The emotional toll of an affair on a relationship and the people in it can be devastating because it calls into question so much all at once—your sense of security, your partner’s love, your own good judgment, your beliefs about what you had, your faith in the future, your capacity to trust, and your self-worth.
What I hear from you is that you’ve both been struggling in this relationship in your own ways, but what you have in common is that each of you has felt lonely and neglected by the other person—and you have both chosen not to talk about it. That’s why it’s too early to know what to do, at least in the sense of what this means for your relationship in the long term. Instead, what you need now is a plan that will help you figure out what you will ultimately do. Here’s that plan: You need to make a concerted effort to speak what has been left unspoken, and in doing so learn more about the affair, your boyfriend, and yourself.
This plan has no easy shortcuts, and it’s going to take a lot of work. My recommendation is that you seek out a couples therapist who can facilitate this work and increase the odds that it’s done in a productive way. (You can do couples therapy remotely during the pandemic.) Moreover, both of you have to be completely invested in doing the work, so let me give you a preview of the kinds of conversations you can expect to have.
First, you may be tempted to focus on what your boyfriend already did, but in therapy you’ll be asked to pay close attention to what he chooses to do now—specifically, how he takes responsibility for the infidelity. For instance, he may have felt unloved in the relationship, but the fact is that he—and only he—betrayed your trust by choosing to soothe himself by cheating. He may well believe, as you do, that you have different love languages, but it’s also true that you speak the same verbal language and that he clearly understood the meaning of the word monogamy. Is he taking full responsibility for this breach, or is he subtly (or not so subtly) trying to blame you for his actions? Similarly, does he feel remorse, and how does he demonstrate this to you?
Part of taking responsibility for an affair is being able to fully acknowledge the extent of the resulting damage. Your boyfriend says that he loves you, but in therapy you may talk about what love means to him—and to you. You’ll want to hear whether he considered the impact on you of what he was doing while he was sneaking off to meet his co-worker, and how he felt about lying to you. You’ll want to know what he thinks would have happened had you not discovered the affair—was he planning to tell you about it, or end it? If so, how and when? And how does he reconcile his love for you with, presumably, having sexual contact with another person during a global pandemic and potentially infecting you with a deadly virus?