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Canít believe Iím back

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Happening posted 5/28/2021 12:35 PM

I am a recovery story. 9 years ago my ex had an affair. We tried to fix it, but he relapsed into the same defeatist, blaming behaviours, saying I was too demanding, I was too cold, I held him away, and that was why he lied and raged, blah, blah, blah. I had done a bunch of work on myself, and I ended the marriage and did more work. I bought myself a house, I coparent like a champ, and I am very successful in my work.

And then two years ago I met my BF. We both fell hard, but I still took the time to review for signs and flags, all the tests to see if he was for real. I was open and upfront about my history, which goes beyond my ex, and into my FOO, of course. He has been open, honest, loving and funny. Our sex life is amazing, both of us have strong sex drives and match so well and itís never dwindled. Friends and family commented on how they have never seen a couple with more in common. I didnít know it was possible to feel this much love and feel so loved, seen, and validated. That never wavered. I moved in a year ago, we decided to combine households during the pandemic, to make our own family bubble. We talked about the future, and how we would grow old together.

But two days ago, he left his iPad out with the browser page up. This is not unusual, he has never been secretive with electronics, they are always laying around. So I plugged it in, minimized the screen, and when I went to set it down, accidentally opened an app. It was a messaging app. I donít want to go into all the details but two days of TT and my life is in pieces. I found out he has been on countless message boards, sexting with so many women. He rekindled a friendship with a very toxic friend from before we met that he said was out of his life - from reading all his messages I donít think that has ever been sexual or romantic, but he has still been lying about it. And twice he went out to actually participate with strangers. The first time he chickened out. I know this because I saw the messages about it from the people he was supposed to meet with. The second time, his car broke down on the way. He is a broken mess right now and swears I know everything, and I have been over every inch of his phone and I canít find anything else, but I just canít be certain there isnít something more, my gut says itís 75/25, 25 being the odds thereís something more. I feel utterly destroyed, I canít find the words for this. It is so much worse than before, I never thought this man would do this.

He is truly broken, I have never seen such devastation in a person and not just about the pain he has caused me, but how he has betrayed himself as well as me. How he has ruined our family, our partnership and our future. He does not put any blame on me, says I am more than enough, that he is broken, that he just got in a cycle of lies and secrets and couldnít stop and doesnít know why. He has reached out to a counsellor right away to begin getting help to find out the answers for why he would sabotage the best thing he has ever had, and how to be the man he wants to be. He is researching additional resources to help him identify his motivators, triggers and boundaries and strategies. He seems completely determined to find out why he made these choices and become a better man.

He has asked me to please give him a chance to show me he can become the man we both thought he was and to then give him a chance. I told him I cannot make any decision right now, I am in shock and need time. I have told him that he has never been through this, he doesnít know how hard R can be, and he needs to know he may do all the work in the world, we may do a bunch of work together, he will have to watch me go through so much pain and know his choices caused this, and I still may, in the end, say I canít. And it will possibly, probably, take years if it can happen at all, and it will never be the same again. Promises for the future are gone now.

I laid it out to a friend of mine, a neighbour, this morning, all of it, and then I asked if I am a fool to even think there could be a chance. I expected her to say yes, it is foolish and I should cut my losses. But she didnít. She said she was disappointed, angry and disgusted by what he did, but none of it jives with the man she knows, and has known, for years. She says wait and see. When I met him he was finishing recovering from a devastating injury, and he worked hours every day to recover and regain the life he wanted. She reminded me of that and suggested I stand back, and see if he will work that hard again to regain the man he wants to be, then decide if I want to give him a chance.

It makes sense, but god it hurts. I know the panic attacks, the triggers, the pain and tears and anger and loathing that are ahead. But the thing is, because of his choices, I have to go through that either way. Where I do that, I canít say right now. I love him so much but I hate what he has done just as much. I donít know what side of the scale I will tip towards. I just hate that I am here again; not because this is a bad place, it is a wonderful, supportive place, but I hate that I need to be here.

This0is0Fine posted 5/28/2021 13:28 PM

You've been here before. You know the struggle. You've known him *about* as long as the recovery period. Is it potentially worth it? The roller coaster? Only you can answer that question for yourself.

It does sound like he may put in the work and have the empathy to R. That doesn't make it easy. Just possible.

The1stWife posted 5/28/2021 13:41 PM

Iím sorry for you. I really am. There is not one thing you could or shouid have done differently. You appear to have been very good at recognizing the dealbreakers or red flags.

Itís sad that as good as things were in your lives, he still chose to cheat.

My H was the same way. He deeply regrets his poor choices and swears he doesnít know why he did it (typical mid life crisis affair).

Just like your BF it just makes no sense. He had it all ó but yet chose to make the ďthrillĒ of flirting and sexting a part of is life despite being happy.

I donít know what to say to help you other than this may be harder to deal with than your prior marriage and that betrayal.

Cooley2here posted 5/28/2021 14:11 PM

I watched a Ted talk by a woman from England who is a therapist. She said sex addiction is so destructive and it can happen to anybody. She had one client who was scared to death to form a deep relationship with women because he knew his addiction was so bad. She had another client whose marriage was failing because of it. She said people who Pooh Pooh sex addiction donít see the reality she sees. It sounds to me like your bf was addicted to the attention if he has never actually participated in the sex. He now needs intense therapy. Thereís no guarantee that he can change this so you are going to be on a limb for that if you stay. Or you can move on and hope he gets better. I honestly donít think it has anything to do with you. I think he brought this into his adult life from childhood.

redrock posted 5/28/2021 14:33 PM

He made the choice, for the both of you to rip your world apart again with infidelity. You clearly informed of your background & previous experience with the shitstorm that is cheating. He knew and he did it anyway. Thatís going to be a tough hurdle to overcome. It took a lot of courage for you to make the choice to be vulnerable again.

I donít know what influence the toxic friend had on his choices. Iím sure that he thought secrecy would keep a lid on it. It being The guy he gave himself permission to be. The one he hid from you and the neighbors. His ability to compartmentalize it doesnít make it any less a part of him.

Take your time on this. No decision has to be made today, next week or even in a month. Put your healing first and if you want to sit back and watch his actions to determine over time if R is a possibility, thatís your choice.

[This message edited by redrock at 2:35 PM, May 28th (Friday)]

ChamomileTea posted 5/28/2021 14:50 PM

If you're really on the fence about this guy, you'd be wise to polygraph him. Find out for sure if what he's told you so far is the absolute truth, and if it's not... well, then you know what his capability is in terms of crocodile tears. I wouldn't even accept a parking lot confession. If there's any deviation from what he's ALREADY said, I'd cut him loose.

Buster123 posted 5/28/2021 16:47 PM

He is truly broken, I have never seen such devastation in a person and not just about the pain he has caused me, but how he has betrayed himself as well as me. How he has ruined our family, our partnership and our future. He does not put any blame on me, says I am more than enough, that he is broken, that he just got in a cycle of lies and secrets and couldnít stop and doesnít know why.
Blah, Blah, Blah, Bullshit...this is a grown man and not a little puppy lost in the woods, based on what you posted he's a serial cheater having secret relationships and actively trying to meet up with people behind your back, I'll be blunt, you've only "known" him for a couple of years and lived together for one and a good chunk of that he's been betraying you when you were supposed to be on the so called honeymoon phase (you were living togeter), so I suggest you dump him and don't look back, at least you found out before things got more serious and entangled with finances and other stuff.

HalfTime2017 posted 5/28/2021 17:40 PM

I'm sorry, but you have it wrong. Its 25 what you know and 75 what you don't know. YOu see, the brokenNess is an act. Females use tears to get what they want, Men that are Narcissist use that broken lie to deceive even more effectively than a woman's tear.

Have you looked up Narcissism. I suggest you take a deep dive into this particular topic. So much in common, trauma bonding, sex drive, crazy connection too quickly upfront. That is until his mask falls off. Now his mask has slipped, you let him put it back on, and next time, it won't be 2 yrs before it slips again. He was probably on reddit too wasn't he?

Happening posted 5/28/2021 20:14 PM

Thanks everyone, god, this place is still a safe haven , isnít it?
This is harder than last time, but also slightly more hopeful. The big reason, I am not the woman I was before - that Hap had only a part time job, a young child and no financial control. This Hap is financially independent, I still own my home, I kept it as an investment. I am not trapped here in any way, nor forced to make any decision in a hurry under pressure.
Also, something else different. I remember my ex decided personal therapy wasnít for him, he only did couples therapy when I pleaded for it, and I remember him watching me cry like I was some kind of strange bug he had never seen before, completely unmoved. He refused to leave the hobby he met AP at. The only friend he turned to as a support turned out to be an even worse cheater. And of course, it was my fault - I was too intimidating, I demanded too much of him, all the BS.
If I hear one iota of that this time, itís game over. I have worked too hard to build myself back up to ever let anyone tear it down again.
This time though, it is at least starting differently. He is taking full responsibility, he has already set up counselling, he is taking notes. He is setting up a support network, and has, with my permission first, reached out to set up couples counselling. I have told him I cannot and will not fix him or be his support system for this and he can say he is sorry, sure, but he needs to show me, and that doesnít happen quickly. Only he can do the work, and it starts with him, not me. There is no quick fix, and no guarantees.
Narcissistic - I donít think so. I am very familiar with it, I was raised by a narcissist. I was married to one. I know the signs and I looked at them very closely before we started and during. He has long term friends, is close to family, he maintains 20 year plus relationships, and is the same person with them as he is at home. The deep and unyielding love he has for his children. If anything, he is far too much of a people pleaser, he tends to believe his value is in what he does for people, not in who he is as a person. I maybe painted too rosy a glow of our start - we have had our growing pains also. He often misses the mark on what to say, he misses cues, our main struggle has been communication, learning each otherís styles. Every narcissist I have ever known could say anything you want, slick as anything, or at least what they think you want when they think you are of value. I donít think that is it, but you know I will keep my eyes open.
Itís a waiting game. Itís working on myself, and continuing to watch what happens, see if he is truly rebuilding, or just creating a short term facade.
Confused though - whatís the deal with Reddit? Wasnít a thing last time around, donít know about now.

nekonamida posted 5/28/2021 22:02 PM

Happening, just think - R is going to take longer than your relationship with him. And a serial cheater at that with dozens of OW? How sure are you that he wasn't engaging in these activities before you were together too? How ingrained is this? Would he take a polygraph to prove that you have it all? It's standard practice for sex addiction disclosure after all.

I'm not saying you have to break up right now but don't feel compelled to stay if you get more TT or deal with a relapse. In fact, you should check out the thread in ICR for sex addiction and just know - relapses happen. Be careful and don't get caught up in his willingness to promise you the sun and moon if it doesn't lead to results.

lifestoshort posted 5/28/2021 22:39 PM

he may act broken but while he was doing it he did it all he wanted. probably hundreds of times right, messages back and forth. Planned to meet up. universe intervened but he still kept getting on.

no remorse. those are trickle tears. its an act. seen it. you have seen it years ago. this is not ok hun. he had once chance and he blew it. you accept him again, you lose all your worth and dignity.

skeetermooch posted 5/28/2021 22:58 PM

So sorry you're going through this yet again.

My situation has some similarities. All I know is I wish I'd gotten out immediately - at the first dday, also during the honeymoon phase. But like you, we were the couple everyone swooned over. So much in love and in sync, etc.

He does sound earnest - that's something - but what a crap decision: 3-5 years recovering from this if you stay (and if he stays sober and you can forgive and forget) or (hopefully) a shorter recovery period if you leave. Neither path's easy, though one guarantees freedom from infidelity.

You've been blindsided and traumatized. My heart goes out to you. Take your time to make any decisions.

Happening posted 5/29/2021 00:09 AM

I hear you all. Like I said, I know I will heal, I will recover. R with him? Far too early to know.

I will continue to monitor though. I appreciate not having to decide on any timeline but my own. I realize that in my previous experience I was rushed into R, my ex holding our childís family integrity over me. He knew that would work on me because that was what happened in my FOO.

This time, itís up to me, 100%. I know myself well enough to know that a.) I am still in shock and cannot make a proper decision, and b.) I am curious enough to want to see what he does. I want to see what he does a week from now, and a month from now. I want to know if, over time, he gets frustrated by my pace, my access to his history and actions online. I want to see if the actions he is taking right now are desperation ploys or a real desire to change. If he will really reach out to friends and set up accountability checks with them. I want to see if his story stays consistent, in counselling, when he is challenged. For those of you that mentioned a polygraph, yes, he is willing.

I still will not decide until I feel ready, and I will put my healing first. His healing is his responsibility, and itís a big job. I do believe he knows that our relationship cannot be fixed until he repairs himself, and that I have every right to walk away even if he does the work - his personal work doesnít put an obligation on me.

I appreciate having the time, and freedom to decide on no oneís schedule but my own. But the future? Who knows, I am hour by hour right now.

jb3199 posted 5/29/2021 06:33 AM

I am not the woman I was before - that Hap had only a part time job, a young child and no financial control. This Hap is financially independent, I still own my home, I kept it as an investment. I am not trapped here in any way, nor forced to make any decision in a hurry under pressure.

This, right here, is an immeasurable difference. Also, for better or for worse, this Hap has already experienced infidelity before....and worked her way through it.

I'm sorry that you have to go through this pain again. When newly betrayed members show up here for the first time, one of the pieces of advice is that there are millions of new potential partners out there that won't cheat on you. Your story shows that there are no guarantees about choosing a faithful partner. You can do all of the vetting that you like; you can make the best possible choices that you feel will be in your best interest---and you can still find yourself in infidelity once again. I have no doubt that you will navigate yourself through this much better than in the past, but the pain is still there nonetheless.

Your thinking seems very logical. You may have a bright future with this partner if he can do the hard work. But if nothing else, you now are not only hurt again, but must make the choice to take a HUGE risk of potential future happiness. You are already well aware of the potential pain. But, luckily, that choice is yours and yours alone to make. It is nice to have some sort of control in aspects of our lives. Good luck moving forward.

Robert22205https posted 5/29/2021 08:00 AM

In order to reach a decision with respect to R, you need to know the full extent of his betrayal.

He needs to write down a timeline (who, what, where, when, including what they talked about (e.g., you?), and how he felt afterward facing you.

To encourage full disclosure, inform him that the timeline is subject to a polygraph.

And that while additional details in the timeline may make it more difficult to R - any further lies or withholding of information quarantees a break up.

Notmine posted 5/29/2021 11:22 AM

If you're really on the fence about this guy, you'd be wise to polygraph him. Find out for sure if what he's told you so far is the absolute truth, and if it's not... well, then you know what his capability is in terms of crocodile tears. I wouldn't even accept a parking lot confession. If there's any deviation from what he's ALREADY said, I'd cut him loose.

This^^^^ for sure.

This man is a serial cheater. This kind of obsessive/compulsive behavior will take years to deal with, and the reality is that serial cheaters are rarely able to be safe partners. If he has an addiction, then he will need to fully engage in a program of recovery for LIFE in ADDITION to counseling with a CSAT. The chance of relapse is high for ALL addicts, and addictions can transfer into other areas - gambling, drugs, alcohol, etc.

My husband is a sex addict. He attends weekly 12-step meetings, willingly engages consistently in a program of recovery, sees a CSAT twice per month (it was more frequent earlier in his recovery process). These activities have to become a way of life if addiction is in the picture. My husband is also a drug addict - was 19 years sober when the sex addiction became prevalent. He had stopped participating in 12-step recovery and attending meetings, which allowed his addictive personality to flourish. This is why an addict must commit to a recovery program for life, and WALK the WALK. This process is hard work. It requires willingness, acceptance, humility, honesty and honest self-reflection and self-evaluation. It is not easy to be married to an addict. It is not safe. It is not peaceful. My husband has not relapsed, but it is a never-say-never situation.

I know you have 2 years invested in this man. He reminds me of my husband, who is a really good guy when he is sober. When he is not, he is a monster. He has worked his ass off to be in the marriage, and continues to do so each day, but he has a sickness that can take over at any time when he is not vigilant. Is this a risk you want to take?

My suggestion is to poly your BF to make sure you know everything and can make a decision based on the facts. Then have him evaluated by a CSAT to see if he is an addict. If he IS, and he does not address the addiction, then he will almost certainly continue to cheat. Also, hold off on the couples therapy. These therapists can enable wayward behavior. If you do choose to do couples therapy, make sure the therapist has experience with infidelity. The reality is that HE needs the therapy, not the relationship.

Happening posted 5/29/2021 11:24 AM

Hello again, I am very grateful for the support and words. Yes I have been here before, but am also realizing, all these years later, was completely false. The last time, with my ex, paralleled my FOO, where you take back someone if they are in pain, even if it is killing you, and you work to heal them, not yourself - this is not the same at all.

Because I will NOT be rushed. I will NOT make promises. I will NOT be the fixer, the instigator of change, the support system. I will NOT hide my pain, my anger, my disappointment and disgust from the person who caused it all. If he cannot handle that, then I have info I need.

My WBF accepts this wholeheartedly, at least he does right now. He says that he has no right to ask me for promises and he will not. That he is the one who needs to make promises and prove he can keep them. And that he is making this promise not just to me, but to himself, his kids, his mother and siblings and friends. He admits that he bears all the blame, and that he needs to cut things out of his life forever, like toxic friends and porn. He knows this wonít take a week or a month, that this is action he must take his whole life long. And he cannot take it with any expectations of having me at the end of it - that he has no say at all in whether I decide we ever have a relationship again. And finally, he keeps acknowledging and apologizing for my pain, his responsibility for causing it and expressing his understanding that he knows those words sound like bullshit, and he doesnít expect me to believe it until and unless his actions show me he does.

Timelines, yes, we have started working on that. So far there hasnít been anything new. But it is a big part of why I agreed to couples counselling, because I want a guided and supported way to get to the whys, the whenís, the whereís, all of it. And I want to see if it remains consistent. He knows that I may insist upon a polygraph at any time and that is non negotiable to go through, if I decide I need it. I will say, having someone else take responsibility for setting up counselling and not expecting me to do it and arrange everything is a big change.

I am glad, even proud, that I now have the personal knowledge and strength to overcome this, with or without him. But I am so goddamn angry and devastated that I have to.

Robert22205https posted 5/29/2021 14:54 PM

You don't have to limit yourself to one polygraph test.

In order to save time, have him take (and pay) for a polygraph asap so you can determine immediately if certain key facts are true. Better to find out now.

For example, has he ever kissed or hugged another woman or asked for a woman's number since you guys became a couple; has he ever met any woman alone behind your back (coffee, lunch, or other event); is he withholding information from you that he believes would make you angrier or leave him.

annanew posted 5/29/2021 16:29 PM

I donít know. So he just randomly picked up this habit, which he never had before?

I think heís a man of many talents, and one of his talents is lying.

I also question the ďchickened outĒ story. More likely some family obligation prevented him from going. People who cheat at scale arenít shy and scared. They know what they are doing.

A newbie to this would sext one woman and be really careful to hide everything. Your guy didnít do that. Almost as if he had years of practice and got sloppy.

BluerThanBlue posted 5/30/2021 20:25 PM

If you had known what your ex husband would do to you in the future, would you have married him? If the answer to that question is no, then you would be foolish to stay with your boyfriend. He has failed the courtship phase of your relationship. Find someone who shares your values instead.

The most striking thing to me about your original post was that 90% of it was focused on how devastated he is, which shows how he has successfully manipulated you into focusing on his emotional state rather than your own feelings of heartbreak, disappointment, and betrayal. This display that your witnessing is nothing more than distracting theater.

Also, as another poster said, your ratio of lies to truth is likely completely reversed. Lies are like cockroaches... for each one you discover, there are 100 more. He has done this before, he has been at this for a while, and he probably was diligent about covering his tracks until recently, when he got a bit lazy.

Lastly, I donít take much stock in your mutual friend vouching for his character and encouraging you to reconcile. All her opinion should tell you is that heís good at compartmentalizing and maintaining a facade. The only difference between you and this friend is that you were his intimate partner; hence, you got an opportunity to see behind the mask.

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