, or even what he wants to do (if anything) is really taking its toll on me.

I'm just at the point now where I'm so stuck and don't know what to do next. How can I continue to show that I'm wanting to do everything possible to reconcile as a WS if he isn't at the same place? Should I just be giving him space now that I've told him I'm here and want to work with him on things until he knows what he wants to do (even if that means he's still involved with the new interest)? I don't want to back off if I should really be doing my part to help him heal - I don't want to abandon what I should be taking care of, if that's what a BS needs. I care about him more than anything, and it hurts me knowing how much I really broke him down. I *am* reserved about being too present when I'm obviously not okay with him being involved with someone else. I want to work on things for us, not so that he can string me along until his feelings for me fade. From his side, it's very much been a case of "I love you, but..."

I'm sorry, this is so scattered and long...I'm feeling pretty lost and I hate speculating or making assumptions. I've created so many "what ifs" at this point.

TLDR: How do I proceed in my attempts to reconcile with my BS that ended the relationship and is still trying to figure himself out? Do any of you have similar experiences?

Thank you, if you've made it this far!! I so, so appreciate it.

[This message edited by Ging3rly at 9:43 PM, May 1st (Friday)]

Zugzwang posted 4/29/2020 13:45 PM

I am just going to post what I posted in general for a BS when a WS wanted to blame their reason for cheating on the marriage or BS.

If you loved yourself and if you had self confidence...you would not rely on others to feed it to you resulting in feeling alone and lonely if you don't get it.

First off, you sets your needs and wants. It is no ones job to meet them. If your needs and wants are so desperate that one would intentionally hurt others to get it fed then they are automatically right off the bat unrealistic and unhealthy because they are at the point where you would hurt others to get it. AND CONTINUE TO HURT OTHERS when you felt entitled if you still weren't getting it.

You need to own it. You need to feed yourself. Spouses are icing on the cake. Supplemental. Partners. People are not objects to meet needs that you should be meeting in yourself.

It all means the same thing. desired and wanted... He married you. HE obviously loved you and wanted/desired you. YOU shouldn't need it that badly. But no, you wanted someone that you hurt and backstabbed to fight for you! Why does that make any sense to you? Why would he? Why should he? You only want him to do that because you lack self confidence and esteem. Self respect as well. The constant desire and want from others fills your own holes that you should be filling yourself. YOU need to grow up. A grown ass adult should not need someone to feed their confidence. Something my wife said often. She is absolutely right. You are also stuck on the first level of a relationship because you are selfish and immature. Look up the seven levels of a relationship.

Own your choice to have an affair. You weren't naive and you didn't have blinders on. You went back even after being caught. You might not have been looking, yet you let it in and was open to it. No one should be your Jimeny Cricket or have to rattle you to act with care and compassion.

I got caught up in a secret affair because of unmet needs in my own relationship that I was too stubborn to address.
No, you had an affair because you didn't fill yourself. You lacked self love, respect, confidence, and esteem. You were a coward and you were selfish. Entitled. All of these poor quality character traits had nothing to do with the marriage. Though you did impact the marriage by bringing that toxin into it.


I am not even going to address the reconciliation of the marriage or his revenge affair. It really is mute because you haven't even reconciled yourself or focused on your whys. You really need to stop focusing on the marriage and reconciling it being the fix. The real fix is you. Your neediness. Your lack of emotional maturity. Fix you first. Learn to be enough for yourself and stop depending on other people to feed you like they are candy dispensers. Stand on your own two feet and feel worthy for yourself. Stop being a goldfish.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/29/2020 14:31 PM

Well, that is a lot.

I both agree and disagree with Zug. I agree in that I see a lot of signs that you still are not taking responsibility for your choices:

not getting the reassurance from my partner that he was going to work with me to fix the things that were my "reasons" to be unfaithful
I got caught up in a secret affair because of unmet needs in my own relationship that I was too stubborn to address.
I wanted nothing more than to work on fixing my relationship...but the lack of interest from my partner pushed me away more
Whew, especially that last one. You wanted the affair more than you wanted to work on fixing your relationship. You didn't want the affair more than you wanted your betrayed partner to work on the relationship, which is very, very different. Your choice to cheat is about things inside you, not about any external factor. You took the easy way out in every direction, and you're acting like there is some tiny bit of legitimacy in that, which there isn't.

But here's where I disagree with Zug: now that your partner is cheating, you can't focus only on your own work. His infidelity does not excuse yours, not on any level, but he does have work of his own to do, and expectations to meet of what it means to be in a relationship. It is not healthy, or "getting out of infidelity" for him to come home, fuck you, kiss you goodbye, and say that what's happening with his girlfriend is complicated. The pick-me dance is a bad idea for madhatters, too.

ETA: Lostallalone caught that you aren't married, which I didn't, so I edited accordingly. It doesn't change my position much, though. My affair was years before we got married, but my betrayal and lies still devastated my BF. And if you want to rebuild an exclusive relationship, I don't think frantically auditioning for that role while he keeps you on the side is likely to succeed. He has no reason to do his own work if he can keep all his options open entirely on his own terms.

Does his AP know you're still in the picture? She may not even know she's an AP. If he considered your relationship over, and gave her the impression that he dumped you for cheating before they got together, then she would now see herself as his girlfriend, and you as the ex he's cheating with.

[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 8:56 AM, April 30th (Thursday)]

Zugzwang posted 4/29/2020 15:26 PM

^^^Don't get me wrong. I am not excusing his. I just think she needs to tackle one thing at a time. She has never gotten out of victim mode as a WS. She was a WS before a BS and I just think she needs to deal with that first. She of course can use her experience as a BS to gain some empathy and insight as a WS. I just don't think either of them should be playing at marriage or R the marriage. Time to be separated. If he can't go NC, you have every right to call it quits even if you couldn't go NC. His cheating isn't right in any shape or form just because you did it first.

Lostallalone posted 4/30/2020 04:37 AM

Ging3rly

You two were not married as far as you have said. After Discovery your partner who is himself now middle age saw his life fall apart before his eyes and went into self defense mode. I know we all can stand here and say "what if" but he didn't see any remorse from you at all. So right or wrong started to move on.

We can't do anything about his side of things. He is not here to discuss his wrongs. All you can do is work on yourself to become a safe partner for anyone if its him or some one else. You made bad choices to seek thrills in the arms of another man. According to your post you didn't even seem to care.

Find what it is inside yourself that was lacking. I once read an article that described it like this. Your partner could have provided you with 90% of your needs and after time you took it for granted and started focusing on the 10% of the unmet needs. That amount usually is a need that comes from within. Low self esteem. Boredom. Ect.

All you can do is get some IC. Work on yourself for your partner whether its him or someone new. For now he is gone and may not come back.

I know you will read these posts and become offendee and I know I lashed out big time my first time here. But we all have experience with these things and we are here to help.

[This message edited by Lostallalone at 4:41 AM, April 30th (Thursday)]

Buck posted 4/30/2020 09:29 AM

I sometimes wonder if I'm reading the same posts as other folks when I read their replies.

First, I always feel like I need to add this disclaimer in this forum before I post: I was a BH before I had a RA. I later had "regular" A. I understand completely the multiple categories notion.

I have to say, some of what you posted sounds a lot like my WW during and immediately after her A. She too wanted me to pursue her and prove my love. I also heard the unmet needs thing; I didn't give her enough attention and often that attention was negative in her mind. I also don't understand the "more in love than ever" aspect of cheating. My WW has mentioned this many times to me and I simply cannot relate. That hasn't been my experience.

In all honesty, it sounds to me like he broke up with you. He might not have used the words "break up" but he did say he was moving out right away (because you never ended your A) and into his parents home in another city. You didn't think to ask what that meant for your relationship? I mean, your level of commitment was living together, not married. Removing yourself from that would seem to signal the end IMO. It seems clear to me. I wouldn't even consider him to be a cheater.

I think you need to face facts. He's moving in with another woman in another city. He's moving on with his life without you. The best thing you can do is learn from this experience. We're all free to make our own choices, the hitch is you don't get to choose, or avoid, the consequences. Figure out why you did what you did, and not just the superficial stuff, dig deep.

Zugzwang posted 4/30/2020 09:58 AM

Find what it is inside yourself that was lacking. I once read an article that described it like this. Your partner could have provided you with 90% of your needs and after time you took it for granted and started focusing on the 10% of the unmet needs. That amount usually is a need that comes from within. Low self esteem. Boredom. Ect.

That was me to tee. I was a goldfish. Nobody could have ever filled that 10%. I had three trying to fill that at the same time and I still wasn't satisfied.

Zugzwang posted 4/30/2020 10:03 AM

Interesting POV Buck. I was more under the assumption that they were having a long distance relationship. Not that he officially broke it off. Regardless of where or what he is...he shouldn't be stringing her along. He just needs to go NC with her and stop being a "nice guy". Unless, he isn't being a "nice guy" and is doing it on purpose to get even with her.

Ging3rly posted 4/30/2020 10:41 AM

I appreciate the responses so far, and honestly, it's hard to go through them because obviously I know this is an anonymous forum and nobody knows what the OP is actually like. I'm going to get a lot of eye rolls here, but I don't think what I wrote properly explains (or even begins to get into detail) all of the emotions and processes I've experienced and have been going through since the breakup. I've truly learned a LOT.

I admit, the initial feelings of THINKING I was remorseful vs. actually being remorseful are two completely different things. I was fooling myself, and wasn't fooling my partner. That much was clear. There's no way to put into words the sheer amount of heartache and guilt I feel for hurting him. It took pulling my head out of the sand and really allowing myself to be open, honest and extremely vulnerable, and I shifted all of my focus onto my hurt spouse. Yes, those realizations came through after he moved out, and yes, I thought I was doing the "right things" by apologizing and spitting out promises before we broke up, but it wasn't good enough. I completely understand that. There are SO many empty words that get tossed around as the WS immediately after being caught. My original post outlined how I was feeling when I was going through the motions in those few months. Whether anyone "believes me" or feels the genuine nature of my intentions or not is beyond my control, but the important part is that the communication I DO still have with my XBS is safe, open and focused on how I can help heal him from the hurt I've caused, and allow him to see how much I'm working on myself too.

The other piece that I think I wasn't clear about is that he just went to visit his parents in another province, and the other interest lives in that city. He was only there for a few weeks before coming back and moved in with his friend in a new place.

If you loved yourself and if you had self confidence...you would not rely on others to feed it to you resulting in feeling alone and lonely if you don't get it.

Your choice to cheat is about things inside you, not about any external factor.

Yep, I completely understand this. I really do. I lost sight of who I was, I broke myself down and that wasn't my partner's fault. The blame game can only be played by myself, with myself. He didn't cheat for me, I did that myself and it was selfish and completely ignorant. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind after the breakup that I needed to recalibrate myself, first and foremost. I've always had issues with self-confidence and relied on positive affirmations (one of my love languages), so in hindsight, I'm like "yep, I let myself go based on relying on someone else to make me feel better." It's all been a very big wakeup call for me.

Your partner could have provided you with 90% of your needs and after time you took it for granted and started focusing on the 10% of the unmet needs. That amount usually is a need that comes from within. Low self esteem. Boredom. Ect.

Much like my response above, I agree with this whole-heartedly. I absolutely took him and our relationship for granted. I've done a lot of reading and exercises to work on myself, and I've been going to IC for a few months now. That percentage is probably pretty accurate, too. After 10 years, it was definitely boredom and other flaws within myself that cracked.

...if you want to rebuild an exclusive relationship, I don't think frantically auditioning for that role while he keeps you on the side is likely to succeed. He has no reason to do his own work if he can keep all his options open entirely on his own terms.

That's where I've been caught up in the push-pull of what my "role" should be here, or my level of involvement, I suppose. I want to let him know how I feel and that I'm committed to working on things at whatever pace is required, but at the same time I don't want to just be...available, while he sees if the grass is greener. Part of me thinks I deserve to feel the pain of not being an "easy choice" for him, watch him pursue things with someone else because he felt the relationship was dead in the water, etc. But I do agree that there is a LOT of work that needs to be done on both sides, for very different reasons. I want to be respectful of the space and time he needs, and maybe that's totally one of those "if you love them, let them go" situations. Speak your mind, say your graces and see what happens. But I'm anxiously wanting to fix things, to help him, be there as much as I can - Go, go, go! And I see that he's not at that point. So it's very much a hurry up and wait on my side.

Does his AP know you're still in the picture? She may not even know she's an AP. If he considered your relationship over, and gave her the impression that he dumped you for cheating before they got together, then she would now see herself as his girlfriend, and you as the ex he's cheating with.

I have no idea...Most of what I know about them is speculative. When I've asked him what's going on, he says there's no plan or anything, she's long distance and he's not really down for that, and other things that I raise an eyebrow to. But no conclusive 'yes' or 'no' to whether it's a relationship. He's very much a go with the flow kind of person, doesn't make any major decisions. She had originally reached out to him while we were still together, he told her that things weren't going well in the relationship, and left an open door to them starting whatever-it-is. A few months ago, he told me that he wasn't seeing or talking to anyone, and then I found out that she had flown back here for a week. They've been intimate, and now they continue to talk at a distance. I've been trying to ask him what is ACTUALLY going on there, and can't get a straight answer. So I have no idea what she thinks - most likely that they're just "going with the flow and seeing what happens." Maybe unofficially anything, but he's still gotten together and been intimate with me, so perhaps he's just seeing two people, but is currently putting work into that option while he knows I'm waiting. *shrug* Speculation. I have no idea.

You didn't think to ask what [moving out] meant for your relationship?

I did ask, numerous times. Our lead up conversations were always questioning whether we spend time apart, do we separate, do we break up, we're both not willing to put in equal effort right now, so what do we do? I had the option of staying with a friend for a couple of months but elected not to because we were living in my apartment. It was a temporary separation in my mind - we had talked about what time apart would look like. Starting to date each other again and pick up the pieces, really put in the effort again. When he made his decision to move out instead, he didn't even phrase it like that. He said he was leaving to go stay with his family for awhile, and then was planning to sublet a friend's place for 2 months. When he started packing moving boxes and got a storage unit and booked a moving truck, I had my panicked "whoa, what's going on?" moment. I had no idea he was actually leaving, and then erroneously assumed that because he said he was subletting a place for 2 months that he'd move back in after that...but he leased the new place with a friend instead. He never intended to come back because, yes, in his mind it was a breakup. It took 3 months of this limbo before we actually had the conversation where he said "yeah, I guess we're broken up."

[This message edited by Ging3rly at 10:53 AM, April 30th (Thursday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 4/30/2020 10:53 AM

If I've learned anything at all on SI, it's that no matter what you have done, or your partner has done, you both owe each other the truth. If either of you can't provide that, it's time to call it quits. Your partner sounds incapable of giving a straight answer to legitimate and fundamental questions about both your relationship and the one with his new GF. I'm generally pro-R, but that's a death knell for any hope of reconciliation in my book.

Tron posted 4/30/2020 12:11 PM

It's really not that complicated. His actions tell you that, at this time, you guys are broke up. Now, you are just a Friend With Benefits (FWB), an occasional booty call. Albeit one with some history.

I wouldn't assume you are anything more and let's be clear, he is openly dating other women right now. That is a tough spot for you to be in, especially since you want a lot more. But realize this is what you set in motion when you cheated on him.

So the question for you is are you ok with that? If not, then you need to set some boundaries. He may not go along with them...in which case, you may need to just let him go, permanently.

leavingorbit posted 4/30/2020 13:18 PM

I think youíve gotten good advice. Recovery and reconciliation are tough enough when both people are investing. It sounds like there isnít anything to work with right now and IMO itíd be too soon, regardless. IME, itís good to get out of damage control first. Learn to be on your own, do some hard work to develop ownership, and cultivate healthy seeds.

Focus on fixing you. Take your focus off of him and the pie-in-the-sky relationship. Communicate what you want, set boundaries, and then focus on you.

I donít agree with the concept of RAs. An A is an A: anything in front of that is justification.

Darkness Falls posted 5/1/2020 07:08 AM

Everything Tron said.

etaoin posted 5/1/2020 09:00 AM

I think I get where you are. But try looking at it from his view.

If he was on one of the forums telling his story, what would it be?

Something like, I loved her but she says she got bored and started an affair. I promised I would work on myself and she promised she would stop. I found out later that she didn't. At the end, I began reaching out on line to a woman, and my partner found out as I was moving out. Now she is acting like she has been betrayed and I have been told I had a revenge affair.

Since moving out, she keeps acting like she wants me to move back in. Now she is SO sorry. I still love her, and I told her we were done. But she doesn't seem to get it. Yes, we had sex a few times and it was good. But how can I trust her again? She lied to me and for all I know she is still in the A.

So from that perspective, do you really feel that you can fix this? And why do you want to? If you can answer those, there may be hope.

Zugzwang posted 5/1/2020 19:49 PM

I admit, the initial feelings of THINKING I was remorseful vs. actually being remorseful are two completely different things. I was fooling myself, and wasn't fooling my partner.

Here is part of moving forward for yourself and in order to do that, you have to view some things in an ugly light. Yes, I think many WS think they are remorseful when they really aren't. I am glad you see it. Can you stop thinking that you thought you were and just say...yes, I was only regretful? It wasn't about him. It was about me and how I was feeling in the face of his pain?

Ging3rly posted 5/1/2020 21:37 PM

If I've learned anything at all on SI, it's that no matter what you have done, or your partner has done, you both owe each other the truth.

I agree. When we finally had a serious conversation about how we were eventually both mistreating each other, I waved my white flag and didn't want to hide anything from him anymore. No more secrets, no sneaky behaviour, I just instantly became an open book. It wasn't worth seeing him hurt, and I hated having to lie to him. It was absolutely horrible. I didn't want to put either of us through that pain anymore, ever again. I've been very clear that there is no question or concern that's off the table, I'll address it, I'll talk about it. But yes, I do wish that he was straight up with me about whatever is going on with the OW right now - I don't want details, I just want to know what's up so I can figure out how best to proceed with repairing things.

I wouldn't assume you are anything more and let's be clear, he is openly dating other women right now. That is a tough spot for you to be in, especially since you want a lot more. But realize this is what you set in motion when you cheated on him.

Yeah, I suppose I hadn't really considered him to be "openly dating" before, but it does seem that way - I was just caught up in being replaced by someone right out of the gate. I would have probably felt "better" knowing he just hooked up with someone instead of having an EA before pursuing things physically... But absolutely, my affair sent him running in the other direction, and I'm not surprised. It definitely does put me in a difficult spot though (no "woe is me" by any stretch), but I don't want to be a FWB. Treading softly to make my intentions clear, but realize that the ball is in his court.

Learn to be on your own, do some hard work to develop ownership, and cultivate healthy seeds.
Focus on fixing you. Take your focus off of him and the pie-in-the-sky relationship. Communicate what you want, set boundaries, and then focus on you.

It's been difficult to shift the focus, but I'm working on this! I know there's a lot of work to be done on my end, for myself and to be a better partner moving forward. I agree, getting out of damage control is a big deal, too. I'm guilty for shifting back and forth between working on myself, and then go back to apologizing (I know simply saying it isn't enough) and reinforcing the things I want to do to help tend to his feelings and healing needs. And then back to my self-improvement (Rinse, repeat).

But how can I trust her again? She lied to me and for all I know she is still in the A.

So from that perspective, do you really feel that you can fix this? And why do you want to? If you can answer those, there may be hope.

Thanks for flipping the perspective - I've been mindful of thinking that way recently, which is super helpful. I have no interest in playing the victim (even though I'm experiencing some of the BS feelings - choosing to use that to "help" me better understand this process), but I'm hoping that I can fix what I broke, what I'm responsible for. Rebuilding trust is huge, and I'm so determined to do that. I'm kind of at the mercy of my words needing to speak louder right now, since we aren't together. I've made a lot of promises for things that I'm willing to do and change (ie. phone/computer/email access, let him know where I'm at/where I'm going, etc.), but those aren't applicable at the moment. He believes me when I say there's nothing going on anymore, and that I have NO issue talking about anything, revealing details if he has questions, etc. I suppose I toss this back to any other WS here - any suggestions for how I can help show him I'm wanting to rebuild trust, even when we're not together? Or is that dependent on the mutual willingness to work on R?

As for the "why" I want to fix things, I've spent a great deal of time thinking it through over the past several months. My response far exceeds what I'd write in this post, but I know my heart and my head are in it for the right reasons, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but I'd rather know I tried than give up because of a fear of rejection or it seeming too daunting.

Can you stop thinking that you thought you were and just say...yes, I was only regretful? It wasn't about him. It was about me and how I was feeling in the face of his pain?

That's a great point. In hindsight, absolutely, I was regretful. There wasn't any remorse...that would have shifted gears for me right away otherwise. I actually really resonated with the regret vs. remorse definition comparison that exists in the FAQ (I think?). I read that and it was spot on. But I 100% identify with being remorseful at this stage - my emotional and physiological response to the entire situation has completely changed.


So, Q...
At this point, I guess I'm just trying to figure out what I can do to show my XBS that I'm committed to helping him heal and repair any emotional damage I caused even though we aren't together. We've exchanged a few lengthy emails this week, I outlined the things I'm working on - including ideas I found on the "things a BS needs from a WS" thread, and I reinforced that I'll do whatever he needs/wants for however long it takes. He wasn't ready to respond to the list items since they're not currently applicable, but he appreciated hearing it. What CAN I do at this stage? Or is this now where I go back to working on myself so IF he comes around (especially because I'm not certain what's going on with the OW), I have something to show for it and then proceed accordingly?

Thank you all for your insight! I really appreciate it.

Zugzwang posted 5/2/2020 10:20 AM

Work on yourself. This is when he works on himself. Especially if you aren't really together. Be there for yourself and then for him. Just my opinion though. You have to want it for yourself more than just wanting it to win him. He is 180 you in a natural and healthy way. He is re-establishing his ability to exist without you. That is healthy for him. You need to do the same. Let go of the outcome. Don't get involved with anyone else and start living for yourself and being enough for yourself.

Ging3rly posted 5/3/2020 13:18 PM


Zugzwang:

Work on yourself. This is when he works on himself. Especially if you aren't really together. Be there for yourself and then for him. Just my opinion though. You have to want it for yourself more than just wanting it to win him. He is 180 you in a natural and healthy way. He is re-establishing his ability to exist without you. That is healthy for him. You need to do the same. Let go of the outcome. Don't get involved with anyone else and start living for yourself and being enough for yourself.

I think you're absolutely right. I've been flip-flopping because I don't want to neglect what I should (or could) be taking care of as a WS. I don't want to be overly persistent in overloading my XBS with my efforts and willingness to help him any way I can if he's "gently" putting up the stop sign. There was an earlier response wondering if he was trying to be the nice guy by not being straight up with me and avoiding being blunt (even when I've repeatedly asked him to), and he totally is... I get the impression that he's just not wanting to hurt my feelings, even though I'm basically handing him my heart with the knife and saying "go for it" - I'm already dealing with the rejection of putting myself out there and getting breadcrumbs for months while he openly dates (but won't talk about her), so it's almost like we both have to do a 180.

I THINK I've said and done everything I possibly can at this point. He acknowledges how remorseful I am and has outright said that he appreciates the updates and sees everything as very positive steps. That said, when I asked if there was anything I could do while we aren't together to help him cope and heal from things, he didn't contribute anything. His emailed response said that "right now being on his own is helping as he tries to navigate his thoughts and emotions and it's just going to take time." Is that the delicate way of saying, "thanks for letting me know you're here, but I need to do this myself?"

...I just don't want to look 'dismissive' by doing my own 180 because I'm getting the rejection red flags, but I want to be respectful towards his needs. I've forgotten what my own needs look like because it feels selfish when all I want to do is take care of him, but if it makes sense to just leave it and let things happen naturally, then I completely understand.

JBWD posted 5/3/2020 16:58 PM

I just don't want to look 'dismissive' by doing my own 180 because I'm getting the rejection red flags

I believe you really need to dig into this statement. I propose that this perception of rejection lies at the heart of a lot of your challenges moving forward. As long as youíre cueing off of him ďIíll 180 because he hasĒ youíre potentially damaging yourself.

I imagine heís trying to sort through a lot and is potentially trying to distract himself at times. That isnít to validate being dismissive of relationships heís potentially establishing, but rather to better frame the fact that he can only do what he can do move forward. Youíre almost disparaging in describing him as a ďgo with the flowĒ kinda guy- Youíve gotta remember now that heís unlikely to want to plan ANYTHING for fear of it biting him the way your relationship did.

This all hinges, IMO, on thinking that him dating again or getting into some new LTR is about you- Itís not. You can 180 if itís something that needs to happen, but doing so because he did highlights a degree of fear that likely drives bad decisions if left unaddressed.

Ging3rly posted 5/10/2020 12:23 PM

I get what you're saying here, JBWD, and this is a fair statement:

I propose that this perception of rejection lies at the heart of a lot of your challenges moving forward.

I'm still in the early stages of allowing myself to be completely vulnerable and willing to take risks, even if the outcome is rejection or not the result I'm hoping for. It's a slow, intricate process. This situation has brought back a lot of my personal insecurities and self-consciousness, so this healing process is definitely a challenge in many ways. I'm okay with it though. I know a 180 for myself involves learning to love myself again, and really focusing on being the best version of myself as an individual and as a partner.

I imagine heís trying to sort through a lot and is potentially trying to distract himself at times.

Agreed - and to the rest of your comment as well. We've been emailing each other the past 2 weeks and he's gradually opened up about how he's feeling, which has been very helpful for me to know. I let him know that I'm available to answer any questions he may have and be as supportive as he'd like me to be (or not), but I mentioned that as long as he's involved with the OW in any capacity, I have to walk away, as much as I don't want to. He knows I'm committed to doing whatever it takes to reach a point of R, but that's hard for me to do right now if he's trying to figure things out with a few slabs of cake in front of him.

Side note - has anyone found any really helpful relationship and/or self-help books or reference materials as a WS trying to 180 with the hopes of eventually reaching R? I perused the Healing Library, but if anything stands out to you, I'd be curious to know what they are!

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