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"Inappropriate behavior" vs Affairs..Semantics?

LostLilly posted 1/28/2018 21:44 PM

It's been 15 months since DD#1, when I caught my WH messaging a "gym friend" via FaceBook, which included cleavage shots from her and discussions about getting together naked in a hot tub for drinks. I confronted him the night I found the messages on his laptop. He immediately agreed to MC and we went for 4 months. In our MC, we discussed years of what my WH always described as "inappropriate behavior": messaging/texting women on social media, taking a particular female friend to lunch once a month for several years, giving a female gym friend a ride home after working out, private business dinners with other women when he was traveling, after work drinks with friends he never told me about, and a lot of excessive alcohol consumption. My WH promised me there was never any physical contact between him and the gym friend or any other female friends and that he was never involved in a PA. It was all a lie. During the 4 months of MC, my WH WAS continuing a PA with an old "friend." WH had been having sex with her for a couple months prior to the FB messaging incident and continued to have sex with her while we were in MC. I asked him several times if he was having an Affair because I just didn't believe him. WH always denied it. It took another 3 months after we stopped MC before I found out about his PA and only because his AP's husband caught and contacted me, so it's been 8 months since DD#2.
My WH is in IC, is remorseful, acknowledges how deeply he hurt me and our family, and I can see he's really trying to work at his issues and our marriage.
But I'm stuck.
Is WH a serial cheater? I struggle to believe I know all of what WH did in the past. There was TT and even now he sometimes confesses to another "inappropriate behavior" I didn't know about but swears I know everything about "the Affair."
WH doesn't consider all the other "stuff" to be an affair, including the FaceBook messaging and pics. WH doesn't think he's a serial cheater, but says he knows now that he did and said things he shouldn't have, that he gets it now, and I don't need to worry that he'll engage in these behaviors again. WH isn't perfect but he's doing his best to be transparent, even when I go into interrogation mode.
Am I too hung up on semantics? Does it matter what the distinction is between "inappropriate behaviors" and an Affair? My therapist told me I often assign deeper meanings to behaviors than what the other person intended; sometimes people do what they want to do because they can and they don't think any further than the moment.
Thoughts, fellow SI friends?

*Edited for spelling and grammar*

[This message edited by LostLilly at 7:57 AM, January 29th (Monday)]

sassylee posted 1/28/2018 22:19 PM

I think inappropriate behaviour minimizes the scuzziness of how he carried on. Some of it may be boundary issues and some of it might be fishing behaviour- chumming the waters to see if he’d get a bite...but generally I’d call it disrespectful and degrading behaviour....to you, himself and the marriage.

Not sure it matters what name you give it. I think here we’d call it wayward behaviour and choices.

LostLilly posted 1/28/2018 22:29 PM

Thanks, sassylee, for your insight. It was wayward behavior and choices. Our MC told us WH knew what boundaries were, WH just didn't believe boundaries applied to him. We have a lot to work on...

deephurt posted 1/28/2018 22:35 PM

Your wh knew the boundaries applied to him or he wouldn’t have kept it a secret.

He did it because he wanted to. Now he needs to find out why he wanted to do something that would hurt you so much.

Remember that words mean nothing. Only his actions will determine if and when he is a safe partners. Don’t let him minimize. He was a ting wayward and that’s all that needs to be determined.

Crushed7 posted 1/28/2018 22:56 PM

It's semantics. It's minimizing. It's an excuse.

The variations are seemingly endless. An EA isn't cheating because it didn't turn physical. Sexting isn't cheating because the other person isn't physically present. Kissing isn't cheating because it wasn't sex. Sexual gratification short of intercourse isn't cheating because it wasn't intercourse. Intercourse isn't cheating because "it was just sex", didn't mean anything and wasn't emotional. Blah, blah, blah.

Based on what you wrote, it appears that your husband had multiple EAs and sexting/social media interchanges. That's cheating and it is many times, so that makes him a serial cheater. Even if you accept the terms "inappropriate behavior" and "boundary issues", it still points to the same thing -- that he has a character gap which he repeatedly is trying to fill/numb by pursuing other women.

he gets it now, and I don't need to worry that he'll engage in these behaviors again.

And here is the classic line from a serial cheater -- the promise that everything is under control and that it won't happen again. Until it happens again.

Thoughts, fellow SI friends?

Given that you still are receiving TT, you are continuing to receive additional Ddays. The potential to R depends on the ability to rebuild trust and additional TT only makes R less probable. Your WH needs to know that he needs to come fully clean otherwise any chance to rebuild the marriage is going to be lost.

In addition, your WH's path to becoming a safe partner needs to include...

1. Seeing himself as broken and needing help
2. Digging deeply into himself to find the character gap at the root of his brokenness.
3. Finding his "Why?", taking responsibility and doing a ton of hard work to make a substantive change inside of himself.

Minimizing everything by calling it "inappropriate behavior" and trying to avoid doing any real work by promising that it won't happen again is an indication that he isn't doing any of the above. Unless that changes, he isn't a safe partner and the odds of a future affair (either emotional or physical) remains high.

OneTimeisEnough posted 1/29/2018 10:17 AM

I dunno, I feel like there is a difference between "inappropriate behavior" and an "affair". Being able to identify the inappropriate behavior is very important for him in the future for sending boundaries. Inappropriate behavior, to me, led to the affair because he didn't have boundaries. I think even getting to the point he was able to have conversations with the gym chic, that was inappropriate.. to me, the facebook, the pictures, all of that... that's cheating, that isn't just inappropriate behavior.

I do think WS need to a lot of work and digging to find out what was broken in them and allowed them to do what they did, however, do I also think people, especially in men, that they do things without thinking about anybody else. Not thinking about the repercussion, absolutely. If it makes them feel good and they enjoy it, they do it. It's super frustrating. It's disgustingly selfish. I had to stop seeking and hoping for the "why" that would make me feel better. Almost help me wrap my head around why it happened. I had to come to terms with, I won't ever get that, because there is nothing that will ever justify that behavior.

Serial cheater, I struggle with this one. I think that the "once a cheater always a cheater" isn't necessarily true, but I do think that they have the propensity to cheat, but it doesn't mean they will. This is where the boundaries comes into play and is so important to avoid ever getting in the situation for him to even have to say no.

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