She Says Porn Viewing is Cheating. He Disagrees. You Decide!

occasional porn viewing

This is the latest installment of our ‘You Decide’ series where you will provide your opinion on a fictional affair scenario.  In this case, we need you to decide if John’s occasional porn viewing is indeed cheating – as his wife, Janine asserts.

John had an emotional affair with a woman some 6 years ago. Since then he has been the model of a good husband and father. He has done everything he needed to do to help his wife heal and to rebuild the marriage.

In fact, his wife Janine feels that he has done an amazing turnaround and that the work he did on himself and within the relationship has helped to create a marriage that is better than ever.

There is one thing though…

John likes to watch porn. Internet porn, to be exact.

Now, it’s not an every day thing. The frequency of his porn viewing varies and he may go a couple of weeks or so without viewing it all. It’s not like he feels it’s an addiction or anything like that. It’s an easy way to take care of business, so to speak, when he’s in the mood.

A week ago, Janine was paying some bills online and as she was typing in the first few letters of her credit card company’s site, her browser auto-filled with a porn site address instead.

Janine was shocked and offended. She had no idea that John watched porn as he has never brought it up – and there were never any signs whatsoever. But now that she thinks about it, she has noticed a decline in the frequency that she and John were having sex, and that John isn’t initiating sex as often as he used to.  He also has never been very good at talking about their sex life.

Now, Janine is feeling betrayed. She is having flashbacks to when John had his emotional affair. To her, John’s watching porn – and obviously hiding it from her – amounts to cheating. She feels she can never live up to the images John looks at and feels very inadequate.

When she confronted John about what she discovered, he immediately confessed to his porn viewing and was open to talking about it.  He was very remorseful and apologetic. He promised to never view porn again since Janine was so hurt by his actions.

That said, he also feels that he really didn’t betray Janine and that it certainly doesn’t come anywhere close to being cheating.  He feels it’s a normal thing  for most men to do and really has nothing to do with their marriage at all.  It was just a ‘release’ for him.

Is Janine right in her stance that Johns’ porn viewing is the same as cheating? Is she overreacting?   Is John minimizing his actions? What should they do now?

You decide!

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Understanding Why Cheaters Do What They Do

Doug and Tim share their experiences as ex-wayward spouses and answer the top 11 burning questions betrayed spouses typically have for the cheater.

 

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41 Responses to She Says Porn Viewing is Cheating. He Disagrees. You Decide!

  1. Nearly Normal November 21, 2017 at 10:56 am #

    I’ll jump in here.

    Yes, I believe that it is cheating. Any time a man is looking at porn, he is desiring some other woman besides his own. I’m not sure if that necessarily means that it is cheating in a technical sense (I suppose it depends on the definition of cheating). But especially the fact that he is having trouble connecting with his wife sexually and initiating less in the bedroom means that porn is taking some intimacy away from his wife.

  2. TheFirstWife November 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    I believe that the poem use here is cheating. If an emotional affair is cheating then focusing on porn to the exclusion of your spouse or partner is cheating.

  3. Sarah P. November 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    I’ll chime in here — cheating or not — there has been a lot research out there indicating that porn use re-wires a man’s brain in ways that are harmful to a marriage.

    Have you ever heard of how people in hospitals who are in chronic pain are given a button to push that dispenses morphine?

    Well, porn, for the male brain, is kind of like a guy having his own personal morphine button, where there is an unlimited amount of morphine to be had but no doctor around to set limits on use. While porn does not cause physical death (like a morphine overdose) it causes tolerance. Therefore, the user must seek out more hard core and shocking images to keep getting the high. The brain can be re-wired during this process.

    It is also not necessarily good for a marriage because some lose interest in having a normal sex life with their spouse. Either the porn-viewing spouse decreases the amount of sex he has with his spouse, or he wants his wife to act out things seen in porn– some acts that might even cause physical and emotional harm to a wife. Finally, the porn user develops a very skewed image of a sexually attractive female body. The typical “porn body type” is often one that can be attainted only through a combination of starvation and liposuction and then several cosmetic surgery procedures such as breast, butt, and lip implants. Of course there will always be the less than 1% of women in this world who have a certain shape without surgery. But, the “average female” cannot look this way unless she gets help from a surgeon.

    Thus, I am concerned with porn’s global affect on a marriage and how it impacts a couple’s sex life, how it impacts a man’s brain, and how it impacts a man’s perception of the attractiveness of his wife.

    I am judging porn based on the research on it and taking it out of the moral realm. If we take it out of the moral realm, we see that it has tremendous deleterious affects both to a marriage and to the individual consuming it.

    Just my two cents…

    • Shifting Impressions November 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Good info Sarah. Not great for a woman’s self image, if she thinks she needs to compete with that type of body. This is especially true as one ages…..nothing I do will ever give me back my “twenty year old body”. But then the same is true for my husband, yet the man has the audacity to get more attractive the older he gets LoL!!!

      I totally agree with everything you say. But you add the moral realm to everything you have said and ….it is indeed lethal to a relationship. And it’s so easy to access.

  4. Shifting Impressions November 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    I find porn really offensive….and yes it is a betrayal, in my opinion. I have a few close friends that confided that their husbands have struggled with addiction to porn. Each one of them felt betrayed upon the discovery.

    One wife discovered that her husband was watching porn on his laptop, in the bed, while she was sleeping on the other side of the bed. She felt totally betrayed and demoralized.

    Now I am talking about men that are now in their sixties. Men who have it together (accountant, teacher, engineer) in their careers. These men are family men….with children and grandchildren.
    The men of this age group were probably raised with the idea that porn was wrong but yet found themselves caught in it’s web.

    John doesn’t feel like it’s an addiction but I imagine there is some form of addiction going on.

    Indulging in porn isn’t the same as having and affair but in my opinion it is a form of infidelity. I think the men in my age group shroud this in secrecy….they are hiding the fact from their wives.

    I’m not sure how the younger generation views it (forty or under). I have a feeling they think it’s “just what men do”. I would be interested in hearing how their partners feel about it.

  5. TryingHard November 21, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    Can’t judge if it’s infidelity but it’s certainly dishonesty in a marriage. I abhor porn. My h had a subscription to playboy and when i found my 5 year old son looking at it i cancelled the subscription. No more magazines like that ever again.

    Now porn is ubiquitous on the internet. Shortly after reconciliation i found my h looking at it. I blew my top. Haven’t found any since. I know some men live it. It’s not really been an issue in our home.

    I do believe one can get addicted to porn though. And this may fly in the face of my argument against sexual addiction but i see that as apples and oranges. Ar the very least it’s adestructive and very bad habit. It’s part of slippery slope we talk about.

    I’d love to hear more men’s take on lorn viewing.

  6. Exercisegrace November 21, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

    Is it “cheating”? I don’t know, but to me it certainly IS a betrayal. There is no room for dishonesty in a marriage and even less room in a marriage that has already been rocked by an affair. The fact that he never discussed it with her tells me he KNEW it would bother her and so he chose to hide it. That is a huge problem and one of those first steps onto the slippery slope that leads to an affair. The other red flag is their marital sex suffering as a result of his porn use. I suspect this is common with porn use, and how readily available it is on smart phones.

  7. Exercisegrace November 21, 2017 at 11:30 pm #

    Also wanted to add, this is a timely topic as my best friend is dealing with this issue in her marriage. I would welcome any advice and/or resources you guys can pass along (Sarah P?). He views porn on his phone many times a day, and is has turned into viewing rather hardcore stuff that she really cannot stand. Needless to say this has impacted her marriage tremendously. While I dealt with some horrific stuff during my husband’s affair, porn wasn’t one of the issues and I feel ill equipped to advise her. Thanks friends!

    • TryingHard November 22, 2017 at 7:35 am #

      EG— your friend could not have a better person to rely on with you. You are very wise and have lots of experience with dishonesty in ones marriage.

      I would encourage your friend to lay it all on the table with her h. I would encourage her to state her boundaries clearly with him and that the porn must stop immediately. That her h needs therapy. Maybe even getting a new phone that doesn’t have internet. No tablets, no computer use because surely he’s not using the company computer to view porn. That is reason for immediate expulsion at my company. So many viruses are attached to porn sites. Porn viewing us especially addictive on smart devices because it’s akways available and there’s always more. It’s an endless supply.

    • Sandra November 25, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

      Porn is more addictive than crack cocaine. He needs professional intervention and tools to be able to stop the progressive process of porn addiction. More times than not porn leads to emotional and physical affairs and can also lead to more violent and or illegal behaviors such as rape, child porn etc. Google Every Mans Battle intensive workshop.

  8. Rachel November 22, 2017 at 6:22 am #

    I found the porn offensive as I didn’t look like those women as well as strip clubs that were frequently visited by the ex. Does nothing for self esteem. Glad those days are gone.

  9. Sandra November 24, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    My husband was a sex addict (porn, etc) for over 4 decades. I only discovered it after 34 years of marriage and was completely blindsided. When high speed internet became deadly available his addiction skyrocketed. Porn addiction is an addiction stronger than crack cocaine AND ITS AN ESCALATING addiction in most cases. It takes more and more explicit material to give the viewer the same “high”. —You decide.

  10. Sandra November 24, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    Porn = escalating habitual masturbation = self sex = serial lying = secrecy = gaslighting = manipulation = emotional abuse = narcissism = actual changes in the viewers brain = frontal cortex shrinkage from the size of a small fleshy meatloaf to that of a shriveled walnut = potential behaviors that not only end marriages but could land the addict in jail due to the escalating nature of this addiction (child porn, violent tendencies, rape, etc) = #pornthenewdrug.

  11. Felipe November 24, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    The answer is it depends. If an otherwise normal relationship/ marriage is disrupted by one spouses preference to internet porn over actual intimacy, then it’s a problem. However, if one spouse decides, unilaterally, to ‘check out’ of the marriage, leaving the other spouse lonely, unloved, and without any intimate contact whatsoever, then OK – why not. The metric for whether viewing internet porn is harmful/ destructive to a marriage or family must be how doing so affects the other members of the household. I personally am stuck in a sexless/ loveless marriage, but we continue because we are raising two small kids. She calls it ‘co-parenting’, I call it, “Who have you been having an affair with for the last 6 years?” She spends most nights out with friends (so she says), hanging out at bars, coming home late and locking herself in the bathroom for hours, then sleeping late into the day. I and the kids are on a more normal daytime schedule, so when I am left alone night after night, I might view some free internet porn. No money is spent, nothing shocking left in the history, my brain’s not continually seeking more and more hardcore stuff, and I haven’t lost my job because of it. Maybe women don’t get excited by porn because all of their ‘feel good’ is in the form of fantasies. Men are visual creatures, and watching other people engage in some hot sex is a reasonable substitute for not having actual sex with someone who is not their spouse. Know that I’d rather be having an awesome sex life with my wife. Since men are not born knowing sex stuff, then isn’t it a good thing to watch how other people do it, fantasy or not? Also, if you wish your man was having sex with you instead of looking at porn, then why not try doing that instead of shutting down, going out all night to bars, and denying intimacy and affection because of your opinion about something or whatever your personal desires/ problems are? I wish I was having a healthy, happy, and more normal relationship with my beautiful spouse (I love all of my woman’s personal flaws, and no porn actor will ever be as beautiful and sexy as she is!). Besides, there is now hot and cold running porn in every place on the planet, so might as well accept and embrace it. Make your own rules together about limitations, and compromise. If my wife, for example, wanted to have a monogamous relationship with me that included sex and intimacy, and didn’t want me looking at porn, then deal. But leave me unloved and lonely, and I might want some fun every now and then, without actually cheating with another person.

    • TryingHard November 24, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

      Felipe– I don’t blame you one bit. We’re I in your situation I might look at porn too!! But does your porn replace intimacy and affection? Everybody needs and wants that I think? It sounds like your her babysitter instead of partner. That’s a very sad existence.

    • Shifting Impressions November 24, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

      Felipe-like Trying Hard I don’t blame you one bit either, but can’t help but wonder why you would set the bar so low, for your wife’s behavior. You deserve better. They say we teach people how to treat us by what we allow. Is there a reason you require so little from her?

  12. Linus November 25, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    Why not add another opinion to the pile. I see a few dynamics in play here. I apologize if this becomes offensive to anyone, it is certainly not my intent. I think it important that we look at some moral relativism here. Ladies out there who enjoy the assistance of a battery operated fun device, I wonder – have you ever used it on your own? When doing so, were you always and solely thinking of your husband?

    I don’t mean to accuse anyone, but if this feels accurate for you, the next question I ask is: is that cheating? Lets extend it further. Have you ever, while with or without your husband/partner and being physically intimate thought of another? Is that cheating? I submit that this is, at least functionally and morally the equivalent of porn (excepting all of the exploitation in porn). I think its generally accepted in society that a woman can use a toy and think about whatever she wants, or nothing at all. As long as it is constrained within the realm of fantasy, is there anything really wrong with it.

    If this behavior causes one to stray, then it is absolutely a problem for that person and their partner. If fantasy, regardless of who is engaging in it, leads to infidelity in the real world, or affects the relationship in negative ways (i.e. masturbating in lieu of sexual activity with your partner) then it absolutely is a bad thing. If its causing problems in life in general, its definitely a problem. Any addiction, when taken to its conclusion, is destructive and hurtful. (Hey coffee – I’m giving you the stink eye right now. You’re suspect!) When a person is choosing another, be it fantasy or reality, and giving up or taking away from the sexual intimacy of one’s partner, Then that in my opinion, could be considered very reasonably a form of cheating.

    There were a couple of good examples above of sexless marriages. Turning to porn could be the only way to hold it together. Humans are sexual people, and one of our needs is intimacy and physical intimacy. Denying that to one’s partner out of hand is certainly something that spells trouble for the relationship. I think in those cases it is reasonable for the other to satisfy that need in another way. And to do so without endangering their spouse or being disloyal emotionally.

    Women are people of emotion, and have a tendency toward mental fantasy. Men tend toward being very visual people, and their fantasies are often enhanced that way. What man doesn’t go crazy when his partner puts on a sexy outfit – lingerie or otherwise? In the end it is all about the effects on the relationship.

    Ultimately it all comes down to the definition between a couple as to what cheating is.Is looking at porn? Is fantasizing about someone else?Is hiding financial expenditures from your partner? IS having an intimately close friend of the opposite gender? I believe there is no universal answer here, and the only thing that matters is what feels like infidelity to a given couple. No one has the right, nor should they, to decide whether or not someone is hurt or feels betrayed by their actions. You just don’t Intention is completely irrelevant. Its possible to hurt someone even with the moist honorable and pure intentions.

    Coming to an understanding of what each other values and expects in a relationship is what long term commitment is all about. You have to respect each other as people, and that includes learning what someone else boundaries are, so that you can be cognizant of them and not carelessly cross one.

    Some things are really obvious. Hiding a sexual encounter with another person from your wife or husband, I don’t think anyone would argue. But what if that couple is in an open relationship? What if they want for their partner to be free to love and share sex with whoever they want? Where does a line get crossed? Perhaps having sex with another doesn’t, but having unprotected sex does.

    Its all about boundaries and knowing them. And caring enough about you partner to not shit all over the boundaries.

  13. Linus November 25, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    also – I apologize for the overgeneralization about women and emotion. I didn’t realize the way that sounded when I first wrote it. It was insensitive and of course not accurate. Can’t put everyone into a single bucket and define them all in one swoop.

    I am sorry.

    • TryingHard November 25, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

      Linus— no apologies necessary. I think we all generalize here. But your generalizations are very accurate IMHO.

      You are also right in with what constitutes infidelity and is certainly up to the couple to decide. No one tells anyone else what constitutes infidelity in their relationships.

      With regards to your point about open relationships I don’t see this as infidelity as the couple has surely implemented their own rules with regards to that relationship structure. As for myself that is something i would never condone in my personal relationship. If my h wanted that i would respect his need to need outside stimulation and wish him well as i exited the divorce court.

      And this is what is so insidious about cheating. I get the personal need for excitement and something new and need to reinvent ones life at times. I get it. Heck i want that too!! But i value my relationship and my husband that my personal commitments are more important than base pleasures. But if those needs were to ever become more important i would be honest and divorce him then and only THEN would i go out on my own to fulfill those needs.

      This is the difference between us and cheaters. Cheaters want it both ways. Even to the point of believing they are The martyrs in the marriage sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the family. It’s just another justification for their personal cognitive dissonance of knowing down deep that they are doing wrong.

      Def yes porn viewing hold different meanings for different people and their point in their marriage or reconciliation progress. For me when i saw my h was watching porn just a couple months after DDays it was a red flag. I wasn’t sure if he’d act on it. I was gun shy. I have no idea what was in his head at the time. All i knew was for me i didn’t want it. Was he replacing his fantasy real life affair partner with another fantasy partner? Was this “partner” any less of a threat to my relationship and my psyche? I say no. But That was my boundary. And as they say my pain my rules. If porn was going to take place in our relationship , then my own decision was made too.

      I like hearing from you guys on this. You make great points and lots of sense from a male perspective. Thank you so much.

  14. Linus November 25, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you for the kind words. My wife and I have been married for nearly 18 years, college sweethearts, been together since we were 18. She was my first, and until last year, my only. I am the betrayed in our relationship. Three times, as far as I know. The first, after we’d been dating for a year. She fooled around with some random guy on spring break, but no sex. I JUST found out about this in March of this year. Her second betrayal happened about a year into our marriage.

    She had a 2 month affair with one of my friends. I was in the army at the time, and we were based in Germany. We’d been apart for two years, and only a few visits in between, including our wedding. Was kind of a mess waiting to happen when she finally arrived. She disclosed this one to me right after we had moved back to the US. She says she did it to get off of her chest, and honestly thought I already knew.

    Last year she started a 3 months long affair with our married next door neighbor. This whole thing turned into an epic shitstorm of pain that wasn’t fully disclosed and put behind until March – 6 months after she ‘ended’ it. No contact from January to March, but a definitely need for control by holding the information from me. Including the fact that she had never used protection with him. (Well not totally true. There was one time. Its a very long story.)

    The shirt version goes like this: I’ll say this – consensual non-monogamy – i.e. open relationships, swinging, etc – are ONLY consensual when EVERYone involved is in the loop. If one of you starts an affair and then brings the other ‘into’ it a la swinging, then guess what. THATs fucking non consensual.And not OK. My wife had some really big problems with entitlement and selfishness, and was able to go the entire affair, never having felt guilty about it. Never really did until March I guess.

    And you hit the nail right on the head. Even within polyamorous circles, the general philosophy is that every person in the world has the absolute right to decide for themselves what kind of relationship they want. Monogamous, non, or whatever falls in between if there is such a thing. So if one wants to sleep around, and the other is not OK with it – then THAT is a major problem and a major betrayal of trust and love when it happens. So a monogamous person has the right to that kind of relationship, and should have no reason to have to adapt to their partner who has decided they want a non monogamous relationship. And vice versa. Yet again that thing of boundaries comes up.

    Anything outside the scope of that gets dangerously close or outright IS non consensual sex. Had I known my wife was having unprotected sex with someone else, I absolutely would not have consented to sex with her. And the selfishness is attested to by the fact that in starting the ‘swinging’, which eventually included a few other couples. (Who might I add were very nice people, whose company we rather enjoyed – but we aren’t doing that anymore) and protection was mandatory for both of us. She knew I was not ok with no protection, regardless of the situation if it wasn’t me. Non consensual sex like this isn’t the same kind of non consent as a person grabbing you off the street and forcing themselves on you, but it still is a violation of the spirit, soul, and very humanity of the person it happens to

    I have really struggled with this, as she allowed me to continue 17 years without an STD panel. She didn’t use protection with her previous affair person. We are in reconciliation right now, trying to move forward. I have been working on forgiveness, and she has been working hard on changing those core traits of entitlement and selfishness. She’s come a long way. I Really don’t think I could hold on after another one, so here’s to hoping she really can change. Its easy to not cheat when everything is great between you. Not so much when you’re on the rocks and sinking in marital spats, disagreements and all the little hurts that can build up in a marriage.

    I think that the unfaithful very likely have a significant lack of understanding of boundaries, or are so selfish that they just don’t care. An affair takes some kind of spark, along with poor boundaries that allow them to get into a situation where they then find themselves with opportunity in the heat of a moment. That’s what awful, hurtful choices are made of. Without even one of those things, an affair doesn’t happen. How do you stay out of the situation ? Boundaries, thats how.

    I honestly don’t believe that I am capable of cheating or would ever cheat. Why? I believe its because of boundaries. I keep a healthy gap of intimacy with all woman aside from my wife. No close friendships, no special times together. On top of that I just flat out won’t be alone with another woman. If I don’t do either of those things, I won’t have problems. Might I cheat if I found myself alone with a person who filled me with lust, while in the middle of a huge fight with my wife?Heat of the moment like that? Maybe. I don’t know. But boundaries keep you FAR from that place.

    Thanks for reading my novel length posts. 🙂

    • Bor November 26, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      Linus , Just wondering you are really close to D-Day. You have said selfishness and entitlement. Are these her conclusions or yours? If hers, how did she come to that conclusion? I am over 2 years out from D Day 1 and October 22 2016 was the 4th. I still am waiting for her Why. What type of therapy are you using in couples and IC? I guess you can com a long way if you get the right help.
      TH,” The martyrs in the marriage sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the family”. I have heard this from her so many times, I think this is why no remorse. She convinced herself she would die and not be able to function for the family with out the AP. So in the, second option death vs having an affair for the families sake I ‘ll sacrifice my morels and just hurt my relationship and marriage. My kids are not being affected by my affair. At least that is the rationalization i sum up from the comments she has stuck to. Just two consenting adults.

  15. Linus November 26, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    Well its been 17 years since her first affair that involved screwing someone else. But this one took place last summer. I’m 16 months out from discovering her snapchats to him, 12 months from learning that my attempt to make things open (denial in the 1st degree!) and asked her to move at my pace with him while I adjusted to open relationship was a sham – she then admitted to oral and kissing prior to me finding out. 10 months from learning it was complete sexual from the get go, before I knew, and constantly throughout, when I was told she was going at my pace but she had no intention of doing that, and wanted her cookies – forget me. 8 months from learning she never used protection with either of her APs. 4 months from the last lie.

    As you can see the trickle truth was really difficult, and very prolific. By the time she disclosed everything, I was pretty much unable to believe anything she said anymore. Its been a rough road getting back to some basic trust.

    During her ambivalence period, she gave a lot of “reasons” for her affair, and one of them was an honest admission of “I needed to just take care of me, and do what I wanted. It felt exciting and good so I did it.” At least that’s honest. The crap of I love you but I’m not in love with you came up too, along with I’m not attracted to you anymore. But now she says it was her taking what she wanted, being selfish, being entitled, not caring about anyone but myself and my own thrills and excitement. She says it was wrong, 100% her fault, and is really trying to help me get through the PTSD that has followed. I already had PTSD, and this adding another trauma to it has been really tough.

    In terms of therapy, we started MC in October of last year. It was utterly useless, and caused far more damage than I even thought possible. The counselor was aimless, and I think had no experience with infidelity.

    We started with a new therapist a few months ago and it has made all the difference in the world. She has her own practice and a bunch of other therapists and counselors working for her there. She is very solution focused, and I really liked her style from the first meeting. She’s absolutely no bullshit – actually appears on TV shows frequently, but I can honestly say based on our interactions that she’s not just some loudmouth spewing commentary on public events, though the news outlets may present it that way. She’s written a few books on marriage, and is really getting us through it. I’d say 3 sessions in it was already making a difference.

  16. TryingHard November 26, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    Linus— wow wow wow. First i want to say thank you for your service. I’m an old military brat and i am familiar what it takes to be a military wife. It sounds like your wife wasn’t prepared to face all the unique struggles of what comes along with that commitment.

    Do you think hers, and yours to a certain extent comes at being a little to young when you committed to each other? You def followed her down that rabbit hole when you agreed to the whole open relationship agreement. And it sounds like the boundaries became completely blurred despite your best efforts at the ground rules of the game. Also seems once a couple decides to open their relationship they immediately make their lives way more difficult. Sorry but there’s really ever room for two people in a marriage. And this is precisely why i personally would never agree to such and arrangement.

    I doubt your wife has found the fulfillment she was really looking for while indulging in her purely base pleasures. But it’s very hard to put that genie back in the bottle once it’s out. And this is what we are all trying to do after betrayal. You can get over the initial betrayal and work thru it together but life has a funny way of throwing additional bombs at you and that betrayal will rear its ugly head in your relationship again. It’s a never ending cycle. and u gave to admit i constantly ask myself why i didn’t get out when i had a chance to get out 😳

    I’m happy to hear you have good MC now. I hope you are getting IC as well. Just to deal with your previous PTSD. PTSD has serious repercussions in all your relationships and now this betrayal only compounds it.

    It is imperative you take care of you first. It seems you know all you need to know about your wife. Now it’s totally up to her to make her life right and improve her poor coping mechanisms. I’m certain she’s not a bad person but is certainly misguided of what’s important in life. I fear she will constantly go from one thing to the next in an effort to soothe herself.

    I wish you the best.

    • Linus November 26, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

      As for the not finding fulfillment, you’re absolutely right. She has said it was wasteful, stupid, destructive, immature, selfish, didn’t solve anything, was basically like getting high on a drug, and that’s pretty much it. She became a drug addict, and her drug was sex with our neighbor.

      She sees it for what it was, now.

  17. Linus November 26, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    The more interesting dynamic here I think is specifically how betrayal affects people. For me, it wasn’t that she had sex with someone else. I can deal with that. In some of my kind fantasies of threesomes thats exactly what happens. So the fact that she had sex with someone else isn’t a problem, really. The BIG problem, and where all of the trauma comes from, is lying to me for over a year about it. Gaslighting me, manipulating me, all to get what she wanted. When honestly.all she had to do was ask if she just wanted to sleep with someone. I would have said no in this case because he’s married, but you get the idea.

    The boundaries were always clear for me. I never wanted nor took more than was talked about before hand. For me, everything was about the ‘us’ part of it. We were doing something together, something crazy and exciting, but still doing it together. No jealousy issues at all in these cases. We dated 2 other couples during this period, And honestly they were really nice people, and we had a good time with them. It was sexy and fun, and I enjoyed their company. I wish them well and have no regrets.

    I believe that many people can enjoy and have good relationships while swinging – being non monogamous, but doing so consensually. But I also believe that many people cannot. Communication between the couple is so very important, there’s opportunity for jealousy and hurt feelings abound. But if done intentionally and together, with lots of communication, and everyone being on board with everything that happens, I believe it can be an enhancement to a solid relationship. It definitely requires the separation of sex and love, and I truly do understand how many people may not be comfortable with doing that. I’ve kind of always felt that they are different. (Ironic that I’d never had another partner, but still felt that way I guess)

    I don’t think that being together so young was ever really a problem for me. When we discussed ideas of fantasy and spicing things up, other people joining us came up, and I was definitely game for it – but not because I felt like I was somehow missing out. More like it seemed like something crazy and fun. As for her, I don’t know. I know that she had 2 sexual partners before me, so she did have some kind of experience before we were married. Her understanding of why she cheated has definitely evolved over the past year and a half.

    She sees in herself now some driving need to have what she feels entitled to. I know she had a big issue with the fact that her parents never did anything “fun”. She had this chip on her shoulder to live a fun life. And honestly.- due to depression, and PTSD – I wasn’t a whole lot of fun. Of course that doesn’t excuse anything, nor does it put any responsibility on me – but it does provide some context for understanding.

    She also was given childhood “lessons” that if someone doesn’t know about something its OK to do it. Her mother was this way financially. She and her sisters were told to hide the shopping bags and receipts from their dad so he wouldn’t know they spent money. REALLY unhealthy, and a very damaging example for her mother to set for her.

    When I look at it objectively, knowing all that I know now, I think she was a walking time bomb for infidelity. Now she is challenging those beliefs in IC and our MC, and I think and hope, becoming a better person for it. I’m sorry if any of my story is offensive to anyone. I really believe in honesty in recovery, and hiding from your own truth just cheats yourself, and everyone else out of the opportunity to learn from each other.

    I thought I could provide a fairly different viewpoint than is typical. That said, I have been utterly destroyed by her infidelity, which took place entirely outside the scope of any sexual freedom we explored with each other. I really don’t make a connection between the two. Maybe it got blurred for her, but never did for me. Regardless, I requested that we stop sharing sex with other people last year in October, so that we could really focus on healing ourselves.

    • Shifting Impressions November 27, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

      Linus
      I agree it is interesting how betrayal affects different people. But after four years of being on this site it seems to be a reacuuring theme for most of us ,like yourself, the deceit and lies are what slay us. It cuts one right to the core.

      Even though things are going quite well with us I still don’t think he truly understands the harm the deceit and lies did to me. In all honesty I’m not sure he ever will. It’s as if they won’t allow themselves to consider the impact of their actions while they are in the middle of the affair.

      Regarding the open marriage….I agree, these are boundaries a couple must set tor themselves as couple. But in my opinion open marriages are risky. Marriage is hard enough without adding that element of risk. Just my opinion.

  18. TryingHard November 27, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    Sandra–I completely agree with you. There is NO room for porn in my marriage. He wants to do it. Fine, no judgement here but it will be without me!

    • Linus November 27, 2017 at 11:22 am #

      Exactly. Your relationship, your rules. If you are not OK with your husband looking at porn, then you should communicate that. It sounds like you already have. Bidirectional communication is the key to everything in marriage.

      Was listening to the Andrew Marshall podcast the other day, and was very moved by the idea that in a relationship, each person needs to be able to feel OK to ask for what they need or want, the other needs to be ok with saying no, the initiator hearing no, and then working together to find compromise that works for them both.

      Just like you, he’s got the right to say that he needs porn to release, or whatever, and to insist on getting it, but that may mean he must give up you to get what he wants’ Thats really the essence of marriage I think – the willing giving up of 100% personal freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want, and in doing so you gain companionship, support, and caring, love, intimacy.

  19. Rose November 28, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    My husband wanted to go to a strip club once and actually said I should go too. Not only did I not allow him to go…I said right, so I can look at those perfect bodies and feel even more inadequate than I already do? Nope.

  20. Angela December 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    It may not be considered cheating, but I will tell you it FEELS like being cheated on. It leaves the BS feeling inadequate, unattractive, and like a disappointment physically. The BS knows they are not airbrushed and siliconed and botoxed and plastic. We are real, with the stretch marks and extra little fat and sagging things. It makes us never want to be naked with them again. All I could imagine during sex was that my (ex) husband was wishing or imagining he was with the women he looked at online and that he was not really with me. It made sex miserable and I completely emotionally disconnected from him because of it (and other things too) but it seems that porn viewers in general have those same personality characteristics that ruin relationships anyway. Add in the porn they look at and it’s a doomed relationship for the BS.

    • TryingHard December 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

      Angela—. Gosh you have so much great insight. I love reading your comments. I don’t think i know your story. Have you been around a while or are you new here? Which ever i hope you stick around.

    • Rachel December 6, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      True!

  21. Linus December 6, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

    I know this isn’t the same, but one of the things that has hurt so bad for me is that that all of the wives in our kids school classes, that we hung around with and she was friends with referred to him as the hot guy, or eye candy, or the sexy dad. I guess maybe its similar to feeling the inadequacy of not comparing to the porn models. I know my wife was no longer attracted to me. I had really gotten pretty fat, so I get that part. But to then have her betray me with the guy who all her friends drool about was such a slap in the face/kick in the balls. They called him “snickers” for f***’s sake, because he was “eye candy”.

    Great friends huh?

    • TheFirstWife December 7, 2017 at 6:59 am #

      Linus. That really stinks that you were made to feel that way.

      My H was heavy in college. Didn’t matter to me – I loved him anyway. And he is slimmer now – doesn’t matter to me.

      I would love him no matter what his weight or height or any of those things.

      I am within 10 lbs of my weight when we got married. I look younger than my age. Doesn’t matter b/c he had an A w/someone 20+ years younger.

      Like I would or could compete with that.

      It’s still a sucker punch – porn, Affairs, all that. It devalues the spouse or partner no matter how you look at it.

      Good to know your W was having an A with a guy who probably had a long history of As. Sign me up for that 🤪

  22. Tired December 7, 2017 at 6:48 am #

    An addiction to porn is infidelity. But I have been looking for days to see comments on this post. And it shows zero comments. You can only see the comments if you look at the article and scroll down. There is something wrong with the site. Please fix it, as I love to read your contributions.

    • Doug December 7, 2017 at 8:41 am #

      Tired, I’m not sure what you’re seeing but both on my desktop computer and my IPhone, it shows that there are currently 36 comments. Try refreshing your browser and/or clearing your browser cache and see if that doesn’t fix things.

  23. Tired December 7, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    That said, I don’t think looking at porn is infidelity. I think most men do it on the sly. I do think however if you are actively engaging in porn, such as talking to someone online in a sexual way and perhaps sharing nude photos to other people, that is cheating!!

  24. Angela December 7, 2017 at 11:32 am #

    Sadly, I’ve been around here for a while. In a nutshell, I found my H having what appeared to be an EA 3 years ago. He ticked every box on the cheater checklist, and recognizes it, and saw the devastation it wrought on me but denies to this day he had an inkling of feeling or thought that was inappropriate or unfaithful to me, in spite of lying, hiding calls and texts, etc. He denies it to this day, and I live in limbo.

    • TheFirstWife December 7, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

      Angela. I am sorry for you b/c I had that same situation with my H’s first EA.

      It was 4 years long.

      She was madly in love with him but he was not in love with her but yet he did emotionally cross the line. The last year or so I was in his face and was lied to and stonewalled and gaslighted.

      He refused to admit he did anything wrong. In his mind if it was not sexual it was not wrong and not an A. This was in the late 90s before the EA term was around.

      What added to the pain was that he admitted to his last OW that HE KNEW IT WAS WRONG!!!!

      And she told me he said it. And I told him I knew he finally admitted it.

      Still SMH and wondering who the bleep did I marry at times. And sometimes I say a selfish broken person. That is my H.

      Not the strong confident moral and ethical person I thought he was. I married a liar and cheater.

      • Angela December 7, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

        This is way longer than I intended, but I rarely put the whole thing out there like this. Thought it might help because I am having a particularly bad day today, one of the worst ever. That said…

        My problem is that he took soooooo long (nearly 3 years) to “get it” and put himself in my shoes, seeing things through my eyes. He held on to some of his lies for so long that now, even though I know he gets it, and he’s shown remorse and regret, and admitted what a dumb ass lunk head he was, I don’t know whether to believe him or not. If he’d have come around to really listen to what I was saying 3 years ago or even 2 years ago, and see what I was seeing sooner, I wouldn’t have any trouble believing in him. If he’d shown the least bit of consideration for what I was telling him, instead of staying defensive the whole time, I’d be able to trust it. You can’t be secretly calling another person behind your spouses back without arousing suspicion and questions, but for three years, no matter how I said, or how I approached it, I got attacked, and attacked, and attacked, instead of being heard.

        I feel like it may literally be too late. I hate to think of ending a marriage over something that didn’t happen, but seeing how he held on to the little lies for 2 years, I can’t fully convince myself he isn’t still holding on to The Big One. Thus, I float in and out of limbo, with no real answers and a sort of half-comfortable/half-terrified feeling all the time.

        It will never be the same again, and saddest of all, it was probably lost for nothing. He met her in an online game, and next thing I know is I find he’s waiting for me to fall asleep at night to text and call her. There were no “I love you” kind of texts or stuff like that, but he was not revealing that he was married. He asked me if I minded if they exchanged numbers and I said OK, not knowing he’d actually already done it and only asked me because I was going to end up seeing a call or a text from her. He only asked permission to cover his ass, not out of a desire to be transparent. His texts said things like “you just made it a good morning” and “want me to dial down the PDA?” and he would not answer her calls or speak to her in front of me. I confronted him about the texts and I didn’t really think anything was going on, but I told him how inappropriate it all sounded and then revoked my agreement to the phone contact, but told him he could play their game as usual. Their overly excessive flirty texts wasn’t something I would put up with, especially knowing that she didn’t know he was married. I woke up the next morning and he was outside in the backyard on the phone with her! I literally sneaked up behind him and when he turned around to see who was there I snatched the phone from his hand. I put the phone up to my ear and said “Bye, Katie” and hung up on her. I looked at him and asked him “Have you told her you’re married?” His answer was to turn and start walking away. I was stunned. I said “Fine, I’ll tell her myself”. I sent a text to her that said “my wife is mad at me” making it sound as if he had sent it because I wanted to see what she’d say. She responded “Your WIFE???!!!” Well, of course he hadn’t told her. She’d lose interest in him if she knew that.

        This woman was bold, and forward, and worst of all, – a catfish. I knew she considered it open season on him and he generally wasn’t doing a damn thing to discourage her. I was already pissed by his lack of setting boundaries with her, but I didn’t push him about it very hard, because I didn’t want to come off as jealous or possessive, even though I knew this situation would be a powder keg if he didn’t keep her in line. On three different occasions I told him “you need to tell her you’re married” but I didn’t make it a big issue. He would tell me things she said at times and I knew this woman was going to get the wrong idea if he didn’t set things straight. As it turns out, I think he was just fine with her having the wrong idea. I told him from Day 1 she was a catfish and warned him. He didn’t know what a catfish was and I explained it to him. Next thing I know, she’s asking to meet him (that’s when I very pointedly said to him ” You need to tell her you’re married. She’s trying to meet you!” But did he do shit to discourage her? Nope, he gave her our phone number and kept that secret for a little while, (then asked permission to CYA,)he kept their texts deleted out of the phone, and lied when I asked who kept calling that he wouldn’t answer, and he slipped outside to talk on the phone or waited til I was asleep, or called her while he was away from home, etc. Even after I grabbed the phone from him he still somehow managed to get a hold of the phone and text her more that same day. I mean I probably only left the room long enough to pee and he’d be texting her or posting to her online!

        One night she showed him a picture of herself baring her ass. (but not really her, she stole some Russian model’s profile pic). Yeah, she actually tried to pull off using a model’s picture to catfish! She told him to bookmark it and he did. (At least that’s how he tells it). He said it felt so awkward and weird for her to show him that picture, he really didn’t know how to handle it and just said “OK, let’s get back to the game now” but who knows if that’s the truth. He wouldn’t even admit he’d already gave her our number days before I agreed to it, so there’s no telling what all happened in their phone calls. Right about that time, I inherited a few thousand dollars and spent over half of it paying for phone records, IT data, and everything that money could buy from IT specialists, hackers, etc, to find out exactly what went on. I have every chat from every minute on that game and it’s some 3000 pages printed on front and back. That’s how much time he spent in 4 months on that game with her. The game was a public forum so those chats don’t really reveal much, since other players were present. Their private texts on the phone sent alarm bells ringing though.

        His version of the story is that when I told him she was a catfish, he was fascinated by that and wanted to outsmart her, and catch her out on her story. Just for shits & grins I guess. That’s a helluva thing to lie to your wife about and betray her trust, break promises over and over, and oh, did I mention this entire time how he became ultra hypercritical of me, and had not wanted sex or physical affection for months (except once. he put the game down for 30 whole minutes one day to have sex with me -it was his idea- then went straight back to his game). It had been a couple of weeks since I saw the texts, but when he was done with me and went straight back to the game, I just felt used. I figured she had him all worked up and he just used me as a warm body. Oh, and did I mention that on the day he asked if they could exchange numbers, I had given the OK, and a little while later I did a raunchy little strip tease? His response to that was to act disgusted and back away, as if I was diseased. That same night he bookmarked her ass picture that I later found in his iPad. If I’d seen that picture before we had sex again, it wouldn’t have happened. I told him it’s like this, to sum it up: his absolute obsession and determination to be on that game, phone or otherwise in contact with her made me feel like I was in their way. I literally felt like I was sleeping in her spot and should get out of his bed so they could be together. Yes, he acted that f-ing bad toward me and that obsessed to be online with or on the phone with her. I told him if they’d lived in the same town they’d have hooked up. His willingness to lie, hide, sneak, betray, and try to make me think I’m crazy when I know he’s lying, told me he doesn’t value me worth a sh*t whether he cheated or not.

        I figure if it took 2 years for the little lies to be admitted, it will take 20 for the Big One to come out. I’m 49, and since this happened, I’m pretty sure I don’t have 20 years to wait for it.

        I don’t know WTF he did. Fall for the catfish? Fall in love with the person knowing they weren’t who they pretended to be? I have no idea and don’t know to believe him or not. What I do know is this: whatever he got out of it was worth doing this to me, so I hope it was good for him.

        I never dreamed such a nice, gentle, considerate, respectful and kind man as he is could have such a monster-size pride that he’d rather see me sick, skeletal, broken, devastated and soul crushed than admit to his lies, but by god he does.

        • TheFirstWife December 7, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

          Angela. So sorry for you. I think your last line sums it up well.

          The CS is willing to lie cheat and steal so to speak to get what they want AND destroy their living spouse without any regard. Watching us cry and beg for the truth and twist ourselves into a pretzel to try to get ANY answers – and they see this and step over us like trash in the gutter and carry on with the A.

          As if our sorrow and pain is nothing more than an inconvenience.

          I told my H that the biggest issue I have is not the A – but when he kept telling me he loved me and how great things were while I thought we had reconciled (stupid me) he resumed the A – and blindsided and devastated me again when he walked in the door out of the blue – and demanded a D.

          The fact he wanted to dump me for someone he knew for less than 12 months is astoundingly horrible.

          And sleeps next to me every night knowing I am crying and not sleeping and devastated. There he is snoring away and going about life like nothing is wrong.

          Idiot!

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