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The Really Long-Term Affair- anyone else?

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Becca70 posted 12/13/2019 11:51 AM

It would seem that the generic affair out there, if there is one, is the story of the marriage that started out okay and then went off the rails at some point. Couples can work together to mend whatever rifts occurred, while the WS's can deal with whatever issues they had that lead to straying.

But what about the long-term affair (years)? And it's cousin...the really long term affair (decades)

What about the discovery of two parallel lives, and having to reconcile decades of deceit that may have had no technical start date?

It was happening all along. From the beginning of the relationship they had with you...they also had the "other/s".

There are unique issues in this kind of betrayal with finding ground under your feet...since it was never what you really thought it was to begin with.

Considering decades of habitual patterns of thinking...
Considering the person's positive qualities, which could have been quite harmonious with either or both relationships...
Considering the they justified and created distance for years at a time.

How does one forgive and recreate.
What elements are the same as any old other affair too...what makes the LTA less of a devastation than we have made it to be.

Who else has dealt with the 10-30+ years of parallel secret relationships?
How did you get to the other side, if you did?

SomethingNew posted 12/13/2019 14:52 PM

Five years count? I'm not at the decade mark but WH had affair with COW for 4 years. After that ended he started trying to search for a replacement and had multiple hook ups for just shy of another year.

We did have a number of issues in the marriage that were part of the path leading to his affairs. He came to me 1 year into the affair saying he was unhappy. He did not admit to any affairs and I took him on his word. We kind of "worked" on the marriage but obviously that was all an illusion. So naive!

Last year I discovered kik and tinder on his phone and he confessed to a all of this beyond what I found. We've been reconciling for the past year. He is trying, we are making progress. But some days I feel like I'm losing my mind.

I'm here because I know my part, he did bring up issues in the past but eventually gave up. Our communication was off... it wasn't like I was intentionally ignoring him. I just didn't understand.

He spent years making me to be the bad guy to justify his affair(s). He had ups and downs with the AP and was hit hard when let loose by her... and yeah that impacted us.

I can't tell you how to forgive and recreate. We're at a year... in some ways things are better than they have ever been.... how we're talking, spending time together, etc. BUT I don't know if I'm beyond repair. I'm still trying to figure that out.

dancin-gal posted 12/13/2019 15:49 PM

Well WS affair started in 2001 .. I discovered it about a yr later .. worked on IC/MC for 5 years pretty frequently then monthly tune up for 2 years .. what I didn’t know was the Ow contacted WS 6 months later and lied to me and our C .. and the A became an emotional A via pay phone for 6 years .. WS was afraid I would find out . He got a 2nd cell phone the frequency of calls increased . We live across country from OW but are in her town a few times a year so the
PA restarted.. they saw each other at least 2 times per year for the past 10 year .. he is working on the Why .. there are days I am ready to leave .. he has been open and pretty honest .. honestly today was a good day we actually discussed the A and I held my temper .. we are both in our 70’s .. he is taking a polygraph test .. I expect he will pass it . I promised a year to stay and see what happens .. he has shown me his love .. but I don’t trust..been here don’t that before .. time will tell .. Reconciliation baby steps right now .. some backwards some forward we both see different IC ‘s and have joint meetings which have been very beneficial..

[This message edited by dancin-gal at 3:55 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

gmc94 posted 12/13/2019 17:22 PM

Sorry, I wish I knew. You got it right about the parallel lives and decades of deceit. My WH's LTA was 95% LD, yet it's all those years (or most of my M) of being fed a false reality and not knowing who I was married to that is the true mindf*ck.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 5:23 PM, December 13th, 2019 (Friday)]

crazyblindsided posted 12/13/2019 17:41 PM

Mine had multiple A's over an 18 year period. I caught one LTA for 3 years with MOW and I believe he had another LTA after my first child was born.

I feel like my whole M was a lie and didn't get the life I was hoping for with him. I didn't give my kids the family I wanted with him as he was usually not around.

I have not gotten to the other side yet, but have been here for years and just recently decided to S/D.

yet it's all those years (or most of my M) of being fed a false reality and not knowing who I was married to that is the true mindf*ck.

Yes this ^^^

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 5:41 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

thatbpguy posted 12/13/2019 17:42 PM

I can't imagine trying to work things out after a LTA. A marriage, to me, is like a giant secret. A secret shared between 2 people, only showing glimpses of it to people. In a LTA, there really is no 'marriage'. I would feel like my 'spouse' is a stranger to me and to get away.

SisterMilkshake posted 12/13/2019 17:54 PM

In a LTA, there really is no 'marriage'.
Not to be argumentative, thatbpguy, but I feel that is an unfair assertion and kind of disrespectful to BS's that have WS's that had LTA's. I certainly did to have a marriage.

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 6:02 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

somanyyears posted 12/13/2019 18:41 PM, how about 40 years until I learned the truth? I even have the whole truth now? who knows what she forgot, can't remember, still minimizing or compartmentalizing, or just simply details she can't or won't bring herself to reveal.

I've been a member here for 10 years now..and I know I am not healed yet.. I can still be brought to tears with a trigger.

Her A was with my best friend of 25 years, thru Boy Scouts, High School, university and our chosen careers.. a lifetime of experiences only to learn of the real double betrayal after 40 years...!!!????...

Today just happens to be bfOM's birthday, Dec. 13th. He would have been 71 but he got a big, juicy festering brain tumour that killed him at 57. Consequences for breaking God's laws, 2 specifically!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU STEPHEN... I really do feel sympathy for his elderly father ROY (98).
No parent should have to endure burying their child.


[This message edited by somanyyears at 7:55 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

hardtomove posted 12/13/2019 19:07 PM

LTA 10 years. 6vyears past DD. Still trying. Not a day goes by that I don't think about. I try not to talk about daily. The betrayal is so large everyday is a process.

3greatkids posted 12/13/2019 20:53 PM

I’m not sure I should post here, we’re not getting anywhere near reconciliation.

But I was cheated on and lied to for 26 years of a 25 year sham marriage. I feel like I could have gotten past the sex, but the lies and absolute asshole cruelty after he was caught were the deal breaker for me.

So for someone dealing with a double life situation, I would say if you feel your spouse acts truly remorseful and does extensive counseling, I think you could try reconciliation. But they would have to be doing the bulk of the “trying”, not being demanded, handed books, and complaining about the BS needs and triggers...

marji posted 12/13/2019 21:48 PM

Becca Perhaps you know already, but there is a group here in SI specifically dealing with Long Term Affairs-and yes, some really long. It's in the I Can Relate forum. Some in the group feel they have reconciled; others are undecided. Some partners had multiple APs; some just one regular. I think it helps to be able to talk with others who are dealing with this awful reality.

Becca70 posted 12/13/2019 21:49 PM

He and I have been together for 26 years. His affair was over for 5 before it was revealed.
He was cheating throughout the previous decades prior to that, and all the while we were dating.

He crossed the line early, so continuing to cross it simply became a no-brainer. And yes, I can go into years and years of WTF's, as he would disparage other cheaters, rant about how much he hated hypocrisy, insisted he'd never do that to me (he knew it was literally the worst thing that I thought someone could do to another person), occasionally gaslight me, etc. etc. etc. and so much more. So, so many layers of anger and F'd up behavior the list would drop through the floor when reviewed sequentially.

But since it was revealed (I didn't catch him, per sey), it has been very much as though he was slapped across the face with a giant wet fish. As a BS, this of course leaves me incredulous that so much time could elapse before a WS really absorbs the realization that what they are doing is so supremely horrendous.
I mean, it's really the epitome of shit behavior and thinking. They don't see themselves as shitty people...but rather good people just caught up in a slightly shitty thing that happens to feel really good at the time. No harm, no foul if not caught.

I would like to add here, BTW, that whatever "type" on thinks is a cheater, mine appeared the complete opposite of that. He barely flirted with me when we trying to imagine him trolling for others or pursuing tail on the side still snaps a circuit.

So I'll attempt to answer some of the questions I've posed after having been through a couple of years of shock and awe.

He did read the books, get the counselling, and willingly sign the ass-raping divorce decree that I have simply not yet executed. I did confront the AP although at 5-years post it was a moot point and she really just wanted me to leave her out of it, etc. and yes I have had to do quite a bit of work on my own trauma/PTSD stuff. This was a mind-screw that tickled other previous mindscrews in my life in a huge way.

How to view the LTA:
Perhaps, simply the way you view a short-term one...only it was an object in motion that stayed in motion because nothing interrupted it sooner. But the important part is that it gets interrupted by something.

I'm not sure I'm still attached to my former expectations of monogamy as a general rule. So many people I know have crossed the infidelity line that I'm now thinking that people who behave correctly are not the rule. Of course, I remain insistent on being monogamous. If I discover otherwise, I presume I'm gone. More than that, I'm not really as focused on looking for signs of cheating so much as I'm looking for backwards movement on literally any peripheral behavior as well. In fact, soley, I focus on that. That is, when I'm focusing on him at all. I've been fortunate that for the most part, he's been utterly repentant and has assumed full culpability with the appropriate shame cloud.

To survive a long-term affair, I think the only path forward is back to the self. Dropping the need to be fulfilled by another person, or made whole by a marriage per sey. I now view him more as a pleasant accessory to my own life. Do I enjoy him? Is he helpful? Does he enhance me? Is he kind/considerate/focused in the right areas? Check check check so far.

Could I leave skidmarks? Probably. But at 26 years in, it's so much more than simply living up to a campaign promise that I'd blast anyone into space that ever did this to me. And believe me, that could have been painted on my car. Fidelity was a huge deal to me going in . From the start, and he knew it.

We have a joint life. We have assets. We have a routine. We have synergy and symbiosis that have been built over decades. Those are very serious things to consider when faced with the reality of pressing the big red button.

In fact, if he cheated again, I'm not sure entirely if I'd actually leave him. Not because I lack self-esteem, but because at this stage I'm not sure I care as much about some things vs. others. I might even consider simply sexually protecting myself like I would if I were single and sleeping around. Or, eliminating the sex altogether and seeking out an open arrangement if I cared enough about sex to do that. (*which, BTW...I currently don't. In theory, I'd be too pissed and leave him).
But reality check: that's the careful consideration I might give to deleting the other categories in life simply based on principle. Security is clearly a huge driver for me. Possibly, THE driver. Because, when you get older and build your empire...there's more to consider than just slogans and memes and reaching to feel like some sort of badass in all of this.

Infidelity completely sucks.
But getting older and having spent a ton of time building a life only to face dismantling that life...was more complicated than I expected when I was shouting from my soapbox in my early 20's.

But I surely didn't expect to be the LTA story. I was so proud of this one, thinking he was not "that guy".

So elements that possibly downgrade the crater of the LTA:
1. Keeping a sense of self so that your castle isn't built on the sand of someone else's bad behavior>
2. Realizing that the terms of negotiation are entirely yours. You can make them go away if those details change unfavorably.
3. People really, truly do stay in the grooves of behavior patterns...until an experience shifts them out of it. If it took 3 months, 5 years, 2 decades...the important element is that it happened and the shift was catalyzed.

Every situation is different.

My WS definitely went from douchebag to nice guy in a tangible, quantifiable way. We wouldn't be here if that didn't happen.

But, I won't lie. There are still those moments of sitting there thinking Holy Shit.
I am that person that got cheated on for literally their entire adult life.
By the person they trusted.
And he blew up my life in an epic fashion.

Most days, it's not something I even try to forgive.

northeasternarea posted 12/13/2019 21:50 PM

Not to be argumentative, thatbpguy, but I feel that is an unfair assertion and kind of disrespectful to BS's that have WS's that had LTA's. I certainly did to have a marriage.


Becca70 posted 12/13/2019 22:15 PM

Becca Perhaps you know already, but there is a group here in SI specifically dealing with Long Term Affairs-and yes, some really long. It's in the I Can Relate forum. Some in the group feel they have reconciled; others are undecided. Some partners had multiple APs; some just one regular. I think it helps to be able to talk with others who are dealing with this awful reality.

Actually no, I didn't know that!

Striver posted 12/13/2019 22:22 PM

Not to be argumentative, thatbpguy, but I feel that is an unfair assertion and kind of disrespectful to BS's that have WS's that had LTA's. I certainly did to have a marriage.

A marriage takes two.

Based on who my ex left me for, I would have gotten an annulment based on the marriage only. It doesn't matter and I wouldn't want to delegitimize my kids.

But the marriage was a sham. It is pointless to even argue anything about it. That can be freeing for the BS.

thatbpguy posted 12/13/2019 22:22 PM

Not to be argumentative, thatbpguy, but I feel that is an unfair assertion and kind of disrespectful to BS's that have WS's that had LTA's. I certainly did to have a marriage.

I certainly didn't mean to disrespect you. Apologies all around if I did.

It just seems to me that if I was sharing my spouse for years and years with another "spouse" I wouldn't feel like I was really "married" to them as marriage seems like something exclusive between just 2 people.

Beachwalker posted 12/13/2019 23:37 PM

smy: I thought 28 years was bad, but 40!! I can’t imagine how you must feel. My heart goes out to you, guy!

thatbpguy: I understand how you feel, and I agree that marriage is a secretive relationship. It’s an exclusive club for 2 people. Since I have learned that my WW shared some of those secrets with her AP’s, that exclusive relationship is destroyed. I feel like one of my WW’s Johns.

Something said in another thread was the idea that A’s are shallow because the AP doesn’t get to spend the amount of time with the WS that the BS does. The AP doesn’t get to know the WS’s signals, sounds, and movements during lovemaking when they enjoy something being done to them, for example. Instead, they have sex in the car, office, wherever, but it’s hardly romantic. In a LTA, however, there are the weekends away, sleeping over, having sex often, afternoon love sessions, etc. The AP gets to know the WS pretty well, blurring the difference between the BS and the AP.

My viewpoint is that my WW had 2 husbands. Since she was seeing him during the time she became pregnant, she now introduces the question of, “Is this child mine or his?” They knew each other’s birth dates, the names of all the family members, heard about the kids’ soccer games and recitals, where each other went for vacation and holidays, etc. Now we have the dynamic of the emotional bond in play to the point where some WW’s purchased lingerie for their AP to see them in, but not their BH. Some WS’s will avoid intimacy with their BS in order to “remain faithful” to their AP.

I think LTA’s take cheating to an entirely different level. I think at that point they become a lifestyle for the WS.

Rambling thoughts, I know….. One last one, though: Marriage is a contractual agreement between 2 people. When one of those cheats, the contract is broken, and it becomes null and void. Technically, there is no more M. By law, you’re married until death, divorce, etc. By common sense, even though it’s a crappy marriage, you’re still married. But, I agree with striver that knowing there is no more M can be freeing for a BS. It gives you a “door”, an “option” that wasn’t there before. You now have the option to leave and for good cause. This helped me be more objective about my relationship when trying to figure out just what the heck happened!

stunnedenough posted 12/14/2019 09:06 AM

Does a entire marriage on/off affair count? When I first met my husband at work, I felt that sense that something was off when I saw him interact with his manager. He, of course, denied it stating that he would never be involved with a married woman. Well, it turns out he was. We were friends for several years before we starting dating but he was in fact seeing his boss. Apparently it started after his first wife left him years earlier (she cheated). He began this affair and it continued while we were friends, while we dated, when we got married and when we had small children. It continued for 19 years after we were married. She also had small children and it wasn't the intense affair that he had later. They saw each other occasionally. Then we moved a few hours away and he would see her once/year or so. In 2013, he had an EA/PA and was caught. In 2014, he finally confessed the LTA. So, it started sometime in late 80's, we married in 1994 and it ended in 2013.

Like others have written, you would never have guessed that he would ever cheat. He seemed the epitome of the moral, kind husband. He didn't flirt, he didn't look at women, nothing. So in 2013, I was completely blindsided.

I am not over it and I'm not sure I ever will be. I had childhood trauma that I thought I had dealt with until this. This put me in a very bad place for a long time and I have been doing EMDR for the last 18 months. He seems to have finally realized what an ass he is. He goes to therapy, 12-step group, etc, etc. But I don't feel the same way about him. The entire marriage feels like a lie. Oh, and when I called the other BS and told him, he didn't believe me. The AP used to have my WH over for family dinners before he married me but while she was sleeping with him.

One of the therapists I had told me it was okay to view marriage as a business arrangement. I have significant health issues which prevent me from working full-time. We were a very close family. The children were devastated but they figured it out themselves when they saw him with the 2013 AP. I haven't gotten over it. I'm not sure I ever will. When I feel like I "miss" him, I realize it was never the real him - it feels as though it was all an illusion and I live with a stranger.

I distance myself and we live together but not together. He has his own room and space and sometimes we do things as a family and other times, I ask for space. I think the LTA is not worse than the full-blown EA/PA of 2013 but the length of time he was lying and living a secret life makes it so much harder to gain my footing.

[This message edited by stunnedenough at 2:59 PM, December 15th (Sunday)]

Becca70 posted 12/14/2019 18:12 PM

Does a entire marriage on/off affair count? When I first met my husband at work, I felt that senes that something was off

Oh Definitely it does. In fact, the LTA in our situation would probably qualify under that heading. He said he went months and sometimes years without contact with her (who knows of course, because that narrative changes depending on what day of the week I ask about it). I don't gather that he was over there literally ever free second he had.
But discovering he had maintained the friendship at all was a huge deception, let alone to discover that he was really quite okay with sex outside of least for him. He was not okay with that for me.

Oh, the irony. There is yet another layer of fury, of course. The many times he blocked other men's advances or advised me to "protect the marriage", all the while feeling completely entitled to do whatever on his end. It's truly mind-boggling the narcissism that develops around this behavior, especially when it is extended over years.

So to your point about the "on again/off again" intermittent nature of this kind of LTA. I personally think it still belongs in the lump category with the contiguous ones. It's the same deceit, only I can see how there might be more wiggle room for the WS to kid himself into thinking that it's more benign and doesn't really count...because of the gaps when they weren't acting out.

Mine would make this point repeatedly. That, "sometimes" things didn't happen. So therefore, it was mostly friendship.

That goes through my bullshit translator as 1/1000 x's I visited, we watched TV.

Therefore, it was not an affair.

But again this whole thing can quickly swirl you down the rabbit hole of getting caught up in a pretty demented mindset. It was a lot, or a little, and it was ALL complete garbage behavior.

The only way out of attaching a pain-body to the story is to give it back to them. It's their crap to live with. Their embarrassment. Their low character, not ours.

It ultimately cost us both, and forward movement is going to require allowing that to drift into the rear view mirror and maybe drop the fairy tale that life "should" have behaved differently for us simply because we are us.

We do our best. Shit happens. And then we do our best again.

Becca70 posted 12/14/2019 18:21 PM

my: I thought 28 years was bad, but 40!! I can’t imagine how you must feel. My heart goes out to you, guy!

40 is just more of 28.

It's just 12 more years of exactly the same behavior and mindset.

That's what I'm trying to get at here with this thread. What things make more of the same "worse" than any other discovery of an affair. To some, discovering any affair at all will be like a frying pan to the skull. Then to discover it went on for months. A grenade. Then it turns into a few years. Dynamite with A bigger crater.

Then you tell someone that it's been decades. Or..."the whole thing"...and suddenly it becomes inconceivable and irreparable to consider reconciliation. The very threshold of damage that hits a wall.

I'm thinking maybe not though.
Maybe it's just the same stick of chewing gum stretched out an extra two feet.
Same behavior.
Same mindset.

Just more time.

You can't say "ooops" to this the way you can a STA. You can't blame it on impulse or irrational whoopsies.

But, it is still very much the same trash though process. The same spark of entitlement and narcissism in any other affair.

Only this person has figured out how to manage discovery for much, much longer...that is until an external force came along and he was burdened with facing the impact his self-deception was having on his own character.

He believed the whole time that he was a good person, simply doing a little thing that was harmless so long as no one discovered it.

And he was so very, very wrong.

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