Boyfriend's emotional affair - is cutting contact how we resolve it?
September 5, 2017 11:17 PM   Subscribe

I believe boyfriend was having an emotional affair, he admits it was inappropriate although still insists they are friends only. He thinks he should cut contact, but is this the best solution?

Last weekend my boyfriend and I were getting ready to go out - I to catch up with a close female friend and when I asked who he was meeting, he said 'Ross and Louise - and I don't know who else will be there!'. I remember thinking it was a little weird but that's all. We travelled into town together via the train when he kissed me goodbye he said 'Let's meet for a drink before we head home later. Get in touch.'

When I got in touch he told me he was now walking to a friend's house (in the opposite direction of the station). I asked if he was still coming to meet me for that drink, he said yes and came to the pub. But when he got there he seemed off. The next day I was using his ipad when several messages from a woman appeared - he mentioned that this woman, who I thought to be a fairly casual acquaintance, had been there last night.

Next morning I felt very odd and did something I'd never, ever, usually do - I looked at his messages with her. They talk every day, or every other day. About family, travelling, future dreams. He also shared a book with her that he reads to me before bed and said he wants to lend her a DVD he lent me too. An example:-

Her: 'I love how you send me all these cute dog articles! It has made my day before it even really began.'
BF: I'm glad it made your day. *4 hours later* How has the rest of your day been? *conversation continues on*

The thing that really stung was that he contacted her the day after we were at the pub saying 'sorry I cut the night short, would have loved to stay longer. If I wasn't heading to *trip with me and his friends* next weekend I would have been extremely keen to come to your party.' Bizarre, seeing as we were always making plans together that weekend as it is his birthday. She asked if he had a good time at the pub and he said 'yes, but I would rather have stayed sitting on the couch for longer, the alcohol didn't sit well in my stomach.' Additionally, he was always planning to meet just her without 'Ross and Louise' and had omitted her completely when I asked.

I admitted I snooped, underlining it is out of character. At first he said she's just a friend and that was all. I went to stay with family for a day and when I came back we talked again. He stood by that she was a friend only and that if anything was going to happen romantically it would have. He also said that his ex had given him hell if he so much as said hello to another woman and that he thought his lie was a by-product, however unacceptable.

He said he thinks it best if he cuts contact completely for a long time, perhaps up to a year. He said after examining their conversations more closely he sees they have got too intense. He said he is going to send her a message explaining the situation.

What concerns me is that she is part of a friend group wherein I will still be spending time with those friends. What if she confides in them, telling them I'm a crazy GF who won't let him speak to her? I sincerely feel my concerns are valid but I am concerned that this will be a consequence.

Should he cut contact for a long time? Is there another way to resolve this?

A positive outcome is that we talked long and hard about WHY, the main one from him being 'I have always had a deep need to please other people/not let them down. And I'm exhausted.' We also discussed our boundaries in close opposite sex friendships. He says he feels he is getting all his needs met in the relationship. He said he doesn't have as much relationship experience as me (true) and therefore hasn't had to think much about boundaries previously. He also told me he sees me as his life partner and that he will do what it takes to make the relationship work.
posted by Willow251 to Human Relations (70 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
May not be what you want to hear, but your boyfriend was planning to sleep with her, if he hasn't done so already.

And regardless of whether or not he ceases all contact with this particular woman, the dynamic at play here indicates he will find someone else to have the same kind of emotional - and physical - connection.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:27 PM on September 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Also this may or may not make a difference: but they did not meet up alone. They met up in the group, I heard his friends I know in the background. He says it was a whole bunch of them sitting in the couch and there was no more to it...
posted by Willow251 at 11:34 PM on September 5, 2017

If it was so innocent, why didn't he mention that he was meeting her too? Why didn't he tell you after the fact that she was there? Why haven't you heard of her before, given that he talks to her all day? And why is he telling her that the only reason they're not catching up more is because he has something else on that weekend, otherwise it would be on? There's nothing remotely innocent about it, the only reason they haven't slept together is scheduling. Should he cut contact? Yes. With you. Permanently.
posted by Jubey at 11:47 PM on September 5, 2017 [34 favorites]

He needs to cut contact but take responsibility for it on himself - this is about him setting boundaries and make his primary relationship a priority - he should not be using the crazy girlfriend as a line to excuse himself for pulling back.

I would accept his offer of cutting contact since it was his suggestion and let him that you are open to renegotiating in the future when things are more solid between the two of you.
posted by metahawk at 11:48 PM on September 5, 2017 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: Further detail: he did tell me afterwards that she was there. Which makes it even more perplexing that he didn't just say she would be in the first place. Eventually he said he was worried about how it would look! Again he says this comes down to being severely brow beaten by ex but I am unsure.
posted by Willow251 at 11:55 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Look, it depends on your tolerance for drama. Personally, I wouldn't want a partner that I constantly have to police and lay down boundaries and guidelines for. And now you know he omits things and has secret conversations and all sorts of things. His explanation does nothing to cover him in glory; she's a friend and if a romance was going to happen it would have. Note that he didn't deny having feelings for her, he just said the opportunity to do something about it hadn't happened yet. Very telling. So it appears like he was trying to create a space for it to happen.

Anyway, you're now seeing who this person really is so at least you're going into it with your eyes open about what to expect from him going forward.
posted by Jubey at 12:08 AM on September 6, 2017 [13 favorites]

Yep, it sounds like he is actively trying to get with this person--while also keeping a half-assed semblance of plausible deniability with you until the moment that he's actually "successful"; then he'll dump you.
He hasn't done anything with her only because she hasn't let him yet.
You should dump this loser.
posted by blueberry at 12:35 AM on September 6, 2017 [15 favorites]

Further detail: he did tell me afterwards that she was there. Which makes it even more perplexing that he didn't just say she would be in the first place. Eventually he said he was worried about how it would look!

I'm assuming that "Louise" is also female and he was happy to tell you that she would be there but not this woman . That says that on some level he was aware that this woman is a particular risk for you to be anxious about. Regardless of whether his ex has made him overly afraid of the reactions of his romantic partners he knew on some level his relationship with this woman was an issue.

It may well be true that he didn't consciously know that but if so I think it's because he's avoided thinking too closely about it.

I'd also be a little sceptical about his account of his ex. It may well be true that she was unreasonably paranoid and jealous and that's affecting his behaviour now but it's also possible that he has a history of fuzzy boundaries with other women and that caused a lot of conflict that he interpreted as paranoia on her part.
posted by *becca* at 12:44 AM on September 6, 2017 [35 favorites]

Sorry, another thing just jumped out at me. He said this happened because he was exhausted at pleasing other people and not letting them (ie you) down, and so, what he's finally decided he's going to do what pleases HIM instead, which is go after her?

This man is telling you point blank that being with you feels like an exhausting chore to be endured and she is the sweet relief, but you know, he will knuckle down, give up his prize and shackle himself to you and do what it takes. Like a life sentence. What a hero.
posted by Jubey at 12:50 AM on September 6, 2017 [38 favorites]

Sounds like a bunch of excuses. Do you want to be with a guy that makes excuses for his behavior all the time? Do you want to feel like you're not getting the "full" truth and have to claw and dig and drag out information that should be freely given? I mean, this isn't worth it and you know it. This guy isn't worth your time. Believe it. And move on. You're in for a world of hurt if you let this go and then his excuses will become your excuses for him. You don't deserve this bs.
posted by lunastellasol at 1:00 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's his exes fault who was worried about being cheated on that he emotionally cheated on you?? That's a terrible excuse for emotionally cheating on you.

I'm going to be brutally honest here: this reads like you're trying too hard to be "cool girl" about this situation. You should be annoyed at him. This is on him. If you don't want to be the kind of partner who makes ultimatums then you also need to be with a partner who doesn't put you in a position to make them.
posted by hotcoroner at 1:19 AM on September 6, 2017 [24 favorites]

Best answer: Excuses, excuses, excuses. Everything is everyone else's fault, never his: his crazy ex made him hide things, he's innocent because he's inexperienced, you wouldn't understand and so he lied for your own good, everything between him and her was TOTALLY innocent, and you're the one blowing it all out of proportion. Yada yada yada.

No contact sounds like a great idea, as long as you mean no contact between you and him! The dude is an experienced liar who is now also gaslighting you; if you stay and he promises to cut off all contact with her then one of two things will definitely happen: either he'll bury his continued affair with her deeper, beneath locked-down phones and computers plus even MORE lies; or else he will cut her off --- but only to replace her with yet another someone else. Either way, he has shown you who he is: a liar who, if he hasn't yet physically had sex with this person (and I'm not convinced he hasn't --- taking HIS word yes-or-no is worthless) certainly meant to do so, with the full knowledge of his friend-group.

(Have you ever actually talked to his ex? I'd be curious what HER explanation is for their break-up.....)
posted by easily confused at 1:23 AM on September 6, 2017 [19 favorites]

Response by poster: I have never talked to the ex. She has just got married and I posed the suggestion to boyfriend that maybe she needs a certain type of guy ad maybe her new husband doesn't feel the need for female friends and that works for them.

These are valid concerns people are voicing and I have them too. The thing is: I felt, deep in my heart , that he was remorseful. He said his need to please other people and be liked by others was a large part of it. He is the guy that fixes everyones car and helps them move home, who will drop everything to go and help them. I told him one person can't be a priority if he is always busy trying to please everyone. And that has to change. Of course he may have also wanted to f*ck her.

RE future behaviour. I said I was concerned he would replace her with another. He said that he will specifically put distance between himself and other women in the future, doing so because I am the priority. While I am leaning towards giving him a second chance (he will not get a third), I am still weighing it up. I believe he well and truly realises what is on the line and will work to change it. Whether he can TRULY kick the habit? We'll see.
posted by Willow251 at 1:31 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Right from the start of your question, you've had excuses and reasons for everything he has done. You sound pretty committed to defending him and sticking with him no matter what so I'm curious as to what you're hoping to get out of us if your mind is already made up.
posted by Jubey at 1:41 AM on September 6, 2017 [26 favorites]

He's remorseful and making excuses because he got caught. In his heart of hearts, he's just upset that he got caught. That's it. He's telling you who he is. Listen to him.
posted by quince at 2:16 AM on September 6, 2017 [16 favorites]

Human beings like to please others and be liked. He's not particular in that matter. Where he is particular, is saying a lot of words that don't fit with his actions.

Base your decision on his actions, not his words.

General rule of thumb I've always applied in life, having grown up in a family who loved to spread nonsense about others: take behind-the-back gossip with a massive grain of salt. A grain of salt so big you don't even lick it until you can tell it's actually salt and not a thin crust that's covering BS. You don't know his ex or their relationship. He knows that, and he's using it as a way to excuse his bad behavior. Who's the central actor in all this, no matter which story is true? Him. His actions.
posted by fraula at 3:20 AM on September 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: This question and the follow ups make me sad, because from a distance we can see how this is probably going to play out and it isn't good. The seed of distrust was there for a reason. You snooped because you knew something was off.

He has all the right answers because he was caught red handed. He's putting you in the position of regulating his behaviour, being the killjoy girlfriend, policing him. That is a thankless job, believe me. And that uneasy feeling in your chest/your stomach/wherever you feel anxiety? It's here to stay.

He won't change. He'll get better at deceiving you and making you doubt your instincts.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 3:55 AM on September 6, 2017 [42 favorites]

These are excuses. Do you really believe that he felt compelled to repeatedly message her, asking her about her day and telling her that he'd rather have stayed out with her than cut his night short to see his girlfriend and all the rest, just to keep her happy? Do you think he'd message his male friends that way? Was he sending cute dog pictures to everyone?

Yes, he wanted her to like him. He was actively fueling that fire. Your boyfriend had agency in this and he chose to pursue a flirtation with his female friend for his benefit alone, not for her benefit and certainly not for yours. His actions look entirely selfish to me, not people pleasing. Once you caught him, he likely WAS genuinely remorseful--because he'd gotten caught.

Look, I've seen this play out several times. Guy with girlfriend does exactly what your boyfriend did. Continues doing it until one of two things happens: 1) he is caught by the girlfriend before he has reached a point in the flirtation where sex was possible, in which case he apologizes profusely, swears it was all nothing to his girlfriend, minimizes the whole thing and breaks it off with the object of his flirtation or 2) he amps up the flirting until he does have sex with the object of his flirtation and possibly dumps his girlfriend for her in the process, depending.

You can't trust him. He is keeping his eye out for other options. He will do and say anything to keep you from leaving while he doesn't have another option, though. Look at the messages he sent to her again.
posted by Polychrome at 5:05 AM on September 6, 2017 [15 favorites]

I mean you should dump him but based on your phrasing and all of your follow up comments defending him, you aren't going to. I understand. I've been in your shoes and it sucks. I think that he will continue with this behavior until you finally hit your limit.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:11 AM on September 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: He said that while he realises these things are no EXCUSE, I am inclined to agree with him that his entrenched behaviours do go some way to explaining it.

He is 25, until now a consistently decent guy but a little immature and obviously in need of external validation of late. Like snickerdoodle says, it takes internal work to fix it. Are most of you saying that at 25 the guy is a lost cause? That there is no point in even trying to work on this even though he was self aware enough to examine/tell me his failures and insecurities?

I mean, maybe all of you are correct and he will continue his behaviour. I straight up told him that he must work to regain my trust as I am concerned that he may just be a flat out liar/will continue to be. He is an adult and responsible for himself. But I believe that he wants to make amends. Will he change? I don't know. I mean, people are saying I'm making excuses but I am giving him HELL for this. It's always difficult when love & investment is present.
posted by Willow251 at 5:39 AM on September 6, 2017

a little immature

I'd say. What is he doing to work on himself? Therapy? Because this isn't just down to being young - having a deep-seated need to be a people pleaser, damage from past relationships that's unresolved, and poor boundaries don't solve themselves. If he means it, he needs to start getting to work on it.
posted by Miko at 5:57 AM on September 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

The critical piece here isn't that he was flirting and getting close to her. It's that he hid it from you, which means he knew it wasn't on. But he did it anyway and took steps to keep you in the dark.

He wasn't "self-aware." He got caught. If you had not seen those messages on the iPad he would still be sending her dog pictures.

That's not a maturity issue, it's an integrity issue.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:57 AM on September 6, 2017 [31 favorites]

It really does sound like you are grossly underestimating the intensity of emotional maturity and volume of work it takes for a person to genuinely change. He's doing this because you caught him, and not because he was independently yearning to be a better person.

Hell, even when you're internally motivated, that shit is so hard. It's doomed to fail when someone does it just to save face.
posted by crawfo at 5:59 AM on September 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Everyone is right but you don't want to hear it. I understand why, I was manipulated like this in my early twenties. Your need to defend him makes me really sad.
No one is going to validate this for you. He's going to hurt you again and eventually the relationship will end. It would be better for you to protect yourself now. Eventually you can be with someone that respects you.
Stop making excuses for him, be brave, give yourself a chance.
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:01 AM on September 6, 2017 [11 favorites]

Your bf also blames women for his own shitty behavior and I would never want to be with someone like that.
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:02 AM on September 6, 2017 [21 favorites]

I had this happen to me at 25, we broke up over it, got back together at 28 when I thought he'd grown up and guess what? He did it again with a different woman.

I suppose there must be some people who change their ways, but it's more likely they'll continue to do the same. I think the guy I mentioned has changed enough that he probably won't ever cheat on his current wife (although he was a little too flirty with me when I ran into him once recently), however will he make her feel insecure, a bit inadequate, doubt herself, not totally supported, and wonder sometimes whether she could have found a relationship with someone who really feels like he's got her back? God yes.

To keep yourself a bit saner in this situation if you do stay with him, I'd recommend making a "red flag watchlist" for yourself to check back in on just for you periodically. Three months down the line, six months, if you feel like you're tuning into "the girlfriend who gives him hell" in his eyes or yours, feel like his therapist, doubt and mistrust him, then you need to break up then.
posted by hotcoroner at 6:05 AM on September 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm going to go against the grain here and say that I was very confused at 23/24, and "emotionally cheated" a few times in the exact same way. Someone in our friends group, ended up talking to them more than my SO.

I was interested in them for a lot of reasons, but in the end, I was able to cut ties completely despite them being in the same friends group. After having a few experiences like this, I have learned my boundaries. Now when I meet a female friend that I'm vaguely interested in, I quickly set limits and guardrails and establish the relationship as platonic.

All I'm saying is that while the others are saying it's likely to repeat itself, that doesn't mean that "once an emotional drifter, always an emotional drifter". It's a skill just like everything else, and the early 20's are a confusing time.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:24 AM on September 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: He didn't blame the ex for his behaviour. He said 'I know it is no excuse' but that it might be an explanation. Is that not self-examination?

He DOES leave his ipad and gadgets out for me to see all the time actually. even now I am working from home and he has left them out. He always does and knows I can see all messages coming through. For that reason I do to some extent think this is a boundaries issue.

I also know how difficult it is to change. I was once in a relationship where, if my behaviour didn't change, we would have been over. I went to counselling, re-emerged and it fixed the problem. I wasn't independently yearning to be a better person then either - but my boyfriend NEEDED me to change. The relationship ended for separate reasons.

Miko - steps he is taking to change. Cutting contact with the woman. Consciously not nurturing future connections that could endanger the relationship. He has been in a soul sucking job for 9 months. Today he has accepted a new job with better prospects and I am hopeful that will help. He said he also plans to join the retained fire service as an extra way to gain fulfilment and pass his time. All healthy.

BUT: Is it enough? He sounds as though he really, really wants to change and actually I believe his intent to try and change habits. He says 'I need your help' but I think you may be right that he needs professional help. I don't know how easy it would be to convince him to get counselling.
posted by Willow251 at 6:24 AM on September 6, 2017

Yeah, he clearly knew what he was doing was wrong, hid it from you, and then vowed to stop and change his ways only because you caught him. Not because he has suddenly matured as a person and seen the error of his ways. He is saying these things now because he doesn't want you to leave him. He never wanted you to leave him; this was always the reason for him lying to you, because he knew that if you knew about the things he was doing and wanted to do, you would leave. That's fairly self-aware. But I also wouldn't want to be with someone who needs to develop more self-awareness and maturity before they feel compelled or are able to be honest and faithful to me, because being honest and faithful should be the default setting of a relationship.
posted by Polychrome at 6:25 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am also saying that he sounds like me in my early 20s, apparently good guy, little experience, dying to see other people, and refusing to admit that to myself and my gf. Anyway, we broke up, I saw someone else, we got back together a year later and we've been married 15 years. Strictly speaking, I don't recommend that second part. It's complicated.

So I'm another guy saying hey, he seems like I was, and if he is you should dump him before he dumps you because he's not going to do that in a timely and honest manner.
posted by turkeybrain at 6:28 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: turkeybrain - also talked about whether he wanted to see other people. He said 'no, I want to date you.' I said that sometimes the thought of being with one guy and never dating another freaked me out, but in the end I was ready for just me and him. I am his first super serious relationship, I think he knows what he has but is still curious. I, on the other hand, have sown my wild oats well enough. Anyway he admitted it scares him a little sometimes too (constant monogamy) but that he believed the relationship is worth it.

Again I don't know if these are flowery words or if he really believes it in his heart. No, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I am listening and weighing up everything said here, make no mistake.
posted by Willow251 at 6:34 AM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

It kinda seems to me that the good folks of metafilter usually skew toward dtmfa. Sometimes (not always) people make mistakes and deserve second chances.
posted by hollyanderbody at 6:36 AM on September 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

Ok, but my gf was reeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllyyyyy mad at me for not breaking it off years earlier, with respect to having to reenter the dating scene while older.
posted by turkeybrain at 6:41 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

My personal opinion is that there are genuine relationship mistakes that can be worked through, and there is behavior that isn't a 'mistake'. Lying about time spent with another woman, taking part in inappropriate communication with another woman, attributing your bad behavior to an ex-girlfriend, these aren't mistakes. This is a pattern of deception. I have dated this person. I have had my heart broken by this person.
I don't default to DTMFA. Everything the OP has described is unacceptable and is not the behavior of a respectful partner. Who knows how far this behavior has gone. He apologized because he was caught. That's not a mistake.
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:42 AM on September 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

Yeah, the comments here are pretty extreme, and not very helpful. No wonder monogamous relationships struggle so much: if you have such a black-and-white approach to any relationship, it's going to end badly. The thing is, all of us are weak and make mistakes for bad reasons like insecurity or approval-seeking, or whatever else. All of us. Some of these mistakes are more innocent than others, but they all get made eventually in any honest relationship. If anyone thinks they have a partner here who has never done anything to breach their trust in the slightest, I'd wager that person is living a lie.

No one knows whether you should stay with this guy, just like none of these people know if he's a secret cheater desperate to get his next fix. If you feel like he's being honest with you (trust your instinct tends to be good advice, I think) and the relationship is worth putting the effort in to rebuild, then do that. You might get burned again, yes, but you also might not. You have to weigh out what's more important to you -- the possibility of being hurt, or the possibility of being happy.
posted by nonmerci at 6:42 AM on September 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

Mod note: OP, AskMe isn't really made for back-and-forth discussion. Please don't post follow-ups unless you have to correct or clarify something, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:46 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

My husband has never ever done anything to breach my trust in the slightest. Ever. I find that a weird thing to say nonmerci. I've been cheated on multiple times in the past yet I have no insecurities in my relationship now.
OP you can have a good relationship. You can be with someone who cares for you and treats you with respect. It's really fucking nice to be with someone like that. When I was in relationships similar to yours, I really thought it was worth the hurt, I thought my love for that person was worth it, but it's not. You're not happy, there are many other people you can have a relationship with. There really are plenty more fish in the sea.
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:48 AM on September 6, 2017 [17 favorites]

IME, folks like this do not even start to want to change until they have experienced enough negative consequences from their actions to motivate them to behave better for their own sake. This guy doesn't sound like he's there yet. Unless he's a rare exception to the rule, that's most likely going to take a long time and consequences beyond the demise of your relationship for him to start getting a clue. In the meantime, it's not the best use of your time and energy to stick around waiting and hoping he'll see the light. However, if you do decide to stick around for a while to see how things play out, nthing hotcorner's "red flag watchlist" to help you to gauge when it's time to get out.
posted by jazzbaby at 6:51 AM on September 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

No wonder monogamous relationships struggle so much: if you have such a black-and-white approach to any relationship, it's going to end badly. The thing is, all of us are weak and make mistakes for bad reasons like insecurity or approval-seeking, or whatever else. All of us. Some of these mistakes are more innocent than others, but they all get made eventually in any honest relationship. If anyone thinks they have a partner here who has never done anything to breach their trust in the slightest, I'd wager that person is living a lie.

Oh good gracious.

I've been married 23 years and I've personally gone down the road of an emotional affair, as well as eventually negotiating a monogamish relationship. My husband, on the other hand, has never had that issue...he makes other mistakes but not that one.

The thing is, when I was going through a really bad time in my marriage and getting my ego gratified on the side, I realized what I was doing and I ended the slow slide towards infidelity on my own, and I worked to repair the relationship. Before my husband even knew about it. That's what self-awareness is, not explaining after you get caught.

I did not:

1. Hide who I was hanging out with
2. Blame my childhood (which has plenty in it to blame) OR my Evil Exes for my decision to pursue an inappropriate relationship
3. Make Drama by telling my husband dramatically that I was cutting contact forever (this could have been necessary had my husband had to confront me about it, I guess, but.)

It's not about whether people make mistakes or not but how they handle it. If the OP wants to give this guy another chance, she can, but I don't personally see any markers here that he has any real self awareness going on. But the OP is well able to hang in there for Round Two and see what happens.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:52 AM on September 6, 2017 [22 favorites]

Best answer: You asked a specific question here that I will answer. You can take it or leave it. If it's useful to know, my guess is I'm 5 or 6 years older than you are.

Are most of you saying that at 25 the guy is a lost cause? That there is no point in even trying to work on this even though he was self aware enough to examine/tell me his failures and insecurities?

He may be a lost cause and he may not be. Any of the following scenarios is plausible:

1) You put in the hard work of helping him to emotionally grow up, running the risk that even if he does so, you may wake up 5 years from now and realize you feel more like a teacher/mother/caretaker and have lost your desire for him.
2) You put in the hard work of helping him to emotionally grow up and he never does. He's still doing this at age 32 or 33. It's still always someone else's fault, and now you're stuck with the same choice you have now of staying with this guy or striking out on your own, except it's years later.
3) You put in the hard work of helping him to emotionally grow up and it doesn't matter because he ends up breaking up with you.

Speaking from the other side of having made this mistake, I would be careful about going down the path of taking responsibility for the emotional development of someone who is not your actual child, especially as a young woman. I wish you luck in whatever you decide!
posted by superfluousm at 7:03 AM on September 6, 2017 [28 favorites]

The OP specifically asked for advice on repairing her relationship, and the majority of answers here have not remotely addressed her question -- I fail to see how this is not a breach in the guidelines, but here we are.

As it is, she wants to know how to maintain her relationship when the "other woman" is part of a friends group that it seems her partner shares. It's a really sticky situation, and a complicated one. It's a bit silly trying to read motivation and "drama" into a very short question posed by one half of the couple, rather than taking it at face value and responding accordingly.

Most people I knew at 25, myself included, had a deficit of self-awareness, and I think that's important to remember. In addition, not everyone is able to access their emotions and identify their needs in a healthy way -- it's a skill that takes time to develop, particularly for someone (as the OP's boyfriend) who is in his first serious and loving relationship.

OP, if this guy is as great as you say he is, and if you think you can trust him not to engage in this kind of behavior anymore, I say try your best to move past this. You'll just have to ask yourself these questions: can you handle bumping into her at events where all these friends are present? Is it reasonable for him to cut off contact or will that affect his relationship with these other friends? How important are the friends in his life -- are these people you'll be seeing on the regular for the foreseeable future? Will you be able to trust him in the future if he has casual female acquaintances? Can you establish a more open policy with each other so there are no doubts about who each of you is spending time with? These are rhetorical, but some things to ponder.
posted by nonmerci at 7:06 AM on September 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

Trust your initial instincts. He's not good for you, the way he is now.

He, you, and perhaps the both of you would likely benefit from talk therapy with unbiased 3rd parties(together and apart). That's the best chance you both have of coming out of this together, but it's no guarantee.

If you both want this, you'll both have to work for it.

This is not your fault, but you really need to take a hard look at why you might be willing to put up with this kind of behavior. You deserve better.

In my case, it started with him reconnecting with a friend from high school, led to us all hanging out a bit, then him asking me 'not to leave him alone with her', and then spiraled into secret meetings, a second phone, and the other women calling me herself to tell me nothing was going on.

This was way more drama than I ever wanted in my romantic relationship, but I hung on as long as I could, and it was one of the most miserable times in my life.

We may sound jaded or harsh in this thread, but we really really want you to avoid the months of uncertainty, blame, embarrassment, arguments and heartbreak these kinds of things can develop into.

Chin up, you are worthy of a healthy, happy relationship.
posted by dreamling at 7:33 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

this is silly (of him, not of you) because, if these snippets are direct quotes with no more than identifying info removed, it's both 1. next to anonymous, his manner and tone, and 2. smarmily flirty. it doesn't read like a woman he's in love with, more like a woman he just met on a dating site and is doing pre-sexual date banter with. the studied exclusion of references to you, his girlfriend, are part of this.

by which I mean, I think his problem is not that he's in love with her and not necessarily that he would sleep with her if he got the chance. it's that he talks to all women in this sort of wistful-sleazy register, like it's the only one he's got. This one woman may not take him seriously, but sooner or later somebody will, and then you will find out exactly how serious he is. There is every chance he just talks to women like romantic partners no matter what, and never treats them the way he treats men friends. I would actually be more put off by this than by an 'emotional affair,' which is not a thing I really take seriously, although of course you can.

it sounds like she knows you, but is there any chance she doesn't know he's with you? The reddest flag is not a man having a close woman friend; it's erasing his partner from his conversations with her. it would be weird if he doesn't mention you positively pretty often, just the way you do when you have a girlfriend.

anyway yeah it is also silly to offer grand gestures of cutting off friends for years, especially if he doesn't expect you to take him up on it. either female friends mean nothing to him, or they mean too much and that really is the only solution. he just needs to start talking to other women like they're platonic friends and it shouldn't be so hard for him to figure out.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:37 AM on September 6, 2017 [18 favorites]

If you don't want to break up with him now, don't. But don't waste a lot of time buying into some project where you are trying to help him change. Right now, he sounds like he is in a space where he is always going to be involved in some kind of love triangle, even if it's in his own head. He's not going to be squarely in a relationship for whatever reason. He doesn't have to be a villain to act that way-- I agree with someone who said above that it's kind of common when you're in your 20s. Also, what he's doing may be part of the reason you are attracted to him. People like that are really, really invested in making you fall in love with them. And, as someone else said above, they bring the drama. But don't get too involved in the project that is this guy. There's always going to be a sense of moving forward, but in all likelihood it won't be real.
posted by BibiRose at 7:50 AM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

The OP specifically asked for advice on repairing her relationship, and the majority of answers here have not remotely addressed her question -- I fail to see how this is not a breach in the guidelines, but here we are.

My advice, as given above, is that if he wants to repair the relationship, he will certainly agree to go to counseling to work on his issues. That is in fact the central piece of how to repair this relationship. If he is not willing, I would suggest that he does not want to/is not ready to repair the relationship.
posted by Miko at 7:58 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Should he cut contact for a long time? Is there another way to resolve this?

He should cut contact forever. Why would he say 'for a long time'? It's not like it has an expiration date.

Yes, that is the only way to resolve it and agreed with others that his deflecting and basically 'I can't help it I'm such a nice guy I almost HAVE to have an emotional affair because I want to please others!' is squicky enough that if you decide to go forward and trust him, don't trust him too much.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:16 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

If his instinct is to cut contact, I think you should agree that this is the best approach. It seems like a good sign to me. It would be worse if he was just going to "cut back" or claimed that nothing needed to change. If people ask you, just shrug and say it was what he wanted to do. You didn't force him to offer that. (In fact, it'd be pretty funny if you discouraged him from cutting contact so that you didn't seem controlling!) People do grow and learn.

The only thing that gives me pause is his comment "that she was a friend only and that if anything was going to happen romantically it would have." That's not the same as "I [bf] don't want anything to happen." But you have heard all of his statements and can better judge that one in context.
posted by salvia at 8:22 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you want to continue this relationship, this is what I think should happen.
1. He takes full responsibility for the emotional affair. It's not his ex, it's him, and he needs to fix it.
2. He needs to break it off with the friend and take full responsibility with HER. "I let our friendship go too far and I need to end it now for my own emotional health." Absolutely without ANY reference to you, giving his friend no basis to badmouth you to your social circle. This has nothing to do with your snooping or jealousy, and everything to do with his bad behavior.
3. He needs to show you every single contact he had with her when doing this so you can begin to trust him again.
4. He needs to make all his social media, phone texts, and emails available to you moving forward, to remove any questions you might have in the future. As in, hand you his phone occasionally, leave his email open, etc, with express permission that you are free to look at any time. Snooping is not cool, but not knowing will slowly eat away at your confidence. And that's on him, not on you, and he needs to fix it.

If he's willing to move forward with consideration for YOU, then I think you can make this work. But if he doesn't consider how you feel now and take steps to fix that, then he's still acting selfishly and this relationship needs to end.
posted by raisingsand at 8:35 AM on September 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

You are correct that lots of people are crap and they get better. That's totally true, and 25-30 is often when a lot of thusly entitled men get better if they're ever going to.

They generally don't get better by staying with the partners they fuck over, though.

Radical attitude and behavior change, even for the better, rarely happens inside the context of a relationship. It happens in between relationships. Because the damage done is the damage done - there is nothing he can do that will undo the fact that he was grooming a woman to sleep with her (he was.) behind your back, either intending to do so and stay with you or do so as his launching pad to the next relationship so he doesn't have to spend a second alone with himself. Most people eventually realize they have the option of a fresh new relationship with no damage on it, and honestly often the person who realizes that first is the one who did the damage.

Keep in mind that he did this with no regard for the larger ecosystem of the social circle. He didn't care what other relationships between other people might get damaged in the process, and he's not thinking about it now, either, proposing solutions that make your life incredibly awkward (and hers). A lot of times, that guy eventually decides to go live somewhere else with a new set of friends where he can start over, either continuing to predate or actually being a stand-up guy now that he's learned better.

A more meaningful suggestion from him would have been a) apologize to her explicitly for engaging in dating behavior when he was not actually free to do so, taking full responsibility for his behavior and not blaming you or doing that "nudge nudge because I already have a girlfriend what a drag right unless maybe you wanted to let me trade up" thing b) become a productive member of your social circle but never being/speaking alone with her again because he understands he blew that option c) dedicating himself to honorable behavior in all his relationships, be they romantic or platonic or professional etc, going forward. A critical aspect here is that he does it in deeply felt good faith, and not like a bitter spoiled child.

Instead he's sorry he got caught. That is bad news for you, her, and your friends.

So you're still hoping to beat the odds, which is fair, most of us have done it once or half a dozen times. But in the meantime, at least don't fuck up your life trying to do this guy's half of the relationship work for him. Get yourself on the most foolproof contraception you're able to use (and consider whether you need to implement a 6-12mo condom period if deep down you're not sure he's going to come home clean every day), don't buy a house or otherwise get any more financially entangled with him than you already are. Don't try to make it so he feels like he has to stay, because that's a hollow victory and you will eventually tire of it and him.

If you want to trust him, you have to take off the training wheels and see what he's going to do under his own steam. The next time he shows you who he is, believe that over what he says he is. Maybe what he shows you is that he can grow up, but if he doesn't do that you are allowed to trust your gut and you are also allowed to decide you're just too tired of his shit and don't want to do this anymore.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:22 AM on September 6, 2017 [39 favorites]

The details are thin but I think "emotional affair" is an exaggeration here. From my reading, your boyfriend has a platonic friend who is female. He didn't mention her because he knows you do not trust him and would get jealous, and men hate drama. The trouble with this situation is that he will probably continue to talk to his friend, as his offer to cut contact was probably not genuine and just made to placate you. You will eventually find out and more drama will result. My take is that you should either trust each other, or break up.
posted by w0mbat at 10:26 AM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

What concerns me is that she is part of a friend group wherein I will still be spending time with those friends. What if she confides in them, telling them I'm a crazy GF who won't let him speak to her? I sincerely feel my concerns are valid but I am concerned that this will be a consequence.

Put the burden where it belongs - on your boyfriend, not on you or your other friend. The only way this can get weird and awful in your wider friend group is if everything is treated as a secret and people are whispering behind each other's backs. When your bf cuts contact with her, he also needs to let the friend group know that he's doing so and that it's his own idea. "Hey guys, just a heads up; I've been getting a little too intense about Friend, and I don't want to mess up here, so I'm going no-contact with her to put myself back on an even keel. This isn't negotiable, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to talk me out of it, or tell me it's not necessary. It's necessary for me, even if it wouldn't be for you. Thanks for understanding!"

Let him take the weight the discomfort in having his emotional reactions to things made public. Your choices aren't "keep him but maybe lose friends" or "keep friends but maybe lose him". HIS choices are "keep you and maybe lose friends" or "lose you and maybe keep friends."
posted by current resident at 11:05 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I meant to add: notice how that heads-up example doesn't mention you at all? That's what he has to do. This is about HIM, not you. If he says it in a way that puts the blame/burden on you at all, even obliquely, take that as your next sign that his comfort and pleasure outweighs yours entirely, and re-read the other comments here about leaving.
posted by current resident at 11:08 AM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Again he says this comes down to being severely brow beaten by ex but I am unsure.

I have an ex-girlfriend who used to flip her shit any time I talked to a particular friend of mine who she had decided she didn't like. I ascertained that she was abusive and got out, but there's obviously emotional baggage I've had to work on. What I do with my current girlfriend is always check in and communicate, because I know she's not my ex and because I have friendships with other people that are very close and I want to be utterly clear with my gal what is or is not up and that she's the one.

Sounds like he doesn't do that, he just blames her and now you. Getting her side of it might be illuminating.

In the meantime, tell him he can go bang this other gal because you don't need to spend your life being paranoid about what he's up to and having him blame everyone but himself. Then go get with someone who understands how great you are and who doesn't blame you for their immaturity or infidelity. He's expressing remorse at getting caught, not at being unfaithful or hurting your feelings or leading this other woman on and not respecting her feelings either - he was going to cheat with her and now he's talking about cutting contact, it's shitty from her perspective too.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:05 PM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

If he believes the way to manage this for HIM is to go no-contact, he should also be able to communicate that to her in a way that does not make you the evil girlfriend. If the message turns into something else by the time it gets to your friend group, it tells you something - either about him, her, or your friends.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2017

Best answer: Triangulation, please look it up. Your boyfriend is a triangulator who is grooming this lady to be his future bedmate. Red flag. Cheaters always claim to have these oh so crazy exes instead of taking responsibility for their lives. Funny how that works.

"What concerns me is that she is part of a friend group wherein I will still be spending time with those friends. What if she confides in them, telling them I'm a crazy GF who won't let him speak to her?"

That's prescient -- you really do have great instincts -- like you knew you should take a look at his iPad because you knew he was full of shit-- just like you already know this friend group is about to turn on you real soon. But, when it happens, it won't be her fault at all. It will all be your boyfriend's doing. You don't seem to have considered the possibility boyfriend is already going around behind your back telling your friends he's not happy with you. I bet they already know you snooped and he's representing himself as the victim of your unwarranted jealousy or some bullshit.

Bottom line: his actions are not those of a truly committed partner who is protective of your heart. His age is irrelevant. Older guys pull this same shit. This is a character issue. His character sucks. If you stay, him cheating on you and ruining your friendships with this group will be a given. How do I know this? There are patterns to this behavior and he is showing a lack of integrity. Check out Chump Lady's site if you want to know more about these types of infidelity patterns. The good news here is you can leave easily because you are not married or pregnant. Choose yourself. Deep down you know this guy is bad news. Folks don't write Asks like this about men of quality.
posted by edithkeeler at 1:25 PM on September 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

Also about this:

"What concerns me is that she is part of a friend group wherein I will still be spending time with those friends. What if she confides in them, telling them I'm a crazy GF who won't let him speak to her?"

Tell your friends what's up and how full of shit this dude is. If they're reasonable people, they'll take your side. You don't have to wait for him to start talking shit behind your back, assuming he hasn't already.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:32 PM on September 6, 2017

Emotional affairs are tough because they're pretty subjective - the person who's having it is the one who really knows best whether it's taking their energy away from their relationship, whether they're getting 'intense' about it in crushy ways rather than just healthy ways, etc. But that person isn't really incentivized to be totally honest about it even to themselves.

In this case it sounds like it reached the point that *you* noticed he wasn't being honest about his friendship with this woman, i.e. that even he felt like something was up and needed to be hidden, and that's where the suspicious behavior came from. So if he's telling you that he thinks the best thing for him to kick his emotional habit of reaching to her instead of to you is to go 'no contact', he's the best judge... *if* he's being honest, not using it as an excuse to blame you (she won't let. me hang out with you any more!) etc.
posted by Lady Li at 1:35 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I try not leap to DTMFA without reason, but my own data point in case it's useful: my boyfriend who did this was 33. He had a 'crazy ex-girlfriend' from his 20s who made him this way. He had a lot of epiphanies and made a lot of promises when I caught him by snooping. A month or so later, he got tired of the emotional work and dumped me. Maybe this isn't you, maybe it is. Proceed with caution.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

So the main thing you're worried about is that you're going to "come across" (that is, HE, or possibly SHE, is going to make sure you come across...) as the "crazy girlfriend," which he's primed you to think by going on at length about his previous "crazy girlfriend"...

Girl, naw. This is a disaster and a half.

If you insist on staying with him, then yeah, he should absolutely cut off contact. But he should absolutely NOT be sending her a message that is all "oh my god, I'm so sorry, things are too INTENSE and DRAMATIC between us, and my girlfriend [implication, crazy] isn't happy about it." He should just be ramping everything down to zero. Sending zero unsolicited messages; replying only in the briefest, blandest terms possible (he can even skirt the line of curt).

See how that leaves you out, leaves the drama out, gives him no oxygen to feed this little affair-plant, gives neither of them the rope to hang you as the "crazy girlfriend"?

Hopefully you've read this and decided jesus H, it ain't worth it, no dude is worth it. And I say this as a woman who was basically your dude, back in my early 20s, and every last one of my partners should have dumped me so fast they left a dude-shaped cloud behind them.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:46 PM on September 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm with the others who think he's remorseful because he got caught. Oh, he may truly be sad that you're hurt by his actions - but he didn't take steps to avoid hurting you until you called him out on it; he's willing to do things he knows would bother you as long as he thinks you won't find out about them.

He says he wants to change, and that could change - but what needs to change is not "he will cut off ties with this woman, and avoid getting close to others." To make this relationship last more than a couple of months of awkward fallout, he needs to care about your feelings even when he really wants to do something fun that you wouldn't like.

The talk you need to have with him isn't, "what are you going to do to prevent this in the future?" It's, "why didn't it bother you enough to stop? What were you getting out of this chatting with her, that you weren't getting out of your relationship with me?"

I suspect the answer to that, which he may not be willing to tell you, is that you're "the girlfriend" and he has to "be good" around you, and he can just "relax" around her, because it's "not important." Spending time with you costs him emotional labor, and he likely resents that, or wants an escape from it. If he sees emotional labor as a burden, changing how he flirts isn't going to change that at all.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:47 PM on September 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

To answer your question: if he's going to cut contact, he needs to be a big boy and own it. He isn't cutting contact because mean ol' girlfriend can't handle it, he's cutting contact because his emotional affair is hurting someone he loves and his relationship is more important than a casual friend (perspective says this isn't his childhood friend with whom he's sworn blood-sibling-ship).

Look hard at how he's framing this and consider why. You're not being unreasonable. His actions led him here; he could have approached this any number of ways which wouldn't've had these results. He didn't. That's all his. If you step outside the ring you need to expect some fallout.
posted by Nyx at 6:13 PM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update:: Thank you for all your perspectives. As he has issues that are beyond my remit and needing external validation cheapens our connection, I asked him to see a therapist if he wants the relationship to have a serious shot. He broke down, again, and said he thought I was right. He said he is going to book the appointment asap.

Given that this woman is part of his friends group I asked him if it his wise to cut off ties completely. He said he would have to cross that bridge later on and that, yes, he still believes it is the right thing to do. Positive part: of his own volition he said he will not mention me in his explanation to her, taking full responsibility.

Without going into detail, I have a difficult time coming up for separate reasons over the next month. I don’t feel I could emotionally cope with a break up at this point.
Additionally, I believe he wants to change and can see how much he is suffering because of his issues. I am self-aware enough now to not insist on being the fixer I once was. I love him more than I’ve loved any man previously and feel his desire to make amends is sincere.

I will give it a little longer, as long as he goes to counselling, and see how things pan out. If after a few months I feel my trust just cannot be restored then I will face it and move on with my life knowing that I will have to seek mutual respect and love elsewhere. As someone said my instincts are razor sharp and I feel (or hope!) I will honour my own heart and needs in good time.
posted by Willow251 at 5:57 AM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I genuinely wish you the best of luck. Just make sure you look after yourself.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:48 AM on September 7, 2017

I obviously have the minority opinion by far, but the nature of his conversations with her sound to me ordinary friendship? I mean, I chat every day with several of my close friends and we talk about our lives, the past and future, what we're reading/watching. When I see a thing on the internet that would bring them joy, I send it, and vice-versa. Would your perception of this relationship be different if he had just openly acknowledged that he was intending to hang out with her?

The thing that really stung was that he contacted her the day after we were at the pub saying 'sorry I cut the night short, would have loved to stay longer. If I wasn't heading to *trip with me and his friends* next weekend I would have been extremely keen to come to your party.' Bizarre, seeing as we were always making plans together that weekend as it is his birthday. She asked if he had a good time at the pub and he said 'yes, but I would rather have stayed sitting on the couch for longer, the alcohol didn't sit well in my stomach.'

I guess that you are interpreting it as him literally wishing that he was spending that time with her instead of you? But eh, to me, this sounds like very people-pleaser-y chitchat and not necessarily inconsistent with him wanting to be at the pub with you and looking forward to his birthday plans with you. This is something that you can clear up with more discussion -- what was he actually thinking, did he truly wish that he was spending more time with her, or did he just want her to feel affirmed and so he said an affirming thing? Does he know? That's self-knowledge that he probably needs to work on, but those are very different ways of being "bad at boundaries."

What does he mean by no-contact? Will he refuse to attend an outing if she is present? Will he refuse to speak to her or acknowledge her if they're at the same party? That seems like very strange overkill. Can't he just back off and just be acquaintances with her, not go out alone with her, and go about his business being casual friends in a group?
posted by desuetude at 3:41 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Final update: he spoke with her, saying that he felt things had become too intense between them for a man in a committed relationship. He then said that he would be taking a step back from the friendship to focus fully on our relationship. Her response was surprise (no self awareness...) but acceptance and said she would see him around when with their mutual friends. I feel good about the way he handled things.

In recent weeks we have also become better at recognising when he is doing something simply to 'please' me when perhaps he wants to do something else entirely. Doing lots of things to please me instead of doing what he really wants leads to resentment imo. So in recent weeks we are both able to strike a better balance, though it's part of a longer process. Thanks everyone!
posted by Willow251 at 6:10 AM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: In the end several posters were correct. He did go to counselling and then told me the counsellor's advice has lead him to break up with me. He did make genuine moves to alter his behaviour and I tried to forget...but I couldn't completely. A little voice still always wondered 'what if...?' - but I did feel we mainly overcame it.

As we are LDR he broke it off in an email despite the fact we had a trip planned together in one week's time. He was telling me he loved me 'so much' on the Monday and telling me goodbye on the Tuesday. I spent half the holidays with his family & when he was here one month ago he asked me to attend 2 weddings with him this summer. He has now made out that he fell out of love in just 3 weeks.

He also told me he is leaving his apartment in the city to be in the countryside, despite my last thread about our plans to move in together. 'I want to be alone' he says. I am heartbroken.
posted by Willow251 at 11:16 AM on February 22, 2018

I am so sorry for you. You put a lot of effort into trying to make this relationship work. It's not your fault. He wasn't ready, and his behavior demonstrates that.

He was telling me he loved me 'so much' on the Monday and telling me goodbye on the Tuesday.

Both things can be true. And they likely are true in your case. You can love someone, even make plans for the future with them, at the same time as you know that no good can come from pursuing it. When that realization becomes strong enough, you have to break it off - and that doesn't mean there wasn't really love there, or that if things were different, things would be different. Sometimes we want to want to be with someone more than we want to be with them. But you will likely both be happier without trying to work around the set of issues in the relationship that could never really resolve satisfactorily at this stage of life.

I wish you well. Be kind to yourself. Feeling taken aback, sad, and angry is normal right now. It takes time to come to terms with a changed vision of your future. If you find yourself lingering a long time in bad feelings, consider looking for a little support yourself. But I think in due time you'll be able to see this as a relationship in which you learned a lot about yourself and others, and employed good relationship skills you can use in future. I'm sorry it didn't work out as you hoped, but happy you no longer have to suffer an incomplete relationship.
posted by Miko at 6:38 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just wanted to come back one last time and say he actually left me for someone else (so either he was already cheating or emotionally cheating AGAIN). I of course discovered this from someone else, as he is a liar and would never have told me himself.

Ladies/men - if at any time in the future you find yourself in a similar scenario forget it!! Do yourself a justice, start over and give yourself a chance before you get your heart brutally broken like mine has been.
posted by Willow251 at 4:44 PM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Easier in a way. He was never who you thought he was. And never would be. Chalk it up to experience and keep on truckin'.
posted by Miko at 6:21 PM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry you're still going through this and I hope these latest revelations help you close the door on him. As Miko says, keep going and leave him behind, he isn't worthy of your love or time.

This stuff is never easy and I would bet good money that most of us who advised you to be cautious (or outright DTMFA) have been there and learned the hard way ourselves. It's an unusually wise or lucky person who doesn't in my experience.
posted by *becca* at 9:03 AM on March 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

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