Friday, November 13, 2009

Hysterical bonding or Why do I want sex with my unfaithful husband?

It's called "hysterical bonding" though there's nothing particularly funny about it. It refers to the surprisingly common phenomenon following discovery of a spouse's adultery to suddenly crave sex with that person morning, noon and night. I confess (TMI coming...this is your warning), I gave my husband a blow-job within a half-hour of learning he'd cheated on me.
WTF?? At the time, it seemed I was like a dog staking out my territory. We then proceeded to put Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's honeymoon shenanigans to shame with the sheer quantity and variety of our love-making.
Then, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished, leaving a shaking, incoherent, grief-stricken me...wondering what the hell that was all about. And, by the way, ewwwww...
According to the experts, many couples dealing with infidelity engage in hysterical bonding, in part as a path toward intimacy and reconciliation. While there's still a LOT of work to be done, it does get the ball rolling – so to speak. :)
It can leave the betrayed spouse feeling bewildered and perhaps betrayed by her own body. "How can I want him?" we ask ourselves.
Part of it, of course, is about taking back what we feel is ours. It's a primal thing, kinda like clubbing him on the head and dragging him back to our cave (the clubbing on the head part is very tempting. Refrain.). At the same time, it can also be our way of soothing ourselves. Betrayal is traumatizing by anyone's estimation. And with trauma comes a primal way of seeking comfort. It can seem very disconcerting to be seeking comfort in the arms of the very person who betrayed us. But, if reconciliation is even on your radar, it makes sense to turn to that person.
Whatever the reason, it's a reality for many couples. There seems no harm in it with one caveat:
Use protection, i.e. a condom. This guy might swear he always used them during his affair(s). Or that they only kissed. Whatever, as my 11-year-old might say. Your husband isn't exactly the Dalai Lama at this point in time so I wouldn't trust a whole lot of what he says. The only way to be sure he's "clean" is testing. In the meantime, protect yourself.

103 comments:

  1. Thank god for this article. I thought I was going crazy!

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  2. Yeah – weirdest thing, isn't it? I thought I was nuts, too.
    But hey, enjoy it while it lasts...with the caveat that you protect yourself.

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  3. Thanks for clarifying this - I was so ashamed I jumped straight into having sex with my husband the night I found out.

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  4. It's bizarre how often the betrayed spouse feels ashamed...ashamed that we're interested in sex with our cheating spouses, ashamed that we didn't figure out the affair was happening, ashamed that others knew and we didn't, etc. etc. Believe me, the only person feeling shame should be the person who betrayed you.
    And though the hysterical bonding can feel good, it can also bring to the surface a whole lot of conflicting emotions...so be prepared.

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  5. Yep, we've definitely experienced the hysterical bonding thing...but I don't like the term. It makes it sound crazy and irrational and like that kind of bonding "shouldn't count."

    In my case, I asked my H for sex the night after I found out. I was at a bar, drinking my sorrows away (not my usual behavior), and texted him to tell him where I was in case he wanted to join me. After we hung out at the bar for a while, I said to him, "It isn't fair that the last time we made love, I didn't know it would be THE LAST TIME we'd ever make love. Just give me one more night." Well, that night, we connected in a way that we hadn't in a long, long, long time. I will never forget that moment, and I think it was a key moment in the beginning of our recovery.

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  6. It is weird, isn't it? Counter-intuitive. And yet, I think you're right in that it can be key in the steps toward recovery. There's something raw and primal about it (at the risk of sounding like I'm marketing soft-core porn!) that seems to make it...matter.

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  7. I was crazy for sex for three months after discovery. I made a conscious decision to be selfish-just as he was selfish. It certainly brought us closer and we are working as a team on making the marriage better.

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  8. Yes, I was the same. And it was the best sex of our marriage!
    Sadly, it didn't last and I started letting the mind-movies rule my brain. Still struggling to delete them from my sex drive (to offer up a rather convoluted metaphor!).

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  9. Thought I was going crazy....makes me feel better to know that this craving sex with my husband does in fact go on to this degree with others. sad to think it won't last...damn it has been so awesome...never ever been this good. I am being selfish and have told him he does not deserve any of this great sex or deserve me.

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  10. I am so glad I'm not crazy. I didn't understand how I could want to be with my husband after I found out he had been with another woman. Looking back on those first 3 weeks after finding out kinda makes me sick. I almost feel like the fact that i slept with him made him think I would get over all this so quickly.

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  11. We all thought we were going crazy. And yes, I think our husbands (or ex-husbands, as the case may be) do think that it means we'll get over it quickly. I think my husband breathed a huge sigh of relief...along the lines of "well, glad you're okay now." Uh...not so much. Don't confuse sex with forgiveness, gentlemen.

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  12. I, too, was wondering what was wrong with me. My sex drive hasn't been like this in years...it's the oddest, oddest thing. I found out one night, then told him I wanted one last "time" the following night. The connection was nothing like we had ever experienced before. It's so, so weird. I'm only 2-3 days post DDay, so not sure where the path will lead...hardest thing I have ever been through...sigh

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  13. I just found out about the cheating 2 weeks ago, and the libido has been raging almost since then. At first it seemed pathetic, but then he reached out in apology/regret. Then I really started going nuts. I didn't say anything to him, but he brought up his own feelings. Then we sexted. He wanted to come over, but I said no. I want to desperately, but I feel weird about partaking in behavior so like his infidelity. If this keeps up, though, it's either going to be him or some poor stranger off the street.

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  14. I just found out about this on a support group site. I totally was wondering why I wanted to have sex with this guy after so many months of NOT wanting it at all! I'm not crazy after all.

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    1. I'm right there with you. I thought I was making up for all those times I didn't want him touching me.

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  15. Where does it go from here?August 22, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    All these comments are exactly what I am going thru.. it's been 3 months and I still crave sex from my H, my question: Does this desire end? I hope not... :( or my H and I will be back in the same boat we were last year, bored and miserable.

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    1. I am almost 5 months out and I hate to tell you, but for met at least, it just ended. I read the comments up to this point and I could relate to so many: I never wanted my H so bad, we have had the best sex in our marriage (maybe in our lives), we have made love every day and it didn't seem like enough, etc. But a few days ago, I began to look at him and, instead of desire, I felt disgust. And the thought of him touching me made me nauseous. I thought of all the times he told "her" that she was beautiful and sexy and that he wanted her so bad, and it just made me sick. It was like I was numb for the past 4 months and feeling started coming back to me and that feeling was a new kind of pain. Maybe it doesn't happen for everyone. I hope your passion remains. I hope with all my heart that mine returns. I would like to know if , like hysterical blindness, the scales just fall off and we finally are seeing clearly. Sorry to be the bummer in the midst of all this joy. But you asked if this desire ends. And, for me, it did.

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    2. Anon,
      It also ended for me. And, I suspect, will end for most of us. Few can sustain that level of sexual activity. It can be an important way of reconnecting in the midst of so much pain. But it's certainly no substitute for doing the hard work of rebuilding a marriage on something more than sex.

      Elle

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  16. Wow! You are so talking about me! I just can't stay away from my husband. He has always been very good at what he does but now, I enjoy it even more and want him more than ever! That is the one thing that I will miss the most if our marriage ever comes to an end. I know there are plenty of other men out there that may be better then him, but when you have been with someone as long as I have and you both have learned everything from each other, then it is hard to even think about it with anyone else.

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    1. I made love to my husband after going to a strip club for a year straight and texting the strippers daily. I was so mad at first I THOUGHT, I was going to kill him. He even bought his favorite stripper gifts 3 times, I found the bills, and checked his phone texts for the year and his bank records. but here I was a month later, last night, in bed with him having the best sex ever, doing things like I was the stripper..We did not make love for 2 years, I pushed him away.. Do you think we are doing this because we are Jealous now.. like we needed our man to look good again.. I think that is what's going on in my case....

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  17. ya, weird, intense and conflicting emotions come up in my hysterical bonding. things like, i want to be held, i want to be punished, i want to be soothed, i want to dominate, i feel lost, i want to be in control, i feel insecure, i feel sexy, we shouldn't be doing this, let's do it again, get away from me, come closer, i hate you, i love you. thank you for writing this blog, and thanks to all the other women who posted comments so that i don't feel like i'm going crazy. do you have any other blogs on how to navigate sex after d-day?

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  18. "Conflicting emotions" indeed. It truly is crazy.

    I've blogged at other times on sex after betrayal. It's a minefield, from my experience. It has taken almost five years and I finally feel as though sex is no longer an issue. For too long, there were ghosts in bed with us – of women he'd been with, women I wondered if he'd been with, not to mention all of the insecurities in me triggered by the betrayal.
    We're still working hard to create physical intimacy that is separate from sex. It's more complicated for us than for some others because my husband was a sex addict. Sex was essentially a way of "medicating" himself from feelings that he simply wasn't emotionally able to handle. So our sex life was always a bit wrought with challenges...but I'm hoping that's finally behind us.

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  19. I'm so glad I found this explanation of what is going on. Like others who've commenting, the sex we had after D-Day was the best sex we've ever had--and that's saying something. I don't think he's ever been that present with me.

    It's been weird and great and painful and I've felt very conflicted about it. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one.

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  20. Your use of the word "present" is interesting. That's exactly how I felt. LIke he was really actually THERE. He looked straight in my eyes and was completely focussed on me. Which was such a change from our normal sex, during which, once I really thought about it, he was kinda...off in his own world.
    Sadly, that hasn't lasted and we're back to trying to figure this out. But it was sure nice while it lasted...

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    1. Could that be the ' hysterical ' or newly reactive part of the act. I felt that he was more attentive and passionate than ever, but as the weeks went by, I could see it reverting to the same old same old...

      In the desperate moments of hurt and pain...I craved to be held, hugged and comforted. He was available and interested. I do feel used, but participated willingly.

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  21. I have been looking up sex after betrayal etc..and found HB. Relieved that there is a name for my behavior. I am being sincere here so please don't attack me.
    "I am ashamed of how I responded to being betrayed/destroyed by this man" by letting him physically use me in a passionate act that was clearly purely physical. Oh he was apologetic and ashamed after I found out what he was doing for 3 years, but I still feel used. I did go along with it, I may have even initiated sx, but out of my emotional pain - confusion and a need to be held and comforted. In the moment it seemed right, but later it seemed fake and so shallow. True comfort and love come from being treated with respect, love and kindness; not from a physical act that can induce limited moments of pleasure.

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  22. Anonymous,
    You don't need to feel ashamed for something that is a natural response to pain – a desire for comfort and closeness. There's probably all sorts of other emotional stuff in there too – a need to claim what's ours, etc. But there's little point in overanalyzing. It is what it is... and in the short-term it can offer comfort. It can also open the door to reconciliation but shouldn't be confused with reconciliation.
    At this point, chalk it up to something many of us experience. No shame, no judgement.
    Elle

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  23. Dear Elle,

    I am new to this site. Today..actually, but I have found so much information and real explanations of what is happening on a personal, physical and emotional level to the person who was betrayed and deceived in a relationship built on trust.
    Thank you..for many of your thoughts.." no shame, no judgement" and for understanding that there is so much more that is boiling beneath the surface for all of us.

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    1. Posting on this blog and inviting others travelling the same path has been incredibly good for me – by articulating my emotions to all of you, it has really helped me to understand what I'm doing to stand in my own way, and what I need to do to heal. I strongly encourage anyone going through this to keep a journal. For one thing, when we're feeling stuck, it can really help to see the shock and pain we were initially in...and how it slowly becomes more of an ache than a stab. And it's also helpful to write down what we're doing and where we're at because often our mis-steps (or our spouse's) become so much clearer on paper than in our heads.
      So...you're welcome. But thank-you, too. Hope you'll stick around and contribute to the conversation. More than anything, we need each other to lean on and guide each other forward.

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  24. "Wow" is all I can say after coming across this blog. I was freaking out wondering why I had such intense desire for my cheating husband, just a week after finding out about his affair. I even lied to my therapist, because I was so ashamed to admit that I was having (and enjoying) sex with him again. We are seeking counseling together and are meeting with the MC for the first time this week and are hoping to reconcile. I am one of those wives who lived by the mantra "if my husband ever cheats, I'm outta here." Well, I've found out that it just isn't that easy. I am a conflicted mess about all my feelings. While I am hoping that this new found libido will last, I had a feeling there was some psychological reason for it, even though it feels very physiological.

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    1. Glad you found us. It is comforting to know you're not losing your mind, isn't it??
      Sounds like you're doing everything you need to.
      And yes, many of us were wives who would "never put up with cheating." Life has a funny way of making us eat our words.
      Your feelings will sort out...it's a huge shock. Many of us consider ourselves "post-trauma" because of how messed up we become in the aftermath. A betrayal of this magnitude does some serious damage...but with time, you can heal.
      Hang in there. Keep posting if you'd like. We're glad you're here. Not glad you need us...but glad you're here.

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  25. I am so glad I found this site. It's been less than a week since I discovered my husband was sleeping around with multiple men for the last 6 years of our 13 year marriage. And we've had sex everyday since except today, sometimes more than once. And we are more of a once a week kind of couple. I feel totally crazy like I can't stand for him to be away from my side or I have panic attacks and the only thing that calms me down is him. It seems so wrong. And part of me feels like we are on the road to recovery (we are starting counseling this week) but part of me feels like I am enabling him and letting him off too easy and it will come back to bite me. My emotions go from numbness, to despair, to horny, to panic, to disgust, to feeling kinda normal, to a crushing pain in my chest and then repeat all. I don't know if I am coming or going but it's good to know I am not totally crazy for craving the physical intimacy with him so quickly.

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    1. Tiffany,
      I'm glad you found us, too. It does seem crazy to have a different emotion every five minutes but crazy is the new normal. At least for next while. And while I think the hysterical bonding can start you on the road to recovery (at least by reminding each of you that you're capable of offering each other passion and comfort) but the road is LONG... The good news is that it provides the opportunity to "renovate" your relationship -- to figure out what was working and what wasn't. Both of which will help you feel safer in a relationship that has had betrayal.
      You've got some tough issues to deal with -- not only the infidelity but the homosexual infidelity. My husband, too, slept with men (but not exclusively) and we had to really explore the possibility that he was gay. At the least, he's bisexual though he says he's not attracted to "men"...just the easy quick sex that men offer (confuses the hell out of me if I think too hard about it).
      And don't worry about letting him off too easy. By the time you're through healing, he'll have "earned" you back. Of course, it's not that black and white. But if he's willing to really dig deep and find out why he did this and what he can to ensure he doesn't go down that path again, he'll have done some very difficult, emotional and painful work.
      Hang in there. You'll continue to go through a lot of moods, though you might settle down longer in each one – often the "down" moods: sadness, depression, despair, panic, anxiety, fear. But, as they say, "when you're going through hell, keep going." You'll get there, "there" being a place of acceptance and healing.
      Elle

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    2. It is so good to know that someone else has dealt with the "other man" problem. My H has only slept with men, but he did cheat with women through the internet, etc. He also said the same thing about it just being the easiest way to get sex and that if a woman had actually taken him up on the flirting he was doing, he'd probably have done that, too. I am so confused and hurt and everything else you've already said. How long does it take to feel like you aren't a human roller coaster? I know I am going to have to set boundaries and but I don't even know how to start? Did you and your H separate or where you able to work through all of this while still living together?

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    3. We didn't separate but that was in large part because we have three kids who were young enough that I could keep hidden what was going on. They knew we were going through a "problem" but nothing further.
      Is your husband seeking counselling? What does he say about why he was engaging in sex with men?
      I would definitely recommend that you get counselling too -- someone to help you navigate the setting of boundaries. Things are going to come up that you might not anticipate now and it's great to have an objective listener who can know everything about what you're going through (rather than stuff you might censor for friends/family) and offer up strategies that keep you going.
      I was a human roller coaster for at least a year, probably closer to two. Most estimates say three to five years to truly get past this and, for me, it was definitely five. Seems like forever, I know, when you're just finding out. And not every day is hell for those five years...but to truly be able to say you've moved past the pain, it's a long, long time.
      And though I don't think I'll ever be someone who says my husband's affairs were a good thing or gave us a better marriage or whatever, I can now simply accept that they're part of who we are today...and that's okay.
      Hang in there. I'm happy to share my experience. The "men" thing does complicate things. In my husband's case, he was (is?) a sex addict so he was after sex in any shape or form. It was the physical release he was after and it took more and riskier sex as time went on to give him the same escape. Bizarre world out there... :)

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    4. Discovering this page has been a huge relief - I found out this week that my husband of 20 years has been going on Craigslist regularly and fantasizing about the male ads on there, always had to be people who were nearby too so not just fantasy, almost as if he was cruising. He says he resisted actually contacting anyone and I believe him, but to find out this secret feeling that he has had for over a year was devastating. And since then I have felt insatiable lust for him and our sex life has been unbelievable. I thought I was going mad! but to know that there are so many others out there with the same reaction makes me feel so much better. It has brought us closer, and he really wants to mend things so fingers crossed the great sex will last and we can move on, though I feel almost as if I am moving too fast by wanting sex all the time.
      And like Elle, he says it was just purely physical release he wanted, and the 'buzz' of looking at taboo and risky sex. As she says, bizarre world.

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  26. I'm so glad somebody defined this behavior -- increased libido after learning of husband's infidelity. I was wondering, "what is wrong with me that I'm turned on, after this hideous betrayal has come out?" And then on top of that, to feel guilty, as if I just betrayed & abandoned MYSELF if I have any type of s*xual interaction with him at all! Now I know this is an actual "thing" out there that other women feel too. Thanks.

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    1. Nothing "wrong" with you at all. Glad you found us! And please, leave guilt to the person who SHOULD be feeling it.
      Elle

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  27. I found out 5 days ago. The first few days were a daze, and I didn't want him near me, or even to look at me. Then something clicked, probably when we decided we'd try to work on reconciliation. I needed comfort and to feel loved and secure. We've been going crazy having sex since then. Several times at night, then in the morning. And my desire is so strong...very strange.

    Like others, I hadn't been attracted to him for years, probably sensing what was going on. This Hysterical Bonding has been nice, but I'm afraid of where I'll be left when it's over. And I'm afraid he'll think sex equals forgiveness, despite the fact that i'm being very clear that isn't the case. Thanks for this article, it was really helpful.

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    1. I'm glad it helped. Anything that makes you feel less crazy and less alone in those early post-D-Day days is a good thing.
      Hang in there. We're here when you need us.

      Elle

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  28. I was so proud of my behavior when I found out about my husband's affair. I spoke with the girl, told her that I forgive her. Told my husband I loved him and wanted to work things out. He was ridden with guilt. I wanted to comfort HIM. I also was inexplicably attracted to him and we were having sex 3-4 times a day. Before, it was maybe twice a month.( Mind you, he would turn Me away in the past.)
    Well,several weeks passed and we grew closer.I then found out through e-mail from 3rd party my husband and "girlfriend" had just spent the day together. I was forwarded an e-mail from my husband to this girl. He exclaimed his love for her said he would miss her and always wonder what may have been.
    All this WHILE we were going through "hysterical bonding". He ended up with dishes thrown at him and a broken nose. (A girl can only take so much).
    All this behavior was so utterly out of character for my husband,that I started researching the bipolar disorder that we thought had been under control for years. Now HE is in counseling,(I have no insurance)dealing with his intimacy issues,abusive childhood, and abandonment issues.
    The hysterical bonding continued while I tried to decipher "WHO" actually had the affair....the disease, the hurt boy, my husband.
    I will add this was a non-sexual affair. Or so they agreed to tell everyone.It took a month for full disclosure of events of the affair. NONE of it coming freely from my husband. He says it all just seems like a bad dream and he was acting out a role.
    Sex or no sex, it's the deception that hurts the most.
    I have survived and been content reading a lot and my mantra has been to learn from my trials. Again,I was very uplifted by my emotional evolution and ability to "let go" of my anger.
    Fast forward to today.I am enraged. Want to hunt down girl and rip her to shreds. Look at my husband and see him looking into her eyes. Unfortunately, technology now allows us to obsess over the image of the lover...FB. I look at her everyday, and although I know I'm a very attractive women, looking at a girl 11 years my junior makes me feel old and fragile. I'm 37.
    In conclusion, this is my experience with what happens after "hysterical bonding" occurs. Pretty much just back to hysterical. Hoping it ends soon.

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    1. I think you're experience – that your husband's affair was the result of untreated mental health issues – is not uncommon. I think a lot of people (women included) use it as a form of self-medicating. It's distracting, exciting, even soothing.
      Nonetheless, nobody blames you for being enraged. It's enraging to be so mistreated, no matter the reason.
      Feel the anger as long as you need to. You've got plenty of reason to be furious. Eventually you'll notice that it's tapering off. Like an inferno, it will start to sputter and eventually die off. And you'll sometimes feel nothing, or intense sadness, or even euphoria. This ride is a roller coaster and there's little predictable about the dips and rises...except that you'll feel it all, often in a short period of time.
      Try not to manage your husband's recovery and simply focus on yourself -- what you need, and what you want. That's your full-time job right now. Taking care of yourself.

      Elle

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    2. Thank you for words of encouragement. Today I asked to attend my husband's counseling session with him.

      Long story short-Therapist said an affair is always a result of a poor relationship and that it can NOT be one sided. My husband stood up for me and said that I had always been patient, loving, passionate, and forgiving.I had suggested readings that might help him through his self-hatred(long before affair) and been supportive of any endeavor that he had chosen. He then called me,'a perfect wife'."

      Obviously, I am not PERFECT. I was proud of my husband and feel he was genuine. I AM a good wife and mother and am proud of this. I am Not a doormat. I am appropriately vocal and am definitely heard in our family/marriage.
      The therapist turned to me and said "You see....there. You have driven your husband away by being TOO NICE, TOO PASSIONATE, TOO CARING,TOO SUPPORTIVE.You've also manipulated him into thinking that you are perfect, therefore he must seek someone that he sees as flawed." He also continued to say that it is not MY place to suggest reading materials etc... that I think might benefit my husband.

      I'm sorry.... am I old-fashioned in thinking this is EXACTLY my role as a wife? (To nurture,love,and grow with my spouse ARE my expectations in a relationship.)

      This is a well-respected Therapist in our community.I don't get it and really if I am completely off base, I think I will choose to remain so.

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    3. This is nonsense. While I agree that there are generally issues in the marriage that precede an affair, I think sometimes one of the partners is just...broken. In my case, we certainly had our issues, but my husband's sex addiction pre-dated my involvement with him. It wouldn't have mattered how "perfect" I was. He was damaged and sought comfort/relief with meaningless sex.
      I would suggest you find another therapist. No matter how "respected", if it doesn't work for you and it's not moving both of you toward healing, then it's a waste of time, money or both!
      And kudos to your husband for sticking up for you. That's exactly what you need right now. Someone in YOUR corner.
      Elle

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    4. THANK YOU! The one positive to come out of this therapy is that my anger has been focused on the therapist and not the situation! Maybe that was his plan all along...evil genius? No, I think I'll stick with top notch a-hole. Makes me feel better. Thanks for your response.

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    5. Ya know...the first counsellor we saw -- even before I knew about my husband's affairs; I just knew something was wrong -- kept pushing me by saying I wasn't as happy with our relationship as I professed to be. He kept telling me, in no uncertain terms, to "take off my rose-colored glasses." I was furious with him and we ended up not going to him. But now I look back and realize he obviously sensed something that I wasn't yet ready to admit. So these "quacks" might not always be wrong. That said, it's important to acknowledge when they are just plain wrong...or when you feel disrespected or silenced or otherwise in an unhelpful therapist relationship.
      Only you know whether he's helpful...or hurtful.
      Elle

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  29. I am so thankfull I found this blog! I truelly thought I was going insane! It's been about a week since I found out about my husbands affair. His affair lasted a year and was with my best friend. However the day after I found out about it, we had the most amazing sex ever in our 11 year relationship. I felt as if we connected emotionaly and with passion and love. Every night since then its been amazing. I find myself wanting to do things that I normally would never do in a million years. Thank you Elle for having this blog, and letting my know that I am not alone in this tornado.

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    1. You're welcome!
      Brace yourself, though, for the crash. It doesn't mean that you won't manage to re-create a wonderful marriage. But you've still got a lot of pain to go through before you'll feel "done" with this chapter of your life. You'll get there...and you'll get there faster with a supportive, remorseful, honest husband.
      Glad you found us, too. But sorry you needed to.
      Elle

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  30. I have been experiencing this as well, but like one of the previous posters, I feel conflicted. I want to be intimate and accept or sometimes initiate contact, but then last night I burst into tears right in the middle! That sure brought things to a halt. Not sure if it was the mind movies or just a realization of how it was so contradictory to the pain I'm feeling.

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    1. Emotions run so high after discovering a spouse's affair that everything seems extreme – including sex. But yes, from the highs can come crashing lows. Things eventually become more balanced.
      Elle

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  31. I don't normally comment in anonymous.. but this, too embarrassing. I went through this and I think I still am. yes, think.. because when the lying pops up, the fact he kept it hidden for so many years, it goes away.. but as soon as I think of the affair itself, it's like I've turned into my 16 year old self looking for a nut to rub - to put it very mildly. And believe me, he doesn't mind when that comes around... he can't stand for the other part though..

    For a while, I had him so wore out he was pushing me off!! I'm normally the one that does the pushing off!

    Anyway; I was pointed here by someone else and I'm happy to hear it is "normal" I honestly thought I had MPD or had gone crazy; I mean after hearing of an affair; who the hell wouldn't. Thanks.. I'm gonna keep reading on it ;) because honestly, when that happens... I kinda like it.. It actually helps me get past the crap, the thoughts of what they did.. the hindering on the past.. all that shit.. and when it fades for a bit, I feel like I'm coming down from a very high High... and I hate that! I don't like fighting; and when we're doing "it" we're not fighting.. so.

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  32. I found out March 24, and I made my husband stay out of the house for one week after that. We met in his hotel room to discuss his coming home and I was so crazy hot for him I almost attacked him there. INSANE!!! We had sex that night and almost every night since, although that unbelievable level of desire is not as strong. There were times that the sex really was almost transcendental or something and it is still good....

    I wanted to ask Elle if her husband had any trouble admitting he was a sex addict. Mine will briefly touch on it and on the destructive effect his obsession has had on our relationship, but he still hasn't really shown the level of empathy for me or self realization for him that I need to honestly forgive him and decide that we are completely reconciled. I believe he sees the sex as reconciliation, even though I've told him it is not. He is seeing a sex addict therapist, but will say things like "I'm only barely on the spectrum" or something. He had three sexual affairs, multiple paid encounters of touching/blow jobs, strip clubs, was on Ashley Madison all the time, several emotional affairs consisting of talking about OUR sex life, sent pictures of his privates to people, said he would do a three way, talked with some strangers about polyamory......it doesn't sound so peripheral to me.

    Seeing it as an addiction is pretty important to me so it is difficult when he tends to deny it, although he has had a few moments when he has been completely honest.

    What was your experience?

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    1. Hi Anon,

      Welcome to the club. :(

      I found out about one affair. Was reeling from that and could never quite understand it (it was with his assistant, whom he loathed). Six months later, he made some oblique reference to having been at a strip club. Wha??? In that instant, I knew there was a whole other side to him that I had no idea about. I told him then that he was going to tell me EVERYTHING. And he did. He told me he was in counselling for sex addiction and, over the next week or more, he told me about umpteen hookups, affairs, chat rooms, and on and on. He had me on the phone the very next morning with his counsellor who guided me through sex addiction in general and my husband's therapy in particular. In a weird way, it was my husband trying to get me to take sex addiction seriously because the alternative was to assume he was just a total asshole. So I began reading about it (Patrick Carnes is the big authority, but his daughter wrote a great book about it for spouses -- definitely track it down) and learning everything I could. All of a sudden, everything sort of clicked into place.
      My husband attended the 12-step meetings at first...but only off and on for a year or so. He didn't like them, though I insisted for a while that he go.
      One thing you'll read a lot about being the spouse of an addict is that you CAN'T manage their recovery. You've got to focus on yourself and let him focus on his own recovery.
      You CAN, however, set boundaries for your own healing. If you need him to continue to see an addiction specialist, then that's a boundary you set for reconciliation. If you need him to attend meetings, then that's what you set. And so on. Come up with reasonable and enforceable consequences. If, for example, you need him to stay in counselling (which is reasonable, given that it would allow you to know that he's gaining understanding into why he behaved as he did, and strategies to prevent him from doing it again), and he stop, then you could sleep in the guest room, ask him to leave, whatever makes sense. But let him know in advance...and then enforce if he doesn't respect your boundaries.
      I hated it...but it freed me up to focus on what I needed to do for myself. It gave me a sense of control over what was going on. And it allowed me to regain some self-respect because I was taking care of my needs.
      Hang in there. It's a long road.
      And we're here with you.
      Elle

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  33. Thanks, Elle. You can call me EJ--I have a google id but it has my real name and picture so I didn't want to use it here.....

    I guess one thing I am struggling with is that while I do see things I have done that I need to take responsibility for, my husband still has trouble viewing the fact that his obsession about sex BEFORE the acting out was the primary cause of the disconnect between us. As a result, he still can't completely feel remorse about the first prostitutes (he won't acknowledge they were prostitutes, btw) and the first affair. He will acknowledge that he had hang-ups and insecurities and because of them he said destructive things to me about my sexuality, but there is still an element of distancing or something ..... the empathy I need and the trus remorse aren't there yet. Does that make sense?

    Your advice is good. I think what I need for my healing is to set some limits--tell him we need to take a full year and see if I can forgive or resolve this issues OR he can show the level of empathy and remorse I need. If not, we should discuss separating at that point. Things between us are better in many ways, but he tends to think they are even better than they are and he does not understand that I need that level of empathy.

    I have written descriptions of six aspects of this with the roles reversed and made a list of feelings and thoughts that I experienced at some point. I am thinking of giving him that and telling him that it would be healing for me if he could really spend time trying to describe what he would have thought, felt and did if he were in that situation. When I've asked him that, all he can say is "I'm sure it would be hard...."

    What do you think?

    EJ

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    1. Hi EJ,
      Yeah...it's tough when they just can't/won't acknowledge that it's the attitudes about sex that drive the behavior. My husband was always a bit...sophomoric...about sex. He would grab my breasts, make goofy comments... It wasn't until I learned about the sex addiction that I recognized that it was all part of objectifying women. It was always about what was pleasing to HIM. And he suggested there was something wrong with me that I didn't like what "all women" want. "All women", to him, are women in pornos.
      So...I don't know if these guys will ever truly understand what it feels like to be us. They've become masters at compartmentalizing largely in order to survive their own feelings of shame and guilt. And that takes a long time (and work!) to deconstruct.
      I think the best you can hope for at this point is that he'll acknowledge how destructive his attitudes about sex and intimacy are (most sex addicts are almost incapable of sexual intimacy -- it's too frightening for them) and how it's not serving HIM well, let alone you.
      The other thing is that most sex addicts (not all, but most) have experienced some form of sexual abuse. My husband insists he wasn't (I have my doubts) but he certainly grew up in a family that controlled their children through shame and guilt. Long story short, his attitudes about sex/intimacy/comfort were formed as a child who was constantly harangued for being himself. He learned to use sex as a way to avoid feeling anything unpleasant. His acting out started around the time his father died and he couldn't cope with his own grief.
      I'd encourage your husband to try and connect the dots. But...recognize that you can't control him.
      Hang in there...
      Elle

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  34. Thanks again, Elle...I met with my counselor yesterday and it was really helpful. She asked me what I would do if he just couldn't get to that level of empathy and if I could get to a point where I could be okay with that as long as he was recommitting to our relationship in all the ways he could .....I still need him to try, but it is possible time will allow me to be okay with it. I do think it would be helpful to define the transition time. He thought three months would bring some closure but I'm not really close.

    Some of your comments above could have been written by me! --And he suggested there was something wrong with me that I didn't like what "all women" want.--This is a HUGE issue for us. Or was at least. His family was also huge on controlling/shame and he went off the cliff after an event in his family of origin that was even more traumatic than a death. (He still has trouble saying that had anything to do with it .... I don't know why it's easier to say it was me!)

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    1. My mother, before she died (she knew about the first affair but not about the subsequent admission of sex addiction), said something prescient to me that makes me wonder if she suspected more than she let on. She said to me that she believed my husband loved me "the best way he knew how". She went on to say that people can only do what they can do at any given point in their lives. So his "best" at that time might have sucked...but he was incapable of better because he was so broken. As he's healed, he's been able to love me better. It's an important thing to remember...and allows us to not take it personally. It isn't really about us at all.
      It's interesting too how terrifying it is for so many people from truly messed up families to admit how messed up it was. For years, my husband spoke of his family, especially his father, as the "perfect" family (that should have been my first clue. Perfect??). I sensed something wrong, but decided it must be me...because they were "perfect". Only after he started falling apart in the wake of the affairs did he start telling me the real story...and even then it came out in bits and pieces. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, for starters. And now that he's feeling better and more on solid ground, he's back to minimizing how crazy it was. It's only when he's around them and something nutty happens that he can say, "Yeah...they're still messed up." Drives ME crazy.
      The reason he can blame you more than them is that you're "safe". It's the same reason a kid will misbehave at home but not at school. They need to test things...and they do it in a safe place where love won't be withdrawn arbitrarily. And these guys are kids, emotionally. Most of them have never had that place where they feel safe and loved unconditionally. In my husband's case, he was loved as long as he made the family look good. Any mistakes (wrong girlfriend, wrong friends, wrong university, wrong job...) and he was crucified. He learned to go ahead and do what he wanted/needed, but to hide it. And feel ashamed about it.
      Hang in there. You're going to be okay...better than okay. With time.
      Elle

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  35. Hi elle,
    I am finding so much relief in your site. Thank you for this. We are 11 months in to this process --
    At the time I found out about it, it had long ago ended ... I too am one of those wives who believed she had an exceptional marriage. I put myself firmly in the camp "This would never ever in a million years be us...so I don't have to even think about it." Well, here, I am agonizing over this man I still love deeply that sometimes I feel like I don't know anymore. We have children, we've been together for 19 years and we love each other profoundly. There is so much I would do differently if I could go back to that time when are kids were little and he was travelling so much. But I can't. And I am learning to accept this day by day. We, too, had crazy sex for months...sometimes several times a day, every day. That was in the early days. That ended after about 7 months. Now, I feel the complete opposite. My sex drive is very low. I don't understand why. We are not doing the intensive marriage counselling that we did for weeks and weeks at the beginning. But we still see her from time and time and still talk about the A when I need to ... but certainly not with the same intensity as we did in the past. Will I ever get my sex drive back. Will I ever be the sexually passionate woman I've been for years ??? I feel like I am in such an inbetween place. Lethargic, unsettled, dispassionate about us and about sex. Yet I love him to death. I don't get me. I don't get me at all. Please help.
    a

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    1. Hi Anon,
      Glad you found this site...and glad you're finding comfort here.
      I don't think it matters, emotionally, how long ago the affair was. When you found out about it is when it became real to you – no matter whether it ended yesterday or a decade ago. Still the same questions ("how did I not know?", "how did it happen?" etc. etc.)
      Re. sex drive: I think it's important to rule out physical causes. Everything from menopause to a hormonal imbalance is a possible culprit. And, of course, simply being busy, stressed and so on can affect your sex drive, too. If you do think it's strictly emotional, what do you think might be holding you back? I know, in may case, that I feel very vulnerable being sexual with my husband. And the possibility of getting hurt again makes me close up in some ways (sexually being one of them). It's similar to a recent post about opening ourselves up again -- to joy, but also to the possibility of feeling pain like we have. You can't have one without the other. I'm glad you raise the issue because, frankly, I've been doing a good job of ignoring that part of our marriage. To "go there" brings up so much pain and so many (bad) memories, that it's easier to simply carry on and think it'll magically resolve itself. We're working with our counsellor on "intimacy". She urges us to take sex right off the table (not ON the table...hopefully that'll come later :) ) and concentrate on being intimate emotionally – deep conversations, time spent together. With three young kids, it's hard to make that a priority but we really need to.
      Perhaps a visit to your marriage counsellor to address this issue specifically might shed some light on what's holding you back.
      I know many women find that sex becomes even more joyful than before. And I know, from our hysterical bonding, that it's possible to feel that incredible connection again. Sounds like both of us need to find out how to have that without the drama surrounding D-Day.
      Hang in there. Please share what you learn and I'll do likewise.
      Elle

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    2. I found out about a month ago that my husband of 32 years had an affair 11 years ago. It lasted 1 to 2 years judging by the 2 valentines, anniversary card, Christmas card and sappy love poem that I found. It was over 10 years ago and my husband has been very loving ever since. I think I was completely blindsided by this. I never thought he would be capable of such a betrayal. I have never been so sad or angry in my life. Crying, screaming and oh yes craving sex with the cheating, lying, SOB. We are working on our marriage but I feel like he thinks it was over a long time ago so I should get over it quickly. He says he is sorry, worse mistake he ever made in his life, etc. I believe him, I love him and I want to be with him but I can't forgive him yet. Some days I am so overwhelmed with thoughts of them together, I can't stop thinking about it. I feel I am making myself ill.We are moving to another state ( this was in the works before I found out about the affair) and I am hoping that it will be a new beginning for us, away from the scene of the crime. It is good to read these blogs and realize I am not going insane and that other people feel the same way too. I have written a letter to the other woman but I haven't sent it, but I would love to turn her world upside down just like mine has been. I met her at the time of the affair and she was super nice and friendly to me ....the two faced whore. So thank you for the blogs. Insane lady in shock.

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    3. Dear ILIS,
      Welcome to the club nobody wants to join.
      What you're feeling is, sadly, completely normal. The affair may have been over a long time ago for HIM...but for you, it's like it's just happened. And he needs to recognize that in order to give you the space and time to heal.
      You're likely poring over those years in your head, trying to remember this or that, all the more difficult because it was so long ago.
      And you're no doubt trying to make sense of something that seems nonsensical, given that he clearly wanted to stay in his marriage.
      The upside of it being long ago is that you've got the evidence that he wants his marriage and is willing to stick it out. The downside is that he carried that betrayal and deceit a long time. Again, he needs to recognize that what he wants to dismiss as "over long ago", comes with evidence that he's capable of lying and deceiving over the long term. So he needs to re-earn your trust.
      I'm so sorry you're going through this. I'm a firm believer in confessing and letting the injured party decide whether or not she wants to stay...rather than burying it and hoping it's never unearthed.
      Glad, however, that you found us.

      Elle

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  36. Hi Elle,
    You are absolutely right. The fact that the affair ended four years ago doesn't make it easier, if anything it makes it worse -- I am dealing with a 3-year long affair plus 4 years of secrecy after it ended -- 7 years of pain between us now. I have been in touch with my doctor, so yes, I am looking into my own health to rule out anything hormonal, etc... but after reading your reply my gut feeling tells me it is a question of intimacy. I think after the initial rush that came from feeling like we had somehow survived a car crash (all the talking, the therapy, the sex, the time together, the deep deep intimacy..) ... the lull that followed was something we seemed to both settle into. Life took over. Work, kids, etc...and we have not been having the same kinds of talks that we did last fall and early winter ... As I read your response that really clicked for me. My hubby and I had one of those conversations last night ... across the street from the church where we were married.... The pain was still very much there -- the pain that had been pushed aside for the past few months. I honestly was surprised that I was saying the same things, feeling the same hurt, I felt last fall when it first happened (how could this be? How could I have not known? Why did it go on for so very long...?")
    I think I have been feeling resentful of the fact that we haven't been talking about the A so much. That life has been going on and that we have been having happy times. Maybe too easy. And I realized last night, when the surface is scratched it is all so very raw -- still. I told my hubby I needed more of this, more talking, more holding, that I needed to feel the intensity of that love in those early months ...Always! I had been missing that. The connection. The feeling that at least the A had brought us here, to this place, where we connected more than we ever had in our lives before.
    We held on too each other tightly last night and something inside me released. I know the answer lies here -- in "going there." In opening that door, in facing that pain. We will see our psychologist/therapist in a couple of weeks and I am newly determined to get out of this inbetween place and go back to talking and truly feeling, the good AND the ugly. I will keep you posted, Elle.
    Thank you again for this site -- it truly has provided the first bit of relief I have felt in weeks.
    anjella

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  37. I am glad I googled this. I was so embarrassed that I had sex with my cheating husband. He also cheated with men. He tried women initially but there is a hedonistic world of men just waiting to screw at anytime of the day on craigslist. I guess no one fears HIV anymore.

    I stopped sleeping with him a few months ago but still miss it. I swear I wanted sex ALL THE TIME when I found out. The sex was great, too. I felt like we were finally making love which messed me up mentally. It was hard not to feel like a loser for loving and wanting my horrible jerk of a husband.

    Eventually, though, he seemed less present. Funny, over the years I would have sex with him when I wasn't really into it---I was just performing my wifely duties. He used to complain and I always thought, "What does it matter??? The end result is the same." But it does matter. Having sex with someone who isn't really there is icky and not fulfilling at all, even if you do climax. So, I got a little life lesson in all of this.

    The husband has now concluded he is gay and wants a divorce. I am still unsure if that is really the case. I think he used sex like a drug to get over some personal and business failures he had. I also think something sexual may have happened with his stepfather when he was a kid but he denies it.

    My support group says to detach and let go. It is hard--especially since I think he is going down a dark path. I still love him and need him to be well for our kids...

    It has been the worst year ever!

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Yep – I would agree that your year has been pretty awful!

      But I also agree with your support group that you need to detach and move forward with your own life. Whatever his issues are, they're not yours. And while I appreciate that you want to rescue him for the sake of your kids, you simply can't. It's not your job to protect him from himself. What you CAN do is be there for your kids, ensure they're safe, answer their questions and promise them honesty. This is also a life lesson for them. A painful one to be sure, but one that, with your support, can teach them that you can still love someone who's confused and hurting without feeling responsible for that person. That you need to allow people you love to make their own choices, whether or not you agree with them. All we can ever really control is ourselves – but that's enough.
      Hang in there, Anonymous. Move forward in your own life and keep taking steps to heal from this pain. Let that be your worst year ever...and trust that life will get better.

      Elle

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  38. I just found out on Monday that my husband was having an affair with someone he works with since last December and am just so numb. But, like many others here, I had what I thought was a crazy reaction - after he called the other woman (in my presence on speaker phone so I could hear her voice and reaction), I asked him to make love to me. He was shocked - I was shocked. He was so tender and attentive like I was a fragile doll and all I wanted was him to be rough and I pretended that his girlfriend was in the room watching. I felt sick to my stomach afterwards and started googling what the hell just happened. I'm so relieved to find out that there is a term for what I requested and still want. Thank you to everyone who has shared their experiences....

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    1. Yep, it's normal. Though after D-Day, crazy is the new normal.
      You'll find lots to read here. I'm so sorry for what you're going through...but the common theme running through every post and every comment is that we've survived and, in many cases, thrived. It's truly hell but each day takes you a bit closer to healing.
      Welcome...

      Elle

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    2. Thanks Elle - I do feel crazy right now and it's comforting that I am not alone. Cynthia

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  39. I am so relieved!!!! Found out my husband I've been married to for 14 years was drunk texting a girl he works with. I asked him to stop on more than one occasion. I also wrote her twice telling her to back off, and how would she feel if I was texting her husband the way she texted mine. never once did I get a response from her. he said he told her that it wasn't right and they were to stop. couples days later we had his company Xmas party, in which we stayed at hotel it was held. night was going great. Then he was missing, I knew he was wasted so I thought he went to the room. I walked up to our room put card in door it opened and the B was sitting back on my bed in my room and he was standing over her. they were still fully clothed, but I didn't even pause. I saw red and started beating the crap out of her. then she yells and says my name we were just talking. remind u I never met this girl in person before this night. I was livid. then she ran out and yes indeed I punched the crap out of my husband too. it did make me feel just a tad bit better, not as much as I hoped. I'm still hurt n broken. last couple days I've fighting with myself of what to do should me and the kids just walk away or try? We have first counseling session tomarrow. I have been so freakishly hornet for him for last two days, and I was chalking it up to its because he's sober and its attractive. Idk I'm so confewsed. He knows he has a problem with alcohol, but I know and told him its not an excuse. yes many people see someone that's attractive or sometimes imagines being with that person. I believe that's normal but to actually act on it.. arggg I just know alcohol does play a small roll which is gives them more balls to act out what's already in there head.

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    1. DNS something else I forgot to add is that the sex (like many of you) has been awesome. Best sex we have had in years. basicly since we were teenagers.It's crazy. yes I'm left afterwords feeling like ashamed and replaying everything that happened that night of Christmas party. really wth!!!

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    2. navywife,

      I'm glad you found us...but sorry you needed to.

      I hope your counselling session goes well. I suspect there's a lot of "stuff" to be unearthed in both of you. I'll start by saying that I don't believe it's ever okay to beat anyone up -- no matter how tempted we are, and how much we think they deserve it.
      That said, I certainly understand the desire to beat the shit out of someone who's completely disrespecting us. But if your marriage is ever to be a place of mutual respect and love and healing, the violence has got to stop.
      Clearly your husband crossed a line. The whole "but we were just talking stuff" is crap and everyone knows it.
      Regarding your husband's drinking, alcohol often makes us cross moral boundaries that we never believed we would cross. Though I obviously don't know, I wouldn't be surprised if once your husband got sober (truly sober -- which includes understanding the roots of his drinking, not just "not drinking") the extracurriculars with texting etc. might disappear too. I know far too many military who develop substance abuse problems to deal with what our countries ask them to do. Too many self-medicate (alcohol, drugs, sex) to deal with PTSD. I don't know if your husband has seen active duty but if he has, it's worth getting him some counselling.
      And, frankly, I suspect you likely need some counsellling for anger management. I've blogged about the murderous rage I felt, the fantasies I had of running the OW over in my car...but they must be left at fantasy. Or you'll end up getting yourself in legal trouble.
      Let me know how your session goes. And please know that I'm on your side.

      Elle

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  40. I am hoping that we can get through and over this and that we found the right counselor. What happened that night deff wasn't my normal self. last time I was in a fight I was in 8th grade. lol usually I'm a pretty shy girl. Anyways I do understand what you are saying. Just helps to say something to someone that actually has been threw some of these things and won't go run there mouth. it helps. just couple more hours till our appointment. fingers crossed were both comfortable with this counselor..again thank you for responding and yes we do have past issues that we have gone through and never talked about. Like we lost our son the day he was born a few years ago, and I had a severe hemmoragge a week after I had my youngest son couple years ago and I had to have a transfusion. 4 units. I was traumatized from that, and knowing I almost didn't make it. I did shut him out a lil from both of those situations as well as he did me too. We need better communication ..

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    1. Navywife,
      I can't imagine losing a baby. That must have been absolute hell. And it does place enormous stress on a couple, each trying to cope with such pain. And then to have problems following another delivery...
      As nutty as it sounds, sometimes dealing with "trust violations" (the clinical term for cheating) can bring us so close to the edge that we have no choice but to either jump ship or work our way to a safe harbor. I hope you two can find your safe harbor in each other.
      Best of luck.
      Elle

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  41. I know this is an old post but I'm so glad I found it. My huband left me seven months ago for a casual friend who he was having an affair with for 1-2 months prior. My husband was the baseball coach of her son and our sons team. She went after my husband and got him. She did the same thing 6 years ago with another of her son's coaches. Tramp is 31, been married twice with 3 kids and two affairs under her belt. Really classy chick. Needless to say I was beyond shocked and devastated.
    We have been married 19 years and have 3 beautiful children 16, 13 & 7. My husband moved out and they moved in together along with her 3 kids. (My husband loves our kids but is not a kid person and her youngest is 2.) Really pathetic. She sees my husband as her meal ticket because she is poor and getting divorced. He told me when he left that he loved her and not me anymore. I feel he has been having a Midlife Crisis since turning 40 and having major financial problems after always being such a business success. Needless to say he and I didn't talk for the first 3 1/2 months after he left, we only fought viciously.
    In late November I chose to let go of the hate and anger and forgive him and fight for my marriage. He then thought I went out with another man which I did not. He told me how crazy jealous he was and it killed him to think of me with another man. He then kissed me one of the most passionate kisses we have ever shared. Since then we have started having phenomenal sex (hysterical bonding) and it is as good or better than our early years. It has been happening on and off since then. He pulls me in and pushes me away I think out of guilt. The sex is usually instigated by him but sometimes by me. I know I probably shouldn't be doing this with him (giving him his cake and eating it too) but it has been very therapeutic for us both. It has helped us really connect and talk about how we got here. We got so wrapped up with our lives with the kids and stopped dating each other and making our marriage a priority anymore. He says he is so confused about his feelings and doesn't know what to do and is so tired of hurting people. He does also have a great deal of regret and remorse and guilt over what has happened. And yes he is still with the other woman who he says he has strong feelings for. I think he is still in the fog. Yes I want my husband back and for our marriage to survive and be stronger. My question should I stop having sex with him until he breaks it off with this woman? I'm really conflicted about this because I still love him so very much. Has anyone else been through anything similar and how did it end up?

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    1. I'm glad you found us...and so sorry for what you're going through.
      Should you stop having this awesome sex with the man you love? The short answer is yes! For a number of reasons. For starters, you're exposing yourself to potential STDs.
      For another, as you yourself noted, he's having his cake and eating it too. As long as you're allowing him to sit on the fence, that's exactly where he'll stay.
      He says he's "confused" and "tired of hurting people". And yet, here he is, continuing to hurt you by not committing, hurting his now-live-in-girlfriend by having sex with you, hurting you by continuing to have sex with his live-in girlfriend...and hurting your kids by not being a father to them while he juggles two women. Possibly even hurting HER kids by being sorta-kinda in their lives.
      I understand that you've now got some clarity around why your marriage was rocky. But he nonetheless made a painful choice to violate your marriage agreement and get involved with someone else. And you're giving him permission to not only continue to disrespect that agreement but to disrespect YOU. You're not respecting you if you allow him to continue using you for sex.
      You need to get yourself tested for STDs, if you haven't already. And you need to make it clear to your husband that sex with you is a fabulous part of a committed relationship. If he's interested in lessening his "confusion" then he needs to do it by getting clear on exactly what he wants and who he wants it with. If he's lucky, one of you will be waiting for him to make up his mind. If he's not, he just might find that two women smarten up enough to recognize that he's using "confusion" as shorthand for the sex-fest of his life.
      I hope, for your sake, you'll treat this as an eye-opening lesson. YOU be the one to push him away rather than waiting for him to do it to you. He's rejected you once and it's painful as hell. Don't give him the chance to do it again. It's time for you to start calling the shots.

      Elle

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  42. I'm a man...30 minutes after I confronted her...she was blowing me....I think it scared my Psyche later on....now I would throw her from me....it was like she was trying to ease the pain at the time....I was crying a storm...then my pants were getting tugged off.....it has stuck with me that moment...it was mental....I recall it now as sick...it was that same sick lust that threw our life together down the drain....I felt like I was on springer show....

    In fact I think later she was suggesting casual sex...while she was with other man....I was crushed...I'm not a toy... (gosh do I sound like a woman).....I shot that down....I was like good luck with Romeo....hes inherited a real piece of work...

    If she had double mascecttomy and lost a limb...and could have had sex the rest of her days...I would have had forearm like popeye.....but. I wouldn't violate trust....

    People are selfish.....hysterical bonding....I did it with her....and its just as it proclaims....its sick really

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  43. I can't say what a relief it was to find this blog. I thought I was going crazy and actually felt like a slut for my insatiable desire for him.

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    1. Been there, done that. While doing him. :)

      Elle

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  44. Hi, like everyone else here I had the same reaction. My husband told me one Tuesday afternoon that he had screwed a bitch that worked at the taco place he frequents, 5 years ago. So many emotions were going through my head, mainly thoughts on what I wanted to gdo to him to make him hurt as I was. I had a sneaking suspicion that he was doing something during that time but he denied it up and down. He swears it was only the one time and I'm not quite sure I believe him based on all the phone numbers I was finding at the time. We have an almost 3 year old son and I have informed him that we will be going to counseling, he agreed but has no choice. He also told me he would respect whatever decision I made regarding kicking him out or working it out. The next day I was physically sick too my stomach and tried to keep a normal appearance and after he
    came home we had a discussion and I have him the last of my demands which were agreed to and went to sleep. He wanted to have sex but I wasn't sure but holy crap, we had the best sex ever! Seriously, want it all the time now and like many of the others he is worn out. I think it's like we're marking our territory. And btw, we have never had any problems in the bedroom so when he confessed I was blindsided. And the chick don't work there anymore out she'd have problems. Thank you for this blog!

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    1. Glad you found us. And so sorry for what you're going through. Yes to therapy -- glad you're doing it.
      Whatever these guys say about "it's over" "won't happen again" blah blah blah, you need to get to the bottom of why it happened in the first place or there's not much reason for you to believe it won't happen again. These guys are telling themselves some story that allows them to do this...and the narrative needs to be examined so they can recognize it if they start telling themselves a similar story again.
      Good luck. Keep us posted how you're doing.

      Elle

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  45. I found out 8 weeks ago that my husband has been having cyber sex with multiple women online ending with a online sex chat with a girl that paid for a hotel room to fulfil their online fantasies. I discovered the facebook messages when he left his facebook open before going to work. The actual one night stand I only found out 4 weeks ago when under pressure and after previously denying that he had physical sex with any of these women he crumbled and told the truth. The online cyber sex lasted for 2 years between 2008and 2010 with multiple women and the contact with the one night stand was 3 years ago. He admitted that he first became addicted to porn online and after the apps on facebook took over where women were flattering him and messaging him flirtatious messages. He found himself needing more and more thrill and excitement so engaged with online sexual fantasy messages with these other women. We have always had an active close relationship but looking back I notice that he was distancing himself from me in the bedroom and emotionally. Although there is no evidence that he had any emotional ties with any of these women and appears to be about his sexual gratification. He has shown absolute remorse and shame about how far he allowed things to go. He has said that the woman he met gave him 2 days notice and that it was merely the thrill and promise of the fantasy that took over all senses. I have seen pictures of this woman and am satisfied that he really must have lost his senses as she is way below his league. I discovered from her version of events after contacting her through his facebook page and pretending it was him messaging her to clarify the truth from her perspective. I am pleased (if that can be possible amidst the agony and pain that these revelations have caused), that he never stayed the night merely met completed the deed and left to come home to me. I have requested all the graphic details of the encounter from him then messaged her with as much dignity I could muster to tell her that I know everything and that he never wants to see her again (his words) and that whilst she thought she was talking to him and that he was interested it was in fact me and the reason he disappeared was because he hated what he had done and said the fantasy failed to materialise instead a nightmare filled with guilt and fear. I too have had copious amounts of sex 6 times in 26 hours a record in our marriage. Although he admits that he cried all the way home from the encounter and has struggled to keep the vile secret buried for 3 years he said that he is relieved that I now know as I have always been his best friend and only true love. We have not told everyone and made it public knowledge to protect our children. At times I want to scream from the rooftops. The people who do know are in utter shock because it really is out of character for him... however the doubting side of my brain is scared to think that this side of him even existed and managed to lie so well. I have chosen to take each day as it comes and we are going to counselling. I don't know what the future holds and this whole situation feels like a tragic love story, I am sure that most feel the same )... I am doing my upmost to hold it together for the sake of the children but my sanity is tested with the mind movies and outbursts of sadness, hurt and anger. There is no magic wand no magic solution to this mess.. I Have not forgiven him nor am I likely to forget this. I am treating as an emotional loss and I am grieving at the moment with the hope that one day I can learn to live with and accept this for what it is.

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  46. The hardest part is remembering how he was with me at the time he was under the spell of his sexual fantasies and knowing that he was desiring other women. I understand why he lied but at the same time I am annoyed with myself for not thinking he would be capable of cheating..Big Mistake. This is going to be a long journey but how can I allow to throw 17 years together away for a period in his life that he seems to have had a massive wake up call from reflecting on what he had done. He has admitted full responsibility for his actions and realises that his addictions were born out of fears of his sporting career coming to an end and getting older coupled with the pull of the thrill of women flattering him. He didn't think that the online sex chat would amount to anything which is what he liked as he felt he had it under control. He wasn't prepared for an open invitation for a meeting. I am satisfied that he really did not want this women and when he met her he did not find her attractive and the pictures I have seen support this. He said it was literally about the fantasy and he used her, from her perspective she got a lot more from the encounter than he did as she was enamoured by his great body and good looks and how good he was in bed.. It was a killer to read those words but he called the whole experience a complete flop on all levels with him having to imagine me as she turned him off. He panicked as the encounter started and thought that if he runs out the room she might stalk him and put things all over facebook. He absolutely wishes he had done that on hindsight and so do I but I cannot change the past. I can see that he is totally remorseful but it does not make me want to forgive him. I think I will learn to live with it eventually but only if he works through the counselling and shows me he is 200 percent committed to me and sticks to the boundaries that are agreed.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Your husband's accounting of the event sounds like many addicts accounting of similar incidents in their lives. The shame. The guilt. The slow acceleration of fantasy veering into reality.
      It's wonderful that you're both seeking counselling. I wonder if he should also be treated for sex addiction. It's increasingly common (or perhaps it's just increasingly being recognized as an addiction) fuelled by such online availability. It, literally, changes men's brains and alters their perception of women.
      I'm glad you posted and that you see hope for both of you as you move through this. I hope this was the wakeup call your husband needed. And I pray that both of you are able to move together toward healing. It's a tough road.

      Elle

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  47. I guess in many ways, like this HB, I'm actually the best (or worse) wife to cheat upon. I never thought I was crazy. I never blamed myself for any of his actions, I questioned whether I was attractive only because he cheated with sex objects who spend their lives outside of charging for sex going to beauty salons and surgeons and gyms and finding whoever they get the drugs from to keep them so slim/skinny beyond what a regular woman is capable of doing in the real world, but beyond that I never blamed myself for anything, ever. And when I made him do things sexually - yes, humiliated him - he enjoyed it, as I knew he or any man would. We even had a houseful of relatives at the time of discovery and I would make him go to the bedroom and perform. But that is me. I have always totally understood myself. Alas, I guess I never understood him, because though I was an open book, he never lifted his cover page for anyone else to read.

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  48. I had written earlier to tell about finding out my husband had an affair 10 years ago. I wrote an email to the other woman and she wrote back saying she didn't know what I was talking about. When I confronted him he admitted he only said it was her because she had left town 10 years ago. The real woman was in town and even though they did not have a sexual relationship anymore ( I read some emails, I believe him) she would still write to him occasionally, they were still friends of a sort. He didn't want to tell me it was her because he didn't know what I would do. So was he protecting her or himself, certainly not me. As you can imagine I blew my top. It was like the original pain all over again. I was just starting to feel a little better and wham! right back to square one. Now we have good days and bad but I am so angry with him. He says he was doing it to protect me. Hah!! We have moved away from that town now so there is no chance of running into her, thank God. I have blocked her from his email and he is such a technophobe he would never know. Anyway I am still the insane lady in shock only twice now.

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    1. Brit,
      Your instincts are right. He's protecting her, though I think he's really protecting himself. From embarrassment. From responsibility for the pain he's caused.
      He needs to understand that every time he lies to you, or lies by omission, or adjusts the truth, he sets back your healing and recovery. In order for you to learn to trust him again, he has to indicate that he's trust-worthy. And what that means is telling the whole truth, nothing but the truth every single time you ask for it. No matter how embarrassing. No matter how painful.
      You have to help by ensuring that you don't do something that's going to land you in jail. Just like a kid, he's more likely to tell you the truth if you manage to remain calm. However, that's a tall order when you're hearing excruciating things.
      If he wants to rebuild his marriage, you get to set the ground rules for what you want to hear and what you don't want to hear. Figure out which is which. Once you hear certain details you can't "unhear" them so make sure you really want to know and that it moves your forward.
      This can be easier to do in the presence of a trained counsellor who can keep you on track.
      Hang in there. You're not insane...and the shock will wear off.

      Elle

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  49. Hi Elle!

    I must say, this is so refreshing for my recently shattered heart. My h cheated about three months ago with his ex, which is also quite attractive. Albeit, she's had numerous plastic surgeries, including butt augmentation, that make her look a little bit weird. Anyway h apologized numerous times, is treating me with the utmost love and has really focused on our relationship. The affair only happened one evening. I know because his ex doesn't live in our city. H says he met up with her to discuss an event she needed help in planning, they both had one too many drinks and alas... The funny thing is that same night he came home late, crawled into bed and made love to me like never before, with an incredible amount of passion and desire. He was crazy and all over me. After confessing and my inevitable questioning, he says the sex with the ex was terrible, just two drunks both realizing they made a terrible mistake. H tells me he thinks I'm beautiful, he says he thinks I'm one of the best looking chics he's dated, but I don't believe him. I question him and I have all these doubts about my looks, and about whether that night really sucked or if he's just telling me that to spared feelings. I compare myself to this chic all the time and it's driving me insane. In the meantime, h is beyond loving and I'm in doubt. What are your thoughts?

    Susy

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    1. Susy,

      I'm glad you found us and sorry that you needed to.

      What do I think? I think you'll likely never really know what happened and how it felt. So you have a choice: take him at his word and trust his actions or assume he's lying and that sex with her was better than with you.
      Frankly there's nothing to gain by taking the second route. But that doesn't stop so many of us from taking it. We decide that we're not pretty enough or sexy enough or whatever enough, even if our spouse's tell us a zillion times that's not why they cheated.
      It sometimes takes a long time but eventually -- hopefully -- you'll understand that what he described is probably pretty damn close to the truth. No matter that she's attractive. He loves YOU. He did a stupid thing. Something he regrets. Something he's promising to never do again.
      You can open yourself up to that love, which of course carries with it the risk that he'll hurt you again; or you can shut yourself off from it and move on.
      There isn't a right path out of this. Some women simply can't move past the betrayal and refuse to believe that anyone is capable of learning from such a horrible mistake. And some men don't learn. They don't deserve those second chances.
      You need to decide which guy your husband is and which woman you are.
      And if you choose to give him a second chance, you need to trust his confession and let go of the "she's attractive" stuff. There are a zillion of attractive women in this world. If he's chosen you, then that's all you need to know.

      Elle

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  50. Dear Elle,

    Thanks for the wonderful service you're providing for humanity and especially women. It's wonderful to have a judge-free virtual pen pal.
    Thank you!!!!
    Susy

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  51. Wow thank you so much for this blog . I truly thought I was going crazy !!! Found out or should I say caught out my husband this weekend . I like all our family and friends thought we were the perfect couple. Turns out he had been sleeping with an escort for eight weeks and over the last two they started developing feelings for each other ... The heart ache I'm feeling is unbearable . I'm on the emotional roller coaster ride of emotions all you ladies have been on , but the most disturbing one is the desire to make love to him !!! Even thought I've been to the clinic and had to get all the test done , as I don't know if she's got a clean card !! All I know is I love my husband , he is saying he doesn't know why , felt like someone else , mid life crisis ect .. I can't believe he had the nerve to phone one as he won't ever phone the doctors , cab even friends !! So confused whether I should give him a second chance .. My husband is saying he loves me .. Our life .. Family and friends but know things will never be the same. Sad wife

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    1. It feels unbearable…but you will bear it. And eventually it will hurt less.
      In the meantime, you'll have to ride the roller coaster. Let yourself feel all the pain, anger, sadness. It will wash over you. It won't eat you alive, though you may wonder at times.
      Make sure he's clean…or use protection. An STD won't help matters.
      If he wants to rebuild your marriage…and you want to give him the chance, then he needs to do some serious work to figure out just what the hell he was thinking. There's tons of info on this site around what he can/should do. And what you can/should do. For starters, he needs to come clean about it all. You don't need any more surprises. And then he needs professional help. Couples counselling is a good idea too. You've got a lot of pain to process. And he needs to know how to support you and earn back your trust.

      Elle

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  52. Thank you For your words of wisdom Elle ... I have returned from the clinic today and have got the all clear , for now . He has also taken himself to get tested!! It's a start on the long ride were now on . Hopefully we/I can be as strong as you guys into rebuilding a marriage . Think this site is now my bible and hopefully the sad wife will turn back into the happy one I once was. Thank you for giving me hope sad wife x

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  53. its been my secret shame that I did this after I found out he was cheating. I couldn't tell anyone about my behavior. I felt so many things during. like I had to prove to him that I loved him, what I could do that she couldn't, to claim him, or to just feel loved again. this has made me feel even more low about myself . as if I didn't have any respect for myself. but knowing that I am not alone in this brings tears to my eyes.

    I am so grateful to have found this site. someone who is honest about what its really like . s place that doesn't put the blame on the wife, or give ridiculous advice from someone who has never been through it .(prayer works for a lot of situations, but I can't pray this away)

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  54. I found out on valentines day this year which is less than a week ago of my husbands four month affair. I've even helped him to end it and I'm there for him as he cries for his loss ffs! I'm in absolute turmoil. Got no one to talk to as I feel embarrassed and ashamed of what has happened to my family. I want my family life back but I don't know if I can ever trust him again :( Mandy

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    1. Mandy,
      You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about! This is on him, not you. And why are you consoling HIM? He made a choice that has hurt you. It's one thing to understand that it might be difficult for him to give up an affair; it's quite another to comfort him through it. You need to develop a backbone and start demanding respect...by giving it yourself first.
      Read what you can about affairs (there's this site, of course, but you might also want to read Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass).
      Rebuilding trust is a long process but it's start by him recognizing just what he's done to you and his family, and taking steps to ensure he doesn't do it again. He should be showing deep remorse and a commitment to both you and your family.
      In the meantime, you need to let go of any feeling that this had anything to do with you and that you can control it. You also need to develop clear boundaries around what you will and will not put up with. Him crying on your shoulder is not okay. He should have ended the affair himself, with clarity and conviction, by telling his affair partner that he is committed to you and that there is to be absolutely no contact going forward.
      Hang in there, Mandy.

      Elle

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  55. My partner of 17 years and i were going through a seperation period(but still occasionaly sleeping together), we were working things and was coming home, when he sprung that he had been booked on a holiday and his brother was paying for him, i hit the roof. Told him if didnt know about it, then to tell his brother he's not going. He said if he did that he would have to pay. I backed down.... then i found out it was for 10 days.. i said to him your going to Thailand...he swore to me he wasn't and said he was going to dubai... i cried for 2 weeks none stop...Then the dayafter he left i found out he was infact in Thailand...my heart broke... i couldn't eat or sleep. We have 3 children age 15,12,,4. I was a mess.... Since he has come back, he has moved back home and i'm like a wild animal in bed....i was never before... he has swore he has done nothing on his kids lives...but i cant get rid of this gut feeling he has paid for something!!!

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  56. Add on to my previous post..... He only told me about the holiday 2 weeks before he went...yet he had known for months..he said he couldnt tell me cause he knew it would cause trouble... even when he was in Thailand..he told me he didn't know he was going there... then when he came back he said he found out a few days before he left... this is why i cant trust him over him saying he hasn't done anything... all the lies he has told... needless to say he bending over backwords for me and the kids.. i just cant shake this feeling in my gut...

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  57. my husband of 14 years started seeing a woman he works with in mid january this year. I knew there was something wrong but everytime I asked he told me I was being paranoid. I found out the truth when he tried to end it with her and she started texting and he couldn't hide it. we went and sat in our vehical to talk, so that our children wouldn't hear. he came clean about everything. over the last 3 weeks he has answered every question I've asked, even the ones that I don't want to know the answers to, and aside from the day I found out, we've had sex almost every day. it's nice to know that I'm not going crazy for wanting him so badly. I never felt ashamed or guilty about it though like some of the other women have said they do. after about the first week I took a step back and really examine our marriage and we've sat up talking on many nights discussing how we've felt over the last couple of years and took each other for granted. he took full responsibility for his actions and has told me that I shouldn't feel sorry for anything. it sounds crazy but if he hadn't gone to HER, I dont think our marriage would have lasted another year. it's opened both our eyes as to what we have with each other. I'm still an emotional wreak and am suffering from huge anxiety but my H is now being completely open and honest with me. hes doing everything he can to make me feel safe and he understands that I don't trust him. hes even canceled every meeting he was supposed to attend in the next few months (without me asking him to). I'm hoping my increased sex drive stays the way it is and that it's not just a phase.

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  58. About 9 months ago my children found out that my husband of 19 years was sexting other women. They showed me the messages. My daughter had taken pictures with her phone of what she saw. When they told me I was devastated and outraged that I had to find out from my kids and that my H would do that. Like many I never thought in a million years my H would do that. We were always close until a couple of years ago. My kids are adults and older teens. The couple of years leading up to this were not good. We were fighting all the time, but I still loved him. He comes from an abusive home so we do not have any contact with his family and my family always treated him like an outcast even though he tried desperately hard to get them to like him. I was not good at sticking up for my H with my family. I learned early on to keep a low profile with my family so they didn't degrade you. My H tried too hard to get them to like him, which is not a crime. He says the hurt and abandonment he felt by me was more than he could take. The sexting was a way for him to feel wanted again. When I found out and confronted him he lied about it, but I kicked him out anyway. It took him 24 hours to come clean. I get that he panicked. He says there was never anything physical with any of these women. One was a girl from his HS that is 3 states away. I know he has had opportunities, but he swears that he did not touch any of them and loves me and wants only me and always has. All I can do is believe him or drive my self insane. He doesn't blame me for his stupidity. He wishes he had never done it and we did the marriage counseling and individual counseling. After he was out of the house for a week we were doing a lot of talking and connecting. We started making love about a week after I found out. I couldn’t keep my hands off of him. We were doing it 3+ times a day. I felt like something was wrong with me. Am I turned on by his affair? I don’t think so, but the comment above that I was marking my territory seems very plausible. In marriage counseling it came out about my family and the hurt he felt. I can’t help but feel that I should have done more to defend him. I do feel guilt about that. I see my family from a very different perspective now. After 6 weeks apart I let him move back home. My family has disowned me since I have chosen to work things out with him. (BTW.. my sister’s husband of 2 years has been caught 3 times doing the exact same thing, but they like him). Our kids are mixed on how they feel about what they did. My girls have forgiven him. My boys don’t seem to want to forgive him for hurting me. I just wish this whole situation had been more private. It has been 9 months and I still feel like I can’t get enough of him. I worry every day that he will do it again. I am paranoid. I don’t know if this is normal or my hormones since I am peri-menopausal. My H wants me all the time too. Part of me says enjoy it and the its ok to have the bond and closeness that we are experiencing and the other side says be careful. If he does this again the fall will be much harder. I am a strong independent woman with a good job, but I feel like a teenager when we are together. I can’t bear the thought he would do this again. I don’t know how to get the thoughts out of my head. I find myself sneaking up on him when he is on the computer to see what he is doing. He has given me all his passwords. How do I stop the paranoia?

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    1. The "paranoia" is common sense. He hid things from you that were very hurtful. You know this. So your brain, wisely, is telling you to make damn sure he's not doing it again. Over time, your fear will give way to trust, assuming that he time you do check what he's doing, it's innocent. But nine months out is still pretty fresh. This type of "trust violation" takes a long time to get over.
      Enjoy the hysterical bonding. Sex and intimacy is a normal, wonderful way to rebuild a strong relationship. It makes sense to appreciate something you now recognize you could have lost. Each of you has suffered abuse from your families of origin -- that you can find that safety and acceptance in each other can be incredibly healing.
      Stick with counselling as it can help each of you learn to better listen to each other and understand each other's point of view.
      But the "gift" in this is that, sometimes, we find our way back to each other.
      Re. your kids: Has you husband come clean with them and apologized to them for his moral lapse? It's a chance to teach them that, when we screw up, we take full responsibility. And it's a chance to also teach them that we're all worthy of forgiveness, as long as we do what we can to make amends. But that walking away would have also been a reasonable option. That we get to choose what we tolerate and what we don't...but that you've chosen this. And, perhaps, they can respect your choice as one made by a wise woman.

      Elle

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    2. I too am very glad to find this page.
      My husband has been sexting another woman, and was to meet her for the first time the day I found out.
      I feel so hurt and betrayed.
      A week after D day, I was bowed over by an almost carnal need for sex. We have been having sex daily, and honestly it is the best we have ever had.
      I wonder how long this will last, and how to cope when it fades.
      I fear he will resort to cybersex again, despite being so sorry.

      Delete
    3. You can never be certain he won't resort for cyber sex again. But it's important for him to examine (preferably with a counsellor) why he was engaging in it the first place. And to ensure that he has something in place should the urge to do so comes again. People often use sex and/or the internet to avoid uncomfortable feelings. But he needs to figure out what his reasons were. By doing so, he helps you regain some trust in him.

      Elle

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  59. Thank God for your post! I found out 4 days ago my HTB had arranged an hour's appointment with an escort for the second time. Both times he cancelled before going. I'm hurt, numb, mad, scared, upset, empty, distrustful and so damn horny. 36 hours after the discovery I was all over him ans can't stop. Really selfish sex, like I want my dues. But I also can't stop thinking 'this is what she'd do to you'. I think I'm going insane. I haven't decided whether I'm going through with the wedding yet, but I know I'll be jumping on him again later. I feel ashamed of my reaction but also desperate to have him. We've been together 2 years and have always had a great sex life but this is something else.
    V

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    1. V,
      I'm so sorry. I just noticed your comment. What have you decided to do? I don't think I'd go through with anything unless he's completely mapped out a plan to sort through why he did this and how he's going to ensure he never goes down that road again. Life, unfortunately, doesn't offer guarantees, but I'd be damn sure he recognized just how serious this is.

      Elle

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