I do wonder, in your post you mention struggling with the appearance that your WH was more deeply attached to one particular AP than the others and that, in getting some detail (speaking again to their potential value at times) you were able to determine that it was pretty much BS. Now, before I ask this, I KNOW "what if's" and speculation are near worthless...I get it...but I can't help myslef to perhaps seek a deeper insight from you on this. What if, in your getting additional details about his connection with that particular AP, you discovered it WAS different with her? That there WAS that deeper connection there? This may be an unanswerable question, I understand...but can you speak to how you think you would have approaced that?
Always glad to help if I can. I actually find quite a bit of value in rhetorical questions. If you think about it, it's when you take a "what if" to its most absurd extremes that you can more easily clarify your thoughts on a given subject. For example, let's say my WH was serious about this OW and that the future-faking wasn't "faking" at all. If we play that out, it stands to reason that my WH would have eventually left to be with the AP. Maybe he would have waffled for awhile; it's hard to give up the bird in the hand, right? Hesitation could be expected after so long and with so many ties in the marriage, but to give up something he believed to be real and irreplaceable? No. Even if we weren't talking about him being under the influence of the worst bout of selfishness I'd ever see in him, I don't think he would have been willing to give it up if he was really emotionally invested.
Let's say though that his love was unrequited, that there was no going back to the affair and I was his next best option, the dreaded "plan b". That would mean that he has to fool me into believing that he's not moping to be somewhere else and that he's all about making R work. I'm not saying it's impossible. But this isn't like the last time when I wasn't paying particular attention. After dday and in the early days of R, ALL my focus was squarely on him. It would need to be an Oscar-worthy performance.
Now, let's say he HAS fooled me. He was emotionally involved and got his heart broken, etc. and has somehow convinced me that I'm the only one for him now? Damn. He's good, right? How long can he keep that up though? Bear in mind that at this point, he hasn't actually done the work. In order to hold onto those feelings and to consider them legitimate, he's still having to lie to himself about the OW's character and his own. He's bluffed his way through and his changes are only skin deep. All his rationalizations which were firmly tied to the cheating course he took are still in play just beneath the surface. Is it rational to believe that he's not going to eventually revert back to type? resentful, arrogant, and bombastic?.. that he's not going to slip up and tip his hand? I've seen who he is when he's become self-involved and full of rage and angst. I KNOW THAT GUY.. and I don't like that guy enough to be married to him.
I think maybe we don't give ourselves enough credit for the surviving we've already done. We sometimes don't consider just how much we've learned from the experience. I'm like the Bionic BS at this point.. better, faster, smarter, and most of all.. stronger. So, let's go one more step.. let's say, I got buffaloed in R and taken in by a faker, and now I've discovered the deceit. So what? Risk was part of the choice. I accepted that risk going in and I've been prepared for it. I've got my back-up plan in my pocket ready to be deployed if needed, but in emotional terms, I am no longer enmeshed to the point I once was. Like most people, I had carried my fear of abandonment into adulthood and associated it with MY PERSON, my primary relationship. Having been victimized by intimate betrayal though, I've had to deal with that fear.
It's very strange, but a couple of years ago, I realized that I'm no longer afraid of losing this relationship. It's not that I haven't made investments in it. It was actually really scary to reinvest in my WS, I remember. This detachment from the fear of abandonment sort of sneaked up on me. I can't even tell you when it happened. I'm pretty sure it's a byproduct of the initial breaking though. On dday, the bond we have with our mate is unexpectedly severed. It's so shocking. We look at that person who we thought we knew and it's like they're a stranger. We're devastated in so many ways. What we don't realize is that this breaking, this severing, has forced us to deal with these dormant abandonment issues. We've proved our self-reliance by surviving the experience, and yeah, it sucked and it hurt like a sonofabitch, but we made it. We're still standing.
I've come to believe that so much of our fear that our WS might cheat again is more like the fear of fear. We desperately don't want to relive those awful emotions again, but that "severing" happened. It can't un-happen. We might bond again, but it's never going to be like it was before, naive and carelessly dependent. We've learned to emotionally rely on ourselves. That's what it took to get through this crushing experience, but having done it, we reap the benefits of learning.
Sorry for the ramble. I hope some of it made sense anyway.