Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “He’s Addicted to Online Chat Rooms”

Computer_snooping

I have been dating my boyfriend for about eight months now – and what an amazing eight months it has been. He is so sweet, all my friends love him, I love all of his friends, and we always have the best time together. He has become not just my intimate partner but also one of my closest companions. I go to him whenever I am feeling upset, and he is always there to comfort me. However, since my last boyfriend cheated on me, I have been a bit paranoid throughout this current relationship. I just recently checked my boyfriend’s browser history and discovered he has been using online chat rooms to talk dirty to girls. I told him as soon as I found out, and he admitted to being addicted to online chat rooms for about four years. He also admitted he used to see a therapist for it. He makes fake accounts that don’t even use his name; however, he claims never to have met any of the girls he talks dirty to in this way. How do I know he’s telling the truth? He is really ashamed that he is still doing it and has promised he will go back to therapy for it. Should I stay with him? — Girlfriend of Chat Room Addict

No, I wouldn’t recommend staying with anyone you’ve only just started dating who has an untreated/unmanaged addiction of any kind that has and will affect your relationship, particularly your intimate relationship and your level of trust. The fact that in eight months your boyfriend never confided in you about this addiction and that there was enough doubt in his trustworthiness that you snooped through his computer confirms that this relationship isn’t as honky dory as you might like to think. There are serious issues here, and I suspect that participating in online chat rooms is just the tip of the addiction iceberg. Thankfully, it’s early enough in your relationship that you can get out relatively unscathed and without having invested a ton of time or energy. MOA and be glad you dodged a bullet as early as you did.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

17 comments… add one
  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy April 12, 2016, 9:41 am

    No, you shouldn’t stay with this guy! He’s probably full of shit about not meeting or hooking up with any of them. After what you have already dealt with in the past, you don’t want to get involved with another guaranteed heartbreak.

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    RedRoverRedRover April 12, 2016, 10:08 am

    It’s really no different than if smoking was a dealbreaker to you, and you found out 8 months in that he’s a secret smoker, and has tried to quit before and couldn’t, and has been hiding it from you the whole time.

    Actually it’s worse, because while smoking might be a dealbreaker, it doesn’t have the same effect on YOUR self-esteem as something like this does. And it doesn’t in and of itself cause trust issues. Lying about it does, but not the smoking itself. While him talking dirty in chatrooms definitely does. So I would say that unless you want to be in a relationship where he could potentially keep doing this for the foreseeable future, it’s best to end it now.

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    girltuesday April 12, 2016, 10:10 am

    WWS. Relationship is way too new to put up with this crap. Be glad you found out sooner than later. Go find someone worth your time and trust, LW!

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    TheRascal April 12, 2016, 10:19 am

    WWS and WWES. Also, work on your trust issues. Snooping is a terrible thing.

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    bondgirl April 12, 2016, 10:20 am

    I agree with Wendy that this was probably just “the tip of the iceberg.” That being said, go get yourself tested for STD’s. Because you really don’t know whether this guy met up with any of those women, and if he did, I’m sure he had sex with at least a few.

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    artsygirl April 12, 2016, 11:30 am

    LW – If you BF is truly an addict (as in being on chat rooms is a compulsion) and he is not in treatment for this; I cannot see this turning out well in the end especially with your previous history. Truthfully addicts need to constantly increase their levels of addiction – how many people try heroin right out of the gate? – in order to create achieve the desired ‘high’. While he might not be meeting with girls now, that can change down the road. Sex addicts especially tend to move into riskier and riskier behavior as their addiction progresses.

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    for_cutie April 12, 2016, 11:44 am

    WWS and WES. And in the letter you don’t mention how you feel about him “talking dirty” to strange women from an ethical standpoint. Personally, I would feel that someone with a compulsion to objectify and demean women anonymously is not someone I would want anywhere near me, not as a partner, lover, or even friend.

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    Adrienne April 12, 2016, 12:03 pm

    1- real world question, where does one find legit “chat rooms” in the post-AOL days.

    2- I guess I don’t know if I really see this as big a deal, but that’s because I see the dirty talk/chat on the same level as watching porn. I’d this a bigger issue because they are real women (Because, in my Ashley Madison reading, most women on “chat” sites are bots).

    3- would everyone’s reaction be the same if the bf just said, yeah I prefer this to porn, as opposed to saying he was “addicted” to it?

    4- LW, only you know if your realy believe what your bf is telling you or not. I will say, if the tone of your letter is true to the situation, then good for your bf for not trying to turn the situation on you (LW) and trying to avoid his own faults.

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      RedRoverRedRover April 12, 2016, 12:23 pm

      Well, if someone claims to be an addict I’d take them at their word. If they’re using that language themselves, then they obviously know that they have a major problem. That, or they know they don’t want to stop and they’re going to say they’re addicted as an excuse. Either way.

      He also mentioned that he hasn’t met any of these women, which makes it sound like they’re real if he has the option to meet them. Maybe they’re bots and he’s totally fooled, but from an intent perspective nothing changes in that case. For me, that’s completely different than just looking at porn.

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        Adrienne April 12, 2016, 12:34 pm

        Yeah, I read into the “didn’t meet” as assuming she asked and he answered. I watch porn (except except Xhamster, thanks HB2) and there are ads I there where yoh can chat with “live, local hot women.” I also assume all of these women are bots, or if not, the then new age sexy telephone lady.

        At roughly eight months in, I don’t know if I was sharing the specifics of what porn I watched with my (now) husband. I guess I was just honestly surprised at how aggressively it seemed everyone was telling her to MOA, and assuming that he’s out there cheating.

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        RedRoverRedRover April 12, 2016, 12:53 pm

        I don’t assume he’s physically cheating, but this is clearly bothering her, and he characterizes it as an addiction. Plus he hid it which shows that he thought it wouldn’t be acceptable to her but he kept doing it anyway. That’s why she should move on. Why stick around for this? If she didn’t think it was a big deal, then that would be a whole different story, and she wouldn’t even have written in.

        And for me, being in a “chatroom” doesn’t sound like clicking those ads on a porn site. I was thinking of Reddit or a dating site or something, and those are real people for sure. Personally I would consider it cheating if I found out my partner was on a site like that chatting women up.

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      artsygirl April 12, 2016, 2:45 pm

      I see talking dirty to other people as a big step up from porn watching. During porn you are a spectator while in a chat room you are actively engaged in a sexual activity. I would considered my partner cheating on me if he was calling/texting/chatting with other women in such a sexual manner.

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    Adrienne April 12, 2016, 1:38 pm

    @RedRover,

    Part of the way I read it is, I didn’t take it as him lying to her, because at eight months in I don’t think you have to disclose your porn habits/etc to your partner. The LW said she had trust issues from a prior relationship and checked his browser history, ahs he was honest about what she find.

    But then again, I think we’re coming at the issue from a different dynamic off the bat, because I read his habits as more looking at porn. One of the main reasons for that being the “browser history” is where this came to light as opposed to communications that are mainly made on a cell phone (texts, messages, DMs, etc).

    But I also understand that I tend to be more okay with my husband looking at porn, going to strip clubs, etc. It doesn’t make my opinion right or wrong, its just how each person sets relationship boundaries (and I just keep my mouth shut when my friends complain about bachelor parties, guys night, etc.)

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    • Portia

      Portia April 12, 2016, 1:52 pm

      I agree that it’s not lying if it hasn’t come up before, especially at only 8 months in.

      I agree that the LW needs to look at this as something that won’t change about the guy and whether she can accept it, but that it’s fine if she can’t and then move on. Personally, I draw the line in porn at interacting. I’ve also discussed this with partners and they know where I stand. And also, if something is so addicting that they choose it over their partner. That can be anything, not just porn.

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      • Portia

        Portia April 12, 2016, 1:57 pm

        PS I’ve actually had a conversation that ended with, no don’t make a Reddit username that has PM_ME_YOUR_TITS in it.

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    ArgyllWisp April 12, 2016, 2:58 pm

    Maybe it’s because I grew up in the AOL Era and chatrooms were reserved for teenagers and creeps but… when the LW says girls does she mean ACTUAL girls like teenagers? Because yeah, that’s a no right there. If it’s chatting up women I could see that some partners might be okay with anonymous Internet only chat as a form of porn (like a free version of those phone-sex places). But teenagers absolutely not.

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    T April 12, 2016, 6:03 pm

    Regardless of whether he (and she) sees this as just porn or actually cheating, all of the alarm bells went off in my head at him saying he’s “addicted.” If it is a real addiction, then no, at 8 months you don’t want to continue to get involved with an addict. But brain scan studies have seriously called into question whether “sex addiction” is a real thing, let alone chat rooms which seems to be wayyy more of a stretch. My take was that his phrasing it this was as an excuse to keep doing whatever he wants, while also getting sympathy from his girlfriend as the icing on the cake. I wonder if the reason he went to therapy before was because he also pulled this sh*t on an ex and she demanded that he try to quit (so he agreed to go to therapy, but oops, whaddaya know, it didn’t work). Either way, LW, run fast.
    .
    P.S. I agree that it would be a totally different story if he had just been honest that this was something he liked to do/was his version of porn. Then this would be a matter of having a grownup conversation and negotiating the boundaries of the relationship. But you will not be getting an honest or grownup conversation out of this guy.

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