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perception vs. truth

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Absolon posted 3/22/2021 15:06 PM

I can’t believe I am here. Am not sure where to begin. Sorry in advance for the length of this.
My fiancée and I have been together 5 years; I am in my early 40s and she, in her early 30s. We are set to be married this summer. We remain as in love today as we were in our first few months. We met at work—colleagues in different departments—and a really solid, respectful friendship turned into something more. We have always been really happy: good sex life, no financial concerns, trustful, respectful, open, good communication. A lot of fun with our shared interests; and no mistrust or insecurity when we do our own things, too.
The one thing I suppose I must admit is that she was engaged to someone when we first met at work, and while nothing ever happened between us—I am not a cheater—there were times, if I am being really honest, that I felt she flirted with me inappropriately.
Anyway, this past September, with Covid more under control where we live, we hosted a small dinner party for 3 other couples on a Saturday night. My fiancée, who always loves doing this stuff, was insistent on having set places at the table for everyone. She sat between one of her good female friends and her husband; let’s call him AP (!).
In between courses, while I was going back and forth between the kitchen and while everyone was happily, drunkenly chatting away at the table, I thought I caught the weirdest sight when I glanced back at my wife and AP. I thought I saw them intertwining fingers under the table. I turned away, rubbed my eyes, and when I looked back they weren’t doing that.
But it was one of those moments that … well, it is like if you have ever experienced a break-in, in your house. You come back from work or wherever, and your eyes register the chaos of a break-in but your brain takes seconds or even minutes to catch up and process it all. In fact, part of your brain is saying “This isn’t what it looks like”, or, “You did this, but forgot you left the place like this”. Same with this. But as a result, I basically started becoming way more watchful of her and less feeling like I was on solid ground.
Fast forward to November, and I started noticing something. Some nights, when we are both exhausted, we just enjoy relaxing in front of the TV with both of us on our laptops or phones. She has a billion Facebook friends, so spends a lot of time there when we veg out. But what I noticed starting in November and continuing to present day is that she had positioned herself just ever so slightly, perfectly, away from me so that I couldn’t see her screen. It was subtle. But I don’t think I was imagining it, since before that we have been able to see each other’s screens whenever on the couch together.
Finally in late November, we had a crappy week where we fought quite a bit because she suddenly wanted to bring AP and his wife to our long-planned holiday this January. For one, I don’t like the guy and for another, I just had this creeping sense that something is not right. But because I couldn’t give her great reasons for excluding them, she became frustrated with me. Anyway, fate interceded and because of Covid, etc, we had to cancel the holiday anyway.
Having now read many threads here, I can say that I know I am in a lucky position because we aren’t married, don’t have kids, and I suppose because I have no proof anything is happening. But every one of my intuitive systems are on high alert … maybe not red alert yet … and I am feeling ashamed at the degree to which my emerging obsession about this is taking over my life.
Where I think I require input is straightforward: should I start taking steps to, essentially, spy on her – whether a PI, VAR in car, or (for me: a total boundary violation), trying to get into her various devices? I’ll end this like I began it: I can’t believe I am ‘here’.

asc1226 posted 3/22/2021 15:17 PM

Where I think I require input is straightforward: should I start taking steps to, essentially, spy on her – whether a PI, VAR in car, or (for me: a total boundary violation), trying to get into her various devices?

Yes. She torpedoed any expectation of privacy when she unilaterally decided to add a third person to your relationship.
A VAR wherever she prefers to talk on the phone in the house is also a good idea.

Talic15 posted 3/22/2021 15:42 PM

There are always signs that the cheater gives away. It seems that they always follow the same routine, become secretive, new pw on their phone, gone for hours giving excuses where they are, etc.

However, they get sloppy. They leave their emails wide open, phone unlocked, etc.

It's up to you how you want to handle it, but always trust your gut.

faithfulman posted 3/22/2021 16:00 PM

Yes. Spy on her and don't feel bad about it.

Learn everything you can, hold your fire and don't confront her until you are certain you know all you need to know.

HouseOfPlane posted 3/22/2021 16:01 PM

Where I think I require input is straightforward: should I start taking steps to, essentially, spy on her – whether a PI, VAR in car, or (for me: a total boundary violation), trying to get into her various devices? I’ll end this like I began it: I can’t believe I am ‘here’.
You know she's hiding stuff, and has something weird going on with the AP.

Do you want to marry into that? Literally, how much more do you need? Do you need to step in cow manure to verify it is cow manure?

You have no financial worries, hire a PI.

The other approach is when she is shielding her screen, just tell her, "Let me see what you are looking at. If you don't, the marriage is off" and mean it. I'm betting she'll close screens and shut things off rather than let you look.

This0is0Fine posted 3/22/2021 16:02 PM

You only need as much evidence as you decide you need.

As you said, you aren't married, don't have kids. Just punt and move on. Don't play relationship police.

The thing is, you don't trust her. It almost doesn't even matter if you are right or not. Skip the pain of 2-5 years of reconciliation with a cheater. Find someone you do trust.

Charity411 posted 3/22/2021 16:05 PM

Trust your gut. You saw what you saw. And here is another clue. That seating arrangement made no sense if she's "really into that stuff". It should have been boy girl by girl. Not girl get in between boy and his girl.

Butforthegrace posted 3/22/2021 16:11 PM

There is a wide range of things you could do. Since you're not married, the range is even wider. I'm going to suggest two possibilities:

1. Tell her you've had a change of heart and wish to cancel your wedding. There's no law that says you need a concrete reason for this.

2. Confront her directly with your concerns. If she is cheating, the chances are high that her initial response will be DARVO or some variant thereof. If that is her response, that's all the proof you need. Tell her that you're sorry she responded in that manner, and that the wedding is off.

asc1226 posted 3/22/2021 16:26 PM

This is an engagement, you can walk away with what you know now. But if you feel you need more that’s ok too. Sometimes getting concrete proof is what you need because you just can’t believe she would throw it away. She’s a smart, reasonable woman who made a commitment to you and it’s hard to reconcile that with her actions.

If you do decide you need more, make sure you save proof and give it to the other betrayed spouse. She deserves to know what she’s dealing with as well.

[This message edited by asc1226 at 4:27 PM, March 22nd (Monday)]

Westway posted 3/22/2021 16:34 PM

Yep, she's having a relationship with him. Always... always trust your gut. Yours is screaming at you that she and this guy are foooling around.

Like others have said, only you can decide how much evidence you require to make a decision as to whether or not to confront her or just walk away. Right now, you have no evidence for a confrontation other than the patty-fingers going on at the party that night. If you want real evidence, you will need to record her through VAR, snoop on her phone and laptop, and maybe even hire a P.I.?

A P.I. you say Westway? Yep, even if you aren't married, this is a person you are hedging the biggest bet of your life on. Don't you think it would be worth the money to find out if she's cheating so that you aren't suckered into a marriage that is doomed to fail?

Better to spend a couple grand now than lose $250k down the road when you two have kids and a house and she dumps you for some young stud at her work.

She has a flirtatious nature, you said so yourself. That means her boundaries are next to nothing. A person with no boundaries is an unsafe person.


The one thing I suppose I must admit is that she was engaged to someone when we first met at work, and while nothing ever happened between us—I am not a cheater—there were times, if I am being really honest, that I felt she flirted with me inappropriately.

Have you ever met her prior fiancée? You know, it might be a good idea to track him down and have a man-to-man talk with him and ask him why they broke up. I bet his story may surprise you. I bet it is a very different story than the one she told you. And I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with her girlfriend's husband.

[This message edited by Westway at 4:41 PM, March 22nd (Monday)]

grubs posted 3/22/2021 16:35 PM

What's the living situation?
When is the lease up or are you both on the mortgage?
In other words, how quickly can you move her or yourself out of the situation.
Do you still work together?
None of those will tell you whether she is cheating but they will help decide on what you need to plan for when you separate. There's enough red flags here that I would definitely have an exit plan ready.

2. Confront her directly with your concerns. If she is cheating, the chances are high that her initial response will be DARVO or some variant thereof. If that is her response, that's all the proof you need. Tell her that you're sorry she responded in that manner, and that the wedding is off.

I'd do this while she's in the middle of FB response on her phone sitting next to you on the couch. Ask to see the phone. Any refusal or delay in turning it over means that she is definitely hiding something from you.

Would you really need to know the details at that point? In my view the burden of proof is on her not you.
Another suggestion is to reach out to her GF. She is likely struggling with gut feelings of her own about her husband.

DanielJK posted 3/22/2021 16:41 PM

Don't stand for it. You're clearly uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is no way to live. I agree with thisoneisfine, being relationship cop suuuucks. I would not recommend it.

The phone is always a dead giveaway. Watch her actions with the phone closely. Is it always with her, does she take it into the bathroom, screen tilted away, placed face down, listen for it hitting the table when you walk into the room, does she always seem to be just finishing up a text when you walk in the room, how about late night or early morning use, unusual phone use in the middle of the night? All of these are dead giveaways.

If you must spy, you can get a GPS, a magnetic box to attach to a vehicle, and a cellular plan for under $200. Check Amazon. Check the phone records if you can. Look for heavy contact with same number or late night early morning contacts.

If you confront, don't give away sources of info. Also, be prepared...I mean really be prepared.

1. Stay calm, always
2. Don't go down rabbit holes, always stay focused on the subject of her cheating
3. See number 2, don't get distracted
4. As butforthegrace mentioned, look up DARVO. If she is cheating, she is going to use this on you. Make sure you know it when you see it, then go back to step 2. Cheaters are absolute grand masters at DARVO.
5. Look up "gaslighting" she's likely to try to gaslight you. If she does, go back to step 2 above.
6. Look for blameshifting... "well you've been distant" "your not meeting my (insert need here)" if this happens... "we can talk about that another time, right now we are discussing you cheating on me and it ends now!"
7. This is listed last but may be most important. Listen to the people here and get out of infidelity now. Do not tolerate it. Do not live with it.

And take care of yourself. Focus on you. What do you want? Make sure you eat drink and sleep. Take care of yourself physically because it will help you mentally.

Keep reading and posting here.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

Robert22205https posted 3/22/2021 16:45 PM

Is my understanding correct that she flirted behind her previous finance's back and now appears to be repeating?

Does she protect her phone or laptop? Do you have access?

Nothing you said or didn't say (or do) justifies her behavior.

Every life partner has a right to feel safe from infidelity; and every life partner has an obligation to avoid suspicious behavior/situations.

IMO She failed. However, the threshold is entirely up to you.

1 - Your finance strategically placed herself next to the OM so it's not your imagination that they held hands.

2 - With respect to the long planned holiday. Do you normally invite others? If you don't like the guy, end of discussion. Your preference should take precedence (unless the OM is more important to her).

3 - Now she's intentionally positioning her screen so you can't see it.

4 - People with nothing to hide - hide nothing.

IMO, based on her behavior, she's forfeited any right to privacy. Take whatever steps you need to.

Robert22205https posted 3/22/2021 16:51 PM

Cheaters typically only confess to what they think you know (e.g., holding hands).

If you confront without solid evidence, she'll blow off your observations as you being overly jealous, or she doesn't remember holding hands, or he must have grabbed her hand when they shared a joke. Plus she will argue that she has a right to friends, including private conversations.

Then she'll go underground.

Justsomeguy posted 3/22/2021 17:05 PM

Listen to Westway. He is on the money as usual.

Absolon posted 3/22/2021 17:13 PM

Wow – am overwhelmed by these many, thoughtful, helpful but also sobering responses. What a great community. Thank you.

Before I get to any clarifications, I should add a key thing: I registered here about a month ago, and before that had written out my first post a while ago, and it just felt good at the time to ‘get it out’. But the key thing that has happened between then and now is that there has been a notable difference in our sex life.

Frequency has diminished, but subtly. No problem there: that is the ebb and flow in a relationship. What stands out though is an episode about a week ago, which prompted me to come back here and find the courage to post. We had just finished lovemaking when it suddenly hit me that she … made love to me very differently than normal; and not just then, but maybe the previous 2-3 times before?

So, my gut comment—not really filtering anything beforehand—was to say, ‘Hey: there is something different about the way you are having sex with me.’ And what was weird was a) she seemed startled, b) she denied it but then c) the next day she said, ‘I think you are just imagining it; and, besides, it doesn’t hurt to change things up in that domain, once in a while, don’t you think?’

What’s so frustrating about all of this is that had I not seen the maybe-hand-hold, I just wouldn’t be bothered or suspicious by any of the subsequent ‘clues’.

Answers / Questions:
• I would prefer to gather evidence than confront. It just isn’t who I am, to confront without having true proof of some problem.
• It’s not so clear-cut that I don’t trust her. But I would say that my gut is telling to be very concerned. My intuition is rarely incorrect.
• To Butforthegrace: thanks for the advice and I will check out DARVO after posting this response.
• To Westway (but others, too): where should I place the VAR? Good logic about the short-term expense of a PI versus the long-term expense of a messy divorce. Plus, I earn twice what she does. I wouldn’t have any luck with her past fiancé, though, because he (very unfairly) blamed me more than her for their parting. That is 100% inaccurate, but he would not be a trustworthy or reliable source.
• Fortunately we are renters, but plan to buy something of our own before Christmas of this year. We live in a city where real estate is just ridiculously expensive, so we have taken this one slowly. We live together but that could be terminated easily. We don’t work together anymore.
• Yeah: sadly, her phone has been glued to her for months now. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw it lying around. This detail sickens me—as does my blindness to what that might represent.
• And thanks, DanielJK for those helpful tips. I am a decently intelligent man, but not tech savvy so the whole spying thing just bewilders me.
• Robert: great point about the holidays. We have taken several but that was the only one where she thought to include other people.

Thank you again. Nice to have such a group of people to talk to. I feel sick, and a big part of me does not wish to know the truth. But, I know I have to because too much is at stake.

DanielJK posted 3/22/2021 17:23 PM

The very definition of gaslighting:

I think you are just imagining it

This is textbook gaslighting...cheater 101.

Also, the GPS tracker is easy to use and set up. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to keep an eye on their spouse. If you are interested i can PM the details to you.

HouseOfPlane posted 3/22/2021 17:25 PM

So, my gut comment—not really filtering anything beforehand—was to say, ‘Hey: there is something different about the way you are having sex with me.’ And what was weird was a) she seemed startled, b) she denied it but then c) the next day she said, ‘I think you are just imagining it; and, besides, it doesn’t hurt to change things up in that domain, once in a while, don’t you think?’
The implication here is that you are sharing your girlfriend with another guy. That includes germs. You would be FAR from the first to get VD from your loved one.

It also offers a possible test. Google on “semen test infidelity”. Lots of test options. Test her undies when suspicious. If they are having unprotected sex, it will show up.

src9043 posted 3/22/2021 17:25 PM

I caught my ex-wife playing footsies under the table with the AP one night. I couldn't believe my eyes and it took me 24 hours to process what I saw. I then confronted her, she caved, and we divorced. That is the short story of what happened. You saw what you saw. I simply would ask her point-blank why do you want to get married when you are fooling around with someone else? She will try and deflect, act surprised, and deny, but I would keep asking the question very calmly until she gives you a straight answer. Tell her no marriage until you give me a straight answer. Don't argue with her. Simply keep asking the same question until she comes clean. Her reaction will tell you all that you need to know even if she doesn't come clean. Remain calm and confident in your question until she buckles. Tell her nothing else is up for discussion until she gives you a straight answer. BTW, when she admits to the affair, dump her and notify the OMS of what the POS husband is doing. Do not allow her to rug sweep.

This0is0Fine posted 3/22/2021 18:14 PM

Absolon,

The fact you are posting here, and explaining your doubts is evidence of your mistrust. Mistrust that you absolutely deserve to have and feel! The sooner you are willing to admit that you just *don't trust* her, the sooner you can make progress.

You are unassailable if you own your mistrust. "What don't you trust me!?"

"No, I don't."

See how easy that confrontation is compared to some sort of feelings pretzel of "I'm just anxious about these signs" or whatever?

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 6:15 PM, March 22nd (Monday)]

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