Nowhere to turn - need support
I'm feeling really heartbroken right now, so I thank you for listening, and I hope you have some advice you can share, whether it's tough-love or not.
I have been actively poly for 15 years, and with my current partner for 8 years. I am not currently seeing anyone else. We recently moved to a new area for career reasons, and left behind our wonderful, supportive social network. My partner is casually dating someone from that group, as a LDR. We've been hit or miss in attempting to find new social circles that we fit into, but my partner was recently introduced into one that he is overjoyed with. I like many of the people, but it's not quite my cup of tea (some of their lack of boundaries make me nervous, to be vague).
The short story is that despite being in a poly relationship, my partner cheated on me, and I'm feeling sick, angry, and lost. The other person is poly too, and maybe should have known better, but didn't ask my permission first--probably trusted what my partner said or implied. I don't know if it is appropriate for me to talk to her at this juncture without making things worse or sounding like the jealous wife.
The longer story is below, so more is clear .....
My partner casually expressed interest in one member of this new scene, who had always rubbed me the wrong way, and I said, 'no, you definitely cannot get involved with X!'. I had my reasons, but didn't give them at the time because I thought his comment was just a passing observation of her attractiveness.
This weekend we went to a small, intimate party and this girl was there. Many people were nude at the party, but it was a casual thing, not sexual. She and my partner spent a lot of time together, and there were many times that she acted too familiar with him: touching his genitals, etc. I started to feel uncomfortable, but trusted my partner to tell her if she crossed the line. We've been together for a long time and are usually in tune that way.
Around midnight I got tired and went to our tent to go to bed. I woke up at 5am realising my partner had never come to bed. I got up to go look, and found them together (asleep). I didn't know what had happened at that point, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I wish instead I'd woken him up, kicking and screaming. In fact, I didn't know until the end of the next evening (weekend-long party) after spending an awkward day with everyone, and them continuing to be cuddly. The more I silenced myself because I didn't want to make a scene, the harder it was for me to talk. I wish I had pulled her aside and said, "You do realise you do not have my permission to fool around with my partner, right?". That is my biggest regret.
When my partner and I finally had some privacy to talk and I asked him what the heck was going on, he said apathetically, "I know you said I couldn't do anything with her, but I decided to anyway.". I was just flabberghasted. I said, "So you're willing to throw away or damage 8 years together for a little fling?' He continued to be apathetic and said all sorts of uncharacteristic things. I tried to take it with a grain of salt because I was sure he couldn't mean them; that it was said out of anger.
On the drive home he told me he did finally tell her that nothing could happen between them and that she accepted it, saying 'she's not interested in breaking anyone up'. The crux of the matter seems to be that my partner feels he's fallen out of love with me because our relationship has been rocky the last couple years (our lives have been very stressful--deaths, failures, financial loss, etc. taking their toll); that he's become so apathetic that he just didn't care about whether it was right or wrong. He just wanted to do something for himself. There's a part of me that can understand that, but it has also completely broken my trust in him. He says he is on the fence about whether we should try to make our relationship work; whether it's worth it after how volatile it's been. (To be clear, he says he 'loves me dearly' but isn't sure he's 'in love'. anyone who has been married a long time can understand how emotions ebb and flow, and I think it's possible to fall back in love with someone.)
So now I'm heart broken over potentially losing this relationship and my life as I know it, on top of the betrayal.
While I know he broke the rules, I've been stewing over many things, namely, should I have been more proactive? Should I have said something to this girl? I didn't at the time because I thought it was too aggressive. I told my partner that as part of his reparations I expected him to tell her that he hadn't had permission and had done stuff with her anyway. I'm not sure he'll do that, if only out fear. He'd have to admit to a girl he likes that he deliberately cheated. I want to email her myself and make sure that point is clear, but is that psycho, or is it asserting my position as primary? I don't really have more than an acquiantance relationship with her. It's been clear from both of them that they hope something can still happen in the future. That thought makes me sick. Am I just trying to punish them both by thinking that will never be allowed to happen, or is this a reasonable right to revoke: You broke the rules with this person and your consolation prize is never being able to have them. ?
I don't want to be a bitch to her, or take my anger out on her, I just want to say something like "I just wanted to clear something up, and that is that I told my partner he couldn't get involved with you, and he decided to do it anyway. My acting uncomfortable later in the party was due to me sensing his deceit and what I thought was you pushing the boundaries that had been set. Now I realise that he never even informed you of the rules."
I'm not sure why my fixation on wanting his crime to be acknowledged by all parties. I guess I just don't want him to get away with it, or get off easy because no one knows he broke a cardinal rule. I'd appreciate a reality check on this one.
I'm sorry for dumping a sad story in this forum, I just was making myself sick not writing it down somewhere. I don't want to tell our old friends because cheating is really taboo with those guys and it seems like too private a thing to tell our mutual friends.