Tonight is a rough night, and a huge reset of the clock, as I disclosed more to my wife
My story while trying to not be too long... (WH)
Prior years, I had been in chatrooms, finding someone to have "cybersex" with - essentially virtual one-night stands. I had convinced myself that what my wife doesn't know wont hurt her. I thought I had recalled a conversation where she had said "as long as you don't meet" but on reflection, it was a different context, but that's what I had convinced myself with. When I slipped, I decided it was better to not tell and keep it to myself.
In 2020, after an argument with my wonderful wife that I have betrayed, I joined "Second Life" (SL) to see what had changed, and as an escape. I had visited SL before, and at that time quickly quit realizing how the place could become a trap for me. But I ventured in. As I was onboarding (learning the UI) I met someone else new, and we did some things together, very innocent, but we would get together later. I explored a bit, and got to learn this virtual reality.
My first sexual experience was with the person I had met on the first day. She happened to come back on, and I made her laugh by putting a rose in my mouth. I like to do silly things, and doing something silly here instead of for my wife, as things had become strained (context, not excuse). We visited multiple worlds, had fun, and another day things turned sexual in a virtual world - and then didn't see each other again for a while - when I did, I learned she was also married, and I suspected I may have been talking to her husband in that final conversation.
Woman #2 - I met maybe a few days later - fuzzy on details - I met her in at a virtual beach, and we explored places - and flirted with each other through a number of hours - I don't know how long, but resulted in another sexual experience. I was hooked on the escapism and sexual experience. A couple of days later I told her I was married - she was annoyed, but then decided she still wanted to explore places and do things together in this virtual world. We had a few more sexual experiences, but then it all imploded - she wanted something more, I didn't, I just wanted the chase, the sex, the attention.
Meanwhile, other things were happening in the home front, and I found more escape in this virtual world. I had a couple of one night stands with people I interacted with - one woman (F) I had grown to enjoy (up to this point non-sexual) interactions with. One particular day a switch was flipped, and I was actively pursuing her, and had a sexual encounter. I realized the mess I was creating, and decided to quit - I so wish I had. Someone suggested I bring my wife on. I tried. It failed. I regained friendship with F, and it returned to being sexual even with "best of intentions" - I can't say I tried very hard - I enjoyed the attention. It progressed from sexual/friendship to letting her share a virtual world building in the sky "birds nest", to building a house that she can share - to believing I was falling in love (limerence) - to becoming virtual partners. I had boundaries... initially not to fall in love - broke that - not to talk to as a real person / sharing real pictures with - broke that - to not being married in the virtual world. We didn't have a wedding with promises - how do you make promises to an AP - I would talk about the fact that eventually this would all come crumbling down and wife would find out - and I would return to her. But eventually we exchanged virtual world partnership rings, and a bit later still, declared each other partners.
Someone in this virtual world suggested I left my wife to be with my AP - AP understood it was a no, I re-enforced that. But that in the end is meaningless for the damage I inflicted. AP was testing the waters about meeting in person (suggested by one of her real-life sexual partners, she had two, both were married). I again said no, it wasn't going to happen. A line I claimed I would not cross - I didn't - but does it really make a difference? The craziness of a virtual world is things progress so quickly. There is no need for planning, just click a button and you're dressed in the best suit. Another button and you're undressed to have sex. Add in multiple hours a day online, and what was 8 months of real time passing can result in an equivalent of years of relationship building in the virtual world. I was drunk on the toxic addiction of this affair. Tried to break it off multiple times, but couldn't.
Wife caught me slamming laptop, and was suspicious - it seems I got good at gaslighting. I didn't see it that way. It was self defense. I loved my wife (what a way to show it right?) I wanted to have my wife and my AP essentially living a double life - except I was pushing out my wife to spend more time with AP.
Details are fuzzy, but at some point, after a breakup-re-connect with AP, I also started having occasional hookups with others on SecondLife.
In March, CoVid struck Wife and I, it was hard. Wife declared she would leave me because of behavior. I immediately ended affair with F, and then said to Betrayed Wife, no, not having an affair. I deleted pictures, and deleted as much trace as I could think of.
I still continued on with random hookups (can't harm right?) while convincing myself I was trying to repair marriage. I even had some brief sexual flings with Woman #4 and #5 - attempting to guard myself to not get into a relationship as I did with F (#3). Also #6 - was a weird interaction, more faking sex play / sexual chat, but not engaging in sexual activity while simultaneously masturbating. With F, it got deeply emotional, and crossed the virtual-life/real-life boundary (in that we talked through other means, daily, shared pictures, audio, etc). I had compartmentalized all the others as nothing different than one-night stands ... just maybe 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6, that's how I down played it later.
End of May, Betrayed Wife asked again a question she had asked many times - if I had had an affair. I admitted. It was a roller-coaster, and I was in damage control, I had admitted to the affair with F, I had minimized everything else as "one night stands" - I saw them no different, just sexual release. We had marriage counselling. I had given a rough timeline with what happened with F, but without going into depth, as recommended by a mutual friend who was a BH and had reconciled. (Friend did not know any more than BW did).
Reconciliation was progressing. Until tonight.
Saturday, see other post, BW had come across a video showing F and I dancing, and me giving a dedication of love - I had forgotten about this. Apparently the person recording this decided that this dedication and dancing was a good focus of the video - which made it even harder. Wife had already been struggling with a belief there was more unshared, and this ripped open a wound.
Tonight we had more conversation - it was tough. I hit some rum - and we talked some more. And finally revealed about the others. I could have continued to downplay them, but what's the point? Until tonight I had buried these things - how could I reveal and not reset the clock? And revealed some more things from the past too.
So as I end this, my marriage that was recovering is back in limbo. I hope and pray it does recover. But whatever happens I want to leave with this thought - I had thought - in the last 2 years - that a virtual affair was less than a physical affair. But in reflection, even though there was no physical sex, I think it's worse. So much easier to cause quick devastation in such a short time.
For my wife, as I'm sure she'll read this - I'm sure there are details you want me to include I have left out - it's not intentional - I am so sorry I have hurt you yet again and that we are here again. I do love you and do want to repair our marriage, even if yet you do not believe me.