1girlsmom, about compartmentalization, you ask
He had to have thoughts of me & the colossal wrong he was doing to me while he was doing them. There's no way he didn't. How is that compartmentalizing.... Maybe it's different in your situation & others here but I still have a hard time believing it.
I wanted to try to answer you because this clearly is such a source of pain. But like BSR I struggle to explain it. Not justify or excuse, there is no justification or excuse, but to explain.
I guess one thing is, while compartmentalization is common to almost every wayward, part of the toolkit if you will, the exact way it works can be specific to the wayward and to the circumstances and course of the affair.
BSR, to take one example, was long distance from the partner she owed loyalty to at the time of her affair. So of course, her compartmentalization latched onto their being two literal different spaces -- one her and one world where she was pretending to be someone else while she was away, and then another "real" life on visits home. Another WS lived in the suburbs, but conducted the affair on weekly trips to the city. Two spaces, two compartments: one real, one fantasy.
My affair was a long-distance emotional affair. So a key excuse for me was no intent or possibility of a physical meeting. The affair took place in a -- how to put it -- non-space, a letter and text space that I compartmented into a separate compartment from my real life. So I could be physically at home with my spouse, but, for the duration of a text, mentally enter into the non-space of the texting affair, which had, in my rationalization "nothing to do" with the real world where I physically was with my spouse.
But this is all mechanics. I think maybe what you are really asking is how we can do these things without the compartmentalization breaking down.
And the only answer I have for that is, long before the affair starts, we waywards got ourselves to a point where we had no empathy for our spouse. When people love one another with a healthy love, we have so much empathy for the people we love that the prospect of them being hurt, even if only in imagination, causes us hurt. Before an affair can start, this kind of empathy has to be damaged, neglected by the 'wayward to be' -- starved by anger, or resentment, or victimization, or insecurity, or some other selfish and inward-looking motive and feeling. So that by the time the big lines are crossed, the wayward feels -- nothing. Oh, guilty for sure, maybe (often?) even worse about him or herself deep inside (because remember, we are FOCUSSED ON OURSELVES and our own feelings, not yours) but doesn't really feel, with that 'cut you, I bleed' empathy, what their spouse would feel if they only knew what was going on.
I guess what is really holding you up is, you are a normal person with a normal functioning range of empathy. You can't understand how someone could be so unempathetic as to do these things -- the calls with you right there, the ordering of the same flowers or gifts at the same time -- and not feel anything. But for us who become wayward, empathy is exactly the thing we have abused, devalued, neglected, let die. Its a terrible thing to do to the person you are supposed to protect most of all. But that is what becoming a wayward means -- it means becoming a person who, for a time, has no REAL empathy for the people they should feel the most for, and promised the most to.