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Why (Or Why Not) a PA is a dealbreaker?

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Thumos posted 12/13/2019 15:43 PM

I've been giving this a lot of thought lately and I wanted to see if I could spark a crowdsourced discussion about why a physical affair is a dealbreaker, or why it isn't?

I'm sure many can relate to my own experience insofar as I would have said BEFORE I knew about a PA that it was a dealbreaker, but AFTER I learned about it, I stuck around.

That said, it keeps coming up in my face and I wonder: is it a dealbreaker for me and I'm just postponing the inevitable?

My WW has thanked me repeatedly for the "act of maturity and courage" I exhibited in staying that she herself is unsure she would have been able to muster if she were in my shoes. Her words, and I'm putting those in quote marks not sarcastically but because I find them meaningful. I don't know if I find it mature or courageous, or just hopelessly confused and trauamtized

I just wanted to hear others insights into why they felt it was or was not a dealbreaker for them. Also, what were some tangible countervailing reasons you felt compelled to stay in light of a physical betrayal? And when or how long did you take to decide to leave or stay? And I guess fourth, I'm sure there will be a healthy debate here about whether it even matters if it was an EA or PA -- and whether a PA just represents an imaginary "extra" betrayal in the opinions of some.

In any case, I'd love to read everyone's thoughts on this.

[This message edited by Thumos at 3:44 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

crazyblindsided posted 12/13/2019 16:21 PM

You know I thought it being a PA would have been a dealbreaker, but it surprisingly wasn't. What was the dealbreaker for me was becoming vulnerable again in R and him putting me through False R 2 years later (the A never ended and went underground). While I didn't leave after that I did end up detaching and the M kept plummeting until recently I decided to call it quits. The latest emotional abuse and silent treatment put the nail in the coffin for me.

Thumos posted 12/13/2019 16:24 PM

You know I thought it being a PA would have been a dealbreaker, but it surprisingly wasn't.

Why wasn't the PA a dealbreaker? If you don't want to say, I understand. But I'm curious about your thoughts.

Charity411 posted 12/13/2019 16:28 PM

The PA was not a deal breaker for me. I can't really say if it would have been eventually, because I was never given the chance to genuinely attempt reconciliation, so there was no "time will tell". For a brief period of time he claimed he wanted to reconcile, but then admitted he only did that to get me to stop the divorce process, buying more time to hide assets. During that time he used a power of attorney I had signed for another purpose, borrowed almost all the equity out of our house, and bought another home and put it solely in his mistresses name.

I thought he was being sincere and very much wanted to save my marriage up until then. It was that new heightened level of deceit that was the deal breaker for me. After discovering the depths of his financial betrayal, there was absolutely no way I would ever have considered reconciliation.

I worked just as hard as he did and often earned more than he did. I came into the marriage with more than he did. So the reason I would have stayed around was not out of financial necessity. I knew I could take care of myself and my child. What I cannot fathom to this day is how someone can live under the same roof, sleep in your bed, and be consciously trying to get every last dollar they can out of you so they can hand it over to their mistress.

I didn't get any magical treatment because I'm a woman in my divorce settlement. In fact I had to take him to court twice to get him to actually pay his back child support. Each time it cost me $2,000 I didn't have. He didn't want custody of our daughter, by the way, so it wasn't like I was paying the piper for insisting on full custody. I was never able to recover the stolen assets. I worked three jobs for two years and took in two room mates so I could afford to keep my daughter in our house.

To me the physical or emotional affair was the very least of what the deal breaker was.

EllieKMAS posted 12/13/2019 16:31 PM

I have learned never to say never about anything with all this, but just an observation...

In my case, I am less disturbed by the (pretty sure, but not certain) PA than I am by the fact that my xwh "fell in love" with his AP. So for me, the EA was by far worse.

Trying not to generalize, but it seems to me that BH's seem to have a more difficult time with the PA part and BW's seem to have a harder time with EA's. Am I alone in that observation?

Not sure what I would have felt if I had a confirmed PA before I separated though.

Thumos posted 12/13/2019 16:43 PM

Trying not to generalize, but it seems to me that BH's seem to have a more difficult time with the PA part and BW's seem to have a harder time with EA's. Am I alone in that observation?

No, in fact, I think that's very common. And that's been my experience. Maybe it's that, for me, I can see that they formed an emotional attachment but it was tenuous and short-lived and a fantasy not based on a real relationship in any case.

But once you've given away the physical goodies, that's forever. For a betrayed man, he has to live with the knowledge that his wife willingly accepted the seed of another man. I've said it before, but that's some very visceral probably evolutionary level stuff. I can't say why for sure that it's different for men, but it is. I know my therapist shared the new information for me about vasopressin and that has at least something to do with it.

A physical exchange is inalterable, while an emotional exchange based on a foundation of sand is malleable and over time can be seen for the make believe circumstance it was.

PIV, though, that can't be changed. Once that Rubicon is crossed, there's no going back.

crazyblindsided posted 12/13/2019 16:43 PM

Why wasn't the PA a dealbreaker?

I have no idea honestly. I felt very angry and upset when I discovered that the A was PA (which was 6 months after D-Day). I did hit my STBX that day (not a proud moment). The EA caused me more distress and the fact that he kept getting caught breaking NC. That told me that he loved her and couldn't give her up. Even reading their texts to each other was worse than the PA for me.

This is a really good question... I think it's because sex with my STBX never really felt special and was more a means to an end for him. So I felt the MOW was getting exactly what I got 'Sex.' The longing for each other and missing each other, calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend affected me more because she was getting what I was not getting and that is an emotional connection and someone who was there for her, whereas he basically abandoned me.

EllieKMAS posted 12/13/2019 16:49 PM

but that's some very visceral probably evolutionary level stuff.

Thumos, I was talking to a friend the other day about all this and made the observation to her that the more I know, the more I think that we are still all just cavemen really. We just have fancier caves now!

I think you are definitely correct in that thought.

I know for me (and a lot of others) for a female, the emotional attachment is way less malleable. The emotional part of my marriage was way more solid than the physical part, which is why the EA hurt me worse.

Just from a sociological viewpoint, I find stuff like this so fascinating. Those hardwired biological differences between men and women are both blessing and curse.

Striver posted 12/13/2019 16:51 PM

Because there isn't some magic thunderbolt that is going to hit you that makes something a "dealbreaker."

Look, I had the dirty work done for me. Ex divorced me. Had it been up to me... it probably would have taken a ton. Flagrant behavior. Would have that been good for me? Not necessarily. I probably would have been in a bad place. Just because I would have put up with being treated like shit for years on end, why does that mean it would have been a great decision?

I read JFO. People go with their gut. But just as "my gut" may not have served me well, I am assuming it doesn't always serve others well either! And they get responses on JFO indicating same. Some eventually come around, some never do.

So if divorce would serve you well, then take the steps. Unless WS leaves you, yes, it will require active steps on your part to have PA be a dealbreaker. No one is going to do it for you, and I don't think you're going to get hit with the dealbreaker thunderbolt either. It's something you have to do. If the cost-benefit isn't worth it for you, I get that. If it's because you're scared, sucking on the hopium pipe, other reasons, maybe a look inside is required.

landclark posted 12/13/2019 16:57 PM

Trying not to generalize, but it seems to me that BH's seem to have a more difficult time with the PA part and BW's seem to have a harder time with EA's. Am I alone in that observation?

I think this is probably generally true, but for me I never hit my WH until I found out he kissed another woman. For some reason that stepped up my anger quite a bit. If I had found out he had sex, oral or otherwise with another woman, he wouldnít still be in the same house. Though the EAs with the love and longing and planning a future sucks and is hard to get past, a PA just adds a whole new layer for me, and not one I think I could get past. I think itís at least partly because he denied me sex despite practically begging for it, so to find out he was doing it with somebody else would just be too much for me.

He also denied me the emotional stuff as well, and I often wonder why that hasnít been a dealbreaker yet. I guess because on some level I partially feel at fault for the distance between us. Logically I know Iím not, but that feeling is still there. The lack of sex stuff though I take no responsibility for, which also makes no sense.

[This message edited by landclark at 6:36 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

Thumos posted 12/13/2019 17:00 PM

No one is going to do it for you, and I don't think you're going to get hit with the dealbreaker thunderbolt either. It's something you have to do. If the cost-benefit isn't worth it for you, I get that. If it's because you're scared, sucking on the hopium pipe, other reasons, maybe a look inside is required.

Yeah, I'm in no way looking for a magic "out" or being hit with an epiphany here. If that was going to happen, it probably already would have.

I'm just interested and curious about others thought process around this. It's probably among the thorniest of a thicket of thorny issues BS's have to navigate.

EllieKMAS posted 12/13/2019 17:01 PM

but for me I never hit my WH until I found out he kissed another woman. For some reason that stepped up my anger quite a bit.
That makes sense to me LC. IMHO, kissing is waaaaay more intimate than sex.

landclark posted 12/13/2019 17:20 PM

IMHO, kissing is waaaaay more intimate than sex.

Yes, and way more intimate than the online stuff he was doing. I still get extreme flashes of anger thinking about him kissing another woman.

thatbpguy posted 12/13/2019 17:27 PM

I stayed and tried to R after my WW left for a friend of the family. My reasoning's were scattered and all over.

* She was the love of my life and I just couldn't bear to be without her.
* We had a teenage daughter.
* I didn't want the shame of losing a wife to infidelity.
* I had been her 'knight in shining armor' a few times and that role made me feel needed and I wanted to promulgate it- even if it was falsely.

Looking back, I was angry as hell, scared to death, ashamed of how I could have possibly let her go.... But given everything that was there, I wish I would have quietly just sent her to her sister's and filed. The next few years were a living hell. I was gutted like a deer hanging from a tree.

Had it been an EA, I could work with it if she was willing.

[This message edited by thatbpguy at 5:34 PM, December 13th (Friday)]

Millgirl posted 12/13/2019 17:34 PM

This is some good insight. Having been a victim of both I can say the most painful was the LTA. Short EA's I have gotten over, I am confident in saying that I could even move past a short PA. However a LTA that was both physical and emotional I am growing to realize is a deal breaker. I think it's because everything was shared, not just parts of one's self. If that makes sense. Nothing, not one single thing was reserved for the marriage or for me. Nothing

Thumos posted 12/13/2019 17:46 PM

I suppose my wife's 3 month EA/PA would qualify as "short-term" but as others have pointed out there are a number of painful compounding factors that make it on the level of an LTA.

If my wife is to be believed, the EA portion ran for about 5 weeks and the PA portion ran about 6 weeks after that before I metaphorically "kicked the doors in."

Compound factors include unprotected sex in our home, that the AP was a friend of the family and of mine, that our two young children were close friends at school, that the younger children were caught up in "playdates" masquerading as dates for my WW and AP, that I still have to see the AP on a regular basis, that the AP and his wife still live in our neighborhood, and that gaslighting during the affair was fairly off-the-charts (she separated from me and convinced that I'd falsely accused her and needed medical help for my paranoia).

Millgirl posted 12/13/2019 18:06 PM

Thumos- I cannot imagine your turmoil. I have had nightmares about seeing the AP at my kids school as that seems to be the only place that I am safe from an encounter or that is still untouched.

cocoplus5nuts posted 12/13/2019 18:09 PM

I am less disturbed by the (pretty sure, but not certain) PA than I am by the fact that my xwh "fell in love" with his AP. So for me, the EA was by far worse.


I thought this. I even told my IC that it would've been better if it had been a PA. Then, I got confirmation that he did, in fact, have sex with the MOW. I was devastated. Knowing that was much worse for me than the EA part.

I think it was a dealbreaker for me. I set a 5 year plan to leave. I stayed only because of my kids and finances. I did not stay because I wanted to be with my fch or I wanted to save my M. I was thoroughly disgusted by my fch. My love for him was gone.

In those 5 years, my fch did a lot of work and eventually won me over, sort of. I stay now because I do want my family. We are reconciled from his cheating. But, our M will never be what it was. I will never have the same feelings for him again. That's all been dulled.

tushnurse posted 12/13/2019 18:14 PM

Prior to I thought it would be a dealbreaker.
However after finally getting the proof and answers the physical A was just that. A physical act. Not necessarily meaning more than a pat on the back or a hug. Just a physical act that can mean a lot or nothing.

What was the dealbreaker for me was the continued disrespect and lies. The ongoing deceit. The intentional acting that he knew were causing me pain and hurt. That was far much worse than screwing.

Buck posted 12/13/2019 18:27 PM

I'm going to post before this turns into a M v F sex thread...

I think it was a dealbreaker for me. Isn't the prevailing R wisdom that the "old M is dead, you need to fix yourselves and build a new M" pretty much an indicator of that?

We all have the proverbial line in the sand that's the point of no return. I will say, I wouldn't have given two shits if it was an EA. EAs seem childish and stupid to me, the interactions remind me of middle school love notes. EAs don't result in pregnancies or STDs. There are no sloppy seconds in an EA. An EA doesn't make you wonder about dick size. An EA is pretty much just words and no deeds. I get it's bad, it's just not PA bad IMO. Also, aren't most EAs just the lead in to a PA? Something just stopped the progression?

I don't think I could have dealt with sex in my bed. I can't imagine how people R with an OC in the mix. I don't believe I could have handled seeing a video of my WW having sex, the mind movies were bad enough.

I don't get what happened either. My WW had oral sex or PIV sex with AP 12 times over 6mo despite daily contact and meeting up at lunch and after work around 80 times and working together. No anal, he pressured her but she said no every time, no toys and mostly quickies where she didn't cum. I know what you're thinking, I thought it too, but a polygraph confirmed her story. It seems her A was mostly flirting, kissing, and telling each other how wonderful they were.

We still had sex during her A, which disgusts me even now. The sex we had was rougher (light bondage\spanking\choking), involved toys, lotions, porn, erotic literature, some semi public places, roleplay - you get the idea. I didn't (and still don't) really understand why she would "trade" quickies for what we did. I sure as hell wouldn't have made that choice.

Post A there's no trust, I questioned our whole relationship and convinced myself I didn't know who she truly was and how could I love someone I didn't know. It was a bad fucking situation for years. And I did have an RA and another LTA later. This took away some of the victim mentality I had. The RA hurt her, the LTA devastated her but neither changed her mindset. D papers sure as hell did though.

So WTF am I getting at? I think most PAs are dealbreakers and the BS has to change their mindset\beliefs\whatever to come to terms with what's happened and the selfish\entitled WS has to get their shit together, have empathy, etc. Her A completely changed the path our lives were on. It's caused untold amounts of pain for both of us. It's weakened our M because I'm not "all in" and any misdeed may be the straw that breaks this deal forever. It still has an impact 16 years later.

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