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PatientArcher posted 5/29/2013 14:34 PM

To start off, I suppose a bit of introduction is needed. I am the WH in this story, DDay was just over a month ago as I write this. I am about to share the entire story, so I apologize in advance if this becomes a block of text. Part of me hopes that this will help other people, either wayward or betrayed, perhaps it will answer some questions, give words to those that have difficulty finding them, or even raise more questions to be answered by your WS or BS. But more importantly, I think I need this, I need to get it all out, written so that I can articulate just what needs to be said, give myself time to think how to word it. My BW is also on this site, and knows my username here, and I hope this will help answer some of her questions. I have told her this story verbally, but I know seeing it written out will help her as well. We are currently in reconciliation. So here goes.

I guess we really need to go back a long ways to truly understand where I am coming from. I was not the popular kid in high school, but I was well liked by most. I guess looking back, it was pretty average. I didn't lose my virginity until after high school, and after my high school girlfriend and I broke up after dating for almost two years (a big chunk of the reason was because I wanted to go further, and she didn't, I ended up pushing her away by my advances, and she called it off as she left for college) I felt devestated, like somehow I had just lost everything and needed it back. Not much time after that I started dating another woman, and in retrospect, I definitely see this time as a rebound time. We hit it off quickly, and ended up sleeping together. Sadly, I look back at that time and realize that it was my introduction to sex, and that it was a rebound, and not someone that I truly cared about. In a way, this is what all started it. The ability to have sex for purely pleasure purposes without much of a relationship, and then able to call it all off after just a few months (this time I was the one to call it off because I could see that the relationship wasn't going anywhere beyond the physical side, and that's not what I wanted). It was during this rebound relationship that I kept telling myself that if I ever thought cheating would be ok, then I needed to end the relationship because it wasn't fair to continue lying to her and myself that the relationship was still ok. I once heard the quote "it's called a breakup because it's broken" and that made so much sense to me because it was how I felt for so long, and if I was able to cheat, or thought that it was ok, then it was already broken.

After that second, rebound, relationship, I started a new job, starting making more money, gained a lot of confidence in myself as a person and got involved with three different women over the course of about 2 years. Two were one night stands, the third was a brief stint back into the purely sex for pleasure without a relationship, and again, it ended. No hard feelings, no cheating (not that there was much chance with such short times together), and we went our separate ways. That's when I left to go to a university.

The university was in the same state I had lived in for many years, but was on the opposite side of the state, and I was suddenly thrust into a world of meeting all new people, making new friends, really living truly detached from everyone that was ever in my life before that point. And that's when it all really started.

Oddly enough, this was also when I first met my now wife. Only in passing as our schedules didn't really match up, but even then I thought she was attractive and hoped that I could see more of her personality. Instead though, I continued to only see her in passing, and ended up with a different woman for a short time. This other woman, whom I will call woman #1 for purposes later, and I started hanging out, ended up in bed together on multiple occasions, but again, the question came up of where she and I were going relationship-wise. Her answer was that she wasn't ready for a full fledged relationship, and we stopped see one another. Months later, I ended up in a similar situation with yet another woman, woman #2, and I found myself starting off that relationship very jaded. Almost like another rebound, where feelings weren't there, but physical intimacy was. While still in this mock relationship/lust-ship, woman #1 reappeared in my life, suddenly realizing that she did in fact want a relationship with me, but this time it was my turn to say "no." In a sad entitled sort of way, I found this to be very liberating, able to turn down the woman that I had previously wanted more from. But instead of simply leaving it at "no," she started sending me text messages that would allude to the two of us sleeping together again. It happened repeatedly, and in a moment of weakness I gave in. While I was still in that mock-lust-ship with woman #2, I found myself in bed with woman #1 again. This continued for a few months, and my ego was sky-high. I had two women that both wanted me, and I thought I was living the dream. Until I woke up, realized that I had become someone that I didn't want to continue to be, and told them both about what was going on, and ended it with both of them.

It was a little while later that I truly started to see my now wife. Our school was inundated with snow and all classes were cancelled for a week, and since we lived in the same building, we could see each other quite easily. That's also when I first saw her fun side, playing in the snow, pushing each other into snow banks, and generally having a good time. It wasn't long before I realized that she too had feelings for me, and we started hanging out more exclusively. Because she worked in the same building that I lived in as a student, we technically weren't allowed to date, but we got special permission from the rest of the staff on the basis that we decided right then and there that it would be a lasting relationship, and that it wouldn't be just a fling. We both agreed to the terms and began to date happily.

Unfortunately, early one morning, I betrayed that trust for the first time. My mind pushed my relationship into a box, and let my tired self suddenly feel entitled again. What I once had had, sleeping with two different women came up in my mind and I let it run. I wondered if it was possible that I could still do that, I let myself wonder if in fact someone would think I was attractive enough to sleep with me, even when I was in a full fledged relationship, and part of me had to find out. I texted woman #2 and propositioned her to join me in bed that morning. She declined, and then did what I should have: she told my wife. Showed her the text messages after I lied to her and tried to cover my own ass. I failed, miserably, horribly. And for the first time in my life, I saw the hurt that could be done by allowing yourself to cheat. I realized that I not only betrayed her trust, but I betrayed who I wanted to be from so long ago. I questioned why I couldn't have just broken up with her instead of allowing myself to wonder about another woman. And I knew that I couldn't leave her because I truly loved her, and I wanted to fix everything, make everything right again. She stayed with me, and though it was hard, I realized that I never wanted woman #2 to come to bed with me, I only wanted to know that I was alluring enough for someone to want to.

Years passed, my wife and I moved into an apartment together, got engaged, and married. We were the stereotypical newly-weds. We had the relationship that everyone else was jealous of. The one that all our friends pointed to and said they wanted. We were so lucky. But something was still wrong. I realize what it was now, and that was the first time I put my relationship in a box, compartmentalized my mind, and only allowed what I thought was 'good enough' for my wife into that box. I found myself no longer able to share all my feelings with my wife because I thought they weren't good enough for her. I felt guilty about fantasizing, felt my desire for sex diminishing all because I connected sex so much to those past women, and how they never materialized into actual relationships, sex became something that wouldn't fit into my ideal of what a true relationship was supposed to be. But of course, it didn't end there. We went through a particularly rough patch, I took a pay cut at work shortly after I told my boss I was getting married, and when we found out that my wife was pregnant, I ended up getting laid off because the business was failing.

It was during this time that I was still taking college classes and was paired with a woman for small group projects (we were the only two in the class with our shared major) and we became friends. She started hinting at flirting a little here and there, and once again that ego boost came back. It wasn't long before we were flirting over text messages, and at one point she even sent dirty pictures of herself to me. I created a secret email address and sent them there rather than leave them on my phone for fear that my wife would see them. I was scared, I was excited by the prospect that someone found me attractive, and in my head I told myself that it was all ok because we weren't actually doing anything, we never touched, and the pictures were just like looking at porn online -nothing would ever come of it, but it was just interesting to look at. Only it was more exciting because I knew the person in the pictures. After a short time, the OW and I stopped talking, I left school, and never heard from or saw her again. But the seed of temptation had found its way back in.

I was contacted by woman #1 again, and even began wondering about just about every woman I met whether I could do the same thing again. For a number of women, the answer was yes. I ended up flirting and receiving pictures from a number of women. I never hid the fact that I was married, and they all knew openly that I was. But they seemed to be ok with flirting, and I found myself tangled into a sick web of lies. I was practically immobilized with fear every time my phone went off when I was at home because it could have been one of them, flirting or sending a dirty picture. Somehow, I was lucky enough that it never happened. And out of fear of the text messages, I sent them the secret email address, and told them that I could talk there, but nowhere else. They seemed to understand the reason, and I never had to explain. Even through the births of our two daughters, these women continued to flirt with me. It was approximately three years in total, using that secret email address to flirt with them. And even lower.

The lowest point hit late when my wife was pregnant with our second daughter. After reconnecting to woman #1 on multiple occasions (losing contact for extended periods of time in between), I was scheduled to go out of town for a class for my job. And I asked woman #1 if she could meet me. While part of me wondered if she would or even could, the majority of my mind kept screaming no. I was wrought with guilt over everything, and did everything in my power to make sure that I was not sent out of town for fear of missing my daughter's delivery. Luckily, my bosses saw similarly, and I did not end up going. Everything stopped for a short time after that. But it still wasn't over.

Finally, out of town again, I began flirting with a coworker, and one night suggested her and I try kissing. Again, nothing came of it, we both talked about what was just brought up and both decided that it was not worth it. We are both married to other people, and didn't want anything to become physical. Even the flirting stopped, we decided it was better to be entirely platonic, and never again bring up what had happened between us over that email. I have had zero contact with any women since.

About a week later, my wife discovered the email address by accident. It tore her life apart. We were finally over the initial proposition to woman #2 after years of talking about it and trying to forget it, and I pulled this s*$t. While nothing physical ever happened between myself and any of the women, the emotional affair of flirting and sharing secrets and lying to my wife for so long crushed her. And me. I literally felt nauseous when she confronted me about it. She threatened divorce, even looked up the lawyers to do it. But our love held fast still. I came clean about everything. I have given her nothing but the truth, no matter how bad it could have made me look at any point, it could never be as bad as what she already knew. She deserved it all. We both agreed that we wanted to reconcile, we didn't want to lose one another, we still loved each other, but I had seriously messed it all up.

I apologized profusely, explained every thought I had. I kept nothing from her, and will never do so again. I love her more than anything. I have torn down all the boxes that I put in my mind. I have essentially started my life over again with her, only allowing the parts that I want in back in. I've talked to her about it as well. How both of our lives feel like they had turned into empty shells of who we were. We had turned into drones, not talking like we used to, not appreciating each other for who we are, not having fun together like a couple should. But that is all turning around. Because I have been open and honest with her, because I have torn down those walls that box the compartments of my life into pieces. Because I see just how valuable what I have is. I know the road ahead is long and bumpy, but I will do anything to make it better. I will share every part of my life with her. The good and the bad, because if we are ever going to make this marriage work, we both have to accept absolutely everything about one another.

Thank you for staying long enough to read all this way. I know that was ridiculously long, and I hope that it helps to explain the feelings and the actions as things happened. I hope that in some small way maybe this will help someone else out there to realize that what they have is worth fighting for, and not to give up.

Babe, I know you have read this far, and I want you to know that I love you more than anything and everything. I can't thank you enough for giving this marriage another shot. Know that I will never jeopardize our lives again, it was in no way worth it, and I am once again becoming the man that you fell in love with. The man that I am proud to be, and the man that our daughters deserve as a father. I will never let myself slip down that horrible slope again. Only the truth, no more secrets, I love you.

20WrongsVs1 posted 5/29/2013 15:35 PM

Patient, thanks for sharing. You sound remorseful, which is a good start. What are you doing to dig into this?

What I once had had, sleeping with two different women came up in my mind and I let it run. I wondered if it was possible that I could still do that, I let myself wonder if in fact someone would think I was attractive enough to sleep with me, even when I was in a full fledged relationship, and part of me had to find out.

Until you dig in and figure that out, you have only your love for your wife, and your promise to be faithful, to keep yourself from cheating again. And those reasons didn't stop you before, did they?

Your BW was in the same M and didn't seek solace in another man. What assurance does she have, that you won't stray again if you start feeling Iike "drones" again? That's why it's so important for you to figure out why you have low self-esteem (if that's so) and fix it.

Welcome to SI, this is a great place for support, and the occasional loving 2x4 upside the head.

BaxtersBFF posted 5/29/2013 19:41 PM

Welcome PatientArcher,

I hope you find some healing here. Have you read much? Have you read the stuff in the Healing Library? Take a look. Lots of info there.

So, before you were married, you felt insecure enough about yourself that you started needing the validation from sleeping with multiple women to make you feel good about yourself? And it continued in your M.

Whether you wanted the OW or not, you had poor boundaries and have all along. And you have a habit of equating other's "opinions" of you to determine your self worth? Something to look into.

Question for you...What kind of man did you want to be so long ago? I don't get that...Because you have had poor boundaries most of your life.

You make a statement above that while probably innocent, makes it sound like you think it was your BW's fault that you perceived that your feelings weren't good enough for your BW? What's going on with that?

How both of our lives feel like they had turned into empty shells of who we were. We had turned into drones, not talking like we used to, not appreciating each other for who we are, not having fun together like a couple should.
Does your BW agree with this? or is it something that you've determined on your own? My BW and I agree with much of the pre-A issues, but early on, I think I had a distorted view and had to be reminded of things by my BW. Just checking...

I am once again becoming the man that you fell in love with.
Sort of going back to the top...this isn't very reassuring, because you've been a cheater all along, so what are you doing to change this? What are you doing to be a safe partner for your BW? Just saying the words doesn't mean anything. Doing some hard work and a lot of introspection is going to be key.

lostandconfused4 posted 5/29/2013 21:40 PM

Does your BW agree with this? or is it something that you've determined on your own? My BW and I agree with much of the pre-A issues

No she doesn't. I think we had gotten complacent in some areas but I didn't feel like a shell of myself until after I found the email account.

BaxtersBFF posted 5/29/2013 21:57 PM

That's a very familiar story...complacency...but it isn't an excuse.

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