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Thread: My boyfriend of 4 years cheated multiple times online. What can I do?

  1. #1

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    My boyfriend of 4 years cheated multiple times online. What can I do?

    Going to summarise in points, else it will be so long I'll need two posts! Apologies in advance for the long post - didn't realise till I posted and saw how much I wrote!

    Been together for nearly 4 years, including long dating period around 5. We have a lot in common with our hobbies and goals in life and we click well with our humor - everyone always said we would be together as we clicked so naturallyas people. Day to day and throughout the relationship he is very loving caring and attentive. We don't argue about money, we support eachother with each others goals, he looks after me when sick and is attentive tomy needs as am I with him.

    He was troubled when I met him by his family breaking up from his dad cheating and leaving his family, who he now refuses to talk to, and he also has a poor relationship with his mum. He trys when possible to avoid seeing her. He also has a terrible self image of himself, appearance wiseand goal/life wise - not helped by his family putting him down constantly - he wants to be liked and have approval from most people with the burning need to be "the best" at something. I try my best to help him feel better about his image, I don't care whatjob he is in and think it took great strength to change path from one he hated (his mum forced him into a degree he didn't want to do) and quit it to start his own path on his own choices. Since he quit university though, he went into a spiralling bad moodwith his esteem, image and self worth. There seemed to be little I could do to help him change his mind - I felt he also compared himself to me as I got a job straight after university and have been promoted twice in the space of a year and has commented hedoesn't feel good enough for me.

    I feel the above is more than likely related to why he has saught after this ego boost for his self image alongside the "porn addiction" and probably sex addiction.

    In regards to the online affairs, the first instance happened within a month of being together. He went away to a volunteering camp which he does every year a few times. He was on tinder and spoke to a girl. I noticed the behaviour changed when he came back,asked, he was being shifty so I snooped. I said hey that's not cool, here is what I see as okay in a relationship what about you? We laid out our boundaries and carried on and I tried not to make a huge deal out of it as I thought that maybe he thought itwas okay (some relationships today are fine with it etc).

    He also kept in contact with his ex girlfriend early in in our relationship, and sent her constantly complimentary messages including how beautiful she was and small personal comments like "I always thought your braces made you cute even when you hated them" - passing it off that she had low self confidence and wanted to help her feel better about herself(although nothing in the message chain was her feeling low about her self image) - at which I requested he stop talking with her as it was around the same time the above instance happened.

    Second instance happened around a year into our relationship. We are always open with our messages when next to eachother on our laptops or phones but for this one girl he'd never open her messages near me on Facebook/WhatsApp. Again, I ask, he says nothingis going on, my gut tells me otherwise, so I snoop again. He is sending sexually explicit messages about her being dominant (something I am rather shy to do by nature but equally doesn't seem to let me do as he likes to dominant me in bed). I confront himhe breaks down and apologiseses and deletes her. I suggest that we go to counselling as alongside this he admits to having a porn addiction, which we do for a few sessions to try and get to the root. Our communication gets better but we end up having to stopdue to both getting jobs (we had both just finished university) and the counselling being too far away. Overall, stuff improved in the relationship and I rebuilt trust.

    We had a few arguments regarding a friend of his, however, who he lied to about me saying I cheated as well - I don't know why he would lie other than to get sympathy at the time, either way it royally pissed me off and hurt me. This friend now hates me andis always y to me when around her - he says he has since talked to her and said it wasn't true but she won't change her mind. We had a rather long and slightly heated discussion before the latest issue (October) regarding this friend / generally that I felt he would ratheravoid conflict with his friends than care about them not respecting me and not defending my honour so to speak (the above not being the only example).

    Shortly after this argument was when I noticed his mood change again to be rather low and his behaviour changing again. Staying up late on his phone, withdrawing and then suddenly being overly lovey. It goes on for two weeks and I just know in my gut somethingis going on. Since the counselling I'd never snooped, but I just knew something was going on. So, he went to the loo one day and left his phone under his pillow, and when I looked it was open on his screen. Using it literally minutes ago. A new fresh randomaccount on discord where he is chatting to 8 random girls and one "friend" he had been speaking to online (who I had previously asked who she was as he talked to her daily when I stated my new job - he said just a girl off reddit he'd spoke to on a friendfinding subreddit - true to begin with, from what I saw on his main discord - but definitely not on his secret one).

    I kicked him out of my house, didn't speak for a while and compiled my thoughts before talking.

    He said he hated himself and who he was, said it was like a tick in his head he couldn't get rid of and he hated what he had done but feels like he is trapped by the past actions and is just a faliure (almost like a self fulfilling prophecy of self destruction with failure - failedat university, failed at a job (in his eyes), failed with me). He said he couldn't picture his life without me and would do anything to get help with his struggles and is ashamed of himself and "being a ed up person."

    I feel lost, scared, angry, resentful, used and just feel 'stupid.' Yet still, my heart aches and yearns because I love him. I say that I dont know how I feel, I don't know if I can come back from what happened. I say therapy is a must but even if we go through I don't know if itcan fix what's happened. I saw myself spending my life with him, marrying, having kids. My emotions are everywhere just wondering the big main question - why? It's all I can think about every night but he says he doesn't know why short of us touching on the connection of brushing on the poor self worth.

    He is living with me now again (he'd stayed with his mum for a bit when stuff initially happened), he is in individual counselling to sort his own self esteem issues and family issues. We are in couples counselling as well (via Regain / Better Help as itis useful for our busy work schedules) which is helping us identify trends in our relationship and behaviour and working towards talking about the deeper levels of the affair and other issues. Communication again is getting better overall, but he seems soterrified to talk to me about anything related to the the affairs even now.

    He said it paralyzes him to think back on what's happened and the pain he has caused me and spirals into the guilt and shame, when I ask directly he gets obviously panicked and distressed. I've listed a questions I have and he is in the process of writingeverything down to give to me as he is struggling with anxiety and stress when talking directly.

    He did admit to something I did not know about, a sexual message he sent his ex around 2 years ago on snapchat - apparently she ignored him. I am thankful he is being honest as we are processing through as he could just hide it and brush it under the rug to make it easier, but I just wonder how deep this can of worms goes.

    I am just finding it difficult to process; I love him and I've done everything I can to be supportive, loving and caring and I don't understand what more I could do to help him feel better about himself. I am assuming the poor self image and stuff that happenedwith his family is why he's looked to get validation and an ego boost elsewhere and I know he struggles with porn/sex addiction.I feel like with counselling we will eventually get to the root - I am just struggling so much emotionally and just got the horrid pit of fear in my stomach because I am powerless in the situation short of throwing in the towel
    I don't want to lose everything good we have had and could have if this genuinely is something he can fix through therapy; but the unknown is terrifying me.

    My heart believes when I hear him say he loves me and wants to be with me. From what I know and what my gut tells me, stuff has only been online. I don't believe anything physical has happened - not that it makes it right. He is putting in a lot of effort with therapy. I know if we do stay together after we get through to the root eventually that our relationship would be different than before and it'dtake a lot of work for us to regain the foundations of trust and normality.

    For fear of repeating myself further:

    TL;DR - boyfriend has self esteem issues and comes from a broken family, has a porn/sex addiction and has chatted sexually to multiple girls online. Is in therapy to get help but I don't know what to do - I'm terrified to go down the same road again but he does makes me happy day to day and I still want a future with him but I am scared, hurt and angry.

    Have any of you had similar experiences? Can you come back from something like this with hard work if there is a genuine root cause?
    Last edited by Shaorie; 02-21-2019 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Typo fixing

  2. #2
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    You can try to excuse away all of this. Bottom line, he is not trustworthy and has cheated multiple times.

    What do you do: dump him! This is what you should have done one month in. He is an adult and responsible for his behavior. he cannot blame the past.

    The "root cause" is a lack of character. This is who he is. Accept it! He will not change, as he has shown YOU, repeatedly! He is a liar and and cheat! I cannot believe you took him back.

    I suggest you get therapy, as your self esteem is in the toilet. It is also very naive to believe he has not been physical with others. You need to get tested.

  3. #3
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    Iím sorry for your hurt op but havenít you put yourself through enough of this deception and cheating online by your boyfriend? At this point you have to ask where your self worth is to keep continuing. He may have a porn addiction but itís no excuse for his other misbehaving online.

    I think you should have walked away from the very beginning. Not to sound harsh but his past has nothing to do with this or how he views his self image. If your relationship mattered or was indeed perfect he wouldnít be finding himself engaging in these behaviors so there is something rooted with his own personal issues about your guys relationship.

    I think you need to leave for your own sanity.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member shellyf62's Avatar
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    They are all excuses. He is a cheat plain & simple & will never change!
    I came from a broken home & have never & will never cheat.
    You have 2 choices, stay & have a miserable life or leave & be happy.

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  6. #5
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    I'm no one to give advice but you shouldn't ask if coming back is possible, you should ask yourself why you want to come back in the first place. It seems like you're making up reasons for him having a porn addiction. Porn addiction is one thing but chatting with other women is another. That's not just porn addiction. That's cheating and I'm glad he's in therapy because he needs it but what about you!? You're standing by him and he's betrayed you. You shouldn't ask can we make it through this, you should ask 'is it fair to me'?

    He needs to earn a future with you. He has a serious issue and he's betrayed you. You need to stop babying him and be blunt. You can stand by him and see how this plays out but you dont owe him any solid answers. After therapy if you feel compelled to continue this relationship and you feel like he's trying , do It!
    If not. Find better

  7. #6
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    What has your counselor said about your self-esteem issues, OP?

    It's not just your boyfriend's terrible behavior that you should be focusing on. I would strongly encourage you to explore where the heck your own self-worth is, and why you have tolerated such toxicity for so long. "I love him" is not the reason. There is something more to it.

    The level of denial here is deep. I see you making a lot of excuses for him, which is sad. You know exactly who your boyfriend is; he's showed you multiple times that fidelity is not a priority to him, and he will jeopardize everything for some sexual gratification. But then he cries and moans about hating himself and you buy it. I get the impression you're both on the younger side, which is why I'll say this: one day you are going to look back and wonder why you wasted your best years on a relationship that didn't have a chance.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member lostandhurt's Avatar
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    Dump him!!!

    Being alone is way better than all this. Once you are free of him I think your vision will clear and what you want and will tolerate will change dramatically.

    Lost

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Trying to understand people is fine, however don't be anyone's therapist and don't be a martyr. This sets up a parent-child situation and a good guy/bad guy scenario.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Stop making excuses for him and deal with reality - he cheats because he wants to. Millions of people out there have come from broken families, have low self esteem, are highly insecure, etc, etc, etc,.....and guess what? They don't cheat. This is truly a case of fool me once....fool me twice.... This guy has fooled you way more than that. So what is wrong with you that you accept this bs and keep staying with him? Either you are OK with his behavior and you choose to turn a blind eye on that and live your life with him without whining about it, or you are not OK with his behavior and get rid of him. Choose your poison.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    People often hang onto dysfunctional relationships because despite all the pain and drama, there is some love there somewhere.

    `As long as I feel looove for this guy I will stay and keep trying the breath life into something that has gone long past it's sell date.'

    From there you stay and tear each other down and the only time you leave is when starts to stink bad enough and you begin to loath each other. After all when you hate someone, it's easier to turn your back them. But the road to get there is unnecessary and often soul crushing.

    Leave in love. It's the mature thing to do.
    It's o.k. to love someone and recognize that you two can no longer be successful together.
    You can't help this guy and he's not your project to fix.

    Spend some time reflecting on why you put up with for so long and why you didn't believe you deserved better.

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