In order to make a reasonable decision, you have to know the facts. Right now, you don't know too much. You don't know much more than what your wife has told you.
Ask your wife to show you the texts between her and the other man. Her reply alone should tell you something. It would be natural of you to be suspicious of a stranger she met in a bar while her (married?) girlfriend was hooking up and with whom she has continued to keep in touch with since she's returned home.
Why would this guy want to keep in touch with your wife? Why would your wife want to keep in touch with him?
It is possible that something physical occurred between them.
At this point, how much of her story do you even know is true?
Your wife is blaming her girlfriend on hooking up leaving your wife to sit alone. For all you know, it could have been the other way around, with your wife hooking up and leaving the girlfriend to sit around. This could have been a guy she met through Facebook, friends of friends, etc. How would you know?
Also, regarding him being 1000 miles away and safe, how do you know this? How do you know he doesn't travel on business to your area? Only because of what your wife told you.
I love you but I'm not in love with you almost always means there is another man. Cheaters follow a script, it really is remarkable how they all act the same. Your wife is following the script.
Betrayed spouses follow a script, also. Minimizing the cheating spouse's behavior, trying to come up with every implausible reason to explain it away, while ignoring the most simple and most obvious explanation - she has cheated.
Now, in your case, your wife is following the cheater's script, but you have absolutely no proof of it. For you to accuse her of cheating now would be futile.
Your wife's story does not make a lot of sense to me. She was at Disney with her (married?) girlfriend and your kids. They went to a bar. The girlfriend hooked up. Left alone, your wife stayed in the bar alone. A guy hit on her. She talked to the guy and developed a friendship. She has kept in touch with the guy. AND SHE NEVER MENTIONED A WORD OF IT UNTIL YOU ASKED HER ABOUT THE PHONE NUMBER. (Don't you think this is something your wife would have told you about right away? "OMG, you wouldn't believe it, so-and-so hooked up and left me alone. I just talked to this guy, he didn't hit on me, we just talked, it's all innocent, he's just a nice guy, do you want to see the texts between us?")
In any event, I don't think it is at all unreasonable for you to want to look at the texts, given the circumstances, and I think that any normal person would be able to understand why you feel the way you do, so if your wife acts like the request is completely unreasonable, that in and of itself would be a huge red flag. If she has nothing to hide, why wouldn't she show you the texts she's had with some relative stranger she met a few weeks ago.
Is the girlfriend who hooked up married? If so, where was her husband and does he know his wife cheated? Is the girlfriend the type who is always going out to bars to hook up? What is your wife's relationship with the girlfriend like? Must be pretty good friends to go to Disney together. Would the girlfriend be influencing your wife to dump you so the girlfriend could have a wing woman on her bar adventures?
About being "in love": Partners who are together for 23 years lose some of the "in love" feeling. I would define "in love" as infatuation, that butterfly-in-your-stomach, nervous-about-making-a-good-impression, will-the-other-person-want-you-as-much-as-you-want-them feeling. You may still have sexual attraction, you definitely have a deep committed love, you definitely do not have the "in love" infatuation feeling after 23 years. I don't know of anyone who does.
Ask your wife what she means by not having the "in love" feeling?
Do not separate from your wife at this point. It is better to stay together until you have more info. Separation and "needing space" is part of the cheater's script - it means they want freedom to carry on their affair (text, talk on phone, meet) more freely than they could with their betrayed spouse watching, while keeping open the option of returning to the betrayed spouse if things with the other man don't work out.
Be strong, confident and firm around your wife. Look your best. Be independent. Do not be needy, whiny, or wishy-washy.
Try to find out what the relationship is between her and the other man.
Sorry but there is a very high chance she also hooked up with the OM down there. Now you say she is going back there ? Another hook up being planned right in front of you.
I think I would explain you can't control her. But if she goes down there you will be filling for D. Because its obvious what she is up to. Posted via Mobile Device
To me, it seems obvious that she wants the separation to engage in an affair with this man. With the texting/calls, an EA has already begun. Since nothing physical has happened, in your wife's mind, she hasn't broken fidelity (but she has by turning her emotional energy to this OM and bringing him into your marriage by talking about it with him - it is the start of infidelity).
The separation will allow her in her mind to go full hog into a PA, because, you two would be separated. Your wife is approaching it this way because then in her mind, she won't be cheating on you.
If you separate, either one of two things will happen.
1. She will have her PA and then decide to divorce you, regardless if she stays with this OM.
2. She will have her PA and then decide to come back and give your marriage a try. Would you want her back after she went and gave her heart and body to another man?
I would make my stand now, if you want to try and save the marriage. Pretty clear that a separation will doom it, or you will take her back and forever be haunted as the cuckold in your marriage. You will always be wondering if she is cheating again, and good chance she will decide to cake eat with other men.