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Getting over infidelity

(115 Posts)
newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 14:23:55

Have posted before, under another name. Basically, I found out dh had been having inappropriate conversations with ow(plural), receiving dirty pictures from them, flirting with someone he met at work and just generally flirting on line with women he met through work etc.

He swears blind there was no sex and I do believe this. Discovery was about 8 months ago. He has been extremely apologetic, cut off all contact with these women (so far as I can possibly 'know'). He is completely aware of the devastation this has caused me - I got him to read the thread i had posted on previously. He says he wants to fix this, that he was weak and stupid and will never do this again. So he is making all the right noises.

The thing is, he has always been very good at saying all the right things and I never felt that he didn't love me (maybe that was arrogant of me, or maybe i was deluded in putting all that faith and trust in him in the first place). I know MN says to judge him by his actions rather than his words.

Sorry, I'm rambling a bit. He has recently changed jobs and i don't have his email username/pw for work email. My question is, should I insist on having this? I know that if someone is determined to cheat there are numerous ways to do this, so having access to all email etc wouldn't prevent this. I also think it is unhealthy to check up all the time. i could send myself mad, policing him. Would I be better just not insisting on having access to everything and forcing myself to trust, because he will either keep his promises or he won't.

Also, he is meeting a former colleague for coffee in the next couple of days. He says there was never anything inappropriate there and he won't go if i say not to. i have said to go ahead but deep down I want him to not go, but I also don't want to be telling him he can't have friends - that way madness lies.

I am so very angry still and hurt. i want to get over this bur don't know how. Has anyone gotten over this?If so, can you tell me how you did it.

My greatest fear is that i will trust him again and that he will throw it away like he did before and i will be back where i was emotionally 8 months ago. Couldn't cope with going through all this again. All advice gratefully received,

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 04-Feb-13 14:34:03

The crux of the matter is trust. If you have to insist on having all his e-mail accounts, managing his social engagements and checking up on him etc. then you do not trust him and you're quite right... it is a very unhealthy and stressful way to live. The only way to have any kind of constructive relationship is to give him free rein to behave responsibly but with the very serious consequence that, should you find out he has abused that freedom, he is out on his ear immediately, no second chances. It is up to him to prove he can be trusted... not your responsibility to police his actions.

For example... the coffee with a former colleague. He should not be saying 'I won't go if you don't want me to'.... where the onus is on you to police his behaviour. If he wanted to regain your trust he would say that he realised it was inappropriate and he would cancel it himself. That would be taking responsibility.

Ultimately, if you still don't trust him in spite of everything he says or does then don't feel obliged to keep trying.

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 14:39:15

Did he do anything other than 'make the right noises'?

Go to counselling on his own?

Read any books about infidelity?

Identify why he did these things?

I imagine that all you could 'prove' was that he was in contact with all these women, but you couldn't prove he'd had sex with any of them.

Which is curiously enough, all he's admitted to?

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 14:39:42

Regarding the coffee with the colleague, I genuinely have no reason to think that anything inappropriate has ever happened there. Back when I was checking his emails, I saw some notes between the two of them and they were friendly, but not at all flirty. They both talked about their families and holidays etc. Is it the case that he should not ever have female friends, on the grounds that in the past he has not respected proper boundaries with some women. I genuinely don't know.

He has put the ball in my court with this particular friend. What would be the best thing to do in your opinion, given that he hasn't decided himself not to see her? Do I say that I don't feel comfortable and tell him not to go? Even then, I won't actually know if he did as I asked. And will i end up making the thing i fear actually happen, because no one can live in 'prison' forever.

My head is a mess.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 14:45:35

badinage, the thought has occurred that perhaps he hasn't been entirely truthful. I have no way of establishing that though and he has been given ample opportunity to tell me the truth.

I have made it very clear that if this happens again or if i find out there is more and he hasn't told me, then I will leave him. I can't go through this again and if he does this to me again then it will mean he doesn't give a shit about all the pain I have gone through for the last 8 months and i will not be able to fool myself otherwise.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 04-Feb-13 14:48:02

"He has put the ball in my court with this particular friend. What would be the best thing to do in your opinion, given that he hasn't decided himself not to see her?"

I would say to him that, given his past behaviour, if he is serious about regaining your trust you expect him to be ultra cautious about any relationship with any woman at any time. You are not of a mind to be charitable or to give him the benefit of the doubt. This is an abnormal situation and he has to appreciate just how low his stock has sunk with you.

In that way you are not saying 'don't go' but you are putting the ball back very firmly in his court and giving him the opportunity to do the right thing voluntarily, empathise with your state of mind, appreciate the seriousness of what has happened etc. If he still goes... then I think you tell him to get lost.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 14:49:00

Even though there is nothing beyond a friendship there?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 04-Feb-13 14:52:06

Yes. This is about his sensitivity to your feelings. If he is truly sorry he will understand that any one-on-one female relationship, however platonic he claims it is, is under suspicion. A contrite man that understands the hurt he has caused would therefore cancel out of respect for your feelings and quite unilaterally .... not ask you 'is it OK?'

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 15:01:27

So that's a 'no' then to any of those questions?

My view is that if he's going to cheat, he will - and him not going for coffee won't change a damned thing about that.

I'd rather you concentrated on why you're staying with a man who you don't trust, has done fuck all to find out why he wants to be unfaithful and has done nothing in terms of actions to show he's changed.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 15:03:00

Okay. The idea of it has been niggling at me all weekend. I didn't know if I was being reasonable to ask him not to have female friends. I will talk to him when he gets home from work.

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk through this with me. I can't see the wood for the tree as the moment

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 15:07:23

He seems really sorry badinage. He read some very telling threads on MN, which were not easy reading, esp the bits I posted and has said that he is determined to change. Counselling is something neither of us has a lot of faith in (or the money for tbh)

Reasons for staying are numerous - we have been together such a long time. He is woven into every strand of my life. Also, we have children - I don't want to destroy their stable family life (and I know it isn't me who's done that, but still).

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 15:08:50

You are right though badinage - actions speak louder than words. It is all very well him saying the right things, but yes, he does have to put his money where his mouth is now.

will have a talk when he gets home

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 16:32:00

I'd broaden the conversation to more than just meeting a woman for coffee, because that doesn't address the core problem.

If he'd worked on himself and why he was unfaithful with numerous women, meeting someone for coffee would be a non-event, because he would know what his boundaries were and would have learnt ways to steer clear of trouble.

Reading a few threads on Mumsnet is hardly a Damascene experience is it?

The multiple women thing suggests to me he uses porn. If so, has he stopped?

Until he knows why he wanted to be unfaithful with so many different women - and starts changing the habits, attitudes and behaviour that made him feel entitled to do that - it will happen again.

The coffee woman is a big fat red herring. What you need to be more worried about are the women he'll contact in the future that he doesn't tell you about, in case you say 'no'.

He's got to be the guardian of his own propriety - not pass that responsibility on to you.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 16:42:12

what would you suggest he does, in order to make permanent, positive changes? I'm not sure he even knows why he did this. We have been together since we were 17 and I can't quite believe I am having this conversation about him - I feel sick.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 16:48:19

I think he did use porn and I think it has stopped. We were not without our issues pre all this. I was quite reserved and found it difficult to talk about sex, so I will accept some responsibility for our relationship not being perfect. We talk a lot more now, but I see he was selfish and 'entitled' and I know that selfishness has to demonstrably disappear if we are to stay together. I need to see that he puts me first, rather than assuming he does, just because he says so.

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 16:56:42

He does know why he did this. It might be as banal as just thinking that he was entitled to a bit of fun that as long as you didn't know about, couldn't hurt you - but he knows, alright.

What he hasn't faced up to is what led to him thinking he was entitled to do that. So, if he hasn't identified that he has always been selfish he won't see a link between all his habits, attitudes and behaviour all his life - and what happened.

Counselling on his own would be my suggestion, plus him reading some good books about infidelity and why it happens.

Behaviours that allow this are things like selfishness, a habit of telling small and big lies to a partner, secrets, laziness at home, sexism and treating some women as playthings, a porn habit and a general sense of entitlement that is never extended to a partner.

I think it's very likely he had sex with one or more of these women. So the above stuff is almost redundant and pointless while he's still telling lies about that.

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 16:59:44

How did he get to be in contact with all these women incidentally?

No surprises he was a porn user. It's telling that you only 'think' he's given that up.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 17:10:15

Two were women met through work and one was a fb acquaintance. I have no way of really knowing about porn as I haven't seen everything he's ever done. I am almost certain there was no emotional involvement, if only because of numbers!

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 17:14:06

Does it matter? Would you be able to forgive him shagging numerous women that he was just treating as inhuman receptacles then?

What does he say about porn and its role in what happened?

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 17:21:11

He says he doesn't use porn. He was receiving explicit photos and messages from these women, so that is porn really, isn't it. I would not be at all happy about him having sex with ow, but a proper affair with actual feelings would be worse for me. Not very feminist, I know. Part of me is very uncomfortable at the way he's dumped these ow. But then they didn't behave like decent people and therefore he hasn't treated them like decent people. But it doesn't sit easy with my feminist viewpoint.

Seenenoughtoknow Mon 04-Feb-13 17:31:51

Here's a great article which helped a friend and her husband set some 'rules' within the marriage after he did similar things to your DH. It doesn't matter if no sexual contact or a real 'affair' occurred - it's more about mending broken trust.

If this doesn't work (the link) then copy and paste's a really good read.'s-Trust-After-an-Affair

I wish you the best of luck, but do what's comfortable for YOU.

badinage Mon 04-Feb-13 17:35:45

Yes it's porn and I don't believe for one minute he didn't use porn before he got involved with these other women. It doesn't sound like you've actually discussed all this very much - it seems to have been confined to a weak assurance that he 'doesnt use porn now'.

You do realise he wasn't just 'receiving' images and sexual messages don't you?

What these women did was no worse than what he did.

I've got to say I don't understand this view that it's better for a bloke to treat women as disposable sex toys rather than as human beings with feelings. Sure, that might be more reassuring to you as a partner that he didn't get emotionally attached elsewhere, but what does that say about him as a man and a human being? What does it say about his attitudes to women?

There's so much difference in my mind between a man or woman who had an affair because a friendship between equals crossed a line, where there was at least mutual respect - and someone who was looking for sexual thrills with a bunch of randoms who he dehumanised and spat out when they were no longer convenient.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 17:43:46

Yes, I know he was sending messages too. Have seen one Skype conversation. From a wife pov, it is harder to think of one's husband actually falling in love or caring about someone else, than thinking of them having sex with randoms. Have to say that these women were not defenceless or victims - they were very much active participants in this. With that in mind I struggle to feel all that sorry for them. My husband has always displayed a respectful attitude towards women, generally and the women he was involved with were definitely equal participants.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 17:46:23

I don't blame the ow. They owed me nothing. I blame him for squandering all my trust and doing this to our family. I am fucked off that he didn't think about me or our kids.

newNN Mon 04-Feb-13 17:48:21

seen thank you for the article. will have a read when the dc have gone to bed

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