Hi there Dr NerdLove,
I’m in a mess. I was supposed to get married this summer until we postponed for COVID; then two months ago my fiancé confessed to cheating on me. Not like once or twice, but probably twenty times with maybe a dozen different women, from one-night stands to hookups with a friend of his who I always distrusted to paying for blowjobs at a strip club, happy endings and prostitutes, to more one night stands and bar make outs, to an acquaintance of his (I had seen him flirt with her which feels awful), and lastly with a friend of mine several times after he moved in with me!! Ha!! This was mainly in the first three years of our relationship though earlier this year, while in pre-marital counseling, he ditched me to hang with some poly friends of friends and made out with a woman, though he confessed after.
My last ex cheated on and gaslit me terribly, which fiancé knew. Meanwhile, I knew my (ex?) fiancé wanted to explore sleeping with other people and I did try to have the conversation about how to make it safe for me. Obviously it was never going to be because he was dishonest and had disrespected me and been unethical. Also he never responded to my many efforts to open up a conversation around it, the most serious of which all happened after most of the cheating. Now he says he still needs an open relationship, and he seems to not want reconsidering that to be open-ended. We are living separately and in couples counseling; I’ve told some friends and family but my parents still think I’m engaged. Also, I’m about to be 37, and we were off birth control when he told me and in theory moving on to being open to having kids. I certainly can’t see opening anything up unless I feel radically safe and heard and prioritized which I never have been, and what’s way more important to me is having a secure foundation for being parents. I in theory can be down with sexual exploration but in all honesty it’s just not a priority. (I should also say that in our relationship I had the higher sex drive for years before lowering my expectations, and I almost never said no and I believe when he tells me I gave him the best sex of his life).
Obviously I loved him and wanted to be with him before I knew; when I found out I could clearly see the behaviors I had been ignoring and looking past and could kick myself for tolerating it, and him for letting me go down this path with someone who was being dishonest. I honestly don’t know if I can forgive the laundry list of betrayals, which still make me mighty mad.
Can I forgive him and also deal with his sleeping with other people in future under some theoretical framework that I question he could honor? Even less unsure! I guess I’m just looking for an outside opinion on what to do. He confessed out of guilt and has been willing to apologize and work on things, though some projection and resentment have popped up from him along the way that haven’t helped. He fundamentally shuts down when I need support a lot of the time, so maybe I just can’t at all be with him despite the other times together he made me happy. It sucks and I kind of can’t believe I have to deal with something this egregious again (but like, more so).
Heart Needs a Second Chance?