I dearly love my life partner. We've known each other since we were teens, own a home together, raise our children together. Last year, he began to spend a great deal of time talking about, and to, a female colleague. I grew concerned over the level of intimacy in their relationship. He assured me that he had no interest, that she was "like a daughter" to him, that she had no other friends. It's been more than six months since I found an ongoing series of text messages between them on his password protected phone, the contents of which included sexual innuendo and indicated that they were spending time together outside of work. He has admitted to nothing more and I have no evidence to prove otherwise. I confronted him and we've discussed the whole thing again and again. He says there was nothing to their relationship and that he wants to preserve ours. Here's my problem: I can't seem to move on. I perceive his behavior as infidelity while he has little explanation for what "it" really was. I believe that he thinks I overreacted to the whole thing. I've become so insecure in our relationship that I analyze everything he does. I have even started to doubt my own feelings of self-worth. He has stated that he "will do anything" to make things right. Am I stupid to stay and try to work things out? This man is my best friend and I can't imagine my life without him, but I want to be happy and I have the right to feel whole again.
First off, there's no such thing as an overreaction. Not to get all science-y on you, but a reaction is a force exerted in direct response to an action — so whatever your reaction, it's by definition the appropriate response to the action that caused it. Tell him to stick that in his password protected phone and text it to his friendless "daughter."
OK. Sorry. I'm calm now.
Here's what we know for sure: You love him. He was flirting with another woman. He lied about it. You haven't forgiven him.
Here's what we don't know: If he was in love with her. If their relationship would have become physical. If he's done this before. If he'll do it again.
You have the right to be happy — but do you have the ability? Do you have the stomach for what happy looks like now? If those questions are never answered, can you still love him, and live with him, and let him be your best friend?
I'll be honest with you. I don't like him insisting that their relationship was nothing; it wasn't nothing. And I don't like that in all your discussions, he hasn't worked harder to make you feel better.
But I like that he wants to save your relationship and make it right. If you want to do the same, you have to view this transgression with the Best Possible Interpretation: as a wake-up call for both of you. You caught him before he did something for which you could not forgive him. But for this, you can.
Long-term partnerships get stale. Flirting is fun and it feels good. Everybody wants to feel wanted.
If you still want him… then actively want him. And show him you want him. It ain't rocket science, my friend; his reaction will be to want you, too.