There are a few things that are going on in the mind of a cheater when it comes to deciding on whether to end their affair or not.

mind of a cheater

By Linda

I’ve had a couple of mentoring clients lately who are going through a period where their cheating spouse won’t make up their mind to end the affair and come back to the marriage. 

This feeling of being in “limbo” is probably one of the most frustrating and agonizing period after an affair that there is.  There are a few things that are going through the mind of a cheater that might explain their wishy-washiness.

Quite often the person having an affair doesn’t really have a clue of what they want to do following the discovery of their affair. That is, do they want to leave their wife and family for their affair partner, or do they want to end the affair and remain in the marriage?

How to End an Affair – The Right Way

The Mind of a Cheater is Often Full of Uncertainty

To a large degree, the cheater is feeling ambivalent and uncertain. They want to keep their options open as long as possible – because they want to hold onto the fantasy like, feel-good aspects of the affair while still holding open the possibility of eventually returning to the marriage.

More than likely the cheater does not have the clarity of vision to see that this is what is going on inside their head.  All they know is that they don’t want to face the fallout that comes with making a choice.  After all, in the mind of a cheater, there are less than desirable consequences regardless of the decision they make.  As Peggy Vaughan, author of “The Monogamy Myth” states:

“Often it becomes a classic “approach/avoidance” situation where the closer they come to making a decision in one direction, the more likely they are to shift toward the other decision.”

(Click here for a definition of approach and avoidance conflict)

See also  Reader Struggles With Why Husband Chose to End the Affair

And here is a short video by veteran therapist, Pete Gerlach that goes into what you can do about approach-avoidance in relationships.

It’s important to note that during this time the cheater is being heavily influenced by their affair partner – who is now stepping up their game – as they are openly discussing their dilemma with them. 

However, in most cases the cheater is not openly discussing what’s going on in their head with their spouse.  Any attempt by the betrayed spouse to “persuade” the cheater to stay in the marriage, usually falls on deaf ears.  The cheater perceives this as an attempt to control him/her, rather than as an attempt to let them know what is truly in their best interests.

During the height of the affair, the cheater focuses on the “positive” aspects of leaving the marriage in order to be with their affair partner.  They are comparing the positives of the affair with the negatives of the marriage. But as the final decision looms, they start to have second thoughts and often shift their thinking to the potential negative impact that leaving the marriage will have. There could be financial concerns, family concerns, concerns about their future with their affair partner or other issues that are now weighing on the mind of the cheater.

The result is that the cheater delays making any decision – often indefinitely – and may only make a final decision when either the betrayed spouse or the affair partner insists.

This is not to suggest that an ultimatum should be given, as they often backfire, but it’s smart for the betrayed spouse to clarify that he/she also has a decision to make, and that the future of their relationship is not just up to the cheater.

See also  Do a “180” to Save Your Marriage

During this time of cheater ambivalence, it’s important for the betrayed spouse to work on himself/herself and find the courage and strength to not neglect other areas of life.

They mustn’t be clingy, needy or come off as being pitiful.  The betrayed must do things that bring them some semblance of confidence and self-worth so they don’t lose their true self-concept.

Ultimately, the cheater must understand the unfairness of the position that he/she has put both the betrayed spouse and the affair partner in and must make a clear decision and commitment to ending the affair and focusing on rebuilding the marriage.

There is always the possibility that the marriage will eventually not work out, but in the mind of the cheater, at least they can make a more rational decision about the prospects for the marriage when they are not comparing it to the fantasy of their affair.

*This article was originally posted on June 2, 2012 and updated on 10/13/2020

    72 replies to "The Mind of a Cheater – Ambivalence, Approach and Avoidance"

    • Recovering

      My husband said he wasn’t ambivalent about dumping the OW, which he did the day i found out, but seemed ambivalent about staying in the marriage! This hurt me so incredibly bad that he could dump the affair, and then possibly dump me, when HE was the one who had been lying for 2 years and sneaking around and being slime!! I guess he blamed me for the affair for so long that I should understand his ambivalence there, but I didn’t think HE had a right to be ambivalent! If he wanted out he should’ve gotten out BEFORE he messed around. It hurt and angered me, and even now, knowing all that I do about the affair fog, it still hurts to think that he might have actually left, especially since I gave so much of my own dignity away just by staying in the first place. I had so much self-loathing, and the loathing from him for something I DIDNT do only made it worse. Idunno… I just don’t think cheaters have a right to be ambivalent. They made their decision… they left the relationship in every way that counts… it is the BS that should get the next move… JMO,

    • Jamie

      My H and I have been getting along a lot better. I even feel like he really is sorry and all the hell he put me through, I doubled it by my reactions to his ambivalence and avoidance. He does not like to talk about any of it for very long. But I’m really sick of living in the shadows.

      I bought a phone recovery stick last week. I plugged in his old phone and right there in plain sight I discovered two contacts, only email addresses (and the recovery stick said neither had been contacted; only stored in his phone), for women. nursekirsten and some woman named Lisa. These are NOT anyone I know and he claims that he doesn’t know them either; so this leaves me in doubt that he’s been trolling on FB or craigslist (because I also saw on this device report that there are three personal ads he was looking at, and one in “gigs”…which is basically for hookers). I asked him about these. He told me that he was upset, after we were arguing one night; when I mentioned that if he didn’t start being more attentive and affectionate towards me that I was going to find someone who will and I’ll stop our relationship, game over. He says he was looking in craigslist “for me”….wow! That’s my only response..WOW! It’s entirely possible that he would do that, because we actually did meet online, like over 30% of married couples in digital times; but I imagine LOTS more OP/AP are met in this manner as well.

      Here is my dilema. I want to connect his current phone; he bought a new droid, to this device and see what deleted contacts and texts and phone calls come up. If I ask him to do this; I suspect he’ll get upset and say I’m still invading his privacy, that it’s almost a year out of D-Day, there is NO proof of him doing anything “wrong” (why do CS’s think that??? there doens’t have to be any proof…I already have that from a year ago…when I didn’t suspect for a MOMENT that anything, idiots.), and that I’m just trying to find a reason to push him out of our marriage.

      The truth is, I want solid reasons to trust him again. And if there are no “shady numbers” or “deleted contacts” or “deleted texts from other women”, since he changed his phone in April..isn’t that solid proof that I can worry less..and less and less???

      How do I approach this avoidance? He’s not going to like that I want to look in his deleted messages. One way or another, I’ll get it done; for my own piece of mind; but I’d rather be up front and honest about what I want to do; so I need some help regarding how to approach this effectively.
      Thanks, all.

      Keep fighting the good fight.

      • Jim

        I too was worried about deleted stuff in my wife’s phone and email accounts. But I realize that I am going nuts worrying about stuff she got rid of. Was she trying to hide this stuff or was she not interested? I will not know. What I am worried about is the stuff she kept. This is what can really come up and bite you.

        The point is for my own sanity, I need to not worry about the ifs. I need to worry about me and having a plan.

      • tryingtogetover

        I think it is valid to want access to his phone so you can see what he’s doing now. It’s a harder call, whether to look back on stuff he has deleted and moved past. I did some of that just so I could understand the scope of my husband’s betrayal. It was hurtful and helpful but at some point I stopped. I DO however still have all of his passwords and can look at what is going on his phone now. I showed him articles on this site that outlined why that is necessary to regain trust. I had to explain that my brain was now rewired to distrust unless proven otherwise and he eventually got it and said he was tired of living in the shadows anyway and was happy to have everything he does out in the light. So, it’s worth continuing the conversation for sure. Just be careful looking for old stuff that will be an emotional landmine for you.

    • Jamie

      I don’t want to deal with the avoidance any longer, and I am really tired of all the little lies. I want to know reality. If he’s not doing anything wrong..then why the avoidance?

      And secondly, I’m going on a long trip with your baby daughter to PA, to visit my mother for 10 days; it’s the longest time he and I have been seperated since D-Day last August..and I am NOT at all comfortable with him being her for 10 days alone, with ample opportunity to “do whatever he wants,” and not be discoverd. Neither do I want to spend the entire 10 days worried about what he’s doing. In fact, I want to know if I should even bother coming home…after this trip accross the country…and this information would really be helpful…in deciding to actually trust (because we’ve been rebuilding this trust foundation, with many many little things) or to give up and stay in PA.

      • Recovering

        Remind him that to rebuild the trust that HE destroyed with HIS choice, he has to remain transparent, and that him allowing you to check his phone without him getting upset is not only transparency, but it will REALLY help you to begin to trust him again!!

        I didn’t even know this device existed!! I don’t know if it would work with my husband’s phone, as it is a really OLD phone – not a new smart phone, but if it would recover stuff, I would certainly shell out the $169 dollars for it (you bet I googled the thing as soon as I read about it on your message). With my husband’s phone being a work phone we don’t even see the bill so I can’t be SURE that he isn’t still talking and texting her even though he lets me go through his phone whenever I want. He could delete whatever he wanted and I’d never know (I actually started checking his phone a full year before I found out about the OW because I was suspicious, but never found anything because he always deleted…).

        HE is the one who lied and cheated!! There is no privacy like that in marriage. If he needs privacy, then he doesn’t need you!!!! You go girl!!

        • Jamie

          I even had seriously horrible bad dreams last night about finding that he was contacting other women for attention; I dreamt that I plugged in his phone and there were dozens of messages and pics that had been deleted.

          I’m terrified that I’m married to the wrong man. His actions in his self absorbed EA and other sexting incidents over the past months have made me feel that I don’t even know who he is; that maybe I made a horrible mistake; that maybe all the time that I felt cherrished and loved and truely accepted and cared for was a mirage.

          I honestly don’t want to play the fool again. And I’m not interested in finding out in a year..or 3 or 5…if I have been wasting my life. I’m 35. I’m a professional. I have several degrees. I’m capable. I don’t mind being on my own; in fact, I was settled on it, when I fell in love with him very unexpectedly and whirlwind like, 2 years ago.

          I’m just so confused and I’m at a crossroad.
          Trust…or Walk away.

          I can’t keep being tortured, even though, it’s probably my own psyche that’s doing the torturing at this point. I sure would like to know why I feel so suspicious though..and why the feeling never leaves me; or grows when things in our home seem to be getting better.

      • rollercoasterrider

        Jamie, I really understand why you want to check up on him, and so does he. The problem in my view is this: if he wants to cheat he will, and if he wants to commit to you, he will. Your checking up on him and finding nothing on this new phone does not give you the security you crave. Why? Well, because of course if he wants to be sneaky and use another phone or something, it’s not really that hard.

        Building trust means that we don’t have to go around checking on each other, nor do we want to. But for a cheater, there should really be no defense…like Doug has often said, in multiple ways: “I need to give Linda no reason to doubt me.” If your H isn’t coming from that place to start with, he really isn’t on board. Fog or no fog, eventually we need to figure out whether it’s a marriage we want or just a game of cat and mouse. Learning to communicate openly and honestly is not easy especially after one has been betrayal, but with forgiveness and the work we each need to do (as well as some outside help, probably) it can be done.

        • Jamie

          I don’t want to waste anymore of my good heart, I guess.

          I guess…if I find anything more; from this point forward, my plan is to take my daughter and move out of state.

          I’m just feeling these “suspicion” vibes again. It could be from my pending trip. It could be because he has been more loving and attentive lately, in the past few weeks; and that’s making me feel like he’s hiding something…or it could be that he’s a liar and it’s still happening and always will. If the later is the case; I’d rather have proof…know..and make a plan; like Jim says.

          Maybe I should just ask him if he wants me to doubt him? And if there isn’t any reason to doubt him…then I would like to look at the deleted messages with his blessing,on his phone; and IF there is actual contact with other women, again…make my exit plan.

          • livingonafence

            Jamie, I feel for you. In your past he has given you every reason NOT to trust him, and you not finding anything is not in itself a reason to trust. We’ve all heard of those that simply hide it better. So tell him you want to check his phone and see what he says. He’ll most likely say all of the things you just said, but if he gives you the phone then you’re set, and if he refuses I’d bet there’s something on there that he doesn’t want you to see.
            Obviously, you’re trying to do this in the open, but if you’re worried about it constantly after a year, have you thought of installing a monitoring device on his phone?
            Also, what is the name of the device you purchased? I purchased a similar one and got nothing.

            • Jamie

              The device is called Paraben’s Phone Recovery Stick. I purchased the one, specifically for the Android. It worked like a charm with the older Android; but the stick must not be interfaced properly with the new Android model; I couldn’t get it to recover texts..then again…maybe it is only good for ONE recovery..I dunno. I did plug in his phone and recover all of his deleted photos though..with the stick.

              Didn’t find anything new or that I didn’t already know was deleted.

            • Jamie

              Paraben’s Phone Recovery Stick, for Android.

        • Jamie

          Thanks rollercoaster. Thanks Jim.

          You both have good points.

          I just can’t waive off the suspicion or “paranoia”, at this point…and meld it into trust; because I don’t trust him, even after all these months.

          I don’t know how to trust him again…I may never trust him again. I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out. If I can’t…or won’t..then I want to stop wasting my life on him; and get back to my own life, solo.

        • Jamie

          Hi Recovering, Jim, Rollercoaster, livingonafence; and the others.

          I wanted to let you know that I did ask my H about looking at his deleted messages and whatnot on his phone, last night.

          First, I approached him in a non threatening way; or so I thought; by asking tenderly, “if I have any reason to doubt him,” and then telling him that if I don’t and he agrees that I don’t; I want to look in his new phone with a recovery stick.

          He was not warm and happy about my request. He was not overly upset, outwardly; but I could tell by his use of vocabulary and raising his voice that he’s frustrated beyond belief with my constant need/want for investigation and seeded, rooted doubt that he’s still hiding something or lots of somethings. He’s frustrated with my insecurities..and I’m insecure because he has lied to me over and over; about HUGE things in our marriage over the last 10 months (the entire first year of our miracle baby’s life…that’s really hard on me, because I don’t know if I’ll ever look back at this time and see the happiness of her birth and remember things other than this pain and insecurity he caused by choosing to have an EA and other sexting contact with women).

          I didn’t find anything that has been deleted; that I didn’t already know was on the phone. I could only download pics..not texts for some reason. The phone must be too new; and the stick too old to interface correctly. However; I did see that this one instance of sexting with an ex coworker was MUCH MUCH more explicit than I anticipated. It wasn’t even a “dress up” kind of texting thing…it was blatant and there were explicit photos of her parts. I was really disgusted to see this. However, I knew about this person..and I knew that it ended very suddenly; when she said she wanted to meet and date or have sex or whatever; and he said he was not interested in that.

          Furthermore; now I feel like a total ass for looking for “evidence” of bad behavior; when everything seems to be going so well. You were right, Jim. And you were right, rollercoaster. I don’t feel guilty; per se. But I do feel like I should have given him the benefit of the doubt; I also feel like IF I would have done that, I would have gone insane on my vacation and been worrisome the entire trip; going out of my mind and unable to enjoy my time with my mother. I do feel a sense of relief. I do feel a sense of forward motion.

          In fact, I am going to allow him to change his passwords on his yahoo and gmail accounts; to prove that I don’t need to look in those accounts anylonger and he can be “off probation” in that area. I feel I owe him some sort of apology; but I also am not sorry that I looked and found nothing.

          I am sorry that it was upsetting to him that I needed to know. And I’m sorry that he feels defeated; or unloved or policed. I feel insecure and crushed and have a major loss of confidence after the last lie (finding out he has 3 children, that he did NOT disclose to me at any time in our relationship.. we have been married for nearly 2 years. I found out in Feb that he has children from his ex-wife. So it’s not just about the cheating with some online desparate woman or acquaintance…it’s really about the lies..and that every single time I feel ready to trust him again..I turn the corner and hit a tank with a BIG gun).

          I also agree with Grizfield;
          I do believe in my heart of hearts at the root of roots and the bud of the bud…that my H is a good man. He made a mistake; he had reasons for his choices that I will NEVER understand..and I’m accepting that. I accept that I will not understand, no matter how much time passes. And as Griz mentioned; I too, do love my H and I do not want to lose him in my life.

          My insecurity and my pride are keeping me prisoner.

          My grandfather used to say this, “What’s the first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole?” Answer: “Stop diggin”.

          It’s time for me stop diggin. It’s time for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

          And although I feel despicable for not doing this with his phone information last night and causing us both to be upset over it; I do not regret knowing…that nothing is going on…anywhere..anytime…with anyone..for the last 6 months, just like he has said to me.

          It’s time to allow him to keep choosing me. Time to allow him to keep choosing us, and to stay committed to our family.

          Nobody’s perfect. Not even me. If I were, I wouldn’t have helped us along his choices in our disconnection that led to this kind of behavior in the first place, with the EA and him feeling unable (for whatever reason) to tell me about feeling a loss or emotional disconnection or that he was feeling unappreciated, unwanted, unadored; while I was pregnant, preoccupied and/or otherwise submerged in my own struggles along our marriage path.

          I thought that you you guys should know what I did. How I did it. What kind of response I got. What I found and didn’t find. And that your support has helped me realize and go forward in choosing “Trust”…instead of “Walk Away”.

          Thank you for your help.

          • livingonafence

            Jamie, thanks for the update. I’m really happy for you that you didn’t find anything. It’s always upsetting to have these discussions. They are trying, we are trying, but in the end, they’ve given us reason to suspect them, and they need to help us move past that if they are serious about moving forward. I do remember my H letting me go through all of his online activity on his gaming system. He seemed annoyed but showed me how to look at anything I wanted to look at. Afterwards, I said thank you. He looked completely shocked and said “Really?” He didn’t understand how much I needed to see for myself that I had nothing to worry about.

            It sounds like your H has given you more than enough reason to doubt him. Having 3 children that he’s kept a secret? That’s HUGE. You’re a very understanding person to accept that. What a mindbender! I’m like you – overdegreed, professional, strong, the works. Yet this EA shook my belief in everything, including myself. You’ve been given even more to question with the things your H kept from you.

            I hope you and your baby enjoy your vacation, and I hope when you return home your H is waiting with open arms.

            Sometimes they don’t understand what they could lose until it’s almost lost. It’s sad, but that’s the truth.

            Thank you for sharing your story and the follow up.

          • Jim

            I am glad you did not find anything. Your grandfather could not have said it better. When you find yourself in a hole stop digging.

            This is how I felt about checking. I still want to but I need to resist for my own sanity. I can keep digging and find nothing and feel terrible for checking. Or I can avoid checking and if something is happening it will show up. It is hard for them to keep it covered up.

          • Healing Mark

            Jamie. You met your husband, established a relationship, got married, miraculously (your description) got pregnant and gave birth to a child, and all this time your H never told you about the existence of 3 children from a previous marriage? Did he not talk to or visit any of his children during this time?

            Calling this HUGE may be an understatement. I cannot think of any reason why this information would not be shared with a girlfriend, much less a wife and mother of my child. Perhaps there is some reason, no matter how misplaced, that your H chose to hide this from you. He must have known how wrong this kind of deceipt was and is.

            I suppose if you can maintain a lie like this (i.e., no children from previous marriages), you can also establish and maintain an affair relationship that blatantly contradicts the marriage vows that your H rather recently made to you. WOW! Hopefully, your H appreciates the fact that a very high percentage of women in this world would kick his butt out of the house and divorce him in a New York minute if he had done this to them.

            • Jamie

              Hi Jim,
              You’re right. There were several reasons, in his mind, to keep 3 children from me. At the forefront of the issue, I TOLD him that I didn’t get involved with “men who have children, because I want a family of MY own”; from the very very very beginning…like, the first week we started dating.

              That being said…There is always more to the story.

              My husband’s first child is 19. He was a surprise. His ex-girlfriend and he had broken up; he was 17, she was unsure if the baby was his or her new boyfriend’s. He always paid child support. He tried to have a relationship with the child. The boy’s mother moved away; he was young..she was young. This is understandable..and it happens to MANY many young people who are sexually active.

              Secondly, I did know he had an exwife. I did know that his ex wife was seriously selfish and extremely emotionally disturbed. This information came from his family, his mother, his father, his cousins his sisters, his brothers and pretty much any family friend that I have met. The ex wife is extremely spoiled, and damaged; basically because she was a super rich girl who married a working class guy and expected the world..and expected him to give it to her..right NOW!!! LOL.

              I am not defending his choice to keep this from me. In fact, I feel more betrayed by knowing this information than the EA or sexting issues. What I do know is that he told his family NOT to reveal this to me. He was ashamed and seriously upset about how the entire situation with this children and ex wife ended up. He tried for 9 years to enforce visitation rights…he spent thousands and thousands of dollars; his own money and his parents’ savings; and this ex wife moved and moved and moved and lied and lied and kept their children from him on purpose. This situation is not all his fault. And after a certain point of dealing with this damaged woman and her constant hate, anger and general..he gave up and decided to be happy again..or at least to try. He’s been single; ever since the seperated. He was burned…burned BAD..and never intended to find someone that would love him; let alone love him with honesty, compassion and her whole heart (me).

              I was FURIOUS…when I found out this information. Then I was even more furious to know that his family KNEW and kept it from me. Then I was on fire when I found out that he intentionally told them that it was ‘not a subject he wants to relive’, with me in his life.

              This family has endured the loss of two of their grandchildren. My H is deeply wounded that he is not a part of their lives. His son is 15 his daughter is 11. The last time he saw them, the boy was 3 and the girl was 3 months. Now…All that being said; there are some women in this world, who believe that if you “want to have a baby with someone, even if he’s your husband; and your husband doesn’t want to be a parent at this juncture…it’s okay, because having a baby is what you want”. IN turn, these same women..and there is a larger portion than even I realized; after doing some research; also believe that their husband has an obligation to stay married to them, even if that woman is being selfish and not at all acting like a partner and compromising on when the right time to have a child/children is…FOR BOTH partners. His exwife pulled the old “Ooops”. But the truth is…she admitted it a year after their son was born; she stopped taking her birth control on purpose, because she wanted a baby; screw what he wanted. Furthermore, this made him VERY resentful and basically shattered their marriage; after trying to rebuild…their lives with a child, now (it is VERY unfortunate that the child was unwanted by one parent and it is also unfortunate that the child suffers due to all the decisions involved from both his father and his mother…I find it disgusting, actually.) Fast forward 2 years….she startst to talk about having another baby…he says he doesn’t want anymore children…2 months later she “stopped taking her birth control pills” again. This is dispicable. It’s basically trapping someone that you love into parenthood and in a cycle of distrust and unhappyness…not to mention the fact that it’s not becoming at ALL…as a life partner.

              My H is very hurt. He feels tricked. And I realize that society thinks…”well, you were married, you have a duty to be a parent because you had sex,” and that’s just NOT true. Women have abortions all the time. And men end up paying child support for children that they didn’t expect, didn’t want and actually vocalized with their partner. The partner did what they wanted..and this scenerio happens all over the world, every single day. And men pay their support, for the most part and become parents. Some men are married to women like my husband..and since he filed for divorce upon finding out that she was pregnant again…and she DID admit she did it on purpose, again…I don’t think that it’s as terrible as a move as “society” says it is.

              Belive me…I am FURIOUS about this situation.

              No he does not have contact with his ex wife or his children. She has made it nearly impossible for him to have any relationship with his children because of her bitterness and anger over his feelings about being duped into being a father in the first place. It is trickery, if you agree to stay on birth control and you are responsible for the upkeep of that part of your sexual lives, in a marriage..I honestly believe it’s a load of shit to just “stop taking your pills”. Ridiculous.

              She took the children and moved to the Bahamas…when the children were 3 and 3 months…and there have been only one or two instances of court appearances where he has seen the children.

              I’m not saying that it’s all her fault. I’m saying it’s an unfortunate situation. I’m saying feel sorry for the children caught in the middle. I’m saying it’s a terrible terrible situation. I’m also saying, IT”S NOT MY SITUATION. I refuse to be part of it.

              We have our own family. And I do love him..and he is good to us; with the exception of his recent mistakes…in the EA situation.

              I didn’t divorce him in an instant (although that was my very first instinct)…because my daughter deserves to have her father in her life. I don’t have ONLY myself to think about.

              It’s not noble…it’s not compassionate. I love my H. I believe he is a good and decent human being. I believe he was hurt and paid the price of being young with one son, and paid a very very steep price by not having relationships with his other two children; due to not wanting to have a relationship with their mother, his exwife; because of her bitterness, hatred and selfishness….

              I am sorry for the entire situation.

              Like I said..I have a daughter with my husband. He adores her. He’s a wonderful father and I think it’s a travesdy that his other children are not in his any capacity…for any and all the reasons that the two adults have decided that are valid.

              It’s very sad.

              He is sorry. He is remorseful. He was twisted up inside for our entire relationship, because he did want to tell me and he knew it was right to tell me; and very wrong to keep it from me. I feel betrayed, beyond imagination.

              I can’t go back. I have a kid. I have a family. We have a home. We do love each other. And I am doing my VERY best to understand that I will never understand his “reasons” for keeping such a thing from me; espeically since I may have made a different decision regarding our relationship, in the beginning.

              I think that’s the main thing. He didn’t want to lose me…but he didn’t do the husbandly thing..and LET me choose to love him anyway. Therein…lies the problem.

            • Healing Mark

              Jamie. Again, WOW! What you have described, however, makes it harder to understand why your H would have not just come clean with you about this sad history. I’m what you have described does not paint your H in a bad light, like if he had abandoned his ex-wife and children and failed to pay child support on top of not even attempting to be a father to one or more of the children. Some people just have, call it a character flaw or whatever, the ability, when faced with doing the right thing (sharing information that someone like yourself absolutely deserved to know before continuing to date your H, much less marry him and start a family, or saying “no” to someone interested in establishing and maintaining an affair with a married man) versus the thing that this person wants to do (keep hidden the parts of his past that he fears will cause him to lose you as a girlfriend and potential wife, or establishing and maintaining an affair notwithstanding his marriage to you), the person choses to do what they want to do anyway, and they are able to lie and do other harmful things to further their misguided interests. Very sad. Very immature.

              There must be many other marvelous aspects to your H for you to still want to be married to your H. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you, and how hard it will no doubt be for you, to trust your H like you should be able to. And his family and friends? Their participation in this deception is horrendous. Nobody told your H he was doing something horribly wrong? A friend that would participate in something so wrong to you, even if that friend didn’t really know you that well at the time, is really not much of a friend to your H, and is certainly no friend of yours, nor should they ever be.

              Good luck with everything.

            • Jamie

              Hi Mark…Sorry, I called ya Jim

              There are marvelous and fabulous things about my H. Or I wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.

              In fact, I recently wrote a list. Drew a line on a sheet of paper and on one side listed the qualities and character aspects that I LOVE and adore about him as a human and as my partner. On the other side, I wrote the defects he has as a “human in progress”, the hurts that he has caused me by his recent behavior with the EA and basically the lying.

              My list on the Love and Adore side; was 3x longer. The greivances on the distasteful side was about 5 lines.

              If I had not found this site; I honestly believe I would have thought selfishly (and not at all about my daughter’s future with her father) and I would have divorced him. Left. Just simply left one afternoon and never returned, upon finding out that he has children that were never disclosed.

              It was a very difficult decision. Moreso, because my H is a FANTASTIC father to our 10 month old baby girl. He literally adores her and shares often with me that he is so pleased and happy and content in being her father. He spends copious amounts of time with her, he is involved in all of her daily routines and weekends are the best, here in our home; at least…they are getting better since my hurt and anger have seemed to be dialed down.

              The point is…through all of the stories and heartbreak on this site that Doug and Linda have allowed us to be a part of…I see second chances. I see fresh starts. I see that many couples are really wanting to be reconnected and honestly connected in their marriages. I see lots of CSs who were “lost”. I see lots of BSs who were wounded. But above all, most of the people on this site want to have a “fresh start”.

              I came to the conclusion that I have a part in him keeping secrets from me, or at least not talking to me about what he needs in our marriage. I am very very upset that he feels/felt that he cannot talk to me, intimately; or reveal his pain, anguish and embarassment or loss..when it comes to his “old life”. As a general rule, no one likes to relive pain. With a more broad paintbrush…MEN do not like to relive pain or talk about unpleasantness. Women see this kind of thing as more of a “process” to let go of pain, when we talk about it or push men to talk about it. We’re different.

              Through my hurt and anger over his EA; because were only 6 months out of D-Day, when I found out about his childrens existance; I learned a lesson. I am NOT perfect either. I have had fresh starts more than once in my life. I have also hurt others and broken trust throughout my life..and it’s not a comparison kind of hurt is not MORE than the other. Hurt is hurt. I have also learned this: Hurt people…hurt people.

              There is nothing wrong with wanting a fresh start to a new future and a better life.

              It is unfortunate that I didn’t do my part in making our home and life together as safe as he needed (because he didn’t teach me how or vocalize what he wanted and needed) to tell me about his sad past. It really is a horrible story and I feel very empathetic for his position and the position of his children.

              I also choose not to deal with it. It’s not my issue. It’s not my past. It’s not something I can do anything about. This knowledge never effected us before I knew and it doesn’t effect me now; other than confusion and I’m a little upset that one day I may be forced to deal with a knock on the door from a teenaged boy or girl…looking for their father. In that case, I will be welcoming and invite them in and retreive my husband, and take my daughter on a walk. I will respect his wishes and how he wants to handle contact or no contact. And I will respect his decisions regarding this delicate and unsavory situation, but there is not my past, it is not my decision.

              I am his wife. I am his lover. I am the mother of his child in this family. We are rebuilding trust. I guess those are the reasons I didn’t jump ship immediately.

              Every person deserves a second chance and a fresh start…if you love him/her. If you really want to build a bridge of light…and hope..and connection, you must to see it that way.

              I am disappointed. I am disappointed in his family. I am disappointed that his family relationships are so strained that no one called him on this crap. He left home at 17, literally packed a bag; his junior year of high school and never went home. Not once.

              In the middle of all of this rotten story…his mother passed away last November, very suddenly and unexpectedly. I believe the first time he went home was to go through some of her things, that month; last year, and to have a family meeting with his brothers, sisters and father.

              We have had a LOT of tragedy and sorrow in our lives this past year. We have had much to be grateful for as well, example: Our baby girl, who is very much wanted, loved and provided for.

              I guess I love him enough to see through the bullshit.

              I guess I love him enough to see the 1carat diamond in the 50lb lump of coal that he has been this last year. Isn’t that what for better or for worse means? Isn’t that “forever and ever, until the days of my life are through”?

              Thanks for the support. And thanks for so pointedly listening and responding to my need for support. My H is a good man…he just got lost, like a lot of our wayward spouses have.

              And I’m a good hearted woman. And, I’m learning to be a forgiving woman..and he’s learning to show his colors to me…good, bad and ugly, so that I can choose to love him…regardless.

              I want a fresh start too. I’m not blameless. And I’m not perfect. And I tried to remember that when I found out this information.

              As for the family, I’m not interested in being “friends” with any of them. I am polite. I go to family functions sparsely (my H is not interested in having relationships with his family..the truth is…they’re a bunch of train wrecks..yes; even more drams filled than our situation this past year). I keep my distance, but I send birthday cards. I have relationships with his young nieces and nephews by sending them things I sew, purses, cargo shorts..Christmas presents…slippers..etc.

              “Be the change that you want to see in the world,” isn’t that what Ghandi said? Or something very similar? I’m trying to be understanding and do the changing in myself instead of laying all the hard work at his feet. I do look in the mirror and I do it often.

              It has been hell.
              And I’m finally glad it’s getting to a point of warm water, instead of a rolling, frothing bowl of crazy.

              Thanks again.
              Yes..I’m having a hard time trusting..and it helps to come to this place and know I have people who support me.

    • Jamie

      Thanks Recovering, for the support and suggestion of asking him to remain transparent. He’s still gonna be pissed though; and he’ll think that I’m trying to start a fight. Why to CS’s think that? I’m so tired of fighting I could puke.

      There are many many many devices used to recover deleted messages; texts, phone calls, SMS messages, MMS messages, photos..etc. I used a site that specializes in data recovery under the guise of “business owners, or employees who have lost their data,” on smartphones.

      I purchased the one specifically for the Droid. It was expensive, but worth it. I don’t think old phones can use these they have to be able to be connected to the same computer as the stick. Be sure to read the instructions and turn off the anti-virus protection, temporarily to the computer you plug it into. I you can plug in his phone to a computer, just make sure you get the right debugging stick. It was super easy. It took about 5 minutes to download all the information that was deleted or otherwise stored on the SIM card.

      I’m feeling very very uptight about my trip; like I won’t be able to enjoy it, without knowing what else has been going on behind my back, on his new phone…IF there has been any “goings on”.

      I want to believe that there hasn’t. He’s really stepped up to the plate. I haven’t found any real proof since November, that he was in contact with anyone. Although; he promised me he was not contacting any women period from August until November and I found a picture of a womans chest bra clad, in his email..that he missed, while deleting things; back in February; so this is exactly the reason I’m suspicious still and again.

      It took his mother passing away, very suddenly and unexpectedly; for him to really stop being a trolling, attention seeking playboy. I don’t even believe that he’s having any affairs. I think he’s just been after the attention/adoration that these “fantasy text” friendships or affairs provide. He definitely crossed the line when one short lived affair partner and he decided to go to lunch a few times and actually had a kiss in the restaurant parking lot…I was about 5 weeks post pardum, during this time. I hate knowing that he was a coward, by creating emotional distance in our relationship, while we were both under LOADS of stress; when having a new baby.

      I just don’t trust him not to seek out “attention” again, since he lied to me that he wasn’t doing it…and I found out he was for months after he told me he wasn’t.

      He’s gonna see it as a personal attack. I don’t believe that it is…at all. I think it’s an obstacle..and he could treat it like an opportunity to rebuild; like you said Recovering…but I don’t know how to help him see it this way. I feel that I’m right on the edge of letting go of my hatred and hurt and really turning a corner regarding lasting, loving forgiveness for the mistake he made.

    • Gizfield

      It’s a little ironic that none of the positives listed for staying in the marriage versus leaving was that they actually know that their spouse is a better person who they do not want to lose.! Just saying! People are usually married for a Reason…

      • livingonafence

        I thought the same thing. I also found it confusing that it states the CS usually keeps all options open until either the AP or the BS forces them to decide, and then instructs NOT to give an ultimatum. So is the BS forced to wait for the AP to give an ultimatum? What if the AP is also married and has no intention of leaving their spouse? You just stay in this twisted relationship forever?

        Personally, I’ve never seen an instance where the ultimatum failed. I can’t say I’ve seen as many cases as Linda, but when a CS is forced to look at reality instead of having one foot in fantasyland, they usually drop fantasyland in a heartbeat. I’m puzzled by the information stating the contrary.

        It’s sad that the reasons listed are financial or hassles from other family members, or that the relationship with the AP may not work. Where is them realizing they want their spouse and famiy? I personally would rather divorce than be with someone that stayed for financial reasons. That isn’t a marriage, it’s a business arrangement.

        • Recovering

          I gave my husband a choice… he could dump the whore and one of them had to leave the company or I was gone… this was within 3 hours of finding out about the affair. He didn’t get a long time to decide. I found out at 1:30am and woke him up in not such a nice way… he left for work at 6:30am and like clockwork the whore called him on his way in, and he told her I knew and that he loved me and that it was over and that one of them had to leave. She called him a name and hung up on him. I wasn’t gonna sit around and wait for him to decide. I didn’t deserve that, and I didn’t deserve to be treated like I was during his affair, and I wasn’t going to take it for one minute more. He had to make his choice THEN. He made the dumbass decision to cheat in about a second, and he knew he was wrong… had 2 years to be mulling over his decision to mess up our entire family… he didn’t need more time – affair fog or not! I would have lost ALL respect for him had he chose her – a liar, a cheater, a whore, a slut who had her own marriage – over his faithful, loving, caring wife. He said he didn’t even have to think about it once it sank in that I KNEW… he never thought I would find out… People, have we not heard over and over again that the truth always has a nasty way of coming out? Seriously… he’s a damn smart guy, just not THAT smart….

    • Anita

      It would be good for you to go on your trip to visit your mom,
      and enjoy that time with your mom.
      Your husband is going to do what he wants, if its to remain
      faithful to you he will, otherwise if he doesn’t stay faithful
      and you find out later, then you can make the the choice to
      stay or leave.
      Jamie, my family was a hugh support for me when my exhusband was involved in his last affair, they gave me
      the strenght I needed to leave that unhealthy marriage,
      and not go back.
      I can only speak for myself knowing what I know today,
      I would never stay in a relationship again, if that person
      cheated on me. I value myself enough to not put up with that kind of garbage.
      However, I know that some marriages can be rebuilt, and
      I wish them the best. However for myself, if they cheat
      they’re gone, I will forgive them, but I won’t stay with them.
      For me if they cheat, they didn’t value the relationship in the
      first place.

    • Anita

      I can only speak for myself, after going through what I went
      through. If I ever get into a relationship again with someone who cheats on me. That person will never
      have to go through ambivelance, of trying to decide if they
      want me or the affair partner. If I ever find out that person
      cheated, the choice will already be made, I would end my
      relationship him right then and there.
      I refuse to compete with a affair partner.
      If he cheats she can have him, I would never again
      stay with a man who can’t decide if me or someone else.
      I don’t find it as a challenge, I find it as a complete turn off.
      The man that wins my heart is a man who will stay faithful,
      not one who can’t decide if he wants his affair partner or
      not. She can have that prize.

      • Recovering

        Amen Sista!!! Mine is getting his one and ONLY second chance. But only because we have been together so long, and I honestly love him (thought we were ‘meant to be’). I think we will be worth it in the end… but if for some reason we don’t work out… NEVER EVER AGAIN will I go through this with somebody!! You wanna be with someone else? You wanna NOT think with your brain and your heart… by all means, go for it, but I just wont be around to watch! I never thought I would stay the first time, but I KNOW I couldn’t and wouldn’t stay again! Am worth WAY more than that, to myself and my kids!!!

        • livingonafence

          You said it!! This is it, no more chances! I also never thought I’d stay one time out, and I certainly won’t again. Knowing everything I know now, all the mental anguish and heartbreak, nope, never again. I also thought we were meant to be – soulmates. HA! We were until he got bored. Then I was nothing. I’ll never be nothing again, I can promise that!

          • Recovering

            Sometimes I get really mad at myself for staying in the first place. I love him, but I NEVER thought I would stay. I was sooooo sure I would leave, and so was he. He even told the OW that I would leave if I found out, so she was actually giddy when he told her that I knew because the first thing she said was “Did she leave?”, like she was waiting to pounce! Maybe I should’ve left, at least for a little while… Idunno… my husband says he didn’t think that I loved him during that time and that had I left it would’ve just confirmed to him that I didn’t love him – not that he did such an awful thing that I couldn’t live with… whatever. I will always wonder if I would trust his love now more if I had left and he had to chase me…. it’s not a game, but I always said that I would leave… and I meant it… and now here I am, still here, almost a year out, and things are going okay, but I still doubt his love for me…. after all, for 2 years while he was with it he was telling me that he loved me and was making love to me…. it wasn’t like now… now is better in a way… but what the affair has done to me.. and not sure it makes the now worth what I have paid… my dignity, my self respect, my confindence, my belieft in love… he says if he could go back in time he would NEVER have ANYTHING to do with the OW in ANY form or fashion, not even ‘friendship’, but he made the choice then… I guess I HAVE to look forward, but it is looking back that is keeping my heart safer than it was before… my love will never be the same for him as it was…. am not sure if it can be better than before since all innocence is lost… am hopeful but not overly optimistic… I literally despise myself some days for staying, especially on the REALLY GOOD days because I resent him so much on those days… does that make sense? I want to get over the resentment, but I am still soooo angry, and what he did was sooooo disgusting… yes, I judge… I have a right to…

            • Mona Lisa

              Recovering, I know just what you are saying. There are days that I really hate myself because I feel like I “settled”. I think about leaving every day. Is it pride? I don’t know. It has been 2 years since D-day, but by a twist of fate I found out a couple of weeks ago that there was more to the affair than just the texting and emails that he swore to. He actually met her for lunch, bought her some gifts, and told her that he loved her. All while swearing to me and our counselor that he had never had contact with her. I am more pissed about the lies and deceit than any other part. Along with the fact that he could look me in the face and lie to me for two years after saying that he is so remorseful for what he did….. Blah,blah, blah…..

            • livingonafence

              I’m so sorry Mona Lisa. I found out 10 months later there was more to the story. I found out he said he loved her. I found out he said terrible things about me. It was like it happened all over again. I know he lied because he didn’t want to lose me, but I had a right to know the facts before deciding to stay or to leave. What was I staying with, or what was I leaving. He took that from me.

              I too struggle with staying. I do think it’s pride. I question why I would tolerate such behavior and stay with someone so willing to lie to me. I wish I had an answer, but I don’t.

              Again, I’m sorry there was more to you story.

        • Sarah

          Amen girl! Exactly how I feel right now!!

    • LillyWebb

      So he only stopped because you found out! So, if you don’t know about it, an affair is OK? Is this line of reasoning OK with you? It hardly bodes well for the future, does it? Sounds like he’s keeping the option of another affair in reserve, with extra secrecy built in. At his core, below whatever good qualities he may have, this is not a trustworthy man.
      Sorry for the downer, but “I never thought you’d find out.” WOW.

      • Recovering

        Lilly Webb,
        I totally understand your point, but that is what an affair is… it is done in secret, and generally only ends when it is no longer secret! Had he been up front about his feelings for this woman (or really that she was a whore and came on to him in the bar and he didn’t think with his right head), nothing would have EVER come of it! None of the CSs ever think we are going to find out… it is why they think they can get away with it! At least he was honest about that… he never intended to leave me, or he would’ve at some point during those 2 years. I am soooooo not defending him…. and it is why there are so many long-term affairs…. they think we won’t find out and the CS and the OW were getting other needs met at home, so their ‘fun’ could continue as long as it didn’t become something “more”. The OW wanted more, however, and my husband freaked out. She was already interviewing for a new job at another company, and she knew that he wouldn’t continue the affair once she left because then he would’ve had to put forth effort to continue (all but 1 of their liasons were during a work outting, and the 1 that wasn’t was during the work day before he went to his night college course because SHE made hotel arrangements and was freaking out because she KNEW he wouldn’t make excuses otherwise to be with her). The night I found out my husband came home from another work outting agitated and grouchy. THAT is why I checked his phone. They had gotten in a fight because SHE had gotten jealous over a text that I had sent my husband, and he flat out told her she was being ridiculous and had no right to be jealous of his wife (I saw these texts, so know this is fact). Not “no reason” but “no right”!

        No, an affair ISN’T okay even if I don’t know about it. The truth comes out eventually, and is the truth even if it isn’t known. An affair is NEVER okay, and I don’t condone it, nor excuse him, or even forgive him for that matter. He has expressed guilt, remorse, shame… been doing the work being transparent, giving me all of his passwords to everything, even his work voice mail and work e-mail… This isn’t to say that you aren’t right, that he isn’t trustworthy… and I don’t trust him much right now… but taking the one phrase out that encompasses all the secrecy of every affair and making that the only thing to base him on isn’t right… LillyWebb, I am sure that if you were the BS that your CS NEVER thought you would find out either… and Dough NEVER thought Linda would find out…. is the nature of the game I’m afraid…

    • rollercoasterrider

      I have thought a lot about the approach and avoidance concept (even in the middle of the night) and I have the idea that it isn’t only an issue for the CS but for the BS as well. I think infidelity is such a hurtful choice that anyone in his (her) right mind automatically assumes that the person who could do this to me must really be horrible and therefore never to be trusted again. I mean, I never said those things, but the insecurity I felt and the ramifications of having my trust shattered were huge, and really gave me the sense that to commit to a marriage with this at its core would be nothing short of insane. We love our partner, though, and did not make this choice, to end up in this hell of indecision…but isn’t it OUR indecision as well as that of the CS that somehow get enmeshed? Anita has stated that her boundary is clear, and I understand from reading her posts that her first marriage was to a man who cheated many times. I guess that is what this work is all about…not just becoming educated about the dynamics and elements of affairs (i.e. adultery) but figuring out what it is that we MUST have in order to commit now that our spouse has broken what was sacred. Even those who consider themselves atheist or agnostic or nothing whatsoever in particular when it comes to what is called ‘religion’ I think would agree that the trust you have given to your romantic partner is sacred (unless you just want to hook up and have no intention of building a life with the other person). It cannot be violated without tremendous repercussions, and as a result, the betrayed also approaches the marriage…and wants to avoid at the same time the very relationship that has resulted in all this pain.

      Does any of this make sense? I’m not really sure, but it did at 3 in the morning!

      • Anita

        Hi Rollercoasterrider,
        Yes what you said makes sense.
        Your right I have established new boundaries for myself.
        However, I know there are marriages that do workout
        after an affair and the marraige is rebuilt. I wish happiness
        and joy to everyone.

        • rollercoasterrider

          Anita, that is great…because don’t we all want happiness and joy! And since I know you are a Bible believer, I will throw in the Scripture that says in heaven there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents…
          So, if like my ex-cheating spouse who has repented and is now walking the talk and living his life intentionally, working on the personality issues that led him to choosing an affair over communicating with me about the feelings he had, a person really wants to change, they can…by God’s grace and strength. I hope we will be one of the stories of what seems humanly impossible. By the way, since I am being very bold today, I will add that I don’t think it’s just the CS who needs to repent. We all do. Every day. Because none of us is righteous.

          • Anita

            I agree, and your right, we are all sinners.
            I am glad its getting better for both you and your husband.
            In my situation with my past marriage, I repented for my
            wrongs, and I had to forgive my exhusband for his. However that is in the past and I am glad that part of my life is at peace.
            In the future I would still forgive infidelity, however I wouldn’t stay in the relationship, I hope I never have
            to cross that bridge ever again, once was enough for me.
            I wish you and your husband the very best!

    • Gizfield

      Has anyone ever heard this quote? And it’s not exact because it’s been years, lol. “any marriage, no matter how ordinary, is more fascinating than any affair, no matter how extraordinary.” And I could be way off on my phrasing but I think the sentiment is spot on. And I totally despise the word affair because people somehow see it as”positive” unfortunately. Seriously?????

    • Lilly Webb

      I understand your POV. But I also think a spouse who stopped because he was found out and/or the OP was becoming a nuisance is a world away from one who stopped and confessed before being found out because of the burden of guilt and remorse he was carrying. The second man has a solid core of maturity that may be able to carry the weight of the relationship alone for awhile while the BS heals. This was my experience.
      But I wish you luck and hope that your man grows up enough to become a rock you rely on.

      • Recovering

        Lilly Webb,
        Oh I ABSOLUTELY agree!! He should’ve told me the first night he even kissed her! WAY before anything sexual or anything else happened (they were really just acquaintences when she hit on him at the bar and they made out in her car that night). AFTER that is when it became more. Yes, I have freaked out on him regularly about how he could be so sick as to continue to even TALK to such a whore after that first night, drunk or not!! I do have major issues with him for the exact reason that you mentioned. I just really wonder how many CS really CONFESS? According to the websites I have read, only 30% of affairs are ever even found out, and of those 95% of the cheaters will LIE LIE LIE about it until the BS has proof. Mine did… I suspected for a year… he knew it, but instead of him taking my suspicions as what they were, he says the situation just made it more like I didn’t care about him – his WAY messed up head. And many men don’t even feel remorse until AFTER they are found out because then REALITY hits them and they are no longer in the fantasy land, so really have to SEE what they have done. I guess I always knew that he was an insecure man – sometimes it made me CRAZY how needy he was… He needs his ego stroked CONSTANTLY, and I was too busy with the kids and my own schooling and the house and soccer and yada yada yada to do that. SHE had no problem stroking his ego (whore) and he ate it up!! It never occured to him that she was still cheating on HIM with HER husband… or that HE was cheating on HER with me! THAT would’ve been real!! He got to live in some fantasy land with ALL his needs met! Even now when we talk about the affair he gets all stiff when I talk about how sick what he did was, and how she is slime too, and that he is LUCKY I didn’t leave – he has that damned ego! He has said that he knows he deserves to be judged, and that he never thought he could do something so dispicable and disgusting…. For such a smart man, he never actually THOUGHT about ANYTHING other than how it made HIM feel! I made a remark once about him being a terrible example for his son, and at first he was soooo angry, but after he actually THOUGHT about it he realized why he was. He was teaching his son to lie and hurt people… He has come a long way – though I will NEVER fully trust him again… never…

      • livingonafence

        lillywebb, most people stop because they are caught. My H had stopped before I found out, but he didn’t confess – I discovered it. People in As twist the world around to justify what they are doing. They know it’s wrong, but they all say “I didn’t think you’d find out” and never really gave that a serious thought.
        I can appreciate your honesty about your feelings, but I think you are telling most people here that they shouldn’t ever trust their spouse again. What matters is how the CS handles things AFTER it is in the open, not how it came out in the first place

    • Jamie

      The company I purchased my recover stick from was called Paraben’s Phone Recovery Stick.

    • chiffchaff

      Certainly that’s exactly everything that my H did following discovery. Lie, lie, lie. Hold on to the fantasy for as long as possible, defend the OW to the hilt, fantasize about how perfect his life would be with her and yet no-one knew about her except him.
      It is certainly fairly appalling to put the BS through what the cheaters do with their ambivalence. Some of the biggest hurdles I have faced have been how to possibly accept and move forward from the continued lies and deception following each Dday. Each apparent watershed when I ‘knew everything’ now only to find out a few months later that it was worse than expected and the OW was still on the scene but in the background. Every bit of giving her up had to be asked for by me. I deleted her from his phone, from his BBM, from his LinkedIn, blocked her email address. He did NOTHING. I think, with hindsight, that this prolonged his seeing me as the boring, evil wife he had to leave. It kept the fantasy alive because I was the nasty person telling him to give up this THING he enjoyed having and brought him such ‘joy’.
      I will always worry that the cheap slag is back on the scene somehow, in a secret way again or that my H has kept her on a backburner somewhere. But, as I see it now, we have such good times together, such fun, that if she is still around she must be getting the crappest dregs from him. I get the best and she’d be living on very stale crumbs.
      I really think that it’s some form of mental illness and deserves an element of pity. To deceive and hurt those people closest to you just to get your selfish way, and for it to be more exciting because of the deception, implies an illness of mind. I try to consider that my H has been very depressed and didn’t know it, and that he resorted to porn and then real live porn with the OW, that made him even more unhappy with himself. I married him for better or worse and in sickness and health. He seems much happier, says he’s far happier, so I am pleased that I stuck it out now. It’s not easy, I don’t think, as others have said, that I will ever 100% trust him again but maybe you shouldn’t.
      For some reason cheaters work from a script post discovery as well as during their ‘inappropriate behaviours’ (I agree that Affair sounds glamorous). They sem incapable of doing anything else.

    • Paula

      Firstly, RCR, all of what you said at 3 in the morning made sense to me!

      Secondly, Lilly Webb, it all seems so cut and dry until you are in the eye of the storm, and you start pulling it to pieces, when this really has happened to you! The naivety many of us face with regard to this is staggering, I think we all believe we wouldn’t “out up with” a cheat. I also think that we think (as I have) that once that line has been crossed once, what stops you from crossing it over and over? Many affairs occur because one partner or the other (sometimes both) gets “lost” – they lose faith in what they formerly believed in. Yes, there are just awful people out there who do this for kicks, and because they can get away with it. Most are damaged in some way by their past, either believing it is “okay” or trying to fill soe need for attention, etc, etc. Some are so lost, and don’t know where they should be, they get sucked into the vortex of an affair, almost as a distraction from solving the problem. In my case, my partner had stopped the affair, of his own volition, because he had got lost for a while (I know, it sounds pathetic and ridiculous, but it somewhat like mental illness sometimes) and (in no way do I blame the OW, she was single, he had the partner and family, but she could have said no, you have a family – she was ostensibly my friend!) there is someone available and circling, shark-like, on the periphey, and seizes the opportunity to pounce – this girl had longed for my ex for over two decades :-(. But then he pulled up his socks and had a jolly good look at himself, and made a decision to get rid of her, and try to keep it all a terrible secret he could NEVER tell anyone, to avoid anyone else getting hurt (me, kids, parents, etc, etc) He was eventually outted by her, out of revenge and anger. I’m glad I know, that I have done/am doing the work to come to terms with it all, but, my God, there are also many times I also wish I could put my fingers in my ears and pretend we were just as great as ever. We can’t. It did happen. He is very remorseful, very disappointed, very disgusted, has tried to learn and grow from doing this thing he never believed he was capable of. I don’t know if any of that helps me though. Bottom line is trust was broken, and like the great vase analogy, no matter how you glue it back together, it’s still not as perfect, or watertight as it was in it’s original condition. That is the greatest sadness of affairs, yes some marriages survive and grow, but they all still have the cracks and the scars to show.

    • Hopeful

      It is really interesting the strength of this pattern of avoidance and approach. For me, I’m a year out and things have settled for us more or less. I actually don’t think my husband actually thought about leaving me or really being with her in a real sense. I think he thought that if they maintained a boundary of “no sex, just friends” that any dubious behavior in between (kiss, heavy flirting, secret meetings, romantic little outings that aren’t called out as romantic little outings) that all was ‘contained’ and that nothing was really wrong. The avoidance and attraction for him and her was this move towards each other as romantic objects and repulsion when reality hit that they were being assholes to their partners, as well as the avoidance and attraction towards me when they had their little break ups.

      Basically, for them, he’d say something nice about me and our future (we want to have kids, I have a great idea for Y, etc.) and she’d freak out and say this is wrong. He’d say, what, I thought we were ‘friends’ and why can’t friends talk about their goals and lives? I thought YOU knew we were friends and ok with it. Of course, meanwhile, he was flirting his ass off, writing to and supporting her emotionally, and signaling his interest in obvious but unspoken ways. OR he’d send a regular and not smoke up the ass email or take too long to respond to her novelistic emails and she’d freak out (ooh, this space of intimacy has closed and I am making my exit). Oh the drama. Then she’d write a couple weeks later saying, oh let’s give this a try again. So, they both had attraction and avoidance games going on and when they were broken up we were closer and when they were revving up, we were in the shithouse.


      Anyway, luckily, his affair fog ended relatively quickly after discovery. His attention towards me changed instantly for the better, but he kept trying to keep her close to him as a ‘good friend’ but these messages were all too familiar and steeped in romantic feelings and fantasies and flirtation and false identity constructions . I had to find proof of this and his continued lying before he ended it. And when he said ‘ our correspondence is not transparent and we (me and him) look forward to getting to know her in a public and regular way”and so on, she threw out her total beyotch energy and lashed out like a demon. I think it finally then occurred to him how little she cared for him or his life, that she completely disrespected me, and that he risked our relationship for a narcissistic woman and fantasy of boundless fun energy with a woman who ‘supported him.’

      Then the bubble burst and only then, completely and the remorse set in and the relationship was definitively over.

      Sadly, the lying about the extent of his activities with her and feelings for her continued for another 8 or 9 months. That was the pits. I guess the avoidance and approach continued for us.

    • Gizfield

      For what it’s worth, my husband confessed to me. Told me he was”in love” with someone else and wanted a divorce. I lost it and didnt go home til the next afternoon. Told him at that time I did not want a divorce. I later found out that he didnt contact his whore while I was gone, which I found odd. I snooped his email a long time later. He emailed her just before I got home unexpectedly to call him, he had “something to tell her.” I guess texting and talking all nite isn’t as fun when there is no one to hide it from, lol.

    • JoeIsTrying

      I really find these posts on the mind of the cheater valuable. So many of us come here looking for answers and to gain empowerment; to read and learn what the CS may be thinking gives us that ability and upperhand. Not only for emotional balance, but so that we can control our expectations and outbursts.
      I believe my wife is deep in the throes of avoidance and ambivalence. She is now 6 mos out of the house and 8mos since D-day. Their relationship has cooled a lot and has had at least two breakups. She continues to seek his counsel because she is so confused at what has occured, leaving a perfectly good family and community life for a guy that is a bit of a creep. She is working hard to create a life of her own and is reaching out to me to be friends and co-parents, she isn’t pushing the finalizing of the divorce, yet she won’t even ackknowledge my occasional email or comment that I am open to discuss our situation. It is like everything stays on the surface and if I take the conversation too far into reality, I get cold shoulder and a couple days of no contact.
      There are so many things I would have done different if I had known more about the cheater’s mind. Now, I am relying completely on that psychosis as my only hope to some day discuss and possibly repair our relationship.

    • LotusBlooming

      I just found this site a few days ago and can’t stop reading. I can’t even express the relief I’ve gotten just seeing all my feelings written by other people. I don’t know when dday was for me, as it seems to have been ongoing for almost two years now. I found out around August 2010, H insisted it was just a friendship (“it’s not what you think, it’s not like that”), then when I found out is was a full blown affair I tried to separate (moved into spare bedroom) I told him I couldn’t and wouldn’t share. He refused to end it and was openly seeing for about 2 months and we were separated, but living together (he refused to leave, but refused to end it). Then Jan 2011 he asked me to work in the marriage, said he would end the affair, he loved me, etc, basically said all the right things and we started working in our marriage. A few months later I found out he was still seeing the OW. I tried to separate again, and again he promised he would end it and wanted only me. About three more times I found emails or texts either showing menthey were at least still communicating, this last time just a month ago. Each time, at first I said “this is enough, I can’t do this anymore” but ultimately agreed to give him another chance, as I really do love him an don’t see myself living the rest of my life without him. (I will add here that we met when I was 14 and have been married almost 25 years, 3 kids, I’ve never cheated, and as far as I know he never did before this). Anyway, my thoughts and feelings are SO confused, they change from day to day and sometimes even from hour to hour. The first time I gave him a “second chance” I honestly tried hard to see my part in our problems and I even told him I forgave him, I thought I had. But then I found out it hadn’t ended. How do you forgive something that’s not over? So now I feel I will never be able to forgive. Also in that time I felt he was honestly trying, being romantic, showing an effort to prove to me he loved and wanted me and apologizing, yet then I learned it was all an act, a lie. Then with everything since…. Now it’s almost impossible for me to feel secure. If he’s showing me attention, being good to me, I think “is he doing this to throw me off his trail?” if he’s grumpy, I think “he’s setting up a defense to hide his guilt.” Ive done the checking up on him, at first with his blessing, he gave me passwords, showed me his phone, etc, but as time goes on he’s less eager. I don’t LIKE to check, it causes me anxiety whether I find anything or not. But how else is he to prove his faithfulness when his actions have shown that he’s not? I can’t go by his behavior towards me, it’s gone both ways. Whenever I’ve found something he spends a week or two being overly attentive and apologetic and loving and understanding of my feelings, but it always fades quickly. not only is it barely a month since my last discovery, I’ve been living with being deceived, lied to, given empty promises for over a year and a half now. I doubt everything. Everything he says and does, and even our lives up until the affair. I thought at first it was because he didn’t have closure with the OW, it didn’t die out naturally as some relationships do, but dammit, he was with her knowing I knew, then HE chose to ask me to forgive him and work on our marriage. He had time to end it and clear the fog. Why string me along? Why not just leave me for her if he didn’t intend to end it? Trust me, I’ve given him many opportunities to leave and go be with her (she’s not married) he always says ” I can’t live with her, I don’t know her like that” (I guess that should go under the stupid things CS’s say–I mean, you knew her well enough to have sex with her, to risk your marriage and family and cause me, the one you made vows to, incredible pain, but you don’t know her like that? Wow, lost even more respect for him when he admitted he had an affair with someone he really didn’t know). But no, he purposefully chose to lie to me so he could have both. So here we are, supposed to be working on our marriage, we did counseling together and individually, have done Online programs, read books, and up until a couple days ago I thought I would do anything, go to any lengths, put up with whatever, to save my marriage. Oh, of course, pre-affair I never thought I’d stay with a cheater. It’s amazing how we think we know how we’d respond to a situation until we’re actually in it. After I became a betrayed spouse, I still thought I loved him enough to fight for him. But I’ve lost so much: I’ve lost myself and I’ve lost the person I thought he was. Even if our marriage were to become fabulous, I will still grieve what I thought we had.
      Sorry, I didn’t mean to write a book (Although there are still so many details I’ve left out). Just in the last few days I’m doubting my decisions to stay, doubting if I can live like this anymore. I’ve been so confused and hurt and reading about 300+ comments on this site I realize that my confusion may never go away, and I may never find happiness again, either with or without him. I’ve even realized a few things just writing this… So which is the lesser of two evils? Stay with the love of my life, my soulmate, my best friend, but sacrifice my security, my faith in “love” , doubt myself and my marriage forever? Or leave him, live my life without the man I love, but know that I no longer will be a doormat? There’s no easy answers. I love him with my whole being, but I just don’t think love is enough for happiness.

      • chiffchaff

        The description of what your H has done is very similar to mine, in terms of not giving the OW up on discovery and continuing to vacillate between staying and going but never actually going to be with ‘the love of their life’ but keeping everything they want, the OW on the backburner for excitement and a wife for the day to day stuff. It stinks and at the root of it is callous selfishness, they want everything and if you stay then it is on the basis that they cannot have everything they want because that affects your life. You have a right to know and choose how to live your life. In these circumstances the BS is the only one not actively choosing to stay in a three-way relationship while ever they are kept in the dark.
        I have stayed with my CS and I too have immense doubts that I’m doing the right thing. Only last night he told me that the only thing stopping him doing it again would be ‘us’. Not him. Us. Which is a complete lie and passing the buck of responsibility. t’s effectively saying that if I keep doing the right things then he won’t have another affair. So today I feel like crap. we’ve come so far and still he thinks like this? still doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions? FFS

        • Michele

          They believe in their own disrespectful behavior, yet they wouldn’t tolerate it for a minute from us.

    • John Smith

      after the BS discovers the affair 100% you give them an ultimatum… this hanging out in limbo the having your cake and eat it too bullshit STOPS the day you discover their affair… im sorry i did the whole try to let them figure out what they wanted to do etc… that lasted THREE weeks and IMO that was 20 days longer then it should have… DAY ONE you tell them make a choice and if they cant FINE back your shit grab your kids and stay in a damn motel if you have to but DO NOT let them hangout in limbo in that bullshit affair fog… im sorry but personally i think anything less then doing the above mentioned will result in the BS getting cucked and dragged through the mud #sorrynotsorry

      • Michele

        I hear you! Respect in a marriage is not an option, it’s a requirement.

    • Seenthelight

      I agree with Mr. Smith, though I gave my ex a year and a half to get his act together. Being an analyst I looked at our “progress” or lack of progress analytically. I considered what he said vs what he did. Also what he said one moment vs his comments at other times. It turned out his comments often contradicted each other and were totally opposite at times, with not being able to explain why. His actions didn’t change much and any changes were not permanent. I left knowing he was given a fair chance to correct whatever his problem was, but as Mr. Smith says, I also know it was wasted time. My ex had no intention of actually making any changes to his behavior or how he saw our marriage. He saw it as he got away with it since I was willing to work on it. He saw it as going back to the way things were, though I made it perfectly clear that was not how I would live.

    • Michele

      Respect in a marriage isn’t an option, but a requirement.

    • Still Going

      John Smith, you’re so right! I’m 2 years in from DDay 1 and 4 uncovered affairs later, I am now planning my exit out of the marriage! An ultimatum after the first affair is what I should have done. However on a positive note, now I know exactly what I’ll be leaving behind. A serial cheating, accomplished liar.

    • Jane

      I m the Other Woman who had an emotional affair. How it all happened is pretty simple….we just fell in love over the years. Everybody is trying to understand how this could happen etc etc, how we could possible choose to hurt spouses etc. It was never a choice. We worked together and slowly just fell in love the same way you all fell in love with your spouses years ago. Therapists and psychologists like to give a million fancy terms and phrases for it etc, it was simply we fell in love. Why can we not give it up in an instant?? It’s because we are in love and we cant hardly control ourselves. Mine was not physical, we did not want to hurt our spouses further and made ourselves promise to not get physical. The reason we cannot pull ourselves away is because it is true love, especially in an emotional affair. If we were not married, it was simply be called falling in love. But because we are married a million fancy terms are given to it and therapists make a killing of of this whole sham. Do you remember how you accidentally met and fell in love with your spouse…it just happened, you couldn’t help it and you acted like teenagers. Same thing when your 40, 50, 60 etc. We never planned this, we are not bad people, we simply cannot pull ourselves away. We are continually sorry and remorseful, but are just head over heals in love. Of course your husband is never going to tell you this, they love you in a different way, in a more familial way. They love you, but are not in love with you. Most spouses try to do the right thing and stay with their spouses, because they are good people. But trying to pull themselves away from someone they are head over heels in love with is horrific. This is not an excuse, but just an explanation for our behaviors of why can take years to stop all this.

      • Michele

        “If you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you’ll be married to a man who cheats on his wife.” — Ann Landers

        Disrespectful people disrespect other people. No excuse for it. Period. Respectful people who truly love and respect themselves and others will respectfully end their current marriages and move on with their new relationships. That’s what respectful, kind, and loving people do. They don’t lie, cheat, keep secrets, and hide things from other people.
        I will never support or advocate for anyone who selfishly chooses to disrespect other people… ever! That would be like me advocating that stealing food is what you should do if you’re hungry. No, you look for honest ways to feed yourself that’s not going to hurt you or other people. Stop excusing disrespectful, dishonest behavior to fit your dishonest behavior. If you wouldn’t want someone to do this to you, then STOP doing it to other people.

        • Jane

          Honestly, I agree with you completely. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be capable of this. Shame and humiliation are all I know lately. It is so different when you it happens to you personally. Regarding stealing food…unless you personally experienced some form of extreme starvation like in 3rd world countries, then you have no idea what you might be capable of. Exactly my point. But I agree with what you say and not proud of ourselves. Not an example I’d want to set for others. There’s a reason “all is fair in love and war”….I guess.

    • Seenthelight

      I agree 100% with Michelle. (October 20, 2023)
      I also believe “good people” with good morals would let their spouse know (honesty) what’s going on. They have a right to know. Get a divorce and make your relationship with the other man or woman an honest relationship. It’s THAT SIMPLE. Cheating is a choice each and every time there is contact, IT’S AS SIMPLE AS THAT.
      You’re right about all the psychobabble from therapists regarding cheaters. They make excuses for cheaters to convince the betrayed to stay with them. The line I totally disagree with that is often used on this sight is that the cheater is otherwise a “good person”. What you do determines if you are or are not a “good person”, defined by one’s actions. Cheating is not something a truly good person would do, It’s AS SIMPLE AS THAT. People know what’s right and wrong. The way I see it, cheaters and therapists are on the same page. They make excuses for cheaters because they are weak, do not take responsibility for themselves, yet expect others in their lives to compromise their morals by staying with the cheaters and keep the cheaters in their lives.

      • Michele

        I hear you!

    • Jane

      I agree actually. Most cheaters really just will do anything to stay with their spouses, they never wanted to fall in love, in the first place, it just happened and it screws up everyone’s lives. It’s a nightmare for everyone. Again, I’m not speaking of physical affairs where planning takes place, I’m discussing emotional workplace affairs where things just start to happen by working in close proximity and before you know you can’t live without that person. I agree with most that you say, and I also believe that people may also fall out of love, but continually try to reconnect and make things right for the sake of their partners. Wars have been fought over love through the ages, it makes people to crazy things, things you never thought you were capable of. Not making excuses, I still just try to make sense of all this is all.

      • Michele

        Cheating is a choice. Just like choosing to do drugs is a choice. You just don’t want to give it up. Addicts say the same thing in their addiction. You sound like you’re addicted to your affair partner and that’s sad and unhealthy. It’s also called co-dependency and he’s probably a narcissist that’s why you’re in this mess. It didn’t “just happen”. You have control of your choices. No one is holding a gun to your head.
        Also, everyone you work with is very aware of what’s going on. They’ve done studies on work affairs and co-workers actually picked up on the signs. They also had no respect for the cheating couple and they all said it made them very uncomfortable to work with them. Especially when they’ve met their respective families and spouses.
        You like it the way it is. You like how your marriage and spouse makes you look good and you like the “high” you get from your emotional affair. You need to be validated by that. Insecure people need that boost to feel worthy. You both are users at the cost of your families.
        Excuses are just lies in disguise. You lie to yourself to make what you’re doing okay. It is not okay, nor will it ever be. You know that. He knows that. Everyone knows that.

    • Jane

      Drugs and being in love are not the same. You’ve been reading too many internet relationship sites. You sound like a typical therapist speaking all your gobblily gook. Believe what you like, but you sound bitter, if you feel like that all the time no wonder a man will leave you.

      • Michele

        Actually they affairs release the same chemicals endorphins in the brain that addicts feel while getting high. This has also been evident in new relationships or lust relationships.
        People don’t have affairs or do drugs because they don’t like it, they do it because they get something from it. It makes them feel good temporarily and then they crash under the guilt and shame of how wrong it is. It’s an unhealthy coping skill. Get better coping skills. Stop using your affair to feel good about yourself.
        If you were told you could never talk to or see your affair partner ever again, that’s like telling an addict they have to go cold turkey. People who aren’t addicted could easily give it up. Addicts can’t. That’s why they have programs to help them stop.
        Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

    • Jane

      Once again… you are reciting modern day therapy cultists. It’s hard to have a conversation like that. Choosing cocaine and working alongside a married man …..believe what you like. You also probably believed those covid vaccines were good for your health….lol…because the our government said so.

      • Michele

        What do you mean by that. Please explain to me in your own words that having a emotional affair is respectful to you, to him and your marriage. Change my mind. Could you stand in front of your family and friends look them in the eyes and tell them why what you’re doing is not hurtful but good for you, them, him and his family and the people you work with. If you’re brave enough to do it, be brave enough to own it.
        Cheaters are selfish cowards. The reason you won’t leave your marriage and comment to this “married man” is because you don’t trust that he won’t fall for the next cute thing that he works with. He doesn’t respect or trust you either because he knows that if you would do this behind your husband’s back then you’ll do to him. You both have convinced each other not to leave your marriages as if your respecting them for not blowing up their lives for your own selfish wants.
        High value women don’t allow married men to do this with them and they respect his wife and family too and their own not to allow it. They ignore the flirting and remain dignified and professional and loyal to their marriage. You are a low value woman. Once you know your value you won’t allow this and you’ll protect your reputation, your spouse and your family from disrespect married men who try and disrespect you. My guess is you grew up in a disrespectful home or you let Hollywood be your moral compass?
        You can slowly make yourself less available to him. You can tell him you want to respect your husband and marriage and tell him that he should do the same. That would be respectful. If he respects and loves you like you claim he does then he’ll let you go or he’ll leave his marriage for you, but for now he’s just playing with you because you let him. You feed his ego. You’re like a kibble ego vending machine. Sad. You get the care and attention you want and you don’t have to pick up his dirty socks or clean his beard hairs out of the bathroom sink everyday.
        What are you doing? What are you supposed to be doing? Are you doing that? Where are you going with this? If he died what would you do? You set yourself up for heart ache when you should have been investing in your marriage.

    • Nicole

      Why do cheaters bring heartache to themselves? Is it self-loathing? Self-sabotage? Self-indulgence?
      We all must suffer two things. The pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. -Jim Rohn

    • Nicole

      Cheating is a choice and not a mistake. It takes time and effort to cheat on someone. People who are proud of what they are doing don’t lie about it. Why all the secrecy? Treat people like you want to be treated. If you’re ever unsure if what you’re doing with another person is disrespectful to your spouse, the best person to ask is, your spouse.

      Characterize people by their actions, and you’ll never be fooled by their words. Let people do what they want to do, so you can see what they would rather do. That will answer all the questions you have. When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.

      Stop wasting your time and energy being angry, and instead focus on areas of life you could actually control. Take care of yourself.

    • Jane

      I wrote this a while ago. They have no children and in the middle of their divorce. Their marriage was over years ago, he didn’t want to hurt her and let it go gradually. I’m unsure where all the statistics that say only 8% of affairs work out. Because most everybody I know that has been divorced, admitted they had met new spouse while they were married. The only difference here is, that most people don’t go on line and discuss. A happily married man who is committed and loves his wife and family would never cheat. Never. Anytime a therapist tells you otherwise, they are just hoping you stay with her for 6 months therapy is all. That entire industry is one big scam. Blessings to all who find themselves in these situations, not easy for sure.

    • Nicole

      When you marry your mistress, the late Sir James Goldsmith once said, you create a job vacancy. It’s a cruel thing to say, but the whole truth is even worse. Ask any woman who has gone from mistress to wife and you’ll find out what happens before the man starts scanning the “Positions Wanted” column. There is a long and ghastly honeymoon period when the mistress-turned-wife has two jobs rolled into one.
      “If you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you’ll be married to a man who cheats on his wife,” says Ann Landers
      “When a man marries his mistress he creates a job vacancy. But when a mistress becomes a wife, she doubles her workload”, says Maureen Freely
      “When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her.” —Sacha Guitry

    • Nicole

      Characterize people by their actions, and you’ll never be fooled by their words. Let people do what they want to do, so you can see what they would rather do. That will answer all the questions you have. When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.
      Being betrayed by a romantic partner is one of the worst feelings to experience. Whether it involves a partner cheating, withholding information about money, or abandoning their loved one during a very difficult time, it means the trust was violated in some way — which can be hard to bounce back from. If you’ve been taken for a ride by a talented liar or master manipulator, all it means is that you’re an honest person.

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