I suspected there was cheating on June 3rd and I confirmed this on June 4, 2013. My emotional compass and basic reasoning skills are far enough out of alignment that even I can recognize it. I'm going to post my story so that I can get it off my chest. If anyone wishes to comment or clarify things for me, I welcome it. I apologize for the long read, but I have a lot to get off my chest. Please don't read this if this story is about you.
First, some background information (feel free to skip):
My first two serious relationships were in undergraduate university. The first one lasted only 6 months, but it was my first real love. He cheated and even told me about it the night it happened. I agreed to give him a second chance. Later he tried to leave me for someone else. That's how I started my 2nd serious relationship--with the person he tried to leave me for. It turns out that we had a lot in common, and he was there for me when my SO left. My former SO was cruel and spiteful to me, and blamed me for everything. I was "too pathetic" to stay with. That was our first and only fight.
My 2nd relationship lasted over 5 years. We were deeply in love for the first 3 years. At that point my partner went abroad for 4 months. He was strangely distant, and I tried to put my doubts out of my head, but when he came back our relationship was never the same. There was less intimacy and he just seemed to care less. Over the next 2 years we drifted further apart (being in graduate school did not help). I also noticed that he would perform acts of physical affection on our friends in front of me (stroking their leg while watching television, etc), and would frequently hang out with them while I was not invited. Eventually he left his facebook account open and unattended. I discovered evidence of infidelity stretching back to his time abroad. Both he and our "friends" that he would hang out with were secretly mocking me about his infidelity. I suppressed my rage and pain for the next month, at which point he left to another city to attend graduate school. I broke up with him via text message. To this day, I do not believe that he knows that I know.
I met my current SO a couple of months later. We had a physical relationship for several months before he asked me out on the day that he found out he had genital herpes from a regular partner (neither of us were sexually exclusive at the time). I was there when he found out, and after doing extensive research and reflecting on the risks involved, I decided that I would still like to pursue a relationship. Perhaps this was too soon after my previous relationship, but I felt like I had been going through a breakup for the last 2 years, and I felt closure. My graduate studies were concluding at that point, and my thesis defense would be scheduled in the next 2-6 months. We talked, and I explained that I would likely be moving away in a few months and that I had lingering trust issues. He promised he would never do anything to break my trust after my previous experiences. I didn't expect this to be more than a short term relationship. However, our connection deepened, and 7 months later we were madly in love and I was moving out of the city to pursue a career after graduate studies. We arranged to find jobs in a new city, together, and start a life together.
I drove across the US and boarded a flight to Hawaii to visit my family on May 25th, 2013 (I do not get to see them often while living on the east coast). During this time my current SO was somewhat distant, and my inner fears began to creep up. I started to check online dating sites, craigslist postings, and phone apps to see if he was looking for sex. On the night of June 3rd, I found a profile with his photo. I created a fake account and propositioned him for unprotected sex. He agreed to meet on June 4th, and also admitted to doing this several times before (I had taken a 3 week vacation over Christmas). This was at 2am my time. I spent the next 6 hours lying in bed shaking. Around noon my time (6pm his time) I texted him asking if he would be available to Skype since he had just got off from work. He came home and started a video call with me. I confronted him and told him about the fake profile. He initially lied about his previous encounters, claiming there was only 1 other time with someone that he knew and trusted before we were together. I cried a lot, and he apologized and asked to work things out.
A few hours later he sent me a long email confessing that he had been dishonest about his cheating. He had posted a craigslist ad for sex on the morning of May 25th, and had had protected sex. He then posted another ad on the evening of the 26th and again had protected sex. The 27th he was contacted by someone on an online dating site and had unprotected sex. The 28th he was contacted by the same person from the 27th, and they again had unprotected sex. He also explained some of his reasons in detail, that he was extremely lonely with me having been gone and started to peruse sites, voyeuristically at first, and then creating profiles to make friends, which eventually turned into seeking sex. He lasted all of 9 days before the infidelity started. He had consistently and adamantly denied ever cheating while I was on vacation near the beginning of our relationship, although I keep asking him waiting for him to break down and say "yes."
I've agreed to see if we can work things out, for now. I've left open the possibility that I may suddenly decide I can never trust him again, but I am willing to see if he can be trusted again. He seems genuinely remorseful and we agree that he needs to find better ways to make friends (the joys of dating someone in the closet...).
I've recently started being able to eat again (a small amount of cereal in the morning these past 2 days). I cry half the time I am awake, and sleep only a few hours a night. I have sent him numerous links on ways to repair trust and mend relationships, and to his credit, he has taken the advice to heart. The night of the confrontation, he deleted all his online profiles and email addresses that were associated with his infidelity. I wish he had not done that so that I could go through them and reconstruct his story. I will never be able to verify for myself, now.
He doesn't tell me enough that I am attractive to him, or that he wants and believes our relationship can be repaired, or that he's sorry. I wish that he would, but he tells me that he has trouble expressing these things without being told they are important. The time difference and distance (6 hours and 14 hours of plane flight that neither of us can afford on a whim) are hampering our ability to reconnect. I feel lonelier now than I have ever felt. I cannot feel any sexual satisfaction, and I resent him for being able to masturbate without issue. I hate that he doesn't break down into tears all the time, and that he can return to work and still function. I feel cheap for his having lasted only 9 days without me being there. I am mostly sad, and wondering when the rage will set in. He has given me passwords and logins for things that he didn't immediately delete, and takes pictures on his phone to show me where he is. He has forwarded me email confirmations that he is purchasing HIV RNA testing.
I can't figure out if I can think of his infidelity as a string of cheating or a single long episode. I am not entirely sure I am trying to repair this relationship simply because I hate being alone. I love him deeply, and can't imagine being with him. Sometimes, images of me dying in an accident pop into my head and I don't feel scared of dying. I recently started having fantasies of getting together and forcing him to watch me have sex with other men while denying himself. I want him to drop everything and fly out to me right now, but I can't ask him to do that.
I need professional help, but I can barely get out of bed. It hurts so much, but typing this makes me feel a little better.