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My partner cheated on me
SirHumphreyAppleby 03 Oct 22 15:59
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My partner and I have been together for over 8 years, since our late teens. Most of that time has been long distance (students at different unis etc) but we've made it work and I've been happy. He's currently doing a PhD up North away from his friends and family. I'm a junior associate at a US firm. His PhD has at least three years left to run.

He recently admitted cheating on me, only once, and catching a curable STD (which I have since tested negative for). He says he was struggling with his mental health, felt lonely and didn't want to admit how much he was struggling. He says he felt that I was always busy (which is true but I always found time when he asked me to) and he didn't want to excessively bother me. He says he made the irrational decision drunkenly one evening to cheat because he felt it would help him feel less lonely. He regrets it and wants to stay together. 

In the gap between him cheating and him admitting it, we'd booked a expensive holiday together which I paid for. I cancelled the holiday but with hindsight it showed he was willing to conceal the cheating, even at financial cost to me, right up until he had to admit it. 

I'm really in two minds here. I do and have always loved him. I was very happy with our relationship, even with the distance. However, three years of long distance is a long time and if we do stay together and things end up not working for another reason, I know I'll regret wasting what's left of my 20s. I also don't know how we could go about repairing the trust which has been broken, particularly in a long distance relationship. I had always seen him as a kinder, better, more honest person than me - which I now know wasn't true. 

I realise this is the worst place to ask for advice, but there it's awkward and embarrassing to talk to friends and family who know both of us. 

Do I stay with him?

In my experience you'll never fully regain the trust. I wonder whether kinder for you both in the long run to call it quits. Consider how you'd feel everytime they took longer than usual to reply to a text, how insecure you'd feel everytime they seemed withdrawn or distant. Consider how you'd be able to remain an equal partnership after this.

 

no

trust gone. long distance for that length of time and in those circs sounds impossible 2 me

u can stay in touch and consider it again in 3 years’ time if he moves close 2 u, by which time u have had a cut off and can build trust again then

That sucks, sorry to hear you're going through that. 

Bu no, I'd say if it's happened once it's almost nailed on to happen again. And you'll always be thinking it, even if it doesn't. Cut & run. 

He's not really your partner, he's a guy you hardly ever see or speak to who allows you to tell people you're not single. The cheating is not really the issue, the enormous distance (geographical and other) is.

On the other hand, who else are you going to have time to occasionally shag 🤷

Quit and travel the world like in eat pray love

People cheat for all sorts of reasons. As you've described his, it doesn't seem credible. I think you only know because he got an sti. And no protection ONS is a shocker. 

Weren’t you the chap who was shagging someone’s missus in some sort of an open marriage arrangement?

If so, how does that fit into the above?

Bin it

Which I’d be saying anyway. But it sounds like he even tried to blame you for his cheating. So, turbo bin it. 

 

Yeah i am pretty sure sir Humphrey is a windup.

Twenty somethings earnestly calling their occasional disdainful fvckbuddies "my partner" is definitely a thing, tho.

Wot Elsage sed.

There’s a fine line between explaining a transgression and making excuses and he seems well over it.

He cheated one you *once* but had the misfortune to catch an STI? (It's possible...) He cheated on you *once* but didn't think to protect himself, and by extension, YOU, his partner? 

I don't care about his excuses, I think you should end it. (Also, UK PhDs are only three years long, right? So he cheated on you right at the start? What will he be like when things get properly stressful and he can't get funding/has a lousy supervisor/can't get ethics approval etc.)

The current situation doesn't seem to be working for either of you. He sounds like he needs more emotional support than you can realistically give. And as for you, eight years is a long time for someone your age. Maybe the relationship has just run its course, and you should respectfully end it.  

I did long distance for a long time.

Trust is the most important thing. Once the trust is gone, everything else falls apart.

It's not the distance so much as the US firm. If you work there you MIGHT have a meaningful relationship with someone you live with but not with someone living hundreds of miles away.

Or at least you might if this were real

He's a man who's in a long distance relationship so of course at some point he's been tempted.  If it's genuinely good and you really are in love is it worth throwing away something good over a one off mistake?  Personally I think not but I know most of the world thinks that any kind of cheating is something you can never recover from and a reason to end things.

If, however, you've obviously grown apart over time by virtue of rarely seeing each other then this is probably just a sign that his heart is no longer in it but it's easier to keep limping along than to pull the pin and blow things up.

It's not the distance so much as the US firm. If you work there you MIGHT have a meaningful relationship with someone you live with but not with someone living hundreds of miles away.

I was going to say sth similar but then realised I know US firm folks who managed to stay in long term relationships and even get hitched.

It would be a red flag for me that he has invoked mental health to excuse bad behaviour. That is manipulative 

Not a windup Clergs and that wasn't me Barry. I call him my partner because we're gay and I don't like the term boyfriend. 

Thanks for the advice all. 

Yes sizzler but do they have relationships you would consider genuine rather than for the show of it? I don't think a couple dynamic is genuine if you are doing completions at 11pm every weekday.

My hours aren't quite that bad clergs,l but I get your point. We'd probably spend 1 or 2 weekends together each month. And a week long holiday 3 or so times a year. He'd stay with me during holiday periods. But you're right, I have often found myself wishing he was around more often and I guess he was feeling the same. 

So don't all shoot me but, I don't think the cheating is the biggest issue here, everyone makes mistakes. I'd be digging more into why you say you know if you stay with him you'll regret wasting your 20s. That sounds like you know this is over, you just need to go ahead and say so. 

I don't think the cheating is ok, fyi, just that it's not always the end of the world.

I was going to say sth similar but then realised I know US firm folks who managed to stay in long term relationships and even get hitched.

By Zoom.  Using time code "Business Development - General"

Snow, the reason I say that is if we stay together but then things end up falling apart in the future anyway, I'll look back on this period with regret. 

I had a very brief affair, thinking it would cure the lack of physical relationship in my marriage - sex with X, loving family relationship without sex with my wife.  It took a week of dates and one bonk to realise that this was absolutely not what I wanted, I only wanted a completely monogamous relationship with the woman I loved.  I never told her and never sought out another partner elsewhere during the remaining 8 years of our relationship, and have been equally monogamous in all the other relationships I've had since

It's up to you ultimately, how you feel about it, but I think his experience sounds like mine.  

Sorry to hear this. Must be painful. You are young and have more options. I definitely regret sticking in relationships longer than I should have done. Good luck. 

Nope.

Been there myself (cheated on) and it only went downhill even after we got back together briefly.

Best to move on and start a new chapter.

The other thing is that over the years I've become close to his friends and family etc and it'll be hard to lose all of that too. 

What do you want out of a relationship? Loving someone and being in love are two different things. You also change hugely as an individual over your twenties. Be truly honest with yourself about what it is you actually want. 

shut the fook up pinko u weird bigot

stop using the legitim7 concerns of gender scepticism (critical) as a cover 4 u 2 vomit ur homophobia everywhere. it’s fooling no1

Whatever you decide - I'm not clear how you can start to fix things while you see each other so rarely (and will continue to for the next 3 years, at least)?  Long distance is a bitch at the best of times, and I'd say pretty much the most important element required for it to work is trust.

One question is do you really believe it was a one off? It sounds like you only found out because he told you after testing positive for the STI.  On the plus side, at least he told you then...

On the downside, while not impossible, catching an STI during a one night stand is either worryingly careless or really very unlucky indeed if he was reasonably careful. 

I have been there (sort of) myself.  My first proper GF cheated on me while on a gap year after uni. We split up over it but then got back together. It ended very badly after she left me for someone else weeks before we were due to get married about 5 years after that incident. Looking back it is absolutely obvious that she was essentially just looking for a way out then just as she as 5 years later.

It sounds like you are young, with no kids and no financial ties to each other. It's going to be a big ask to survive 3 years of long distance relationship in which your lives (or at least lifestyles) will also diverge if only because you are going to have a lot more money and a lot less time than him over that period. It's a tricky dynamic to manage. 

It also sounds like you have never really been in a full time 'grown up' relationship with him. The chances of transitioning to one after his PHD may also not be all that great tbh. 

So the other question is, is he really the guy you want to be with or is it as clerghs says (perhaps more brutally than I would) just better than being 'officially' single. 

Only you can know how you feel about him though. If he is the one then fight for it but do it with your eyes open. 

 

 

You make a good point cruela - it would probably have to consist of pretending it didn't happen - which probably isn't a successful strategy 

I do genuinely believe it was a one off Donny, but I wouldn't have believed him capable of cheating on me at all so my judgment of character might not be the best. You make some good points, thanks. 

I’m sorry to read this, m8. 
 

It reads to me like the relationship has run its course and you both need to move apart and on. Your work is probably all consuming and a LDR is tough at the best of times. I’ve tried them before and they just don’t work unless there is a clear end point in the medium term. 
 

Anyway take care of yourself and all the best whatever you decide. 

i’m not angry! just 4 the gazillionth time pointing out when u have been a bigot pinko. u asked me 2 do that, so i am obliging

it doesn’t anger me that ur so vile, more sort of disappointment and resignation that u won’t change

Celine Dion believed the heart does go on and I'm inclined to believe so too. This gentleman sounds like a nitwit. My suggestion is to travel the world for a year sampling every flavour of ice cream. A metaphor. See how you feel after that. If you still want him he'll come back immediately I am quite sure. Some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright (shawshank redemption).

The other thing is that over the years I've become close to his friends and family etc and it'll be hard to lose all of that too. 

That's the sunk costs fallacy.  That's not a reason to stay.

Was this the one where you "accidentally" bent it up a bloke, Warren?

Lol, way to show everyone what a sad, shitty little person you are.

Clergs has, if you'll forgive the expression, nailed this. You're a slave in the galley of a US firm, you're hundreds of miles apart and in different work universes. The cheating is more a symptom than a cause of the relationship breakdown. I mean, the cheating's not great, but it is forgivable. The relationship though is only savable if one or both of you change your lives so that you're actually together again.

IMHO etc etc 

Warren you told us you shagged a bloke, which is obviously fine as anyone can shag whoever they want.  I was merely asking whether the extra-marital action you’ve further disclosed was the same event.  Very magnanimous of you to carry on your relationship with ‘the woman you loved’ either way, obviously.  Top man.

It depends. For some people, sexual fidelity and emotional fidelity are different things. A single lapse, particularly over the course of a long term relationship, in one is more forgivable than in the other.

Seems unlikely this is the first time tbh

Sounds shit but I would end now to avoid 18 months of pain and then a breakup.

I detest cheating though, never have, never will 

Also also long distance doesn’t work. And men and women can’t be friends. Wah wah wah but but but…it’s true and every single time it’s a friend who is a girl or a friend who is a guy as the case may be

And it generally happens to people in their 20s for some very very very very very odd reason

I was merely asking whether the extra-marital action you’ve further disclosed was the same event.  Very magnanimous of you to carry on your relationship with ‘the woman you loved’ either way, obviously.  Top man.
 

You’re coming off like an absolute dickhead.

Oh this so much more sense

because it seemed genuine

same still applies to gays re all the above and breaking up

gay man making some bank at a US firm, standard procedure is to get yourself a toy boy

good looking younger man, early 20s

or go full house big daddy earning multi millions

virtually every single gay guy, almost every single gay guy, in the legal profession corks the hotter younger guy

 

What Clergs said initially, basically: it’s a pretty tenuous relationship, someone you only see one or two weekends a month. But then I’ve never really “got” long distance relationships.

1. I second the point that using “mental health” was one of the most irritating parts of the whole thing. I cheated on you because of my “mental health” erm no.. you made that decision take responsibility for it.

2. Is the only reason he told you because he caught an STD or because he felt guilty? Neither are good reasons because both just shift pain onto you. I actually respect people like poster above who if they truly truly realise something is a “one off” and they will never do it again absorb the guilt themselves and do not wreck another persons faith/trust/happiness etc to make it easier on themselves. I do not have this view point on long term cheating, emotional affairs, multiple indiscretions etc. 

3. You do sound like you have no ties which makes choosing to leave much easier than in another 5 years when you might feel older, be financially intertwined and all the rest of it. Be brave if you don’t think it’s right - it only gets harder. 
 

4. You sound very self sufficient and you also aren’t physically together - what does he enhance in your life? 

Whatever you decide good luck - you will come out the other side. 

The other issue everyone seems to have missed here is the statement that the OP tested negative. 
 

The only reason the OP would need to be tested at all.. is if the partner had come back after the cheating and had unprotected sex with them. 
 

So partner was not only willing to expose OP to the financial costs of paying for the cancelled holiday but also risking their health and well being .. 

Personally I’m guilty of staying far too long in relationships that were well beyond expired. 
 

 But the harsh reality is this relationship will not last until the end of his PhD. 
 

 

Look if one is doing a PhD up North, this cannot even be classified as cheating. It’s whatever can get you through the dark grey skies and general misery. 

There are a few problems which will mean if you do not man up and end it now I am almost certain you will regret not having ended it at some point in the future.

First, this bit:

"He says he was struggling with his mental health, felt lonely and didn't want to admit how much he was struggling. He says he felt that I was always busy (which is true but I always found time when he asked me to) and he didn't want to excessively bother me. He says he made the irrational decision drunkenly one evening to cheat because he felt it would help him feel less lonely"

It sounds innocuous and you even describe it in terms consistent with your confession that you never thought this person would cheat on you, but it is all there.  You do not excuse your own cheating and infidelity by claiming loneliness or that your partner is "always busy".

The "always busy" bit is a thin veiled attempt to deflect this persons guilt onto OP.  The loneliness bit will become a blank cheque which can be conveniently rolled out at any given time in the future if OP accepts it this time around.

But my real concern about this is the wildly different life paths you are each on.  That of itself does not have to be fatal, but, from my own experience having spent many a doomed year in my youth with someone who was doing a PhD whilst I was finishing law school and starting work, his criticisms that I was "always busy"(and various variations on that) and I did not give him enough attention were never far from the surface.  In the end he ran off with a woman who was (and is) far older than him and who was a quasi academic herself.  I kicked myself that i did not heed the signs much earlier in our relationship and instead devoted more and more years of my youthful 20s and early 30s well beyond the justifiable life of this university romance.     

Sometimes it is better to accept that some relationships are supposed to be suitable for one part of your life and are just not right as lifelong till-I-die type relationships.  Your days are precious, do not recklessly give them to someone who is showing signs that sometime down the line he might dump you for good for someone else.

1/ very, very unlikely that this was the first time.  The STD forced him to make the necessary disclosure.  But if I had to guess, the number of different partners your boyfriend is > 25 during his 'feeling down' period.

2/unless he is on your doorstep on his knees, begging for forgiveness and swearing that this will never happen again, GET OUT NOW. 

Obviously break up over it 

But generally speaking working at US law firms kills relationships one way or the other 

 

You're young. You're a gay man ( so no female biological clock and babies issue). You will be 3 more years apart. you met when young. I would break up and then see how you both feel in 3 years' time.

Break up.

Get out there yourself and have fun.

If it's meant to be then he will do all he can to win you back and then you can decide if you can rebuild the trust and still love him.  

 

There is no way you know who I mean re K girl

there are only a handful in the city I.e that exist and she’s not any of the ones at k&e

You broken up with the gay dude yet op?

you need to get yourself out there, be fit and trim, nice suit, tagline “lawyer”, get a second hand datejust from Hatton garden for a few k, complete the image. There’s a 3k Tiffany dial or at pascha’s jewellers or something. 
 

also not being funny but I have recommended the Penimaster before - now personally if I was a gay I would not be using it because of the pain factor, girls have their reservations when I do it, but I wonder if men have a better pain tolerance. Something to bring up maybe when women go on about theirs and childbirth.

People on the internet can't give you a good answer to that question.

Things you have to bear in mind: he blames mental health issues on his decision to cheat because he felt lonely and he thought it would make him feel less lonely - but if you can't be in the same place with each other for some time in the future he's still going to feel lonely and there's a non-zero possibility that he'll be struggling with his mental health issues as well.

Plus, it seems to me what makes you feel less lonely is not a quick shag but the closeness to another person - texting, being together, sitting together, talking. If he starts doing that with the same person, or another person, then the cheating next time will be worse, because it will be his affections that are straying not just his genitals.

It's not clear from your post whether you have actually been face to face with him since the confession but that's crucial, I think. You need to watch his face when you ask him what's the realistic likelihood of something similar happening again.

What Clergs and Cru said.  

Controversially, I've seen couples recover from cheating and rebuild trust.  They may never quite hit 100% trust or 100% happiness but I don't know many who genuinely have that in the first place.  If you both care enough, are willing to make the necessary changes to make it work and are prepared to go through some hardship (which could take months or years), then its recoverable. 

Breaking up can be as hard as staying together, after all.

As an update, we broke up shortly after I posted this. I've now been on a few dates and have been really enjoying it. Thanks all for the good advice. 

almost certainly the right call and we’ll done for making it 

but whatever you do try to have your next relationship with someone who isn’t another city w**ker

but whatever you do try to have your next relationship with someone who isn’t another city w**ker

There are two schools of thought on that one though - the best person to understand the trials and tribulations of a city w*nker is presumably another city w*nker?