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Affair season 6 years later

ADryHeat posted 8/23/2020 05:32 AM

Hi,

Some of you may remember me vaguely from my time on here - I was a fairly active poster from 2015-2018. My xwh had a brief affair with a cw from August - October 2014, which I caught via a text he received, and after 8 months of trying to figure out if R was possible I filed for D after discovering he had created an Ashley Madison account.

Since that time, so much has happened and Iím overall in such a good place mentally and emotionally. I have a great but challenging job, my kids are doing wonderfully and both in middle school now (online, due to COVID), I have paid off my car and am about to refinance my house, and Iím almost two years into a relationship with an amazing guy.

And yet. Here I am. It must be affair season doing this to me - I seem drawn here lately, reading posts in JFO and General and Reconciliation....and feeling confused about why Iím doing it. Iím not worried my bf will cheat - mostly bc of who he is as a human and how open and honest our relationship is. I never knew a relationship could be so transparent and vulnerable and he communicates so well; we truly seem to have established radical honesty in our relationship and itís so mind blowing to realize just how dysfunctional my marriage was in that sense. To be completely honest, Iíll maybe never trust anyone 100%, and thatís a thing he knows and heís worked hard to understand it and to give me all the words and actions I need to believe he is who he says he is. Nevertheless, Iíve found myself thinking about infidelity and testing him a little here and there (asking about past relationships, checking who he follows on IG, things like that) and I sort of hate that Iím feeling compelled in this way. Heís never Ďfailedí any of my Ďtestsí, which is of course reassuring especially since I donít think he even knows heís being tested. None of this is because I donít trust HIM, itís more that I still donít fully trust myself and I sometimes wonder if Iíll ever get to a place where I feel safe letting my guard down again.

Is there a secret for letting go of the past and learning to love again with full trust? Or am I just doomed to always have that little shell of protection I canít shake off, no matter how much my partner and I both work on it?

Owl6118 posted 8/23/2020 06:49 AM

I don't have any experience to advise on your question, but I wanted to tell you I am happy to "see" you. I am a shy poster, and I don't recall that I ever commented on your threads. But I remeber you very well. I admired the courage and integrity and even humour with which you walked your journey. You are an impressive person and I wish you well.

BrokenheartedUK posted 8/23/2020 07:59 AM

ADH!! Hello!!

Iím sorry that youíre feeling this way but I think itís relatable to a lot of us. Iím in a fantastic relationship with a kind, funny, smart guy that values me, and yet there are still times I get triggered with insecurity. Just last week he mentioned that a guy friend was heading over to have some drinks on his roof. My first thought was ďheís lying and his ex girlfriend is coming overĒ which is INSANE. He then sends me a photo (unrequested) of his friend on the roof on a beautiful summers night. There was absolutely no reason whatsoever for me to ďgo thereĒ in my mind but I did. Itís just a lifelong side effect from our trauma. It is what it is. Im currently dropping my youngest daughter off to start her freshman year of college in a beautiful mid west town and I was relating this story to her on our 6 hour drive yesterday. She looked at me incredulous and said ďhe would never cheat on you. Heís madly in love with you, has rented a car to drive out her tomorrow just to keep you company on the drive back!! Heís shown me how to raise my expectations for how to be treated in a relationship.Ē So yeah... heís pretty great but there will always be a tiny bit of mistrust from me.

If youíre generally back sliding maybe trying to figure out your greater context. Like ďIím beyond happy but I secretly donít believe I deserve to beĒ kind of stuff. And try and reframe your thinking. I think the pandemic itself contributes to rumination because we all have a lot of time on our hands. Hang in there. This will pass but like all things 2020 it will just pass incredibly slowly....

Ichthus posted 8/23/2020 08:58 AM

It is the triggering of trauma for us. It will get better over time, but never completely go away.

I am the same here. In a new relationship and the communication is so exciting. I actually get really excited now when we might have an argument, because I know there will be honesty and openness about the topic. I no longer have to wonder if I am really being told what she is thinking.

The best thing I have found is to just be honest when I trigger. My significant other has her own triggers (from her ex husband). It is very weird to be in the easiest and best relationship ever in my life, and still have worries that she might be cheating on me. But she has also passed every test or every time I check on her about something.

Phoenix1 posted 8/23/2020 13:47 PM

Hi ADH! Good to "see" you again!

I don't think the feeling will ever truly go away. I'm willing to mostly trust until I can't, but that doesn't mean I don't check things here and there. I think the key is not letting the feelings rule your life and your relationship. If your checking everything a partner says and does, then yeah, that's a problem. If it's very occasionally to reinforce he is being authentic, I don't see a problem if it makes you feel better. At the same time though, imagine how he might feel if you told him about it? Would he be okay with it knowing your history, or would he be hurt that you don't fully trust him?

It will get better over time, but I can say without a doubt I will never give 100% blind trust to anyone ever again. That's the lifetime scar of over 20 years of hardcore infidelity. That being said, I also take comfort in acknowledging that nothing is guaranteed and it can always happen again (it did for me with XSO), but I know I am strong enough to get through it again (which I did). Of course, no one *wants* to go thru it again, but that is one obvious risk of being in a relationship.

You will probably find yourself doing less "testing" the longer the relationship goes. Until a gut feeling took hold with XSO, I wasn't checking anything, but we were approaching six years together by then.

NeverTwice posted 8/23/2020 15:45 PM

ADryHeat,

(asking about past relationships, checking who he follows on IG, things like that)

May I gently ask if you have or are currently in IC? 'Testing' a partner like that, with a high degree of confidence, will eventually backfire on you. Especially if he is like you have said - open, transparent and willing to help you trust. But, if he has never given you a reason to be suspicious, he is eventually tire of constantly being checked up on. Especially after 2 years!

And those 'tests' of your are being taken in bad faith. I know I would seriously consider leaving a relationship where my partner feels the need to 'test' my love and commitment constantly.

Just my thoughts.

Warm wishes.

[This message edited by NeverTwice at 3:47 PM, August 23rd (Sunday)]

ADryHeat posted 8/23/2020 16:38 PM

Thanks for all the kind welcomes back and understanding.

NeverTwice, Iím not in IC. Iíve been considering it because of issues in my life I need to process that keep resurfacing - the loss of my dad to dementia and my relationship with my mom primarily. No doubt these things are all interrelated and IC is a great suggestion. Thank you!

Youíre right that testing him isnít fair, even if itís not uncommon. I also am fortunate because he and I were only friends for a long time before it turned romantic, so he knows my whole history and is a saint about being kind and understanding. I also try to gatekeeper these situations a bit by asking myself: is this a me thing, a him thing, or an us thing. If itís a him thing or us thing, we talk and so far weíve done well with that process. If itís a me thing, I almost always talk through it with him, with the caveat that I am sharing to be honest and not to ask him to solve the issue, because I recognize itís a thing I need to work through and not his responsibility. Iím honestly so fortunate, because like BHUK, my current SO has big time raised the bar for me and helped me recognize what I deserve in a relationship, and our communication and respect is there completely.

I think once this season is past, and once the intensity of COVID is lessened, things will be better. But regardless itís so nice to know Iím not alone in this.

Phoenix, your point is valid. I donít check all the time, but sometimes I get into an overthinking head space so I get hyper vigilant. Anytime Iíve discussed these things with him, heís understood and has been reassuring. But like BHUK mentioned, maybe I have some internal ďI donít deserve thisĒ dialogue to unfurl still.

Thank you all.

Phantasmagoria posted 8/23/2020 16:54 PM

I have a really simple philosophy on this, mostly due to the fact that Iím not prepared to let my exís fucked up behaviour in any way dictate my future.

Two basic boundaries that I communicate clearly:

1) If someone were to cheat on me in the future, Iím out...simple as that...no deliberating, no contemplating. I know myself well enough to understand that being cheated on is not something Iím prepared to tolerate or able to get past.

2) Iím not prepared to be treated as an option. Casual dating then no issue, but if weíre in an exclusive relationship, then weíre both in. Treat me like an option, mess me around, then Iím not interested. My time is too valuable, Iíd rather be single.

Iím open to marriage again, shared finances again, all of it..but one of the many things infidelity has taught me as a BS is that having firmly defined boundaries enables me to not worry about monitoring, checking, wondering. All of that second guessing is too exhausting, mentally consuming, unfair on the other person, itís unproductive baggage. Iíll know if either of the above boundaries are ever broken, the signs will present themselves without me having to go look for them.

This may seem a cold or black and white approach, but keeping things as simple and clear as possible is the healthiest mental approach, for me at least.

Hawke posted 8/23/2020 22:52 PM

ADH! It is good to "see" you.

I don't have a lot of advice for you. I was seeing someone for a few years, but we broke up last fall. In some ways, breaking up cleanly (ie., with no cheating, just realizing that we didn't have a future together and choosing to move on) was quite healing. We are still good friends.

I don't find myself coming back here, but recently I have felt the pull. I don't know if it is the added insecurity of covid, but when my ex made a co-parenting gaffe a couple of weeks ago, I found myself coming back here.

In terms of trusting someone 100%, I'm not sure if I will again. Like Phantasmagoria says, cheating would be an automatic "I'm out". I just don't know how much of myself I'm willing to risk in the hope that the person won't abuse my trust. In three years of dating someone, he met my kids a handful of times and stayed the night once in a true emergency situation. I didn't test his trustworthiness, but I never really let him in, either. So, I'm obviously not the right person to be talking about learning to love again with full trust.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I hope you can work through it. I'm in my mid-40's now, and I do think that everyone I'm going to date is going to come with some baggage to work through together.

EvenKeel posted 8/24/2020 08:14 AM

Hey! Nice to see you!!

This is what I do:

- When those things pop up, I remind myself to judge my BF on WHAT he has shown me. Not what my ex did. It is a dialogue I had to do internally early a lot in my NB but over time (I am 10 years out), it is very rare. Even if you think your BF doesn't know you are testing him, he probably does. It isn't fair to them.

- Secondly, I know in my heart that I will be ok if anything did ever happen. You would be as well.

So I would circle those things in my mind and remind myself to just ENJOY what I have now.

I am glad you are considering IC to help you with the other issues. You deserve to be the very best you...with all the happiness that goes with it!

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