I'm a scientist working as an academic at a decent university, relatively young for my stage of career and have had some success so far and hopefully in the future. I'm pretty compassionate, I look after myself, I've been told I'm not unpleasant to look at, and I have a fairly liberal outlook on life. When I took up my new post, I started dating a girl She had kids from a previous marriage, physically very attractive, was equivalent aged, had I thought had an equivalent outlook/perspective on life. I think we hit it off almost instantly. It should be said, that I've always been deeply invested in chosen specialist subject and up until that point it was my one true love in life, and I more or less had had very few meaningful lasting relationships. A bit of a newbie, a little bit of a greenhorn, and certainly with a very romanticised perspective on relationships. There was some physical distance between us, but I thought we made it work. I would regularly come home (and I did/do feel that being with her was home), we would go out on dates, go on holidays, visit museums and festivals and whatnot. She met my parents, I met hers (I'm very fond of her dad, he is a lovely bloke, really down to earth) and I really thought that I had struck gold. We had/have, I thought, a very good physical relationship, and I would always place her pleasure well above my own.
About 3 or so months into the relationship, we had a wee fight, or so I thought, about one of the students I was working with at the time. My lady felt that there was something more than work going on, whereas I am very very strict about maintaining an ethical and professional relationship with people I am mentoring. The student invited me out via a facebook post to a drink with some of the other graduate students, which I refused (I thought politely). After hearing my ladies side of it, I did agree with her, and cut contact with the student as soon as was possible (i.e. when there was no need for contact due to work). I remember vividly being told at that point by my significant other that "She would not tolerate being cheated on", as a prior relationship she had with a work colleague had gone down that route. I agreed, stipulated the same and thought we had moved on. I made a promise to myself at that point to isolate my work life, and personal life more extensively.. . and although there were situations wherein a student or colleague would require my personal details (field work, or project work in labs requiring some form of contact) that I would maintain a relatively cold form of contact with them... i.e. business only.
I had always been advised by my mentors to maintain professional relationships in a professional fashion. My mentors, advisor's and PhD supervisor up until this point could be regarded as devoted family type people, and I had a great deal of respect for that outlook. Coming from a family wherein my Mother and Father went through an extremely messy divorce (not due to infidelity I should note), I had a lot of respect for people that could maintain strong family units. About six months into my new and very exciting relationship my SO started to question a relationship with a friend I've known for basically my whole career. This friend was just that, a friend. We had worked together in labs, shared a house, but there had never been anything more and there never would be. This I found extremely curious, but in a fairly dutiful fashion to really hammer home my commitment I more or less severed contact with my friend as I didn't want that interfering with my future.
Approximately three months later, I found my SO scanning through my phone on which I have never had a passcode. There was a email from one of my graduate students, which if you didn't know the background would have appeared personal, wherein they were explaining the reasons for not submitting a piece of coursework (due to a failing relationship with their partner). We get these sort of things all the time, have a committee to deal with this sort of thing, and I had almost immediately forwarded it through to said committee. This caused problems, and yet again I had to explain and disconnect. I didn't mind at the time, was probably loved up, such that I probably would have sacrificed or done anything for my SO.
The above events were so disparate that I never saw any connection between them at the time.
Fast forward to the 12 months in. My partner was going through a very stressful time, due to downsizing at her job. She was depressed because her friends were leaving to pursue work in other parts of the world, and I was extremely stressed at work with a major curriculum overhaul. I was still coming home as often as I could (which would be about one a week or fortnight), I help her set up a blog as an outlet for her feelings(design, and taught her how to post etc). Her poems were quite beautiful (even though I don't really like that sort of thing), and had a bitter sweet edge; anytime a relationship was mentioned in them, I would think she was thinking fondly of ours. Around this time I started to notice that she was becoming hypercritical which stood in contrast with the messages in her poetry; I would be always saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing; she would be up and down like a yo-yo; and I was desperately trying to help her through this period. I have lots of experience of colleagues leaving for other climes, and thought I could help her through this. I even pushed her to see a psychologist/doctor. Her birthday comes up, and I had bought her some lovely gifts. Over the next few months everything is up and down, but the whole time I was thinking, "we are solid, we can totally get through this... I earned a really nice salary, I am happy to support you and the girls". There were times when the criticisms were starting to get a bit close to the bone, I would occasionally think "why am I being put through this...", but I accepted that there are times for success, and times to be stressed. I booked us a lovely get-away for a week in a very sunny place, and hoped a bit of perspective would be a wonderful thing, and that we would get closer together. How mistaken I was.
Fast-forward to the second Christmas and the big holiday, and I am basically being treated like an arsehole 50% of the time. I came home early missing my departmental christmas social, which is very much a networking thing but I noted she didn't miss hers. Found out that I couldn't make mulled wine; that she didn't want me buying her jewellery; she was constantly picking fights and finding ways to argue. I basically booked an early flight back to work on new years day to get away from it all prior to the big holidat, thinking the stress of Christmas might be the problem. On the trip how wrong I was. Distant, cold and physical contact kept to a minimum. On one of the nights after dinner we were sitting and chatting, and I though things were going rather well, when she mentioned one of her friends. This guy shall be called Frank from here on in. I had in a full year never heard of this guy by name, but in the space of 20 minutes I was basically told that he was a pilot, probably was in special forces/intelligence work prior, that he knew all about me, which I thought seemed very threatening. I then discovered that he had provided my SO with medication (Oxycodone) because she was having trouble with her back. Given my science background, I was certain that Oxycodone was class A, exemptions only, and the penalties were pretty severe; I questioned this, primarily the whys and the where did they come from, only to be informed that they were spare pills that Franks GF didn't need (she had been in a nasty car crash with him). I also questioned the voracity of the claims being made about this person, only to be totally shot down. This put me totally on edge, and quite honestly made me feel about 2 inches tall.
For the next 2-3 months, I was attempting at every possibility to help her through any shit she was going through. We went on trips away, went hill walking, did things with her kids, and part of the time it felt like she was disconnecting from life and being very depressed. Around March I arranged for her to come over to where I was, so that we could go to a festival. I booked a fancy hotel, had to work some mornings, but had the evenings free for events. It was around my birthday time, and I thought it would again bring us closer together. She got up read her poetry to strangers, and I noticed a beautiful, brave and exposed quality to her. We went out for dinner on my birthday, and if the events that conspired that night hadn't occurred it would have been the happiest night of my life. During dinner she got up to go to the rest room. I was fiddling, as I was probably going to ask her to move herself and her girls over to where I was so we could become a real family. I fiddled, and picked up her iphone. I've never had an iphone, and was curious what they were like (android/pc ftw). Passcoded... strange... I typed in a number that I thought she would use (because of her interests) and sure enough it worked. I wish I hadn't. scanning through the call list, Frank appeared more than once and often very early or very late at night. Frank had been texted many times during the trip. I wanted the number so clicked on the name, not realising that it would call and in a panic I it called through. I was extremely flustered and basically in a tail spin at this point, with only circumstantial evidence. I don't know how I got through the rest of that night, as my mind was basically racing. The following night she asked if I had looked at her phone, and I lied about it, something I am not proud of.
About three weeks later, I managed to spot one of her phone bills, and noticed that the number of calls were dramatically larger than the number on the phone, and with a bit of detective work determined (older bills) that this person was basically on the scene for almost half of the previous year. Long phone calls every other day, hundreds of text messages etc. Again circumstantial as I had no way of knowing the contents. I almost didn't want to know.
At this point though, everything changed. She started becoming more loving, less cold, more communicative. For the next two months, things were really starting to fly again. She was on antidepressants, her outlook was distinctly more chipper and less down. Her work thing was looking like it was resolve itself satisfactorily, and she was looking to pastures new for a new career. In May, and I have no idea why I did it, she left her phone behind whilst going out to collect her kids; I looked, and she was still logged into her email... big mistake... or probably not. It was all there in black and white. Frank had been an old friend, or boyfriend... some sort of off and on fling, he had basically been courting her since the summer of the previous year. Saying all the right things, being the "shoulder" to cry on, letting her into his wonderful life of bullshit. Some of the emails had even been sent while he was in the waiting room of a hospital, whilst his girlfriend was being seen by a doctor. I literally couldn't fully believe it. I have never had drama in my life, and this was basically a major component of my life unravelling. Lots of information about how much fun they had fucking each other; how he went to work and to see his girlfriend with my SOs smell on him; bullshit about how the festival was basically a solo visit in which I wasn't there, and that she couldn't stop crying all the way there and all the way home; that she couldn't stand that he was choosing his girlfriend over her; that she was happy for him in his new job which he started around the time she started to cheer the fuck up; that she basically wanted to murder me on our big holiday. There where so many things it was hard to actually keep up, and I felt like I was drowning. As soon as she came home, I told her that we needed to talk (big mistake, should have planned it more carefully) wherein I basically put all my cards on the table. It was a very emotional twenty four hours, I walked out, came back, we fought etc etc. She minimised the shit out of it, I would discover more about their relationship over the coming year and a half. I am almost certain that he is a pathological liar, I am almost certain that he was instrumental in her divorce from her husband, and I am absolutely certain that he is a fucking coward. I attempted to make contact with him repeatedly, even going to his house back home. I attempted to make contact with his girlfriend (now fiancee), only to be blocked. I made it abundantly clear to him via letter (to his new work address) that were he to cross my path again, I would be more than happy to expose his actions to pretty much everyone, including his new employer (which is found in a country with extremely harsh penalties for extramarital or premarital sexual relationships).
The subsequent year I was a mess. Work was going great, occasionally I would get mental images, occasionally I would feel rage (which I had never really encountered before). I saw a counsellor at work and talked it out, my SO was seeing a work psychologist and I presume doing the same. We manage to piece our life back together, she starts working in a completely new line of work. We had fights about the infidelity, about her friends complicit nature in the whole thing, about why I was so undervalued and he was not etc. I expected this from reading SI, and thought I handled it reasonably well. We then have a brilliant year, it is fun, we are like a family, I'm still commuting between work and home, but I start to get a real balance in my life. Again I start to contemplate us coming together in a more solid fashion, and I even bought a ring to propose. During last year, almost all the way up to Christmas everything was great. I did noticed that she wasn't happy in her job, but a jobs a job. She is extremely bright, and I suggested further/higher education; but she was working a front facing job for nearly a decade and I think she missed that kind of work. 9-5 in an office wasn't really her thing. So I help her with job applications, night after night. Plug away, something will come up.
Then around October of last year I notice she is behaving oddly again. Due to my prior training, and now my understanding of the previous infidelity I start to get suspicious. She mentions a work colleague that she gets on well with, then all of a sudden no more mentions. Normally we communicate every day, skype together, and I visit often (even to the detriment of my career) and yet now there are times when I feel she is more interested in facebook and her phone. Over November and December it gets really bad, and I feel she just is totally disinterested in my life and what I'm doing; but I kinda chalk it up to work stress, and being a bit down in a shit job. It's the kind of thing where she will ask "How was your day?", and before I can get two or three sentences in she is on the phone or scanning facebook. Often she doesn't ask at all, so I don't force the issue. The stuff I do can be a bit technical, with lots of jargon, so I understand if someone wouldn't be totally following what I'm saying. Then one night she accuses me of not using plain English with her or her daughters. I am stunned and a little taken aback by this. I don't patronise anyone, and have always said that if I do a flyby all that is needed is can you re-explain, rework or reword. It actually really threw me off, because I pride myself that I can explain extremely technical things to non-technical audiences. A month of this passes, and we are rolling towards Christmas again and I really put the boat out regarding presents, gifts and I even give her a substantial sum of money to make the christmas celebrations special for her and her girls. Yet again I'm missing my work social to do family things with her, and yet again she is happy to go to hers (even though she hates the place). Several times when I call her in the run up to her work christmas dinner, she sounds rushed or interupted, on the night (i'm at work at the uni) she doesn't call, and when she does finally leave (6 hours later at about 1 in the morning) and call I just have the feeling that I'm being lied to. I explain to her how I'm feeling about things, and she brushes it off as though I'm imagining it again; I explain to her, that I'm worried that she is sharing her life and troubles with someone else, she brushes it off saying that we are all good. A few days later we have a little arguement, and I get a more TT about Frank at this stage, she tells me that she pursued him and not the other way round and that she doesn't like being controlled. Let me say right now, that I'm not controlling at all. Christmas passes (goes reasonably well), and again I look at the phone bill which has hundreds of text messages and many long calls to a single number... to the guy from work; these all stop the night the day after the christmas dinner. I really don't know what to make of it, but things seem to be going well and I just let it slide.
Move onto earlier this year. Success on the job front. She is offered a wonderful job. Pay is a lot better, and the environment/people are awesome. She jumps at the chance and I'm really proud of her. Two week later a second job offer comes in... Law enforcement. A few grand more, but a horrible shift pattern. She jumps at that, knowing that it will mean a half year at a law enforcement academy. She doesn't once, think about what I have to offer, or what her life will be like if she moves over with me. I'm stunned by this, and immediately start trying to get as much info as I can to be supportive, even though it runs directly in contradiction with what I want. She leaves one job, has a few weeks until start the training, and I give her money to cover bills/mortgage/food etc. I help her with the pre-course studying, give her help with the fitness and training aspect of it and basically start dreading what this half year is going to do to our relationship. She even has a few weeks placement with the department in advance of the training, and seems to like it, but a few stories she is coming back with just don't tie up. She tells a story that one of the officers told, which thought sounded like deeply unethical behaviour; she questions why I would think this, and I merely state that whilst I believe she was told it, I don't believe the contents of the story as it sounded like either criminality or bullshit. This causes an argument, in which she tells me as a matter of fact that she cant stand jealous or controlling behaviour, and that as one of a handful of future female officers she will likely be partnered with a male, and that they will be spending substantial amounts of time together; and that I should like it or lump it. She tells me that she is going into a job where she has to implicitly trust her work colleagues. Things like this event occur, they pass, calm down and then the real fun begins.
Week one of the academy. In advance I read several stories that the place is basically a fucking zoo. That infidelity is rife; that the staff turn a blind eye to it; that the place is basically a pressure cooker environment where people develop relationships they would not have normally. It concerns me. Within one week, I can feel that her personality is changing deeply. She is becoming indoctrinated into the way of the academy. She speaks very highly of her squad, and yet I'm still a total fuck up; she couldn't do the course without them, and yet I'm the one that has been supporting her (even during deeply troubling times for me) up to that point. I couldn't possibly understand. She explains that she has to trust her squad implicitly, and I explain to her, that they are recruits... not officers... but recruits, and that trust is something earned, not given freely. I have been back home as much as possible since it started to support her and the kids, but it has been utter hell. All the contact we used to have has now evaporated into an occasional 5 minutes here and there. I was told rather curtly today that she would be spending the evening with people from her class for dinner, to whit I said that I would prefer it if she spent some time with me; she replied again with the jealous and controlling thing. I don't know if I can take much more of this.
I have no doubt that I have missed a lot, but it has been cathartic to get it what I did down in black and white.
I think I should have just walked away when the frank infidelity happended. I have seen several comments on SI, not married, no kids, walk away. It is absolutely true, the grief would be saved and I could devote myself to someone who would be more compassionate and open. I have so much invested in this woman at this point that I don't know what to do. I'm unravelling at the seams.
[This message edited by Geneboy at 10:47 AM, May 31st (Saturday)]
"Affairs are not mistakes, they are a series of deliberate choices." - CrappyLife
"Regret is when you realize you broke your own heart.
Remorse is when you realize you broke someone else's." - Bla
Little things amplify so rapidly in my mind now, that I can barely control my thoughts (which is pretty off-putting).
I can't help but feel sometimes that she plays the damsel in distress, and that she is somehow engineering anxiety and stress on me such that I do the deed; and such that she can play the damsel in distress again.
It is all fucked.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days
moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are
I hear exactly what you are saying. I am a pragmatic soul, and when I think of all the things that have transpired I almost psyche myself up to walk away.
Then what will happen is she will call, or we will communicate and everything seems to evaporate again.
I'm not dealing with this very well.
Some women do play a damsel in distress in their lives. I've known many and have probably played the role myself. These types of women feel like getting men to leap to their rescue and the drama that is involved is a great ego booster for them. Like somehow its proving how special they are as a person.
Don't let it sway you. Stand your ground.
NC is the best thing for creating distance. It sounds like you tend to crumble when there is contact. That tells you what you need to do right there.
Your only there when she needs you.
She treats you terribly and when you start to pull away, she reels you back in with a kind word.
That's no way to live.
You need someone that will be your partner.
It's time to move on.
[This message edited by toomanyregrets at 12:04 PM, May 29th (Thursday)]
I wouldn't say I crumble though, that wouldn't be exactly the right word. I think I'm very inexperienced dealing with relationships, not very demanding, can be very tolerant, and often am curious where things are going.
Distance is the key, I've known this for quite some time and is appreciated that someone else thinks it straight away too.
I do think she derives a substantially amount of her self worth from the opinions and ego strokes of others. It is something I actually find quite unattractive, and certainly wasn't as omnipresent at the start of our relationship as it is now. I thought at the start that she was very independent and clued in; indeed very capable. But over the last few years this has really disappeared.
Professionally I'm around people that are extremely independent, and very capable. Yet I'm not attracted to them. I am very attracted to her, and I can't quite fathom why.
I totally agree with your analysis. The problem I think I've had is that I keep a lot of this bottled up, and that until I wrote some of it down there I didn't really appreciate the depth of the whole thing.
Strange that, especially given that I see that kind of delusional thinking in work sometimes; and I am stunned when I see it elsewhere.
The comments here have told you loud and clear that you are a wallet and probably Plan B in the drama of her life. Some women just have to be "in love" with the bad boy or some variation thereof. I think that's what you have here. She'll always be thinking of Frank. Or some leather and sunglasses clad police hero.
Go dark on her. No calls, texts, emails or visits. No €,£ or $, either. Let Frank support her if he wants to. You cannot win her by being a nice guy as she doesn't respect or even especially value that.
Be thankful you aren't married to her or have kids with her. Those exponentially complicate separation.
I hear you on the go dark thing. This will be tough I think.
You are a KISA(Knight In Shining Armor). Another term, not as attractive, is co-dependent. You're a *fixer*. She recognizes this in you and will play it to the hilt.
Run, run fast and far. I recommend you get into IC before you enter any other emotional relationships. I recognize you in the mirror of myself. I'm 5 for 5 for real when it comes to picking damaged women who needed my help. Yep, they all wound up cheating.
Don't be like me.
I'm only now realising how different she is now. It's like constant paddling and effort up a raging stream to get back to how things were at the start.
Where are you on this food chain?
Sorry, I just love this pseudoscience jargon.
Don't concern yourself with your "investment" in this woman. Casinos thrive on that sort of gamblers thinking. If I play just another 5 minutes, I'm sure I'll hit the jackpot. You won't hit any jackpot with her, even if you "win" her somehow.
If you read threads randomly here, you'll see a bias towards reconciliation, probably because those who post here want to survive infidelity and actually thrive. Here, it appears you have a serial cheater who is perfectly content to do the bare minimum with you to keep you around. That's called Plan B and those down that path before you rarely write of their joy and contentment afterwards.
You're not stupid, and have an ability to learn from reading. Read posts here, and read the Healing Library which is above Dr. Phil's face. FAQ section for BS's ( betrayed spouses). You'll save yourself much grief if you read and heed.
That has continued on for you, my friend, as it does for most of us who have been betrayed. We see our partners for who they were once, or who they led us to believe they were, not for the cold person who can rip our hearts out and leave us in emotional shreds.
I'm sorry you are hurt and I hope detaching yourself from her brings you peace.
I think I'm very inexperienced dealing with relationships, not very demanding, can be very tolerant, and often am curious where things are going.
It sounds like you've become the co-dependent in this relationship. Give this a read, "No More Mr. Nice Guy." by Robert Glover. It's quite insightful. The "not very demanding" and "very tolerant" desription sort of pop out at me.
Just from your description of her, she clearly isn't on your level of intellect or maturity. I agree with the others on the "Damsel in Distress" label. You are her Knight In Shining Armor, as 5454 put it.
My personal opinion (as the case with everything I've stated already), you need a confident "queen" instead of a little perpetual princess. You might consider going to IC to figure out why you are attracted to these unfortunate damsels. I suspect it has to do with confidence in yourself or how your perception of an ideal partner has been shaped. That perception maybe the horse-blinders that keep you from recognizing what is actually attractive among your peers.
As you concluded in your first post -
I could devote myself to someone who would be more compassionate and open
You are best served to change "could" to "should", and reshape your outlook and what your deserve as an individual and from a future partner. But also ponder on if you are quite comfortable living by yourself without a relationship for a year or more. Do you HAVE to be in a relationship?
You know she cheated on you. You know she is probably cheating on you now. Her comments on how she doesn't want someone who is controlling and jealous absolutely scream "I'm going to date/have relationships/sleep with whoever I want."
You have a SO who lives far from you, and obviously has no plans to move to be with you. You're not married, so run. Cut all contact. Get some counseling for your low self esteem issues. Find out why you want to save a relationship with someone who doesn't respect you, and why you don't find the independent, smart, educated women you are surrounded with in your job attractive.
And especially, hold fast and strong when she comes crying back around, which she sure as shooting is going to do as soon as you cut off contact, and money.
Aren't you science types taught that an experiment is to test a hypothesis? And getting the grant, setting up the lab or test site,
arranging for competent personnel, setting up the test conditions, etc., represent substantial investment in the experiment, doesn't it? If the experiment fails to prove the hypothesis, do you keep repeating it because you have a large investment in it? I'm sure the tenure committee wouldn't be too impressed with your resolve.
I'm no scientist (thanks to seeing calculus as opaque as Arabic or Chinese script) but I think you'll get the message here.
A damsel in distress will shortly find another KISA if you go dark on her. "That's too bad. I'm sorry that happened." "I'm involved in project X right now and can't travel to see you and wouldn't even have time if you were here." She'll get the message quickly.
Your Plan B would be a direct and simply "its not working out and I no longer will see or communicate with you" email in case she proves to be persistent. You know Frank isn't buying her bullshit and he treats her with distain. Which she laps up. Let her try to find her solace there or with some other "Mr. Nice Guy".
GB, they never start out like that. Or... we go into the relationship with rose colored glasses, only seeing what we wish to see.
You might consider going to IC to figure out why you are attracted to these unfortunate damsels.
[This message edited by Mercilesslynuked at 4:58 PM, May 29th (Thursday)]