I do you one better. I consider my R my second M. After Dday and some progress, I decided that it was time to start my second M. It has the same people in it, but it is a second M with the benefit of lessons learned in the first. I read about that somewhere (don't remember where) and how that mindset helps some BS move to a place where R is acceptable.
What is a M ? Any M ? Two different people coming together to share a life and work out their differences. Is that part really any different ? Are the changes on his side positive or negative ? Therein lies your answer. You can be D for the rest of your life if that is what you want, what is the harm in trying a "second M?" Start out like you are dating again. Ask that if your H wants you to heal it is important that puts effort into winning you over, just like he did when you were dating. It also helps solve the self image problem too. At the same time wok on validating yourself, so it is nice to have the "extra" validation, but is not required for your own happiness.
Your behavior has changed, but has your core values really changed that much ? Core values are harder to change than behavior. Behavior is something within your control. Events come into our lives that push our behavior one way or another. The trick is to stick to your core values.
I can see that my behavior has mostly come back to good old self. I am still happy, but I don't rely on validation from others anymore.
For example, I used to spend lots of money on work out clothes. Why ? It made me appear like I belong there and people often commented on my appearance. It made me feel good and more likely to chat with them. At the end of the day, do I really want to waste my precious time on this earth talking to people that are only concerned about what is on the surface ? The answer was/is no. Why do I care so much about what other people think, etc.
Try working through that for some time. Go to the store without makeup. Pay attention to how people react. Make sure to separate reactions to a change in behavior to people that know you. Explain to them (not about the A, but say it is a person improvement project ahead of the new year).
As far as the grass is greener thing, is it preferable to be with the devil you know or the devil you don't ?
Your H, if he is remorseful, has really motivation to make changes that you would like to see in a partner. Someone new may not be. Statistically they are just as likely to cheat, even more so if you consider that they may not have had the painful growth experiences and consequences your H has had. He almost lost his M once. Almost losing something makes you appreciate it it more. A powerful motivator.
Hold your H accountable, ask for what you need and negotiate what you NEED (versus want) in a new M. If you want a date night every week, go for it.
DS 1, DD 6
Dday 8/31/11. EA/PA. Lied to for 3 years.
Every truth comes to light in a long enough timeline.