Originally Posted by monogamishSF
Would it be fair if I told her another strike (this last one was strike two) and we will cease to be primaries? Or are ultimatums not a healthy thing? I get the impression the severity of her behavior didn't occur to her until it was too late. And I know nothing I say or do will ensure 100% that she won't pull this again. But I have faith that she's sorry. I just know I won't be able to handle another lie. And I need to find a way to make that as clear to her as it needs to be so she will understand the decision she is making the next time she's faced with a choice like that. WITHOUT me being a witch about it. You know?
I have some hard questions for you that you may not be able to answer right away.
Is your partner able to be trustworthy right now?
By this I don't mean 'a cheater always cheats' thing. Your partner sounds damaged in ways that can make it really fucking hard to be trustworthy. Folks who lack a strong sense of self, and/or a sense of worth can be impulsive and unthinking in startling, self-destructive ways. They don't always have the capability to really understand and weigh consequences. It is possible that your partner will hear that '3 times and we're done' clearly and still be unable to stop herself. That hit of self-worth from a willing sexual encounter can be powerful. To repair this damage takes work and commitment and it can take a long time before someone is willing to actually take this on. It's hard and painful and involves suffering and facing unclean parts of one's self, one's past and present.
The answer might be 'No', she is not capable of trushworthiness right now. Are you willing to leave? To end the relationship? (And 'downgrading' the relationship from primary to something else will likely just prolong the mutual pain. I encourage you not to go that route.) You will also need to ask yourself the above two questions if she does break your trust and lie again.
The answer might be 'Yes'. In that case, what about your part in this? It is possible that how you act and react is reinforcing her tendency to cover up. No one likes admitting being wrong, to having done stupid things, and hurt those we love. It's so human and we all do it. I personally hold a grudge like a Hatfield against a McCoy.
I'm not saying that her actions are thus your fault. You did not cause her damage, nor she you. But you might be reinforcing negative behaviors and actions in each other.
Also, I do NOT mean to imply that your partner is broken past all hope. Not at all. People have made themselves whole and healthy from some truly awful shit. It is very possible that she will do the same. I am hopeful she will.