This isn’t my primary account but I’ll answer… I found out that my SO was checking an online dating account after we’d been together for awhile. To make it even worse… it was a sugar daddy/ baby account, and my friend (a sugar baby looking for a loaded guy… she has daddy issues, yes) found it.
He confessed as soon as I confronted him that it was true, and told me everything. He’d had the account since before we met and just never shut it down when we became official. He hadn’t been meeting people in person, had just been reading the messages women sent him, and admitted to replying to a couple. He was using it like a fantasy; he used to be much more financially secure than he is now, and I think he liked being able to “pretend” like he was a rich guy lots of women were interested in for that reason. I don’t think I could have forgiven him if he had been communicating with any of the women regularly, and DEFINITELY not if he had met anyone in person. I finally came to terms with what he was doing as a step somewhere between pornography and cheating; he was looking at this as interactive porn, and it didn’t occur to him that these women were “real”, since everythign was online and there was very little interaction.
I agreed to try to forgive him and move past it if he could promise me he would delete the account, if we could keep an open dialogue about what had happened, and if he would go into therapy to try to figure out *why* he felt like he needed that extra attention. And believe me, after we talked awhile, it became clear that he knew it was wrong and felt guilty, but it was a compulsion. He kept his promises, and has been in therapy since, then, so for nearly a year. I know, it sounds extreme to force him into therapy for this issue, but it worried me that he didn’t know why he did what he had done. I was scared he wasn’t as happy in the relationship as he proclaimed to be, but didn’t have the introspective tools to recognize this. Since then, he’s worked through a lot of self-esteem and trust issue sin therapy, we have grown closer from discussing what happened and coming to terms with it, and he is so much happier now that he’s not sneaking around with the online stuff. He actually admitted to feeling relief when he knew that I’d found out. And honestly, the fact that he would go into therapy without hesitating when I made it a condition said a lot to me; he’s had anxiety issues and absolutely refused therapy when his parents/ I had begged him to go in the past. When I made it a condition, he agreed immediately and followed through without hesitation.
This was about a year ago, and I do trust him, although I think I am cautious about giving him that trust. He truly had to earn it back, and it was a process with bumps. I hate him for doing this, because I feel like anytime he acts weird or is at work late and the thought crosses my paranoid mind that he may be cheating, it’s no longer NOT a valid question. That being said, it is the one and only thing he has ever done to compromise my trust, and he’s been very vulnerable with me before and after that event, so I do believe nothing else has happened other than that one incident. I know some people wouldn’t forgive someone for doing that to them, but I love him, he loves me, and we have a great relationship aside from that one incident; I decided it was worth the risk and effort of forgiving him and moving on to salvage our life together, and it was the right choice for me.
I don’t know what your situation is, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if you can truly forgive him. If you can, then know it will be hard work to get there. Otherwise, you don’t want to spend years in a relationship with someone you can’t trust; that’s not good for either one of you, and will make you both miserable if you’re always worried and suspicious.