What to do when someone you love is lying to you?
April 4, 2012 4:07 PM   Subscribe

What do you do when someone you love is lying to you? Details inside! Thanks for the advice:)

I think the answers to this question have many applications as there are obviously a myriad of situations in our lives that involve others being dishonest. But to give some context the situation is as follows:
My common-law spouse had an affair in November with a co-worker. I had suspicions at the time and brought them up but was told nothing was going on they were friends and that was all. I accepted that as best I could but things still seemed a bit fishy. I think the guilt about lying to me got to him because he suddenly announced he was not sure about our future/if he loved me and needed some time to think. I was devastated but what can you say to that? "Take the time you need and talk to me about how we can work on our relationship so you don't feel that way because I love you and don't want to lose you/our relationship". I did ask if it was because of the coworker but he said that had nothing to do with it he was just confused about his life (in the middle of a very expensive property acquisition to boot).
He spent a week or so visiting family before returning and admitting that it was more than friends with the coworker but that he was sorry, it was a mistake, it was over and could I forgive him.
I agreed to trying to work things out and requested he not have any further contact with her, although I knew that seeing her occasionally at work would be unavoidable I asked that no texting or contact outside of work happen.
We did do a few counselling sessions but it seemed to cause more stress so we did not continue with the appointments although I am seeing a therapist privately to work at healing from this betrayal.
Things have been not too bad of late, the sale of the property went through so we have been working together on it, making plans and trying to communicate more constructively.
I have asked a few times in the past months if she is still texting and he has said not very much and only about work things but that he has returned a few of them in order to preserve a conflict free work environment. He reiterated that he had been very clear with me (and her) that the affair is over and he is committed to me. He assured me he will never make that mistake again.
Here is the big but...
He is lying about the texting. Not only that he is playing iPhone games with her and lying about that as well. They are texting frequently and when I made a 'check-in' inquiry if he has heard from her lately he said no but he did see her at work one day last week.
I think he believes that he can go on being friends with her because he is positive he won't make that mistake again so there is nothing to worry about.
At this point it isn't as much the continued texting that bothers me as much as it is the lying about it.
I am wondering if the guilt will get to him again and he will realize that he cannot stay friends with her while in a relationship with me or if he will decide that he isn't committed to me and eventually leave.

What do you do when someone you love is lying to you?! Should I let it go and see what happens? I am sure he hasn't seen her outside of work since things blew up in December but it's like knowing the ex-alcoholic is walking past a bar and trying to trust that he won't go in and take a drink.

Thanks for reading and for advice!!
posted by blubutterfly to Human Relations (39 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
What do you do when someone you love is lying to you?! '

Full access to the phone, e-mail and text or you are out of there.

The other move is the 180.

You need your own life.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:11 PM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

What? No, you don't just say "oh okay" when you know your partner is lying to you about someone they had an affair with. You lay down the fucking law. And after this transgression, in my house it would be passwords to everything - Facebook, email, phone account - or get the fuck out. He has repeatedly lied and shown he can't be trusted, and the result of that is that he gets... no trust.

Please consult Surviving Infidelity.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:14 PM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

If he has nothing to hide ask him if you can look at his text log on his phone. Unless he wipes their text history everyday, his iPhone should have it all stored on her text page. Which, if he does wipe their text exchange everyday...then he's still hiding something from you.

But I would be demanding all passwords to everything until I felt I could trust again. There is really no reason they should be playing iPhone games together or any thing else for that matter.
posted by Sweetmag at 4:22 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

He is purposely breaking your trust at a time when he should be making sure to be above reproach and doing everything humanly possibly to be above board. As a condition of continuing after the affair did you discuss that there would be consequences, like you leaving, if he were to keep breaking your trust and lying about it? He is having his cake and eating it too because there are no consequences for his actions and he is being selfish and putting his wants above what your relationship needs. How many times do you want to go through this with him?

I would gather screen shots, pictures of the texts etc, and consult a lawyer since you have property together. Protect yourself first since he sure as hell isn't protecting you. I'm sorry this is happening to you.
posted by cakebatter at 4:22 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Should I let it go and see what happens?

First, try answering the following question: What do you want?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

holy cow. No, you don't "Let it go and see what happens."

This is incredibly disrespectful. He wants to get back on track with you? He needs to SHOW YOU that he can be trusted. This is the opposite of showing you he can be trusted. How do you know he won't go there again? you don't- at all- and he is giving you zero reason to believe he has any intention other than to pull another one over on you.

sweet heart- it's time to lay down the law. If he can't even stop himself from texting her (out of simple respect for you) it does not bode well for stopping much else.
posted by Blisterlips at 4:26 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

As far as to where this goes, his actions are not those of a guilty, remorseful man. He will not cut off contact with her because he is not even willing to do that as a condition of ending the affair. He will continue to do what he wants as long as he can get away with it and he won't leave you either.

It will be a slow descent into hell. You don't have to passively observe, you can do something about it.
posted by cakebatter at 4:34 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Full access to the phone, e-mail and text or you are out of there.
no matter how much I might love someone, passwords, emails and similar stuff are totally off-limits for me. I sincerely doubt this approach works with just anyone and that's before we have even discussed the "I want to control you" issue. ugh.

you know who this person is. you know what's going on. you are not going to change them. the only question you could reasonably ask is whether you can live with the situation as-is. it seems you can't. so mention this. why are you talking to us and not your spouse? why are you not having a conversation with them? make your feelings known, ask for a solution, work on a solution and if it doesn't work for you call it quits. I hope that won't happen because you sound like you would prefer it not to.
posted by krautland at 4:37 PM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

There are currently no consequences for his betrayal. New home, easy lies, same job, games with easy co-worker - all he had to do was play a tough poker game and show you that he could/would leave you if you made a fuss. Now *you're* at counselling, instead of both of you there together facing the hard questions. I suspect that you feel like you can't take charge here because he will make the abandonment he's covertly threatened so far, explicit. I've been there -it's hard to take a stand when everything will come crashing down - house, marriage, honour. But, those things are already compromised, they are resting on lies and disrespect.

November is very recent so I know the hurt is raw. Not only has he had an affair, he's recently made it explicit that he contemplated leaving you, rather than expressing remorse. Harsh. Out of interest - did he really go to his family for a week in November? Or was this a trip with co-worker? And how much of being with you is related to an expensive house sale? You need to get tough.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:45 PM on April 4, 2012 [30 favorites]

OK, I'll have to completely disagree with some of the posters in here.

I would never ever ask someone I'm in a relationship with to hand over all their passwords etc.
If the basis of a relationship is total surveillance and zero privacy then it's not a relationship worth having. It makes me shudder to even think about it.

When a person lies to me and breaks my trust in relation to something very important to me then I can't trust them anymore and can't be with them anymore. If it's less severe I may give them another chance to regain my trust but if I'm willing to do that I won't require ankle monitoring bracelets for that. Trust can only be rebuilt mutually. How could you ever respect and love someone as a partner if you're keeping tabs on them like you would on a little child?

I would never want to be with someone I feel I need to monitor at all times but I would also never want to be with someone who would even accept such demands and conditions from me.

If you can't trust this person and don't want to give it another shot... then don't be with them. It may hurt but trying to "improve" the situation by force can't possibly have a desirable outcome. It may have a stable outcome but it'd be based on distrust, suspicion and resentment rather than happiness and respect.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:47 PM on April 4, 2012 [28 favorites]

Can you all go to a therapist with experience in infidelity?
posted by salvia at 5:00 PM on April 4, 2012

What do you do when someone you love is lying to you?! Should I let it go and see what happens?

I don't know what you should do, because I'm not you, but if I were in that situation I would demand better from my partner. Also couples therapy.

The surveillance thing wouldn't work for me at all, but I know that some people (both the lied-to and the liars) find it useful as an accountability check.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2012

does he know that you know that he is lying?
posted by anthropomorphic at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2012

This is usually where I come in and recommend a Fidelity Plan. honey-barbara is correct, as is Blisterlips - there must be consequences that make him think about what he's doing. But more, he has to figure out why he's doing it in order to work on it. He needs to realize he's done you harm, and that just coming back and behaving better isn't quite enough.

I learned of this from a cheesy radio show, and with our therapist's help, used it for my first marriage:
Joy Browne, PhD
Special from Bottom Line/Women's Health

No woman in her right mind would suggest that adultery strengthens a marriage. But a relationship can survive and even thrive afterward if the wounded partner finds the courage to demand answers to three questions...

Why did this happen? Saying, "I was drunk" or "It just happened" doesn't cut it. If it "just happened" once, it could just happen again -- so there's no basis for resurrecting trust. The unfaithful partner must figure out the real reason -- "I felt old and was trying to feel young again" or "I miss the way we used to make love." Once the problem is acknowledged, it can be worked on.

How can you promise it won't happen again? A fidelity plan identifies the lesson learned ("No fling is worth endangering our marriage")... puts constraints in place ("I'll be home by 6 pm every night")... and offers options ("I'll go with you for counseling or do whatever you want to show how sorry I am").

What's in it for me if you cheat again? This idea came about when a caller to my radio show said her cheating husband wanted another chance. He loved his boat -- so I said, "If he'll sign a document saying that if he cheats, you get the boat, then you've got a shot. Before he's unfaithful again, he'll think, 'Bimbo? Or boat?' If he won't sign, he's not willing to put his heart into fidelity."

Note that I said "first marriage". I got the car, and out of the marriage debt-free.

For your part, I love the 180 that Ironmouth recommended, as something practical for you to implement in the meantime. What it seems like here is that he is testing your boundaries, and you have shown him that they are pretty squiggly. It's not fun to be living on tenterhooks, I know. It is much easier to make a decision when it is clear that someone is so very willfully cheating.
posted by peagood at 5:12 PM on April 4, 2012 [20 favorites]

I want to offer a different perspective on the password thing. It's not necessarily that you're going to be on his email everyday, but that he can demonstrate to you that he isn't going to be betraying you. In my (good) marriage, I have no interest in reading my husband's email or facebook (and vice versa).

However, on the one or two occasions that I've needed to go there (to get an address or something), I've just opened up his computer or called him for the password, and gotten the information. Likewise, he's my IT guy, so he knows my main passwords. We don't use them recreationally, but neither of us is scared of what the other might see if we get a look at each other's phones.

That's my perspective on what a trust-filled relationship looks like -- I'm not digging, but there's no fear of what I'd see if I looked, and the fact that I know his password is one piece of external evidence of that.
posted by freshwater at 5:20 PM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

I am wondering if the guilt will get to him again and he will realize that he cannot stay friends with her while in a relationship with me

Nope - why have one when he can have two?

or if he will decide that he isn't committed to me and eventually leave.

Or yeah, there's that. Which means you're giving up the power over your own life to someone else - you're waiting for it to happen to you.

Maybe you should just leave him? What are you getting out of this situation?
posted by mleigh at 5:23 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I could not/would not do the full access thing*, but to me, it seems like that ship has sailed -- the optimal time to have done it would have been post-confession, but now that you already know he's lying it seems kind of pointless unless you want to have Confession Part II. I guess it depends on how many chances you are willing to give. Not to mention, if she knows he's texting/gaming with her she must have some access to his phone and he'd have to be pretty clueless to think that she would never look -- I think the fact that he's maintaining contact with her and not even bothering to hide it speaks volumes, actually.

*To me, there's a world of difference between having my partner's password because I need something and he gives it to me, and having it because I don't trust him and he has to demonstrate to me that I can. But, apples, oranges, varying mileage.

What went so wrong in couples' therapy? Is he in individual therapy to work on the issues that caused his betrayal of your relationship, or are you the only one in therapy trying to get over it?

What you do depends on what you want. You can re-iterate your boundaries and let him know there's consequences if he crosses them. It doesn't matter whether he thinks he won't do it again. You asked him not to do this and he put his feelings above yours. Again.

You can also keep your mouth shut and wait it out. But that will probably lead to unnecessary suffering on your part as you go crazy trying to figure out what's really going on.

Or, you could start using your individual therapy sessions to help you figure out how to and gain the strength to make your own life, sans untrustworthy spouse.
posted by sm1tten at 5:36 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

you know who this person is. you know what's going on. you are not going to change them. the only question you could reasonably ask is whether you can live with the situation as-is

OP, you can set whatever boundaries you want and enforce them. The idea that you're just supposed to take it flies in the face of all of the psychology on this. Demand to know or leave.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:47 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

You seem like a sweetheart. I can see from your profile that you're a nurse, as well. You come across as a caretaker here.But you have to stop being so nice. He is taking advantage of you. Believe it.

Personally, it pains me that any good person anywhere puts up with this treatment. You deserve more, and it's possible to be in a relationship without all the guesswork. Why do you think that isn't your due? It's your due. Are you just comfortable? Are you too scared?

If you really want to work it out, you should ask to see the texts and go from there. If he is defensive, I wouldn't put up with that. You deserve to know and he should accommodate you after what has happened between you.
posted by amodelcitizen at 5:57 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can't trust this person and don't want to give it another shot... then don't be with them. It may hurt but trying to "improve" the situation by force can't possibly have a desirable outcome. It may have a stable outcome but it'd be based on distrust, suspicion and resentment rather than happiness and respect.

Except that distrust is 100% called for here. This person cheated, and then violated their agreement not to text based on their own admission. If the cheater is truly interested in the marriage, they have an obligation to restore trust. That is done by verifiable information. To just blindly trust in this situation, dear OP, is nothing short of stupidity.

More importantly, these are proven methods that psychologists advise their clients to use.

Remember, this is not "force." this is saying these are the conditions I am willing to take you back under. Force is when there is no choice. Here there is a choice. The person can say no. There are consequences. Thinking that there is a magical land where breaking promises has no consequences is where the cheater goes wrong. If they are unwilling to prove they can be trusted, your marriage isn't worth the paper the marriage certificate is written on.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did couples therapy not work because the therapist was a bad fit? Or did he, specifically, balk at therapy or get defensive when called upon his treatment of you?

It seems that you told him what you needed (no non-work contact with the affair partner) and he's not complying. Are you afraid that if you really enforced your boundaries he'd leave? If so, not only is that a sucky relationship for you, accepting that you are with him "on sufferance" subject to his lying to you and cheating on you isn't necessarily going to keep him around for a long time anyway. If you say, "I want you to treat me in a loving and honest way and direct your love energy towards me and our relationship" and he says "I can't be with you under those conditions. I'm leaving" you have probably hastened an inevitable ending. BT, DT: being a doormat to keep a partner merely drags out the demise of a relationship AND leaves you feeling ten times crappier and more depressed than before AND can leave a huge emotional/trauma mess in your mind and heart that takes more effort to mop up after.

Can you get him to go with you to couples counseling? Can he make a good-faith effort to not contact the affair partner? Can he show evidence of his commitment to and love for you (not just words)?

I think that Honey-Barbara speaks wisdom here. Threatening abandonment upon your putting down boundaries is bad news. See a lawyer to make sure your property and money rights are secured in the event of a breakup.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:03 PM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think I would say to him I know you are in much closer contact with __ than you have told me. It's intolerable to me, and if it continues, I will leave. Don't get caught up in arguments about details, or how you know, or whether it's okay. It's not okay with you. It's a bad idea because he's likely to cheat again; he's already lying.

You deserve honesty, and you deserve to be treated with respect. Let him know that. Get the paperwork in order, and be prepared to fight for a fair property split, if it comes to that. It's very likely that he would hate to lose you, but thinks he can do whatever he wants. i recommend you correct this misperception.

If couples therapist 1 didn't work out, keep trying.
posted by theora55 at 6:04 PM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this.

In your shoes, I would privately have a look through your joint finances and see a lawyer before confronting him about the continued contact. That sounds cold-blooded, but he let you get more financially entangled (if I am reading your post right) even as he was secretly undermining your relationship. With that track record, I wouldn't put it past him to start hiding assets or something if he thought you might leave.
posted by BibiRose at 6:47 PM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

At this point, what you do is talk to a lawyer about how best to prepare to split your property. He doesn't want to show regard for your feelings or the truth and that means an honest, safe relationship is not going to happen. If he won't take care of you, you have to take care of yourself.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:44 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh no... Co-worker? That's no good. I speak from experience: Either your spouse must find a new job or his co-worker should. Otherwise it's way too easy for them to fall back into a relationship again, either next week or years down the line. It's the only way the three of you can move forward. My heart goes out to you.
posted by mochapickle at 9:15 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Full access to the phone, e-mail and text or you are out of there

For me, this is nonsense. If I can't trust my partner, the thing to do is leave, not turn myself into my partner's parole officer. I would not lower myself to that role in a relationship. I'd prefer to be single.
posted by ead at 10:37 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd rather be single that be in a relationship with someone whom I can't trust because they A. cheated on me in the past and B. lie to me in the present.
posted by emd3737 at 11:20 PM on April 4, 2012

For me, sometimes the "idea of things" is more scary than "reality"... I was in a relationship where we were living together and totally in love, then I found evidence that he had invited a woman over for sex while I was on vacation... (I just had a feeling) it was devastating, he was really really sorry... cut off all contact. I was upset about it for months! We started arguing and I would get really raw and upset... finally, I had to realize that this was not going to end well... that the straw would break the camels back and one day I'd be grabbing all my stuff, in tears, and stuff it all in my car and drive away. I've done that before, and I didn't want to do it again. And frankly all that fear and hurt was DRIVING ME NUTS- literally.

So I decided that I needed to get ready to leave. I looked at my options for flats, I planned how my days would be spent (doing what I wanted to do! Yeah!) I looked around on plenty of fish and imagined dating again. I got my haircut, highlights, nails done, lost a few pounds, started dressing decently again, focused on work, put on earrings and heels, started calling up my friends.

And you know what? It wasn't scary anymore, I had empowered myself by removing my personal fear of leaving- and it allowed me to properly evaluate my relationship. He wasn't my life anymore, he was getting to hang around as long as we were having fun... but hey- if it didn't suit me WHENEVER I was going to be f.i.n.e in fact, better.

Then I had a bit of perspective... I didn't really worry about whether he'd do it again, because, for me, my life would be okay no matter what... and I thought more and more about what was working for ME- not making US work.

My situation was better than yours in the sense we hadn't been together as long, and he hadn't had an affair and left me- but if my small comparison hurt my sense of self as much as it did- I can only imagine how you're feeling.

Just be you, be amazing YOU... put the energy from the fear into your own personal renaissance... this is actually a chance for you to take a long hard walk up a tough hill- but the view is beautiful.
posted by misspony at 1:51 AM on April 5, 2012 [10 favorites]

Things like this just break my heart, and I'm super sorry that this has happened to you.
My only contribution is this, short and simple.

What would you tell your best friend in the world to do if this was happening to her?
This is a person that you've known the longest.
This is a person that knows you, inside and out.
There are no secrets between the two of you.
There is nothing but love and acceptance.

What would you tell her to do?

Do that.
posted by THAT William Mize at 4:09 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I could have written this post about three years ago. Having been where you are, I know it sucks, and I'm sorry.

Unfortunate truth is, you can lay down any laws and demand any passwords you will, but if he wants to, he will still find a way to be in contact with her. He'll buy a pre-paid phone you don't have access to, he'll open another email account, etc... he has already demonstrated that he does not intend to honor your (very reasonable!) request that he cut off contact.

I believe someone who was truly regretful and sorry over this would be asking what they could do to help you feel safe, offering ways to verify that they were complying with those requests, and actively seeking other employment so that they could entirely cut off contact. My ex wasn't willing to do those things, instead preferring to keep furtively contacting her while maintaining the appearance of "working on the marriage." It basically let him keep one foot in each camp until he was sure he wanted to leave and be with her, and let him save face with friends/family ("hey, I tried! look, we even went to counseling!"). This also sunk into the abusive dynamic of him telling me I was "crazy" and "paranoid" every time I thought the affair was continuing (he did not realize I had access to his cell phone records).

The whole experience was pretty emotionally shredding, but it taught me the very important lesson that you cannot force someone to be faithful and trustworthy. In a situation like this, they're either genuinely sorry they've screwed up and are taking the steps to make it right, or they're continuing to be a lying sack of shit who will keep pulling these stunts until you leave or until they find someone they decide is worth leaving for.
posted by scandalamity at 4:28 AM on April 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well, he's had two chances and it seems like "working it out" meant you learning to submit and try harder to please.

Are you going to have a problem with housing now? I really think you need to get a lawyer before you do anything else at all.

I would absolutely never trust this person again, ever. Sorry, it sucks.
posted by tel3path at 6:04 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

What do you do when someone you love is lying to you?

I left and found someone wonderful who doesn't lie to me.

Unfortunately, you can't know what your spouse wants or feels or believes, because he lies all the time. Maybe he regrets what happened and wants to make things work... or maybe he'd leave you if there wasn't something inconvenient about it for him. Maybe all that stuff about "should we break up, no let's work it out" was all a fiction to get you to stop bugging him so he can continue playing around... or so that he can set up his exit in a way that is more convenient to him. How can you possibly know, since he lies all the time?

At this point you can only make decisions based on what you want, feel and believe, and what you know is true. You know that he cheated. You know that he's not sorry enough about what has happened to discontinue recreational communication with the person he cheated with. You know that he lies about it, and maybe lies about a lot more as well. To me, this seems like the road to crazytown. I don't know how it's possible to have a relationship with someone you can never, ever believe.

At the very least I would definitely get my legal ducks firmly in a row, and put together some plan about how to transition out of the relationship, because for all you know, maybe that's exactly what he's doing right now. If I were you, I'd be worried about what else he may not be entirely honest about. I think I'd be checking all the things.
posted by taz at 12:20 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

To be honest, I am scared, terrified actually. My stomach is in knots just writing this post.This is a person I love and been through a lot with and I just don't understand why this is happening.

He does not know that I know the truth about the texting/games and will not ever agree to handing over passwords to anything because to him that is an invasion of his privacy and in his words, he told me it was over with her so I have nothing to worry about. I do know for sure he was with his parents in another city for the week he went away to 'figure things out'.

Sadly there is no crystal ball to look into to know if what he says is/always will be the truth. That is a risk we take in all relationships but one that a traumatized person is more acutely aware of.

I do need to get tough, I know the advice here is good, reading the way others phrase it has helped me to feel less 'crazy', and to know that I'm not being unreasonable in wanting no contact between him and the other woman.

I would like to just say to him 'I know you are still texting, I know you are playing online games with her and worst of all you have continued to lie to me. When you said you wanted to work through things with me you agreed to no contact of this nature with her so what changed and how exactly do you propse to fix this?'. But I know that before the first sentence of that has left my lips it will become a fight about me not trusting him and that being what the real problem is.

While I know in my heart and head that is utter bs it puts me immediately on the defensive and the conversation fails. Another part of me wants to call and confront the other woman and ask if she thinks the decent thing to do is to continue to remain contact with someone else's spouse but while she's in the equation I know that she's not the entire problem (although I do blame her a lot for her continued pursual of a relationship with him).

I have called a lawyer now, waiting for a callback for a consultation. I have read through the 'Surviving Infidelity' and '180' that Ironmouth and DarlingBri suggesting and I cannot say thank-you enough for those resources.

I hate this situation and I'm so scared but I appreciate the advice and support.
Now I just have to reinforce my spine and get my ducks in a row in case this cannot be worked out.
posted by blubutterfly at 3:53 PM on April 5, 2012

'I know you are still texting, I know you are playing online games with her and worst of all you have continued to lie to me. When you said you wanted to work through things with me you agreed to no contact of this nature with her so what changed and how exactly do you propse to fix this?'

Fool me once, shame on you- fool me twice and....


You can do this. don't be afraid. Life alone is okay. You are amazing (or you wouldn't be on mefi!!!!!)

Please me-mail me if you need a fairly consistent sounding board- I'll do my best
posted by misspony at 4:17 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

But I know that before the first sentence of that has left my lips it will become a fight about me not trusting him and that being what the real problem is.

That alone is reason to leave -- if someone can't hear and address what's bothering you without changing the subject to what you did to him or how the whole thing is your fault. How can you ever get your needs met?
posted by salvia at 4:54 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know that before the first sentence of that has left my lips it will become a fight about me not trusting him and that being what the real problem is.

Classic cheater's strategy.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:39 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are so strong! Wait until you get things figured out legally and then confront him from a position of (relative) strength. This must be so hard, and you're facing it rather well, I think.

So sorry that this is happening to you--it isn't right.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:43 PM on April 5, 2012

If you know that the conversation is going to be turned on you, can you have this conversation via email? Or leave him a note? Maybe give him the note on Saturday morning as you are heading out the door. Spend the whole day doing something for yourself -- a hike, shopping, getting your nails done or whatever makes you happy. Tell him to text you when he is ready to talk calmly and rationally about this situation and you will come home and discuss it. Make it clear in the note what you are willing to discuss (his infidelity) and what you are not willing to discuss (his rights to 'privacy').

Don't do this until you have consulted your attorney and figured out what YOU want.

Personally, I am not sure he is in a place at the moment where this relationship is salvageable. I think you need to tell him what you know, tell him you are not interested in discussing your relationship with him until he is ready to commit to a relationship with you, and do the 180 thing. After lawyering up.
posted by LittleMy at 7:51 AM on April 6, 2012

Thank you for updating us, blubutterfly - and wishing you strength.

Yes, definitely lawyer up BEFORE you do anything else like confront your partner. Make sure you document all financial transactions, know where all the accounts (joint and separate) are and what is in them, what your rights are regarding property and money and so on.

As far as your partner is concerned - "I know that before the first sentence of that has left my lips it will become a fight about me not trusting him and that being what the real problem is" - that is frankly bad news. He not only refuses accountability, he makes it YOUR problem. YOU are the nagging, suspicious shrew. That bodes ill for keeping your relationship together, I'm sorry to say, unless he accepts both counseling and accountability AND is prepared to cut the affair partner off completely and work with you on your relationship.

It sounds like what I call the "reservoir of goodwill" is not there on his end. This reservoir of goodwill is when someone loves their partner, truly cares about their welfare, and wants to make their partner happy and the relationship strong. It's not about granting their partner's every wish - sometimes compromises and sacrifices have to be made, but they should be mutual, not one-sided, and the partner should acknowledge that a sacrifice or compromise is being made and appreciate it. A partner who lacks that reservoir of goodwill for you to tap into means they only want what THEY can get out of the relationship, and could care less about what makes YOU happy. They treat you like furniture. That is a soul-sucking and demoralizing position to be in for ANYONE.

There's a therapeutic chestnut about how it "takes two" to make or break a relationship. I agree that it takes two to MAKE a relationship, but to BREAK a relationship can sometimes truly be the act of one person - one person who Just Doesn't Care or is actively abusive.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2012

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