I found this board by chance yesterday and have had an enlightening day - Mainly from Sandi2s excellent contributions and insight.
That said, I would really appreciate some opinions on my own situation.
I have had 6 months of hell and only a few days ago came across the information of a MLC. Now I'm just trying to get some clarity - Is she having a MLC or just drifted apart and I didn't see it.

Sorry in advance for the long post.

Background. Me and my ex partner would have been together for 8 years. (separated 3 weeks ago) We have 3 children. I would go as far as to say its been a happy relationship for the most part. We fell head over feet in love in a very short period of time (both in our early 30s at the time) and brought a house / had our first child very quickly. To be fair, that was never a problem, and I can say that the first few years were amazing and happy. There was one thing that always niggled me, but apart from that, I had no concerns. The niggle was that when we met, she told me she didn't like her boss because he kept "trying it on" but he was married and she hated cheaters. When my phone broke, I borrowed her old phone for a few days, but she had forgot to wipe the "sent items" (old style phone where you had an inbox and sent - before the days of merged messages like you have now on iPhone etc) .. In the sent items were about 20 saved messages - all to this boss and all very flirty / inappropriate. In them days, it was stored as a separate text message, so I couldn't see what she was replying to, but I know his wife wouldn't have been happy to read what my partner had sent him (these were sent about 12 months prior to us getting together) . When I took a shower that night, she went into the phone and deleted them. This was very early in the relationship and I never mentioned it..But it was clear she had lied to me.. But young love makes your blind.

Fast forward about 3 years and I noticed messages on her phone from a name I didn't know. When I quizzed her about it, she admitted he was an ex who messaged her occasionally and she deleted them as he was a bit flirty and she didn't want me getting annoyed. This guy has bobbed up sporadically over our relationship, but its maybe once or twice a year. Hence again, its always been there, but I never believed anything of it.

I should also say that my ex-partner can be very irrational / one sighted if she gets something in her head. In the 8 years, the majority of the arguments have been due to her irrational way in getting something. ie when first child was born, she wanted a bigger car - Not a problem and didn't disagree. But she wanted it that day and went out with her mum to sort. Regardless of It being a terrible deal (sales man saw her coming) she wanted a new car that day, and because I wanted to shop around it caused massive rows. This is the story of our life - Once or twice a year, she gets something in her head and it causes big rows. ie new sofa, house move, boob job etc.

She also rarely ever accepts blame or responsibility. There is always a "but" or "because" and very rarely "I'm sorry or a I was wrong"

Generally, though, I would say we had a happy relationship and I love her, regardless of faults. I am also far from perfect - my biggest fault is reacting to her impulsive demands and shooting her down without seeing it from her perspective - hence it escalates.

We had our 3rd child in 2016 and all was great. Mid 2017 came and things did start to change. Up to that point we both saved every penny to move to our dream home and we managed to buy it. We moved to our "dream home" and everything fell into place. Or so I though. Once we no longer needed to save, things did start to change. The first thing was a boob job. She decided she wanted this a month after moving into the new house, and it caused massive rows (we couldn't afford it after the house purchase and I refused to agree to sign up to finance for it ). This caused big rows as she lost a lot of self confidence in her body after the 3rd child - she look amazing still… But she didn't think so. Luckily, I got a decent bonus from work, so it covered that cost, but soon after it was Botox and new clothes- lots of clothes. She also started to go out with her friends a lot more than previously.
I also have to hold my hands up here and say that from September to November 2017 I was a bad partner. I had a major project on at work and spent most nights in the same room, but on my laptop. It was always a "short term" thing and since then, my laptop never leaves my bag for work purposes in the evening. But for that 2-month period, I didn't give her the attention I used to or should have.

Her response to this was just to spend more time on her phone (Facebook or clothes sites usually) - it never caused any rows at the time. Of course, once the project was over and I was happy to get my life / time with her back, she wasn't so happy to give up Facebook, and she is happy to spend an hour on it each night once the children were asleep...
But even at this point (early to mid-2018 ) I wouldn't say we were unhappy - looking back, we did a lot of stuff as a family, but not much as a couple.. or she was out with her mates on Saturdays (majority are single or divorced) . But I never once considered our relationship to be in trouble. The text messages between us and photos from that time show we were positive. It was only in June / July 2018 that I noticed she had zero interest in any intimacy and was really really absorbed in her phone (Facebook or clothes shopping) - she didn't like me to touch her, and there was always a reason why she didn't want to make love. But I didn't give up and we had a great family holiday and I really thought things were back on track.

That's when it started to go downhill.

She went on a girls night out and crossed the line.

Up until that point there was never any trust issues and It was just by pure coincidence that I ever found out. She asked me to plug her phone on charge, and as I was, a message from her friend popped up, saying "don't do anything unless you are 100% sure".

I questioned this, and after hours of lying she admitted that she had been overly flirty with a guy from work and sent some flirty messages which she shouldn't have. As it turns out, they had been messaging each other for over a month prior to this on Facebook, which weren't deleted... I read them and although there was nothing OTT in there, it is obvious how it had paved the way for that evening.

My partner was distraught about what she had done, blamed the acohol and ceased all non work-related contact with the guy. She also put a lot of blame on me, saying I never noticed that she had been unhappy for several months. ( it was months at this point, not years as it becomes later ) and that they wouldn't of messages so much if she had been happy.

We did a couple's council session which went well and we had a really great 8 weeks. We had 1 row in the middle, but I can honestly say it was like a new relationship. Both of us gave it 100% and it was not just good, it was amazing. The intimacy, the communication, the consideration, the trust. It all returned and we both felt it.
8 weeks later and we had the worst week ever with our youngest and her sleeping. She was up all night and we were getting literally 1 to 2 hours sleep a night for a whole week.

My partner started to act odd again though. She didn't want me next to her in the evenings, or in bed. The intimacy and communication just stopped. I also spotted her keeping her phone out of my view. She put it down to the tiredness we were both suffering. I then spotted a drunken Facebook message from guy in the middle of the night on her lock screen. I checked a few hours later and it was deleted. She said he was just a guy she had bumped into on a night out and he was trying to set his friend up with a single friend of my partners. She had deleted all the previous messages, as she didn't want to burst our "bubble" which we had lived in for the last 8 weeks.
She agreed to stop messaging the guy and move on.

That didn't happen. It went from the odd message to him to then messaging for hours and hours in the following 3 days. She blamed the exhaustion of being up all night with the baby and that I didn't get it and understand her. All messages were deleted. She started to say she was no longer sure what she wanted and if she wanted to be together. When I said I was going to message this guy and ask him to back off, she said it was over between us if I did, because he was "just a friend" supporting her though a tough week. This was October 18. Once the sleep pattern returned, she began to rationalise and we decided to try counselling. Unbeknown to my partner I had messaged this guy and asked him to back off. So, he stopped making the effort to contact her. Things actually got back to a betterish place - no arguments, although she was distant - no affection or effort on her part and it a million miles away from 2 weeks prior.

We tried counselling again, but it actually made it worse as the councillor put a lot of emphasis on how many relationships she had seen destroyed by "nice guys" messaging people on social media etc, just saying they were mates, but it escalating - all because they wanted one thing. My partner was adamant his guy was just "a mate" and She called my partner naïve and set "boundaries" - ie don't delete messages and cease making conversation and reduce time on the phone in the evening.

I thought the session ended on a high, but the reality was my partner was livid. She walked out of the session saying she didn't appreciate being called Naïve and wasn't going to be treated like a child - ie reduce time on Facebook. She then started up a new conversation with this guy the next day. He told her about my message and that just made matters worse.

I gave it my all for another 2 weeks, buying flowers, nice messages, giving her space when she asked for it and affection (one sided) if she wanted it - but got nothing back. Everything felt distant and they carried on messaging. She lied about it most of the time, but I can always tell when she lies. All messages deleted as well.

The blame then started to come into it a lot more, with my partner blaming me for how she has been feeling. She started saying she has been unhappy for months, a year, years ( depending on the day ) Even the EA had with her work colleague got rewritten as "just mates" and I was just the jealous and controlling partner who had made an innocent friendship / work relationship into something it wasn't. . I spoke to the councillor privately and neither of us could understand this change in her.. i.e. risking what was a happy family relationship for nothing. We touched on the idea of venerable Narcissism (the blame, lies, likes the attention off this guy, always my fault, etc ) and did another session as a couple . Again, my partner made the same promises and said she wanted it to work. But they lasted 3 days. He messaged her while drunk on the Saturday and she deleted them. This carried on for a couple of weeks, with him and her always being "online" on WhatsApp and her denying it was him.

In December, after her usual lies of denying a 2-hour chat session with him, she then changed the passcode to her phone. I decided enough was enough and gave her the choice. Me / our family or him. She didn't say "him" (he's only a mate came out a lot) but said she was happy to end it because she wouldn't be told what to do or who she could be "friends with" and was sick of the anxiety the arguments over texting this "mate" were causing. That night she went out with her mates and "bumped" into him - they then spend over an hour the next morning on the phone messaging continually while I was at home with the children.

It was around then that she also said she felt with we were no longer "connected" and would always love me, but didn't think she was in love with me anymore.

In the meantime, she has also spent £900 more than we have earned in the past 3 months from our joint account, so the savings have taken a hit. She justifies the spend with xmas and the kids birthdays, but clothes arrive near daily. She is on first name terms with the postman, who she chats to when he drops packages off - He even added her on Facebook as they have become so pally !

Since then my life has been a rollercoaster. Her family have accused me of threatening her!, although it was just a conversation over ending the relationship and custody of the kids. She didn't like me saying that I would be seeking 50 / 50 custody, but there were never any threats. Just statements. She has admitted / agreed that I never threatened her, and her version is that its her mother's fault for "interoperating "what she told her incorrectly. I asked her why she hasn't corrected her mother, but she has no explanation. Her mates hate me because I am "jealous and controlling" - but if I ask her "do they know how much you actually message this guy?" she just plays dumb to the question.

But once I started to distance myself, she promised to cease the messaging and started to get upset / try and make the effort. We would have 4 or 5 good days, then it would go full circle - I would see her continually "online" again. The argument would follow and she would say she wasn't happy (and usually that she hasn't been happy for a year, 2 years, 4 years - these timescales vary with each argument) and we are separated, so she can do what she wants. The best line she has come out with was "if we were still an item, it could be considered excessive - but we are separated "!!!! - yet she messaged him for months when we were an item. This has gone on for 3 weeks. In the meantime, she has met another guy at the gym, who messages daily. His intentions are very clear and he has sent a few flirty messages (he has already asked her out for a walk) , but again he is "just a mate" in her head. These messages also get deleted.

I now know this as "cake eating"

She is now looking to purchase a house for her and the children.

I have been trying to figure this out for 3 months because the person I live with isn't the person I know or fell in love with or even recognise any more.

The lies just flow and her irrational actions are off the scale. Prior to reading about MLC I showed her a list of things that equate to an EA - she laughed it off as he is" just a mate" and its me with the problem (controlling and jealous). Everything has a justification (excessive spending, hours online messaging, going out a lot more with mates) I was convinced it was venerable Narcissism after the 2nd counselling session because of some of the traits (blame, lies, manipulation, avoid taking responsibility) , but it still didn't explain her blurred vision of past happiness or wanting to destroy a family over a guy she has known for 8 weeks !

The councillor never picked up on this and I am not an expert.

I found this board and was like WHAM - this is my life..

Thoughts apricated please - do I live with an ex-partner who just fell out of love after 8 years and is now appreciating the male attention, or somebody going through a MLC ?


Previous username - Helpme123.. A name chosen at a desperate time..

Now Mr Brightside.. coming out of my cage, and doing just fine.