He may be all those things, but he’s also the man that sent those messages. Let’s not pretend that one excuses the other. All those actions, good and bad, make up the man.
It seems as though you need to try honesty on for size. If he’s all those things you said above, why on earth are you scared of his reaction? If he’s the strong guy who stands up for you, even when you’re wrong, surely he’s the guy who will understand your feelings on the matter, and defend them to anyone who should question them. If he’s the guy who comforts you when you’re down, surely he’s the guy who will understand how this situation makes you feel, and act accordingly.
If he’s everything you say he is, then I’m confused on how your not going to meet her will have any affect on your relationship? If he goes, then surely he won’t put himself in that situation again, if he’s the man you say he is. If he stays, then surely he won’t place the “blame” for that on your doorstep, if he’s the man you say he is.
Now, your lack of confidence in him suggests you don’t fully believe he is the man you say he is. That’s the part you need to examine. We can all list things our SO’s do for us, or a time that they went above and beyond for us, but when we dig deeper, is the trust and confidence in the relationship there? I know exactly what my husband would do in this situation, because we talk, we share, we make each other a priority above all other relationships. If you believe your SO is everything you say he is, this should be a no brainer.
The fact that it isn’t tells me you’re still lacking the confidence of who he really is, and how he chooses to handle situations. With that comes this insecurity, and this need to avoid the situation and keep it at bay. With her away, your issues with him and your lack of confidence in him are not at the center. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak. It’s easy to say she’s the problem and if she’s gone, the problem is gone – until the problem manifests in another “friend.”
For the record, to my husband this “friend” would no longer be a “friend,” because any relationship that isn’t building you up, especially as a couple, isn’t a relationship worth keeping. We’ve both cut people out of our lives who put strain on our relationship, for reasons much less disturbing as infidelity.
You need to ask him what exactly he’s getting out of the friendship now. Just because you know a person for 20 years, doesn’t automatically mean you should continue to know them for the next 20.