I think my long-distance fiance is cheating
February 8, 2020 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I have been in immense turmoil over this situation and I would really like to get other's opinions. I am in a long-distance relationship with a man from a different country. We have been pursuing each other now for over two years and I just returned from seeing him in his country for the first time. We are early thirties. Basically, to summarize the issues - Although we are immensely close and serious, there is something wrong and I am not getting what I need. Certain things going on cause me suspect he might be cheating with a friend he has who he works with who is on the outs with her boyfriend.

Both of us have our own problems, physical or otherwise (with me it is mainly health). Both of us are insanely intense people and are very different from society, finding we relate very much to each other on very core levels. We have thought also it might be one of those kindred-souls experiences. We both love very deeply. Both intellectuals, both introverted. He is an INTJ and I am an INTP. He had to pay for this trip because I am on disability for my health problems. It bothers me a great deal I couldn't much contribute financially. It also added to the strain. But I am currently trying very hard to find work regardless. The relationship in many ways has been amazing and beautiful. He is indeed a rare soul it seems that connects with me on levels I cannot find anywhere else, and it is very difficult for me to find partners because of my health issues and the intensity which is required on all levels. I am one of those empaths who has a darker component, and it's so hard to find. I have such terrible luck in romance because of this.
However, despite the beauty that exists with my fiance and me, about a year ago I started noticing his reactions to me at small slights were way too overblown, and the time when I walked away then because of his nitpicking and our differences, and I briefly pursued someone else before returning. A few other times I tried walking away from him as well again and I was thinking it wasn't right - he never has let that go. He puts it all on me and does not take responsibility for any overreactions, claiming it's just his own intense nature. While I too am intense and overreact in different ways, I do confess when it is over the top. This relationship was all online only and so much cannot be properly understood in this way. The whole thing got very complicated and blew up, and I also wound up reacting very extremely as well, and some other far-away friends I had got involved and the whole thing was a mess. I think he thinks I was cheating on him, because of the way that it played out (I can see why he would think that but I was nothing but loyal). Anyway, a lot of his reactions began to make me think he might even have elements of Borderline Personality Disorder. I myself have been in a lot of therapy from past abuse and former anxiety and depression, and it is safe to say that I currently no longer struggle with these things. Nor do I have any mental disorders. Just an unusual intense mind. After having met him, it is hard to say exactly what is going on with him, because there are many factors, and also stressful factors in his current living situation (he stays with his family, his sister and parents and her newborn baby, barking dogs, there is no privacy, constant noise and stress there, etc. He cannot currently afford an apartment, he wants to move to my country to be with me but now it's a long way off and he cannot get a visa, etc). So it is rather complicated.

On a persona note - He told me a long time ago, right when the relationship began, that he has sexual problems and issues opening up in that way, like a sort of mental block. He claims to have all the desire but trouble showing it. He says his sex drive is high and in past he was still able to have casual sex and random sex and when it's random or casual he has no problems. I have an insanely high sex drive that is insatiable, and I also had my random sex days. However I myself have my own issues from when I was abused as a child. So during extreme stress and lack of trust, my whole body shuts and it's hard to have penetrative sex. I can still reach orgasm, I can still masturbate, all of that stuff, and I still am insanely insatiable with my sex drive. In fact it is essential, and I need it. I can't ever go without, and when I do, it makes things horrifyingly bad. Just that when I'm in a stressful situation, sometimes my body does that and we have to do other stuff for a while. Most of the time however, it is not a problem. It seems my fiance's issue is much, much worse because he is always distant from me in that way, not just in terms of physical distance. And I am 99.9% certain the stress and his weird behaviors were triggering my issues.

When we were at his place, we had no privacy, and it was difficult having sex there. When we did anything sexual, he would orgasm very fast. The stress from everything was also triggering my own issue a lot, as I said. And then when we were finally having sex, and I wasn't having my issue, we had to be quiet, we had to be careful, etc. I tried to get us a hotel room but I could not afford much, and it was very shady it turned out and it was an awful experience so we left early. Then toward the end of the trip, he got us a very nice hotel room for two days, only one of them we had sex there because he got sick, and in all of the times we actually had sex, I could not even tell he was interested. He seemed so aloof and far off and distant, unemotional, not passionate, not engaged at all. It was so bizarre. It was so awful. This was also triggering my issue too.

It was the worst feeling in the world, because we are both so intense and passionate as people, and we have waited SO LONG to touch each other, and finally when we do he acts weird about it. He claimed again that it was his mental blockage issue, and it had nothing to do with me. He says he loves me more than anything and it's just something he needs to work through, and once we are living together hopefully he can heal it.

It's the same with cam sex too by the way... he never has cam sex with me. I get that we are many many hours apart in different timezones, and his lack of privacy, but seriously, he cannot even *try* to be sexual with me on camera. He won't masturbate with me, and he does masturbate on his own and we have before on rare occasions...He won't even do that when his family are sleeping. Sometimes he flashes me a quick glimpse of his dick but he doesn't even do anything. And doesn't act or look like he wants to. I have tried telling him this hurts me and causes me so much pain and stress, and I need to be sexual with him, and he still has the same excuse every time.

Now he has two friends that are a couple whom he claims to not be very close to. When we were having our problems before, he told them all kinds of things about me that made them dislike me I suspect. They thought I had all these mental problems from what he told them during our problems. When I met them, despite that it became very beautiful with my fiance and I, they acted disinterested, they ignored me and only spoke to him in their language, which I could not understand at all. I told him this offended me recently, and he said he spoke with them. The woman in that couple actually works with my fiance now at the same company..

Well apparently the guy from the couple told him that he was sorry they were so rude to me and that it was just about he and his girlfriend, (the woman my fiance works with) having problems. That she won't have sex with him anymore and she sleeps on the couch, she deletes her messages, and she is lying about when she goes to work when she has not been there at all.

I think it's quite convenient that my fiance has all these problems with intimacy and yet he is working with this woman.

Now there is an important piece to this. There is a story I recall about her that he claims now never happened. He told me about a year ago, in the beginning of things. She and her boyfriend and him were hanging out and they were all drunk. She apparently then suddenly grabbed my fiance's dick and was making moves on him. He said the crazy thing was that it was even in front of her boyfriend. But she had apologized, and they worked it out eventually but I never forgot this story.

I actually brought this up during my trip to see him, and he denied over and over again ever telling the story. He got very pissed off, argued with me, and claims that "I don't remember that," it "never happened" and "that's impossible, she never would have done that, she is very jealous herself". I am not stupid, nor born yesterday,and I remember this story... Finally he was quiet a minute and went, "Well....if she *did* do something like that the only way would be if it was an accident, because I would have remembered something like that."

So because of this stuff, I became quite insanely worried the whole time I was visiting him, I was very distrustful, etc. He acted like I was out of bounds and being "paranoid". I also noticed the way she looked at him when she was walking behind us when he was leaving his workplace when I met him there during my trip. She did not even look at me or try to say anything to me, just said to him something like, "You found her" (or so he said, might have not even been English). She was smiling at him and I swear, the look she gave him almost indicated there was something between them. He denied it of course. Sure, I CAN actually be paranoid, I can actually go too far with that, but I only do so usually when there is a real reason to be upset about something which triggers it...

He is an INTJ, and the way he is with his beliefs and ideals, he does not seem like the kind of man who would cheat, but with his tendency to sometimes go very extreme and irrational with his emotions, coupled with the problems we had before, and now this new information with this woman, I really cannot trust him.

I know he and I both have contributed a lot to this relationship, he has spent so much time and money he barely has himself. He clearly wants to be with me and I know he does love me, but that does not mean it isn't possible for him to be unfaithful. I am going insane with this fear of him and this stupid woman.

What do you think?
posted by Aurora13 to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Even if he isn't cheating, it doesn't sound like you are terribly happy in this relationship which is a good enough reason to end it. Don't worry about sunk costs. Hugs.
posted by k8t at 12:04 PM on February 8 [40 favorites]

Just to clarify - am I right in reading that you’re engaged to him but you’ve only met once? If that’s the case, I think given the wall of text of problems you’re facing already, there’s a strong argument for at least slowing waaay down here and not be planning to get married any time soon. (I ask because I’m wondering if something was lost in translation and he’s actually your boyfriend, not your fiancé?)
posted by penguin pie at 12:09 PM on February 8 [50 favorites]

This sounds like a major trainwreck of a relationship, despite your romanticization of the whole thing and your "connection" with this guy. It doesn't matter whether he's cheating because there's zero potential here. He doesn't seem to be attracted to you (or at least able to make you feel that he is) and can't even come to your country so why do this to yourself?

Don't bother wasting another second getting in deeper with a guy you're not at all sexually compatible with and who doesn't seem interested in being intimate with you if you have a high sex drive -- unless you thrive on drama and heartache.

I'm quite confident hes not the only man you'll ever feel connected to so stop imprisoning yourself in this long distance dysfunction by thinking like that. Even some of the worlds most eccentric people, rare geniuses, etc. have managed to have multiple relationships so theres no reason to believe you can't find another interesting man you click with.
posted by shaademaan at 12:19 PM on February 8 [41 favorites]

Really good relationships are not a lot of hard work. This sounds like a lot of hard work, and even then it doesn't make you happy. Walk away.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:43 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]

He clearly wants to be with me and I know he does love me

That's not what I'm getting here at all. I'm getting that he loves having your support, but doesn't have any particular interest in sex with you or, more importantly, in solving problems with you. I have no read on whether he's cheating, but he doesn't seem to have the level of investment in doing the work of the relationship that you do.

Move on.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:13 PM on February 8 [16 favorites]

I don't know if he's cheating, but he's stringing you along and this will not get better.
posted by inexorably_forward at 1:29 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]

I don’t understand how you can claim that this man is cheating on you. This is literally the first time you’ve ever met. He’s a stranger. You’ve only ever spent time online, you really don’t know him or his relationship with anyone else except what he chooses to share when you’re online together (which could be anything.) As you’re finding out, what he presents to you online vs what you’ve discovered about who he is when you actually met in person are two different things.

I know you think you know him because you’ve been talking for two years but as you’re finding out, he has an entire life and personality and sex drive you’re totally unaware of. Just walk away, I’m sorry, it sounds like you invested a lot of emotion in this but he’s not who he made himself out to be.
posted by Jubey at 1:31 PM on February 8 [19 favorites]

Online relationships can be very intense. And very real in a lot of ways. But online and long-distance, you are also missing out on so much information that we humans, as primates, are wired to have.

The way people react with other people. The way they look when they don't know you're looking. The things they say when they are not typing. The things they do when you are in their space. The way they smell. The way they wipe the sink, or don't wipe the sink. Each individual thing may be small, but our human brains are wired to take all this information in as we move from strangers to intimacy.

Online, you are actually displacing a lot of that intimacy onto yourself, because everything is filtered through your own assumptions, unchecked by that kind of physical observation. The reason that you feel so connected to this person is in part because of those things...you haven't been through the 1000 little jolts that you would have had about your differences, if you had been in the same place to observe them.

Now, I have had and have very significant relationships with people that have been long-distance or online. So I get it. But the one that has become a 25+ year marriage (we were early MUDers) behaved like this...online I thought he was okay. The first few meetings were just better and better until WOW. That's how it works when it works...not that you don't then go through the regular dating phase of idealization, and then realizing the other person has faults and differences, and then resolution. But you get that idealistic phase first.

To me, it reads like when you're together it's clear that it doesn't work. You're obsessed about this cheating thing because that gives you a very neat story, but there's so much more here. It doesn't matter. It doesn't work. Your back brain is telling you something. Listen to it.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:43 PM on February 8 [42 favorites]

I don't know if he's cheating or not. I'm not sure that it matters. It seems like you have a strong connection online, but then in person contact doesn't live up to that. I'm with warriorqueen-- it shouldn't be this hard, even with the various difficulties of his living situation. If you are truly going to be a couple, you need to spend a lot more time together in the same place, and it sounds like that's not going to happen, at least not any time in the next few years.

I don't want say "dump him" but it's time to think a lot about what you want in a relationship and why you're willing to make a big commitment (engagement) to someone who is not giving you what you say you want, like being willing to apologize for over-the-top reactions, an intimate connection during sex, and not bringing up/blaming you for past disagreements.
posted by tuesdayschild at 2:34 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

İt will be impossible to know if he is cheating unless he confesses to cheating. İf my partner accused me-whether baselessly or with some reason to- of cheating, I'd be pretty angry that they didn't trustme. But if he's cheating, he probably doesn't have any problem lying to you if you ask him. And he would get angry not because you're questioning his fidelity to you, but as a way of deflecting responsibility.

You're disabled and on disability. İt seems you're fairly isolated as a result and you put a lot of stock into this "meeting of the minds", because that's the mode you feel you have at your disposal to bond with people. But I agree with warriorqueen. Can you find other people, perhaps with disabilities as well, in your local community where you can strike up friendships, maybe with the potential to become romantic, that can have an IRL piece and a remote communications piece?

Finally, if you've experienced sexual abuse and depression and anxiety and you think you've worked through all that already and you have no more work to do, I urge you to reassess that judgement. Some of the way this question is posed and the nature of this relationship might be examined again with the help of professionals.

Oh and-- I'm so sorry to hear about the sex you had with that man. God I'm sorry. that sounds awful. You don't have to put yourself in that position again. Feel free to leave a sexual interaction that is playing out like that- you don't owe anyone an orgasm or a finish or the process or anything. you can leave a sexual encounter any time it doesn't feel right, and this felt blatantly wrong.
posted by erattacorrige at 2:50 PM on February 8 [12 favorites]

Although we are immensely close and serious, there is something wrong and I am not getting what I need.

Several 12-step programs tell members, "Don't go to the hardware store for milk." I understand that you are deeply involved with this person. That said, apparently you are not getting what you need. It is wonderful that you can get hammers, paint, keys, and all kinds of other nifty things at a hardware store. But if you need milk, going to a hardware store won't help you.

I don't know if this guy can ever give you what you need. I understand how your health problems make it a challenge to find a partner who is a good enough fit. Only you can decide if your partner is capable of becoming the partner you need. Right now, it doesn't sound like he is.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:52 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]

This was your first time meeting him? I mean, I'm a little tense sleeping with someone for the first time, and I'd CERTAINLY be stiff if I had had this long, emotional relationship with someone I had never met, and then suddenly we meet and there's this immense pressure to perform.

With that said, there is so much drama here and so much to unpack I don't even know where to begin. This is not what a healthy relationship looks like. Healthy relationships happen in person, with your partner in front of you, with a partner who is physically and mentally and emotionally present.

At the bare minimum you guys are sexually incompatible. This is why you meet sooner, or at least call it off sooner if the sexual incompatibility becomes apparent early on.

This was your first time meeting him, and it looks like you realized that the online chemistry just does not translate into in-person chemistry. It hurts, I'm sorry. Take it as a lesson and try to move on. But for god's sake, don't drag this out. Love is not supposed to be this challenging or painful.
posted by Amy93 at 2:54 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]

What do you think?
I think you are trying really very hard to make something work that fundamentally does not work, does not make you happy, and does not seem healthy. Please strongly consider abandoning the ideas that the sunk costs and deep connection online somehow make up for what sounds like some serious incompatibilities in this relationship.
posted by sm1tten at 2:55 PM on February 8 [14 favorites]

Although we are immensely close and serious,

You might feel that way, but I don’t get the sense it’s mutual.
posted by mhoye at 4:56 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]

I was in an online long distance relationship for seven years, out of which the first five years were EXTREMELY long distance with meetings only twice a year, then about 5 hours' drive away for two years so meeting at least every month. (And then I married the guy, had kids with him, and we stayed married for eleven years.)

So I have been there, and I've dealt with people constantly telling me it was all fake or useless, and I don't agree. I think online long distance connections can be absolutely real.

But your relationship isn't going to be online long distance forever. So that connection, even though it's real, is not enough. My online boyfriend and I had to meet over and over again, figure out how to be with each other in meatspace, make connections between us in meatspace as well, smash up a hundred fantasied qualities in each other during the process, and find a thousand better real-life qualities in one another to take the place of the smashed fantasies.

It does not sound like you're on your way to find those a thousand better qualities. It sounds like your fantasied qualities about each other have smashed and left dozens of real red flags in their place. That meeting was a disaster! And not a funny disaster like in a sitcom but a scary, weird, unsettling disaster like in the first quarter of a horror movie.

You've heard the weird creaky floorboards, OP, and you've heard the ghostly screaming, and you've seen the blood dripping down the walls... RUN AWAY. DO NOT BUY THIS HOUSE. I don't care how charming it looked in the online listing and what good bones it has and how you can practically see your children's nurseries in there! Connect up everything crazy you saw when you toured the place in person for the first time with all the whispers of "something's wrong" that have been in the background from way before. RUN. Don't be that girl in the movie who willingly walks into the chamber of horrors.
posted by MiraK at 5:02 AM on February 9 [13 favorites]

By the way, you really should stop pressuring him for cam sex. Just because you want it, doesn't mean you get to coerce him.

And doesn't act or look like he wants to. I have tried telling him this hurts me and causes me so much pain and stress, and I need to be sexual with him, and he still has the same excuse every time.

Enthusiastic consent is not optional. If he doesn't want to be sexual with you, and you really need someone who wants to be sexual with you, then you BREAK UP and find someone else. You don't pressure them, beg them, emotionally manipulate them, etc. into giving you what you want.
posted by MiraK at 5:11 AM on February 9 [29 favorites]

It sounds like this situation is very frustrating and causing you a lot of pain and distress.

When you feel that it's very hard to meet someone you can connect with, it's so astounding when you do feel that connection. It feels like a last-chance miracle you cannot walk away from. It's a very powerful feeling.

But despite the sense of connection, it doesn't seem that this man is making you happy or content, and it doesn't seem that he's giving you the kind of consideration and honesty that you want and deserve. You say you cannot trust him. From what you've described there's not much of a chance that this situation will turn into one where your needs are met.

You describe how much you've both invested in this relationship: that is not a reason to continue to invest more, when you are so unhappy and worried, and he is so unwilling/unable to address your concerns. You can invest more and continue to be unhappy and worried, or you can invest elsewhere (such as yourself, or a different relationship).

I think it's time to walk away from this guy and focus on yourself for a while. It will be hard, but you can do it.
posted by bunderful at 6:14 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]

I think this sounds like an episode of 90 Day Fiance, and that those episodes almost always end badly for all involved, and that long-distance relationships take exponentially more effort to sustain, and that it doesn't seem like you're very happy.
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on February 9

I think that going into a first meeting with this man with as specific a set of expectations you seem to have (how he should do sex with you, how his home life should be, how other women look at him) after having never before met face to face is setting you BOTH up for failure.

From this outsider's point of view, your expectations of how your intimacy "should" be evolving after just the one in-person meeting is wildly miscalibrated, and by that I mean... you have approached it with FAR too many expectations.

It is quite likely that the two of you are not right for one another, but don't go around laying traps and fishing around for drama like this. Just break up, if that's what you want to do.
posted by wats at 7:41 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]

It's really easy to confuse drama for passion when you're in the heady times of an early relationship. You might not feel yours is still early stages, but it is - corresponding at a distance is part of a relationship, but I would suggest that it only really begins when you meet for the first time*.

Don't fall into that trap. Passion feels good, feeds your fire, and dies down into something more low-key but wonderful and beautiful. Drama can feel like it's passion, but it's stressful and feeds conflict, like you're writing about here.

Step AWAY from the drama, ma'am. This relationship is not destined to bring you happiness. There will be other people, and you deserve passion without the drama.

*I once met someone after corresponding online for a long time, and realised that they smelled wrong, not bad, just wrong. Like, a real animal-level aversion to their smell, I don't know whether it was a signifier that we were too genetically similar or something and nature didn't want us to breed, or what. But after a long exciting lead-up, that ended super quickly!
posted by greenish at 3:16 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

All of these responses have made very good points. I appreciate them so much. It definitely has helped me understand the nature of it a bit differently, being rather in the middle of it and unable to see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

I will say that I did not try to have high expectations before we met. I knew it would be bad timing; I knew that only meeting once like this under such pressure and for the first time would inevitably cause problems, and I knew certainly it is not any means realistic. I knew already he had sexual problems as well, because he had told me from the beginning. The way he behaved was very perplexing, as on the one hand, his touch and affection showed so much love, and in certain instances, great passion. However, the nature of his reactions were just in general, to everything - extremely *odd*. Not only, but especially the sex. I have met people for the first time where it was certainly awkward or weird in some way (even under pressure), but never before have I been with anyone who seemed so trapped in their own head and clearly very disturbed by something as he is.

I have never pressured him for anything, never manipulated, nothing like that. I just was making it clear to him about how I am feeling, and I wanted him to be clear with me and honest, instead of making excuses all the time and trying to hide how bad it really is.

I suppose the greatest underestimation I have been making is the fact that I want to believe this is a mentally healthy individual. The immense strain he has currently in his life, does add a lot certainly, but in the end is really inconsequential. Because that is not what is eating at him, he does not even realize. As I see it now, the core of the matter is he is deeply hurting in his soul, and this pain and self-loathing permeates every aspect of his life, making true intimacy almost impossible for him. He is yet unaware of this, and there is not much I can currently do to convince him... We have talked about this quite in depth more recently, and he has told me this intimacy problem of his has ruined all of his relationships.

He may like to think he knows a lot, and while his understanding of our shared philosophical and spiritual views is indeed wonderful, and he does believe it truly - it seems as if that whole thing for him is a beautifully painted mask for the giant pit of hell that screams in his soul. And his logical thinking fits neatly into the grooves, and he tries to convince himself he knows who he is and what he is doing. But he is a frightened child pounding the walls to escape, in the prison of his mind.

When I kiss him, he is a phantom; a spectre; his touch fades with the swirling mist of dreams. I turn to gaze upon him beside me and caress his skin, to find it is cold to the touch. His eyes empty gates to nowhere. His lips frozen in the words never spoken; his heart covered in vines and ancient runes of all that could have been.
posted by Aurora13 at 10:58 PM on February 20

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