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Hi all,

I wasn't sure what title to put that would accurately capture everything that I'm struggling with. I've been hesitant to reach out to anyone because it's complex and only I can know the actual reality and make the ultimate decision. But... it doesn't hurt to see if others have gone through something similar or could offer an outside view of the situation.

I've been with my fiance for almost 6 years. So much has transpired between us, but we've kept struggling through it and moving past it. When we first met, we were both in a really low state (me just ending a difficult, dead relationship and feeling very torn up about it, naive about life in general, and him just having lost his father traumatically). He has amazing street smarts and clear, accurate long-term vision, so he saw me as a lost soul and stepped in to help me. He was hard on me from the beginning, and I felt as though I had been slapped awake for the first time in my life. I also began to feel a lot of confusion about myself and believed him fully for what he said about me - but I felt as though all I knew and perceived inside was completely opposite of what he said. I felt lost in the dark even as he was guiding me out of it to a better place. I believe (throughout everything) that he is a very good person and deeply desires to help others and is usually right. But I think I got lost in it all and my inner voice was harshly silenced and repressed.

So that's how we started off. He pushed me into sex really fast, and I was very resistant for religious reasons, but I didn't want him to be unhappy with me, and I didn't want him to cheat on me (which he was), so finally I gave in. It was my first real experience and I didn't know how to do anything (took him a long time to believe that I was telling the truth about that), so sex sucked for a long time. Finally after a year and a half, I just gave in mentally and it got better. He still wasn't happy with me and criticized me a lot, and was still cheating on me occasionally. I knew it in my gut but felt it was my fault, and I knew it was only for sex, so I just tried to keep doing what he wanted. I even developed a slight eating disorder because in my mind, the only way of making myself more attractive was to be skinnier and look more like the wild party girls he was attracted to.

We eventually moved in together, and things got a little more stable... for a brief period of time. Throughout all this time, he was always advising me and I was trying desperately to follow his suggestions. Whenever I couldn't execute it exactly, I would feel devastated and he would criticize me endlessly til I was completely broken (already nearly was from the beating I already gave myself first).

Well... I ended up having an emotional affair with someone. I didn't intend to (but who does?)... but he was nice enough and seemed to recognize and value my good qualities. My fiance caught me early on though and put an immediate stop to it, and made me write a harsh email to the other guy with him dictating each word to him - then made me block him. It was a disaster for a few days and I thought he was going to leave me, which felt like the end of the world. I begged and pleaded and finally he decided to stay with me. I felt like the worst human being on the planet.

And then of all horrors, I found myself in the same situation - two more times. I stupidly stumbled into them and couldn't stop myself because it just felt so good to have someone appreciate me and value me (although at the time, I didn't know that was why). Each time he did the same thing with me... except by the third time, I wished I had never been born, and felt I didn't deserve the life given to me. Because of my belief in God, I would never seriously consider suicide, even though it crossed my mind. But I knew to stay in this life was the worst punishment that I deserved. In the midst of those two other times, he ended up raping me a couple of times, and slapped me when I started crying. At that point, I felt something inside me go cold, and like there was a big hole inside me. I tried to tell him some time afterward how I felt, but he didn't believe me and thought I was being dramatic. He did apologize profusely for what he did, but didn't understand that I couldn't just bounce back.

Things moved into a more placid state... I had intentionally closed off myself to all ports of entry for any males and kept myself very isolated from others in general. He doesn't like my family at all (yes they have a lot of issues), so I had long lost any real connection with them. I had moved to be with him, so I didn't really have any friends either... and didn't have the energy to really look for any at that point. Even though things were smooth, any time I made a small mistake, he would always bring everything back from my cheating and how I tried to hide it from him and how deceptive I was. I continued to try harder with sex, and eventually he stopped complaining and I thought maybe I was doing better (but he just recently said it was still awful but he just sucked it up. And looking back reflectively now, I think he was feeling how emotionally shut down I have been all this time).

Well now, 2 years after the last incident, it happened again, with someone I've known for more than a year, and who had apparently already liked me for a long time. My fiance and I have been separated now for several months due to work. I tried to resist it, but the other guy is completely amazing. He sees me for who I truly am, and accepts and LOVES all of me... (my fiance sees me I guess, but focuses on changing the bad parts and dismisses the rest). The things that my fiance hates, he thinks are cute. I don't have to explain myself or defend myself - he just gets me from the very beginning, sometimes without me saying a word. He is an incredible person, and I admire so many things about him. The first time he mentioned in passing that I was sweet, I struggled to keep from breaking down in tears. Me?? My fiance knew I was meeting with the other guy (I was helping him with a class in exchange for language help) at the university. He was fine with us meeting, but wanted me to follow a very specific plan when I met him. It was really hard and no matter what I did, it seemed something was always wrong. With the combination of me not following exactly and my fiance also feeling the growing connection, he exploded several times and I was on the phone for hours and hours listening to his insults and criticisms. Finally he ended it with me, saying he hated me and that I was a liar, *****, ****, ugly (everything imaginable) and swore that he would destroy me publicly (which shocked me a lot because yes he would destroy me in private regularly, but never ever in public). I was devastated and panicking and shaking and couldn't think straight; he has all my passwords and remote access to my computer... I had no idea what he might do. I thought I should beg him and apologize and do whatever he wanted... but I was paralyzed. So I decided to do nothing for a day. And then after a lot of tears, I sent him an email saying I accepted it and the best thing for me to fix everything was to release him to be with someone who could really make him happy. I felt good and relieved after I sent it... sad, but so much lighter.

He responded in shock and anger, and couldn't believe I'd done that and was so hurt and that he never meant any of what he said before, and how could I be so cold to not talk to him for an entire day after I messed up really bad... I tried to explain that what he said was really hurtful and scared me, and he should never say those things if he didn't mean them... he said I should know better by now that he never means it when he calls me those things (which is regularly actually). He also said that he had tried to commit suicide after reading my email, the combination of work, family issues and issues with me were too much to bear. That ripped my heart out because he's always soooo strong and would never do such a thing... (and would never lie about it).

Anymore, more hours and hours of drama, missed work, missed meals, missed sleep... and the power balance has shifted and he was begging me to come back. I hesitated and told him I had to think about it. He was upset and hurt, but I have to be honest. I can't keep lying to myself and him that everything is great. Since we've been separated, I've begun seeing some value in myself and realizing that maybe I don't really deserve all this treatment after all... and maybe my huge mistakes were a result of all the issues in the relationship. Yes, I was wrong, but I think my real mistake was not valuing and loving myself enough to be brave and face the problems and speak up.

He had also asked me to cut all contact with the other guy, which I did (and it BROKE my heart and it broke his too... this time is not like the other times at all... the connection we have extends to a spiritual level... this has been one of the hardest things to do). But also I think it's better if I do that for now so I can focus on my relationship. The other guy is gone for the summer anyway, so I'm here by myself through all of this (which has been valuable, I think). He also instructed me to not talk to anyone about all of this... but I broke the rule and talked to a therapist (wish I could see her more but I don't have the money). He was upset about that and said that they always take the woman's side and tell them to leave the relationship.

Anyway, a few days ago, I finally gave him my answer - which was again to end it. I just felt there was too much between us and it was better to move on, and I would always love him and always want to remain connected with him, but couldn't keep going in the romantic role. I recognize that he did SO much for me, and helped me and guided me... but the most recent things, combined with everything else built up over time, really pushed me over the edge. He was completely against it and was begging me again.... more missed work, missed sleep... he said it was only fair to give him a chance to address all the issues I'd brought up and he swore he would work hard to be different and change everything, and he loved me and we were soul mates and I was the only one who could ever understand him, etc. So... I tacitly agreed to keep going.

Things are coming to a head very fast as far as announcing our engagement and moving ahead with marriage (he's from a different country so we were waiting on various permissions and paperwork and for him to get established in his job). I feel like now I have a brief moment in time to re-evaluate everything before all this comes to pass. I also believe that if I'm going to move forward, I need to be 100% resolute and on board, no looking back and feeling uncertain.

He of course feels my hesitancy and says that if all the other issues have been addressed, then my hesitancy must come from something else (basically, hinting that I have strong feelings for the other guy - which I do. But I would never walk away from one relationship for someone else... that's an awful, horrible thing to do). My fiance has said that he will ask God for His justice on me if I walk away and that is the real reason. He also said that he thinks I'm brainwashed and am just repeating whatever someone else told me to say (no?! this is all from me...!)

My hesitancy comes from the fact that I just feel SO DEAD inside at this point. I'm glad he wants to fix everything and change... but I should feel happy... and I don't. I feel nothing. I think honestly if I didn't experience how amazing it could be with someone else, I would give in and just go back to my fiance, and continue to ignore my feelings. If he does truly change... maybe my feelings will come back someday... i love him deeply, but I don't feel joy or excitement or light happiness when we talk... just anxiety, fear sometimes, defensiveness... I stopped feeling attracted to him a long time ago, but I admire his brilliance, strength, and incredible insight, so I always felt that was enough to compensate for it. Certainly he is much more attracted to me.

I apologize for the length, but it's complex, as I stated in the beginning. There is much more to be said; I know I'm biasing the situation by focusing mostly on the problems instead of all the good things between us as well. Anyway, thanks for reading; it's much appreciated. :)

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