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Just Found Out :
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 HeartbreakInHawaii (original poster new member #80401) posted at 5:48 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Between May 5 and 26 I pulled the truth from my partner of 5 years: he’s had 1 emotional and 2 physical affairs starting late last year and continuing until DDay.
We were on a vacation with family and friends in Hawaii (which meant an incredible amount to me, and which WS knew – my dad is 83 and I cherish our trips together). We went for dinner one night and when I came back from the washroom, I saw WS texting someone. I knew in my gut something was wrong by the length of the texts and his reaction and the trickle-truth began.
Y is a member at the gym where WS was manager (he proactively accepted another job and finished at this gym the day before we flew out). He leaned on her emotionally and discussed our relationship issues (of which I’ve learned since DDay were many), problems with his parents and his work. She kissed him once and he told her he did not have romantic feelings for her, which she apparently respected. I communicated that because this is a friend of the opposite sex that he kept secret from me, I was not comfortable with any type of friendship proceeding, to which he agreed. He acknowledged that by keeping their friendship secret, he knew he was crossing a line. In the heat of a fight after he confessed to the kiss I called her from Hawaii, and she was remorseless and took no responsibility. A trash human being. He sent her a NC text from Hawaii with my supervision.
He gave me access to his phone because of Y, and I learned about J. He had deleted all their messages, but I found them and surprised him. She’s another gym member who he had romantic and sexual feelings for, and in the panic of being discovered claimed to be "in love with" (he since insists he was not, which I’ve read happens often in other threads, post-A.) They texted 100+ times per day, including sexts and incoherent fantasy declarations of being each other’s "fulcrums". Most hurtful for me, WS shared inside jokes and stories and phrases, things that have now been forever tarnished to me. We’ve lived together since 2019 and have a pup, so this happened in my presence over months. They had drinks and coffee hang outs, though my WS claims the digital relationship with her was very different than the in-person (seeing her at and outside of the gym was less comfortable than their online fantasy world). I don't believe anything physical happened between them in person because I read all their texts and saw no evidence of it. Though things had been dying down in their A, the sexting ramped up HARD after she found out he quit the job and would be leaving. I text messaged her from Hawaii, and she claimed 1) not to know about me and 2) be in an open relationship (both lies, according to WS), again zero remorse or responsibility. Trashbag #2.
We came home from Hawaii, and WS immediately committed to the work of R. He bought books, signed up for workshops and booked IC and MC sessions (something that we’ve done pre-A). As I’ll touch on later, it was not a great situation as WS struggles with reactiveness, defensiveness and self-importance at the best of times. We had sporadic HB sex while I navigated the emotional roller coaster – I felt he’d crossed every line already as I believe their sexting (and individual masturbation afterwards) is a PA.
Then out of the blue an anonymous Instagram account messages me a video of WS. This is a consensual sexual video of WS and someone else (not any of his current APs) from before our relationship (2016). More trickle-truths and WS finally confesses that he had a PA with a colleague, K. They slept together in January after a work event turned sloppy and drunken. It happened soberly another four times over two months at her house, which is nearby the gym (how professional of them both). K is the one who sent the video because WS only shared it with her (I believe him, as I saw his messages with the other two however in the fallout of Hawaii he deleted all his messages with K too, even though HE KNEW it would be the first thing I asked for-as I did with the others-and because their chat was all on WhatsApp I have no way of recovering them). K denied it was her Instagram when I confronted her, and claims to have only reached out because I "deserve better than a psycho." Trashbag #3 (and the largest, ugliest, cuntiest of the bunch). He claims to have had no emotional or romantic feelings towards her, it was only physical. He was not able to send a NC to her because she blocked him on every platform.
As mentioned, prior to our trip to Hawaii WS accepted a new job. In his absence, the Trash Crew connected the dots and K had the FUCKING AUDACITY to be hurt that she wasn’t his only, exclusive AP (despite ALSO knowing about my existence???).
When I found out about the PA I made him leave the house because he lied for weeks claiming I knew everything and wouldn’t be blindsided again (HAHAHA). I was clear with those boundaries when we got home, so I felt no remorse at making him leave. I recognize he only confessed about the PA because his feet were being held to the fire by someone unhinged enough to commit a federal crime (which I flagged with the anonymous Instagram account before reporting it for revenge porn). I also know that if I hadn't discovered him in Hawaii, I have no way of knowing where things would have gone with any of the APs. WS adamantly claims the new job and our trip to Hawaii was his chance at a new beginning; things in our relationship had been drastically improved the month prior, and he insists he has always wanted me and our life. He claims he was planning to ghost the APs since he would no longer see them daily at the gym. He hasn't tried to blame me for his As, he accepts responsibility for his actions regardless of the state of our relationship prior to (because I was living with the same hurt and didn't decide to have an A). His fuck ups in the fallout have all been because of his defensive, reactive nature. We’ve been seeing each other at our/my place sporadically, but things have been very hit and miss with most nights winding up worse off than they started due to his inability to cope and provide me the comfort I need.
For context, this is because WS is SUPREMELY damaged from his childhood; he has a narcissistic mother and a whole truckload of trauma from that. I knew of his issues (anxiety, suicidal ideation, depression) when we got together but didn’t realize the extent or the depth. This is not an excuse for his As, but rather an acknowledgement of the even larger mountain he needs to climb to change the type of person he is. He continues to do the work from his parents’ house (the only place he could stay due to his complete lack of social network) but it feels like one step forward, two steps back because of his difficulties with reactivity/defensiveness and a total lack of emotional attunement, plus staying with his parents (who he’s been estranged from for a year) and navigating a new job. It’s a lot for anyone.
My questions for this community are as follows:
•Having my condo as a safe space has been invaluable, but much of our fighting the last month has been due to the logistics of him being a half hour away and at his parents (who have been a problem in our relationship since it started) and me resenting the lack of comfort because he's not physically here. What sort of ground rules/discussion points have other BS considered re: moving back in?
•I am really struggling with the thought of these 3 Trashbags "happily" living their lives after blowing up my world, especially because WS was never able to deliver a NC to K due to her blocking him. While I enjoy my lovely, violent revenge fantasies, I’m wondering what other ways you’ve all processed this intense fucking rage and the unfairness of it all. And specifically, should I pursue a NC with K for my own closure?
•Because of his immediate panic/anxiety response to all conflict, how can I know if he is in love with me or in love with the life we had/the redemption arc that resolving things would give? He’s so afraid of being "a failure" from his childhood, that I’m unable to believe him.
•I’ve articulated to him that unless I’m confident he’s in love with me and has the capacity to be emotionally safe for me, I won’t be vulnerable and do the work of R on my end. WS is really struggling with emotional capacity between the new job and the IC and MC work – it’s going to be a long time before he’s able to confidently answer that question himself. So, because I don’t want to continue investing in a relationship where I’m not cherished, if I take space until he can answer that question for me I feel like my reclaimed independence will make R difficult: I struggle with vulnerability at the best of times, and worry that this distance won’t be reversible in the future on my end.
I’ve never been in love before WS. I felt it deeply and immediately and it was magnetic, unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. WS has always claimed it was the same for him. I never in a million years thought he would hurt me so intimately and deceptively, and was truly blindsided. Now it’s all cliched garbage thanks to his taste for trash.
Thank you in advance for any advice you might have.

posts: 15   ·   registered: Jun. 30th, 2022   ·   location: Canada
id 8743522
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pureheartkit ( member #62345) posted at 8:09 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Instant magnetic attraction. This often proceeds a turbulent relationship. Sounds like stress and drama and daily worry. Why choose a man with a history of upset women in the past over one without. Maybe he's better as a friend if you like talking to him or going out to eat. I was with a few people, who brought in stress daily. I tried to make it work.....ultimately had to get out and heal my wounds. Life and love don't need to be so hard.

Yes, unfair. How do you deal with that, you take what you have learned, grow stronger, make better decisions, try to know that you can get past it and it won't be in your mind much at all when the rest of your life is at peace.

I don't know how you work with him to be at peace. Sounds like a big effort that might never bring contentment, only turbulence. You have a free will so think hard about what you want in life. Where to put your energy and time. When you get this clearly visualized for yourself, you will easily decide without sadness or hesitation.

Thank you everyone for your wisdom and healing.

posts: 2365   ·   registered: Jan. 19th, 2018
id 8743524
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pureheartkit ( member #62345) posted at 8:31 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Sorry your first great love had lies and betrayal. It's very hard indeed. It's very painful to have the person you love do this. Hard to predict what future events will be. You can never restore anyone to healthy ways. They have to be able to do it for themselves. We can be guides and companions and show compassion. No need to sacrifice yourself for anyone who makes repeated hurtful choices. Listen to your own voice. Whatever he says, listen but judge on the actions, not the words. Without honesty, there is nothing to grow love and respect on.

Thank you everyone for your wisdom and healing.

posts: 2365   ·   registered: Jan. 19th, 2018
id 8743525
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 9:58 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I’m sorry this has hit you. Infidelity is a hard thing to get over — whether you stay together or go your separate ways.

You can’t truly ❤️ love someone if you don’t love yourself. His childhood trauma has left deep wounds. Maybe even permanent.

You are not in a relationship to "fix" someone and quite honestly his issues are waaay beyond a level of support. Maybe he’s just not relationship material — but could be a friend vs a boyfriend.

Anger and rage will subside. It takes time (which is not what you want to hear). Some physical activity can help you there. It’s something that worked for me.

Perhaps a counselor just for you to help you through this ordeal. I know I had a great counselor that saved my sanity during & after my H’s affair.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12306   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8743528
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 11:11 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

how can I know if he is in love with me

When a man is consistently faithful to you, treats you with care and respect, and proposes marriage, then you know he is in love with you.

Your boyfriend hasn't done any of that. His actions show clearly that he is not in love with you. No question. Your love is being wasted on him.

You're not alone in having your heart broken by your first love. It's painful, but you will move on from it and find someone else who actually deserves you. Going no contact with him will hurt at first, but it will help you to move on and get him out of your heart. This WILL happen. I know it seems impossible now but the day will come when you feel nothing for him at all.

You aren't married to him and don't have a child with him. Take advantage of that and get out of this awful situation. Trying to reconcile with a cheater is always a compromise move, one that people typically do because of their sunk costs (decades-long marriage, kids, extensive financial entanglements, etc.) Even then it often doesn't work and the relationship never goes back to its pre-DDay age of innocence.

I recommend a few books that might be of help:

Cheating in a Nutshell by Tamara and Wayne Mitchell

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8743530
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annb ( member #22386) posted at 11:24 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Hi, welcome to SI.

Gently, it wasn't the trashbags blowing up your world, it was your unfaithful cheating partner.

Yes, they probably knew he was in a relationship, but he made the commitment of an exclusive relationship to you.

If you were my daughter, I'd advise you to run and never look back. This guy is more than likely a serial cheater, and you probably don't have the entire truth.

He's got a huge hill to climb, he may or may not make it over the hump, are you willing to wait years?

Find a good IC for yourself and work through your emotions.

posts: 11566   ·   registered: Jan. 10th, 2009   ·   location: Northeast
id 8743531
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 1:33 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I know this is extremely painful, but honey do yourself a favor, and end the pain here and now.
This type of behavior is rarely ever fixed, or stopped.
People who are seeking out the ego kibbles and attention of others rarely overcome that need without a metric shit ton of work, and full commitment to wanting to really fix it.

Then if he does fix it in a few years and gets himself straight, maybe another a chance is in the books, then but please protect your heart, mind, and body in the meantime.

You need to get full STD checks, with the 3 you know about, I suspect there are other indiscretions that you haven't made privy to. You need to protect your health. So full STD check is in order.

You also should see your primary care provider, and get a full on physical, and let your Dr know about this stress you are dealing with. It can lead to depression, high blood pressure, and trauma can even lead to autoimmune diseases popping up. If you are struggling with sleep and eating as many of us do in the early days let your Dr know, there are meds that can help.

Be kind to you, make you the priority, and deal with YOUR trauma and pain that this broken person has thrust upon you, without your consent. Ask your Dr for an IC for yourself that specializes in trauma, not infidelity, that's his issue, not yours, you are dealing with the trauma it leaves behind.

Check out the healing library here, if you haven't. Read the bullet point posts here in JFO, there's tons of great information in there. And please remember that while your situation is unique, cheaters are not and tend to follow the same play book and make the same stupid mistakes, and statements, and follow a very predictable path.

Welcome, sorry you had to join us.

Me: FBS
Him: FWS
Kids: 22 & 25
Married for 30 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19415   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8743540
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Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 3:40 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I’m so sorry you’re here. Gently, I agree with others that it’s time to close the door on this relationship.

Cheating multiple times on a partner in under five years is a terrible track record and a sign that a person is not an acceptable candidate for a healthy, committed relationship. It’s even more telling that he never had the instinct to confess anything, even when the opportunity was ripe to begin with a clean slate. He wasn’t honest about anything until you already had proof of it.

I know that it’s hard to think about giving up on a 5 year relationship. But don’t throw good money after bad. He’s not a good candidate for reconciliation.

My husband had one relatively short affair 22 years into our relationship, which had overall been a good one. We have two kids and a completely entwined financial and practical life. We are still together two years later, and the reconciliation is absolutely worth it, but there is no way I would try it with someone I had only been with five years, had no kids with, and most importantly, who had cheated multiple times and shown no capacity for honesty. Devoting yourself to reconciling with such a bad candidate will most likely just cause you years of pain and unhappiness. move on. He needs to work on himself, likely for years, before he will be a good partner for anyone.

Married for 20 years with two kids when my husband had a six month emotional and physical affair with a coworker. DD1: 6/2020 (soft evidence followed by a month of lies). DD2: 7/3/2020 (hard evidence, truth, started reconciliation journey).

posts: 190   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8743551
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 HeartbreakInHawaii (original poster new member #80401) posted at 6:14 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I appreciate everyone’s feedback and the fact that you all read through my novel in the first place. laugh I suppose I was hoping for a bit more nuance and variety in the advice given.
Firstly, I don’t ascribe to the belief that marriage and children and decades define the depth and meaning of a relationship. I was in a (nearly) 10-year relationship previously (then 5 years single) that didn't come close to the intimacy and love I've experienced in the last 5 years. I am unmarried because I don’t wish to be and I’m childless for the same reason. Both decisions were made by me and WS based on our wants and needs in life. We have a mature and entwined social, financial, and daily life without these things.
Our relationship was not turbulent prior to this, it was very intimate and loving in the beginning. We never fought over anything of substance (until now). Our problem has always been the way that we individually deal with conflict, especially since we were quarantined at home for two years. WS is very reactive, defensive, and desperate to resolve things immediately through conversation, while I need time and space to process my feelings (in his mind, this is being cold and distant and abandoning him/the relationship). His damage means he has difficulty recognizing and validating other people’s experiences when he is in an anxiety spiral, something he has been working on with IC and MC throughout our relationship and something that I have been adamant (pre-A) must change for my own safety and comfort. We caused ourselves cumulative hurt because of our inability to provide each other understanding, safety and kindness because of our different conflict resolution styles.
I have an IC. I’ve seen my doctor. I have an incredible support network. I’ve read the Newbie threads, the Healing Library, and my own stack of books. Everything I’ve seen has stated that at 6-9 weeks post DDay, I’m still in a crisis mode – my feelings will fluctuate for months to come and if I were to make a decision right now it may not be from an emotionally healthy or informed place.
The advice to focus on myself is absolutely legitimate and something I continue to work on (I have a hot yoga class booked tonight). My IC has also flagged that WS's damage and trauma is not mine to unpack, and my nature as a caregiver can be a form of sabotage now – I must be very cautious to not take on his work and to only take responsibility for my own.
I’m a very rational and process-driven person, so I’m trying to gather as much perspective as possible while I try to navigate the crisis period. I am trying to understand what an attempt at R (which is what I ideally would want) and what separation might require and might mean for me and my needs. That way, I feel prepared to make a decision down the road when the intensity of this betrayal has waned.

posts: 15   ·   registered: Jun. 30th, 2022   ·   location: Canada
id 8743568
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 6:32 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

My IC has also flagged that WS's damage and trauma is not mine to unpack, and my nature as a caregiver can be a form of sabotage now – I must be very cautious to not take on his work and to only take responsibility for my own.

Sabotage for both of you. Not just for you. He needs to be able to stand on his own before he can be a partner.

posts: 1263   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8743571
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 10:22 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

•Having my condo as a safe space has been invaluable, but much of our fighting the last month has been due to the logistics of him being a half hour away and at his parents (who have been a problem in our relationship since it started) and me resenting the lack of comfort because he's not physically here. What sort of ground rules/discussion points have other BS considered re: moving back in?

I think it's okay to try R while staying together unless there's an abusive dynamic in play. If there's no abuse, your next issue is what do you do if you decide you want him back out? Is it your place and not his on the lease?.. and if he refuses to go if/when you ask, would you then need to legally evict him? This is going to be mostly about your judgment. If you make an agreement together saying, "Look, we'll try this, but if it doesn't work, you're going to need to GTFO. Do you agree to that?", get it in writing and get it notarized. If you do end up in court for some reason, at least you'll have something.

Otherwise, I think you're right. There's quite a bit to be said for having the WS on hand where he can assuage your triggers and comfort your pain.

•I am really struggling with the thought of these 3 Trashbags "happily" living their lives after blowing up my world, especially because WS was never able to deliver a NC to K due to her blocking him. While I enjoy my lovely, violent revenge fantasies, I’m wondering what other ways you’ve all processed this intense fucking rage and the unfairness of it all. And specifically, should I pursue a NC with K for my own closure?

This part sucks. I'm over seven years out and quite frankly would be unperturbed if every OW who involved herself in my marriage simultaneously burst into flames. Here's the thing though... I would NEVER give any of them the satisfaction of noticing that they're alive. Did you ever see that scene from Fatal Attraction where Glenn Close's character screams, "I not gonna be ignored.." Um, yeah. Yeah, ya are gonna be ignored. rolleyes

OW's are often feeding their own ego by poaching someone else's mate. This unannounced conflict with you EMPOWERS her. In her mind, she's just so sexy and fantastic that your partner is willing to blow up his life and his relationship to have her. Give her nothing. She's not worthy of your notice let alone the bare-breasted, mud wrestling competition she wants to engage in now that she's no longer your WS's dirty little secret. To notice her validates her as your equal, but she is NOT YOUR EQUAL. She is a lesser species.

•Because of his immediate panic/anxiety response to all conflict, how can I know if he is in love with me or in love with the life we had/the redemption arc that resolving things would give? He’s so afraid of being "a failure" from his childhood, that I’m unable to believe him.

You can't. Only consistent trust-building over the course of time will tell. That's why it's so important for you to really assess what it is you're getting out of this relationship and if it's worth it to you to continue to invest more of your time.

•I’ve articulated to him that unless I’m confident he’s in love with me and has the capacity to be emotionally safe for me, I won’t be vulnerable and do the work of R on my end. WS is really struggling with emotional capacity between the new job and the IC and MC work – it’s going to be a long time before he’s able to confidently answer that question himself. So, because I don’t want to continue investing in a relationship where I’m not cherished, if I take space until he can answer that question for me I feel like my reclaimed independence will make R difficult: I struggle with vulnerability at the best of times, and worry that this distance won’t be reversible in the future on my end.

I just don't really think that you're going to feel emotionally safe in terms of whether he really loves you or not until he's built new trust consistently over a long period of time. That's just the nature of the injury he's caused. That said, he can begin that process by getting to work remediating the defect in character which allowed cheating to become a legitimate choice for him. Has this always been the case? Has he cheated in every relationship? What are his TRUE core values? Bear in mind that we organically protect what we value by building boundaries around it? So, what is his REAL opinion regarding things like Honesty and Fidelity?? What he gave you when you made your commitment together was lip service. That's made obvious by the cheating. So, in this, he's not who he said he was, not even who he might have thought he was.

For context, this is because WS SUPREMELY damaged from his childhood; he has a narcissistic mother and a whole truckload of trauma from that. I knew of his issues (anxiety, suicidal ideation, depression) when we got together but didn’t realize the extent or the depth. This is not an excuse for his As, but rather an acknowledgement of the even larger mountain he needs to climb to change the type of person he is.

You're right. That's NOT an excuse for the cheating. This is where you want to use some caution, because it's REALLY EASY to empathize with the one we love, even when they've hurt us. To take a step back and view our cheater clinically allows us to give our emotions a break. There's this sense of duality whereby we can look at the event from both sides and his side feels better. We can feel good about ourselves because we're showing such compassion and maturity when we're empathizing with the WS. But when we have to sit in our own feelings of betrayal and loss, we can't achieve that kind of detached intellectualism. It's a bit of a trap because those feelings are NOT going to go away until they're processed, and they can cause us to over-empathize and maybe take back a partner who really isn't as remorseful as we've led ourselves to believe.

My advice would be to let his shrink deal with his FOO drama. Your mission is to decide whether or not you want to throw in with this guy again. Your focus has to be on YOUR needs, and I know that might sound selfish to your ears. Most of the time the BS is the less self-centered partner and the more giving one. But now is the time to curb that impulse because this is like the ONE TIME in your life when being supremely selfish in regard to what you want is of benefit to everyone involved.

Take your time. I think it's okay to move him back in if you can come to an agreement regarding what to do if it's not working for you. Lots of couples stay together during this period of R. But don't get caught up in fixing him. You can't. Only he can do that. Your job is to decide what it is that you need and whether he can remediate his character enough to hold up his end.

((hugs))

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 10:32 PM, Wednesday, July 6th]

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5745   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8743590
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 11:20 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I was in a (nearly) 10-year relationship previously (then 5 years single) that didn't come close to the intimacy and love I've experienced in the last 5 years.

Gently, the last 5 years was an illusion. He was having sex with other women while you were deeply in love. A person who screws around on you is not in love with you, no matter how much you wish that it were the case. You are also not truly intimate with someone who is conducting a secret life behind your back.

I’m a very rational and process-driven person

If you were truly rational, you would leave a serial cheater. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. That's why banks don't give credit cards to people with credit scores in the 300's. In a relationship form, you're doing exactly that.

You should read Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner, which is her memoir about how she, a Harvard graduate, stayed in an abusive relationship for years because she was in love and she felt sorry for the guy due to his abusive childhood. She also had low self-esteem, but didn't realize it until she finally ended the relationship. She had been deluding herself into believing that being able to stay was the strong thing to do. When in reality, strength takes the form of standing up for yourself by refusing to be in a relationship with a man who mistreats you.

Run this situation, honestly (no leaving out the details you shared here), by mature family members, a trusted friend, the people in your life who truly care about you, and poll how many of them advise you to stay with him. They can't all be wrong. We can't all be wrong. You don't want to tell some of them? That tells you a lot right there.

I know you don't want to hear from me anymore so I'm going to drop out of the thread. I'm only posting this because I care and because you're young and still have the chance for a much better future without this guy. I and most other posters are telling you to leave him because we see the writing on the wall, which you can't see because you're in love.

And as another poster said, no matter what you do, get those STD checks. Regularly, if you stay with him.

[This message edited by morningglory at 11:47 PM, Wednesday, July 6th]

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8743594
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HalfTime2017 ( member #64366) posted at 12:34 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Leaning towards R is what most BS do when they come onto this board, but as you've already seen in the responses, they're not varied much b/c cheaters tend to behave in very predictable way. So even though you're leaning towards R, please keep reading and asking questions b/c by the end, you may not see that its fit for your situation.

Unpacking a few things based on your OP. You are calling the AP's 1-3 trash humans. Where is the hate and anger towards your cheating husband? The one thing all three of those women and you have in common is 1 cheater. You need to see this for what it is. Your husband is a serial cheater. He is the trash human being, and the trash bag X 4. Until you can remove him from his pedestal, you're not able to see straight.

His past behavior, and family issues loom larger then you or He. Children of Narcissistic parents (if formally diagnosed, I say this b/c we can't verify, we only have what you've written to go off of) tend to end up being Narcissistic themselves. Have you read up on this personality disorder? If not, I would suggest you do some research. Serial infidelity is very very common. I'm not saying for sure he is, but based on what you've written, I think its safe to say, you need to dig a lot deeper. Chances are you only know of the tip of the iceberg. He was intent on lying to you about all 3 until you uncovered them one by one. Whose to say there isn't more. Which leads me back to my original point, many start with wanting R, but by the end, do you really even want to stay with this guy? His magical magnetic persona, and you quickly falling deeply in love with him is exactly what he has used with these 3 other ladies, and probably more. This is who he is.

To answer some of your more pointed questions, as for moving back in, he needs to be full disclosure. Written timeline, and passwords to all accounts including his phone. Make sure he doesnt have a burner he is using. Processing the rage against the AP is natural, but to my point above, its best to target that rage against the one true person who deserves this, its your husband. He has duped you all. He should be your target, not the APs. And as for wondering if he truly loves you, or the AP, or maybe, its that he loves himself the most. His lying cheating ways shows that he is selfish, and the only true love in his life, is himself. Taking the time to separate from a serial cheater, will help you to see clearly. That is why we recommend that you do the 180. Clear your mind from the pressures of a cheater , work with your IC and see that you alone get to decide if you stay or leave.

posts: 1345   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2018   ·   location: Cali
id 8743602
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Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 2:45 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I actually agree with you that depth and meaning in a relationship aren’t tied to a marriage certificate or whether you have kids, or not necessarily even to the length of the relationship. However, all of those things ARE tied to a person’s investment in and practical ties to a relationship, and investment and practical ties are part of a rational assessment of whether it’s worth it to reconcile.

But I also share a previous poster’s concern that the depth and meaning you talk about were one-sided or imagined. For nearly half the relationship, perhaps more, he was with other people in addition to you. That doesn’t sound like depth and meaning on his side. It sounds like deceit and dysfunction.

[This message edited by Grieving at 2:46 AM, Thursday, July 7th]

Married for 20 years with two kids when my husband had a six month emotional and physical affair with a coworker. DD1: 6/2020 (soft evidence followed by a month of lies). DD2: 7/3/2020 (hard evidence, truth, started reconciliation journey).

posts: 190   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8743609
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brkn_heartd ( member #30396) posted at 4:05 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I am so sorry you are going through this. Infidelity hurts...it is a betrayal of someone you trusted and loved. If you didn't, it wouldn't hurt so much.

There is a lot of advice given. Ultimately, you need to do what works best for you. Moving on maybe the best, but trying to R may be the best. What I would recommend is to find an individual counselor for yourself. Your boyfriend needs to work on himself. While you are trying to figure out what you really want to do through IC, see how invested he really is into fixing himself.

MY FWS had a tremendous amount of work he had to do. It was very hard going through it for him and me. Many times I regretted staying, many times I was glad I did. It is a very long road but without his genuine effort, it is for naught. It has been 13 years now, and we are still together. I am very glad we are.

As far as if you let him come back to the condo. I would recommend setting up roommate rules before you allow it. Set your boundaries firmly before you allow him back. Know if he crosses a boundry you can draw the line immediately and he knows the consequences.

As far as the OW-do not let them take up your headspace. They are not worth it. He is the one who cheated on you..they were looking for a partner and not above trying to steal one. They are trash...through them out. The revenge fantasies will drive you nuts, if you actually acted on them, they could have horrible consequences. Let them go, they are not worth it.

I cannot stress individual counseling enough. Couples counting is not appropriate now. He has to heal himself you have to find your healing.

I found setting 'deadlines' for me to make decisions. Otherwise, I would wring my hands and not make decisions. When I had a set deadline it made it easier....i.e. he has to do xxx by xxx date or I am done.

Reconciliation is difficult when everything is 'perfect', however if things are not in the best situation, it is even harder.
Good luck.

Me-57 BS
Him 65-WS
Married 38 yrs, together 40
Affair Aug-Dec 09
official D-12/14/09
broke NC 1/31/10
second D 3/19/10

posts: 2116   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2010   ·   location: Northwesten US
id 8743614
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 HeartbreakInHawaii (original poster new member #80401) posted at 7:22 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Thank you again for taking the time to share thoughts and suggestions; you’ve all given me a lot to think about.
Though WS has been a serial cheater in the past year, I don’t believe or have any evidence to suggest that he cheated prior to this period of infidelity, however I will investigate further given everyone’s concerns that I may be wrong. Prior to me, he was in a relationship with his ex-wife for 12 years. Through my interactions with his family, limited friends, and him I have no reason to believe there was any cheating there either. I believe that these As are his first infidelities.
A bit of background on WS, though again I’m not excusing anything, just trying to provide clarity: he was violently bullied as a kid and has always been a loner/loser/outsider. He used work from home and happily lived like a hermit with no hobbies or social life. When we started dating and merged our lives, his expanded dramatically: we joined a gym, joined clubs, went on vacations (something his family never did), saw concerts, spent time with friends socializing and generally had a full life. During the pandemic he changed his career and became a certified personal trainer and has been managing this (last) gym since March 2021. (I believe) the combination of his FOO damage/ desperate need for validation, newfound sustained access to potential APs/total lack of experience having to navigate boundaries, and a hugely ego-centric industry was too much for him to manage.
His IC and our former MC did not believe him to be a narcissist or to have NPD, but those are two pre-A opinions. HalfTime mentioned that maybe he loves himself the most: I believe that he values/prioritizes himself the most, but he seeks external validation because he actually fucking hates himself and has felt worthless since he was a kid.
A few other takeaways:
•I recognize he is the Trash King, I do. I just focus my escapist fantasies on the APs because it’s less emotionally raw and confusing than sitting with the fact that I fucking hate WS right now and simultaneously am broken-hearted missing who I thought he was.
•A roommate agreement/house rules is a great idea and something I’ll need to think through as I consider what him moving back in would mean. My dad’s a lawyer, so he has been advising on all those logistics; everything (condo, car, investments) is in my name.
•All the feedback about the APs, thank you: I needed to hear from others that they’re not a productive use of my energy or worth my attention. Beyond the make-believe fantasies, I specifically wasn’t sure about the one who blocked him before he could send a NC, and if it was something I should pursue given she was the IRL PA.
•I know I need to do a lot more work to articulate my needs and wants; I’m not normally an introspective person so it’s new and uncomfortable. I don’t have 5-, 10- or 20-year goals, either personally or professionally beyond being happy, healthy and in a place where I can continue to make good money and have work-life balance so I can spend my time making memories with my loved ones.
•And leaving him to his own work – I will continue to be vigilantly focused on myself, caretaker inclinations be damned. tongue

posts: 15   ·   registered: Jun. 30th, 2022   ·   location: Canada
id 8743622
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 4:11 AM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

(I believe) the combination of his FOO damage/ desperate need for validation, newfound sustained access to potential APs/total lack of experience having to navigate boundaries, and a hugely ego-centric industry was too much for him to manage.

His IC and our former MC did not believe him to be a narcissist or to have NPD, but those are two pre-A opinions. HalfTime mentioned that maybe he loves himself the most: I believe that he values/prioritizes himself the most, but he seeks external validation because he actually fucking hates himself and has felt worthless since he was a kid.

All of that can be true. In fact, it probably IS true. But you don't have to be NPD to cheat. Lots of people with low self-esteem, FOO damage, the need for external validation, and new temptations don't end up cheating. I mean, those things certainly help, right? When it comes to a cheater doing his own head in with rationalizations, yeah... that's quite the list and we see those issues frequently. None of those things CAUSE cheating though. What causes it, the spark that sets it in motion, is the ability to give oneself permission to do something s/he has formerly claimed to believe is WRONG. Cheating happens in the gap between one's stated values and one's actual deeds.

Compassion is a beautiful thing and it will serve you well in life. We've already visited the downsides of too much compassion though, so I don't want you to think I'm discouraging it. I'm not. What I'm saying though is that we get caught up looking at our WS's very REAL internal struggles and we end up giving too much credence to these issues and not enough to the question of where the hell their values were when they were making these bad choices. I think a lot of people, therapists in particular, want us to believe that cheating can happen to anyone. But it can't. Another person can have ALL the same internal struggles as your WS and NOT cheat, and the reason why is CHARACTER. It's about what we believe, what we stand on as important, even sacred. Do we really value the things we say we do?

The married WS stands up in front of us and VOWS his belief in Fidelity. Where did that belief go? Was it ever real to begin with? If it was something he truly valued, doesn't it stand to reason that he'd protect it?? The problem is that his values are weak and permeable. He's got a "but..." in his core value of Fidelity, an out-clause. ie. "He believes in Fidelity, but... not if he's got low self-esteem, FOO damage, a need for external validations, new temptation, or what-have-you." The next guy might have all those same things on his list, but his core value of Fidelity is protected by the boundaries he's organically built around it. ie. "He believes in Fidelity, so... he doesn't put himself into risky situations with the opposite sex." It's not even always about great coping skills. As strong as that guy's value of Fidelity might be, maybe he's drinking to cope or over-working to cope, or any number of other not-great diversions.

The point is that there's a tipping point, a point where a person is on the precipice and CHOOSES to do the wrong thing, and they can't make that choice when their values really are what they've claimed in their vows and promises.

It's not unfixable, but he's got to WANT it. He's got to envision the guy he wants to be, figure out WHY he gave himself permission to not be that guy, and decide what he really stands on. It's hard, devastatingly humbling introspection and you can't do it for him, but it's doable.

((hugs))

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 4:13 AM, Friday, July 8th]

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5745   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8743765
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 1:43 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

The advice you have gotten is from long term, dedicated people trying to help. If you stay here long enough you will see what we see. Your poor broken man has no capacity to stay true. His childhood robbed him of growing emotionally. You are very similar to someone who falls in love with a prisoner only to be left once he is released. Your WS got out of jail and moved in with you. He loves you but he still reacts much like a child. It is being released from the shackles of an awful childhood. He is ready to party, stay out late, drive fast cars and date a lot of women…..and yet he loves you. You are his port in the storm he keeps going out in. If you can accept him this way be prepared for more of the same.

No one here is judging you for wanting to have a relationship with him. We just hope you are realistic in your hopes and dreams for the future.p

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 3387   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8743782
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 2:02 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

Hawaii - What was the reason any other long term relationships he previously had ended? This may give you glimpse into who he really is.

Often people who are broken to the point of cheating have a history of it, and very similar to addiction, a lot of people who do it have a history of it, and instead of doing the work to heal themselves, they will white knuckle it, and eventually they reach a breaking point. And then make the choice to, and yes it is ALWAYS a choice to start again.
Those Ego Kibbles, and attention are just too much for them to ignore, and walk away from.

Me: FBS
Him: FWS
Kids: 22 & 25
Married for 30 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19415   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8743792
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1girlsmom ( member #63541) posted at 5:57 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

Heartbreak,

In reference to your partners previous 12 year marriage, my WH had a 17 year previous marriage and 2 As during that time.
His family knew but never mentioned it to me. After Dday & months of questioning WH, he finally admitted this to me. 21 years of marriage, he & his family kept this from me the entire time.
I also found out that 3 of WHs friends knew about 3 of his As during our marriage & never felt compelled to tell me.
I was floored to put it mildly that all those years, someone could have told me but more often that not people won't say a word.
My point is, cheaters lie and they're very good at it. We all think we know our partners and a lot of us found out we don't know them at all.
Be careful not to gaslight yourself.
I did a lot of that because it's hard to comprehend that there could be more or that they did this or that when your brain & heart is already on overload.

posts: 218   ·   registered: Apr. 24th, 2018
id 8743898
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