Suggestions for talking about mutual cheating?
Oddly enough, both my girlfriend and I cheated on each other this week. (I saw some indicative texts on her phone.) She doesn’t know that I know about her indescretion. Possibly, it or another episode has happened prior to this week, but I am pretty confident it started this week. (And I don’t suspect she has cheated in the past, but who knows.)
A long time ago and early in our relationship, she gave me permission to play around provided I tell her about it after it was done. I told her about the first (a one night NSA) but did not tell her about 5 others, including this week’s encounter, although I suspect she knows about one from six months ago and chose not to say anything. Our conversation after my first NSA was positive, and we remained close without issue. When the 2nd one occurred, our relationship was already kind of rocky, so I decided not to say anything. After that, I think was just easier for me not to say anything. FWIW, it has been something I’ve resorted to only when I’ve really had the itch, and it has always been “appointment-style” NSA (i.e. not relationships or flings). This most recent one for me is probably more like the beginning of a FWB situation and is without doubt feeding my starved intellect, but I’m not craving a romantic relationship or a fling. Incidentally, I would guess that what she has going on is the beginning of a fling. There’s a good bit of flirting, and I’m sure she’s been out to dinner and dancing with him or something to that effect. Also, her flirting and spending evenings out with male companions (while she is out of town on weekdays) has been a normal part of our relationship for as long as we’ve been together. She enjoys attention from men, and I’ve never had a problem with that. As far as I know and trust (until now), it’s just been for her entertainment, and something that we tell each other stories about (in addition to my own flirts or whatever).
I don’t begrudge her, and I know she doesn’t begrudge me. Outside of sex, our relationship is pretty good (especially for a functionally long-distance couple). We enjoy each other’s company. We are close to each other’s families. We have a fairly good life together. (We live together.) If I were to make any complaints it would be that I have had to compromise my social life and my intellect, but I have also gotten a lot in return, much more in certain ways than I could have imagined many years ago before we met.
Sexually, our relationship has stalled. It’s sporadic and not very intimate. She’s never been a very affectionate person of her own initiative—in terms of kissing and that sort of thing, although she will give me oral at the drop of a hat. That’s sort of her base personality. My own sexual blocks toward her aside, I wish she would kiss me more. I did tell her this a few months ago, and she apologized and made an effort, but now it’s back to pecking. My point is that we are pretty well out of sync sexually and I suppose that’s mutual, too. Unlike the beginning of our relationship when we were very open (such as with my first NSA), we have yet to discuss the out of sync-ness that has crept in over the past year or whatever it has been (I’m not even sure how long).
Additionally, I think our recent cheating has led us to each maybe feel more sparkly than usual towards each other. For example, we’ve had a really nice weekend together (we are apart during the week), and while it’s likely not going to translate into a sexual encounter, we’ve been pretty lovey with each other. I don’t think it’s an overcompensation on either of our parts to hide the cheating. But rather, I think tasting a different flavor has given each of us something like necessary contrast to appreciate what amounts to our common vanilla.
If I were to talk about it with her, I guess I’d just want to know if it’s over for us or if we’re going to have an open relationship or be roommates or what. I wonder if the sex is done for good or if it’s more a pause to recharge our batteries or that we are overdue for some kind of air clearing that might lead us to transcend into a new chapter in our relationship. For me, I’ve long felt this relationship has required compromise and trade offs from my mythical, ideal relationship, but it’s also provided me with lots of opportunity to develop understanding and appreciation of someone (and others, generally) who thinks, feels and believes differently.
Personally, I’m at a point where I am ready for significant transition within myself, which is to say if this ended today, I would do my best not to enter another relationship for some time and not until I’d actualized some things for myself. My falling-in-love-with-someone-new reserves are absolutely depleted.
As the potential confrontor, I also don’t want to put her on the defensive. She’s been insanely good to me (albeit with a tendency towards isolating me socially) for a very long time.
So, how do you suggest I handle this? Should I bring it up? Let it slide for now to give her time to figure out what she’s doing or wants to do? My imagination regarding what could and should happen or what is a possible resolution requires more than one brain (i.e. my own) and probably a few different perspectives. Please contribute a suggestion, and thank you for reading this longwinded plea.