I broke up with my LDR significant other ("SO") because of SO's emotional affair, which SO concealed from me. Is my regret and doubt for breaking up with SO a signal to reconcile or a natural part of the loss?
posted by sciolisticfelix to Human Relations (15 answers total)
I was recently in an LDR for about 2 years. We are 28. We saw each other once a month. When the relationship started and we became exclusive, I was dating someone else and stopped shortly thereafter. I never told the SO about the prior indiscretion (spoiler alert: double standard!). SO's career is narrowly focused and exists exclusively in the city where SO currently lives. My career has some mobility to it, although re-locating is not easy. SO and I had a lot of physical attraction and compatibility with one another. I sense this attraction as well as the psuedo-mystery/excitement of LDR kept us together. We had discussed long-term plans and met each other's family. A year into the relationship, SO had declared SO's love for me, only to have me respond by breaking up with SO and then reconciling a week or two later. SO then provided an ultimatum that I had to decide whether or not I am in love with SO by a certain date ("point X"). By point X, I decided that I was in love.
Benchmarking against past relationships, I at times had felt a bit unfulfilled in this relationship in two respects. First, I prefer to investigate and discuss ideas more than SO. One can refer to this as a disagreement in the appropriate amount of "intellectualism" (or how cerebral we are). Second, although SO's and my sense of humor overlap, SO rarely makes me laugh (at least not a belly bursting laugh the way others do) nor does SO seem to enjoy a lot of my humor or ill-timed frivolous nature. These issues alone were insufficient to end the relationship.
SO tells white lies, which SO generally attributed to poor memory or embarrassment. SO's white lies became more suspicious. For instance, SO went abroad shortly before point X. SO later volunteered that SO had met an individual on the trip who later sent SO a romantic gift. Given my surprise that someone would do such a thing for someone else in an exclusive relationship, SO revealed that although no cheating occurred, SO "connected" with the gift-giver on the trip and even expressed doubts to gift-giver regarding SO's and my relationship (prior to point X). SO shortly thereafter introduced a password on her cellphone. I discover (not through SO) that in between the delivery of the ultimatim and point X, SO had an ongoing interaction with another person for a month or two. This interaction included spending multiple evenings alone, cooking dinner together, watching movies, dancing, massages, talking on a daily basis, sharing certain sexually-desirous thoughts (e.g., "I want you"), and discussing sexual preferences (e.g., not preferring it "rough"). At the time, SO and I were not communicating daily or or very well; I was incredibly busy with work and not a very good partner in this respect. SO had also somewhat emotionally withdrawn due to my (at the time) unreciprocated declaration of love.
Because I could not reveal how I discovered the emotional affair, I confronted SO merely on the general topic. We discussed and agreed that any behavior even providing the appearance of dating others would likely be inappropriate, and at the least, should be shared openly between us. SO promised to be honest going forward. A few weeks later, I discover that SO went to a film with a person who may have been courting SO. SO did not physically cheat that evening because we spoke after the event. But SO lied and claimed to be doing something else that evening with friends. Upon confrontation, SO copped to the lie, albeit noting that the movie-goer was merely expressing a platonic interest. SO decided to lie, SO claimed, because SO was concerned that I would become unnecessarily worried or jealous. Given this explanation, I invited SO to "come clean" about all past events that SO may have concealed. SO provided a crumb where I wanted the whole cookie: SO revealed that SO actually had considered, shortly before point X, whether SO would leave me for the gift-giver. I tried to beat around the bush re: the emotional affair, and SO only said that the interaction with that person did not pan out.
SO profusely apologized, expressed regret, and asked what SO could do to rebuild trust and offered to provide all passwords to electronic media. The last point struck me as (a) not fool-proof because SO can still find a way to be dishonest (particularly in LDR), and (b) problematic because the desire or need to monitor SO's activities appears to be the antithesis of a trusting and healthy relationship. SO also began to offer to move to me (or at least try as much as I would try to move to SO) in the coming years. SO's moving could require a career sacrifice on SO's part and engender eventual bitterness. After (perhaps artificially) fast-tracking my view of the relationship of SO (e.g., whether I could envision spending my life with SO), I left SO. Given that this was the first individual with whom I was in love, the pain is very new. SO continues to be on my mind rather consistently, including resisting the temptation to reveal to SO my knowledge of SO's prior indiscretions. I have followed the general advice I have seen in other threads: exercise, seeing a therapist, friends/family, hobbies, etc. This has done little to change the lingering questions, which I present below:
(1) Am I being too hasty - acting on feelings of anger and hurt - in ending this relationship? Or is it appropriate to believe that your partner must be someone you trust unconditionally? That is, at the age of 28, is honesty (or the lack thereof) with a partner a character trait that one cannot change?
(2) Are you aware of anyone who has rebuilt trust in an LDR? (If you have experienced being in love with a partner in an LDR whom you did not trust, I would be interested to know if you came to a resolution.)
(3) For those who have left a loved one under similar circumstances (at least the lack of trust part), did you view your doubt and regret as healthy or a signal that a decision was made hastily? (I have also been told that if one is truly in love, they work through most any issues.)
I am interested in others' potentially relevant experiences or insight, albeit realizing YMMV. Thank you.