It's normal for WS's to feel a lingering "pining" for the AP- especially since she was a close friend of yours over the years. The longer the A, the longer the mourning period after. Even my H pines for his EA partner (close friend too), still justifying that it was never physical and they didn't text or see each other too much alone.
It's not a popular thing to confront as BS's- that the AP's we were with (especially LTA's which is what your H's was), we bonded to. There may have been genuine affection between them. For short buildup A's, they're more likely to be limerent (addiction) based (mine was) and faster to get over if the WS is really truly motivated to get out of infidelity and try for R. LTA's are stickier as the justification has gone on for much longer and there's been a longer time to build an entrenched bond with AP.
He kept on saying he is trying and will do better. In July 2022, he said he couldn’t do what I need him to do as he is drained seeing me breakdown every time and is unable to get back any feelings for me.
Hmm... selfish. HE is drained because of the breakdown HIS actions caused and is still looking to regain the "feels" of your early M. His head is still firmly up his ass. You are NOT in R. Your pain is an inconvenience to him and something that he needs you to skip through before HE can decide if YOU are the one true "wuvvv" HE wants to spend HIS life with.
During that time, WH had a 4 month emotional and physical affair with a close friend who also happens to be the wife of his close friend.
Fuck him. You're in competition with the fantasy "whip cream and sherbet" version of AP he got to sleep with and be in "wuvvv" with for years. I say years because they likely had a long EA much before it became obvious to the 2 of them and they took it knowingly into full EA and PA territory.
Speaking as a BS now w/ H's MANY unrequited EA's (until his last one, which wasn't unrequited EA- only their moral superiority kept them from taking it further, IMO).
My H compared me to his "ideal wife"- MY "supposed" friend, for 2 years. Always negatively. I was competing with a woman he saw only at parties she hosted in her immaculate perfect home. Compared to a SAHM who was able to work out every day and had hyperthyroidism and was rail thin but with good boobs. I was in competition with a woman who had an extraordinary amount of excess time and budget to indulge her luxury good, home décor and beauty treatment regime. H shared her hyper-critical nature, her holier-than-thou-ness. Her entitlement to feel like she knew what was best for everyone and those who disappoint her expectations were less than. H and her shared these many traits and both were drawn to each other in their illusory fantasies of just how GREAT THEY were and how disappointing everyone else was.
I was "friends" with her because I tasked myself to learn how to be "better" and more like her so I could be a worthy wife and please my H. I felt that if I could please her and be more perfect like her, my H would accept me and FINALLY be satisfied with me and our M.
When she started talking about her curiosity about sleeping with other men (her H was her first/last) and her escalating complaining of how her H wasn't attentive enough... How she resented being stuck in her perfectly gorgeous Barbie mansion raising her darling 4 kids and having to deal with her loving and doting H... who was exhausted because he was BUILDING A NEW MEDICAL PRACTICE TO BETTER SERVE THE ELDERLY WITHOUT SHENANIGANS OF HIS OLD PRACTICE so that he could provide for her lavish lifestyle... I saw what was going on and she was wayward as fuck. As was my H. He was exhibiting the same behaviors around her that my dad did around his LTAP that us kids got a ring side seat to.
I mean, her poor H was working WAY too much. Her H suffered from a sense of mission and purpose and did forget to balance that with his first and most important mission- his M. HOWEVER, she was always pointing her finger at him and ignoring her own ungratefulness and superiority.
All this to say... comparing our A's... mine was fast and limerent. H's was longer term EA and his idealization was deeper than mine. H is still pining after her as the "good friend we lost to YOUR A." When he can see that HE lost HIS privilege to conduct a "friendship" with a woman he forced me to compete with for years because... he was in an EA with her... I'm still going to have some sort of guard up in our M until he can grow into this realization. Currently he regrets having caused me pain with the comparisons and has stopped. He's not achieved real remorse though and still exhibits some wayward tendencies, even though his behaviors have VERY much changed on the outside.
This struck me as so relatable to my situation in your story:
Both of us were not mature or evolved enough to communicate our unmet needs and it was a toxic cycle. But we won’t somehow make up and life went on.
This was our dynamic to a T. That's the M portion of your R, IF you make it there once your WH's head is out of his ass.
He kept saying that he has tried to do everything he can and highlighting the fact many times that he went to IC ... to work on this problem but nothing helped and is convinced that it is true love and not limerence.
He's worked SOOOOOO HARD with his 6 sessions??!@? With different counselors who can NOT dig deep until the 6th session or so in CONTINUOUS care. Forget that. He's bullshitting you. He doesn't want to look at himself because then he would have to take some accountability for his actions, his bullshit and his brokenness that he used to justify his A.
He sounds like my H. Maybe that's why I'm reacting so much to this.
Look, overall, I agree with everyone else here- you're in PICK ME DANCE mode. This is not R, it is limbo. Until your WH can demonstrate consistent, determined progress on working on himself in IC (and HE NEEDS IC- this DOES NOT fix itself), you can not attempt R. Who would you be in R with anyway? A broken wayward cheating (pining and fantasizing are cheating still).
You can't have an R, let alone an M, with an active non-remorseful cheater.
180 his ass now.