Sex and intimacy after betrayal

Okay, ladies, let's bare it all. The good, the terrifying, the how-the-hell-do-I-get-my-mojo-back:


  1. I've got a lot to share and a lot to ask you all to share. Will have to wait until I get off work though!

  2. I'm interested in the intimacy or lack there of. I'm finding my h completely lacking in the how to be intimate and the difference between sex and making love. It's hard to explain but I know he's always been this way and I just accepted it in the past but now I found that he was way more able to discuss his feelings and emotions with the cow. Or at least that's what she wanted to make me believe.

    1. To hell with what the cow says. Have you tried talking to your husband about working on that aspect of your lives? Have you brought it up in MC? Even though we were active prior to the shit storm, he would say that it was a performance for a man and we just lay there. Jeez!! We pressured ourselves...not sure when that started, but it did. I hope you find resolution

    2. Theresa, what has your husband said about how he feels he could share emotions with the COW? Often it seems the OW was far more emotionally invested than the person cheating with her. And from what you've posted about her, it's quite possible that she lied. My husband called the OW beautiful and listened to her talk, but at the same time told her that their relationship was just sex and he wasnt leaving our marriage. But for her that was an emotional connection.
      As far as intimacy, I think my husband changed a lot after the affair came out. He started to be more emotionally involved. It was no longer just a physical connection. Sometimes intimacy for us is just laying there holding one another or kissing. He learned that it doesn't always end with sex. And he is ok with that.

    3. Olive mee
      My h and I chose not to do mc because the cow he chose to cheat with is a licensed therapist! He felt like he had been to therapy for their whole relationship but she was very emotionally attached to my h because apparently he was her knight in shining armor as she regained her license after she was charged with breach of trust from taking money from a client. She destroyed her marriage shortly after she 'fell in love' with my h and as a result of her adultry, she was left homeless and no support from her ex. He moved her into our second house for two months and she fell deeply in love with him. My h tells me that he wanted to end the affair after the two months of her living with him but she continued to pursue him. This went on for about a year when he told her that he didn't love her and she said that was okay she would be satisfied to just be his fuck buddie. I'm just repeating what each of these two people shared post dday. He finally brought me a car that allowed me to transport my 85 lbs lab and built her a fence around the back yard. He allowed cow to watch the fence building thinking that she would get the message that the affair was over. She agreed to leave him alone and then when I moved into our house with him she was once again emotionally blackmailing him to keep her from telling me that year about the affair. So he told me that he met her for several lunches but that those didn't include sex, until 8 months later when she convinced him to take her on the business trip and it did include sex. Well he spent that trip back making her miserable by telling her he didn't love her and wanted her to leave him alone. She cried the three hour trip back to town. This was in May of 2014, and he refused to meet her again and she just finally blew her gasket on October 24...that's when the shit storm started. So truth is I know how emotionally connected they were even if for him it was very brief and superficial. That's why this has been such a hard walk. She refused to leave us alone for an additional 15 months and he finally had a restraining order against her. She reached out again when her son died and then again 5 months later so she had to go back to the judge and she finally understands that he doesn't want anything to do with her. So when I need the same emotional support from him I don't think I have what I need even though he tries. Just this is what I struggle with. Thanks for responding.

    4. Dandelion
      We have had some discussion about how we are different in our emotions and our needs. He understands that we need to communicate better but, he tends to have an easier time with other people than me when it comes to dishing out advice. It took a while for me to understand what compartmentalism meant and that he kept me in a safe box away from her box but she knocked both of our boxes off the shelf and he's had to deal with the fallout since dday. I'm sure it's not been easy for him but this was his doing so he's willing to do what ever I need. He's read some articles I provide when I find something that I think can help us as a couple but I don't think therapy would help in our case even though I have had many hours of ic. We're a work in progress and any suggestions are appreciated!

    5. Never believe what the COW tells you. A) they are nuts B) they have a vested interest in lies C) they are deluding themselves and D) they wouldn't know the truth if it ran over them with a Mac truck (and we wish it would). I think in affairs, the wayward spouse is sometimes acting in ways they wish they could do "in real life". They can talk about feelings more easily because the truth is there is sooo much less at stake. So again, its the illusion they are engaged with, and an alternate self they are trying on for size. Sounds like he may have a hard time with intimacy because that requires real vulnerability.
      And Theresa, I'd gently suggest that if he's having trouble with emotional intimacy, that a couple therapist might be something you ought to try. Just because the COW was a suck-ass therapist doesn't mean you and your h need to avoid all therapists. There are a ton of mediocre to average therapists out there. But there are a few brilliant ones. A good one will help and challenge you both. For him, I'd say it is a way of avoiding dealing with some of his issues. And I don't know what you've done to work through on your own. Maybe there are some courses you can try together or similar. I know it is not easy and all I'm saying is largely theory since my situation is so different. Anyway, hope I haven't over stepped. You can ignore any or all of what I am saying!

    6. Still standing 1
      My goodness no you didn't overstep anything! You have very valid suggestions. Some I've tried and yes I recognize that he is a master avoider! He avoids any and all confrontations in life. Hell, he avoided her for months and she still popped back up at him. He couldn't tell her 'harshly' enough until I started answering her texts to his phone! However, his fear at the time was pushing her over the edge because by then she had begun to make threats of public confrontation. Now that we're almost through the first year of absolutely no contact (to my knowledge) he feels like there's no need to keep hashing it up when I trigger. I've tried just saying I feel like we need to talk but when I do, I see the look in his eyes that says oh shit, not again. I know not to believe what she described as love because I believe my h when he said he never told her that he loved her. He avoided that by saying I have feelings for you, I care about what happens to you. I wish you well.. bullshit that he uses for just about anyone. This is the same man that can find the most romantic anniversary card, but he can't say or write his feelings. He is the same way when anger hits. He just calmly deals with it and then it passes. Again the avoidance. I know him so well and I guess I always wondered when or if he would ever do the things that he and I had watched our friends live through with infidelity. During the time he was having the affair, he went out of his way to make our time together special and somewhat romantic. It's been really weird when I reflect back on those years. Thanks for your response and may I just say, I think you are one rocking steady badass survivor even when I see you posting of your own unsteady days! I hope one day that I have the same take care of myself first attitude that you project!

    7. Theresa,
      I agree that a couples counsellor could really help you both, including giving him a better sense of the difference between sex and intimacy. True intimacy is terrifying for a lot of these guys (which is often why they wind up cheating) but it's also so much more rewarding. But you gotta wade through a lot of muck to get to that understanding. His avoiding the bad stuff also means he avoids a lot of the good stuff too.

    8. Theresa,
      Here's a thought that doesn't apply to all men but most.
      Most men can open up & talk freely to the OW because the OW has no history or investment in your H's life. He can spin his story any way he wants to make himself sound better in HIS ears. Example: lies like my wife let herself go, my wife doesn't like sex, my wife isn't or doesn't whatever. My H admitted that he said anything negative he could think of to say about me to justify his adultery to himself, to give him a reason for his affair. So, yes your H probably did "confide" in her, telling her things but for his own motives, not necessarily the truth. How else could a good man with a good wife rationalize adultery?

    9. Carol the first
      I'm sure most of what the cow thought was his love for her muddled her thinking and I know she thought telling me about the affair would make me leave him but I only know what my h has told me from his perspective and he claims that he never discussed our relationship or marriage. She did once ask if we had sex on the weekends and when he said of course it made her angry...but not angry enough to stop wanting to be his fuck buddie! So I mostly have gotten past his fantasy relationship with his cow but I still have issues with the personality that I'm dealing with. We're a work in progress! Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. I'm just going to put out there that when I figured out it was going to be a long, solo haul, I bought a vibrator. On Amazon. They ship discretely btw. And I made my own pleasure my responsibility, because, hey guess what? It always had been, it was just another area where I didn't feel like I had a voice. I have learned a lot about myself and what I like using that thing and about how different orgasm is at different times of the month, and that I have a decent sex drive (despite being told that I must be frigid for not wanting sex as much as my ex). So there's something new you know about me.

    1. I think it's great that you have taken the time to get to know your body in that way and claim that which is yours. Self love like that changed so much for me and I'm happy I took control of that aspect of my life. I find it very empowering. Thank the universe for discrete packages from

    2. Good for you SS1. At least you wont get any diseases from that, and well - we've been told to take self care haven't we? Enjoy!!
      Gabby xo

    3. It really was about reclaiming my body and fighting the narrative that everything that was wrong with our sex life was my fault. And honestly being in touch with my body has taken a lot of the fear and shame out of sex. I think we are taught that our genitals (especially as women) are separate and something that is shameful. But if we reject or fear one part of ourselves are we then ever able to accept and love ourselves? I don't think so. it has been an important learning process.

    4. I totally get it ss1, that's our private time with our bodies, I'm not shy in saying I masterbate and bloody well enjoy it : ) .. here's to vibrators!!!

    5. I've talked with my teens about masturbation because I think it's part of understanding our own sexuality to discover what feels good, what doesn't feel good. What's more, nobody gets pregnant or an STD! It's an act of self-love and self-respect, a lesson in treating our bodies like they matter.

    6. SS1, I'd love to message you about something. Is that okay? Can you post your e-mail address? I won't publish it -- will just use it myself.

  4. Part 1...Oh the hysterical bonding following DD1 that was immediately followed by the destructive thoughts of “how can I fuck this man after what he did?” or “is he thinking of her while he fucks me?” and the emotional pain and turmoil that followed that, and this is after having sex every time and thinking the relationship was only sexting and kissing. 3 weeks later came DD2, the truth that sex was involved and she was a friend, and sex pretty much stopped. I was disgusted with him and told him I was disgusted with him and the thought of what he had done. Self worth was intact by that time. Knowing I was enough was beginning to show her beautiful face, but the pain, ugliness, and double wammy of it all was devastating.

    I wouldn’t have sex with him even though I wanted to. She, my pussy, was awake, but I just couldn’t fuck him. I was angry, hurt, and couldn’t stop thinking that he was thinking of her while he did me. I told him. He would get angry and tell me it was over. That wasn’t the point and he didn’t get it. This went on for about a month. He was gone for a few weeks trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and us. During that time, I set boundaries, I did a lot of soul searching and decided that I like sex with him so I did it for my pleasure, not his. It was on and off according to my needs/emotions. In the beginning, emotional tidal waves followed the act as I was unsure how he felt about me and our relationship. I realized I was using sex as a means to keep him around. When I realized that that didn’t matter cause he had the affair while we were sexually active, I finally came to terms with the reality that I am an extraordinary lover, I’m having sex for my pleasure, and I don't give a rats ass if he is thinking of her. She can not, nor ever will, compare to me and my ability to make him feel like only I can. Sex became good for me after that. I left him “high and dry” and many occasions to his dissatisfaction. He told me it was wrong and mean of me. I told him until he decided what he wants, I’m only thinking of myself. If he felt the need to get off, he was free to do so but to remember that this is a result of his choices, or lack of, and that I am looking out for me. This went on for 5 months. Boy was it empowering.

  5. part 2...

    During that time, my techniques have improved in amazing ways. I’ve always been a very sexual person and I let him diminish me over the past few years. I now realize, and know for a fact because he told me, that it was his insecurity that I would step out on him that drove him to criticize what I did…oh the irony!! He didn't like me feeling good about myself. Since “fuck this shit” Tuesday, about 2 months ago, I basically cut the ties of our marriage. He just didn’t want to step up to the plate and deal with anything and he knew that I had finally let go of the proverbial rope. I told him that it was over. I was going to stay home, as he could as well, but that we were no more. He had “confession is good for the soul” weekend following FTS Tuesday and everything has changed. His coming clean about why he did what he did, getting therapy and finally dealing with the shit he’s carried for his entire life, has made him humble and vulnerable. He trusts that I won’t misuse that and I won’t. I have learned so much about myself, my desires, my ideas of relationships, and that a lot of my expectations of him were unrealistic and very unsatisfying, and he is discovering his were too. I’ve let go of a lot of self doubt/sabotage and that has relieved me of so much heartache. I now desire a partnership with him and he agrees.

    Sex is so different now, in a great way. We want to please each other with no expectations. It’s like the pressure is off so we are free to explore the other person and take great pleasure in pleasing them while we obtain pleasure in doing so. It’s a cycle that feeds it’s self. I’m reading a woman’s empowerment book where the writer talks about “favorite frames.” It’s the act of keeping a specific moment of an occasion alive, as it were, by focusing on every detail of it…smells, tastes, actions. Every detail. It’s so much fun and keeps the juices flowing…pun intended…but this can be done with anything, be it a shared experience or not. It works wonderfully for sexting which I find I like a lot.

    Look forward to reading other stories. This is a great topic

    1. Wow, Olive Mae, thank you for sharing your experience! I'm so glad that you have re-discovered yourself through this process!! ❤️

    2. Periwinkle...I'm rediscovering and I know it will be a life long process. Everyday the thoughts of the SS rush in no matter what I'm doing. I still deal with triggers and mental images but they don't take my breath away as they did. I find that I ask myself, or remind myself, "what's good about this?" and I remember how far I've come in 9 months post DD2. Elle's recent post about strength floods in and I'm good. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, I don't know what the next moment will bring, but I know what he did will not define me. I honor my feelings but won't let his act of idiocy bring me down any further or longer. We are all badass warrior goddesses and will transcend...♥

    3. Olive Mee you are so kick ass! Its empowering to me to read your posts. Staying in the moment is good advice for most of life, but I think especially for sex. That's about as right now as it gets.

    4. Olive Mee, This is a really helpful post. To hear how you got to where you are is great. And thanks to Periwinkle for suggesting this thread! I'm really glad we're all talking about this. Oh...and I absolutely love the notion of Fuck This Shit Tuesday. I'm going to co-opt it and use it whenever necessary in my own life.

    5. Olive Mee,
      I just recently found this blog and have posted twice. This afternoon, I just read your words about sex w/your h. Let me tell you; I'm glad I did. I've been struggling about if I should/shouldn't have sex w/my h, how often, the kind of sex I'm in the mood for, etc. He and I have always enjoyed our sex life, and it's always been a big part of our relationship. Sometimes I feel weak for enjoying sex with him now (It's been 13 mos. since DD). Like, why should I give myself to him? Why should I allow him this pleasure and love? After reading your post, I plan to view the situation differently. Thank you for candidly sharing your experience.
      I agree w/you and Elle - Fuck This Shit Tuesday. Definitely.

  6. Thanks to everyone who came forward on the Wednesday word hug thread to say sex/intimacy has been a challenge either before or after betrayal or both. I'll go first and I'll try to sum up!
    Most likely my husband has a combination of attachment issues, ADHD issues, Rejection sensitivity dyshporia, and a high libido. There was nothing wrong with our sexual connection in the early infatuation days of our relationship. It's a time when your attachment is not so secure and you spend a lot of energy trying to please your new partner.
    We definitely had that, had the can't-keep-our-hands-off-each-other phase.
    We got married at 5 years together. We're already living together. Had our honeymoon 6 months after we got married. I remember all he wanted to do was have sex, take pictures of each other naked. We were in another country and I wanted to explore it. If we weren't having sex he seemed disappointed. I kind of felt like we weren't honeymooners in the cliche sense of people who stay in bed and have sex all day for a weekend because people used to wait for the wedding to have sex!
    At some point it changed from disappointment about not having sex enough to feeling so rejected that he would continue to pursue me until we had sex or I took care of him. It seemed obsessive. He told himself he had to try harder to please me or find whatever turned me on, then I would want to have more sex with him. It became a voice in his ear that if only he did more I would be more interested. To me it played out like he was insatiable and despite having adventure, and good frequency he always needed more validation, more sex. We could have sex on his birthday in the morning, and in the evening he'd ask if we could again. If I wasn't interested, cue thought spiral of rejection even though we'd already had sex that same day.
    When he would travel and come home at 3 in the morning (after kids) he'd wake me up thinking it was perfectly reasonable to wake me for sex at 3 in the morning. He would say, "I missed you so much and just want to be with you, and I thought you would want to be with me too". Of course, being sound asleep, I'd get pissed and say no. Cue thought spiral that i clearly don't love him, desire him, miss him as much as he does me.
    I've tried over the years to talk through this with him. He responds by buying more sex toys, or libido-enhancing supplements for me. It becomes harder and harder for me to express non-sexual affection at all because it seemed like everything to him was foreplay. And if I wasn't in the mood for sex, he'd feel rejected, cue obsessive thought spiral that could only be stopped by having sex.
    I felt alienated because he seems unrelentingly focused on sex, and he felt rejexted because I didn't want to have sex as often as he did.
    So he allows himself to think it's okay to sleep with his old high school girlfriend. All of this obsessive cycle continues all the way through his affair.
    Now in the post affair, I'm having trouble un-seeing the ghosts, in-knowing what I know, forgiving him, or mustering the desire to want to be physical. (This maybe light to be two posts so I'll break here)

  7. In the post-affair, which is now 1.5 years post D-Day, were in counseling and it's been hard. It took months for him to even acknowledge that some of this might be him. In the month after D-day, he spent $400 to buy new sex toys, and bought me a libido supplement. Again, he should count himself lucky to have not been smothered with a pillow, I was so furious. One because we already carry a large debt load from some of his poor business decisions, and two because who in their right fucking mind would think it's appropriate to buy sex toys for your wife after you got caught fucking someone else?!?! (Sorry for the F-bombs!)
    We had sex here and there over the first year. Most of the time it was just more than I could deal with AND his was not engaging in counseling, so it's not like we were making big progress that would have encouraged more intimacy.
    Now, a year and a half after the discovery and starting counseling he actually sat down and read the affair book the MC told us to get more than a year ago. He read several chapters, but spent a lot of time in the sex after betrayal section. We tried talking last night. Didn't go over too well. After all this time and asking him to do specific things, he expects that I shoould just "stay in the moment" because "he's doing it now". And this morning we texted back and forth because again he asked me to go get my hormone levels checked, he "would do it if the roles were reversed" (?!?!) and I find myself furious again.
    Except for post partum and travel (and post affair), we've never had sex less than once a week. That's what I offered a few month ago. Scheduled sex once a week, because the book said to even if you don't feel like it. I bristle at that advice, it goes against everything. I think is appropriate. If I don't want to have sex, I should not have sex. But I've committed to working through this so I offer weekly scheduled sex. And already he is bringing it up at the MC that I'm not into it etc. And the more he focuses on sex, the more anxious I get and the less possible it becomes for me to be willing to give him that vulnerability again. And given the selfishness of his affair, I am currently repulsed by the idea of "doing things just to please him", I feel like he just doesn't deserve that from me.
    I don't know if others are struggling in any similar way. I'd love for any insight as to how to get past this. It certainly feels like this is going to be the thing that ultimately tanks us. And I honestly feel totally stuck, with no idea how to negotiate and navigate this. How to even change my own feelings.
    Thank you for sticking with me.

    1. Periwinkle. I'm so sorry you are struggling with this. Sex is a tough subject in the wake of the shit storm. What I did for myself was lots of self love on every level I could find. I didn't want what he did to affect me any more than it had to. I just didn't want to live shrouded in his shit. It's not me and I no longer give him the power to dictate my life. My heartbreak, my rules is something I read in one of Elle's brilliant posts and I made it my mantra. Just like your H needs to deal with his issues, you have to deal with yours in what ever way you see fit. But do what is good for you. Holding on to "what he deserves" is hurtful to you both. Try to think about what your needs are first then, if you feel like it, think of him from a compassionate place in your heart. Compassion doesn't mean you feel sorry for him, but you know so much about his issues and you have to power to either use it to both of your advantage or disadvantage. I want my partnership to work with my husband. I see that he is working on his issues and ours, and that softens me so that I want to open up a micron at a time and that allows us to heal as a couple and individually. It's hard as hell. The thoughts of what has happened are always there but I choose to not let it rule me by becoming mad, resentful and withholding...Not saying that is what you are doing. I can't go back and fix any of it, but I can more forward with the knowledge of how I want my life to be. Many hugs to you and thanks for sharing

    2. Periwinkle, your post resonates with me so much. Fucking sex toys and supplements for you!? after his cheating... as if that's what the problem. Singularly uninsightful and childish and a way for him not to deal with the real issue: his own behavior and hang ups.
      You don't have to do things just to please him. But you can do them because they are good for you (if they are). And maybe you can do things that nurture your relationship and connection. Maybe that's a way to reframe things to get you moving again.
      Scheduled sex xis actually not a bad idea. Bu tbe mindful that this is for your benefit too and not just about him getting off. It is a chance to connect. May I suggest that in addition to scheduled sex, you have scheduled not sex? Schedule a session where you snuggle, where there is touching and kissing and this can be with more or less clothing as you see fit, but do have some skin to skin contact. But the rule is to not have sex. So connection, physical affirmation, affection, smooching, focus on each other (so not on the couch with the TV on) and no race to the proverbial finish line. This is the kind of thing that lets you feel valued as a person vs an object. (Its also a big reminder to him and you that his boner is his responsibility not yours. You don't have to service him every time). It can also give you a chance to feel desire again. Especially when it is not allowed to be resolved immediately. I think couples forget how delicious that feeling can be. There is a certain power in wanting.

    3. Still Standing 1 if you don't work as a couple therapist, you probably should! Your advice and compassion are amazing!! Two things in particular you said that I love. First the scheduled no-sex. That's pretty brilliant! Our boundary was supposed to be scheduled sex once a week, and outside of that no attempts at all by him. If anything was to happen beyond the 1 time, it was at my invitation only. Then suddenly he wants to read everything and send me articles about striking a balance so both of our needs are met. Pissed me off. I told him it was way too soon, we'd only been doing the weekly for about two months. And I wasn't really even ready for the weekly, but all the books tell you to do it anyway.

      The other thing you said that is so on the pulse of what we're dealing with: his boner is his responsibility not mine. We *just* had that conversation. I told him that as far as our mismatched sex drives, he comes into the room with a hard on. And if I don't want to have sex in the moment, the whole neediness cycle begins. I told him that I had nothing to do with that hard on, I wasn't there, I wasn't teasing him or leading him on, I just wasn't a part of it, and yet he wants to make it my responsibility. He says "but I was thinking about you, and that's why I'm aroused".

      I can't seem to make him understand that just because he was thinking about sex and got himself all aroused, does not mean I was or that just sight of him aroused does not mean I'm suddenly going to switch on.

      We just had a tense week with all of the sudden interest in reading articles and the sections of the affair books on how to restore intimacy, and really being almost pushy about it. And then repeatedly asking for or trying to get me to have sex with him this week (remember the boundary)... it just felt like the same old pattern of him being obsessively focused on sex until I finally give in. It has opposite effects on us. He ends up feeling warm and close in the rush of endorphins that his ADHD self craves, and I feel so far away. It's the old pattern that he keeps saying is in the past, but it's exactly the way my week just played out 😞
      But thank you again for your great reply. Super helpful and supportive!!

    4. So.... remember I said my husband has now become hyper focused on "finding our compromise" now that he finally ducking understands that having differing levels of desire is completely fucking normal? And remember me telling you that after I found out the whole truth, his hysterical reaction was to buy $400 of sex toys?

      Well, after telling him repeatedly that I'm not ready for this conversation yet, and the once a week was as much as I could do right now, his email was open on the computer today, and I found a receipt. He just spent another $70 on another sex toy WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH ME. At all. He is not working right now, I am the sole earner in our household. I earn a great salary, but we struggle to make ends meet because of the debt load we carry from his failed business ventures.

      And after already doing this once he DOES IT AGAIN. He bought himself some shit that works as a blow job simulator. Mostly I'm pissed because it is the same stupid thing he did before. And he did it again knowing it was stupid and pisses me off. And he didn't tell me. And he says "I've been trying to find a minute to talk to you about it", and I said the time to talk to me about it was BEFORE you spent my money on it.

      I'm not a prude, seriously. We've done plenty of things that would make a lot of people blush. But now I'm starting to just feel creeped out. I think he meant this as something to close the distance, but it's not having that effect on me. Mostly I'm thinking "WTF is wrong with you, that you need to spend this kind of money to get your shit off?!?? Can't you just jerk of in the shower for free?"

      Am I flying off the handle for nothing here? Is this just him being clumsy and bumbling but well meaning? I'm sure he's probably trying to take the pressure off of me, but it is making me feel even more that he is insatiable and I just have never loved sex enough to crave it. Sex is fine, i have orgasms when we do it, but it just do all that much for me. I don't crave it, I don't fantasize about it except rarely. And now, post-affair I feel even less of a reason to want to do it to make him happy or meet his needs.

      I just don't know if I can stay. I don't know if there is a way to rekindle any desire after this 😟

    5. Periwinkle,
      No, you're not flying off the handle for nothing. You've set very clear boundaries and he's violating them. That does the opposite of creating intimacy -- he becomes an adversary, not an ally.
      And his belief that you are somehow responsible for his erection? Seriously? That's 16-year-old boy thinking (and misogynist 16-year-old boy thinking, at that!), not a grown man.
      Sex seems to represent something to him beyond intimacy and beyond just physical satiation. It really does seem like an obsession.
      I can't recall -- has he sought any kind of therapy? This just doesn't seem...normal (and I know there's a WIDE range of normal).

    6. Thanks, Elle. I don't know anymore. I'm sure we'll discuss at next MC session. As with many women, I have some issues in my past (molestation), which may color my interpretation of things. I feel like I've overcome most of that. And it was the deep trust I had with my husband that allowed fornus to do a lot of wild, fun stuff. But I can't tolerate someone suggesting that their arousal my problem. And it just feels like he wants constant novelty, and I've gone the other direction: I know what works for me, and I'm good with that. I don't need or want the wild and experimental anymore. Nor do I have the imagination to constantly provide novelty for him.

      Because of my past, I do feel like this is all just causing me to close off. Ugh. Thank you again, Elle, for your reply. It was really helpful. I know he thinks he's doing something positive, but FFS, he should have talked to me first!!

    7. Periwinkle, maybe you should take all of his credit and debit cards away? To tell the truth, I did that about two years into our marriage because my husband just could not stop charging stupid things. I gave him $20 a week back in 1982 and said he had to make that last or go without. It took me three years to get out of debt. Just a thought. Your husband sounds like he has a serious issue with sex and sexuality that could be addressed with a sex therapist.

    8. Beach Girl,
      You're probably right. With his ADHD his spending is quite impulsive. I've encouraged all his business endeavors over the years, but now I've learned that he makes no plans whatsoever, has no accounting or accountability and just spends thinking that eventually it'll work itself out. I loathe the idea of having to take that kind of control, but I've seriously contemplated opening a separate account for him and depositing his weekly budget into it. Or giving him a weekly cash budget. It just frustrates me even more because it feels like I'd be further enabling him to not take responsibility for himself and find strategies to manage his weaker areas. And yes, I agree that he probably has sex issues that he needs to address. Right now he's backing away from saying I have hormone issues and saying "neither one of us has a disorder, we're just at different ends of the spectrum", to which I say "no shit". I've been trying to have that conversation with him for 15 years. He has been unwilling to consider the spectrum idea until now. But at this point I think it's more than a different ends of a spectrum problem. Given that he was 100% INcapable of having this conversation when it was happening. And would hyperfocus on sex any time I said "not tonight" and would pursue it relentlessly until we had sex again, even in inappropriate circumstances, like following me to the bathroom at a family gathering at my parents' house, thinking that I would actually give him a quickie of some kind or another. And he took anytime I said "not tonight" as a rejection of his whole self, which led him to justify/be vulnerable to an affair. So, yeah, at this point I think there's a disorder in play! He's trying really hard to pitch himself as normal, just with a high libido, but I'm no longer convinced...

    9. Hi Periwinkle
      No you are not being impatient or making a big deal out of this.

      I'm going to take this in a different direct and I have lots to say about it but I am going to keep my comment to one avenue.

      You say your husband isn't working and you are the sole provider. I am assuming he is at home all day. Just a thought is he watching porn and is that why he's so sexual when you get home?

      I think one thing that will help both of you is if he gets a fucking job! Seriously what grown man doesn't work? It sounds like he has wayyyy too much time on his hands and is focusing on sex as many AdHd people are prone to do. Why isn't he working? He ran up debt that you are working to pay off and he's sitting at home. Um no sex would def be off the table for me too if that were the case. Matter of fact that guy needs TWO or THREE jobs!

      Just a thought here.

  8. I haven't had sex or any intimate moments for about a year and a half. (Just coming up to one year since DDay now and my h has told me he wants us to separate.) I feel like I'm like a shutdown computer. Nothing stirring or whirring.

    I was supposed to have a cervical smear check done today, but I couldn't relax enough to let the nurse put the plastic thing in, so I have to go back again another day. I felt like crying afterwards.

    My body is so traumatised by what happened to my heart.

    I can't imagine how to reconnect with myself and get through this pain. Would anyone have any (simple, gentle) tips or ideas?

    1. Selkie. I have found that none of this has been simple to start but it has gotten easier to deal with my own choices and growth as the days go by. I get the trauma, physical and mental. I deal with the mental part everyday via imagery or the past. And everyday I remind myself that his shitty choice was his and it's up to me how I will let it affect me. Him dragging his feet for 7 months post DD2 set the stage for me to realize that he just isn't worth the retched heartache. I took radical self care to the highest level I could with the self knowledge I had. Realizing that how I feel is up to me was incomprehensible at first, but I now see, and am learning to live, that reality. I willingly sacrificed so much of myself to keep the peace but will never do that again cause it's just not good in any situation. Now, I do what I need/want. For the first time in 5 years, I live a life without anxiety. I thought it was normal to live with anxiety, but I had to step through my fears and face them to get to a place of peace. Letting go of the "rope", any expectations/hope, has freed me in so many ways. We either make it or we don't. Reconnecting with myself has been a slow process and one that I want to move forward in. I know I won't move forward if I worry about what he thinks of me, if he's staying or lying, or his bad choices. My peace and health comes first. I know you will find that calm and peace within yourself because it is there waiting for you. Sending comforting hugs and love to you…♥

    2. Selkie, first be gentle with yourself. Its ok to feel hurt and tense and scared after what has happened.
      So I had a brilliant therapist tell me once, "We are not in our bodies. We ARE our bodies." Think about that a minute. IF you are feeling nothing, it is OK. Its a way to protect yourself from further harm (fight, flight or freeze). There are gentle ways to get back in touch with your body that have zero to do with sex. I think this is an OK place to start.
      Use a mindfulness or meditation app and do a body scan. Really focus on the sensations in your body. You could feel cool air on your skin, tingling in your fingers, tightness in your shoulders. Feel where your breath sensations are the strongest. Feel the sun on your skin.
      Or soak in the bathtub (don't use bubbles or salts - not great for our sensitive lady bits) be wrapped in the water and just enjoy the sensual nature of being warm and in your body and maybe the smell of a little body oil for your skin.
      It could be as simple as savoring your cup of tea. Don't multitask. Just sip, smell, taste, breathe.
      Go get a massage or pedicure. Anything that feels like self care and lets you really focus on being in and connecting to your body.
      Your body won't let you down, because you are your body. You can trust it because you can trust yourself.
      Running or walking or yoga or anything that gets you moving. These are all ways to connect with your physical self.
      There's a book out there called "the body keeps score" or similar and is about how our bodies hang on to trauma. I have not read it, but I've seen it recommended on here.
      I'm sorry your h has said he wants to separate. Its scary and awful after all you have been through. Not sure if you have talked through they whys or if it is about sex (and its not just that, even if he is saying it is). You take care of you first. Connect with your body and do the work to heal yourself there first. It will have enormous payoffs for you no matter where you land in the future. You've had a rough go, Selkie, but like all of us here, you will be ok. Just keep breathing.

    3. Dear Still Standing 1 and Olive Mee, thank you. I have tears in my eyes reading your kind words.

      Radical self care (and I like the idea of starting with non-sexual mindfulness) it shall be.

      My h has never given any reason for his checking out. I don't think he even knows why himself. He is fleeing from something inside himself.

    4. This is a brilliant reply SS1! I wanted to add that if you cannot find a place to take an intro to mindfulness meditation class, there is an excellent app that has guided meditation. I really love it an use it often. Used it much, much more in the earlier months post DDay. On the app I highly recommend you look for Sarah Blondin's Live Awake. Her meditation will take you through some seriously emotional places, but all of it laser focused on loving yourself and then allowing that loving kindness to radiate toward others. The app is Insight Timer - Meditation App. The icon is a brass bowl. Very, very worth your time. And it's free, and all the guided meditations are free. ❤️

    5. Selkie
      I feel your frustrations with you. My husband won't talk either, so I'm left with so many unanswered questions from our 30 years together. I too think my h must be fleeing from something inside himself that he wont let go of - it's as if this is his security to always be mean and horrible and not be vulnerable, loving and nice. I am stuck with him at the moment, solely due to finances. I hope you are going ok. Do you have support near you, as I think you have family far away? Thinking of you and hoping you are keeping well.
      Gabby xo

    6. Selkie,
      I think you got some great advice here and I'm glad you're taking it. Nurture yourself as you would a beloved friend going through trauma. And don't be afraid to think of what you've gone through as trauma. There's a ton of research now that links betrayal to emotional and physical trauma. I ended up doing EMDR with a specialist to get back in touch with my own body and the stored trauma from childhood that was triggered by my husband's betrayal.
      I'm glad you're able to see his request for a separation as HIS issue and that your'e not taking responsibility for it. Time for you to take care of you.

    7. Thanks Gabby and Elle.

      It's like being in Limbo, but I am confident I will gradually become freer. I just wish I knew which direction to take the next step.

      Currently back under the same roof to try to sort things out before a definitive departure (I will probably go back to my home country). Maybe when we are finally in separate places, I will feel safe enough that my healing can happen.

      It is so hard to see him turning his back on our relationship and our plans for more children... without any explanation or reason.

      I think my body is in full defense mode for now.

    8. Thanks Periwinkle- I'm going to look up that meditation now!

  9. 3 years after D day sex is a non starter!!!! I went into stupid sexual frenzy wanting my husband and hot sex daily!!!
    After a while I noticed that he was not finishing ,would make me orgasm then stop!!!
    I asked why and he couldn't explain ,asked me to be patient with him!!!!!!
    I went back into self doubt and mind movies even began to hate my own body and blame it all on myself!!
    I am desperate to resume our sex life but my husband still thinks it better left a while, we are close in every other way ,hold hands ,kiss, cuddle and love each other but for me this sexless marriage is agony. In a way things have turned around ...NOW he has a problem and when I asked why??? he said that it was sex that caused me such pain and him such remorse that he just panicked thinking about it. SO SAD . Will this roller coaster ride ever stop???

    1. Anon, his not finishing is his choice and issue. Like so many things it is not about you not being "something" enough. He cares enough to offer intimacy and focus on your pleasure but I can understand the self doubt. We all go there because we are taught that we have to be sex goddesses in order to have value. ug.
      I can actually Understand yoour H's issues around sex. He's afraid of hurting yoou again and he's also carrying a lot of shame around his own sexuality. Shame is deadly in the bedroom. I read an absolutley super book called "Sex made Simple" and while the title is goofy, it is a very practical resource and there is a scenrio in there very similar to yours. It might be worthwhile getting a copy (available on Amazon and kindle) and working through the chapters together. There are exercises (written ones) and homework (yay!) but it really does help deal with shame and other obstacles to physical intimacy.
      Meanwhile maybe you can take baby steps toward for physical intimacy that are comfortable for him but start to move you both from this stuck place. Maybe (ironically for most of us) you can schedule cuddle sessions where most of your clothes are off but where the goal is not actual sex.Its a way to build trust and safety. And it may help him to reconnect with his own desire.
      And there are some great licensed sex therapists out there. Maybe that would help? There's no need to try and solve this on your own.
      I'm sorry you are feeling so sad. Just remember that this is temporary. You won't always be feeling this way. And neither will he.

    2. I'm with SS1 -- shame is a huge hurdle for some of these men. On the one hand, it shows just how responsible they feel for the pain they've caused (which is good) but it also reveals that there are undoubtedly other issues in there that need addressing. Taking responsibility is good ("I did a bad thing") but feeling so much shame ("I am a bad person") is not.

  10. Where to start... We had a relatively decent sex life in the early years of our marriage. After having our second child, sex really diminished fir us. I was tired and just not into it. It must have been around this time that he started using porn as an outlet and I started to feel like an object when I did actually have sex with him. I started to withhold sex because of that. I also withheld it when I was angry. The situation spiraled, the porn use increased and then got out of control. I had no clue it was happening. Enter the co-worker whose husband no longer told her she was beautiful and the affair started.
    When I found out, I asked for all the details. I wish I hadn't. But now I know them and some of them continue to cause issues.
    We went through a long period of hysterical bonding and after that things leveled off and I would say we are both very happy with the frequency now. My husband is far more emotionally involved now. It's far more intimate than it's ever been, but..
    Almost every time I have an orgasm, I become completely overwhelmed with emotion. And not in a good way. It's shame. It washes over me and I can't make it stop. Sorry, friends, but I know I have to be more detailed and I hope this doesn't trigger anyone. I know that almost every time my husband had sex with her, she was on top. Backseat sex with a car seat next to you doesn't allow much flexibility. I also know she had orgasns every time (or so it appeared). So me being on top was always the way it worked best for me and now that feels dirty. If I don't have an orgasm, I feel inferior. If I do, it feels tainted like I'm a cheap whore like she was. When our sex life was healthy (pre-porn and affair) that position and having an orgasm made me feel confident, now not so much.
    My husband tries. He holds me, looks me in the eye, and tells me it's just us and that he loves me, but I just can't seem to shake it.
    Thanks for listening. I have more to talk with you all about but I'll stop for now.

    1. Ok Dandelion, I'm so sorry for all that pain and discomfort how awful for you.
      First, show of hands, who here in the room has ever faked an orgasm. Oh, wow. EVERY WOMAN EVER. I promise you that the OW does not have some magical orgasmic super power that you are lacking. I can say with 100% confidence that she did not O every time. I call bullshit.
      I'm sorry you know those details. They are so challenging. Can you use one of the mind movie techniques? When they rise in your mind, picture a bright white light enveloping everything and washing it away clean. Let those images rise and pass. They are not yours to carry.
      For now, if sex with you on top is triggering, don't do it. Its not dirty, you are not dirty, but don't push it if you are not ready. Claim a new position if you need to. Try spooning. Lay on your sides, he's behind you. You can prop you leg up on his and voila! he's got full access to your clitoris and your on your way to orgasm city. Its a relaxing position that I find empowering simply because it is all about me (and he can grab my boobs too). Its all good.
      Also, a word on orgasm. It's been set up by the media and modern mythology as the be all end all. That's bullshit. You don't need to have an orgasm every time to be fulfilled. I need to find the article and share it but I read recently that most women report that they don't have an O every time. Sex can be about connecting physically and not about a specific destination. Orgasm is not a measure of success or your worthiness or value as a sex partner. And stop comparing your real orgasms with that faker. Don't invite her into your bedroom.
      I'm pleased to hear the things that your h is doing and saying to comfort you when you struggle. Its OK to believe him. Its Ok to enjoy yourself. Its Ok to let go.

    2. SS1,
      Thank you for your response. I had to laugh at the OW not having magical orgasmic superpower. And you're right, I have to imagine some of it was faked. She also told him he was the best she ever had. Can we all roll our eyes at that? Being taken to a public parking lot for backseat sex? If that'was the best, I might feel slightly sorry for her.
      I also have to tell you that we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this weekend with dinner and a hotel downtown. I decided it was time for me to feel empowered. I felt confident and it worked. I refused to allow the triggers to take over. The margaritas may have helped. LOL
      I hope you realize how much the things you post help... not just here but on other threads too. I so often find myself amazed by your clarity and strength.

    3. Dandelion,
      I agree wholeheartedly with SS1. I think a lot of affairs are performance. Dangling something to keep the guy's focus on you and not on the family he's betraying.
      And I also agree that this woman needs to be kicked out of your bed. She's gone. She was nothing but a mirror reflecting back to your husband what he wanted to be -- exciting, sexy, interesting. All the things he was worried he no longer was. The affair wasn't about her at all. It was about novelty and fantasy. A distraction from a life that had grown familiar and from feelings that were uncomfortable.
      You are real. Your family is real. And what you've built together is real.

  11. My D-Day was September 19, 2016. We were together 25 years and have 2 autistic sons. The skank he cheated with had been after him for years, they knew each other for 30 years, before I even met him. Before I told him I knew about the affair, I filed for divorce. We fought for a month then actually sat down and really talked. Hysterical bonding began and was insane. Since that time, the sex has been great, but suffered at times while dealing with my autistic son's social issues. My husband at first insisted it was an emotional affair, some fooling around short of sex. Then he got herpes. I was livid. He came clean and said he slept with her, but only a couple of times because he couldn't maintain a hard on. He has gone overboard in trying to make things up to me and says the affair was the biggest mistake of his life The sex has still been great, I have not contracted herpes but I can't help but wonder about what the physical relationship with her truly entailed. I don't know why I want to know, but I do. I sometimes feel like I'm losing my mind. Does anyone else feel like this as well?

    1. Hey there Dolly Allen, Its hard to be tormented by "what we don't know." Very often what we imagine or visualize in our minds is much, much worse than the reality. You do have a right to answers to your questions, in my opinion. I'd also urge some serious caution because once you know, you can't unknow it. I'd discuss your concerns with your and ask for a time and safe environment to discuss. And have your questions lined up in advance. Start with something relatively superficial. Like maybe you want to know where they did this. When he answers check your gut. How are you feeling? Nauseous, anxious? etc. Do you want to proceed to the next question? You may find you get to a certain point and realize you don't need details.
      I'd also ask you to decide how or if these details will help you move on. Is it the details you want from him or just his future honesty? Especially since you mention that you don't know why you want the details, please, please give that some deep thought. There are many things I wish I didn't know about my h's affair..
      One a separate note, about the herpes. I'm an HSV1 carrier and have been for decades. There's a lot of societal shame wrapped up in there that doesn't need to be, so there's a lot of bad information out there too. Does your H know whether he's got hsv1 or hsv2? If not, a simple blood test will tell. This matters to you because hsv2 rarely (almost never) transfers from genitals to mouth. It really like to stay south of the border. hsv1, on the other hand, is a switch hitter. It has no worries about infecting your mouth and vice versa. This matters to you, because if oral sex is happening on him, you could contract herpes on your mouth and have those lovely cold sores.
      Also, just because he doesn't have symptoms or an active outbreak, doesn't mean he's not contagious. HSV2 sheds viral load without symptoms about 15-30% of the time. HSV1 sheds virus without symptoms about 3-5% of the time. f your husband is not taking a daily suppresive anti-viral medication, he should consider it for your benefit. It will reduce his outbreaks and will reduce risk of transmission to you by 48%. Know that as a woman, you are much more susceptible to a genital herpes infection than a man. Viral shedding will occur more frequently in the first 6-12 months after infection and decrease from there. Using viral meds and condoms reduces your risk of infection to about 2.5%. Most herpes does not present as described in medial journals (do not google pictures, awful). Denial plays a big role and people excuse it away as a little soreness or an ingrown hair. Over 25 million Americans have herpes and 80% or more don't know they have it. Wow. So be careful and get information about taking care of yourself in this context. If your h is struggling with shame around the herpes (which I get, I certainly did) go to for some helpful stuff on getting educated, prevention and losing the shame.
      In other hsv news a couple of pharma companies are working on vaccines. One that suppresses hsv in folks that have it, so basically they go into remission and a second to prevent non carries from contracting the virus. The Dr leading the charge recently died of cancer, but his company and family are pushing on with clinical trials overseas.

  12. Dandelion, that's exactly why I requested the thread. i appreciate how thoughtful you are in yours posts about not wanting to trigger anyone. By opening a separate thread it makes a place you have to mean to visit, rather than stumble upon while reading something else.

    I have definitely had the flooded emotions post-O. It's not shame that I feel just the loss of what I thought we had and suddenly her intrusion is right there in the bedroom with us. As a result I'm starting to feel closed off a bit, and wondering when, if ever it will be okay for him to talk about finding a way to please each other again, meet halfway. That was where we were, he just never understood and thought that if I didn't want sex as much as he did, I must not desire him/find him attractive, etc. Even though we had sex regularly, 2-3x a week, he felt rejected.

    It can just be so complicated sometimes 😞

    1. Periwinkle,
      It is complicated. I know for my husband, he always "needed" more physical affection than I did. And after my kids were born and I went through a year of breastfeeding both of them, I honestly just wanted for no one to need me physically. However, he equated physical affection with love. He was always considerate of me, just seemed to need more than me. Once the porn use got bad, I began to feel like I was an object. And who wants to feel like they only serve that one purpose. (Apparently the OW didn't mind, but I digress.)
      My husband has come a long way but I also now realize that our "love languages" are just different. I try to be more physically affectionate... simple things like holding his hand or even just hugging him out of the blue. And I try to recognize that while I would really rather he show me he loves me by doing things around the house, that a simple affectionate gesture means the same for him. It took a while to get here though because I had to see him for who he is now and not the guy who just wanted me for his own satisfaction.

  13. I hate what my husband has done to me. To our marriage, our family, to us as a couple and my/our sex life. We used to have an amazingly great sex life, even though I craved for more intimacy which he was incapable of giving. I can no longer feel free or safe with him anymore, even after getting the “all clear” from the std tests. The last 12 years have not been the best, with him criticising me, comparing me to other women (eg wanting me to dress more like the office slut who wears her shirt unbuttoned to her navel), he puts others ahead of me and our marriage. Sex became boring and all about him, he wouldn’t listen to my needs and what I liked. So why would he think I would want to have sex with him after he’s just bagged me? So I put up walls and my refusal to be disrespected by him and my refusal to always be available for him and give him sex because he wanted it even after treating me appallingly, led him to believe he had every right to go and fuck prostitute’s and hook up with co-workers here and when he travelled, and one willing ho worker to be his affair partner for over a year. He won’t go to MC to work through why he was so willing to downgrade himself and his morals and treat me his wife so appallingly, he won’t stop having female friends - so now there is no sex with us. I refuse to be available for him because he feels he should get what he wants. What about my needs to be treated as his wife should be treated with respect, honesty and decency? I feel with him not willing to go to MC, be transparent and be remorseful for what he has done, has just made me put up another wall, and the fact that he travels are all red flags to me he will cheat again. He really repulses me when I think about what he has done and who with. I did try to reconnect with him – but I just felt so fake and it really sickened me. So I have shut myself off to sex with him, and all this shit coupled with the fact I am going through perimenopause just adding to my low sex drive. I don’t know who to speak to about this, a sex therapist? Not that I need one at the moment, but as I can’t see my husband and I ending up, I will eventually want to have another relationship, but I think I’ve got up too many walls. Too many nightmarish mind movies of what husband has done, that I think he has damaged me to the point I don’t know if I can ever trust again, and be intimate with anyone again. Why did he have to go and have dirty sex? He’s got a hand, he should have used that and that would have saved thousands of dollars and our marriage! (Well, we do talk about self-care and self-love).
    Gabby xo

    1. Gabby I'm sorry to hear that he is being an entitled toolbag. He sounds like he is still in the throws of doing what he wants without caring about the impact on others. Narcissism at its finest. But you, I am seeing you honor yourself and your boundaries. Amazing! Just take care of you.
      And hey, for what it is worth, I'm guessing that if you felt, safe, loved and well cared for by your partner you wouldn't have a low sex drive. Yes, peri-menopause is the pits. I'm there too. But away from the dysfunctional relationship where I felt like a service animal, my sex drive is just fine. Alright so maybe I need a little more lube than I did in the good old days, but I actually am thinking I'd like more sex in my life? The brain is an important sex organ. If you are in a crummy situation and are repulsed by your partner, I think its OK for your brain to not want sex xor feel up for that. And yes, absolutely speak to a sex therapist and maybe your gynecologist too. Get all the help you can from where ever you like.
      I know you are worried about being able to be intimate with someone ever again. Don't worry about that right now. With the right partner, it will be OK. And that partner can be a husband how is remorseful and doing the work and making a safe place for you to show up in or a new partner who is trustworthy and kind and makes a safe place for you to show up in.
      Meanwhile Gabby, radical self care, my girl! Splurge on a massage if you can or paint your own toes if you can't. Have a nice cup of tea. remember that you are awesome! Hugs! SS

    2. Thanks SS1. Yes my h showing narcissism at it's finest. I know what you mean about feeling like a service animal. Funny how quickly it changes from wanting him in me to not wanting him slobbering, and getting off anywhere near me. You are right. When things were good between us and he was being kind etc, I was interested in sex with him and enjoyed it. If it ever comes to it, I will go and see a sex therapist, but for now, I am happy just to do what I want for me, and yes maybe paint my toe nails one day - which I can still reach! LOL
      Gabby xo

    3. I have seen it said many ways from many sources but basically how men and women are interested in sex and intimacy for different reasons and what leads to it. And my husband gets stressed and distracted and is not into it too but in general if you say want to have sex or start kissing him he is in. But typically for women it starts when you wake up of maybe it is a buildup of many days of feeling exhausted that leads to you saying no or shutting down. I read once it starts in the morning. How he is in bed next to you when you wake up, does he kiss you when he says goodbye, does he reach out to you during the day, does he call you on the way home from work, does he offer help when he gets home etc... I know for me all of those things make me exhale and feel less stressed if I feel both mentally and physically supported. I suppose it goes back to the love languages too. My husband's number one is touch and that is number five for me. But him making a daily effort has helped me a lot.

      He showed me an article that stuck with him early on. I have talked about it on here before. It is not long. It is called Masters of Love in the Atlantic magazine by Dr. Gottman. It was really good and my husband found it and read it himself. I cannot remember the language used but it sums up a lot of the good points in his research and books. But basically take an interest in your spouse and their interests even if you could care less. My husband never asked me one question or he would cut me down for what I did. He feels bad about that now. I know it was a coping mechanism for him to keep distance between us and see me as bad or negative. Otherwise who would criticize their wife for volunteering to help hungry starving children. But he found a way. So he takes a great interest in my days and what I do. Also we saw Women are From Mars and Men are from Venus the one person play. Not sure if it is on youTube or if you can google it. But he brings up parts of that from two years ago. I find that sometimes a magazine article or a play is an easier way to lead into this. I read a ton of books and my husband just is not that person. i could demand it but we have gotten farther in our discussions with these other tools.

  14. Hello,
    Just over 2 years since my H's secret girlfriend spilled the beans after he tried to end it. He continued to lie about what happened for another 10 protect me! Ugh..
    The whole sex thing is so effed up.
    We had a great sex life. My husband told me I was the best F he ever had.
    For me I never had to fantasize or put myself somewhere else he was what turned me on. Great orgasms were easy for both of us. But he still chose for a year and a half to see what it was like with the 15 year younger, pretty slut at work.
    Now, knowing pretty much everything they did I find everything difficult. The knowing that this stranger saw his body and touched him the way that was just supposed to be between the 2 of us makes me freeze. To know he shared with her the same details of what I know he loves to do makes me feel sick. It's like having your home invaded. You feel violated. And he didn't have her in our home but he took her to our cabin. I still Can't go there. We had our honeymoon there (he forgot that!). It was the first place he took me when we started dating. His special place up north. The place where I first told him I loved him. The phrase don't shit where you eat sums it up perfectly!
    Everything that I thought made our sex life special between us was shared with her.
    I used to enjoy giving him blow jobs now that is a no go knowing he got them from her.(sold the vehicle that happened in) I can barley touch his penis just knowing he wanted her to touch him. The pictures suck. Yes, that was a pun! Kowing she saw all the things I saw when having sex with him. The most intimate details.
    I find it funny how he gets hard and says that shows how much he loves me and wants what did it mean when he got hard for her!!!
    All the fun dirty sexy things just feel dirty now. That was what he got from her. Dirty sex.
    My favorite way to fall asleep was spooning his back with my arm wrapped over him and my hand resting on his penis...he says he misses that....
    I have told him I need to be treated like the glass I am now with all the cracks. Gentle. Slow. Sweet. I don't want to feel like I could be anybody.
    I still cry almost every time and if I do climax I get so overwhelmed with conflicting emotions the tears just flow.
    It's ironic how he felt he was being neglected by me (bought a small business and put in a lot of hours) but now realises just how good he had it now that it isn't there.
    I used to enjoy, really enjoy sex. I want to again. Just struggling with it very badly.
    Still a work in progress..

    1. Jill,
      Huge hugs to you. I can totally relate to what you are experiencing. I'm feeling rather frozen myself. Things that used to be part of our sex life (like blow jobs) just make me freeze. I just can't do it. I feel like I'd puke at the thought of them together. I don't know all the gory details, but I doubt there was anything off limits knowing how open he is toward experimenting and that they used to date (and sleep together) when they were in high school. I have a very hard time with the film reel in my head, and trying to stay in the moment.

      Read Beach Girl's post. That might be something that helps. But make it a character in a movie or an actor or singer. (Don't let your mind land on a guy from work or a neighbor!) Or think of some fantasy scenario you can play in your head, and stay in it. It might help you get past the overwhelming emotion that you're experiencing now.

      I'm struggling right there with you. I feel numb, frozen and uninterested in sex. And now it seems that he's suddenly discovered the truth of what I've been telling him for ages: that we have desire discrepancy. And now he's really motivated to find a compromise. I keep saying I'm not even ready for that conversation yet, and now he's hyperfocusing on it. I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm shutting down, closing off to him. Because he seems super eager now to read about dealing with different levels of desire, but I haven't been able to get him to read the basic 'help your partner heal from you betrayal" stuff yet.

      Sorry, I didn't mean to make this about me 😞 I just wanted to let you know I hear you, and your reactions are within the realm of normal. I think.

    2. Jill,
      I'm so sorry. There's so much about infidelity that really really stinks.
      Like you, I found the sex either repelling or emotionally overwhelming. There was no middle ground. We had crazy hysterical bonding for a few months and then a long stretch of nothing where the idea of it terrified me.
      It helps, with time, for the memories to fade and to help make new ones. And it helped me to realize that sex is sometimes And that's what it was for my husband when he was cheating. "Porn with skin on," it's been called.
      It also helped that my husband and I spent time talking about what we liked and I insisted he look into my eyes (which he often hadn't done). I wanted to be sure he knew exactly who he was with.'s just really really hard. No way around that.

  15. Baby, I'm so sorry that you've had to endure this kind of treatment. If you are not seeing any signs of remorse, or willingness to seek help, it seems like a completely normal reaction to keep your walls up for now. Hugs to you ❤️

    1. Supposed to say "Gaby, I'm so sorry..."

    2. No probs Periwinkle!
      Gabby xo

  16. Ok so somewhere above I was talking about orgasm and how everyone fakes at some time. Here's a link to a piece by Laci Green, an awesome sex educator, and she gets real and personal about faking orgasm.
    Here is some great myth busting about vaginal orgasm (hint: we don't all have them the same).
    And finally a piece on why orgasm doesn't have to be the goal of sex. It may shift things for you.

  17. I am still collecting my thoughts on this topic and will soon share my experiences but suffice it to say that for the first almost 2 years after disclosure (I am 2 years 2 months out) I always thought of other men when I had sex with my husband. It was the only way I could enjoy myself. I also bought a cordless Magic Wand to get reacquainted with my body and feelings. One of the links I read here a long time ago referenced a product called Good Clean Love which is a water based organic personal lube and honestly ladies, this is a wonderful product. I buy it at Tar*get and we go through a lot of it. We have learned to talk openly about sex and what we each want from the other. My sex life is wonderful and although I still get triggers and intrusive thoughts at times I try to picture myself as the recipient of all that I want to feel. If that means I visualize something different and someone different from my husband and what we are doing, so be it. I finally told my therapist this yesterday because she was concerned that we jumped right back into sex after disclosure after years of no sex (another story). She told me that she had other women in her practice dealing with betrayal and they also think of other men when having sex with their spouses. I'm not sure if there is a name for this but it allowed me to relearn about my body, talk about what I wanted and needed, and gave me the ability to be selfish and enjoy sex. Honestly at 66, I can say that my sex life has never been more rewarding. My husband is taking a medication that causes longer erections and difficulty at times with ejaculation and I'm really enjoying this a lot. I've done more than I should with looking at porn videos of massage whores and what they do and I can tell you that my husband gets much more from me than he ever did from his transactional sex. On another note, he was hiking with a friend last week and told his friend that he dropped his life insurance. His friend actually told him that he should not worry about me because I was cute, funny, intelligent and would find another guy right away! He told me about that conversation and said, "I am a lucky man to have another chance to get it right because he is right that if you left me you would not be alone long." Geesh, I've been married twice and I'll tell ya it is highly unlikely I'd do it a third time. So ladies, take the risk to enjoy yourselves sexually. Buy the Good lube. It is wonderful.

    1. Good Clean Love products are incredible. The blog of the woman who founded the company ( is also a great source of information about intimacy and sexuality and love.

    2. "Buy the good lube." One of the many, many gems from the awesome women here. Thanks Beach Girl!

  18. I haven't shared my story yet. I will soon. My Free Ride to Hell started 1y and 39 days ago. I have managed to get back out and my H is here. He has recommitted to be and our family. Our relationship has definitely taken a turn for the better, has profited greatly.
    I believe him when he tells me he loves me. Trust? That's a tough one.
    My current situation about "the situation", and when I say current it's like happening to me RIGHT NOW and I feel like I'm going to explode, is that I know the OW and my H still have contact. My H is honest about this. He knows it makes me crazy. But he says "trust me!".
    He also says he doesn't react to messages, but isn't a smiley a reaction? Aren't even just a few words of attention a reaction?
    Could you please help me here? My mind is reacting to the point of thoughts over-reacting.
    Since my H deleted the OW from fb, she now uses other forms of contact - emails and WhatsApp.
    Yup, you heard correctly. He still has her as a contact in whatsapp and she's always, almost always, at the top of the list. You know what I mean! I'm at the point right now that I want to delete HIM from my contact list. Sounds childish?
    Can anyone offer advice?

    1. Oh dear. I think Elle, and the rest of us, would direct you to this post :

      So my question for you is, why are you going along with this? Have you always let him determine the course of things and let him tell you what is okay for you? I hope this isn't sounding too harsh. But one of the important lessons of betrayal is finding your own line and standing up to bullS*t. Once we figure that out, we are transformed.

    2. ame, thanks for posting, sorry you are going thru this. I see red flag after red flag in his behavior. You are not over reacting.
      You get to set the terms here and I'd recommend you get yoour thoughts together and insist on no contact. If they don't work together there is absolutely zero reason they need to or should have any contact.
      How can you trust him when he is still in contact with the person he cheated with? The use of WhatsApp is a super huge red goddamn flag. It is the number two app used by cheaters after Messenger. That app and his account need to go.
      You get to decide what you want here and set a boundary. And set consequences (you'll see Elle talk about that over and over here and it is so important). Tell him that he needs to cut her out. Block her emails and get off WhatsApp. it doesn't matter if its awkward or makes him uncomfortable. He made this mess and he needs to deal with the uncomfortable to make amends. What are the consequences if he doesn't? Does he move to the couch? Do you? Does he need to move out? I know that sounds extreme and may not be right for you, but there does need to be a consequence and you need to follow through %.
      He's minimizing and justifying and still, on some emotional level, caretaking her or getting whatever emotional or ego boost he gets from her attention. That's bullshit. He needs to cut the cord. Its hard to fathom that he doesn't get just how dangerous keeping that connection is and how cruel it is. How thoughtless and selfish (shocker, right?)
      Are you two in marriage counseling? If not, I highly recommend it. He's clearly having ongoing issues and I can see to some degree, you are not sure you have a right to ask him to stop. You do. An experienced MC would agree that there has to be no contact. You get to dictate the terms of recovery, not him. What is going to work for you? What is going to help you feel safe? He sounds like he still wants to have his cake and eat it too. Other folks will chime in with good ideas and advice. Mine is, you don't have to tolerate this. You are allowed to insist on no contact. If he's not willing to comply be clear about the consequences and enforce them. He's going to wriggle and complain and try to get you to back down, because this will be something new and he will want you to go back to letting him do what he wants. Don't let him manipulate you that way. You deserve so much better than he's giving you right now.

    3. It's clear that my work here is done, as MBS and Still Standing 1 have written EXACTLY what I would write to you, Ame. He is still involved with this person. Maybe not physically but certainly emotionally. Which means there's one too many people in your marriage.
      He's asking you to forgive something that plenty of people consider unforgivable. You're clearly willing to try and move forward. But there absolutely has to be boundaries around what you will and will not tolerate in your marriage. You say your head is about to explode. THAT is pretty clear evidence that you are absolutely not okay with his contact with her. So..there's your boundary. Absolutely no contact. If he violates that, then the consequence is X or Y. Whatever you decide. This is ludicrous. That he's asking you to "trust" him when he's revealed himself to be untrustworthy is crazy. No. Absolutely not. You MIGHT trust him after years and years of proof that he is always always willing to walk away from temptation.

    4. One thing I noticed is my husband justified/normalized behaviors that are not normal. Of course all the affair crap was not okay, he knew it deep down but he had to tell himself everything he could to make it through his days. But even beyond the affairs it was the time he spent with his friends. I would try to start discussions about this focused on making our marriage better. He would in not so many words tell me that he was totally normal and I was the one with the problem since I thought his time spent with friends was not positive and too much. My therapist was floored by what my husband tried to convince me as normal behavior. And my husband has done an excellent job his entire life with surrounding himself with people that make him look good.

      In the end you need to feel safe. The post that was mentioned earlier is so good. It was a huge change for me to demand what I needed. And I think that is a big part for me. I felt like oh I am acting like his mom if I set boundaries or he made me feel like I was nagging him. But at a certain point I said to him this is what needs to happen if you want to have a second chance. And in the end that is what you are doing as Elle has talked about a lot making yourself feel safe.

    5. Ame, ^^what they said. A thousand times over, what they said. This is not okay. He needs to block her from all of the social media she might use to contact him. And if he can't do that, than he needs to remove WhatsApp, SnapChat, and any other messaging app from his phone NOW. Really this should have been done 1yr, 39 days ago. He cannot play the "trust me" card at this point because he's shown himself unworthy of it. Also, he should see what this is doing to you, and cut it off immediately. Hugs ❤️

  19. All I can say right now after reading your replies is Thank You!
    It was a huge step for me asking for help, advice. I am ashamed of myself for not setting boundaries, not demanding blocking, I have put myself in a terrible position while already being in one! It is definitely a form of self-destruction. This self-destruction started the day I found out about the affair. I knew it even though my H was 200 miles away. If I had the strength to tell the whole story right now, I could imagine how your eyes would be rolling and hands flying up in the air!
    Your words have empowered me, given me the strength which I don't have at the moment.
    It's hard enough dealing with the triggers and flashbacks. The fact that there is STILL contact (whatsapp almost daily usually with photos) makes healing impossible.
    I'll keep you informed.
    I'm so grateful to have found you all!

    1. We have been there and I have struggled with beating myself for not doing something different or feeling my gut. And really most of all for trusting. Over the years I would ask and probe very direct questions but he would look me in the eye and lie to my face. I have worked hard to tell myself these are his issues and I did not do anything wrong. Being put in this traumatic position when our husbands had a million other options for dealing with their issues is so wrong. You will get through this and I know we have all learned a lot about oursleves and in the end are better off. It is really hard but having this website as an outlet has helped me so much.

      My husband recently said to me he feels horrible since he took our marriage and family to the brink of destruction. This took a long time for him to say but it really does sum it up.

    2. Ah Ame, you will find the strength. Just keep going towards finding strength, confidence, and self love. We are here to help you along. Find support in your real life too. It is hard to do this alone. Remember that is not too late to unlearn the self sabotaging stuff. One of the things that helps is to remind yourself that you are not the only one who makes mistakes in relationships, self sabotages, doesn't know what the heck to do, doesn't have strong boundaries, feels weak, or struggles with standing up for herself. There is nothing wrong with you. Remind yourself of that but keep going towards being your best, stronger self. It is in you. My husband's infidelity taught me that I must be fiercely on my own side. Be on your side. If you were your best friend, what would you say or do?

  20. A year and half later and we haven't had sex in months. I can't. Hysterical bonding long gone. Triggers everywhere. He had sex after 25 years of blood sweat and tears on both sides fighting for this relationship every step of the way and after we had finally worked through what I thought was every demon we both had he went and had sex with a stranger. We had made it and then he did this. Stupid fool went on my advice to get a massage for his back and went to one of "those places" and instead of a massage paid for Sex. Long story short I'm still here but am I really? Tv shows someone paying for sex or a prostitue and I'm reliving it all over again. Can't talk to him cause that's what we do. We don't talk about it, we now pretend like it didn't happen. I can't hurt him with it. Dam it I'm still protecting him at the cost of myself. He jokingly and lovingly says climb on top and I'm triggered. Or when his backs acting up 3 or 4 times a week and I have to get the knots out I'm sitting there massaging his knots and the whole time it's all I can think of. Talk about self abuse. He finally last week says we need to fix our love life and he doesn't know what to do. Me either. We need to talk this out again. Which he will take as me attacking him with it. He's tried to be a good person. He regrets what he did and he tries everyday to be the person I need him to be. I just can't get it out of my head. 25 years of growing up together and fighting to stay together. It's all we know now. Don't give up. Never give up. 45 years old and 3 kids later I don't want to be in a sexless marriage but I don't know if there is another option at this point. I'm not sure I can ever see him lying down or walking around naked without envisioning him walking around that place naked or lying on her table while she took care of his needs. Needs I must say were getting met at home back then more than most. I feel doomed to forever see it when I look at him. Someone who's been through this please tell me there is a way to get past this.

    1. HI anon, You are having such a hard go. I am so sorry. I can hear how sad and hurt and tired of this you are. Those triggers can be so painful and it seems like they just rise up and have their way with us sometimes. Its exhausting and terrifying.
      Sounds like you two have been through a lot and now you feel so very let down by his crappy choices. I get it. I felt like we were in the home stretch, kids about to go of to college, just a few years more, and we could start having adventures again. And he freaking imploded in a giant mid life crisis that wrecked our family and all we had worked for. So I get it, you feel like he gave up right at the finish line. Stupid dumbass.
      Mine did the massage parlor thing over the course of several years. After I found out I felt sick about it whenever I spotted one (in a city when I traveled to work etc.)
      So first things first, I'm here to tell you that you will not always feel this way, that with help and work and some of that blood sweat and tears you mention, you will get through this. It is not going to be comfortable, but you will feel joy again, you will get to a point where you get through a day and then a week and then a month, without being triggered. Then one day you'll realize it hasn't happened in forever. So be gentle with yourself for being where you are right now. You have been traumatized and triggers and the reliving of that pain is our brains messed up way of trying to make sure we are protected, that it doesn't happen again. Be kind to yourself about it. And may i suggest, try talking to your h about the triggers. Are you suffering through one right there with him while you are rubbing his back and he doesn't know you are triggered? You are allowed to tell him, when I rub your back it brings up these thoughts for me. Can you just hold my hand until I feel better (or hug or whatever feels safe for you?) Triggers and flashbacks lose power when we talk about them and ask for help. You are allowed to ask him for help when you are triggered.
      You are 100% correct that by not talking about it you are protecting him at your own expense. You probably learned that growing up, just like me. You are allowed and deserve to put your own needs first.

    2. anon response part 2
      Are you two in therapy individually or as a couple? If not I highly, highly encourage you to get there. Start with you. Get help. A trained professional who offers EMDR will be able to help you work through the trauma and figure out what there is about it that is bringing up your own, old stuff (because betrayal and trauma ALWAYS brings up our own unfinished business and unmet childhood needs). And when you go see a therapist, you will have taken a major step toward taking care of yourself. Going to therapy together (and I recommend a couple therapist who is also a trained sex therapist) will help you both unpack what is going on and will, if they are worth the copay, start holding your h accountable for his stuff. Because right now you are letting him off the hook in a way that is harmful to you. Think about getting professional help. And he clearly needs to do some serious soul searching to figure out why he was able to do something like this.
      Meanwhile, his backaches, especially if they trigger you, are not your responsibility. (This doesn't mean you don't care about him, and wont offer support or comfort in the future, but right now you to say no). He can go to a doctor and get a referral for physical therapy. He can go to a chiropractor. And I'd suggest, that you get to choose the office he goes to, if that helps you feel safe.
      For the triggers and mind movies I have a couple of practical solutions, short and long term. some folks on here wear a rubber band on their wrist. When they are triggered or a mind movie starts, they literally snap themselves out of it by snapping the rubber band. The adrenaline and the sharp reminder bring you into the present and you can tell yourself "stop, I will not allow this thought to control me" or something like that that works for you. Some folks picture a stop sign and say Stop in their heads (sometimes took me several tries before I interrupted the crazy train in my head). Or you can picture the scene in your head being enveloped in a white light and washed away. Any visualization that lets you be in charge of what is in your head. Those are all quick, in the moment fixes. They won't be easy, but they will work better the more you use them.
      The longer term thing I recommend is meditation. It doesn't have to be some kooky new age thing, but about staying in the present and breathing and learning to let thoughts rise and pass. (There are a lot of good apps out there. I really like Calm because they have some guided stuff for beginners that really taught me how to be gentle with myself). Another technique is labelling. When I am afraid or thinking about bad stuff or mind movies, I try to pay attention and notice it. And I just call it what it is in my head. When I am worried about what is going to happen in the future I think "ruminating" "thinking" "worrying" "fear" whatever seems appropriate. There is no right or wrong way to do this. But I find giving the thought a label, calling it by its name takes away some of its power.
      So lots of what I hope are practical things you can do that might help you right now and longer term. There is a way to get past this.
      I'm going to ask you a challenging question or two. What do these triggers do FOR you? In other words, in what way are they keeping you "safe" and/or where you are? What pattern from your life are they repeating for you? What happens if you were no longer hooked in to them? What happens if you let them go? Do you feel free or afraid when you think about that? This is stuff to journal about maybe or talk to your therapist about. But I think your path out of this dark place lies in exploring there.
      And Anon, you are not alone, you are doing amazingly. You are breathing and looking at what you need to move forward. Take it minute by minute if you have to. Much love.

  21. Reading these comments has resonated so much with me. I am 9 wks post Dday1 after finding evidence on his phone accidentally (we were on holiday with our 5 kids, I was looking for the location of a particular beach, he thought he'd been clever and deleted everything, he hadn't, I flew home.) He stayed for another week with 2 of the children, as looking at him made me feel sick. After a couple of days I realised leaving my wedding rings in the villa had been too hasty and I missed him, I was losing it. At this point all he had said was "we were really good friends, we got a bit flirty, if you had seen the messages it would look like betrayal" etc. He was her site manager building her multi million pound house in the country, she decided she wanted to project manage, her husband stayed in their other house in Ibiza. They were together everyday, solving problems, becoming their own team, referring to the job as "our house", sharing banter which escalated to more personal things. Not sexual, just sharing stories about their lives which is what happens when you are building an attachment to someone, how the fuck didn't he see that?? We had been together 23 years maybe he'd forgotten...we even joked about her being flirty with him and me saying she fancied a bit of rough!!!
    I digress! He came home, we talked (actually he lied) and the hysterical bonding started. Our sex life has always been great on a physical level, we have however realised since that for a while before discovery we hadn't even kissed during sex, it was purely a need that was fulfilled and we both enjoyed! So we had a week of (the only way to describe it)totally mind blowing, reconnective, loving, insatiable sex....then Dday2 hit me like a train...
    I had gut feeling he was lying from day 1, but you just want to believe them to reduce the pain right? Theres no way he would do that, please let me be correct, even if it was presented on a silver platter he would put us and our family first....WRONG!! I confronted her and she said she would never do such a thing, she was married with 3 kids, the were friends, they forgot the contractor/client boundary...I didn't realise that boundary was actually her vagina!! Then she made a huge mistake, she sent him a WhatsApp message after they had not contacted for 2 weeks. The message wasn't hadn't even been opened and was 2 days old which gave me hope that my husband wasn't going into the app to look to for any contact from her. She had talked about being "silently broken" and he was "with her constantly" amongst other things like guilt and shame...I read these comments to my husband and told him I was going to reply as him...well he blurted it out after it was apparent I was well in control of this situation...and swore on our kids lives it was just the one just know this gets worse don't you??

  22. I emailed the OW's husband in the middle of the night when I was calmer than earlier that evening and re reading it now, I actually look quite sane! The following evening I got a reply, he'd had her truth and it was actually twice Dday3(I know not a 10 year affair, but he had LIED AGAIN), so I asked my husband calmly - Can you swear on my life if was only the one time, I'm having trouble believing you? No repercussions if you tell me truth. "I swear. I realised during that one time, this was not what I wanted, I love you and only wanted you" Funny way of showing it.
    Cue going of the rails of nuclear proportions! Why would she tell her husband that if it wasn't true?? his reply "oh what that in the site office? That was just a silly little thing". He was playing with fire and I was losing the plot here I actually said "Fuck! did she trip and land on your cock?". Apparently when you don't 'finish' and the woman has to get off and finish you by hand it doesn't count! Who knew??
    Anyway back to the original question of the thread, from that point we have still been bonding hysterically but I can no longer orgasm and sometimes he cant maintain his erection, both of these things have never ever been an issue. I always felt quite smug as more often than not I can orgasm twice during sex sometimes 3 times. Now not at all unless I introduce something out of 'the drawer'. She is in my head sometimes, but not always. I didn't choose this or sign up for it, its all a huge mess.

    sorry for the essay!

  23. Hey anon 9/11 I'm sorry you are having a tough time. That trickle truth is the pits, isn't it? because we sooo want to believe that it wasn'tm but deep down, it was. And it still sucks when they eventually fess up. And the minimizing and rationalizing. "Did she trip and land on your cock?" Amen sister. I think at one point I was so out of my mind I screamed at him "When you agreed to no contact did you not think that included genitals?" Actual quote.
    Hysterical bonding is OK. It serves important emotional purposes, one of which is a fundamental reclaiming. Don't worry about orgasm right now. Seriously. We've been brainwashed to think that the O is the goal, the be all end all. But you two have a lot of things in your head and between you right now, so it is understandable that you are not completely in the moment. Let yourself off the hook. Your orgasm button is not broken, I promise. When you feel safer and connected, I bet it will come back (and I bet, if you are comfortable with it, you can give yourself an orgasm on your own with no problem). So be patient with yourself and your situation. Both are evolving right now. As for your h and losing erections, he's terrified and wrestling with shame among other things. Shame is a serious buzz kill in the bedroom. My suggestion? Don't sweat it. And don't make a fuss about it. It happens to everyone and its understandable right now especially. Just cuddle instead. Take the opportunity to just kiss, or to snuggle naked or give each other back rubs. Something that connects you intimately but is not hysterical bonding. Instead it sends the message to you that you are valued and loved.
    Its a mess. You didn't sign up for it, nor do you deserve it. But, you'll be ok. Pay attention to what your body is telling yourself. Be patient with it (i.e. you) and keep breathing.

  24. Hysterical bonding--WOW I had such a case of it and it lasted for-effing-ever. It started, I think three or four days after D-Day 1 and I could hardly believe what was happening, because my emotions were like an out of control ping pong ball. That's actually how i was drawn to this site and stayed. My first visit I was in such a rage I did not want to be a member of a "club" lol. But Elle's blog on hysterical bonding, along with the rest of you, saved my sanity. I went with it. I went crazy with it. I think it lasted 8 or 9 MONTHS. things got back to a new normal which was more frequent than before but not the often 2-3 times a DAY that it was during the HB phase.
    Then, it sort of died and had dramatic bursts every 3-4 months when we'd go out of town for the weekend or something.
    When I look back on my journals, it died when he went back to whoring around and hid it (omg hid it SO well) for 18 flippin months.

    When D-Day 2 hit June 2016, there was no such animal in my life. I kicked him out. when i saw him 3 months later when he was deep in 12 step and therapy it kicked in, but I would not sleep with him until yet another round of STD testing--and then I can remember about three or four amazing nights... In the last
    Y E A R. We've had more sex than that, of course, but it's sure not much.
    Can I be so bold to ask what everyones post experience average re-building experience is? I KNOW they say there is no real "normal" but is there a pattern?

    I actually apologized to him about two months ago, in the middle of a sort of weepy night, that I was trying, I was praying for my drive to come back because I loved him but I was having a horrible time getting reinvested in that part of our relationship.

    I know for a fact he feels a) guilty for pursuing me and b) his narrative lately has become that he is a shitty person--not that he did a shitty thing (or a dozen of them) but IS a shitty person and is terrified that I will turn him down and solidify that thought of his.
    Not healthy and he's not doing much to change that right now. But I really am wondering what the deal is with people together over 17 years with a huge trauma like this. My parents slept in separate beds--same room. so I have no model for any of this and of course, no one will say that there is a real "normal".
    I feel like such a nosey nelly, but who else am I going to ask?

    I can say a lot of people i know are just happy to be best friends with their spouse, and the sex is infrequent--but others? 25 years and at least once a week still. Just wondering where I am on the scale, without turning it into a competition.

    1. Steam
      I'm sure there's going to be so many different answers to this but I'm going to tell you like it's been for us. My h and I spent a couple of years living in the two houses that we own during our daughters custody battle and damn if that's when his I'm so lonely and deserve some fun midlife fuckup started. This was spring 2011. He came home to the lake house and of course sex was wonderful Friday and Saturday nights and occasionally on Sunday before he left to go back to the house we own for work purpose and of course I made visits to and from the house because my family lives close to the work house. That said, sex was a pretty much anytime when we could share a bed at either house. He is a traveling engineer and staying on the road more than at either house during this time. Sometime in 2012-2013, he had tried multiple times to end the affair but again we were dealing with crazy! In September 2013, he bought me a car big enough for my 85lb lab and built the fence for her. He was desperately trying to convince cow that the affair was over and that he was going to be moving me in and she just didn't want to accept that he was choosing his marriage over her. She circled the neighborhood and saw him moving my things back into the house and the next time he spoke to her she said that her heart was broken because she could see how happy we were. She agreed to leave him to his marriage for a few weeks and then she was pursuing him and she bullied him and showed up to the volleyball game that she was no longer welcome to play with just to meet me and after that she told him she understands why he chose me because I was 'nice'. She then convinced him that if he couldn't tell me about the affair she would and that's when she was willing to just be fuck buddies. Her words. She was able to have passionate sex a few more times over the next 9-10 months remember he's still working out of town more than home and on weekends during this time we always went to our lake house. I had no idea about this but on October 24,2014, she blew it all up and out in the open. I'm telling you that hysterically bonding was in overtime then. Well my h has used Viagra for the past 10 years so he doesn't have to worry about getting a hard on anytime he takes a bite. Now this is the first year with no real contact other than I see her car in the neighborhood when he's out of town. Sex as normal for us is as always if we're sharing a bed. That's unless I have a meltdown and then he can't get it up for all the shame that hits. I hope this helps some?

    2. Thanks Teresa. You've been through such an ordeal thank you. We share the same bed every night unless he's working out of town which is pretty rare. . We have always been mad snugglers. Even when the sex had not been hot heavy or even routine. We were wrapped up in each other nightly. It's been my favorite thing. But now? We're lucky to hold hands at night. He says I dont approach him for that closeness anymore, which is true but I feel like he doesn't respond like he used to if I do. Sigh. What a road.

    3. Steam, I can't speak directly to the hysterical bonding because I didn't get the chance to act on that urge this time around. But I was struck by your observation of when it died. When your gut knew on some level that he was at it again. Its amazing how our brains pick up on the signals, the micro expressions that we don't even know we are seeing and they think they are hiding so masterfully. So we still see it and we still feel guarded or we withdraw or our sex drive dies or, in my case, your anxiety skyrockets.
      So I'm reading what you are saying about crying and that you are trying. Give yourself a pat on the back for being willing to try. And him feeling guilty for pursuing you. Hmm. I wonder how you two can reframe the whole situation.
      Instead of pursuing you, which to me still kind of sounds like his end goal is his own pleasure, why doesn't he try framing it in terms of taking care of you. What if he focused solely on what would make you feel good? What if what makes you feel good is just cuddles right now, or a back rub or god bless, a foot rub? If sex is complicated right now or has complicated how you connect, take it off the table. Maybe agree that it is off the table for three weeks. But he's allowed to touch and kiss you, get you worked up. You guys just have to agree that actual intercourse is off limits. Maybe it will give you the opportunity to reconnect with your own desire. Because the pressure to perform or deliver is off and its all about you enjoying how you are feeling.
      My parents slept in separate beds too. So um yeah not much of a model for sexy fun times as life keeps rolling. I read books instead and am trying to make my own way.
      Trouble is, when recovering for trauma that impacts your sexual identity (and there's no getting around that affairs do that) we get really lost to fear and guilt and shame. But. The same rules apply. Go slow. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Celebrate any small victory.
      It might help you to start journaling (or your version thereof) to dig into why you are having a hard time around this acknowledging that it is 100% ok and understandable that you are having a hard time with this. And for your h, that shame and I'm a horrible person stuff is paralyzing. He very likely needs to get some professional help with it. This might be a good target for some sessions with a certified marriage and sex therapist.
      I think you two are on the right track. Keep talking about it and negotiate what works for you. And I mean you, Steam, and you as in the two of you. And its ok to be afraid.
      There's so much more I could say about sex post infidelity but there are a ton of books that say it better. Hope this helps just a little. :)

  25. Cool stuff SS1 thanks. We've been sans shrink due to time/location since July? I'm as guilty as he is so no blame there (as I use the word guilt anyway. Lol) but I like these inbetweener ideas! And at the same time-tired of even thinking of them. Ha!

    1. I listened to Dear Sugars with Esther Perel in the car last week. She did a two-part episode on Sexless Marriages and though she doesn't speak specifically to marriages impacted by infidelity, she had a lot of interesting things to say. Give it a listen!
      Honestly Steam, I think the trauma post-betrayal runs so deep. And it sounds so much as if your husband is still stewing in shame, which likely makes sex with him none too appealing. Like he's needing this validation rather than it being about intimacy and mutual pleasure. And, as SS1 point out, when the betrayal has such a direct impact on our own sexuality, it's so bloody complicated to parse out that part to heal. I kinda think that the ball's in his court, so to speak. I suspect that, if he really wrestled with his shame, a lot of the "ugh" part of this for you would disappear with it.
      I also like SS1's idea of simply reconnecting through touch with sex off the table, which is also something Perel talks about.

  26. Oh Steam. I'm so sorry you are going through this. And I'm so equally sorry that I'm going through this.

    When my SA was diagnosed shortly after D-Day his counsellor told him no sex or masturbation for 3 months. When a month in we started trying to reconnect through just simply kissing and touching, things started to ramp up. Finally ending with the first (and last) time we had sex. One week shy of his abstinence contract. The guilt ate him up. And we have had very little physical intimacy since. Which is a huge problem for me, now that we are nearly 3 years in.

    We have gotten close, and I think we are making progress, when he pulls away, for a week or so at a time. When I tell him (as it's happening) that I feel like he is rejecting me. He just says he's not and rolls over and goes to sleep.

    And that is how I feel. Rejected. Thrown away. Like a piece of garbage. Prior to D-Day, I was so in love with this man. Maybe too much. And I didn't want there to be any strife like there was with my first marriage (where I was also not turned to sexually - and now in hindsight I think he was also SA..but I digress), so I did all the chores, took on all the responsibilities...and was "paid" for my services with love, romance, attention, and sex. Now, post D-Day. Very little if any romantic overtures (he used to do it in a big way), no sex.

    Knowing that intimacy is so much more than just physical intimacy. And knowing that the few times we've come close, he's had premature ejaculation, I strived to be understanding, and encouraging, and, and, and... I asked him to kiss me. Just kiss me. Like we did post D-Day. I reminded him how things heated up between us when we did. He would only try to kiss me when the lights were turned out. I asked him to kiss me in the light. And eventually my request became "kiss me on the couch." As I know now, when we had sex for the 12 years we were together, it wasn't me he was having sex with. It was images in his head. Of other women, of porn stars, of women he'd slept with. So now, I need to know it's me he's kissing. It's me he's reaching for. Which means sitting upright, lights on. And he can't do it. And it's killing me. It's killing my self-esteem, my belief in our marriage, and my love for him.

    I have been away for the past 10 days, working and visiting family, and I think I am done. I think it needs to end. And then I read everyone else's posts about how the sex issue is so hard, and how their parents had separate beds, and think - maybe I'm asking too much? Maybe it's enough to be companions? I just don't know anymore. I have applied on a job in a city far from where we live, where my family are, and I hope with every fibre of my being that I get it, and can just move away, and leave it all behind.

    1. radlady
      Rejection is what I felt post dday for a long time. I felt like he rejected the love he professed to me each Sunday evening when I now know that he was on his way back to the cow. Yep it's been very difficult since that day. We've had so many ups and downs and round and arounds. I'm trying to teach him what I expect from our marriage going forward and he tries but slowly returns to his lazy way of dealing with emotional issues. I keep waiting on him to grow out of middle school mentality. May never happen. But at least he's trying and so I try too! If leaving your marriage feels like the right thing to do, then you get to make that choice. Sending hugs!

  27. Steam, to respond to your question, there is no "normal". I didn't really experience HB, except for maybe a day. I didn't want to "reclaim" anything at all. I was repulsed by knowing what he had been up to and how long he had been lying to me. Texting me and FaceTiming with me (and our daughter)from a plane with wifi while he was on a trip only to find out after DDay that he was texting and FTimin with the OW too. Either at the same time, or one after the other. It just made me shut down. Especially sexually.
    Now, 1 1/2 years later I have really recovered much in the way of desire to be with him. Occasionally I feel like I'd like to have sex, but it's not bonding sex. I have a hard time looking at him, I have a hard time kissing him.

    I've scheduled it for once a week, with the MC's blessing to try and regain some of the lost intimacy, but it's not doing much so far except dissipating his sexual tension.
    There are certain acts that are off the table indefinitely. I can't muster the will to do it.
    I don't know where it'll all end up. The MC pushed back at him when he's suddenly all interested in "compromise" between our differing sex drives, but she said well, what if you have to come all the way down to where she is? Are you going to be okay with that? And he pretty much said "no", he would not feel satisfied. So all these years of me trying to meet in the middle and the resentment that came with him always pushing for more, more and never acknowledging that different sex drives were just normal, suggesting I'm wrong, or hormonally imbalnced, and then having an affair, and now he says he can't meet me where I am. The. He tried to walk it back, and say he just wants to come to a middle ground...we'll see. The ending of this play is not yet written I guess.

    1. All this is so hard, I never stopped loving my husband, I was devastated as we all are by his betrayal, I found out in a very public way, he didn't deny anything but I played the game SO wrong!! I allowed him to finish with his lover In person. STUPID!!!! He promised me it was over, yet carried on with their "love" affair for 6 more months!!!
      This broke me into tiny pieces, even tried suicide! I became very ill and even after 3 years I remain broken in some way, maybe I expected too much!
      We had a good long marriage ,I thought we loved each other very much, was devastated how much in love he was with OW. He didn't even try to hide it.
      I was so happy when he chose me, and that was the beginning of my losing myself, my self esteem my self confidence and courage.
      I did all the usual stuff, hysterical bonding ,self improvement, trying to be like her who was 25 years younger than us.
      3 years later I am no further forward.... there is no sex, no kissing ,no touching erotically. Just holding hands and wonderful loving words from him.
      At first I tried to instigate making love ,kissing etc yet he was half hearted ! in the end I gave up believing if he really did still love me he would need show it . He had let me see photos I never should have seen, I overheard declarations of his massive love for her and OW even contacted me to tell me to just let go as she had his love not me!!!
      I feel dead inside, he never goes out alone now so I know his affair is over.
      I just need love and intimacy even occasional sex. I tell myself I have to accept our new relationship and stop comparing how he was with OW. His endearments are wonderful and when I try to talk about it he explains that we are older now (we are 70 been married 50 years) tells me I am unrealistic yet my mind plays movies of their very torrid affair .
      I am sad all the time yet wonder if anyone agrees with him. I still have my libido which he says he doesn't ,I have noticed that he never gets hard anymore.
      Good luck to all of you

    2. Anonymous
      My h has trouble getting it up but he discovered Viagra about 10 years ago and he just takes a bite of that and he's ready to go. I'm more likely to need to be held and cuddle before the act means anything. It's as if I'm just a hole for his nightly fantasy. Not that it's like that every time we have sex but it seems for him it's just the need for physical release and for me, it's the most intimate part of our relationship. We're maybe 10 years younger than you and your h, but the struggle is the same. My h struggles with the emotional side of life. He's more into doing things that he thinks will make me happy but all I'm looking for is him to stay present in our relationship.. I'm rambling a bit but this is the part that he says makes us different from each other and what he loves most about us. I remember during one of our biggest arguments me asking how he could be in love with me and still be able to pursue the ow and his explanation was that he loves me, he's just not in love with me the way I am in love with him. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what that even means. He tells me I think too much and maybe he's right but that's just how I am! I'm sorry for what we're all living through!

  28. This is going to sound way off topic. I saw a video last night of a woman who was in Auschwitz, one of the Mengele twins (horrible experiments on her and her sister, and of course COUNTLESS others). Somehow, and it took her 50 years, she worked on forgiving the Dr who was in charge of her and her sister, it took her 4 months to write the letter of forgiveness. She came to forgive Mengele too. What stuck me was the fact that she commented on the SHAME that these "drs" had to live with, on a daily basis--her "dr" told her that. That he lived with shame and regret daily. I DO believe that our H's have shame, and a lot of it. I do believe that ends up holding them back and they do NOT want to look at that painful stuff. Who does? I know my H has mounds of it, and it started well before we met. It started in his childhood. And just like people trying to kick heroin, the only thing that takes away the pain initially is more heroin. So the only way to deal with this painful shame is to do it AGAIN. what a terrible ride. I don't know that I can forgive like that woman has-not hitler or mengele or my own H, but if she has--I have a chance. I don't have active anger, but I know it's still down in there somewhere. I adore everything with him except disagreements and sex at this point. I have not given up, I am just giving it all a rest for a bit and enjoying what I do have.

    1. Steam, I saw a video on this same woman late last night/early this morning. I was struck by her ability to forgive. I found myself really considering forgiveness two days ago. Ironically, it was on my birthday. I realized on that day I felt content. I believe I am as close as I can be to forgiving my H. I’ll never fully understand his choices but I didn’t grow up the way he did. His current actions show me he no longer wants to be that person and that helps. I have continued to struggle with my feelings toward the OW. I have been told to forgive her for myself and I have fought that idea. But on my birthday, it felt like the pieces were falling into place. I’ll never understand what she did, but I know I don’t have to live with that shame. I’ve heard the saying, “When we know better, we do better.” I believe that applies to my H. Maybe one day the same will be said for the OW. I can’t undo what they did, but I get to choose how to handle my pain.
      That video reinforced for me the capacity for forgiveness. Like you, I may never extend the kind of forgiveness she has. But I can make a start by forgiving a bit, just for me.

    2. I also saw that video and took to heart what she said about forgiveness - as I seriously think about leaving, I actually think I'm also ready to forgive. Sex and intimacy are the only holdouts in this relationship, and I feel like I'm losing a part of myself by denying them. Yet, I don't plan to get in another relationship anytime soon, so I'll be denying myself them anyways. Rock meet hard place.

  29. I know exactly what you mean, my husband is so ashamed he simply cannot talk about it anymore ,wants to draw a line under it and for us to be happy and peaceful together in our twilight years YUK!! I still feel sexual, aroused at times, still need the intimacy and he says "sex got me into this mess when all I wanted was to be her friend, to have fun, a drink a laugh!!! WHAT A FOOL he was because he knew she was married too!!! knew she was already having an A!!! he knew she was a whore. WHO in their right mind cold expect her NOT to expect sex being included in the deal!!!
    Those who have affairs should understand how hurt and maybe needy their other is and accept the consequences.
    I know they appear too, yet its we the betrayed that need to be given closure and be happy with our new life after betrayal . Do you think that being ashamed is a minor problem when weighed by side of the heartache their selfishness gave us???
    Yes we have to forgive (or leave) Yet we are not saints as that lady in Aushwitz was we are human beings who trusted and loved, still do, so this pain has been given by a loved one, I doubt that lady loved Mengele!!!!. So she is wonderful I agree. Yet some where in my mind I wonder if her beloved Husband betrayed and hurt her as ours has done could she be better at recovery than we are????

    I too am taking a rest ,stopped talking about the OW now,yet she is still there inside my head.
    We have a good if sexless life together and in every way (but sex) are wonderful together so I agree we must enjoy what we have .
    I just wish my Libido would go away!!!!!
    Viagra only works if the man wants to have sex but cannot get it up, My husband says he has no interest at all in sex!!
    when I tried to talk to him about it he told me he hates the thought of sex and is too old now to care less!! HERES AN IDEA... why didn't he think like that when he was with OW!!!

    1. I wonder what time will do for all of this. I can recognize my husband technically has more pain and shame than I do. In the end I did nothing wrong and if we told anyone our story they would be shocked and would say he was a total jerk and horrible husband and that I was reliable, trustworthy and faithful. But my husband said his biggest fear is he would die and it would come out after he died. I assume he means one of the two ow would tell me after his death. That was his biggest fear in all of this. He holds great shame and feels fake with everyone. One observation he had was he feels all the shame he carried for the 10+ years though he transferred to me. By telling me it is almost as if he has had the weight removed from his shoulders and it is now on me.

      Interesting your husband and how he talks about sex with you but what he did. I think both for women and men there is a mental aspect to sex and arousal and as Elle has said affairs are an escape. So it is a totally different mindset going into it than it is with a spouse of many years. I still wonder why my husband ended both affairs way before dday. He said he hated himself and decided he just could not keep going on like that. Granted he did nothing else but he did stop the affairs.

  30. hopeful, I think I would have been happier if my husband had finished his A before D DAY because I found out very publically was humiliated to despair. All my close family found out (heard him) declaring his love and hope for his future with HER!!! I told every one he finished his A that night and had talked it through and as it wasn't serious I had forgiven him and told them all to try to forget it all!!
    It was a massive lie as the A carried on for 6 months whilst I grew more ill and desperate each day.
    I was such a fool and lost ALL my self respect and self confidence.
    The day he told me it was over I felt dead inside!! had she finished it? why now? I knew they had begun to argue and fight because he wouldn't leave me. Also she began to get to me and verbally attack me.
    Surprised myself really because I laughed in her face !
    Our sex problems began then because we had a really hot sex session on D DAY (he laughed at the end said she had told him if he Fu**ed me ever she would take it as a betrayal and it would be over!!! I had the power to destroy her but foolishly and naively I didn't.
    After a few weeks of hot sex H became unable to finish, became stressed by sex. I thought maybe in his late 60s he was finding it too difficult.
    In the end he asked me to give him space and told me how much he loved me had always loved me said SHE was a mental excitement and although he told her he loved her .He always knew it was ME!!!
    I think like Elle it was an escape ,a game !! a cruel game of lies deceit and heartbreak of which I didn't believe him capable.
    IF HE HAD FINISHED IT like your H did I believe I would be heartbroken yet not totally broken . YOU KNOW HE CHOSE YOU .
    All this stuff is such a mess and none of us get away unscathed we are changed forever. Our lives will be forever changed

    1. I can undersatnd your feelings and I think in some ways it was easier. My husband had 15 months to distance himself. Sure he was watching their fb pages every day. And what a saw were some texts with some random girl at a bar who supposedly grabbed his phone and put her number in it. Again all suspect since why his phone. Why no one else at the table. So his affairs were over but his poor decisions and behaviors were not. He had decided the affairs both emotional and physical were over on his own. I do think that helped us move along and feel more like a team from dday 1. He still did not give me the true details on dday 1. He was still in a sort of affair fog. And he has been open with me and said he did not know if he wanted to be with me going forward on dday 1 since he had lived his life in such a poor way for so long. He was not sure he knew how to be the husband I deserved. He told himself and did not tell me that he would try for 6 months and see how he felt. There were lots of hard times and him adjusting his every day behavior was not easy. Basically everything he did was selfish and for himself first. But he did say it was not work and he found in the end he was a happier and more fulfilled person when he thought about me, us or the kids before himself. But this took a lot of work and effort on his part and me holding him accountable. He is in the mental health field so you would think he would have not done everything he did since he knows the implications but he did and I think all of that training and work experience has helped him too.

      I agree this is all an escape for these people who betray us for whatever their reason. And my husband cannot believe what he said to me on dday and after. He told me he thought I would get along with at least one of the ow. He told me he honestly disliked one but thought the other was a good person and felt sorry for her. I could go on and on. But in the end he told himself whatever he had to to make it through each day.

      I can see what you are saying about feeling my husband chose me. There is some truth to that. But I look at it as my husband just dealt with that alone before I knew. Looking back those were some odd times. The one break up with one of the ow was a really bad situation the night it happened. I remember that night and days following. None of it made sense to me and then things were odd between us. I had no idea. Who knows and I will never know all the details. I had to press him hard since I knew there was ore to it.

      I agree with your last two likes we are all changed forever. I try so hard to focus on the present and I do bring up things that are hard from the past. I tell him he needs to understand how "I feel". No matter what he meant, said or felt he needs to hear how it makes me feel today still.

  31. D Day was 1 month ago. I found out my husband had an affair for 1.5 years with a mutual friend. He is doing everything in his power by following the steps in the books and going to counseling to show me that he is committed to making our marriage work. I am ambivalent and have been seeking counseling to help me navigate this trauma.

    I was surprised to find a strong urge to have sex with him 1 week later. I announced that I wanted it. I wouldn't let him touch me or look at me. I walked away as soon as I felt done. This went on for about a week. I thought I was crazy until I read about hysterical bonding.

    Later, he said that he didn't understand what we were doing. It felt empty, but he was willing to do whatever I needed to feel better. He asked if he could give me a massage. I thought about it for awhile, and then I agreed to let him. I agreed to let him take care of me as I cried and snot ran out of my nose. It was sweet and slow and giving and I eventually found myself hungry for more. We made love and it was tender. I missed him and I even glanced at his eyes.

    Since then, I invite him to my bed when I feel the need. I let him massage my feet, cuddle me, tell me nice things. We are intimate in new ways that feels good and helps me, but I recognize that I would much rather have the safe and innocent love that may have become a little boring after 14 years of marriage and 2 kids. This isn't better. This isn't closer because it is heightened by my body's reaction to trauma. It isn't closer because it was instigated by his choice to create distance and barriers. It is nice and it feels good and it serves a purpose, but it doesn't mean forgiveness or commitment. I am allowing him to be giving and caring. I read somewhere that spouses cheat not because they aren't getting enough at home but because they aren't giving enough at home. Somehow, I feel this is connected, but I haven't been able to articulate exactly how yet.

    During the day, I can't look at his face. I ask him questions, and he answers. We talk for about an hour each day. We eat meals with the kids separately. We each take time to do something fun with the kids daily. I am afraid of betraying myself by engaging in small talk with him or laughing with him.

    I am engaging in 2 separate relationships. The day time relationship where I am the cartographer, drawing the map of where we have been and where I want to go through endless questions. I am cold and scientific, tapping into my logical side. And then there is my nighttime self who is having an affair with my husband. Allowing myself to feel cared for, still staying present to my truths, but suspending the logic. I invite him when I want to and ask him to return to the guest room when I no longer wish to have him there.

    1. Anon 10-1. firstly, for being one moth out from dday you are doing amazingly. For real. I hope you are giving yourself full credit there ( I have a dear friend who often reminds me that i'm "doing good" so I try to help remind others of that too.
      Yes, of course you are ambivalent. Normal response to the kind of hurt and betrayal you've experienced. I am so very glad to hear that you are getting counseling to help you through this. So very necessary. And it sounds like you are very in touch with setting boundaries you need to feel safe emotionally and for your own recovery. For example, your day time vs night time relationship with your spouse. Choosing to get your needs met in ways that work for you sounds very healthy to me.
      Don't rush yourself to feel closer. You've been traumatized. You have a lot to process and one month is way to soon for you to know if yoou are ready for forgiveness and commitment. He's got a lot of work to do and you are allowed to take as much time as you need to let things unfold..
      As far as the idea that spouse cheat because they are not giving enough at home - I think it is from the "Not Just Friends" book by Shirley Glass. And if it resonates, then yes keep thinking about it. My take on that was that if my husband had invested as much time and effort into our relationship as he did in cheating and covering his tracks, then he might have been happier, because we would have been closer. When we invest in our relationships its the opposite of the vicious cycle. Its a loving cycle. When one person in a relationship makes efforts to show they care, speak your love language and give without expectation, the other partner in turn feels love, valued and able to reciprocate in a safe, accepting environment. Sounds pretty freaking great right?
      Sounds like your h is really, really trying to make things right and accepting your terms for relationship right now and doing his best to meet your needs. You don't need to feel grateful or give him a pat on the back or anything. It his responsibility and what he should be doing to make amends right now. Is he in counseling to figure out how and why he did this? What else can he do to make you feel safe or valued? What else do you need (not necessarily about him, just in your life. For me it was more time for art and being outside and regular massage therapy)? Maybe write some of those things down and see how you can increase the time you spend on taking care of you. Not that you are not doing this already, but I've seen, as a general trend, that women who land here have been putting everyone else first for a long time.
      Hang in there Anon. You are doing good. No rush. You are feeling and doing exactly what you need to be doing right now. Be kind to yourself. Sleep when you need to sleep. Accept help with your day to day stuff. Walk when you need to walk. Do things that feed your soul. And come back here when you need to. We've got you.

  32. My husband had an affair while he was away working overseas for four months and I was at home looking after our one year old baby. Here I was, a new mother, who had gained 25 kilos with a terrible pregnancy, and we were having zero sex because of my body image issues and both of us exhausted with no sleep. Then the cliche: My husband is a film director and of course he went and had an affair with a much younger, beautiful coworker while working away on set. Not with an actress, funnily enough, but an 'assistant director'. It still makes my blood boil thinking of the ways she fucking assisted him....

    We used to have great sex, we always have, and honestly, I wonder if we used the sex in the past as a way of avoiding facing the relationship issues that have been there for years. While he was away we couldn't use sex to deal with our issues anymore. Well actually, he did I suppose, just that the sex was not with me.

    Since finding out 4 months ago, after finding an email from her thanking him for "making her feel so special if only for a little while," I have gone through so many confusing emotions: rage, obviously, horror at the image of how he "made her feel special", anxiety and flashbacks. Really upsetting images of them sleeping together, but also things like her touching his arm, being intimate together. I have read that this (images of the wayward spouse and the affair partner) is common, but it doesn't help me feel less disgusted and distressed by them.

    I have moved between wanting sex with him, wanting to win him back and cancel the affair and her out. It is the one area I know we connect so strongly in so I guess it is like my trump card. We have slept together twice and both times the sex itself was very intense, but definitely hot sex - not making love at all. Both times I was angry with him afterwards for not making love, for not being loving, just basically not being intimate with me at all. It left me pretty depressed afterwards.

    All my life I have had body image issues, I have been compared and compared myself to my beautiful older sister - which one was skinnier, which one was prettier. I have never been satisfied with my weight, even before the pregnancy. But this... his affair? It has shattered me. I have lost the baby weight now, mostly due to stress and am back to where I was more or less before I had her. I do feel better about my body. But my breasts are so completely different after breastfeeding, and my body shape is just completely different now, but I hate that I feel so ashamed of it and constantly compare it to this other woman... well, girl really. She was about 23 or 24.

    I just don't know how I will ever get over this. And I am so angry at him for taking away the one thing that used to be a place I could escape from anxiety. Sex, making love, that was always that freeing place I could go to and just not think. And it was a place where I felt good about myself, where i felt sexy. Now it is filled with anxiety for me and shame about my body. Fuck him for that!

    How I can ever love my body or myself again if I stay in this. Will this comparison with her ever stop? Will these feelings of not being good enough and ashamed only deepen if I stay in this relationship?

    1. ellebee, I'm running out of time this morning, but I wanted to give you a quick response because I know this pain you have. I suffered with a terrible body image all my life.
      Your reaction, rage, horror, anxiety, flashbacks? That's all normal stuff in response to trauma. Be kind to yourself. Those reactions are your body doing its job, telling you that something is not right. Your body is amazing and doing its best to keep you safe. Be kind and patient with yourself.
      I have so much to write to you and I will do so very soon, but please please please, stop comparing yourself to the OW. No matter how young, attractive blah blah blah she is, she is a waste of skin. And she's got nothing you want. Please read this amazing piece written by Elle. I read it over and over just after dday to help me get over my obsession with the OW.
      "I just don't know how I will ever get over this." Its going to be hard, some days are gonna suck, but you get past this one day, one hour, one minute at a time. I promise you that you will not always feel like this.
      Hang in there Ellebee. I'll be back with more thoughts for you. Much love! Keep breathing.

    2. Ok Ellebee, I hope you are doing ok, breathing, surviving. Give yourself a pat on the back for showing up today.
      I want to talk with you about your body image shame. I so feel you there. I struggled with this almost forever. And when I gained weight after difficult pregnancies, I felt so much shame and embarrassment about being naked and about sex. I avoided it. It gets so complicated, doesn't it?
      You've left some really important clues for yourself in your own post.
      "I wonder if we used the sex in the past as a way of avoiding facing the relationship issues that have been there for years." If this is what your gut is telling you, then this is probably worth exploring, on your own and in couple therapy. If you are not seeing a counselor or in therapy, I highly recommend it. To me, it is a necessary part of working through this trauma we experience and all of our old stuff that it brings to the surface. And I promise you, the intensity of the pain and anger you are feeling are at least in part due to our own childhood and family experiences. So. You've noted that sex was an escape for you both. and you saw how that played out as a shitty coping strategy for him when left to deal with his loneliness or pain on his own.
      The playback of the mind movies of your spouse and the OW can be debilitating. They seem to take over and have their way with us. There's good news and bad news. The good news is that it will fade over time and hassle you less. The bad news is that yoou have complete control over whether or not you let the mind movies play out and how long they hurt you. Yup. You read that right. Its hard, oh so hard. And there's no one right way to handle the mind movies but lots of people on here have shared some great ideas. One - wear a rubber band on your wrist. Every time one of those movies starts in your head, snap the rubber band to literally snap yourself out of it. Two - interrupt the movie by picturing a big stop sign and literally say stop out loud or in your head (I had to sometimes repeat this a bunch before my brain let it go). Three - picture a pure white light getting brighter and enveloping the scene until it is all washed clean and gone. Four - my own strategy? I pictured my spouse and the OW with really really bad gas, like farting up a storm. Ridiculous. Absurd and not at all sexy. Really took the power of the scenes away with a little fuck you for spice. And I promise you that whatever you picture in your head is 10k times more "sexy and amazing" than anything that happened in real life. It was probably more "ew" than anything.
      On the hot sex vs. intimate and loving sex, give yourself a break. Can you reframe it as him doing the best he can right now and you getting some of your needs met? I know it did not meet your needs and expectations for closeness, but remember that may not be the case for him. The hot sex may be his expression of love right now. But you are also allowed to feel disappointed. Are you able to express that to him? I would not recommend talking just after the fact but maybe at a lore neutral time. say, "hey I am glad we are connecting physically, I know that's always been good for us. But I'm not feeling as connected or close as I'd like to. Do you think we can try for more slow and poetic next time?" And don't forget you have a voice while you two are in bed together too. You are allowed to say "can we slow down a moment?" or "I'd just like you to kiss me a bit longer." what ever it is you'd like. Ask for it. You are responsible for getting your needs met and he can't meet them if he doesn't know what they are. And in all of it, be gentle and forgiving of yourself. There's no "right" but you may still feel like you are not getting it "right." Give yourself a hug like you would to a friend going through this and tell yourself that where you are is just fine, that you are doing the best you can.

    3. ElleBee, on the body image struggles. Again you've left clues for yourself in what you've written.

      You wonder if you can ever love yourself and your body if you stay. At the same time you write that you have had body image issues your whole life. Were subject to unfair comparisons.
      I'm gently putting it out there that the body image issues will not be solved just by leaving or staying or repairing your marriage. That those issues are ones that you brought with you into the relationship and unless you dig into them, you will carry them with you into the next relationship. No one else can fix this for you or make you feel good enough. But this is really, very good news. Because imagine getting to a place where you liked yourself. Where feeling good about who you are wasn't dependent on the opinion of others or how you compared to them. Where you could walk around comfortable in your own skin. Sounds pretty good.
      It is a long road (and continues to be a challenge for me, I'm not gonna lie). but so worth the effort. If you are not already in therapy, please consider getting there. With all you are going through, it helps to have someone completely in your corner. Your path from self loathing to self love, is your own. I can't map out the steps I took because it happened over a long time. But I think the biggest leaps forward happened when I 1) forgave myself for being imperfect and instead started loving my imperfections (including my stretch marked post breast feeding boobies - they do good work!) and 2) when I dropped judgement. When I interrupted my judgement of self (see my recent post on "should" ( ). And recognizing that when I am sitting in judgement of others its usually about something I don't like about myself. When this happens see item 1.
      I got a ton out of Brene Brown's books. I highly recommend them. And also a lot about dealing with mind movies and letting go of my negative, self critical thoughts through learning to meditate. I use an app called Calm and their early lessons on how to meditate were life changing for me.
      And just so you know I'm human, I'm having a little circle back on my weight body issue right this second. I lost over 50 lbs leading up to and post dday. but I have kept it off for two years. Recently my life has shifted. More work, more fun, more food and less working out. I had started to let some of my self care routine lapse. And guess what? I gained some weight. This time however, I am not killing myself over what an abject and complete failure I must be to let something like that happen. Part of me is panicking. But I'm telling that old self to sit down and relax. Its my body doing its job based on what I am telling it. So I need to shift the messages, get back in touch with my running and the cross training that makes me feel so good. And indulge less (there's a difference between indulging yourself and taking care of myself) but form a place of love and self care. And to recognize that it is all in my control, both my body an dhow I respond to this situation. One thing I notice though, is that when I hit that top number, I started to see myself as less attractive, did my butt look bigger? Am I getting a double chin? That is crazy talk. I still fit in my clothes. And two years ago I felt like hot shit at this number because I was coming at it from the other direction. So I noticed. And I'm doing my best to change my thinking.
      Ellebee, hang in there. You are doing good.

  33. it is all so sad and we each must find our way through the terrifying maze of pain, heartbreak, shock and new reality.
    This is easier said than done and we all have to do it in our own way. We are never wrong in this journey, all we must do is be true to ourselves and look after ourselves and our children.
    Hysterical bonding hit me like a ton of bricks falling on my head!!!! I was lucky that I didn't catch a std!!!! as he told me he would sleep in the spare room on DDay !I was so in shock and loved him so much I said "you have climbed into this bed for 46 years even whilst with HER!!! what has changed.
    What changed was his emotions were a total mess, He wanted the excitement of OW but also the long gentle love of me.
    Sex had dropped off a bit ,I thought it was age related and was not TOO worried until I was confronted by him going elsewhere for sex !!!!!!!
    When I was overcome by needing sex I sorted myself out .I had always had a much higher libido the him!!!!!
    That night I lay there couldn't sleep, I could feel he couldn't sleep either but for a couple of hours we lay back to back.
    Strangely and annoyingly I could feel my body getting hot and sexy but would never have acted on it until he turned over ,touched my back and said " baby I am so sorry, I have been a pig I wish I had not done it, i know its hard to believe but it is YOU I love"
    I tuned towards him crying and before I knew it he was inside me and I really went for it!!!
    I became a sex maniac, doing things I never had before ,I was so energetic and insatiable , I blew his mind !!
    WHY???? I can only guess I was trying to be exciting, I was trying to be better than OW!! who knows yet that night began my hysterical bonding. I was extreme!! Even when I knew he was still seeing her ...I had my pleasure OH he was happy enough...What was I doing ??? all I can come up with is I wanted to be ONLY lover and tried to wear him out leaving little but friendship for her!!!
    Truth is ,none of us understand what drive us! I went to therapy alone and learned to firstly forgive myself, before I even began to forgive his A and not worry about my own behaviour as it was simply reaction .
    The saddest part of my hysterical bonding phase was between us (OW was pouting when he didn't want to have sex anymore) so all the pressure around sex actually put my H off!
    Sex and intimacy remains very important to me and is actually my only problem now.
    We hold hands, hug and connect in gentle ways he will kiss me but mostly closed mouth none sexual kisses .
    We talked about it and he cried.... "I love you so much, I am so sorry A happened, you are my soul mate ,my best friend, everything to me,yet I am frightened to begin what I cannot finish now"
    I have tried everything recommended ....I live in hope things will get better in our intimate life.
    STILL WE CANNOT HELP OUR REACTION TO ALL THIS CRAP!! I try to tell myself he is reacting to the situation too!!!

  34. Still Standing - I have a strong support system, but hearing your words from someone who has been through this is amazingly powerful. Thank you for your support.

    You are right. I have been in a long pattern of putting other people first, and I am taking time to walk outside when needed. I cut out all the shrubs on the front yard with power tools the first week. Now, I am in the long slow process of digging out the roots. These are my holes, and nobody else can help me sift through the dirt to unearth the tangled knots below. I am learning things like what appears so menacing seems small and benign once excavated. I don't know what that means yet, but I know it's important.

    I miss my old self, but I trust that am still me. I trust the things that make me good will come back, that they are quietly waiting to emerge again. I've been going to the gym, connecting with friends, and scheduled a date with my son to go zip lining! I needed an adventure to look forward to.

    He is going to counseling to seek answers and to "become a person who I can admire, who can challenge me to be a better person." These are qualities I've longed for in a partner for far too long. It's hard to embrace my period of ambivalence, but this wait and see pattern gives me more time to assess his actions for improvement, a glimpse of what could be. But this kind of change takes immense time, and consistency in follow through cannot be predicted.

    I am trying to embrace my state of ambivalence, and I don't know how long is appropriate. We begin discernment counseling in 2 weeks, and I am open to begin walking through the possibilities of 2 very different choices. Stay or go. I told the counselor that I am protective of not forcing a decision too soon, and she assured me that is never her goal. I have no idea where I will end up, but I keep reminding myself to trust that whatever outcome I decide will be for the better. Better than where I have been. Better than I can imagine because there is nothing concrete in my imagination right now. Except pain and betrayal. And anger. And spilling things on purpose and walking away because it makes me feel a little satisfied, but not worried I've lost my values.

    And so I keep sifting because the big answers are too tough to see. And the roots are very entangled. So I write lists of the smaller things. What do I want out of a partner? What am I afraid of if I stay / go? Who am I? The sifting is slow.

    1. This speaks to me in a big way. I hope things are going better for you. What is discernment counselling please? Where could I find out more?

  35. SS1--I loved the idea about the rubberband but then you gave the example of visualizing flatulent sex!!! OMG that one is GREAT!! LOL I'm going to throw in halitosis too as my H's OW was a smoker and had bad teeth!!! Haha imagine the bad breath there!!!

    Fact is there was probably nothing magical or off the charts sexy with the sex in their affairs. We do this to ourselves because of all the movies and love songs. I know I as a BS have romanticized the hell out of the affair when in fact it was probably not that special. I mean rarely is sex that great. In all my years on this earth the only place I've ever heard anyone bragging about great mind blowing sex is in the movies!! I too needed to change my thinking on that because in reality if it were really that great or the AP were that great, they would be with HER not you. We must control our own imaginations and fantasies about the OW and the affairs.

  36. I hate to write this but i often wonder if my H was scratching one of his seemingly endless rashes or had his nervous BO while with her. finally something to make me laugh.

  37. Still standing -- wow thank you so much for your awesome responses. Honestly, it has been so helpful not only to have someone who has been through something similar talk about their experiences to me, but that I know you've also dealt with the body image stuff too and that it is possible to deal with it. These are some really great suggestions to deal with the mind movies thank you so much.

    And the body image stuff - absolutely I need to get this sorted regardless of what happens with the relationship. I've been in therapy in the past prior to the affair and this has been a big focus, but maybe not as in depth as it should have been. In retrospect my pregnancy and weight gain really messed with my head and even after the baby was born I made him wait 5 months before we slept together as I felt so unattractive. Don't get me wrong, we had major shit in our relationship going on, lots of fighting and very little goodwill between us, so the affair wasn't just about me not wanting to sleep with him. But it certainly played a role.

    The thing is, I'm just stuck in this loop of feeling like: if I stay, there's always going to be some voice in my head saying: you aren't good enough. Or worse, this voice saying: you can't ever let your body slip again, if you get overweight again, or get pregnant again (I def want another and I'm already 33) then he will do this again to you. I just feel so completely fucking unsafe right now. I know I have control over these thoughts and beliefs to an extent, but the reality is, it happened at THE most vulnerable time in my life. It's insane to feel like I can ever truly be vulnerable with him and trust him again. Isn't it???

    And you know what, the hot sex-without-making love-sex I talked about? I think partly I was the one driving that... I think I was trying to avoid feeling vulnerable with him, I was trying to stay on top (so to speak;) and being pretty wild. He was a bit confused when I got angry afterwards as he said he thought I was enjoying it, which I was. But also just trying to drown out any thoughts and fears about the OW.

    The fucking OW. Fuck her! The thing I can't help but do is compare myself to how she looks. She's beautiful - I wish she fucking wasn't but she is. And so much younger. Like a more beautiful, younger version than me. I don't see how if I stay with him I'm ever going to stop feeling like I have to look over my shoulder. If I stay with him, I'm going to go mad with comparing, go mad with waiting for him to cheat again, and just be a jealous freak and end up hating myself in the process.

    Is it just a matter of time and space, and catching and challenging those negative thoughts every time they come up?

    But what if his affair had just confirmed every negative fear and thought I've ever had? I just feel like staying is not healthy for me given all my bloody baggage... I want to believe that maybe it's possible the affair will be the thing that finally gets me to sort my own stuff out, and I want to believe I can grow from this, and possibly come out on the other side loving myself more and bring more confident than ever. But I just don't see how it is possible?

    1. Ellebee,
      As my therapist used to remind me, it isn't what others say to us that's the problem, it's what we say to ourselves. And it sounds like you have a long history of telling yourself that you are only worth loving if you are the most beautiful, the most fit, the most thin, the most..., the most..., the best... That voice will be there whether you stay in your marriage or not. You can't outrun it. But you can learn to talk back to it. You can learn to challenge it. It's simply not true. It's lying to you. Your husband didn't cheat because there's something wrong with you, he cheated because there's something wrong with him. He cheated because he lacks moral integrity, he cheated because he's selfish.
      You can grow from this and that's where your focus needs to be, on healing yourself. You can use this as an opportunity to see all the ways in which you've been harming yourself and learn how to stop. It will not be easy. We women are raised to constantly gauge our worth by our appearance, to "earn" our place by being accommodating. Fuck that. You deserve long and belonging because you do. You deserve respect and kindness and honesty because that's what you give back.
      If he's doesn't have the integrity to be in a healthy relationship with you, then it's HIS loss, not yours.

    2. Hi Elle I just wanted to say thanks for your reply to this. I've come back to read it a few times now, and realised I didn't actually thank you for your words and for taking the time to write them. X

  38. Is anyone else having some issues with the whole Harvey Weinstein scandal? As the spouse of an SA it's really hard to hear everyone saying that SA isn't a "thing." And all the while I want to jump up and say "yes it is!"

    1. I'm stunned by it, even though, by now, it's hardly surprising. And I haven't heard anyone refer to it as SA, which is, most definitely, a "thing". Though I'd be surprised if it's a thing for him. What I'm hearing about doesn't sound like sex addiction, it's sounds like garden-variety sexual assault and harassment and the type of misogyny that women have been dealing with since the dawn of time. It strikes me that this was about power more than sex. Sex was simply the tool he was using to assert dominance. Sex addiction is using sex to medicate feelings. Maybe I'm wrong but I'd be surprised if he's a sex addict. Just an asshole.
      That said, I don't mean to dismiss what you're going through. I had a hard time during the election when there was such cruelty lobbed at Hillary Clinton because of her husband's affairs. It struck me as so unfair and emblematic at how women, no matter where we figure into the equation, are the ones blamed. So this is the time to practice radical self-care, be kind to yourself, be extra gentle with yourself. And know that there are people who don't think climate change is a "thing", or evolution is a "thing". Hardly worth worrying about their opinion.

    2. Radlady, this whole Weinstein thing started to trigger me at first but I quickly thought to myself, "no, this guy is just your garden variety asshole, power drunk, male chauvinist pig who feels entitled to force himself on women because he believes he is entitled to do whatever he wants because he is a power broker". Sadly, this went on for decades because he was protected. I believe he felt entitled to whatever woman who crossed his path regardless of his status or theirs. My husband, on the other hand, was using sex/porn to alleviate negative feelings about himself. I have not heard the Weinstein scandal described as SA but now I'll be prepared to hear it. Ugh, what a vile and disgusting man.

  39. Harvey Weinstien is NOT your garden variety asshole. Saying that gives a bad name to assholes. Harvey Weinstien may or may not be a SA but Harvey Weinstien is a predator and a rapist and a criminal. He needs to be charged and arrested and away from the public. It's not a matter of politics or women coming out of the woodwork now that he's exposed, he is a criminal and I for one am thrilled his life is falling apart. This is Karma at it's best. I hope other men just like him who think they are all powerful and in control are watching and learning. But my guess is they probably are not because well they are just that damn sure of themselves.

    1. TryingHard,
      You're absolutely right. I didn't mean to sound flip with that description -- but to differentiate him from some with sex addiction. However, it sounded flip and I'm sorry. We can't become blasΓ© about this type of behaviour even though it is far far too common. But he was a predator and he enlisted others in victimizing these women. Absolutely criminal and I hate that he's hiding behind "therapy for sex addiction" as if HE is the victim here.

  40. Oh my dear Elle. I was not targeting you or anyone else who has commented about this criminal. We also cannot let what this man is doing, because it's all about power and not sex, trigger any of us who have experienced betrayal and infidelity.

    What he has done goes so far beyond infidelity or even SA. His running off to Europe I believe is so he can't be tried in the US as in Roman Polanski who raped an underage girl and is still hiding out in Europe!

    Comparing what Weinstein has done is not the same as what all of us have gone through, but oh his poor wife and children. I also wonder just how much of this crap she was aware of and looked the other way. Money and power buys a whole lot of ugly. Whatever, she is going to be just fine. I doubt she will have to be tested for STD's because I'm sure she stopped having sex with that disgusting creature years ago and financially she is doing the smart thing by getting her money before his victims sue him for every dime he has.

    My dear ones here to do not let Weinstein trigger you. It is not the same. It is criminal and disgusting and it happens every single day all over corporate America. Do not blame the victims. I was a victim of child sexual abuse and I never told anyone until I was 30. We blame ourselves. We worry people won't believe us. It's embarrassing as hell to admit. What is NOT part of that narrative is the victims are more worried about their own career. That is NOT true and everyone needs to quit saying it.

    No, I have taken no offense or thought anyone was flip in their comments here. I just want to help those that are being triggered by this criminal. I think what we all should do is realize by the Grace of God we aren't one of his victims or related to him! If you are my deepest sympathies.

    1. It's incredible to watch the response to victims by those who prefer silence. If they speak up, it's too late. If they choose anonymity, what do they have to hide? If they use their name, they're seeking attention. Etc. Etc. It has been interesting to me to also see the men stepping up to say this sort of harassment has happened to them too. This is about power, pure and simple. It's about dominance. It's abhorrent.
      I'm so sorry about what happened to you, TryingHard but glad you were able to speak about it. Silence poisons us from the inside. But when people are ready to speak, we must be ready to listen and to believe them.

  41. The only thing that smacks of sex addiction to me (and i know a little being married to one) is the DESPERATION in his voice, if you have heard that tape. My GOD he sound fuckinig PATHETIC "please, please, just one minute and you can go, please please" UGH. the rest of it he is an asshole and an entitled bully. I have always thought that Georgina Chapman is one of the world's most beautiful women (project runway is a guilty pleasure) and that should prove once again that it is NOT about how "we" look, it about "their" mental/emotional illness and shortcomings. But then again, I was highly triggered by all the accolades thrown on to Hugh Hefner when he died. Yes, no one held a gun to any of these womens heads to pose naked for Playboy. I'm sure no one checked them for daddy issues either (sweeping generalization I know)

    1. Steam. You make a great point about the desperation in his pleading voice. From what little knowledge I have about SA it doesn’t matter who or how beautiful the women are. It just happens he had access to beautiful women.

      I heard an interesting comment. Georgina didn’t leave him because she just found out. She left him because WE found out. I’m certain many have known for years what HW has been doing. They looked the other way. His abuse apparently has been going on for decades. Hollywood is a different world than the rest of us live in I’m thinking.

  42. TryingHard I'm so sorry you went through that. What do you do as a little kid? Awful. I know as a grown up it's hard enough. I was physically confronted twice. Once I was about 21 by a boss who would not stop touching me, in an open office. I had a tiny "peek-a-boo" on the back of my shirt that he felt compelled to touch if I turned by back On him. After about the third time of moving away I finally said "would you get your FINGERS off me" loud enough that all heard. While he pantomimes a "sorry sorry" with his hands on his cheeks and everyone laughed. They laughed. Another time TOTALLY alone but working late with a coworker I had worked with for years, he followed me into a supply closer and literally grabbed me and thrust his pelvis against mine. That scared the hell out of me. And when I reported it NO one knew how to handle it. It was 1990 and no one knew what to do except have us hash it out in the bosses office. At that point I was loud and upset enough that word for around the office and 2 other women approached me to thank me because he had done the same to them but they never reported it because they didnt anyone would believe them. He had been there 20 years and remained there. I was moved to a daytime position. There is a part of me that understands as non willing participants we can STILL worry that we "brought this on" or that we would ruin someone's lives. The grabber told the boss that he misread my "signals". He thought I wanted it. Really? After all those years one would think we would have had plenty of time to discuss wether I "wanted" to be violently grabbed while walking past him to get OUT of that area.

    1. Steam, et. al. At 66 years old, I grew up in that age of male entitlement and suffered for years with the unwanted advances of entitled men who thought just because I was young and cute that I'd accept their advances. I was sexually abused as a young teen and my own father sold me to a buddy at the bar one Friday night for $100. My mother was furious and he was drunk and I was just 13. All of this triggers me as it has for years and now I've spent the last 38+ years with a man with a history of SA/Porn affinity. He has been "clean" and on the strait and narrow since D-day and we are doing well 95% of the time. I keep my pain to myself most of the time because nobody can really make it go away except me as I work through the reality of my life. HW brought up so many ugly memories and experiences of my younger self and it has taken heroic measures for me to not look at my spouse with hatred and venom for being male. Just because he now understands how he got to be where he is today does not mean that I can make sense of how I never knew, suspected or thought he had the capacity to undermine my life/world as I thought I built it over the years. Triggers are everywhere and I fight the overwhelming urge to throw up every single time I read about all these entitled men and their criminal behavior that went unchecked by women who feared retribution or who needed their job or whatever. We should not have to live like this but sadly we do.

  43. Steam— these stories about office sexual harassment are horrifying. I’ve never had it happen to me in part since I was abused when I was 11-12 by a family member. I give off a “don’t fuck with me vibe “ with men. Lol I think I scare them which is my intention. Even in my own business men try to flirt with me. But I shoot that look and they back off.

    As I said I think I’m stronger because I was sexually abused. Even as a young girl I knew not to tell. I wouldn’t be believed. And once I told my family 15 years later it was still kept quiet and not to tell certain family members. I got the whole “why tell now” too from my damn family!!! So I get why women don’t come forward. It’s a lose lose situation for them. Personally I hope WH does himself in!! When my abuser died I was so happy. And my family expected me to go to the wake!!! Ugh! I didn’t because I know I’d have spit in his dead ass!!

  44. Beach Girl--I am so sorry for the abuse you have suffered. Yes we put that crap in the basement of our souls hoping never to see it again. And then the news.

    I have had to disconnect from the news on so many levels. It seems every single day there is something so sad and triggering. I've found disconnecting i.e. no FB, no CNN, etc. I am a nervous wreck over all of it and I feel so helpless. Right now there's #metoo on FB so that we that have been abused at the hands of men can speak out. I am not participating. I just can't do it. I did it here because it's pretty anonymous but I just can't publicly and I can't read it that it's happened to so many people I know. It truly is an epidemic. I spoke out and told the truth many years ago and was told to quit talking about it. So lesson learned.

    I am personally sick of hearing it's only locker room talk, and let's not make this a witch hunt, and boys will be boys... And yes I too feel like smacking every damn man I come in contact with and that's not right either. WH and his business hasn't hit rock bottom yet and I doubt they will but I can sure hope Karma has her way with ALL of them.

    Hugs to you Beach Girl. I hear you and you are not wrong.

  45. I am so lost right now. D day was 4 months ago. Ever since that time, up until the last two weeks, my husband and I have been hysterically bonding and I mean hysterically. The hysterical bonding has tapered and life has started to return to normalcy.
    With this shift I don't know what to do.

    I feel completely flat and utterly betrayed. When my husband and I have sex now all I can see, like a movie trailer playing in my head, is him having sex with the OW better known in my home as the pigshit. I try to envision a stop sign as has been recommended in some support groups, but it is not working. When sex is finished I end up crying uncontrollably. I don't know what to do. My husband is genuinely trying to be supportive but I think he thought he might have made it through relatively unscathed due to the bonding and now things are getting real. He told me this morning after sex that I need to try to not wallow in these thoughts as it really is mind over matter. When he said that, I went completely numb. I didn't get angry, nothing. I am completely ambivalent right now.

    My husband promises nothing to anyone because he feels promises can be broken. We even removed the word promise from our vows. He did however prior to our marriage promise to never cheat on me but he did cheat on me with absolutely no thoughts to me or our daughter.

    I don't know where I am or what I am supposed to do next. Is this normal? Am I ever going to get out of this? Should I even be having sex with him right now?

    I am a very head strong personality and I don't like feeling these "poor me" sentiments. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Anonymous,
      Please know that everything you're describing sounds perfectly normal, under the circumstances. Your husband's expectations of "mind over matter" reveal utter ignorance about the trauma that infidelity causes. And that's what you're dealing with -- emotional trauma. It's one of the most devastating things we can go through, to have a partner violate our trust. So please be gentle with yourself. We headstrong women need to learn to remove the expectation that we will magically get over this. But where our headstrong personality comes in is that we will work hard on our healing -- but you need support. If you don't already have a therapist, I hope you'll find one who can help you process this pain. You will get through this but it sure helps to have a wise person to guide you along.
      In the meantime, continue to read and post here. The women on this site are incredible -- compassionate and smart and brave. And they know the pain you're in.
      For now, have sex if you want to, even if you cry when it's over. Ask your husband to stop giving you advice and just listen to your pain. (It's a good idea, if you haven't already, to get tested for STDs and to ensure he does too. In the meantime, use condoms.) If you want to feel intimate in other ways -- being held, being listened to, holding hands, then do that. There is no "right" way out of this. You get to decide what's right for you.
      And please don't think that being gentle with yourself or asking for support is "poor me". It takes courage to reach out. We help each other not because we pity each other but because we respect each other and it's good for us to share what we've learned.

    2. Anon, I'm so sorry things have happened to bring you here, but I'm glad you've found us. I second Elle; everything sounds like a normal response to this trauma.
      I saw you do what you need to do, even if that's cry after sex, even if it's punch pillows, even is its sitting quietly and feeling sad or flat. It's all part of the healing process.
      That whole mind over matter, pull yourself up by your bootstraps stuff from your h is utter BS and more about him not wanting to deal with consequences than about trying to "help" you. I would shut down if the person who hurt me told me I should "try harder to get over it" to my face.
      Hey so about the mind movies, I know they feel like they are having their way with you, but that will get better in time. You know what worked for me? When I got those images in my head (and they would sneak up on me all over the place - in the car, at the store, falling asleep, watching TV) I would picture them both with horrific gas. Like just farting uncontrollably. It really took the power away from those scenes and it gave me a feeling of control and eventually (thanks to the medical grade flatulence, I was able to banish the images altogether because they were just so ridiculous.
      Hang in there anon, you don't have to fix this or "get better" all at once. You don't need to make any decisions right now. Just focus on yourself and take care of you. Hugs!

    3. Thanks still standing just brightened my day with the medical grade flatulence...I actually envisioned it and laughed out thanks :)

  46. Thank you Elle for your reply, it has made me feel better.

    STDs were checked 2 days after D-day. I am a cervical cancer survivor and my biggest worry was an illness that could take me back so that was first on my list.

    I am glad to hear that it sounds like what I am going through is normal. I feel like I am losing my mind and the waves are just crushing me right now. Because I am so head strong, I have been really reading and trying to find out as much information to make me feel better and make more sense out of everything. Unfortunately though, being headstrong also means I am slightly impatient. I want this to go away now but it just isn't. I am scheduled with a counsellor tomorrow night and hopefully this will help to start to lift some of the fog and ambivalence that I am feeling.

    Thank you also for your suggestions about what to do after intimacy. I think I need to take a step back and figure out what I need right now.

    I am so thankful for this group and all the support that comes with it.

    1. I too tend to take a "knowledge is power" approach to my problems. But this one? This one required something that I wasn't so good at doing -- it required me to just give in to the pain, to just accept that I couldn't fast-track healing and that I didn't have nearly the control over everything in my life that I thought I had. And when I was able to just be gentle with myself, to just allow myself to have days when all I could do was cry, I actually began to feel better. And that ability to stop demanding of myself to have it all together has stayed and I'm far healthier and happier as a result. I was a freaking task-master to myself. Still room for improvement...but I've come a long way. You will too. I hope the counsellor helps and creates space where you can just explore where you go from here.

  47. So I was reading a post by Dan Savage (he does a sex and relationships advice column called "Savage Love" and he is very sex positive, addresses LGBQTA issues etc - and I'm laying out right here that his column is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for the newly betrayed. His topics can definitely be triggering. So don't go look for his stuff unless you are sure you are ready.) But the specific piece was a response to a letter. Basically a man was trying to make amends for past stuff, especially in the wake of current events (Harvey Weisnstein). He realized that in a past relationship he had used coercion, shame and guilt to get a partner to have sex with him. So he wasn't clear if it was consensual or borderline or if he needed to apologize. Since he was still friends with the woman for the last decade, the advice was to apologize, and leave it at that, not make her responsible for comforting him or telling him it was OK, just address, apologize and leave it. What caught my attention was the discussion about how guilting a partner into sex can be experienced differently depending on your history. So for a person like me, who has been coerced in the past, that use of pressure, guilt and shame to make sex happen can be triggering and feel more problematic than for a person without that in their past. And a lightbulb went on for me.
    My ex and I had a very difficult sex life. I rarely felt safe and so it was always a point of contention. When you are not free to say no, you can't say yes. And I was always under pressure to deliver the goods and shame and guilt was always to tool he used to get me to comply. Super dysfunctional. Reading that article in Dan's blog was another point of healing and closure for me. Because I carried with me for so long, a feeling that I alone was responsible for our problems in the bedroom. Now I know that is simply not true. And now I have a completely easy and uncomplicated sex life with my new partner, I have room to in fact feel desire on my own before I;m expected to perform, I realize that the dysfunction was even less to do with me than I thought. A partner who cared about me would understand how very important being able to safely say no would be to me, given my past. That partner would understand it wasn't about them, and wouldn't pressure me to change my mind. But I owned that for so long. And the article really let me lay a bit more of it to rest.

    1. SS1, that is profound. Thanks for sharing.

  48. This is the first time I have seen this web site..YAH!! Already its so helpful to know that someone else knows/understands the HELL that one lives in when infidelity occurs. I've currently been married 34 years and 10 years into the marriage my h (who I asked many, many times if he was unfaithful) finally broke down and tells me that he is a sex addict. Well, I should say so....23 women in 10 years! Not all of them it was sexual intercouse with but, it doesn't means that intercourse is the only criteria for infidelity. Our 3 children were all 5 and under. I was a stay at home housewife. The only reason I stayed was that my husband truely was remorseful. I believed there would be a greater good achieved if I stayed to keep the family intact and that I never wanted to put my children in a position of going back and forth from house to house and then his probable girlfriends or possibly remarrying. I could never comes to terms with that outcome. But, I did realize that would be the outcome if he was to cheat again...I told him anymore women and you are gone! Well, 24 years later here we are. I have struggled with PTSD from his pathetic choices....and thought things are going somewhat okay after this amount of time. And this morning he asks...why don't we have sex anymore? I tell reasons are that I continue to struggle with the things you lied about and did because I live everyday with the tapes playing in my head as if it's happening all over again. He knows that I see a psychiatrist for anxiety medication due to the PTSD. I hear the question as if it ALL MY FAULT for not having sex very often. Then goes on to say it's just like our honeymoom where I rejected him. I'm sure it did feel like rejection when he is constantly wanting it....not hard enough to do it...but keeps persisting. was a real turn off. Then to mention after the marriage he tells me for years that he expects it 20 times a day....oh man...I'm thinking what kind of sick-o are you?? Oh my gosh...what have I gotten myself into??
    I say this because of what he said this morning it seems like not much as really changed in regards to his thinking. Honestly, it feels like he just kicked me in the heart. Well, just like I told him you don't seem to understand the PTSD and how it affects me. I am releasing some pressure by sharing this junk with others that have been afflicted by this atomic bomb...INFIDELITY. Welcome to hear any input...

    1. Anonymous October 29,
      Y our H needs education. Can he go to the psychiatrist with you and the psychiatrist can teach him? Can you buy him books on post-infidelity-stress-syndrome? Can you print out things from the internet on what a WH needs to do to help their BW recover from betrayal and he is willing to read it and do it? PS you are 0% responsible for his SA. If he thinks some of this was your fault, then maybe that's an opportunity for you to invite him to go to MC together. You keep healing you.

    2. Anon, if you and he were relying on his willpower, remorse and your threat of leaving, to deal with a serious intimacy disorder, then it wasn't going to last. Sex addiction requires serious intervention and therapy. You both need to decide if he really can put the work in and if you really want to put in the work with him then get thee immediately to an experienced therapist who has a background in addiction. You should also check out spouses of sex addicts.

  49. Anon---Sex Addiction is like any other addiction. It's progressive, which means he already had it before he even MET you. It's like alcoholism. It took me a while to put two and two together on both counts. I am a slow learner. I saw my husbands drinking INCREASE, while mine decreased over the years. Same with sex. I knew he had a high drive and although as usual, true to form things DID taper off for me, they didnt for him--although he wasn't having all the sex with me i found out 13 years in. NO one starts off drinking a fifth of vodka a day and no one starts going to hookers the first time they get a hard on (hookers were his drug of choice) NONE of this is your fault, but you should not have to feel like this 24 years later. Does your shrink do anything but give you meds? I am NOT anti meds at all, but you should not be suffering like this, you should be moving on one way or another, and you have every right to do so.

    1. Anon, Did you individually go to therapy or together? I agree that meds are good and psychiatrists have a role but I wonder if seeking out a therapist that specializes or has experience more in this area would help both of you. I know typcially for men and women they are driven sexually in different ways. To me it makes total sense based on what has happened that you are not driven sexually. You are still affected by his actions which is normal. At least for me it is all connected no matter how much my husband wants to compartmentalize it. Also my husband says the majority of couples in therapy have mismatched sexual interests. He has told me this is so common. What each person does with that is different and of course affairs are not a solution as we all know. But many therapist do deal with this mismatch. As far as any sex addition I do not know a lot but what Steam said is so on par. I notice it was alcohol. And for us that has been a major discussion/issue and I see all the parallels.

  50. Would anyone have advice for reconnecting to sexuality/ exploring my own wishes?

    I have been so busy 'surviving' since betrayal, dealing with practical issues, working and caring for my daughter... I know I NEED to take time just for me, but I am terrified and exhausted.

    A few months ago, kind sisters here suggested physical care, dancing, etc. I do enjoy those things. But I still feel very vulnerable and apprehensive about anything sexual/genital.

    I feel zero desire/libido.

    What I want is to get free of being held back and to dare to enjoy and develop this aspect of my life. Right now, I have no partner.

    I feel like a stunted tween!

    1. Selkie, I had to heal my sexuality on my own too. I have some thoughts for you and I will try to gather them in the next few days. Just now I am feeling exhausted and wrung out from holidays and history etc. ad nauseum.
      But I also did not want to leave you out here all on your own. So hugs, first and foremost. And second, its Ok, after all you've been through, to feel shut down sexually. I was. For literal decades.
      However, your brain is the best sex organ you've got, and there are kind and loving ways to bring that back online, even if you have no partner, (or maybe especially, since there is no one to please but yourself).
      So hang in there and I'll be back soon with some ideas, readings and such. Meanwhile, enjoy a nice soak in the tub or if budget allows, a lovely massage or pedicure. :)

    2. Selfie, oddly enough yoga seemed to do it for me. I tried it out one day with a friend and it seemed like that alone helped my interest level and desire to have sex. There’s tons of YouTube videos out there so if you are hesitant to commit to signing up for a class, try it out in the comfort of your home. There’s lots of articles about yoga and improved sexuality. Like anything in life, one solution isn’t for all. Just an idea. Hugs

    3. Thank you, Heartfelt and Still Standing 1. Those ideas do help. And I would be so grateful for any other ones, whenever you have the chance to write.

    4. Selkie,
      There's a book called Sex Made Simple that is for therapists but available on Amazon to order. I found it really helpful -- it's really about rebuilding intimacy as a foundation.

    5. Thanks Elle, I'll check that book out. Happy New Year to you and to all on this wonderful blog. May 2018 bring us all new opportunities for growth and life.

  51. Selkie, Sex Made Simple was one of the books I was going to recommend too. Even though my ex was not willing to work on this with me (because he was busy elsewhere, ahem), it helped me a) understand where some of our dysfunction was coming from and b) see that our issues were not off the charts abnormal and actually kind of fixable and c) began to give me an inkling that what had always been labelled a "me" problem (there must be something wrong with my libido) was really an "us" problem (if you don't feel safe or taken care of outside of the bedroom and/or if you are not allowed to say no, how are you gonna feel up to saying yes?).
    It also really helps that my therapist is also a trained and certified marriage/couples/sex therapist. I really can talk to her about anything, though it took me a while to build that comfort level for sure.
    One of the things I started journaling about was my own sexuality, my ideas about what was ok or what was "bad" or made me "bad" or "dirty" or "damaged goods." and truth is, I had a huge pile of shame around my sexuality. (Catholic school, rape, herpes, cheating, plus my parents own shame, silence and embarrassment around sex. What a complex mess to work through). And I had a long story I had been telling myself about my body letting me down and being yucky. And, looking back, I had a lot of years on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds and these are absolutely libido killers.
    Then there is a whole subconscious world in our heads about whether or not it is OK for us, as women, to claim pleasure for ourselves. Given how bad I was at taking care of or recognizing my own needs in general, it is no surprise that I dxid not recognize physical/sexual pleasure as a birthright. But. it is.
    There's so much to think about and talk through, so this is kind of an initial brain dump from me. Don't be afraid to start journaling about it. No one is going to read it. After you work through Sex Made Simple, when you are ready tryt Esther Perel's Mating in Captavity. She actually helped make me feel safe getting in touch with fantasy, which, when you are trying to heal your sexuality on your own, is a super safe place to start. It helped me get to a place where i finally was able to notice that I had feelings or arousal or attraction etc. but that I had been squashing them or shutting them off because I was afraid of them, because they had proved to be so dangerous in the past.
    I'll write more soon. For now, I second the book recommendation and 100% the yoga. Also, meditation with a body scan. Good stuff. Hugs and happy new year!

    1. Thank you, Still Standing 1. I will read these. 2018 will be a year of exploration.

  52. Part 1
    Hi Selkie, how are you doing? I'm trying to organize more of my thoughts around healing my own sexuality and framing them in such a way that it might help you and others reading here.
    I think what shuts us down emotionally post dday are also the things that shut us down before. When I follow my thoughts and experiences before during and after, it all ends up coming back to shame and unworthiness. These two looove to hang out together.
    So before dday, me and my ex were hardly having sex at all. For actual years, we had an arrangement where I would service him, but we just weren't connecting. This was framed as my issue, my problem and I totally bought into this because historically I had always believed that I was faulty, broken, less than, if something was going wrong it must be me. But when mix in that I had tons of perfectionist shame about my body, about my struggles with weight about not being perfect and that I needed to look like a fitness model in order for sex to be an option. And then mix in that I was not in anyway receiving emotional support or validation from my ex. He only touched me when he was interested in sex. And if I said no it was a huge deal and lots of sulking and I was not taking care of him and wifely duties and all that bullshit. Intensify that with his childhood experiences that taught him that sex is something you take, not something you share with someone in order to connect. Its no wonder I started to flinch whenever he touched me. I had all his baggage that he wasn't even aware of, but I had to be responsible for because I was the queen of co-dependency and all my baggage. Oh and I even forgot for a moment about being raped in college. More shame and fear heaped on my sexuality. SO imagine my difficulties navigating a situation where I was not allowed to say no.
    The thing is, as you'll read in sex made simple, that whole "he only touches me when he wants sex" things is super d duper common. I had even told him on many occasions early on that I need more attention and touching in order to feel taken care of enough for sex. Idiot thought I meant foreplay. We didn't talk this through until post dday, so not super helpful but at least he maybe started to understand.
    So, in summary, I was carrying a lot of shame around sex and my own sexuality. And a lot of it has had to do with my own faulty beliefs about my worth. I have and continue to do a lot of work on this and will probably need to do so for the rest of my life. As long as I am learning and making small changes and being kinder to myself, I think I'm OK with that.

    1. I really appreciate your sharing, Still Standing 1.

      I also had parents who shied away from any open conversation about sexual matters (also Catholic, also very shy!). I had a rural and pretty isolated adolescence (all girls school) and so felt really unprepared for adult life. I veered between fear and excitement, but never really dared to go too far physically during my 20s.

      You can imagine how delighted I was to meet a kind and sensitive man who was crazy about me. It took him a while to win me over, but our first kiss was electric. We had about 9 years of desire and fun together, I'd say.

      Our last real lovemaking took place the morning of the day my waters broke to have our first (and only) child, nearly 3 years ago. (Two unsuccessful attempts since then, initiated by me... before I found out about the affair he had started - EA when our baby was 6 months old and physical affair when she was 15 months old.)

      It really seems as though my becoming a mother freaked him out.

    2. Selkie, my folks, through the best of intentions, sent me to a private Catholic school. We were not Catholic, but being English they were sure that private school was going to be better than public school. The were very wrong in this case (there are lots of amazing parochial schools out there. This was not one). So I know ALL about Catholic school, Catholic guilt and the Catholic shame proscriptions around sex and sexuality. Female sexuality, we are taught, is particularly dangerous. Our value is in our sexual purity (whatever that is) and we lose all value the first time we have sex, not unlike driving a new car off the lot. We are suddenly dirty and less than. And heaven forbid we actual LIKE sex. Then we must be a slut or worse. And when we are young and learning how we have to behave in order to be loved or valuable, we internalize those messages about our worth and our sexuality. It's all about keeping us from our own power. One of the best reframings of this I have ever seen was at a presentation given to teenagers in our local high school. The idea was to combat slut shaming and to create healthier attitudes around sex, consent and safety etc. The presenter took a $20 bill. He asked the audience how much it was worth. They answered $20. He then proceeded to crumple up the dollar bill. And again he asked how much it was worth. Still $20. He said, "Having sex does not change your worth as a human being." I think a few minds were blown that day. Its an imperfect metaphor, but still effective. And it was important for me to hear too.
      I had a ton of struggle with my own sexual identity after giving birth. I had a hard time reconciling the model of "mother" (again some pure, untouchable thing) with being a sexual being. I wish I'd had more healthy role models for reconciling the two. Because when you think about it, motherhood can be a defining moment in terms of sexuality. I mean biologically speaking, that's what is driving all the bumping and grinding..
      One of the things my reiki healer helped me reconcile was that my sexual self is not a separate being, not kept in a show box and brought out on demand but hidden from the light at all other times. She is part of me, she is me. She's been there the whole time, even when I ignored, neglected or shut her down.
      And Selkie, his affair is about him. Its not because you being a mother freaked him out. Very likely being a father freaked him out. Its a him thing. Not a you thing. (And the panic over fatherhood is definitely a guy "thing" just like the proverbial mid life crisis. They are not prepared to deal with who they are suddenly).

    3. Sorry about the late reply. I read your words and really appreciated them.

      I'm from a Catholic family who were very kind and loving, but very shy about any displays involving loss of control. I think that's the best way to put it (opposite of Italian stereotype!)

      I view(ed) sex as sacred rather than dirty, which is probably just as limiting. Too idealistically spiritual and not fun enough. Although I did have fun with my h in our early days... before he started avoiding me.

      I am hoping to reconnect with my own sexual self/power but am feeling so injured and weak. Time to nurture and grow. I will have to consciously make this my priority now. Great full moon to spur this change!

    4. SS1, I’m re-reading many posts on this page as we continue to struggle with sex and intimacy. Your post struck me, in particular “he only touches me when he wants sex”. However, in my case I feel like “he always wants sex when he touches me”. A little different. I have to continually ask, remind, get the MC to chime in, that intimate touch NON-sexual touch is really important. I have to ask and remind that I don’t want every touch between us to be sexualized. Instead of giving me a hug and maybe a kiss on the shoulder, I get a hand on my ass and a reach around. I’ve had to ask for him to rub my shoulders in the living room in front of the kids, otherwise every touch he offers me he is already physically aroused. It’s like I don’t play a part in his arousal by demonstrating interest or responding to a kiss. He is nearly always already aroused. To which he’ll say he was imagining me coming to bed naked. And I say “well, stop imagining that”. It creates a constant pressure to accept or reject his arousal and never a chance to see if I have any desire. And I feel like I don’t. Very little interest, very little desire, and even when I tell myself to go ahead and let myself feel whatever I’m feeling, it’s just not all that compelling. I don’t mean that he’s inattentive or doesn’t care about my pleasure. He does, and he’s a good lover, I’m just not interested. I still orgasm most every time we do have sex, but it’s just not like crack for me. It’s fine, it feels nice, but I don’t crave it. So it seems like most of his efforts to please me fail to realize that I’m more than pleased with just a back rub, so his efforts seem like efforts to get me in the mood for his sake. And he still wants me to want to please him even when I’m not in the mood. I’m struggling with all of it. Needed to let that all out. *sigh*

  53. Part 2
    This is all stuff that I've figured out on my own. And I've had to back into body acceptance a little bit. I lost dramatic amounts of weight post dday. So, sadly, while I was dying inside, I was also thinking, well at least I look good in case I end up single. I had to explore a little and recognize that while I felt good and have become more focused on exercise to help my mood and brain (vs. punishment for eating a hershey bar) and mindful eating (this is still a struggle and something I am beginning new work on now. Lots of eating my feelings over the holidays). I started thinking about "how am I going to treat myself if I gain weight again?" "What if I have an injury and can't exercise to manage my weight? How will I treat myself?" "Am i less deserving of love and sexual pleasure because I am not at my goal weight?" "How do I harm or shut myself down with expectations around appearance - youth, beauty, weight, etc?"
    This continues to be a theme for me and I'm trying to stay mindful and non-judgmental about it as I work through it. At the same time, the weight loss helped me reset. And I started noticing that people (and men) were noticing me. I made an effort to smile and interact with people out in public more. I always have a conversation with the cashier in whatever store I'm in. I smile and make eye contact. And I found that people liked me and responded positively to me. This was exciting new ground. I even experimented with a tiny bit of flirting in safe situations (gasp). And guess what? It was both fun and validating. Its nice to notice people being attracted to you. And I made damn sure I was clear with myself about what my boundaries were in any of those contexts.
    Now that I've got a regular guy, I've had the opportunity to observe myself and my sex drive without the baggage. (I honestly did this on my own too. I bought a vibrator early on because I had a feeling I was going to need to figure this out on my own.) I noticed when I felt like it and when I didn't. And I started to use it as a stress reliever. This was intentional, because I knew from my own past that I tended to shut off in times of stress. So now what I notice with my new guy is that when I am sad and stressed, I am not turned on per se, but I am interested in having connection and bonding through sex instead of reaching for my comfort food. And lately, while he's been wrestling with depression and we are not having much sex, I am finding my food cravings (this is my lonely go to) intensifying. We have had some discussions around this and I'm taking a wait and see position for now.But even though its not ideal I can see I'm learning and for someone who was shut down for so long, feeling like I'd like to be having more sex is not a bad place to be. I'm framing it up as "yay! not broken!"
    Not sure if any of this helps, but hoping some of it will resonate. If you have thoughts or Qs or things you want to talk through as you are reading, please post!
    Hugs and hugs and more hugs Selkie!

    1. This also does resonate too. I find now that the moment I feel lonely, I want chocolate! And the weather is so terrible I have no motivation to exercise. I miss the energy I used to have. I resent the energy I'm wasting trying to understand what happened to make my h turn away like that.

      I am in awe of your adventurous spirit. I'm not sure what is holding me back from trying anything like a vibrator - but I know that for now NOTHING at all is welcome in my vagina. (I had huge problems getting a smear test in the summer.) I think the idea of journalling will help a lot. I might discover things that I never dared to let myself feel.

      I am a social person and enjoy meeting new friends. I find it easy to strike up conversations. But I seem to be absolutely unable to flirt. I just feel that it's something so fake and not me. (But I know that for a 'normal' person, it's a fun and enjoyable way to connect with people...) I am not sure why I block myself on this.
      Once I had to read a line in a script in a sexy way because the real actress was late. I did a great job, and everyone was amazed. They hadn't thought I had it in me. (I didn't mind doing it as a 'character' - but I could not do it as myself.) So I know the potential is there if I could just get over my... I don't know what.

      And I would like to say too - I was always the one in our marriage who wanted to talk about things (anything... including sex and desires). I tried so many times to reach out to my h and to learn more about how we could connect sexually when the first sparks were wearing off. He never wanted to talk. He said that it had to be 'natural' and to talk about what a person liked or wanted would make it fake. I didn't buy that - but I just thought he was a shy person who didn't have the words to talk about sex.

      Strangely, I think that might be partly true. Even despite his affair.

      Anyway, thank you once again for all your good ideas.

    2. So much of what you're saying SS1 is really good advice. I have to really pay attention to the ways in which I criticize my body. Who feels sexy when they've had a steady voice in their head commenting about jiggly thighs, saggy boobs, stretch marks? But when I reframe things ("I have strong legs", "I have a pretty smile", "I have great hair", etc.) then I just feel...sexier. And that has NOTHING to do with my husband.
      As for the vibrator, I think anything that helps us connect with our body and figure out what feels good, what doesn't, etc. is great. Too often we take our cues from the culture about what we "should" want. We are each unique. And to be able to pleasure ourselves is a gift.

    3. Selkie, don't pressure yourself to be anywhere other than where you are. If you don't want anything near your vagina then honor that. I'd definitely recommend digging into that fear around the smear test, either through journaling or with a therapist if you are seeing one. I am going waaaaay out on a limb, but some of what you've written above suggests that the trauma of finding out about your h's affair and it's timing is tied together with baby making in your head. Understandably so. So being shut down sexually may be a defense against being hurt again. Especially given his continued selfish shitty behavior. That's just my armchair psychology though. I've no training and a real therapist will be able to help you unwind what's happening.
      Flirting. Don't unless you feel like it. The magic of flirting is that it is so validating but you both know nothing is going to happen. Your saying "hey I think you are cute (or funny, or smart or I enjoy you)." and they are sending those signals back. If you don't feel like flirting maybe journal about how it plays out. Do you think about it then back away or does it just not come into your head at all. What is another person initiates flirting? You could try writing out an imaginary scenario where you successfully flirt with an attractive person.
      Talking about what you want in and out of the bedroom is totally grown up and healthy by the way. A lot of people have this rather self defeating idea that sex has to be "spontaneous" in order to be magical or whatever. That's a load of BS. Especially when you are a team running a family, you might need to plan for it, schedule it even, to make sure you are making that time for each other. And talking about what you like, means maybe you get more of that kind of attention or vice versa. Its not different than asking for what you want for dinner. If you never express your love for brussel sprouts, your not going to get as much brussel sprouts as you like. Or if you don't like lima beans (and who does) and don't speak up, you are going to get a lot more lima beans that you really want.
      You are definitely on to something with the actress portrayal. There's an element of fantasy and release from your normal every day inhibitions when you are not you. This is why there is a whole lot of cosplay stuff for sale. Seriously, some folks really enjoy role playing because it lets them be someone or something different. And sex, at its core, is playful. We all get so bunged up and serious about it. We forget it is supposed to be fun.
      So for now, just be nice to yourself. Breathe in where you are. Be patient. Look at yourself in the mirror every day as say "I am a damn fine looking woman." Focus on something about yourself that you like. (I've got great collar bones and a good smile). Notice when you criticize yourself. What are you saying? It's a good place to get at damaging beliefs.
      You are a good person Selkie and you deserve happiness. I believe good things are in store for you. Someday you will look back here and be amazed at how far you've come and how much you've learned.

    4. Thank you so much, Still Standing 1. Your kind and helpful words really touch me - and are giving me food for thought. I feel really supported by what you are saying and that is a rare feeling for me these days. I will write again soon.

    5. Glad you feel like I'm here with you. I am and PS. I was thinking about what a massive brain dump I wrote. That's me. I jest get a head of steam and the ideas keep coming. So, just understand its about what helped me and may not be at all right for you. You have so much going on right now. Just focus on being kind to yourself and radical self care. I think the rest will come in time (I could make a comment about a pun in there ;) but I'll just leave it...)

  54. Selkie I wish I had the time and energy and insight that SS1 has, because it's so well thought out and helpful, and it's so layered! (doesn't feel like a brain dump to me, woman)

    This Pap Smear thing, I have to tell you, there are a few things that freak me out on certain areas of my body--and certain simple NAMES of things that freak me out.

    I like nothing in or on my ear except earrings
    however, --my neck even where attached to my ear is fair game.

    I hate the underside of my arm touched. You can draw blood on me all day, but get that damn rubber compression hose away from me.
    I would get a mammogram every day of the week with no problem.

    But--I HATE the term "pap smear" I HATE the description of it " we are just going to 'scrape' some cells off of your cervix" Oh, is THAT all????
    Everything about it puts me right on the ceiling

    There is NO way that that gyno test is simple. I feel you!
    (i cant even bring myself to type the words again)

    Metal table, paper gown, rubber gloves, those damn INSTRUMENTS. and the scooting up, further, no further, no just a little further.
    NO, i can't stand it.

    Thrown in some infidelity and it's a wonder any of us ever get back into those damn stirrups. I am not a fan

    But lets talk vibrators. You don't want to know how many I have tried, my biggest fear is that my house sitter is going to need something in my house and find my bag of tricks, some which have bunny ears.

    So lets stay on the outside of your vagina right now. Get a Hitachi Magic Wand. White. It plugs into the wall. Two speeds, and I have heard that you can sort of "burn out" your nerve cells with it, but what I have found is that it is so strong, there are times it doesn't need to be on my private areas to work.

    It can do its thing from the inner thigh. YOU are in control so YOU will decide what to do and where it goes.

    Some of the fancy ones just take too much work, perfect placement, too much going on, spinning, whirling, suction,etc etc. This thing is straight up in what it does, and it will be a great 50 bucks spent on amazon. There are a couple of attachments available, like the G spot stimulator, but you can think about that later--it's not necessary.

    If you don't like it, you can always use it on your neck or back or bottom of your feet.

    I hope you don't mind the recommendation. Like SS1, I use to to relieve stress and also when I cannot sleep, and oh, also when I am alone and in the mood. The H is the one who brought it into my life almost 18 years ago, just for fun, and if i had had one before meeting him, I might not even have been looking. :)

    1. Steam, thank you for that!

      Nice to hear from someone else who squirms as much as I do on those unpleasant occasions!

      And some day I may be daring enough to order the Magic Wand you mention. I like the idea that I can use it on any body part - somehow takes the stress out of the whole idea.

  55. Hello everyone, it’s Melissa here. It’s been awhile ... my husband and I stayed together and are doing quite well. In the area of sex… we don’t have any. We have not had sex in about a year and a half. (We are three years post DDay.) Oddly, we are both seemingly OK with it. We are intimate, in that we hold hands we cuddle, we kiss… not a passionate kiss, per se. When we were talking about it, and we don’t anymore, which I’m fine with, he noted that he simply did not have the sex drive. He went so far as to talk to his family members… His dad, his brother… both of them stopped having sex when they were about 50. I actually inquired with friends of mine and my mom in regards to their sex lives. I firmly believe that a lot of people, especially in the studies, lie about their sex lives. There is such pressure in our society, a sexual society, that we have these great sex lives that I do think it tends to make people lie, even if anonymous. In any case, both my husband and I were talking to others about their sex lives. My mom and dad also stopped having sex at the age of 50, or thereabouts. I was shocked, They were always so loving, holding hands, chasing each other around the house ... Our good friends, three different couples that we spoke to (I spoke to wife in some cases; my husband spoke to husband) ... they stopped having sex in some cases years ago.
    What does all this mean? Not much, really. Truth is, it is what you are happy with. Are you happy having sex once a week? Are you happy having sex once a month? Are you happy not having any sex? The trouble is when one partner wants more sex than the other. Right now, my husband and I are good, not having sex. I do believe we will have sex again, Maybe? Maybe not? Either way, it will be fine. As I told my husband post DDay, when he was telling me that he is just not interested in sex as he used to be… I told him then, if I had to live the rest of my life without sex, that would be fine. If I had to live the rest of my life without cuddling, handholding, ... general intimacy - I could not do that. Two more thoughts… My sister, who is 65, I asked her recently if she missed sex? As she had recently broken up with her boyfriend. She said no, absolutely not, there is just so much more to do in life. I get that. Also, I am not sure if this plays into it… I have had a fabulous sex life, masturbating from the time I discovered myself at a young age until now, frankly. I used to masturbate and have sex daily, or more, for many years and it just gradually slowed down. Now, I might feel the urge once every couple of weeks and I do take care of myself. I have joked with my sister and my husband (separately) that perhaps we are designed to have just so much sex and we used up our quota lol. It’s the old bean in the jar ...
    Love you ladies <3

    1. Melissa, glad you are back and I wondered if your H stopped the back and forth that drove you crazy. My H is 71 and I'm 63. We have sex every other day. It keeps us connected to each other. It gives me an outlet of some sort, which I have not figured out. It makes me feel wanted, desired etc... The first thing my therapist asks us, how often are you having sex? That is the first question she asks. Did I have to jump some hurtles, hell yes. Did I have to stop mind movies? hell yes. Did I have get over my insecurities, hell yes. Did I have to be honest with him about what I liked? hell yes. If you are fine with this then that is great. Just my opinion, but I think not having any sex is somewhat off. If if it is right for you both then why why are writing about it almost bragging but yet not? I have never met a man who didn't want to have sex. Sorry I just haven't. If my H didn't want to have sex I would drag him into counseling to find out why. Of course, Elle says I throw hand grenades into my own house, which I do. It is still standing so far, if it doesn't I'll just build a new one. How do you know he is really happy with this? How long will he stay happy with this? Why is he happy with this? I used to think like you did before Dday about sex.

  56. I agree that how much sex a couple enjoys is a case by case basis. In my case, we have not had sex in the 3yrs since D-Day, and I WANT it. My H is a sex addict, and I don't know if that factors into it for me, but to know that your husband pretty much wanted to have sex with every woman on the planet, but now that he has been found out, and is in "recovery" that he doesn't even slightly want to have sex with me? Well, it's doing a number on my self-esteem. We too get to a point where we cuddle, hold hands, kiss and really enjoy each other's company. But the fact that it never progresses beyond that, makes me feel undesirable and unattractive. We used to have sex constantly and I enjoyed in immensely. A month prior to DDay, (after I had gained some weight) I went to "seduce" my husband and he told me plainly because the lingerie no longer fit me as well, that he was turned off. Then D-Day, where he tells me that 3 months after we were married he began a secret life. Today, I want to move forward, I want to have a good marriage, and for me that involves intimacy on a sexual level. Something I have repeatedly requested. Something he repeatedly ignores. I have friends that have a robust and healthy sex life, and others that have stopped altogether. So how do you deal, when one needs more than is being offered? (For the record yes, I pleasure myself when I want to - but I also want to have a marriage that contains sexual intimacy).

  57. Flip side of the coin here. My h and I are in our 60's. We are doing pretty well 7 years of reconciliation and lots of talk and honesty. We have an active sex life which is saying a lot for people our age and who both work very full time. Sex is important to me and to him. I love having sex with him and am grateful he enjoys it too. I am also grateful he doesn't have to use anything like drugs to have the desire and fortitude to have sex with me. He also doesn't view pornography for stimulation. Never did use it much and since betrayal never.

    For us an active sex life is important and we actually schedule it and it's normally on weekends but sometimes we can sneak one in during the week. I don't ever want to not have sex. I hope we can both remain healthy enough, both physically and mentally to continue to have sex and I believe that having an active sex life at our age contributes to good physical and mental health.

    If you are not having sex and you're ok with that, well good for you. I hope I'm never in that position in life. I hope I keep having sex until it's time for me to leave this world. There's lots of good information out there how important it is to have a sex life at our age and I believe it. I've never felt or looked better in my.

  58. Radlady, I am sorry - that situation must be terribly difficult for you. Since I am really just back onto the site I really do not know your background story… Yet it seems important that the two of you are in counseling, and your husband no doubt needs individual counseling. Perhaps you are doing all that. From what I have read, sex addiction is not about sex. So, with your husband wanting to have sex with all the women on the planet… It wasn’t about sex. And it certainly wasn’t about love. Obviously he is challenged with being intimate with the woman he loves. Your husband certainly loves you and no doubt he thinks you’re beautiful and sexy and the whole works. Yet truthfully, that doesn’t matter. What matters is what do you think about yourself? Someone earlier suggested something that I think would be wonderful for you. First of all make sure that you are doing something to promote good health, everyday. And then tell yourself how wonderful you are. How beautiful you are. How kind you are. How compassionate you are.
    My wish for you is the proper help for your husband and a return to the sexual intimacy you desire.
    Tryinghard, I am happy for you and your husband. I work with the elderly - there was once a couple living in the nursing home where I worked. They had been married 72 years and were both 97 years old. Since there were no locks on the nursing room doors, the gentleman would tie the door shut with his wife’s stockings. He would then have sex with her… Make love to her. Since she was a bit confused we wanted to make certain this was OK for her. When asked, is it OK with you? She said, “he’s my husband… Sometimes you got to do it, even if you don’t want to.” So, my wish for you is that you and your husband will both want to and are able to into your 90s and beyond!

  59. Melissa! Yay I'm so glad to "see" you. I'm glad you and your H are doing well. And you've found a place that works for you both.
    And radlady, it's tough to be where you are, I get it. And taking care of yourself solves the physical issue but it doesn't fulfill the need for intimacy with another human that we love, does it?
    Have you read "Sex Made Simple?" Its a super simple, very actionalble book (aimed at therapists I think, but highly accessible for us regular folks) for getting at where you or he are stuck sexually and figuring out how to move forward together and how to make intimacy emotionally safe.
    I think for a lot of cheaters who are in recovery, once the hysterical bonding is over (if it happens at all) they suddenly wake up to a whole new realm of shame around how shameful and dangerous their sexuality feels. it just got them into a lot of trouble, so they respond by shutting it down rather than dealing with it. Not really a solution but may be what is going on in your H's case. Especially if he a sex addict. Have you two considered looking for a qualified sex and couples counselor together? A good one can really help you sort through what is happening.
    Also, just wondering if you two are able to be affectionate with each other on a day to day basis without it being a precursor for sex? Like cuddles on the couch, back rubs, just deep smooching? These may be ways to each you both into more comfort with each other.
    The important thing to remember is that his rejection of sex is not about you or your desirability at all. It is a rejection of his own sexual self. Daily affirmations as suggested by Melissa are a great place to start.

  60. Also I would say from what my husband sees professionally people do not like to talk or admit to anything sexually. Interesting he tells me this after having two affairs and knowing this. But I think he is right. There is so much shame for most people regarding sex. I also think sex is directly connected to our emotions. If we are not feeling safe or have an emotional connection in our lives then the sex does not happen. I know he says too there is a lot of compatibility issues and the other thing he said the number of men that come into his office that say they are not aroused by their wife is very high. These men do not cheat or want to leave their wife but there is no physical arousal. I do think there is a lot of work a therapist can do with individuals and couples to help in this area. Our discussions have been so brutally honest. One other thing I will mention is whatever my husband told himself and eventually me after dday was just him covering up his shame. Now that we are almost 3 years out from dday he sees things totally different. But that took a lot of work for both of us. I can now say that our marriage/relationship/connection is strong than ever before which was always strong. The sex and intimacy is better than ever and on an entirely different level for both of us.

  61. LLP--I agree. Yep, me too. If he didn't want to have sex with me I would KNOW he was going elsewhere. Besides sex is good for you. There's all kinds of medical evidence supporting that. Plus I just plain feel better physically and emotionally when I have sex. Glad I still have a partner that I am interested in and is still interested in me and has the desire.

  62. Has anyone explored this website?

    I'm just about to - it looks good.

  63. after Dday, our sex live was very active and passionate. it was crazy but the day after it was the best sex we ever had in almost 10 years together. then about 3 months after, it stopped. He wanted to just hold me and cuddle more. we are 1.5 years into it and he still the same. we had always been a very active couple more than 3x a week and now is maybe 1-2 times. He would just say that he was tired or he is not a robot, something my H would never say before. he holds me every night and I know very much wants me still but it feels odd. has anyone else had that happen? my H has never been very adventurous per say in our sex life even though I have always assured him I'm open to anything. it's just hard to get used to this change especially when dealing with the insecurities DDay brings.

    1. Hi Noe, Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I think your situation is common, in that it happens a good bit after the discovery of an affair. Those three months of active, passionate sex are what is known as "hysterical bonding". It's basically using sex as a path toward intimacy and reconciliation. And for you, it may have felt just a bit like reclaiming what was yours. (You can read more about hysterical bonding in this post: )
      I think the cuddles and affection without leading to sex is a GOOD thing. It's validation, perhaps, that he values you as a human as well as a sex partner. Slowing down relative to sex after infidelity can often be driven by a partner's shame at what they have done and sex may make them feel particularly vulnerable to that shame.
      In your case, you've indicated that you went from 3+ times a week to 1-2 times. Honestly Noe, this is a great average. Try not to get hung up on the number. Instead try to keep in mind that your sex life and opportunities are still happening and are regular. He's not shutting you out completely. The real question is, are you getting what you need from it? Do you feel close to each other afterwards? What would make it better for you, if it is not as fulfilling as you'd like? You mention you being open to adventure but he's pretty vanilla (and there's nothing wrong with vanilla, BTW. It's a great flavor.) But are you holding back on talking about some adventures that YOU would like or want to try out? I think so often we are taught to go with the flow, but in reality, having fulfillment in our sex life is our own responsibility.
      as far as his slowing down (just a bit. I'd be thrilled to be having even weekly sex, lol. Especially as I'm single just at the moment.). I don't know your age, but guys do eventually start slowing down. Sometimes, in what I believe is a practical joke on the part of mother nature, just as we are revving up.
      And I know, even the most open minded and sex positive of us find it hard not to take what feels like sexual rejection personally. Does he not find me attractive anymore? Am I not good in bed? And yes, it is especially hard not to take any change in sexual activity personally after d-day. But like most things other people do, it has little to with you and everything to do with him and what is going on in his head.
      You are allowed to speak up to him about this and any other are where you don't feel your needs are being met. If you can do this from a place of ownership, rather than blame, the conversation will go much better. Approach it at some low key time where there is no pressure to fall into bed together, no deadline (like one of you has to race out the door to work) and not risk of kids or other people walking in on the conversation. But you can say "Hey,I'd like to talk about our sex life. I enjoy being close to you and appreciate that we are still active and regular. That's all good stuff. But I can't help notice that we are connecting less often that we used to. Can we talk about that?" And then just listen. Reflect what he says. Accept what he says, even if you don't agree, that's what is real for him. Talk through what might be better for you. Maybe you want to try something new, like a toy or being tied up. Ask how he feels about that. He's allowed to say no, but you are allowed to negotiate without pressure and vice versa.
      Finally, Noe, try not to read too much into the change in frequency. It looks to me like you have a healthy sex life. Try not to assume the change has anything to do with you. And don't be afraid to check in with him and get more information.

  64. I hijacked this comment but thought it worth sharing, helped me.

    This is from a BW:

    Didn't it feel strange to get naked in front of someone else?
    Didn't it feel weird to see someone else naked?
    To feel them?
    To have them feel you?
    To enter them?

    This a BM who answered:

    I would be inclined to believe your husband when he says there weren't emotions involved. Most of the sex I've had in my life had no emotions involved. It was exceptionally rare for me to develop an emotional bond with someone I was sleeping with; and, that was as a single guy. When I already have an emotional bond with my wife, I can't imagine an affair having an emotional component for me, I really can't. I'm sure I'd say whatever it took, but the real payoff for me, the reason I'd do it and then go back, would be exclusively for the sex.

    I'm not sure if this helps you at all, but, at least some men (me), think about this very differently than women do. Sex isn't the same for me as I see it described for others; the only time it's ever been that is in my marriage and that was a long process to get to the point of integrating the physical sensation of sex with the emotional connection. It's not the "default" setting at all for me, and I don't think it is for most other men.

    And I do believe the sex he had with her, albeit new and exciting, was never what we have, and that it can still be "special" for us. Absolutely it can be. I'm going to say something that's going to really piss off some husbands, but, honestly; in a lot of affairs the OW is simply a substitute for the hand. Like, I'd jerk off, but this feels better, it's not too much effort to get her over here and have her do it, and, what the heck, I deserve it. It's an equation, how much work vs how much better sex feels than masturbating. And that's what these guys are often doing, they are just masturbating with another woman's body. I do think that a lot of the affair is just finding and keeping a masturbatory aid around, and feeling good because you can call her up at any time when you want some relief. It sounds like this is the kind of affair your Husband had, and this is the kind of Affair that I've seen first hand. The question isn't "did he care about her" because the answer barely makes sense, she was just there to bring the things he did care about with her. The question is "why did he think this was OK". And I think that's the question that husbands need to dig in on; not "why do it", that's obvious, but "why did I give myself permission to do it".

    1. LLP,
      This guy is saying what I've heard before re. sex addiction. That it's "porn with skin". And it echoes what my husband said re. his partners. No emotion. In fact, when he began healing himself, he was mortified at his ability to objectify people to such an extent that they almost weren't humans. They served a purpose.
      I'd like to take what you've posted here and write a blog post about it because I think it clarifies what so many struggle with -- and it would get a wider readership.
      Thanks LLP.

    2. Hi
      Sorry where does this come from, originally? Where/who is the original post or poster? Pls

    3. I’m not sure if you’re asking about LLP post or this blog as a whole. Elle started this blog and continues it for all the new comers out of her love and compassion! I guess LLP will have to share where her post originated!

  65. LLP/Elle

    This is so good and I am so happy you posted this. Elle I hope you do write a post re this subject.

    This was true for my h. After DDays and recovery and started and NC was firmly in place I saw NO evidence that he missed or was pining away for the OW. And trust me I was looking for it. In fact mentioning her disgusted him, but not about her but about HIS actions. I believe there were no emotions with regards to the sex with her and yes he may as well have been masturbating.

    This is a very hard concept for women to wrap their heads around because this is NOT how women are. There is so much emotion in relationships with us regardless if there's sex or not. And there damn well is when there is sex for sure. This is a problem I have created for myself and I must stop doing it. I need to stop judging other people's behavior by my own values. Yes for sure I would need to feel some kind of emotional connection with whomever I was having sex and getting naked. LOL actually the whole getting naked would be the hardest part :) Hhhmm not unless it's really really really dark.... So I get and know that most men are as described in the above comments with regards to sex. We need to believe it because this is not the first time we've heard it. But I would like to know HOW they do it.

    And yes, the next big question is how did you give yourself permission to do that?

  66. Elle, go for it! These are questions I asked my H. He said it could have been phone sex. I never really understood his answers until I read this. I also have been reading how some men look at other people as objects not real people with feelings so it is easy to treat people like objects.

  67. I know this is an old thread, but I'm hoping for some help with the topic of sex. I have been reading this incredible site for a month now, but this is my first post. In a nutshell, I am 14 months post DDay, his affair was with a co-worker in another state for 3 years. I am 55 and I know my worth - I am smart, active, attractive, and kind. He is still in the house but we live in separate rooms, and we have not had sex since DDay. I have zero desire for anything physical with him, not even hugging or cuddling. I am still so repulsed by what he did, and still hurting deeply. I have not worked in 20 years to raise the kids so he could travel for his career (ugh) so leaving would have tough financial consequences for me.
    So my question is how long is too long to not have sex? I don't want it, but when should I recognize the "roommate" situation is not normal and that I am actually just stuck? Do I continue to give myself time, or throw in the towel? I should mention he is also in therapy for porn and sex addiction (he wanted sex ALL the time) and is a low level narcissist only child who has had a tough time with empathy. He is very remorseful, and wants to save the marriage. I will say he is trying, but the pain is so deep and so wide, I'm not sure I can ever get there. (Nor will he probably put up with the "no sex" boundary indefinitely.)

    1. CC,
      I'm not sure there's a pat answer to your questions. There are people, of course, who live in sexless marriages quite happily. And there are those for whom that's a deal-breaker. So the "right" amount really depends on the partners.
      I think a key part of rebuilding a relationship with someone who has had sex/porn addiction is getting clear on the difference between sex and intimacy. I had been having sex with my husband for years. It was only in hindsight that I realized there wasn't much intimacy. And with intimacy, also comes safety and that's another thing that will be key for you if you rebuild a relationship with your husband. You are going to need to feel emotionally safe with him.
      If you aren't in couples counselling, now might be a good time to start. Perhaps taking that pressure off -- no need to think about sex right now -- and just focusing on rebuilding intimacy. Enjoying time together, laughing. Maybe, if you're up to it, hand-holding and curling up together to watch a movie. steps.
      Betrayal takes a LONG time to heal from -- 14 months likely feels long but most experts say 3 - 5 years. I know...yikes.
      Hang in there, CC. Keep focussed on your own healing, rebuilding your own sense of safety in the world. But, as I said, if you're up to it, maybe start talking to a counsellor as a couple.

    2. Hi CC, I'm following on to what Elle has said. I agree that couples counseling might be a good thing for you two right now. In addition, you may want to explore therapy with a certified sex therapist on your own. Not because there is anything wrong with you and your feeling zero attraction or desire about your h. But what I read in your post is the possibility that you are internalizing, in some way, the shame around his behavior or alternately, it is bringing up some of your own feelings or history around your own sexuality that is charged with shame. We are taught from early on that anything sexual and particularly as women, that our desires are shameful or should be hidden. The size fo your feelings about this, post infidelity, may be about something much older. So worth digging into with a professional.
      And as someone who was married to a man with a porn/sex addiction, I found that I had very little desire to be with him, because a) I was never given a chance to feel that because it was always demanded and b) the sex always had to be a performance art marathon, rather than being about intimacy. On some level I felt like I could have been a blow up doll rather than it being about being with me. The bottom line is I never felt safe enough to be vulnerable with him. As Elle states above.
      Ultimately, fixing intimacy in your marriage will require you both to take a step toward each other and into a space that is going to feel supremely uncomfortable. For starters, this may be something as benign as sitting on the couch next to each other and holding hands. Receiving a hug.
      For yourself, what can you do to reconnect with your own body? Do something physical that lets you enjoy sensation and being sensual. I don't even mean anything sexual. Just reconnecting with your right to something pleasurable. Like slowing down and savoring a good cup of coffee or the flavors of a meal. Feeling the way the sun warms your skin. The softness of petting the fur of a cat or dog. Feeling your muscles and breath as you run, or bike or walk or yoga. Reconnect with yourself and your body on your own first, in your own safe place. You can start with trusting yourself this way first, before you even need to think about being ready for sex with your spouse. B ut talk with him. Be open about the fact that you are working on it.
      And as far as giving it more time vs throwing in the towel. There are a wider range of options available to you and you have as much time as you need.

    3. Thanks StillStanding1 - I appreciate your time and several of your thoughts were things I have not considered before. I SOOOO get what you mean about it being performance art - it was never about connecting. It seemed like his worth was so tied up in his sexual ability, like he was ready to take a bow and I should applaud when he was finished. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating. I told him once that I felt like a science experiment. I see now that in his mind he thought I would love him more if his performance was better. That I would be impressed and admire him for it. All I wanted was to be a partner, and that extended to many other areas of our marriage, the performance vs partnership mismatch.
      I don't know about you, but his constant neediness for sex also made me feel the need to protect myself. It felt like if I "gave in" as often as he wanted me to, that it would never end. He would just want more and more and more, a bottomless pit where I would just get lost. I have since learned that is what life is like with an addict. At first I thought "the only way I could have prevented his affair was to sit on his lap all day and gaze at him adoringly, telling him how wonderful he is, and have sex twice a day." My therapist said that's not true. She said that would have created a "new normal" and he still would have wanted more and more because that is addiction. That sex and porn addicts constantly want something new, more extreme. So he found a woman at work who he said "made it very obvious" that she would do whatever he wanted. And the rest is history. For years. She even divorced her husband to be with mine. He says that is not anything he ever wanted. He just wanted the adoration, extra sex, and the fantasy.
      He sees now that it literally took the time and attention of 2 women to meet his emotional and physical neediness. Need I also tell you he is a narcissist (aren't they all?) although probably lower on the spectrum than many.
      I think I've gotten my answer from you and Elle. That getting through it just takes as long as it takes; no timeline. His sexual betrayal I can MAYBE cope with one day. But it's AWFULLY hard to cuddle up with lies and deception.

    4. CC, i actually got tears in my eyes when I read your response. "I don't know about you, but his constant neediness for sex also made me feel the need to protect myself. It felt like if I "gave in" as often as he wanted me to, that it would never end. He would just want more and more and more, a bottomless pit where I would just get lost. I have since learned that is what life is like with an addict. " I'm still the only one who beleives he was/is a sex addict. What you've said here is such validation. I never felt like I was safe or allowed to say no, so how could I ever safely say yes? I was made to bear the burden for our sexual dysfunction. I was always told it was something wrong with me. He didn't need to change at all. I've since discovered, that when I am safe and valued in a relationship, I have no issues with sex at all. In fact, I'm a fan! My now ex has since apologized to me, in the context of revealing childhood sexual abuse and that he only learned about sex as something you took.
      I am glad your H is working on his stuff. You, meanwhile, take care of you. You have your own path to healing to take. Many hugs!

  68. HI Elle - thank you - it literally brought me to tears to get your reply, to know that there is someone out there that I can connect with. I appreciate all of your suggestions, and outside of this horrible situation, I am a fairly positive, happy person. When it comes to my h, I am like Jekyl and Hyde - he does not bringing out the best in me - not by a long shot. We tried couples counseling for 6 weeks, but the experience was even more traumatizing for me. After leaving from the last session, I had to pull the car over and throw up (not to be dramatic, just unfortunately real.) After that, my individual therapist said we should stop MCounselor and work on our own healing first, and then try MC later. The thought of hand holding or "curling up with him" makes my skin crawl. This is probably not a good sign 14 months post Dday. And you are SO right - there is a big difference between physical and emotional intimacy. I think this is the bottom line problem in so many marriages. Men want physical intimacy, but many women need emotional intimacy to truly want the physical, too. He was TERRIBLE at emotional intimacy, and boundaries, as I'm sure you can imagine. I would say I am going to be in the 5 year category of healing from betrayal. It just seems like I might be better able to heal from this if I am not mired down by it every day, and in the middle of it every day. To be able to "spot the blessings of a chapter closed," and rebuild a different kind of life. Luckily my children are college age, so although painful, it's a bit easier. I'm in so much pain- just can't seem to stop feeling the hurt, even with a really good therapist. I'll work on the safety more consciously.

    1. CC,
      I know 14 months feels like an eternity but it's pretty short in the "betrayal" trajectory. I think it's wise to simply focus on your healing right now. And let him focus on his. You'll either see change that helps you respect him again or you won't. Or you'll see change but still decide that you want out. There is no "right" way through this. There is only what feels right for you.
      Hang in there, CC. This is a long road. And healing comes in spurts and sometimes we're barely aware it's happening.

  69. I was reading about a woman who asked the question, Why did you do that with the AP not me? Here is his answer, "I was manufacturing the AP. If you go back and look there are concepts here...projecting and mirroring. There is a lot of manipulation and brain washing. Reality is suspended. This is why a lot of women say their H gave the AP porn star sex. You do realize porn star sex is fake. A man’s sexuality can be wild, sure but it doesn’t look like that. In real life, when a man is genuine in bed, there are often things he prefers or behaves that is nothing like porn.
    So, if I were going to try and impress a woman- what am I going to do? Be myself? Probably not. Probably, I am gonna fall all over her like her junk is magic. That isn’t real.
    Now do people men sometimes have amazing sex during an affair? Yes, I am sure some do. But a lot are like I was, I just wanted her to like me more, think I was even more awesome. Reality? No. I don’t say any of that to minimize how disgusting what I did was. But when I am with my wife, I am genuinely me." I just never thought about the sex being fake too.

    1. This is a great perspective LLP. The affair is all fantasy, so yes of course, the sex would be too. Just fake, crazy play acting. And yes, when I think about it, I can tell the difference between sex with someone who is putting on a show (my ex) vs sex which is about someone wanting to be with me (also my ex, but not for a long time).

    2. I hear this so often. Affairs are fantasies. A chance to play a role. It adds to the excitement, the anticipation. Which is why so many affairs fall apart in the light of day -- once the fantasy component is removed, they're like any other relationship: occasionally boring, routine. And it's why marriages that begin from affairs have SUCH dismal statistics of surviving.

  70. LLP
    That is such an interesting concept and I have never considered that but I believe you are on to something. I found out that my H was taking the 'little blue pill' during that time. Well he never had to take that pill with me!! So yes I think he really wanted to impress her!!

    Now this is so out of what I know about him sexually. He always seemed satisfied and we NEVER except for our honeymoon had endless sex. He always seemed satisfied with once a night/morning. There were times when I wanted more and well he would go along but he seemed pretty good with what had already happened. So when I found out about the 'little blue pill' I was kind of shocked! He never even acted like he was interested in using it. Matter of fact he would make fun of men that did use it. He was quite proud that at his age he didn't "need" it.

    I'm flabbergasted at the extent he went to to impress her and trust me she wasn't worth going to that effort. LOL or maybe she was if he could only see his glowing image in her trailer park eyes!

    So I'd love to hear your take on this.

  71. TRYING HARD, just my thoughts, it gave him sexual confidence. It is psychological and self image pill. With you it was natural passion and desire, this cannot be faked. Male competitiveness and performance are focused on that erect penis. He didn't have any real feelings for her so the drug to enable him to sleep with the OW. It was a superficial circumstance. Women need a reason to have an affair - men just need a place.

    1. LLP,
      Thanks so much for answering my question. I know this is only your thoughts but I have to say I have had the same with regards to his need for the little blue pill. It was all part of the fantasy. It was such a shock to me that he took the pill coming from a guy who has to be forced to take an aspirin and furthermore takes NO medication. Very rare for a man his age. He must have really been driven to impress her or maybe himself. So out of character though. He's not a loud mouth or braggart and I believe you when you say the drive to perform with that erection is everything for men.

      These pills aren't completely safe either and he is always so concerned about the side affects of medicine. LOL the whole thing was just so out of character for him. Even where they went the night he left, to a casino!! He hates gambling and casinos. LOLOL I will bet he had the blue pills for that night!

      People are crazy. Thanks again. Good to have a male POV.

  72. Elle
    Ah yes the light of day to an affair has the same affect as water to the Wicked Witch of the West!! No most do not survive the sunlight. Maybe because cheating is vampiric.

  73. This is tricky for me. Early in our marriage (30 years together) we would have lots of sex and try new things. We were emotionally close and to me, that led to the physical closeness. As the years passed we drifted away from each other and back again but the last few years were very much in the "away" category. It happened so gradually that I didn't realize how far we had drifted. We had continued to be great friends and have fun together, just no real intimacy. Although contrary to what the OW was led to believe, we continued to have decent sex weekly.

    Enter his midlife crisis and a charming, sexy woman at work (away on work travel) and my H went head first into an affair.

    He tried to end it half-heartedly once but fell back into it. He ended it for good as soon as I gave him an ultimatum and has since been more loving and attentive than even in the first days of our relationship. So I feel much more loving and attracted to him because of it. We are 10 weeks out and we have sex almost every day and I honestly feel we are in a healthy sexual relationship now vs. the hysterical bonding of the first weeks.

    My problem is this: sometimes when we are having sex, it pops in my head "wow, that new move feels good!" followed by "he probably learned it or perfected it on HER." Or I randomly wonder if he's picturing her or comparing us (she is much much MUCH more in shape than me) and those thoughts pull me out of the moment and make me feel used. He has repeatedly told me that the desire he had for her wasn't even close to how he feels with me. And that he doesn't compare us or think of her. I'm trying really hard to believe him too!

    I've read on here how some BS struggle with sex because they picture them together. And I am right there too. Those images show up at the most inopportune times.

    And I hope this isn't being too specific but this is one of my biggest issues: I've never been big on oral. Giving it or especially getting it. He has always complained about that. I didn't like giving it because I felt disconnected from him during it (I no longer feel this way most of the time, I've learned to concentrate on the fact that I want to give him pleasure because I love him. Just like I surprise him with a gift I know will thrill him.) But I never liked receiving it because I couldn't get off. He was sloppy and didn't always take my cues so it just seemed useless.

    The thing he talked about what drew him to her sexually was that she "loved giving and getting oral sex" and always got off on it. This irritates the shit out of me still. For one, ever heard of faking it? And if he had been treating me like he had been treating her, I would have blown him every chance I got too!

    Like I said, I've made major progress in the "giving" part, but the "getting" causes turmoil. Why, you ask? BECAUSE NOW HE'S GOOD AT IT. WTH? I'm torn between "FINALLY! WOOHOO!" and thinking of where is tongue has been (GAG ME).

    Once, during oral when it hit me and my mind started to spiral, it popped in my head that I could think of her as a practice doll for training purposes. I got tickled and couldn't stop giggling at the absurdity of it all. I've also had an imagined conversation with her that goes "Just because you got to play with my toys for a while, doesn't mean they were ever yours!"

    Anyways, I'm learning to stop the thoughts before they take hold but sometimes I lose the battle. I'm hoping someone out there will reassure me that that will fade eventually. Or maybe give me a more productive way to handle these thoughts. *sigh*

    1. ElleBelle,
      Another woman on this site (Lynn Less Pain, perhaps) once wrote about how she viewed her husband's sexual skills/improvement as bonus to her (not exactly phrased as that, but that was the gist). In other words, yeah it sucks HUGE that he cheated. But he's with you now. And if he's better at sex, well, then...why not enjoy it? We don't penalize a new sexual partner for the skills they bring to our bed. And yeah, I know it's not quite the same thing (ie. no baggage) but, again, we can let it destroy something that now feels good or we can enjoy it.

  74. ElleBelle, This is exactly the right place to bring up these kind of issues. I think its why this thread was created. I hear you on the oral, its a lot of work, lol. And really only about the person receiving. And it never was reciprocal because of specifics to my situation. SO I just didn't like doing it. Honestly, I don't think I've ever met a straight woman who was like "Yay, I love giving oral sex" ...But I also know, in a relationship now, as you say, it is about giving pleasure just because you care about someone. I know its a thing that particularly makes my guy feel taken care of. And I find, since he is also emotionally there with me, and sex is very much about him wanting to be with me vs. just wanting to get off, I find it much easier to be giving that way.
    But I can completely understand how ideas about the OW and etc will pop into your head at those moments. You are incredibly vulnerable and our brains love to hijack us then. You are also so close to dday, its no surprise to me that you are still having mind movies and similar.
    I think the technique you are using is spot on. Very like meditation techniques where you let the thought rise and pass without reacting to it. Because what you are picturing is not real. And I promise you, it was not nearly as sexy or awesome as you think in your head. I had real difficulty with mind movies. I solved that for myself by picturing my ex with intensely bad flatulence any time my mind was running away with ideas about what they looked like or did together. For me, the ridiculousness removed the power. and honestly, there are so many videos on the internet as well as an app that teaches men how to give better oral sex, maybe he researched better techniques just for you! Unlikely given the rest of the context, but maybe look at it as an underlying, unexpected benefit for you. I know that's hard. But I think you are on the right track.

  75. Hi everyone.

    I was just wondering how long it will takes to get images of the husband and the other woman out of my head.

    If we,re lying in bed and he cuddles me I think 'did he cuddle her like that?' If he takes my hand, I think 'did he walk down the street with her holding hands?' and much fucking worse stuff comes into my mind constantly. How long will it be before we can be intimate in any way without me imagining her?

    I know there is no definitive answer but your stories and maybe strategies might be helpful.

    Thank you



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