What would it be like to start fresh? A woman who didn't hurt me like this? Just to be able to say "yes" to any number of these women and just get to know other human beings, not necessarily sleep with them. But even with that.... who knows where any of that would lead? Could be bad too. Maybe the WW has finally come clean and there's a chance for a beautiful future with us and our grand babies one day. Who knows? But I don't know how to trust her. And I'm sick of comparing myself to any AP. I'm sick of feeling inferior sexually to primary AP. I'm sick of feeling like she may always love him and is only with me because he wouldn't leave his wife (though she swears that's untrue). I'm sick of wondering what's true behind her eyes. I'm tired. And I don't know which way to go. Thus, I'm stuck in this limbo I've described.
Saying this out of concern for you, not in any way as a criticism of you, but why do you continue to put yourself through this? Uncertainty/insecurity appears to be trapping you in a toxic relationship in which you sublimate yourself, your needs, and the way you - as any human being - deserve to be treated, to what your abusive, unfaithful, addiction-prone WW may or may not want.
Why is that your mission in life? Who implanted the idea in you that your purpose is to please an abusive/addictive person, as if - in some way - you are a second-class person/human being?
In your analysis of the situation you are in, have you tried turning the focus 180 degrees around and instead of thinking about you, your actions, the size of your reason to be cheerful, are you potentially being 'cruel', are you performing at a level sufficient to please an abusive, addictive cheat, and start analyzing and assessing how hard your abusive/addictive WW tries to please you?
You are clearly an intelligent man, and from what you have written, you are attractive to women. So why would you think that your abusive WW is as good as it can possibly get for you in life? Somebody, sometime, did a real number on your self-confidence. And I speak as someone who has realized later in life how indoctrinated I was in my youth with the idea that I had to please people and prove my value to them as if they were somehow superior to me, and I was somehow lacking.
After I realized this, the next time I was told that I should improve something about myself to please someone else, I told my critic that I did not give a damn about pleasing anyone else, and that it was up to other people to please me and win my favor, not the other way round.
Now, that is not how I really feel. How I really feel is that in a healthy relationship, both people work to please their partner, and receive a similar effort in return. However, I had to send the message to the person who kept talking to me as if I should spend my life seeking the approval of others by assessing their expectations and then satisfying them, with no regard of what I want or need, that I was equally in need of people pleasing and satisfying me, In other words, the playing field is level, not slanted against me.
As far as your uncertainty about what a new, future relationship could be, there are no guarantees in life. When we enter any new relationship, we have no idea how it will go. They may go well, they may be disastrous. However, I ask you what guarantees you received when you entered your relationship with your WW. And whether they have been met. I hate to say this, but I have to. When you hitched your wagon to your WW's star, did you do it thinking that her behavior would one day lead you to be writing to strangers in an infidelity forum about multiple betrayals?
I know that you didn't. Just as no member of this forum was contemplating their membership of SI when they came back from a first date thinking, "Wow, I think he/she has potential".
The thing is, there are loads of 'good' men who are emotionally capable of being faithful and honest to their partner, and loads of 'good' women who are the same. And there are loads of men and women who are not capable of that. If we remove the issue of 'goodness' from the equation - which is always a judgement call - they key to a happy relationship is to find someone who is your equivalent, and who wants the same things.
If you want an 'exclusive' relationship, based on honesty, integrity, and fidelity, you need a partner who feels the same. If you want a relationship that is 'friends with benefits', you should fulfill your side of it without expecting anything more from your partner. If you want to be polyamorous and sustain a relationship in which both of you have multiple partners, you have to work to a mutually agreed set of rules so that there is not an imbalance.
The problem we all have is that we can meet and be attracted to people and think that both parties can change and have a happy and harmonious life. The truth is that is that unless both parties are relatively similar in their needs/expectations, the relationships are likely to struggle.
As you review your relationship with your WW, how similar would you say your expectations and behavior have been? Would you say you are similar people, with similar expectations, a similar level of commitment and honesty, who place an equal value on the concept of fidelity?
There is a saying in the UK when comparing things that it is like 'chalk and cheese', or comparing apples with oranges. In other words, a mismatch. And what I take from your story is that you and your WW are a mismatch in terms of what you want, what you value, and how you want to live your lives. That is not knocking either of you, or saying who is 'good' or 'right'. That debate can become a grand distraction that diverts attention away from the basic truth that if people have different values and expectations of themselves, or of their partner, or of the path their relationship will take, trouble is inevitable.
Whatever work your WW had done to become sober is great, but it has to be done by her for herself. It was not done for you, and therefore you do not owe her anything as a result of it. That is harsh, but I am speaking with your interests at heart.
So, what is the way forward? Is there any guaranteed way to find a female version of 1345Marine who will be enough of a match to potentially sustain a long-term relationship? No, but does that mean that you have to remain in a relationship with someone who clearly has different values, goals, and ambitions to you? I would say that by maintaining and prolonging the relationship, both of you are preventing yourselves from finding a life-partner who is a closer match to yourselves. Which is not good for either of you.
In terms of cruelty versus kindness, to both yourself and your partner, you need to ask yourself whether continuing the relationship is really serving the best interests of both of you, or if ending it and freeing both of you up to find life-partners that are a better match for each of you might actually be a kindness.
[This message edited by M1965 at 3:05 AM, Monday, September 18th]