We've seen time and time on these forums what happens when one partner has a history of a series of one night stands. It almost always leads to trouble.
Nope. I won't let this pass. We in fact have not seen this on these forums.
but it's not a conscience decision to hold a grudge, it's more like a pervasive unwanted thought that creeps into my mind and it's tough to shake. The nicer she is to me only makes me shake my head in disbelief.
The details of your thread are rather unusual because the betrayal occurred so long ago and, by your description, your WW has been a great wife to you for the past decade or more. Further, in your case, it's arguable that you weren't even cheated on.
I was thinking back to a time when I was single and in my "ho" phase. There was a woman I was sleeping with. It was an expressly non-exclusive relationship. We were little more than FWB. But she was pretty and affectionate and she had this way, when I was with her, of making me feel in that moment that I was the only man in her heart. And maybe I was, in that moment. She was good at compartmentalizing and I think her "special sauce" was focusing 100% on a single man, while she was with him.
Anyways, once I dropped by her place unannounced, unplanned, unexpectedly. By the way, this is a no-no. You don't stop by unannounced and uninvited in a non-exclusive relationship.
Her apartment was in a congested neighborhood where parking was difficult. Sometimes one had to park a block or two away. This was the case that day. So I was walking down the sidewalk toward her building. It was a sunny pleasant weekend day, maybe about 10:00 a.m. I rounded a hedge to see her kissing another man goodbye. The two of them were leaning against the side of his car, parked a ways up the street from her building. He was leaning with his back against the car. She was leaning forward, into him, gazing up to his face, into his eyes.
I knew that this was one of the men she was seeing -- and I myself was seeing other women -- but what struck me was the look in her eyes, a look of desire, and the warm afterglow alight in her smile. And the way she put her whole body into kissing him. It was so intimate and, oh, I dunno, such a display of sexual desire. Back in the 1980's we might have used the phrase "WFW" (well-fucked woman).
The feeling brought to mind that lyric from that Billy Bragg song, the spoken word poem over a guitar playing "Just Walk Away Renee":
I went home and thought about the two of them together
Until the bathwater went cold around me
I thought about her eyes and the curve of her breasts
And about the point where their bodies met
I was surprised (and a little ashamed) at the degree to which the shit hurt me. I had no basis for being hurt. We had not agreed to exclusivity. In fact, we were expressly non-exclusive, and I knew this guy was one of the guys she was seeing. I was seeing and sleeping with other women.
I revisit that moment from time to time. Why, despite the express understanding, did it hurt? Maybe it's because intimacy impacts us more that we may care to admit. Sex is powerful stuff. When we make ourselves vulnerable in that way, our tender bits are exposed. There is something innate in us, I think, that doesn't want to share that degree of intimacy with a third person.
I turned and slunk away. I never told her about that moment, but something in my heart hardened just a skosh that day and a month or two later, when she broached the possibility of becoming exclusive, I demurred.
I brought my thoughts back to that day when pondering your thread. For all of the reasons discussed, you have no logical reason to feel betrayed or hurt at this point, today, given the history you describe. Your feelings are petulant and immature and childish, never mind illogical. All true. Yet they are real. The heart feels what it feels. I can empathize. I can still recall the sting I felt that warm sunny Saturday morning seeing my FWB intimately kiss and gaze into the eyes of another man. The shit hurts. Plain as that.
My suggestion is to acknowledge the hurt, let it out, tell your WW about it, but treat it as the freeloading stepbrother it is. Grudgingly serve it breakfast if you must, but then put it on the shelf and remind it that it is an unwelcome house guest, an interloper consuming space in your brain and your heart while offering nothing in return. Taking but not giving.
[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 7:53 PM, Wednesday, January 4th]