Together for 10 years, lived together off-and-on for 9, engaged for 7 and about to get married. We lived apart for a few months this year due to work (I was offered a last min, short-term job in another state that I took to help with wedding costs). While I was gone, he had an affair with someone in his office. DDay (late April) was a week before I was moving back in with him permanently to start a job in his office (that he helped me get) and pick up the marriage license. He says it started the weekend after we signed the paperwork for the wedding venue (in February). He claimed that it isn't a love match/long-term or anything like that-- but that he was beginning to have concerns about his finances, anxiety over the wedding planning and began to confide in this woman because she is currently going through a divorce and seemed to relate to his concerns. He planned to end it before I moved back and they agreed to keep it hidden; however, as the date of my arrival approached, he began to worry that I might find out after all because I'd be working in the same office and the OW was beginning to, as he put it, "get attached." In light of some of what he said in the course of our breakup, I do think it was an EA on his side as well (more on that below).
It was exposed because he came out to visit me the week before I found out and was clearly distracted, distant, acting strange, sweaty, drinking too much. Even the dog wouldn't go near him. I thought it was extremely out of character, but assumed he was under stress from work, my upcoming move, jet-lagged, etc. We slept together when he was here, but it was awkward at best (to the point that I mentioned how bad it had been to my friends). When he returned to his job, I got a notice that my health insurance term was going to end sooner than I thought. I called and left a message on his office phone that we might need to pick up the marriage certificate as soon as I got there so I could get on his plan in time. He called back and started to demand that we get a prenup in which I sign away my rights to spousal support. This didn't make sense given that this had never been an issue before and because he owns no property (I'm the one without debt and family support). Long story short, his arguments were just so illogical that he was finally cornered into coming clean.
At first, he was tearful and remorseful—although had moments when he seemed strangely robotic about the whole thing. He broke it off with the OW and started going to therapy. Over the next few days, we had many long, difficult conversations (all-nighters) and, while they were civil and even productive at times, there were also moments when he said some pretty hurtful things (“I don’t want to talk to you about this, I want to talk to her—but I’m not sure if that’s because she’s easier to talk to right now”). Initially, he wanted me to come out there for couples counseling (CC), was willing to take a leave from work to come out to me, still wanted to get married, wanted to apply for a job where I am and quit the current job, etc. He said things like when he thinks about pulling himself out of the hole that he’s in, the only way for him to take his first step is if I’m there to help him.
After a couple of days, his mood changed again and he started saying that he didn't think he could live with me, that he thinks there may be something clinically wrong with him (he has a long family history of bipolar and other disorders), that he couldn't be there for me right now and needed space, that our conversations were “taking a toll” on him. I finally had enough of the back and forth and broke the whole thing off telling him that he obviously couldn’t be a partner to me right now and was far too confused. I called off the wedding and asked him to ship my things back to me (he took several suitcases with him when he left the week before, there were the things I had left behind from when I was living there and the items I had already shipped in advance of my return). He sent back about 95% of my stuff, keeping a lot of the wedding items, some electronics, housewares, gifts he had given to me—but nothing I’m willing to fight over. I initiated NC on my end.
That same week I started receiving texts from him about how much he missed me, etc. I finally agreed to talk to him and we Skyped for several hours and he admitted that deep down he had wanted me to break up with him on DDay because he thought he would feel liberated from the whole situation, but he was now feeling the opposite, missed me, etc. Lots of crying (“I wish I could hold you and just tell you I’m sorry”). He was still talking to the OW at work and was now finding her “boring” and it was making him even angrier about the situation. Overall in that conversation he struck me as someone unbalanced and unfamiliar. I believe I described him to friends/family as coming off as a schmuck. Nevertheless, I suggested we not do anything rash and see how things developed over the next few days/weeks between us.
He booked a flight to his hometown for a graduation and to spend a week with his friends and family. Because he would only be a few states away, he talked about booking a flight to come see me after the graduation. I asked him to call or text while he was away to help me build trust and to get some sleep at night. I also told him if he contacted the OW in any capacity again, even a friendship with me was off the table for the future. I never heard from him the whole trip. He started posting a lot of photos of the trip on FB about how much fun he was having, “there’s no place like home” and the like, like nothing was wrong.
He returned to his place/job at the end of the week without saying anything to me. I hadn’t yet said anything to his office about whether or not I was still coming and was beginning to receive work-related emails, so I had to break NC to discuss what I was going to do about the job. He ignored my first phone call. When he called me back, he had totally changed. He was hostile, aggressive, had no empathy, was blaming me for the affair, telling me that I had “lost” him even before he met the OW, that he didn’t understand why I thought the OW was “so bad” because, after all, she “apologized” if she had anything to do with our breakup and she thinks he “deserves to be happy.” I got the “love you but not in love with you” comment. He said he was no longer interested in finding a new job where I am and kept talking about how much he loves his new life out there. He said he wanted to find a new apartment—one that *he* likes—without having to worry about me or our dog. He said I could still come out there for the job in his office, get a sublet and we could see each other at meetings twice a week.
As far as the accusations against me were concerned, they were pretty flimsy excuses (“you wanted to talk on the phone everyday”; “you’re the reason my work doesn’t get done faster”; “I don’t think we’re fiscally compatible”) and I refused to engage. I told him that we had a good and loving relationship for a decade and, while I listening to what he was saying, I was unwilling to now go back and say that everything was bad, because it wasn’t. I told him that I loved him and he made me happy for many years and, as far as I knew, I was marrying the man of my dreams and I wasn’t going to ruin those memories now. I told him that I was secure in knowing that I did my best in the relationship and I have no regrets. That shut him down a little bit (the anger and hostility, anyway).
He apologized that his unwillingness to do CC or to have me live with him seemed like a “rejection.” He said he just knew he couldn’t work on R right now because he keeps “lying right to [my] face” and can’t stop himself. He said he felt like if he saw me he would either over-attach to me or feel repelled, and that it was “too soon” to face me in person. He let it slip that the affair was a lot more involved than he had let on (“at least the time-change freed my evenings up to be with her” and, I should add, her toddler) and that he had slept with her at least one more time before leaving on his trip home. He started saying that he wasn’t sure if he would carry on with the OW at this point, but that maybe he would consider formally dating her “6 months from now” (I assume when the divorce is final and it won’t look so bad to his colleagues?). He said he couldn’t escape this feeling that without me he feels “free and liberated.” I kept my cool and replied that he was going to feel “really free and liberated” because I was going to quit the job and not come out there and, moreover, that I wanted NC for at LEAST several weeks if not months. At that he started to sob that he missed me, my family, our dog… but that he couldn’t let me, in his words, “save him.” That was the last time I spoke to him, save forwarded emails from the various wedding vendors confirming cancellations for the venue, flowers, etc. (I did most of the cancelling). The next day, I resigned from the job in his office (I didn’t rat out the affair, but I made it clear that his actions were the reason I had to decline) and blocked him from FB. That was mid-May.
Over the next few weeks, friends started telling me that he went essentially manic on FB, posting ridiculous and random articles and status updates every 15 mins (not typical for him). He also posted a lot more about how much he loves the region he is living in right now (doubling-down on how much he loves his new life). They say he hasn’t changed his relationship status or taken down any photos of me or our dog (although I suspect tick-tock on that). He was making happy birthday shout outs on his wall to my girlfriends like everything is fine-- they know what he’s done and want to kill him. Some of my other friends say they check his page everyday because they feel like they are “watching a nervous breakdown in action.” Before DDay he hired one of my friends as his new secretary. She knows what happened and I told her I don’t begrudge her for taking the job (she quit her old job, so she was in a bind), but that I couldn’t talk to her as long as she was with him everyday. She wrote me an email the other day saying he’s been a “good manager” so far and she likes the office, but doesn’t like the job itself. I didn’t respond… but it sounds like he’s still functioning at work. Another mutual friend called to say he was texting about the breakup and saying he was in bad shape, but she didn’t respond because she said the texts weren’t making a lot of sense and she couldn’t tell if it was because they were coming in out of order or because he was just acting strange.
I had no clue any of this was going on. I'm reeling from the sheer shock of it all. I immediately went into IC twice a week. They tell me I handled everything beautifully and all of my reactions so far have been completely normal (the crying, weight loss, sleeplessness, difficultly working, etc). Again, I reached out to family and friends and I don’t think I’ve had a meal or an evening alone in weeks—they really have been fabulous. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s awful to look back now and realize all of the times he lied to me: he said the text message sounds on his phone were just alarms reminding him about meetings, the afternoons he said he was spending at our favorite movie theater he was with her, etc etc. I knew she was his friend—we actually had a fight about him maybe spending too much time with her little girl when the family was in the middle of a divorce—but I trusted him. I can’t believe he kept planning the wedding with me and was acting excited about the flowers and invitations, etc when he knew what he was doing. He watched my family sink thousands on the venue, dresses, veils, plane tickets—and he said nothing. He let me pass up on other job opportunities because he told me he didn’t want to live apart anymore. I can’t believe he was going to let me work in that office and see her everyday! He still hasn’t tried to talk to me and I have maintained NC—although I did send messages to his brother and mother telling them that I always loved the family and I would miss them. They never said anything back to me.
It's cliché, but this isn't the guy I was with for the last 10 years. I can say with confidence that infidelity was never an issue before. Everyone around me agrees that this is totally out of character for him, unexpected and shocking; honestly, without giving details, given his line of work, you would have never seen this coming. It makes him look terrible professionally. To the best of my knowledge, he’s cut himself off completely from my family, our friends and colleagues—many of whom expressed that they wanted to talk to him to make sure he’s okay (with my full blessing). I have all of his passwords, cell phone records, etc—but I’m not interested at this point in snooping. What’s done is done and I assume any more info could only hurt.
Some facts that might be relevant: (1) I knew that he was extremely stressed at work and that the position wasn't a great fit for him (although outwardly he was thriving and producing high quality work). He just started the job a year ago. He had had a few emotional breakdowns over phone/Skype in the last few months saying that he felt "alone" and "isolated" there. He had started drinking more often than I liked. He has also had a few issues with colleagues (one told their boss that she refuses to work with him going forward because he is hostile, another reported him to HR as difficult to work with, then there’s his secretary who quit). He characterized these snags as his co-workers being emotional or incompetent. (2) His father left when he was about 10 and never spoke to the family again. While it's hard to determine where his mind is at right now, he claimed on DDay that he was convinced that I would leave him/meet someone else someday, which is news to me, but sounds an awful lot like he had trust issues that he never discussed. (3) Interestingly, he was also engaged before meeting me and left the woman on a similar timetable (shortly before the ceremony) and never talked to her again, so he has a history of this. It’s one of the reasons I waited so long to marry him. (4) And then there is the family history. He’s the only person in the immediate family (besides one brother who also has commitment issues) without a diagnosed mental disorder.
At this point, I think it’s clear R is off the table. I’m not sure he’ll stay with therapy (everyone tells me he won’t, but in our last conversation he said there was “too much there” to not continue with it). He seems to have been really relying on the therapist and OW to guide him during the breakup, so who knows (he told me he didn’t call me the week he went home because his therapist told him if he was still sleeping with the OW it didn’t look good for our relationship and that, although he claims he’s confused, he was already “voting” with his feet, so to speak, by carrying on the affair—he said he needed the week to think about that and adjust to the idea of breaking up with me for good). I was really disappointed that it seemed like he didn’t have the capacity to think for himself in all of this—and I refused to do it for him (which is why I went NC, didn’t “force” him to come out to see me for CC, etc).
Right now all of my friends, family, and therapist say never talk to him again. That I’m lucky I didn’t marry him, have kids and get to walk away. Hire a lawyer to deal with the non-refundable wedding stuff that he owes my family. That he probably has a personality disorder and it was my influence that kept him normal all of these years. At lucid moments when I’m not in a fog, I see their point. When I think of all he has done and how he’s handled this, I honestly never want to talk to him again because I don’t know where I would start, I’m afraid of what he might tell me, I’ve lost so much respect for him, etc. At the same time, I’ve been with this person since I was 21 years old. I looked up to him a lot and always saw him as a smart, ethical and good man. I’m serious when I say we had a great, loving and supportive relationship all of these years.
Why does my gut tell me I’ll hear from him again and that he might regret all of this? Denial?