She cheated but feels like I violated her.
My girlfriend and I have been together for about 3.5 years. She's in her mid 30's and I am in my mid 40's. Earlier this year she left to go back to school in another country for 11 months. About 4 months into our being apart she had an affair with a fellow student. I was suspicious at the time, and even asked her straight out about it, and she denied anything was going on. A few months later I traveled to visit her as planned, and when I arrived I could tell something was wrong and I was certain my suspicions were correct. Sure enough, after a few days I discovered proof of her affair. I was devastated and angry. My first reaction was to leave the country and end the relationship. But I was unable to change my flight, and after a few days I decided I would spend the time we had together to see if we could at least start working things out. As the days and weeks went by I became more and more convinced that I wanted to save the relationship. She promised that the affair had been over for about a month before I arrived. However, she was not doing anything to reassure me that she loved me or that she wanted us to stay together. We spent time together, we fought, we cried, but we also had good times. But we were not having sex, which was something I desperately needed from her as a a sign that she really wanted to be with me.
We spent many nights sleeping in the same bed, cuddling (spoons), and I made it clear to her I would like to make love. She told me she couldn't because she "was not present". Despite her telling me she would not make love with me, I kept hoping she would change her mind. I really thought that seeing how completely destroyed I was, how much I was hurting, that she would find it in her heart to comfort me, physically. Instead she rejected me over and over. Several nights we would be spooning and I would have an erection. I would pull her close and press against her, both because it gave me some comfort to feel her body against mine, but also because I was hoping she would become turned on and want to make love. At one point I was so desperate I asked her if she would just hold me while I masturbated, but she got angry with me and basically just shoved me. A couple of times she did reluctantly agree to have sex, but seeing that she was only doing it to oblige me I refused her offer and we did not make love. I told her I only wanted to make love if she wanted to as well, and that I kept hoping she would actually want to do it.
My girlfriend later told me (the day before I left) that she felt violated by my unwanted advances (verbal and non-verbal). She says that my pressing myself against her made her feel assaulted and abused. Like as if I had molested her. I felt devastated by this revelation because I honestly never considered I was making her feel that way. I told her that I will never tell her that shouldn't feel that way, that if she feels violated then I accept responsibility for violating her and I apologized profusely. I would never want to make any woman feel sexually violated, much less the woman I love, who I have pledged to always care for and protect.
So here we are a few months down the road. She is still away (3 more months) and I am back home. We talk on-line, but things are not good between us. I honestly don't know if we are still together or not. We tell each other we love each other, but when I asked her directly if she wants us to stay together, she would not answer me. Instead she just got angry that I was pressuring her and not giving her enough time to "work on herself". I have been doing a lot of work trying to decide if I can forgive her for the affair, and I believe I can. I want us to stay together, and I need to hear her tell me she feels the same way. But today after a bit of on-line fight, she admitted to me that she can't get the feeling of me pressing against her out of her mind. That when she thinks of us being together she can only feel how she does not want me to touch her and how violated she feels by my unwanted sexual advances.
So that's where we are at. I think I am ready to move forward with her and start rebuilding our relationship. I can deal with her affair and I don't think it will destroy our relationship. But she is feeling like I have violated her and cannot imagine being with me physically. She says she knows I am not the type of man that would sexually harm a women, but my unwanted advances have left her not wanting anyone to touch her.
So how can I help her get over her feelings of being violated? I'm incredibly sorry for making her feel that way. No matter what she did to betray me I would never want her to feel sexually violated by me. I am also afraid that she will never be able to let it go and that if we stay together I will never be able to express my desire for her sexually without making her remember how she felt during this awful time.
Grateful for any advice. I really love my girlfriend. I've been cheated on before, but she is the only woman I have ever considered giving a second chance.