I (32F) found out last night that my husband (37M) stalked and manipulated me into a relationship. Hi All. I am not sure to even start. I'm not a regular Redditor, but I do sometimes browse the site when bored. I looked online to see if I could find any information regarding my issue, well, at least not anything anything helpful. Never though I'd be making this kind of post, but here I am.... apologies if this gets long, I haven't really been able to gather my thoughts. BACKGROUND: So I (32F) met my now husband (37M), who I'll call "Dave" (not his real name) about 5 years ago. We have been married for 2 and half years now, we have an adorable 20 month old daughter, and I am currently 4 months pregnant. We just bought a house a couple years ago, in the suburbs outside of a larger metropolitan area. Dave was an acquaintance of a coworker (Mark), so about 5 years ago I started to see him frequently at the bar we'd go get drinks at after work. I'll admit that at first I wasn't particularly attracted to him, not that he's ugly! He just wasn't the type I was into at that point in my life. Anyway, when Dave started coming around, he would after a while try to chit chat with me; it was obvious he was interested, but I tried to decline his advances as gently as I could. He was persistent, and one night after maybe 1 drink too many, I agreed to go on a date with him. I remember the date started out a bit awkward, as our previous encounters had always been within a group, so it was the first time it was just the 2 of us. Plus, I admit I didn't really want to be there. I had actually considered cancelling, but I was having really bad luck dating at that point (more on that later!) so I decided that since I had no other plans, why not. Anyway, the date started out slow, and it was mostly Dave talking for the first half. But then after a while he started bringing up some topics that I was interested in (a hobby, and a particular cause which I felt strongly about). The second half of the date was much better, and I was kind of surprised to learn that Dave and I actually had some things in common. I was still hesitant, but decided to give Dave a chance, and although he definitely like me a lot more than I like him in the beginning, our relationship slowly began to grow, and eventually I fell in love with him. Since then, I would say that we have had a really good relationship; he is my best friend, an excellent father, and a great husband! Furthermore, he is a good provider as well. Once our daughter was born, we decided that it made the most financial sense for me to quit my job and stay home. It was a role that I admittedly was not 100% on board with in the beginning, but when we looked at the numbers, it was just the most logical decision. Despite my initial hesitancy, I have since grown to love it! I honestly couldn't imagine having to spend so much time away from my daughter. But I recognize that because of my husband, we are in a very fortunate position to do so; I know that many families cannot live off of just one income. I don't want to give away too much personal information, so I'll only say that my husband works in IT. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we are able to live a modest, middle-class lifestyle on just my husband's income. Except for the rare "couple's fight", things between my husband and I have generally been really good. We get along well, and up until last night I would have said that my life is ideal! THE ISSUE: Like many people, my husband has been working at home since the whole Coronavirus mess started. It took a little bit of adjustment, but it hasn't been too bad. As my husband works in IT, his work hasn't been disrupted too much by having to work remotely. I think the change in environment has been the biggest issue. To stay connected, my husband has been meeting virtually once or twice a week with friends or coworkers. Last night he was playing games with his little brother, "Tom" (30M) and a couple of his friends. While playing these games, my husband had a few beers. He rarely drinks, but since the lockdown, he has been having 2-3 beers usually on Friday nights when meeting virtually. This is not a problem in my opinion, and I only mention it because he does not have much of a tolerance for alcohol. This is relevant because last night he had more than his usual 2- 3 beers. So after I put our daughter to bed, I checked my cell phone to see that I had a message from Tom's girlfriend; they've been dating for about a year and a half now, and since they only live about an hour away, we frequently double date. I like Tom and his girlfriend, so I was super excited when I opened her message to see that they were now officially engaged! It was a big group chat, so it was filled with messages of congratulations. I noticed that in one message, Tom had written "Big thanks to Dave, without who's advice I would have never gotten this far!". I personally thought it was very sweet; seemed like they were looking to us as an example. I immediately ran downstairs to my husband to talk to him about it. I knew he was playing games with Tom, so he obviously must have known earlier about the engagement. I sat on the couch and we started talking about how long Tom had been planning this out, how much did the ring cost, when was the wedding, etc. I noticed that Dave was a bit drunk, which I guess was the result of him "celebrating" his little brother's next step in life. While cuddling, I mentioned to him about how what a good example he was to Tom, and this is where it all began. The whole night was such a whirlwind, that I don't even remember everything little thing, but basically, Dave told me about how he "helped" Tom make his girlfriend (now fiance) fall in love with him. I asked what he meant, and he went into this whole story (which I had never heard before!) about how he got me to "fall in love" with him. The true story of how we met, how "we fell in love", and how our relationship blossomed. Dave was clearly drunk, and I was just so shocked, that all I could do was stupidly smile and act like everything was no big deal. I think this just made him open up even more. The real story, according to my husband, is that he first found me on a dating site about half a year before we ever met. He claims that he initially sent me a message, but that I just ignored him. He looked kind of hurt when talking about this, but I told him that women get 100's of messages a week on those sites, and there was just no way that I could read through all of them, much less respond. He claims that I did read his, but no response. He said that we ranked very highly in compatibility, had a lot of the same interests, and that he "just knew" we'd make the perfect couple. So apparently after this, he started creating a bunch of fake profiles. He stole pictures of very attractive men from social media profiles (he said he would make minor changes so as not to be reverse searched. I never even considered that!). Using these profiles, he started, basically, catfishing me. Over the course of a couple months, he was able to initiate conversations with me on numerous occasions with different profiels, and eventually at some point I guess I mentioned where I worked. He said he then spent hours searching through Facebook and Linkedin before he found my picture. At that point he had my name, and started hardcore stalking me online! He had created numerous social media profiles, some of which I accepted as friends/followers, so then he was able to stalk my life! After a couple months (according to him) he started stalking me in real life; he said that he starting going to hangout at the bar we always went to after work, and befriended "Mark", a coworker of mine. Mark worked in IT, like Dave, and although nice, he was socially awkward and a bit of a loner. I was always surprised when he would join us for happy hour because he usually would just sip on his beer and not say anything. Anyway, I guess Dave started stalking Mark, and became his friend somehow. So then when we'd meet for happy hour, Dave would invariably start to hangout with my group of coworkers and I. It seemed to work out well, because Dave was pleasant, and Mark seemed to open up a bit more when he was around. So this went on for like a month..? And then Dave started trying to hit on me. Again, he's not a bad looking guy, but he just wasn't my type. After a month or 2, I eventually agreed (as mentioned before, I was drunk, and having terrible luck in the dating game). My "bad luck" was actually Dave's fake profiles. I kept chatting with guys who I thought I would've really gotten along with, in some cases we chatted for weeks, and then when it was time to meet, I kept getting blown off. It was a huge hit to my self-esteem! One night, after waiting for over an hour for my "date" to show up, I finally went back to my car and just cried! I just couldn't understand it, and honestly started having doubts about myself. One particularly cruel episode was after another "date" with one of Dave's fake profiles, I received a text message which said something like I didn't look as good as my pictures, and was accused of catfishing him! The next week during our happy hour was when I finally agreed to go on a date with Dave. I guess he essentially tore me down, so that I would feel like shit and agree to go out with him. When I asked him about all the different phone numbers, he claimed that he had bought a few burner phones! Like what the hell!? But wait, it gets worse. Something I had never told Dave about was that when we first started dating, I actually was talking with someone else. I was not completely into Dave like he was into me at the beginning, so when this gorgeous guy began messaging me on the dating site I was using, I started chatting with him. After constantly being blown off on dates, I was very cautious when I was talking to "Alex". So even though things seemed to be going well, I still kept talking to Dave as well. I wanted to be sure that Alex wasn't just another asshole before I made any decisions with Dave. So Alex and I went on our first date, which was absolutely great...until the end. The date was off to a good start, because he actually showed up, lol, and he was even more handsome in real life! I couldn't believe that someone like him was so interested in me! As I said, my self esteem was absolutely in the gutter by now. So the date goes great, we get along, we're laughing and staring into each other's eyes; I haven't felt this kind of connection ever! I remember my my heart fluttered, and I even butterflies in my stomach! I honestly thought it was love at first sight. Up until the end, it really was a magical night, like something out of a movie. We had had a couple glasses of wine, but neither of us were drunk, but we were feeling good. After we got out of the bar, we started making out a bit in the parking lot behind. I just felt so good in that moment, and I really thought that finally I had found a guy who I connected with, and it had been a while since I been with anyone... so I lost myself a bit in the passion, and suggested that Alex come home with me. I still remember the way his face just dropped. His beautiful blue eyes just became cold as ice, and his body just tensed up. He stepped back, said "Sorry, I'm not into $l*ts" and walked off. It was one of the most devastating moments of my life. I never would have guessed something like that happening, not after the night we just shared, and I was honestly in shock. I thought it was maybe a stupid joke, but he seriously just turned and walked away. After what felt like forever, I realized he wasn't coming back, and I swear I had a full on breakdown. I remember that my stomach just felt like someone had punched me, then began painfully twisting it. I couldn't breath and just began full on sobbing. I don't remember if anyone saw me or not, but no one came up to me or said anything. I cried all the tears I could, and after there was nothing left, I managed to catch my breath after a while, and finally walked home. I had some very dark thoughts that night. I couldn't stop beating myself up, ruining what I thought was a once in a lifetime chance. Honestly, even during my marriage, I still frequently thought about Alex. For me, he was the one that got away. And I had blamed myself for years. I guess I should mention that the Saturday night when I went out with Alex, I had actually cancelled plans with Dave. When he texted me the next day to go mini golfing, I was only too happy to go. Looking back, I seriously attached myself to Dave after that, and our so called "fairy tale" love grew from then on. Now why is this all worth mentioning..? Last night, while Dave was (proudly?) telling me about all that he had done in order to be with me, he mentioned that he had even paid a guy to date me! When I inquired further, he told me about how Alex was actually paid by Dave, to go out on a date with me. The idea was to do a couple dates, then ditch me. I guess to wreck my self esteem..?! I don't even know! But I was in absolute shock. I had never mentioned Alex to Dave, and we had only exchanged messages for a couple weeks, and then it was only 1 date. I didn't want Dave to know that I had been talking to other guys in the beginning, so of course I wasn't going to mention it. So that just made everything all too real. Dave seemed to have found it funny, as he was telling me how he reached out and found some broke, aspiring male model who lived in a city a couple hours away. He offered to pay this guy to set up a profile, chat with me, then go out on a few dates. I don't know if "Alex" was just desperate for cash, or an asshole, but either way, he agreed to the proposition. Per Dave, the idea was that Alex would, after a few dates, basically start to act like an asshole, and eventually stop seeing me. Per Dave, so that I could learn to "appreciate" what I have, rather than "chasing a fantasy". However, Alex saw an opportunity right away when I threw myself at him, and took it. I asked him why he would do something like that, and Dave's response was that I was a dumb girl who was chasing guys out of her league, and that I needed a reality check to see that the best guy for her was right in front of her face. Up til now, I think I had been smiling and generally in disbelief about the whole thing. Which I think only encouraged him to keep going. But the story about Alex just horrified me. I literally had a panic attack after that night with Alex, and looking back at it now, I don't think my self-esteem/confidence ever recovered. I asked Dave how much he had paid Alex, and he told me $1000.00. NOW: After Dave admitted about Alex, I immediately went upstairs and went to bed. I guess Dave had another couple beers, and passed out on the couch. I saw him this morning, and he is painfully hungover. I had only one other time in my life seen him as drunk as he was last night, and it was many years ago. I want to ask him again if it was all true what he said last night, but I know it is. He knew way too many details. He's too hungover anyway to have a coherent talk now. Plus, he could say that he doesn't remember anything. I don't know what to do. Or even if there is anything to do. I am horrified, and absolutely shocked at what I learned. I suppose that I had overly romanticized our relationship and marriage, but now it just doesn't seem real. But, I have to admit that I am also perversely very flattered. My husband is not a lazy man, but he struggles to make and keep plans. The story he told last night, seems almost unbelievable. And like I said, if it wasn't for the details, I would say no way is he capable of such a thing. That a man would spend so much time and effort, just to be with me, although creepy, also does seem a bit romantic..? Maybe..? I don't want to bring this up to any of my friends, or family, so the internet seems to be my only option. I guess I'm looking for some outside perspective on this. Also, is this normal at all...? I mean, have any guys out there manipulated a situation/events (to an extreme degree) so as to be with a girl? Ladies, do you know if you man has ever done something like this? Up until last night, I had a great, loving husband, a beautiful family, and a life that most would kill for. Technically nothing has changed, except what I now know. Since everything is (was?) so good, do I even ever bring it up again? Perhaps I should just accept that my husband wanted me so bad, that he went to insane measures to make it happen, and just be happy with the great life that I have? I just don't know... Maybe I should see a therapist? I just feel so lost right now. I have no idea what to do...if anything. TLDR: Found out my husband had stalked, and manipulated me in the beginning of the relationship, including catfishing me, and even paying someone to go on a date with me and be a jerk, so that I would fall in love with him.