Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Please help me understand(37 Posts)
STBXH and I separated in May last year, continuing to live together (finances) till October, when I was offered an opportunity 350 miles away - thought it would be a good idea. I became aware before and whilst we were separating (separating on his instigation; he was admittedly very unhappy but couldn't say why etc) that he was becoming very friendly with a woman we both knew who lived where we had previously lived, 70 miles away where his mum lives (so visiting regularly, etc). I wasn't happy as honestly I thought we could fix things - it had seemed to me to be such a strong marriage (yeah, I know, I know). Anyway the separation has gone through various phases, less and more friendly, and we were in a friendly stage and getting more friendly - he sent me unexpected presents, was really helpful and forthcoming, etc. I'd asked a lot about this woman and had found various communications between them that I found rather close - he admitted he was thinking of a relationship with her and we'd discussed this. I had my doubts (not all of which were ego based) and had made this clear. I wanted more than anything to be able to trust him, for our friendship's sake, if nothing else. He told me that they had irregular contact, that he didn't know what he saw in her, there was no spark, she was unsuitable for various reasons and so on. I asked him to let me know whether there was contact, I think primarily so that if he did decide to go with that relationship, I 'd have a chance to pull myself away with dignity. Also, few new relationships want a close friendship with the ex on the scene. I asked this openly for the sake of my dignity and sense of self and he said there was nothing to tell, there'd been no contact for ages. I hadn't trusted him for a long time but decided to give it a go (trusting him I mean) and see how it went.
Visited last weekend - we had a lovely time, I felt safe and valued in the friendship. He was adamant he would tell me if there was contact. You all know where this is going: I found a receipt for flowers and a cake saying "I love you" that he'd sent her. A long discussion ensued in which he admitted they'd been in regular communication for the past 6 months and it had been building up to the day before my visit, when he rang her with a declaration of love, and wanting to take things to "the next level" - whatever that was. Only - he said something that was quite stupid and offensive and she got angry and shouted at him and after this he felt there was not going to be a relationship after all. He asked a friend the next day what he should do and the friend advised that since I knew nothing and there was not now apparently going to be a relationship, not to tell me anything - the old why cause problems argument. Not useful now that I found out.
I have serious issues around this breach of trust. Please feel free to tell me what an idiot I've been and remind me that I never want to see him again. I'm in such pain that he lied to me all that time, minimising things like sending her a link to a song "because she likes the backing singer" - when the lyrics were all about someone who makes everything better, and promising to be together forever. This is something he did to me early on in our relationship - different song, same tactic. He's felt like a big hero to this woman, coming to her rescue and pursuing her (I now see) and making himself seem sensitive and thoughtful (she knew I did not know about them - I'm assuming he told her I would not be able to handle it or something). Sadly this is exactly how he presented himself to me when we met - he had broken up with his ex but he was still in regular contact and not really entirely separate in his mind. However to me he's been quite dismissive of this woman, which again I find really distasteful of him.
I feel a fool, obviously, and am furious and hurt. I liked us being friends because I don't like being angry, I feel I am quite an understanding person and I preferred things not being tense between us. All I asked was for honesty and I am gutted he's not given it to me (he said he was going to tell me on the weekend once the new relationship had the green light - completely misunderstanding most of the reason I was asking to know). All (ok most) of this I can understand - but please can anyone help me understand why I am so angry with her? I'm pretty certain he presented himself as someone whose marriage had already broken down (though she certainly jumped right in there) - I'm not sure she's done anything wrong here. But I am so angry - I have The Rage with her (not only with her; most of my rage is at him). I don't even know why. For being there? Could have been anyone. For colluding in the secrecy? I'm sure he made the reasons for it compelling. For having something I thought of as mine? I hate to think I was thinking that way, though I suppose I might have been. I'd really like to stop being angry full stop, but I especially don't understand my anger at her, and I'd like some help.
If you don't have any help, handholding is appreciated. Also, when you tell me I'm an idiot, doing it with kindness is much appreciated.
He has fucked you over completely, you have a right to be angry, he has lied and basically cheated and been a giant twunt. You have a right to be angry, cut him out the the cake and eating it twatbadger
Yes I have cut him out now. Sticking to it is not easy though
Really struggling today. And I am a bit worried about how long I might be likely to struggle with it. I feel like I've been trying so hard for so long. perhaps I'm just a bit exhausted.
I don't really understand. Why were you still trying to cultivate a romantic relationship with your ex when 1) you were separated (for good reason, it would seem) and 2) he was clearly already in another one
Sounds like this is just what he does and gets away with it. It looks from the outside like a form of control, holding on to you, keeping you with him with empty promises and lies. You need to see him for what he is, this will make staying away easier. He has manipulated you, the longer you stay away, the easier it'll get
Sounds like he's been keeping his options open. Now he's blown Plan A, it was back to Plan B. Until you found the note. Sorry but that's pretty toxic behaviour and chances are it's the way he's always done it. Stay away.
Yes, seeing it more clearly makes it easier to stay away. I just feel like an idiot for not seeing it before.
AF I was not trying to cultivate a romantic relationship, I was trying to maintain a friendly one. We have children at university and it was easier for them to see us getting along. And he was not clear at all about being in another one. If I hadn't found the receipt I'd still not know.
I don't think you are justified in this level of anger. He doesn't owe you the intimate details of his life.
I understand that you want to keep things cordial but I think you need a lot more distance from this guy. You've separated, presumably you're divorcing, now is the time to look forward to the next stage of your life and move on.
I think you have been deluding yourself a little if you think you have been trying to maintain 'just' a friendship. It's good in a way that it's crashed down because you're wasting too much energy and attention on this man, when you should be moving on. Your dc are grown. You can do amicable without being so emotionally invested.
You are not an idiot OP, this has been very carefully orchestrated. Don't punish yourself for what's happened, just concentrate on looking forward now and don't be sucked in again
Wow. He is a grade A cunt.
don't agree with 'he doesn't owe you anything'. He owes you basic decency and kindness. However, he is incapable of that. Or any decency on any level in intimate relationships.
I don't know, perhaps he has some kind of personality disorder - yy I know that's easy to jump to, the old saw, but he doesn't seem even human to have messed every woman around you've known about - including you. Bottom line he is toxic, regardless the reason. I'd fly far far away iiwy.
Also get into therapy to find out why you have issues with being angry, why you put up with an unbelievably shit situation. I have no idea why you are overwhelmingly angry with her - perhaps misplaced anger (it's him you would appropriately feel white-hot anger towards), perhaps you recognise yourself in her Eg she is following the same pattern you did of getting sucked in and replacing the previous woman?
Anger is healthy btw. It's an essential emotion that flags up something is wrong. Tamping it down, reasoning your way out of it, is not ultimately good for the soul - you have to let it flush its way out first.
I feel for you. You've been done over by a horrible individual who is only interested in himself. Time for you to focus on yourself
Thanks for the thoughtful replies. Lots to think about. I hadn't thought I was so messed up about anger but I can see that's a big thing to untangle. I don't know how I would afford therapy - my new opportunity is rich in prospects but very poor in pay. I'll see what I can find. In the meantime, yes, I suppose the anger is flagging up something. I am not so angry now so I see that getting it out there has already dissipated it a bit. But I think there is a bit between noticing anger and seeing what the anger points to (reasoning my way out of it), that is actually feeling the anger, that I have been trying to avoid. It feels very out of control to me - and I hadn't thought before that I had an issue with control but I can see that it can appear that I'm batshit crazy about it.
I don't suppose he does owe me the intimate details of his life, but he was still sharing the edited highlights of these. It was our way rather than simply something I demanded. For example he told me he'd really wanted to talk to me about how sad he felt about the new relationship attempt going wrong, but of course he couldn't without telling the whole story. Feel free to laugh, even I can see that is funny.
I have the future firmly set in my sights - I know I am incredibly lucky to be so far away from him and to have the opportunities I have. Off on a course with some new friends this weekend and really busy with lots of interesting work for at least the next month, by which time I'm sure I will see all this differently. Thanks everyone.
The way see it is if you are no longer a couple then I don't get why you need to spend couply time together.
You can be amicable without sharing everything about your life, especially intimate details of other relationships.
I'm not sure why you needed or expected the details of his burgeoning relationship with someone else. Unless you were thinking of getting back with him, it's not your business!
I'm friends/friendly with my ex, we spend family time together etc but neither of us has ever asked the other about people we are dating. No need. If he asked I would feel very weird about telling him!
I'm struggling to see that he's done much wrong, TBH.
He ended your marriage - which must have hurt you very much, and for which I'm truly sorry, but which he was entirely entitled to do if he was unhappy. You lived together while you were going through the process of separation, for understandable, practical reasons. You moved away. He moved on. That's all that's happened.
I've read your posts through a couple of times, and I can't see anything that suggests he led you on to think there was any possibility that you might reconcile? You said Anyway the separation has gone through various phases, less and more friendly, and we were in a friendly stage and getting more friendly - he sent me unexpected presents, was really helpful and forthcoming, etc - but that's simply courtesy and being on good terms, surely?
You went on to say I'd asked a lot about this woman and had found various communications between them that I found rather close - why were you looking through their communications at all (presumably texts, emails or similar)?
Arguably he should have told you that he was contemplating a relationship with someone else, but only because you'd asked him to and he'd said he would - otherwise he would have no obligation to keep you informed. I actually think it's more unreasonable that you asked him than that he didn't mention something that could have (and ultimately did) come to nothing. I can see merit to his friend's "least said soonest mended" attitude when it didn't work out.
At the end of the day, it's not a normal part of friendship to be angry when a friend starts a new relationship - that should tell you that your feelings for him go beyond friendly.
You have a wonderful opportunity to move on and make a new start in your new location - it's time to grasp it with both hands.
I'm sorry you're hurting.
But at the same time, you were wrong to ask for details of his relationships and to expect to be told. It doesn't sound as if you'd really moved on-and I understand why he hesitated to tell you that he had moved on.
Yeah, I can see it sound weird. I can only say that he'd been seeing a counsellor off and on for a couple of years and we had got used to discussing his mental health. Because this seemed precarious I was wary of hurting him and worried that he was just trashing the relationship out of a kind of self-destructive impulse. And I didn't say I wanted intimate details; I just wanted to know whether/if he was having a relationship with someone else, at which point I could remove myself. The lying didn't give me a chance to do this and the only reason I do know the intimate details is because of trying to tally up what didn't seem right, and from the long and emotional discussion after I found out.
Perhaps I was deluding myself a little and perhaps I did just want to make sure he was really over the marriage rather than it being a mental health problem (it has been diagnosed). Perhaps I felt over-invested or responsible. Or perhaps I'd lived with the insecurity caused by lies for so long I just didn't see what was real or sensible. I can see more clearly now.
It was him who wanted to discuss his disappointment with the failure of the new relationship...
Agree it all sounds rather incestuous...
I suppose you should either be together or not together-a 'friendship'that would for some reason have to end if he started a non platonic relationship does sound a bit more than just a friendship. Friend shouldn't have to remove themselves and his mistakes were his own to make or not, without guidance or needing to consider you. I don't mean to be harsh, sorry if it sounds so.
I'm not sure that this is going to be a helpful post for you or not - it's intended to be, so I hope that's how it comes across.
You live 350 miles away from him. You really can't tell whether, or the extent to which, he has lied to you. It might be the case that everything he's told you has been factually correct at the time of telling, but that things have changed subsequently.
You said the only reason I do know the intimate details is because of trying to tally up what didn't seem right, and from the long and emotional discussion after I found out. You had no right to try to tally up what didn't seem right. It's possible, from what you've written, that you have grossly invaded his privacy if you've been reading his personal communications, going through his receipts, etc.
Clearly I can't know what lengths you had to go to in your tallying up, and you certainly don't have to say, but do have a think about how you would feel is someone had done the same to you.
It also sounds like you have taken on a carer role (expected by you both) and subsume your needs into his. Ie his needs take precedence. To that end you have taken on a codependent dynamic within your relationship. Do research codependence, it is not a straightforward dysfunction.
I still say he's a grade A thingy though. MH issues are not an excuse for poor behaviour in relationships.
ChaCha thank you for being helpful (and it is sometimes hard to know whether people are, so thanks for saying so). I would have no issue with someone looking through my stuff, though I suppose I'm only saying that as someone who has nothing to hide. I do agree with Springy though about the codependency which probably means my boundaries are shit.
He had a few EAs during the marriage which I found very difficult to get over and hence was probably way more snoopy than I should have been. I get that. I am slowly becoming less unhinged.
Were you 'unhinged' before this relationship?
Did he get away with the 'few' EAs because of his MH issues?
Sounds like you've been led up the garden path.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.