Basically, I'm 22 and have been with my bf since the age of 17. We have had an amazing, textbook perfect relationship for the majority of this time. However, when we were 20, we decided to move in together. We lived in a small flat for 1 year, but unfortunately it wasn't as easy as we'd both imagined. Money was the biggest problem, with me being a student and only working in a shop at weekends and him working as a chef, between us we were only earning enough to pay the rent and get by. We were only 20 but living the lives of an older married couple, with no money to even fill the car up and drive 20 minutes up the road for a walk on the beach.
After almost a year had passed, we had got to a stage where we resented each other and were not communicating properly. We'd both come home tired and stressed, resent having to cook and clean for each other and bicker about what to watch on tv. This went on for about 2 months solid. 1 day, we had a chat and decided it was time for a break. We were making each other unhappy and the flat was getting too cramped. We were both sad and crying at the time but it seemed like the only option left - by this stage we couldn't even tell if we loved each other anymore.
So I moved back to my parents house and he stayed in the flat and we didn't communicate at all. To cut a long story short, in that time a cleaner at work paid me a crazy amount of attention (it was summer so I was working overtime at the shop) and I ended up going on a few 'dates' with this guy and we ended up getting physical. As soon as that happened, I knew instantly that it was my bf who I wanted and did love. I told the cleaner this and he understood and let me go etc. V.gradually, me and my bf began to talk again and sort things out. We decided to give it another go but keep me living at my parents until I'd finished studying and could get a job as a teacher.
In all this time (10 months) I did not mention this other man to my bf, as I felt it was irrelevant and would cause him needless hurt. This man meant nothing to me - the only reason I met him at all was because he gave me the attention I so longed for and felt my bf hadn't given me. However, it was our 5 year anniversary this weekend and for some reason, the guilt came flooding to me. Me and my bf are now stronger than we've ever been - we talk more, laugh more and have both grown up - we now know that living together does mean making sacrifices and you see the worst of someone as well as the best. We are still living apart for now due to money - we're both in credit card debt and in 2 months my bf is moving in with his dad for a bit to clear his debts. I finish studying this month and will be getting a job sorted very soon, so the plan is that within about 6 months we will move in together properly.
Anyway, I couldn't bare to have this secret any more - we were in bed and I got emotional and upset, thinking about how much I miss living with him and how I can't wait to move back in. He was perfect, he held me and assured me and kept asking 'what was really wrong' and telling him that I really need to talk to him more about how I'm feeling so it doesn't build up and make me upset. So I told him what happened during our break...
He took it surprisingly well. Considering we've always been so 'anti-cheating' and moral, I expected that he might want me out of the flat, but I felt duty-bound to tell him anyway because I love him and don't want any secrets between us. He laid still in shock for a while, asked a few questions and then said he understood how/why it happened and that he forgives me. I cried all night long, feeling disgusted with myself. The next day (our anni) we went for a nice walk, a pub lunch and stayed in with a take-away and a film. We had great sex. I was very up and down throughout the day, frequently crying and feeling disgusted. He kept reassuring me that as far as he's concerned, the past is the past and that he knows I'm sorry and that nothing's changed between us.
Sunday was a better day - we relaxed together before going out for some dinner. There has been no awkwardness between us since Saturday afternoon and he says he loves me more than ever. Since getting back to my parents house Sunday night, I have felt crap. I can't decide whether or not it was a good thing to tell him about something that happened so long ago or not. I am terrified that he will wake up 1 morning and be as disgusted with me as I am. Logically, I tell myself that if that was going to happen, we wouldn't have had such a lovely and romantic weekend together just after I'd told him.
But suppose the shock hasn't sunk in and he does wake up and feel disgusted? Barely any of my friends know about this - most of them would judge me and decide I wasn't who they thought I was and cut me out. My family have no idea, as again they'd be shocked and disgusted. The friends that do know have been great about it and tried to reassure me that it was a small, meaningless mistake. But cheating in my mind has never been 'small and meaningless', people that cheat disgust me... My friends that know told me that I didn't really 'cheat' as it happened when I was on a break. When I told my bf, I asked if he felt like I'd cheated and he said he didn't know and couldn't tell. I can't tell either, I certainly feel like I did, even though at the time we hadn't been talking properly for months.
I just need some reassurance really. I feel dirty, like a liar and undeserving of anything good, including my bf and a job as a teacher. I don't know how to stop feeling like this. I had almost let it go in terms of the guilt etc, as I said, me and my bf have grown closer than ever over the last 6 months - it's only that I've actually told him now, the guilt feels much worse as suddenly it's 'real'...
Sorry this is so long, I just want to know what you think, have you had a similar experience? How can I stop feeling so bad? And do you think that my bf is likely to end it once the shock 'sinks in' or do you think he is genuinely able to see how meaningless and silly that whole thing was?
Thank you for reading