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Your Turn: “How Can I Forgive Him for Sexting other Women?”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

Recently, I came upon my husband using his phone and he was getting the text tone. When I asked him who was texting him, he became very evasive. I took the phone from him and made some unpleasant discoveries. Long story short, he has been having online flirtations and sexting with a number of girls from all over the country. This has been going on for almost eight months. None of the girls is local and he says he has never met any of them or even talked to any of them on the phone; it was all just typing back and forth. I’ve talked to a few of the girls and believe he’s telling the truth about that.

Apart from this situation, he has been good and caring otherwise. He says he is sorry and wants a chance to start over, and I want us to start over too. I told him I was willing to work on it and I do love him, but right now I’m having a hard time. How does someone get the trust back after being lied to over and over and over again? I mean, I felt stupid and guilty for suspecting anything and it turns out I was right all along. How could he do that to someone he says he cares about unless he is actually lying about caring about me? How could he keep doing that knowing how it affected every part of our life and was getting in the way of our supposed happy family? How can I ever look back on any good memories and be anything but sad? And how can I ever remember all the lies and be OK with them? — Want to Forgive but Can’t Forget

Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 9:14 am

First of all, if you and your husband are both completely, extremely, 100% serious about working on your marriage — Then you need to get yourselves to couples therapy. Immediately. It will be a safe place for you and your husband to healthfully explore what may have led and contributed to his emotional affairs. And yes, I do believe that he was emotionally straying from you, at the very least.

By all accounts, you define his sexting as cheating on you (which I think is completely accurate, personally). And the thing about cheating that you must keep in mind is…sometimes, it isn’t possible for someone to forgive and forget. You’ve asked a lot of pointed questions — “How could he keep doing that knowing how it affected every part of our life and was getting in the way of our supposed happy family? How can I ever look back on any good memories and be anything but sad? And how can I ever remember all the lies and be OK with them?” And the truth is — You may not be able to move on from this, to recover from it, or to be OK.

Your job is to figure out what you can accept, and move on from. Personally, I’m the kind of person who has a zero tolerance policy for any kind of cheating. In addition to the betrayal, I know I could never trust the person again, and the lack of trust would ruin our relationship, anyway — I’d be wracked with worry every time he left the house; I’d be tempted to snoop on him all the time, and I’d feel constant anger and grief thinking about what he’d done to me. I can’t do it, and I know I can’t do it.

Absolute, positive bottom line — If you’re the kind of person for which cheating completely dashes your trust in someone; if it’s going to make you crazy with worry and suspcision; if you’re going to start snooping and lashing out; if it’s going to do negative things for your mental health, then you’re likely not going to be able to make a relationship work…nor should you have to.

Some people can forgive and forget. So ask yourself if you think you can. Can you not snoop through his phone? Can you be at peace when you don’t know where he might be going or with whom? Will you eventually stop worrying about his straying? And, for his part, does he make a concerted effort to change? Can you tell that he’s dedicated to the marriage? Does he seem remorseful? Is he making strides to really and truly become a more evolved person in your marriage? These are questions you can answer through time, observation and in therapy. Your answers to them will determine whether or not you two can make this work.

avatar camille905 April 4, 2012, 9:32 am

Yeah that pretty much sums it up.

avatar titian April 4, 2012, 10:10 am

Great advice. I’ve had this happen to me and I think everything Regina said is spot on. I decided to stay to see if we can make it work and so far we are but everything you pointed out: the need to constantly monitor, the crazy in your head when he goes out, happened to me.

For me, it’s gotten better as time goes by. I think you will feel this way at first no matter what and no matter how badly you want to stay.

EscapeHatches EscapeHatches April 4, 2012, 1:11 pm

You didn’t mentioned if there are children involved, so….

For the love of Zeus, DO NOT have a child with him (if that’s in your plans), until your relationship and yourselves have emerged from the other side of therapy. Band-aid babies do not work.

avatar Leah April 4, 2012, 9:40 am

It might be difficult, but you really need to get his side of the story. You’re making assumptions about how he perceived his own behavior that may not be true. You ask, “How could he keep doing that knowing how it affected every part of our life and was getting in the way of our supposed happy family,” but maybe he DIDN’T know that. What really stuck out for me is that there was a very clear line that he was not crossing with these women. He never heard their voices, only typed, and none of them were local so there was no chance of meeting them in person.

People define cheating differently, and I would say that generally women are more strict with their definitions than men are. It’s possible that your husband saw his behavior as wrong and potentially hurtful, which is why he hid it from you, but didn’t consider it cheating. It’s also possible that he underestimated HOW hurtful it was until he saw firsthand when you caught him. It’s really hard to keep sex thrilling and exciting when you’ve been with the same person for a long time. As hard as this is to accept given how hurt you’re feeling right now, it’s possible that your husband saw his behavior as one step up from watching pornography. There was another person on the other end of the line, sure, but there was no physical contact and from what you’ve said no visual contact either.

This is why it’s so important to get his side of the story and for him to spend a long time (preferably in therapy) figuring out why he did what he did. Was this behavior likely to escalate over time? Would he have stepped up to phone sex, video chatting and eventually meeting up with women in real life? Or was this behavior that he (wrongly) assumed was basically harmless because it was never going to go further than the written word? If that’s the case, now that he’s seen what kind of damage he’s done it’s possible that he really would never be tempted to do this again. It would take time for you to really trust him again, but it is possible to move on from this. And who knows? Maybe you can get a much more honest relationship out of it when all is said and done.

call-me-hobo call-me-hobo April 4, 2012, 9:55 am

I agree that this is a chance to work on their relationship, but the thing is, I think he knew how much it would hurt her. He actively hid it from her for 8 months, and didn’t come clean until she actually saw the messages.

It wasn’t a “my bad- you aren’t cool with this?” This was a deliberate deception on his part. That would really bother me more than the actually sexting, and I think that is what is hurting the LW so much.

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 9:59 am

Honestly, I think the fact that he was texting them while she was right in front of him says a LOT about this situation. He’s either incredibly clueless (doubtful) or so disrespectful and blase that he almost WANTED to get caught. Not to go *too* far in my assumptions, but I find that the people who are careless with their cheating (be it emotional or physical) are likely looking for a way out of a relationship without having to do the “hard stuff.” They’re looking for someone to just end it for them. Kind of like Dennis’ essay last week.

avatar Leah April 4, 2012, 11:07 am

At the same time, I’m really curious about what lead to the LW actually calling these women up. If she did this on her own (the same way she yanked the phone out of his hand), that would be one thing. But if her husband actually gave her his phone and gave his permission to call these women, I think that says a lot about his character as well and how far he may be willing to go to make this right. First off, those phone calls were likely humiliating for him, and it also speaks to how much control he’s willing to give the LW in terms of how they deal with this situation from now on.

avatar CollegeCat April 4, 2012, 11:28 am

the calls may have been humiliating for him but having to make those calls were probably 100x more humiliating for her. I mean “hi i’m ____’s wife. Could you tell me more about the nature of your relationship?” ughh.

landygirl landygirl April 4, 2012, 11:41 am

I’m with you, he should be humilated by what he’s done.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 11:01 am

“It’s possible that your husband saw his behavior as wrong and potentially hurtful, which is why he hid it from you, but didn’t consider it cheating.”
I think you’re being far too generous here. If you are involved with other people in a romantic way that makes you hide it from your wife, its pretty much cheating. The only thing you are pointing out is the different between emotional cheating and physical cheating and even in this case its not clear where he lies on that spectrum. If phone sex is considered physical cheating, and cyber sex is physical cheating then sexting is physical cheating.

avatar Leah April 4, 2012, 11:17 am

I really have to disagree here. I think cheating (emotional and physical) is on a continuum and each person defines it differently. Some people consider kissing other people cheating while others don’t. We can all agree that’s a shitty thing to do, but people do label it differently. And what about openly flirting with other people when the partner isn’t around if it doesn’t lead to anything else? Is that cheating? Again, unless there is express permission to do so it’s a shitty thing to do, but people are going to respond differently to that level of betrayal.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how any of us on this message board define cheating; what’s important is how the LW and her husband define it and whether those definitions match up. That’s why I think it’s so important that they have that conversation and see how close or far apart they really fall. As Kate points out below, some people just aren’t as good at monogamy as others. That doesn’t make what he did okay or forgivable, but I do think that it’s possible his actions stem more from stupidity than a knowing betrayal. If I were in the LW’s shoes knowing that would make a difference for me.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 11:35 am

“That doesn’t make what he did okay or forgivable, but I do think that it’s possible his actions stem more from stupidity than a knowing betrayal”
I guess what I’m saying is that unless otherwise specified people who agree to get married have the right to expect their partners to be good at monogamy and as a key tenant of the majority of marriages, I think its such a stretch to say the the husband is just stupid and didn’t know that this was a betrayal of their marriage.

caitie_didnt caitie_didnt April 4, 2012, 12:37 pm

I agree….marriage is by default a monogamous contract and I’m tired of this bullshit where emotional cheating isn’t “real” cheating, or it’s not “real” cheating till you’ve slept with the other person. I call bullshit on all of it. if you are hiding your behaviour from your spouse- it’s cheating. If you think your spouse would be upset to find you’ve been sexting other women- it’s cheating. Sure, some people don’t do monogamy. They shouldn’t be getting married, then. Once you’ve entered that by default monogamous contract, you don’t just get to change the terms and claim innocence.

avatar Crying_Raven June 25, 2014, 3:36 am

I agree 100% with this. Cheating comes in all forms including emotional cheating is a huge one (example: sexual advances, sexting, chasing tail, and the like). Physical cheating is a no-brainer on the cheating spectrum of no-nos for most people(unless open relationships are already agreed upon), duh. But boundaries of sexting and etc seems to be brushed off under the rug and accepted openly quite often these days especially in committed relationships, since “nothing technically happened”, right? Personally I say, incorrect. If I was dumb enough to cheat in the first place I wouldn’t bother going into a monogamous relationship at all but live it large with no strings attached kind of life style, where games and fooling around would be appropriate with no possible guilt-trips. However, I personally believe full commitment once commited 100% with one other person, which includes no sexting, sexual flirtations or beyond when I’m with that person I hope/wish to have a possible permanent future with. Firstly all of these things just creates lower self confidence, cheaper sense of the relationship, paranoia, agitation (inadvertently or not, ie…moodyness as my SO would say…hmmm I wonder why?) and tons questions/thoughts of (if I do dare say) the possibility of full blown physical cheating in the long run. In my “commited” relationship, I wish only to have a fully committed/dedicated mate in which I could have the comfort of knowing my secrets and his as well, will only stay between us (for better or for worst) including on the sexual level and not to be “shared” playfully or for “extra-entertainment”. Took much to ask? Why go looking for trouble if already in a relationship in the first place? So if f you’re unhappy with your relationship/situation, break it off and not torture the person who might have higher expectations of full “commitment” on all levels unless both are in it together on a mutual understanding. I could be wrong but I guess I’m a mature enough female who know what she wants in life without the need to play games and fool around to see what my tastes are. Been there done that in the past, lessons learned, moved on. For the younger ones that have yet to figure things out, date around, mature/grow-up and get your ducks in order before settling into the constraints of a commitment, like else anything in life. So yes, make those mistakes early on, live and learn then move onto better things from those lessons. To sum it up, commitment is a conscience mature decision not to be wishy-washy or immature about on all levels.

avatar Heidi April 4, 2012, 6:51 pm

This is in reply to Leah, 100% in agreement with you.

avatar cporoski April 4, 2012, 1:52 pm

I totally agree. They need to go to therapy. I agree about cheating definitions. He might of seen this as looking at porn versus a relationship. The lines are blurred now. Where did he find these women? They are married and I don’t think dumping him should be used so quickly.

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 9:49 am

What happened was a betrayal of your trust – I’m sure you must be devastated but if you want to rebuild your life together the only way to deal with it is with a licensed professional. Some people say cheating of any sort is something you can’t recover from it but I don’t know that that is the case. I agree this is cheating but there are degrees of cheating just like there are degrees of everything else. Kissing someone else is cheating and so if a full blown affair – does it make sense to handle both the same way? We all like to think we know what we would do in certain situations but the boots on the ground reality might be different than we would have thought- this isn’t your boyfriend who you can walk away from with relative ease – this is your husband and extricating yourself from a marriage is a different beast. And while you feel anger and hurt and betrayal now – that is not to say you will always feel those things. You do not have to be doomed to a life of mistrust. But you two can’t achieve that on your own. There have been many couples that work through infidelity – often extreme infidelity – and emerge together on the other side. If your husband is serious in his contrition and you are invested enough in this relationship to try then a therapist can help you both address the issues that need to be addressed in your marriage and help you create a more solid foundation going forward. Good luck to you and I wish for you every success.

avatar kerrycontrary April 4, 2012, 9:59 am

I agree that marriage versus dating makes a huge difference when it comes to cheating. This is not only the man she loves, but their entire lives are entwined. They spend holidays with each others families, they have presumably years of memories together. They have build their lives around each other. Even if you are someone who says “I will never tolerate cheating” you never know how hard it would be to walk away unless you are or have been in that situation. If a boyfriend (even a live-in boyfriend) cheats you can walk away that day. Even if the LW immediately did want to leave her husband, ending a marriage is an expensive and long process, not to mention emotionally taxing. I believe that it is possible for a marriage to survive cheating with the help of counseling and time. It may take YEARS for the LW to trust her husband again, but 3 years is a blip in 40-50 years of marraige.

avatar SweetPea April 4, 2012, 10:39 am

Very much agree, FireStar.

My initial reaction was a very adamant “OH HELL NO!”. I have been there, done that. I stayed far too long with a boyfriend who exhibited this behavior over and OVER. He lied so much I think he believed his lies. So, when I read letters like this, my gut usually says “MOA”.

But, when I think about this deeper and when I read responses like yours… well, I do think I would give it a bigger effort. That word “HUSBAND” is a big, gigantic word. And I hope I would try until I couldn’t try anymore to “fix” things.

I agree- therapy is a MUST. And he needs to work on it. Beware of pretty words that are really meaningless. This guy has got to do some real work.

avatar Mary March 24, 2014, 3:06 pm

I was desperately searching for answer to my situation. Thank goodness I found you guys and your level headed answers.
I reconnected with a man that I dated 20+ years ago. I moved away for a job opportunity and I never forgot him. When I moved back home to Austin I decided to look him up. I checked out his Face Book sight to make sure I wouldn’t cause any issues with current relationships.
I sent him a message and he responded. It was over the holidays and we were both very busy and couldn’t get together til after NYE. He called me frequently and we talked for hours. I ad never texted, or sexted until him. Never sent a sexy pic, never had phone sex. It was fun, new and exciting. It wasn’t until later in the relationship that I realized he was quite the pro at this
I found out that during two years of our escalating relationship that he was quite busy sexting others. He was on Craigslist, multiple dating sights and who knows where else.
He said he never did anything with any of them. He sexted and sent naked pics back and forth. It was confusing and hurtful. I wondered if he had to think of these other woman to have sex with me. Did he think of them during. I’m no prude and understand guys have a fantasy life and women do too.
I left and went to Colorado for 3 months, he kept texting me that he missed me and wanted me to come home. He was sorry and wanted to work it out. I went back for Thanksgiving, he was acting strangely but I didn’t push it. The morning I was leaving I noticed a text on his Ipad with a kissy Icon. I looked a little deeper (yes, I snooped)there in front of me was days worth of texts while I was there over Thanksgiving. Texts to another woman he had been seeing while we were apart, fai enough, we weren’t together, but….the whole time was with him over Thanksgiving, he was telling me he loved me, missed me, wanted me back home, he was texting this other woman. Telling her to hurry home, he missed her. he even told her he was going to go hide out in the bathroom and masturbate to the thought of her.
Now he thinks he can say he was immature and so sorry for hurting me and wats me back AGAIN!!!! Does a tiger change his stripes? Can someone that treats another person so bad really see the error of their was.

Heather Heather April 4, 2012, 9:59 am

This is tough LW. When it comes to things like this, you need to really, truly ask yourself if this is something you can forgive him for. Whatever answer you choose will not be an easy one. Here’s the thing-if you do choose to stay with him, it will go both ways. Yes, he needs to do everything he can to earn your trust, but you need to actually be willing to give it. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to. If I was cheated on, I wouldn’t be able to let it go. I wouldn’t be able to begin trusting that person ever again. It would never be the same for me.

But, this might not be the case for you. At the end of the day, there’s no set way of doing it. There’s no guidebook for “How to Regain Trust”. I agree with other commenters 100% when they say you should begin couples counseling. If your wish is to try to fix your relationship with him, it’s best to do it with the help of a counselor. And I know it’s hard, and it absolutely doesn’t excuse his behavior, but part of the healing process will be to acknowledge his reasons for stepping out in the manner that he did.

Bottom line, do what’s best for YOU. Acknowledging that it’s over doesn’t mean you don’t love him or that you can’t forgive him for what he did, just that his indiscretion was a mark on the relationship that you wouldn’t be able to move past. On the flip side, if you do choose to stay with him, you have to go into it all the way with as much dedication as he will have to. I’m definitely not trying to push you in any direction. Just consider it and don’t be afraid to answer the tough questions, or face the even tougher answers.

avatar Chicago_Dude April 4, 2012, 10:07 am

What stands out most is the expectation that a partner is to be flawless.
I’m not condoning his actions.
A route to consider is to separate the man from his fallacy. If he is remorseful, and you are willing, give him a chance to grow from this experience and see how it plays out. Yes, he’s betrayed his marriage and rightfully have lost some trust with you.

Though this affects you, it isn’t about you. It’s about someone who exercised bad judgment in sore of vows and prearranged conditions you’ve set forth in your marriage.
Communicate that to him, and help create an atmosphere for him too redeem himself and for him to use this opportunity to further bond and help the marriage grow.

avatar titian April 4, 2012, 10:12 am

I agree with this too. Part of why I stayed in my situation and wanted to work it out is that he has put up with some awful behavior from me while which I am working through and working on in therapy. I guess I felt like why am I allowed to make mistakes and treat him badly in some situations but he has to be perfect and never make a single mistake in others?

It’s a personal call though.

avatar Chicago_Dude April 4, 2012, 12:25 pm

It is a personal call.
There are a few options, terri of which are:
– use this as an opportunity for self discovery and growth of the marriage,
– beat yourself & your partner to death

When you speak with couples who’ve endured decades and decades of marriage, they all chalk it up to bring resilient, not quitting on the other, forgiveness..etc.
It’s not magic, baby. It’s hard work.

Kudos to you for walking that walk, titan. Keep up the faith.

avatar cmarie April 4, 2012, 12:50 pm

You forgot the option to end the relationship and allow both of them to find happiness.

avatar Heidi April 4, 2012, 7:01 pm

Chicago_Dude – “It’s not magic baby,it’s hard work” this. I’m 34 and have been married 11 years to a wonderful man. My husband has never cheated. If my husband would cheat on our marriage, I would,yes be upset, but I would like to think that (depending on the circumstances) I would make my decision on how to move forward based on the person I have known for 15 + years and not the poor decision he made. Just as I would hope he would do the same if the roles were reversed.

avatar Anna April 4, 2012, 10:31 am

While I do agree that no one is perfect or should be expected to be perfect, I don’t see this as a mistake. He knew what he was doing was wrong and that’s why he hid it. That was deliberate, calculated, and done of his own free will. A mistake is something you didn’t intend to do, like damaging their car or accidentally undercooking the chicken. Sexting other women can’t be done without intention.

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 11:03 am

A mistake is just an act or omission that is misguided or wrong – making a mistake doesn’t speak to intention. An accident speaks to intention but I don’t think Chicago_Due was trying to say he accidentally sexted the other women.

avatar Chicago_Dude April 4, 2012, 12:03 pm

Anna, I think I get from where you’re saying what you’re saying. The LW is justified to be upset about this. Your definition of a mistake versus a calculated mistake however, I’m not sure add much to the dialogue.

avatar jlyfsh April 4, 2012, 10:33 am

There is a difference between expecting a partner to be flawless and expecting them to not cheat on you. Everyone makes mistakes but cheating (whatever form that cheating may take) is not just a small issue. It attacks the very foundation of a marriage and takes a lot of work to come back from.

That being said I think that it is something that can be worked through. They both need counseling as well as to be in marriage counseling. She is allowed to feel angry and upset and needs her own space to work through those feelings, just like he needs to deal with whatever led him to text these other women.

Leroy Leroy April 4, 2012, 11:01 am

I wondered the same. Strange as it sounds, it might be helpful to recognize that he’s just an asshole.

I’ve got no tolerance for actual cheating, but his could be a situation where he didn’t quite get how hurtful it would be to the LW. He may have thought of it like porn, or going to a strip club – not something he’d want her to know about, but not behavior pursuant to infidelity either.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 11:09 am

I don’t understand the excuse of ignorance of his actions upon their marriage. How does that somehow redeem any part,however small, of his actions?

Leroy Leroy April 4, 2012, 11:14 am

It doesn’t, but it goes to his state of mind and intentions. The LW seems to feel that he’d done this with knowledge of the impact of his actions – “knowing how it affected every part of our life” – and he may not have.

avatar cporoski April 4, 2012, 5:20 pm

See, I saw this as the porn/stripclub grey area. That is such a slippery slope for people. We have had chats on here about Live chats with people and interactive things. It isn’t cut and dry about a sketchy magazine because they women can interact in so many ways. I think that this behavior is something that can be worked through if both parties are willing.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 11:04 am

She didn’t say he’s not perfect so I’m leaving so I’m not sure where you got that expectation from. She said he did this, I’m trying to get over it and having a hard time, help.

Will.i.am Will.i.am April 4, 2012, 10:13 am

I think since you two are married, it warrants the chance to work on your marriage. The hardest part about this situation is the trust that has been broken. Like RR said, it is time to go to couple’s therapy and find the root of why he prefers to see other women’s assets and not his wife’s. Be prepared to feel extremely uncomfortable with the news you might hear. Just have to keep in mind that people change and he ‘could’ have different feelings for you than what you have thought. This problem can be fixed, but it will take a lot of effort from your husband and you having the ability to let yourself open up to his problem, and then allow yourself to slowly or quickly trust him again.

Where trust has been broken, communication has to be very strong. You can’t tread on this lightly, since it will likely lead to him sexting again in the future.

avatar Lindsay April 4, 2012, 10:15 am

Definitely marriage counseling. It sounds like you’re going to have a hard time trusting him, and I’d say that it’s important to start trusting him again when you know it’s smart to and when you know that he’s going to make an effort to be a better husband. A lot of people who cheat get caught and then regret what they did, especially when they see the damage they caused. But a person who has been lying for eight months is not particularly trustworthy, and it’s easy to see why you wouldn’t trust him all of a sudden. A counselor can help you both figure out what’s best for you.

avatar Kate Ellenberger April 4, 2012, 10:25 am

I think it bears mentioning that monogamy is more natural for some people than others. It sounds like this man tried to take action on his desire for attention from other women without crossing what he saw as a boundary. Going to a sex positive therapist who will focus on your relationship’s success instead of his “sexual issue” is key if you really want to build a sustainable base for future trust. You both have areas of weakness, and considering them realistically is the only way to prevent this kind of breach of trust from repeating itself.

call-me-hobo call-me-hobo April 4, 2012, 12:54 pm

I’m sorry, I’m not getting on board with this. When you enter the contract of marriage (unless specifically agreed upon by both parties) the relationship is understood to be monogamous, and it’s not ok to seek attention from others outside the marriage.

Call me old fashioned, but if you don’t see yourself as a monogamous person, and your partner does- you’ve kind of met an impasse. No amount of counseling or work will correct this- it’s like the issue of wanting children. It’s not wrong to want to be childless- but it is wrong to agree to have a child with your partner and then secretly go on birth control.

avatar cporoski April 4, 2012, 5:09 pm

Old fashioned is fighting for your marriage and taking your vows seriously. It sounds like that is what the LW wants and she should be supported in that effort.

avatar iseeshiny April 4, 2012, 5:28 pm

I’m not sure I really agree with that – old fashioned was actually ignoring your husband’s infidelity and taking it out on him passive-aggressively. Cold dinners, etc. I agree that the LW should be supported in whatever she decides to do about this situation, but that’s a pet peeve of mine – this idea that not fighting for your man when there’s been a breach of trust is not taking your vows seriously (because obviously he was the first to not take his vows into account), and that people used to take marriage more seriously during some magical good old days.

avatar cporoski April 5, 2012, 7:08 am

It’s not her fighting for her man but them together fighting for thier marriage. Mark said it below, but there are tons of reasons people get complacient in marriage. They don’t make as much time together or don’t make each other feel special. There are two people in a relationship and he made a wrong step. So they need to look at the relationship together and see what they both need to do together. Everyone saying MOA are people who are not taking marriage seriously. Stay married until things get rocky. And, the “old fashioned” marriages you know I think are just your experience because they aren’t mine.

avatar iseeshiny April 6, 2012, 1:34 pm

I’m not saying anything about your marriage. If you view your marriage as old-fashioned, please know that I’m not saying anything about you or yours. I’m talking specifically about the mythical 1950s suburban nuclear WASP family type of old-fashioned, the kind where old-fashioned meant women went to work or school until she found a husband and then went to keep house for him and their children. The kind of old-fashioned from before women in general knew it was okay to have dealbreakers.

This wasn’t a single wrong step. It was eight months stepping down a wrong road. He was actively hiding it from his wife. He knew it was wrong. We can argue all day about whether it constituted infidelity or not, but I don’t actually know what side I come down on that so… we can’t. The point I’m trying to make is that while I applaud the LW’s willingness to forgive her husband his indiscretion, I don’t think that being unable or unwilling to forgive it constitutes her breaking her vows or not taking them seriously. Because his was the first betrayal. He broke the faith.

I love my husband, and I always will. But if he were to have an affair, I would leave him. He knows this. He knew it before we got married. Because I refuse to stay in a marriage where I don’t trust my partner. To do so would be to damage myself in so fundamental a fashion that I couldn’t be an equal partner anymore. This is not a personal shortcoming or a failing I have. It’s a matter of self respect, and if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be the person my husband fell in love with. I’m sure that if divorce were illegal and I were stuck with him we would continue to stay together, but our relationship would be so damaged that while we would still be married, it wouldn’t be a marriage.

So, really, which scenario does more damage to the institution of marriage? The one where you honestly and cleanly break it off because it can no longer be good or healthy? Or the one where you stay in it through stubbornness until it’s such a twisted, stunted thing with nothing to give anyone but bitterness and spite? Because I’ve seen some “old fashioned” marriages go that way, and I can’t say that they were relationships worth fighting for.

avatar iseeshiny April 6, 2012, 2:48 pm

And to clarify one more point – I’m not saying at all that a person shouldn’t actively work on their marriage, or that you should give up on it the second something gets tough (weight gain, financial difficulties, difficulties associated with raising children, etc) but specifically that it’s not abandoning your duties to end a marriage where there’s been a betrayal that one can’t find it in one’s heart to forgive.

Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 12:55 pm

This! I was intending to write something similar, about how monogamy is REALLY REALLY hard, and I don’t think most people enter into it really giving much thought into how hard they will have to work to make it a reality instead of an ideal vision of how we want our life to be. I think at the root of all these kinds of problems is a communication problem. The problem firstly lies in the husband’s own internal communication which somehow he uses to excuse away the behavior just to himself. Second, it lies in him being unable to express his desires to her in a safe an non accusatory tone that allow them to make decisions about how they want to address his concerns and unmet needs. No one is a mind reader and if a person is unhappy they MUST learn to speak up. I think a lot of people enter into marriage thinking that the intense feelings of love they have will override any future problems in regards to cheating, but thats not how long term marriages work unfortunately. Those intense feelings wane and unless solid communication is in place, a lot of people aren’t able to repair the situation before something like this happens. I think counseling with a sex positive and understanding therapist would be a great step to rebuilding a solid and honest relationship! Good luck 🙂

avatar Renee April 4, 2012, 1:43 pm

As a monogamous person, I will actually concede monogamy can be hard. Ways to be make it easier, is simply NOT putting yourself into a situation for it.

Did these women randomly text your husband out of the blue and forced his fingers respond back? No. He chose to invite these conversations into his life and text back, instead of deleting the texts/blocking the number or finding something else to do with his brain when he was bored. Angry Birds anyone? You can even read the classics (for free) off you phone now. With so many options, other then sexting, you can be monogamous and faithful.

He was thoughtless. If he makes steps to reconcile, and find other ways to deal with those idle times.Then I would do what I can to save the relationship, and make it stronger.

Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 1:51 pm

Oh I agree totally that people just need to stop putting themselves in the situation. However, its never that simple unless one is really self aware of what the initial stages are. I learned this while watching a friend enter into an affair with a married man while to me, it was just SO simple, don’t hang out with him, but to her it wasn’t and the excuses she kept on giving were an eye opening view into just how thoroughly we all able to delude ourselves.

avatar Kate E April 4, 2012, 7:54 pm

I agree – it’s not about logic or self control. Also this man is not just bored, he’s looking for sexual attention. I think before she can allow him back into a trusting relationship, he has to know what he is and is not able to commit to. If he writes it off and promises he won’t do it again without further discussion, I bet he will, he’ll just be more secretive.

Kate B. Kate B April 4, 2012, 10:29 am

Good for you for following your instincts! Where there’s smoke there is fire. My opinion matches that of Regina Rey. I cannot tolerate cheating and I do consider what your husband did cheating. He broke your trust and for me, where there is no trust there can be no love. I am one of those people who cannot forgive or forget something like this. I would not consider counseling because I would be out the door. However, I am not you. If you think there is even a small chance you can forgive him, try counseling. Go by yourself, even, to explore whether or not you can move forward from this. If you think you can, your husband has to be with you 100% That is the only way it will work. Good luck.

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 10:33 am

About your “where there’s no trust, there can be no love” comment…I find that it’s not even necessarily the lack of trust that would push me out the door (though that would HELP push me out, that’s for certain), but the shift in my worldview that would occur after I was cheated on. It’s never happened to me, thankfully, but I imagine that if someone who I NEVER believed would cheat on me went and cheated, I think my mind would do a massive shift. There would be a rift — on one side, the person I used to know, and on another side, a new person I can’t recognize — and that rift would cause me to fall out of love pretty fast. You can’t love someone you don’t recognize, and I think having to totally reevaluate the person you thought you knew, in my case anyway, would kill my love for them pretty quickly.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 11:13 am

The issue with that rift is that it often does not happen immediately, which is the hardest part. You don’t always stop loving someone the moment they tell you they cheated, which is a real bitch. It took me two months after a ex told me he cheated to process the issue and realize that i was no longer in love with him, which really surprised me as I thought I was pretty clear about where I stood when it came to cheating. You never know how you’re going to feel until it happens to you.

avatar jlyfsh April 4, 2012, 10:37 am

No two marriages are the same and it’s hard to know what to tell you to do without knowing more about you as individuals and as a married couple.

If you still love him, believe that he will change his behavior, and want to put the work in to it. I think like others have said it is possible. You have to be willing to forgive though and be willing to attend marriage counseling. As well as probably counseling on your own. You need a place to vent your anger and disappointment in what has happened. At some point though, you have to let go of that and move forward. And your husband has to be willing to work to rebuild the trust.

I hope that if you both want this marriage to work, you get some outside help and you’re able to rebuild your marriage!

avatar ktfran April 4, 2012, 11:12 am

I like this advice a lot jlyfsh. Your middle paragraph, I think, is spot on.

I have a hard time reading comments about cheating that are so black and white. Especially from people who have never experienced it. You have to look at the situation and the people – as a couple and as individuals. If both parties are willing to work on their marriage and get to the root of the problem, I think there is a chance to stay together. If one of them is wavering, then it’s probably time to call it quits. I’ve seen it happen both ways and every time, the right decision was made for the couple.

I think you just have to decide what is right for you, with help from counseling, and make a hard decision. Don’t let outside opinions – from friends, family, coworkers, the internet – get inside your head. Nobody can truly know you or your situation, but you.

Amybelle Amybelle April 4, 2012, 10:40 am

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” ― Maya Angelou.

I learned this the hard way.

Fabelle Fabelle April 4, 2012, 10:45 am

You ask how he could do that “to someone he says he cares about unless he is actually lying about caring about me.” I know that’s the “logical” conclusion to draw from this, but cheaters aren’t logical people– at least not when it comes to their relationships. You’re going need to separate the person he is from what he did, because his 8-month sexting stint does not define his love for you, or your relationship.

I know that sounds impossible to do, but when the rawness of your grief fades, it will become easier not to dwell on his shitty behavior. You’ve probably already spent too much time thinking about it– willfully blocking those thoughts from now on doesn’t mean you’re being stupid, or letting him off the hook. It just means you’re keeping yourself sane & really trying to work on your marriage. Hopefully he truly is remorseful, and does the same.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 4, 2012, 10:52 am

I think that the only way you can know whether this relationship will work is to get to the root of why he sexted. There are so many different reasons why this could happen and some are much more amendable to change than others. If he has poor impulse control probably nothing will change and what you see now is how it will always be. If it was due to being self-absorbed and narcissistic then also, not much will probably change and it will happen again and again. If he has low self-esteem he might be able to find other, healthier ways to build his self image. If he loves excitement and an adrenalin rush he could also find other ways to meet that need. If he loves the forbidden and sneaking then that is harder to find some other, better avenue to meet the need.

Knowing that this behavior would hurt you and yet doing it anyway is a bad sign for the future of this relationship. I think you need to go to counseling to get to the bottom of the reasons for the behavior and then you can decide whether they can realistically be dealt with and whether you are realistic in expecting change. Then you will know whether you can get beyond this situation with a stronger relationship or whether life with your husband will be more and more of the same.

mandalee mandalee April 4, 2012, 10:53 am

This is definitely a hard spot to be in. If my husband did something like this, I’d kill him or at the very least make him move out until we got stuff figured out, but I’m a bit dramatic, so I won’t tell you to do that.

The first thing that stuck out to me is that he’s been texting these girls from all over the country for 8 months. Did he say how he got to know these girls and got their phone numbers? Is he listed on a dating site, cheating site, or porn site? I would assume there had to be some kind of online communication before they jumped into texting, because people are much more cautious with their phone numbers than they are with meeting people through e-mail, websites, etc. I think he needs to come clean completely before you move on from here. Were their pictures exchanged, how did they meet, what sparked this, etc. You won’t be able to move on until you know. My cousin went through something like this in therapy, but her therapist encouraged her husband to tell her EVERYTHING, so it was all out there, and they could start to re-build.

Even though he wasn’t meeting these girls face to face, what he did was a complete breach of trust. I don’t think when you took your vows, you made allowances from being truthful and faithful except for online flirtations. So why it may not be full blown cheating, it’s a breach of the foundation of your marriage.

I think ReginaRey is right in that you need a therapist to help you navigate what to do next. Couples can come back from this, but it’s not a easy road and having a professional help you through it is a huge help. What your husband needs to understand is that he’s basically starting at ground zero in terms of trust and faithfulness. If it’s going to be repaired, you both need to be committed 110% to doing what it takes to fix this.

Good luck LW!

avatar Trixy Minx April 4, 2012, 11:04 am

My response is probably going to be different than everybody else because I grew up reading Dan Savage. It sounds like your husband has a kink and its sexting women he’ll never meet. Should he have been open and honest about what turned him on? Yeah but he was probably afraid how you would react. Which I can’t blame him. You know what I would do. I would start sexting my husband all sorts of dirty raunchy things that gets him wild.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 11:17 am

As another Savage reader while I agree with you in general, you know he would also address the issue of the broken trust and not gloss it over like it’s somehow her fault for being perceived to be a prude by her husband.

avatar Sue Jones April 4, 2012, 7:21 pm

I do not know what Dan Savage would say (also a fan), but I think that he would address the issue of Monogamish in there somewhere. That being solely monogamous is hard and we as a species are just not very good at it. So allowing for a little leeway while still being committed to staying in the relationship and keeping the marriage together for the kids, etc… but that said, perhaps they need to have a discussion of what is and is not acceptable. If sexting strange women is a dealbreaker, but porn is not, for instance, they need to have that conversation and come to an agreement about it. And stick to it.

rainbow rainbow April 4, 2012, 11:19 am

You’re making his sexting other people about what the LW couldn’t give him, and turning it into her responsibility. That’s really not different from saying “He probably screwed all those other women because you don’t agree to anal, so you should do it from now on” and it’s very VERY wrong.

avatar cporoski April 4, 2012, 5:32 pm

that isn’t what she is saying. She is saying that there are two people in the relationship and she should look at the relationship as a whole. There is a reason for this behavior and it might be him or it might be a reflextion of thier relationship. We don’t know but it is good to see all sides.

avatar Caris April 5, 2012, 9:52 pm

It might be a reflection of their relationship, but if he was unhappy for whatever reason he should have told her so they could try to fix it it instead of turning to cheating.

call-me-hobo call-me-hobo April 4, 2012, 11:21 am

Although, Trixy- Dan Savage would point out that it is pretty selfish for the husband to marry the LW without explicitly informing her first. Savage isn’t about hiding kinks- and to get someone to legally commit to you when they don’t know the whole deal is unfair.

Will.i.am Will.i.am April 4, 2012, 11:27 am

For instance, someone may like to sext their girlfriend or wife, but they may not like it. Everything else in the relationship is good; however, it still doesn’t change that that is something they like to do. Some people it’s not a big issue, but with other’s, they want that need to be met. Maybe, the LW’s husband loved everything about his wife, but after sometime, he wanted his urge of sexting to get met. It’s CLEARLY not the LW’s fault that this happened, but some urges for certain people are hidden, till they can no longer hide them. That’s why compatibility is so very important!

avatar Trixy Minx April 4, 2012, 7:51 pm

Hobo you are right. Dan Savage is all about open honest communication. I agree the husband should have told his wife what his kinks are. I wonder if he considers this a type of porn?

avatar Mary March 24, 2014, 4:00 pm

I tried this with my guy. We actually had a pretty healthy sext life when we started out. I should have known. I tried to keep it going but he fisseled out. Come to find out, he was sexting other women. Laughs on me.

avatar silver_dragon_girl April 4, 2012, 11:15 am

First of all, to put myself in your husband’s shoes, I think it’s likely that he saw this more as “interactive porn” than “cheating.” It probably started out that way, anyway, but he hid it because he knew you wouldn’t like it, kind of like a lot of guys hide porn watching from their SOs if they know they won’t “approve.” But then it probably snowballed into more and more frequently, and it became this big 8-month long thing and finally he realized what he was doing and now that he’s been caught, understands how serious it is.

Secondly, I’m kind of curious about what else has been going on in your relationship for the past year or so. Have you been drifting apart at all? Has communication been a problem? Have either of you been working significantly more or less? Has there been a major stressor?

Thirdly, I know I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but you need to know that this is not your fault. He made a choice to do this and that is on him and him alone. I definitely recommend couple therapy for you two. A good therapist can help you figure out WHY this happened and rebuild the foundation of trust that every relationship is built on.

Personally, this would not be a dealbreaker for me. A cause for concern and anger and a lot of hurt? Absolutely. But not a dealbreaker. I think in any long-term relationship or marriage, there are going to be times when one person or another toes the line between fidelity and cheating, or even crosses it. I think that most people who think their marriage is perfect either haven’t reached that point yet or just don’t know about it. I think that most of the time when this happens, the offending party realizes what they’ve done and stops, without confessing to it. Because “technically” it wasn’t cheating, per se. But maybe I’m getting cynical in my old age 😉

avatar cporoski April 4, 2012, 5:34 pm

so true!!!

avatar Caris April 5, 2012, 9:54 pm

“First of all, to put myself in your husband’s shoes, I think it’s likely that he saw this more as “interactive porn” than “cheating.””

And this is why you discuss whats considered cheating with your SO at the beginning of your relationship.

avatar Suzanne April 4, 2012, 11:29 am

I’m not so quick to believe that it was innocent. It was more likely just a matter of time until he met some of these people in person. And there’s no guarantee he hasn’t already. So why did he have that need? What will fill it now that will make him not want to sext anymore?

Be very wary.

avatar Chicago_Dude April 4, 2012, 12:36 pm

Naysayer, much?

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 12:42 pm

This however, is a gem that added deeply to the dialogue.

avatar Suzanne April 5, 2012, 9:48 am

It’s funny you would say that. I’m actually a really optimistic person. But come on, that no one would bring up the possibility that the boyfriend lying about sexting might actually be lying about having sex…. huh. Sometimes it’s good to help someone take off their blinders and at least make an informed decision. Not one based on lies and unrealistic hopes.

avatar rachel April 4, 2012, 12:59 pm

I agree. I had an ex who spent a lot of time flirting with other girls on the internet. Eventually he did cheat, though not with one of those girls. He needed women to validate him somehow, and used the cyber-cheating for that purpose. So, of course when presented with an opportunity to get it in real life he was going to take it. I would not be surprised if the LWs husband is the same way.

avatar AndreaMarie April 4, 2012, 11:30 am

You guys are not going to be able to move on and make real changes if you don’t sit down and honestly discuss WHY he was doing what he was doing. It’s not so easy as to just have him say ‘im sorry let’s start over”, because they is not addressing the cause of the actions, so how can things really change. What void was he trying to fill? What emotional need was the sexting fufilling? (and remember it doesn’t have to be something you were doing or not doing, it very well be a problem within himself that he needs to address in order to stop the behavior)

avatar Mary March 24, 2014, 3:19 pm

My boyfriend got caught sexting for almost the duration of our two years together. I left for 3 months and after long talks and some sexting of our own we got back together and tried to work through things. I found out the 4 days I was back he was sexting a woman he had been seeing while we were apart, guess what he was saying to her? I can’t wait til you get back, I’ve been masturbating to my pics of you. I’M DONE!!!!

avatar cmarie April 4, 2012, 11:35 am

Easy answer, hard truth: sometimes you just can’t get past a betrayal. I know that cheating is a dealbreaker to me, no matter how long I’ve been in a relationship. I could never forgive and if I couldn’t forgive I wouldn’t be able to rebuild any sort of trust in my partner.
If you want to try and make the marriage work, you’re going to have to forgive him. Not immediately but at some point you have to forgive him, that’s the only way you will be able to rebuild the trust and the relationship. If you decide to stay with him and try to make it work, you have to put everything into it. You’re hurt, you’re betrayed, you want him to grovel (and he should) but the only way it’s going to work is if you’re willing to make past those feelings. Get to a counselor, individual and marriage. You’re going to want to vent to family and friends but my recommendation would be to be choosy with who you confide in; they’re great sources of support and venting may make you feel better but we all have that friend or an over-protective brother who will undermine any efforts you make in the relationship. Most importantly, you have to trust him again. It would be completely understandable to be a nervous wreck when he leaves the house or be suspicious when he texts but you have to let that go. Draw up a contract with each other, set down rules for him; not to restrict his behavior but to ensure openness and honesty. You don’t have to snoop if he’s willing to let you have access to his phone and email, which I personally think should be a give for a few months while you work in counseling.
At some point, you’re going to have to be willing to let him send a text without you jumping to see who he’s texting. If you don’t think you’ll be able to forgive, you need to be kind to yourself and him and end the relationship. A marriage may be harder to end, legally, but it shouldn’t force you to stay where you don’t want to be. Marriage does not obligate you to put up with anything you wouldn’t be willing to deal with if you were not married. It’s a hard decision and not one that’s going to be made overnight, but in the end you have to do what’s best for you.

avatar EricaSwagger April 4, 2012, 10:42 am

This is just so wrong to me. It’s a shame that you’re married because that makes it a lot harder to just say “alright, thanks for letting me know you don’t love me, I’m out.” If you truly meant your marriage vows, working with a counselor is a good first step. But it’s not a guarantee that your relationship can recover.

What your husband did was horrible. Of course he’s going to say, after the fact, that he wants to start over and change and be better, because now he sees there might be some consequences for what he’s been doing. Of course he feels bad now that he’s been caught. But he was hiding this from you for 8 months so he obviously didn’t mind hurting you when you didn’t know about it.

Personally, I don’t think people can change. They can learn to act better, they can make a conscious effort to not give in to their negative qualities, but your husband will always have that desire to talk to other women. He will always be the kind of person who has the potential to cheat and hurt you. If he chooses not to act on it, then he wants to make things right with you and that’s great.

As others have said, if you can eventually get over it and trust him again, you should try to. If it’s just going to eat at you forever, well, then cut forever short.

CatsMeow CatsMeow April 4, 2012, 11:47 am

I think Sugar gives some good advice about cheating:


I used to always think it was a black-and-white issue, but now I see shades of grey. I’m not sure what I would do if confronted with cheating, but I do believe it is possible for some couples to overcome. I wish you luck, LW.

avatar kerrycontrary April 4, 2012, 11:55 am

What an amazing piece of writing! Thanks for suggesting this.

avatar Tax Geek April 4, 2012, 12:07 pm

What a great article. I wish I had read that long ago.

avatar Krissy April 4, 2012, 12:56 pm

Read that article a while ago and it also made me think very differently about cheating. Thanks for sharing

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 12:57 pm

Wow, really amazing writing, and a very interesting take on cheating and marriage.

Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 1:02 pm

That article seriously changed so many of my views on relationships! While I still don’t think I could EVER cheat, it made me hopeful that relationships can come back from them, but again I think it requires a person who is very strong and self confident. Which is also my recipe for a happy life in general, so there you have it. Seriously though Cats, I LOVE how similar we are! DW BESTIES 😀

CatsMeow CatsMeow April 4, 2012, 3:48 pm


Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 4:01 pm

Btw are you doing D(runk) W(ednesday) tonight? I’m undecided.

CatsMeow CatsMeow April 4, 2012, 4:51 pm

I’ll be drinking, but not at home, so probably not.

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 1:35 pm

I think this is exactly what the LW needs to hear. There is a certain bravado or hubris in youth or before one really has to confront these issues that people tend to have. I think once you go through something like this, how people really choose to act may be surprising. And not at all wrong. I think you are totally right CatsMeow – there are plenty shades of grey – even when we are loathe to admit it.

avatar Something More April 4, 2012, 2:34 pm

And I think this article is exactly what the “He’s Just Not That Into You” book/movie meant by being the exception, not the rule.

Budj Budj April 4, 2012, 12:35 pm

8 months…multiple women…I read no reason or explanation as to root cause in the letter…I think this was a stepping stone for him in his exploits. It wasn’t just the pictures (aka what porn is for)..it was the interaction with a real person. I would end it.

avatar GertietheDino April 4, 2012, 1:20 pm

Blah, blah, blah. He’s a douche. He’s cheating on you (he tried to hid it, that’s cheating!). MOA.

Married or not, MOA.

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 1:24 pm

Um, okay. Surprise, surprise. The key detail missing here is (of course!) the one that means everything to this question: It’s simple LW. How often do you two have sex? No, seriously. Because frankly it’s been my experience that a guy so desperate for erotic activity that he’ll sext strangers all across the country probably isn’t simply getting any at home.

I’m serious. It’s probably THAT simple.

You want him to really stop?
You REALLY want him to stop?

Okay… Sleep with him. Sleep with him A LOT and see what happens.

PS — The main reason I am so convinced you aren’t having some slamming sex life at home is probably the same reason you simply didn’t think to mention it. Somehow, I’m guessing you also simply don’t think much about having it either.

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 4, 2012, 1:37 pm

I just want to clarify that though I think it is a married couple’s priority to make sure their partner’s needs are regularly fulfilled, a lack of sex doesn’t condone emotional or physical cheating. A lack of sex may be the cause but that doesn’t mean it’s her fault, if that makes sense. The man should have voiced his needs if they were being unfulfilled.

LW, this may be a valid supposition that a lack of sex may be to blame. Or, it could be that the “spice” has gone AWOL. Men don’t like to live on vanilla yogurt alone, if you catch my drift. Maybe, if your couples counselling reveals that he has felt unfulfilled and you want to try to save the relationship, you can try to be more spicy in the bedroom. But that’s a priority after you learning how to trust again, and him learning how to respect you.

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 1:37 pm

Mark, this comes from pure naivete and curiosity on my part, but do you find that the solution you’re suggesting for her works for gay men? As a straight woman, I personally have a hard time believing that just having more sex can solve EMOTIONAL cheating, so I’m curious to know your thoughts on whether this is a universal thing, or something you’ve found to be true among gay men. I hope none of this comes off as offensive…I’m honestly just wondering if there’s a difference between how staight/gay couples handle cheating.

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 1:54 pm

You’ve actually missed my larger point, Regina — and maybe it’s because I wasn’t clear enough. No, I’m not saying having more sex can “solve” the problem of emotional sex, but rather that it can PREVENT it.

And yeah, to answer your other question, some gay men do indeed view cheating very differently. Example: I have two friends who have now been together nearly ten years. Married for six. They are one of those perfect couples. They are so in love and still so lovey dovey with one another in public it marveled one of my good straight friends. “How do they do it? How do they keep the spark alive?” she asked. “How do neither of them ever seem tempted to cheat?”

“Oh, they’re tempted all right,” I laughed. “But they don’t cheat. They just openly have sex with other guys on occasion…”

And there you have it. Yes, say what you want. Toss all the stones that you want. (Oh, and I am in no way suggesting that this behavior is typical of all gay men either.) But it definitely works for them. They are the happiest two people I know…

avatar honeybeenicki April 4, 2012, 4:00 pm

I know 3 couples that do something similar to this (all of them are hetero couples, so its obviously not exclusive to gay men or typical of any sexuality). They have pretty clear rules about what is and isn’t allowed and it seems to keep their relationships very strong in 2 of the cases. In 1 of them, it completely backfired but that relationship was a mess from the get-go.

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 1:39 pm

Don’t kid yourself Mark – people with slamming sex lives cheat too. And cheating is rarely about just sex.

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 4, 2012, 1:46 pm

For women, it’s rarely about just sex, yes. But I think there’s a significant percentage of men who cheat simply because their sex drive is being unfulfilled. It’s a biological impulse that can feel impossible to control if the factors weigh heavily enough against a man.

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 1:50 pm

Personally, I have little tolerance for this kind of explanation. “Poor men, they can’t control their biological impulses!” And yet, we’re human. Our whole existence is defined by rising above certain biological impulses — Like the desire to kill people we’re annoyed with! Or be savage beasts. We’re supposed to be evolved enough to THINK. Which means, in my opinion, that if a man is having a hard time controlling is crazy-biological-sex-drive, he needs to COMMUNICATE that fact to his partner, so that they can address it together. It doesn’t give him license or an excuse to go sext other women.

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 4, 2012, 1:53 pm

Oh, I wasn’t addressing personal responsibility at all. I was just piping up that intense, near-impossible-to-squelch impulses are a biological reality for men who are not having their needs fulfilled.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 1:54 pm

For anyone who has bought into this theory of men and their ‘biological impulses’ (men and women alike) I would suggest taking a look at what that means about your views of men in general. It’s a pretty low opinion to think that men simply can’t control themselves or be rational human beings as if they were animals. They are just as capable of making complex judgement calls as the next women and to think otherwise, I think is a hidden prejudice.

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 4, 2012, 2:06 pm

It’s pretty fair, I think, to acknowledge that their biological impulses are not the same as women’s. And we, both men and women, ARE animals. Some of our brains are still “reptilian”, and when pushed into a state of deprivation, it is completely fair to understand when someone gets feral. But acknowledging the existence of such “reptilian” needs is not synonymous with waving away inappropriate behavior.

avatar Flake April 4, 2012, 4:31 pm

I agree with this… It makes me think of Muslim countries. I get the concept of modesty, what I do not get, however, is the apparent fact that if a man sees a glimpse of female flesh, he becomes an animal that simply cannot control himself, and must jump on that woman right this second. And it also obviously is a woman’s fault for daring t o show her ankle in a 40C heat….

avatar Renee April 4, 2012, 4:52 pm

I was having the same thought.

If you can’t handle seeing a woman clothed, that is appropriate of the situation, then you’re then one with the problem.

Nothing wrong with looking nice and attractive in public. I normally do not have a problem with head coverings that only hide along the hair line. I’ve seen plenty of Muslim women, do a great job coordinating clothes, while I feel like a slob in old jeans. I wish hats would be a bit more fashionable, because I love them but I don’t want to be pretentious.

A few weeks ago I was at the GYN and I saw a Muslim woman, with her face covered in the waiting room. I was a bit shocked. Does she go grocery shopping like this? To hide a woman’s facial expression???

I’m not a flirt trying to manipulate you, because I want to give you a courteous natural smile and brighten your day.

But we do communicate in clothing. You wouldn’t wear what you would at the beach, what you would wear in a courtroom.

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 6:17 pm

While in Bali, we went to a neighboring island. Lombok. It was muslim. While walking the beach I saw a women climbing out of the surfing. She had on a mask and goggles, flippers too. In addition to that she had on the strangest outfit. Then it hit me…. All black, it covered everything. The goggles protruded through a very wide slit…

Yep, you guessed it. It was a burka…

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 6:51 pm

Good for her.

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 7:37 pm

Yeah I guess so. I was actually impressed that it didn’t stop her from seeing the amazing reef just off shore…

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 2:02 pm

Actually there have been lots of studies done and the consensus seems to be that married men cheating isn’t typically about sex (maybe for unmarried men it is different) The study done by G. Neuman a couple of years ago stated “What’s the number one reason men cheat? Ninety-two percent of men said it wasn’t primarily about the sex. “The majority said it was an emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling underappreciated” That doesn’t speak to the legitimacy of that feeling of being disconnected – clearly that is something you work through in therapy – but that was the reason given for straying by men that actually strayed – not because their wife wasn’t putting out. I remember this one in particular since Oprah did a thing on it and it showed that the reasons women and men had for cheating weren’t that different after all.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Why-Men-Cheat_2/2#ixzz1r5xsRx2D

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 4, 2012, 2:14 pm

That’s why I said it was a significant percentage, I didn’t say it was possibly the majority. And just FWIW, Neuman is only a psychotherapist, not a neurologist. What people report, and what’s actually happening in the brain, is often two completely different things. It’s also worth saying that feeling ‘under-appreciated’ can understandably stem from a lack of affection – in other words, fewer physical displays of affection. A category of which includes sex as a huge tenet. But THAT is a significant tangent that we should discuss on the forums if you want to continue that thread.

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 3:13 pm

If you like. My point being that we are all complex – there are many factors that go into our choices and over simplification by saying cheating in men is tied significantly to neurological reasons or biological impulses does, I think, the biggest disservice to men. A man is far more than impulses he may share with other primates.

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 4, 2012, 3:38 pm

I can definitely agree with that. I just try to point out that biology can be a significant factor because it seems like many women forget that we’re from Venus and men are from Mars… men have different libidos than us, and discounting that biological influence makes it so that society thinks that men are just 100% morally bankrupt, with zero credible reason behind their actions, if they cheat. I think it’s fair to add in that biology was playing a hand in it – it certainly would deserve to be a part of the case if overall male infidelity were brought to philosophical court. But yes, I do agree with what you’re saying.

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 1:59 pm

Look, the NUMBER on complaint/confession I hear from my straight, married, male friends is that they don’t understand why their wives suddenly seem to view sex as some great big tedious chore when once upon a time she was just as eager as he… “What the fuck was that, Mark? Was that all some great big lie just to land me?”

Now the first couple of times I heard this argument, I laughed and made excuses.

The second, third and fourth time I heard it from other guys, I kept on coming up with other reasons for the wifely change in behavior.

But by the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth time — I gotta admit it, yeah, I really got to wondering…

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 2:07 pm

got you to wonder what could possibly have changed in the marriage to have wives think that?
got to wonder if maybe stress or kids or money issues changed the relationship?
got to wonder if maybe husbands now put no effort into romancing their wives once they put a ring on it?
or did you just stop at wondering why your friends had the misfortune of marrying “frigid bitches”?

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 2:14 pm

In all honestly, the husband in question that is definitely the next ticking time bomb to explode with ragards to having an affair sure does seem to treat my friend well. He makes boatlads of money. She got to stay home with the kids. Once they entered school, he paid for and supported her going into real estate. She keeps “her” money separate which means she blows it on shoes and what not.

Day to day romance? Well, obviously I haven’t bugged the house. But I’ve dropped by unexpectedly for coffee and been there when he randomly brought home flowers. He takes her on trips — often without the kids, too.

Meanwhile, she confesses to me that while Tom is great, she’s just not into sex. Aren’t we all getting a little old for that anyway? (She’s 41.) I tell her she’s playing a dangerous game here, and she just laughs. “Oh please! You don’t know Tom. Really, what’s he going to do?”

Gee, I don’t know. He’s a smoking hot guy in his early 40s who makes a lot of money, honey. You tell me…

Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 2:23 pm

Wow Mark. This makes me scared to get married. I’m serious. Can things like ones’s sex drive really plummet this much, and can one REALLY get that naive and complacent to assume he won’t cheat?!

avatar lets_be_honest April 4, 2012, 2:31 pm

So naive to assume your HUSBAND won’t cheat on you? Really? I’d say thats a pretty fuckin fair assumption to make in any marriage.

Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 2:41 pm

Well, as Mark said, if he’s not getting any regularly all bets are off.

call-me-hobo call-me-hobo April 4, 2012, 2:51 pm

Really? For better or worse, unless I’m not getting any on the regular- in that case, Fuck these stupid vows!!

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 5:43 pm

You now what? If you aren’t sleeping with your husband than I simply don’t think that you can honestly say you are loving and cherishing him much either. So that’s not exactly honoring your vows… Far from it, in my opinion. Far, far from it. But then I’m sure you all know so much more about happy marriages than me. Wait, how many divorces do you all have again?

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 7:09 pm

Don’t worry Mark, with new legislation being passed these days gays and lesbians will finally be able to legally document how absolutely dysfunctional our relationships are too!

avatar lets_be_honest April 4, 2012, 2:56 pm

Did ‘they’ add that to the vows?

That’s really immature thinking and clearly coming from someone who has little respect for marriage (hey, maybe that’s a good thing).

Lili Lili April 4, 2012, 3:14 pm

Who Me? I have respect for marriage, but as I’m seeing a lot of other people don’t feel the same…This is more an observation from my ‘real’ life and not just DW.

avatar lets_be_honest April 4, 2012, 3:15 pm

I agree. Any person who thinks they have a right to cheat on their spouse clearly does not have any respect for marriage.

avatar Renee April 4, 2012, 4:03 pm

Mark, We don’t have that type of income. The best my husband does to impress me is do the dishes, and it works. Simple as doing the other spouse’s routine chore, for example, to show I know what you do and thanks for doing it. Even if it’s picking up dog poop in the back yard on a Saturday morning. (We don’t have a dog, but a good example.)

People forget to be nice to each other as a part of their marital obligation, and take each other for granted, marriage begins to break down.

avatar Eagle Eye April 4, 2012, 4:13 pm

I think that your last sentence is perfect and really what it all breaks down to – be nice and communicate with the person you’re with.

avatar Marta April 4, 2012, 8:27 pm

No one like to admit this, but many woman lose their sex drive when they have children and they will lose it by 40 something anyway. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s biology.

avatar lets_be_honest April 4, 2012, 2:32 pm

These are great points. While I can’t dismiss the point being made about a wife almost never wanting sex resulting in a husband’s wandering dick, its absurd to say that any issue in any relationship is solely caused by one person in it.

avatar cporoski April 5, 2012, 7:20 am

But it is important to look at all contributing factors. It isn’t a husband vs. wife, they are a team. If you aren’t haveing sex, you need to figure out why. There are always things on both sides that people could do better.

FireStar FireStar April 4, 2012, 2:11 pm

That is just like looking at the last link of the chain and trying to describe the chain. If a couple’s sex life changes dramatically – there is going to be a reason for it – maybe your friends weren’t so inclined to share it with you or they were oblivious to it themselves. I think blaming one partner for a lack of sex over simplifies the issues and does a disservice to the couple. If a woman has to take responsibility for keeping the home fires burning – that is a responsibility she shares with her partner. If the flame goes out – the answer rests with BOTH of them.

avatar now for the truth April 6, 2012, 1:33 pm

>>I think blaming one partner for a lack of sex over simplifies the issues.

Actually, I think you are simply trying to make it more complicated. Simply lay the dude with frequency and – poof – problem solved.

avatar savannah April 4, 2012, 1:40 pm

Way to blame this whole situation on her and not even actually address the reason she was writing in about. good job.

avatar ReginaRey April 4, 2012, 1:41 pm

Also, Mark, separate of my first comment…I think your comment implies that his cheating is her fault. That if she’d only done “this, this or this” in the bedroom, then he wouldn’t have cheated. I’m not saying people who get cheated on are innocent, or have no faults in their relationship, but cheating should never be blamed on some “failing” of the “victim.” Why should he get to shirk responsibility for breaking their vows?

avatar cporoski April 5, 2012, 7:40 am

Honestly, I think the breaking of the vow is the final straw. There is a disconnect way before that happens. I am someone who doesn’t believe in innocent victims as adults and all the LW can do is look at all angles. This is a theory for the LW. We don’t know how old she is but BGM and I are older and we have seen how time and the day in and day out can affect relationships. It isn’t blame, it is a way to look at a situation. If she takes 0% responsibility for this, then I don’t think they can move past this situation.

caitie_didnt caitie_didnt April 4, 2012, 1:57 pm

Wow, way to blame it ALLLL on the LW. Because it’s always the man that wants more sex than the woman, right? And it’s always men who “can’t control their biological urges”, right? Oh, and if a man cheats it’s because his wife was a frigid bitch, right? And it’s not even “real” cheating because he was only texting, right?


bittergaymark bittergaymark April 4, 2012, 2:03 pm

Sadly, I gotta confess that, yeah, I sure do know a lot of poor saps out there that ARE married to frigid bitches… Worse, some of those frigid bitches are my best friends… Yeah, not everybody in my life takes my advice. Yeah, it’s interesting how so many of those that don’t also somehow, curiously, don’t end up married forever either. Frankly, I gotta confess — I don’t think that my advice of making sure you sleep with your husbands is exactly all that radical… But hey, what do I know?

avatar Eagle Eye April 4, 2012, 2:29 pm

Well, I believe that either you’re right, at which point they should have had a conversation in which he communicated that he had certain wants and needs that were being unfulfilled. But he realized that having such a conversation would have been impossible because should would have been unreceptive or judgmental or all matter of things that would have made him think that keeping quiet and doing this all on the DL was for the best.

Or your wrong, and she’s going to write back saying that she would have been helpful and he should have talked to her and so he really doesn’t care about her feelings. At which point she really should MOA because he doesn’t actually care about her or her feelings.

avatar Renee April 4, 2012, 4:05 pm


but I know where you’re coming from.

avatar Lucy April 4, 2012, 2:01 pm

Go to marriage counseling. Go now. And if he won’t go, take that as an indication he doesn’t really want to work on the marriage after all. It’s possible for some people to get over it, but it’s not easy and it takes time – in some cases a lot of time.

As for the assumption that this must be about your sex life or lack thereof – oh please. Some people (men and women) are just assholes, no matter what they are or aren’t getting at home. Let’s keep the blame for the sleazy behaviour where it belongs.

avatar rob ottapocalypse April 4, 2012, 6:34 pm

A guy just wrote an article on here about how to get a woman to dump you by acting like a douche.

I’m pretty sure that’s what this guy is working on.

avatar Renee April 4, 2012, 8:21 pm

But they’re married, the rules are different. If the marriage is irreconciable, then the man gotta pay up in divorce court.

avatar rob ottapocalypse April 4, 2012, 9:46 pm

And that’s where he’s playing smart. He’s not cheating, but he’s doing something that could drive her to file citing irreconcilable differences. If he keeps playing this game, he may not have to pay nearly as much as if he actually cheats.

avatar Tax Geek April 4, 2012, 10:16 pm

Most staes have no fault divorce. So “bad” behaviour doesn’t matter regarding property settlements, child support and spousal support.

avatar Renee April 5, 2012, 2:22 am

Sad, isn’t. No fault was primarily invented to help women, but the spouse at fault gets away with no shame.

A good divorce attorney though can make sure he feels something though.

avatar Tax Geek April 5, 2012, 7:39 am

Because the woman is never at fault when a couple divorces. Got it.

avatar the other guy April 4, 2012, 11:31 pm

bittergaymark is right about most married guys cheating because the wife doesn’t provide enough sex. You can quote all the studies you like but if a guy is getting enough sex at home they wont bother with looking for it elsewhere.

As far as the sexting almost all of these service are computer generated messages. The system checks the originators text for certain words and crafts a response accordingly. I work in IT and have set up texting services, not the sexting type but the concept is exactly the same.

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 5, 2012, 6:42 pm

I don’t get why more people don’t agree with me on this. It’s so fucking obvious…

Brad Brad April 6, 2012, 9:42 am

Well guys with super-hot wives and satisfying sex at home do still cheat, so a wife fucking her husband’s brains out every night still can’t guarantee that he won’t cheat on her. But I do agree that it will have a significant reduction of that possibility. There’s no such thing as an affair proof marrage, sadly.

I think part of the disconnect that the one side is having is that they’re hearing “the husband wasn’t getting enough sex from his wife so it’s not surprising that he cheated” are hearing/reading that as justification/acceptance for cheating. I don’t think most people are arguing that cheating is OK or that it’s solely the wife’s fault, but rather are simply saying that it’s not very shocking to learn of infidelity if the partner was unhappy with the situation, and it’s *understandable* (not the same thing as acceptable).

In this specific LW’s case we don’t really know what the status of their sex life is. It could be fantastic or it could need some work. Maybe the husband tried communicating that he likes sexting to the LW and she wasn’t responsive, maybe he never brought up his desire to do it at all. Maybe the husband hasn’t been getting enough sexual attention from his wife and felt neglected and sought after it from other women, or maybe he just likes the ego stroke of carrying on sexually charged conversations with multiple women. All we can do is speculate. But the LW didn’t write in asking if this behavior was OK or not (she already determined that it’s not OK for her) but rather wanted some tips for how to get over the hurt of being cheated on.

I personally can’t really offer much in the way of advice as I’ve never been cheated on, but I do agree with the comments that I’ve read suggesting some real hard heart-to-heart conversations where feelings and needs are completely laid on the table for discussion. I think it would be very conducive for moving forward would be to stay away from blame gaming and solely focus on this point forward and what is required for both people to have a satisfying sex life without involving other people. One topic of discussion that I feel is mandatory for you to have is a discussion on how each of you define cheating just to make sure the line is clear in the sand from this point forward so there can be no confusion or excuses. If you haven’t engaged in sexting before LW then I think you should give it a try with him since he seems to like doing it. I think your husband needs to make an honest effort to demonstrate how he plans to recommit to your relationship and take steps to help you feel secure after this [him sexting others] discovery. It might be helpful for you to come to the table already knowing some things that he can do that will start helping you regain trust in him. Again, please avoid accusatory language and voice tone as this conversation really needs to be about moving forward and how to rebuild your relationship and commitment in each other and not about punishment or blame. Many have mentioned visiting a couple’s therapist and I think that is one potential option to consider—especially if you to have a hard time discussing the incident calmly.

I wish the best of luck to you.

avatar John Rohan April 5, 2012, 1:47 pm

I know I’m going to get hammered on this forum for saying this, but: sexting isn’t cheating. It isn’t. He’s not meeting these people, and more importantly, he has no idea who/what they really are; it’s likely that some, or possibly all, of the women he’s sexting aren’t really women at all, but men pretending to be women! There is also no chance of catching a disease or someone becoming pregnant here.

Now, some people will say “but it’s still emotional cheating”. Is it, when you haven’t even met the person? I can’t tell you how many girls I dated in high school who had a major crush on some famous singer/actor, would talk about him, join his fan club, and put pictures of him everywhere. Should I have considered that emotional cheating?

BUT – if not cheating, he was being dishonest, and this is wrong. I just don’t think this should be treated anywhere near the same way as if his wife caught him in bed with these women. Personally, I wouldn’t care how many strangers my SO was sexting, as long as it didn’t take any time away from me. But it obviously matters to this woman, and she certainly doesn’t have to put up with it if it hurts her.

avatar Trixy Minx April 5, 2012, 2:53 pm

I agree with you. He was sexting women across the country knowing he was never going to meet them. To me sexting random numbers is more porn than cheating. Then there are some women who consider porn cheating..

bittergaymark bittergaymark April 5, 2012, 6:40 pm

I agree, too. Lots of insecure people constantly “want” to be cheated on so they can play the victim card. This letter REEKS of that. She really hasn’t been cheated on in my book, not by a long shot, but listen to her whine and cry with her woe is me bullshit. I do find it rather telling that she certainly hasn’t updated with a “We have sex all the time” claim either. Now, gee, why would that be? Because it’s probably not true….

avatar Trixy Minx April 5, 2012, 10:39 pm

I find it disturbing that she says he’s good and caring but doesn’t mention anything about their sex life. I wonder if the guy needs validation that other women want to fuck his brains out because his wife doesn’t?

avatar Jason April 6, 2012, 1:38 am

I agree with John. Yes, this guy was dishonest. Yes, he was extremely insensitive and disrespectful of his wife. Yes, there is a problem in this marriage. Yes, the wife has every right to be extremely angry, upset and hurt.

But was this cheating? No. If it doesn’t rise to the level of divorce for reason of adultery back before no-fault, it’s not “cheating.”

And to me that means that if marriage vows mean anything, both parties have a moral responsibility to try to work this out. He doesn’t get a pass–far from it. She’s the injured party here. But marriage is for better or for worse. Real cheating? Grounds for divorce, no question.

Thinking about leaving the marriage because of “sexting” without trying to work it out? To me, that suggests that the failure to appreciate the meaning of marriage isn’t all on one side.

Brad Brad April 6, 2012, 11:04 am

I disagree. Sexting other women is emotional cheating and is potentially a precursor to actual cheating. Just because his dick didn’t jump out of his pants and land in the tropical jungle of fun doesn’t give him a free pass. Nor does it matter if he’s met them in real life or not. The act of sexting by it’s very nature involves having a sexually charged conversation with a person of the gender you’re sexually interested in whose purpose is to arouse and titaliate. It is not the same thing as talking about sex with guys out at the sports bar. In addition to this fact alone, the husband knew what he was doing was wrong as evidenced by the fact that he was acting guilty prior to his wife’s discovery. If he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong he would not have had a reason to feel guilt. Cheating isn’t a matter of physical things, but rather is a matter of the heart. This is the point Jesus was making during his sermon on the mount. The Pharisees were trying to act all righteous because they had obeyed the letter of the law, but Jesus called them on it by saying that while they may be honoring the technical letter of the law, they were not honoring the spirit of the law. I say this not to make a case for god, religion, or jesus or anything like that, but just because I think it’s a good well known example of the concept. Yes it’s true he didn’t actually sleep with any of these women, and it might also be true he never intended to. But he was still having an ongoing sexual interaction/relationship (regular communication with a same person is a relationship) with women that were not his wife and that is adultery.

avatar dolorous April 5, 2012, 9:43 pm

EMOTIONAL cheating? This letter and the reply are way off base — can people no longer tell fantasy from reality? As has been pointed out, were these real women? A service? Bots? All we know is that the husband indulged in sexual fanstasy via texts and did not admit to it. And this is “cheating”?

Since the author of the column seems pretty hard over on this, let’s pursue her logic here:
Does the wife ever have sexual fantasies that don’t involve her husband? If so, she’s cheating.

If so, does she admit this to her husband or does she withhold the fact? If she does not, she’s being evasive and possibly lying to him.

Does the wife ever indulge a fond memory of a former lover? If so, she’s emotionally cheating.

Does wife read romance novels, watch shows or movies that offer or elict any form of titilation (again, not involving her husband)? If so, she’s cheating.

If you are going to presume to give people advice, stop being so idiotic and get a grip. A person who cannot tell fantasy from reality is a danger to themselves and others, but only the latter really matters.

Brad Brad April 6, 2012, 11:12 am

Simply thinking about sex with someone else in and of inself is not cheating. It’s when you start desiring it that it becomes adultery of some degree. Simplying thinking about sex with another person is not the same thing as actively lusting after another or actually having sex with another. As an example, is simply wanting to bone your secretary as bad as actually doing it, no I don’t think so. But the act of sexting another person in the physical world moves beyond the realm of idle fantasy and moves much closer into the realm of lust. In the case of the LW, she feels it did cross the line and land into cheating territory.

avatar jlyfsh April 6, 2012, 11:35 am

I agree with Brad there is a difference between thinking about something and acting on it. If she started to text/call/chat with that former love it would be far different than daydreaming. I know if my husband found out I was sexting a former boyfriend he would be pissed. And rightly so in my opinion.

avatar now for the truth April 5, 2012, 10:29 pm

I am not excusing your husband’s behavior, but let’s get real: it’s your fault. Seriously. The simple fact of the matter is that if you could satisfy your husband sexually, this never would have happened. After all, he wasn’t leaning on these women for emotional support. He wasn’t confiding in them his emotional needs. He was sending crude sexual texts back and forth to them and he was doing it because it was sexually stimulating to him. Do you know who doesn’t need sexual stimulation from texts? That’s right: men who are sexually satisfied. Oh, I’m sure I will be lambasted for this, but the simple fact of the matter is that if you would simply attack your husband in the bedroom and fulfill some of his fantasies, he would never have looked for a sexting partner to begin with. Your husband is a man, and I have news for you: men need sex constantly. I don’t care if your husband doesn’t seem like the type, or is more sensitive than other men, or doesn’t come across in the least as being a typical bonehead male… his body still produces testosterone, and as long as that is happening, more often than not he is hornier than a caged chimpanzee. Do me a favor: have sex with your husband 10 days in a row (which I will bet $1,000 you haven’t done in ages) and see if he isn’t happier, nicer, less stressed, more into you, and a better man all around. Oh, and guess what? You rock this guys’ socks 10 days in a row, and the last thing in the world that will turn him on is plain text on a smartphone screen.

avatar kaseyI April 6, 2012, 11:19 am

Now for the douchebag truth…

avatar now for the truth April 6, 2012, 1:24 pm

well at least you admit it is still the truth

avatar now for the truth April 5, 2012, 10:44 pm

I would also like to note that the only people on this thread who are saying more sex isn’t the answer are women – women who don’t seem to understand men. I have yet to see a single man post here that more sex isn’t the answer. That’s because we know. It’s really not that difficult a concept to wrap your head around: satisfy your man’s sexual needs and he will not look for sex elsewhere, especially in a text message. And here is one more tip: you don’t have to wait for the man to tell you he needs this. If he’s a man, he needs it. Anyone who denies this really doesn’t understand the difference between men and women at all.

avatar Trixy Minx April 6, 2012, 4:35 am

I’m a female and said they should get frisky more often. I’m sure there are a few women who’d agree.

avatar jlyfsh April 6, 2012, 11:32 am

I’m going to disagree, there are times when partners do things like this when they are sexually satisfied at home. But, still choose to sext others or chat with them online, etc (and I’m not talking about porn). And it’s not up to only one partner to fix things. There are two people in the relationship and if you can’t go to your partner and say I’m feeling ____ about this relationship, you shouldn’t be in the relationship in the first place.

SweetsAndBeats SweetsAndBeats April 6, 2012, 12:36 pm

Men are mum on their intrinsic need for sex because to admit that need opens them up for what basically amounts to ridicule – in example, when I brought up that a repressed libido becomes overwhelming, someone said that means I’m likening them to a dog (paraphrasing here of course). That’s horribly offensive, and makes men shut down about their needs, because they don’t want to be likened to dogs! But really, it’s not a shameful thing or any indication of a lack of morality or evolution that men absolutely need sex. As a female, I feel terrible that my sex often associates that reality of manhood with being a dirty, feral animal. It’s no wonder that sex studies about men are so inconclusive… Our feminist society as a whole refuses to let them be honest, lest they want to be humiliated and ashamed.

avatar Larry Brasfield April 5, 2012, 10:56 pm

My reaction upon reading the 1st paragraph was: He did this where she would see it? Then she took the phone from him? Sounds like there are some control issues here. Cheating of any kind is a poor act, and the guy is pathetic. But I doubt the LW is totally innocent either. I can see that some counseling might help, if they both want to continue. But they need to find some better ways of relating to each other. I suspect the status-quo is not going to work for that guy, and if he insists on appropriate independence, it may not work for her unless she changes too.

avatar Guilty Sexter April 5, 2012, 11:09 pm

As a male who has sexted before even though I was in a serious monogamous relationship, let me just say that I think the women in this thread severely underestimate the ability of men to compartmentalize and operate in hyper-rational terms (vs. moral-driven behaviors). Whether it’s the rich businessman / politician who has a mistress on the side, the moron who thinks he can somehow pull off being married to two women at the same time and not have them find each other on Facebook, or Want to Forgive’s sexting husband, men do this out of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too mentality, not because they don’t love their wives or care about their vows. It basically boils down to, if I can rationalize the guilt (or maybe I don’t even feel guilty about it in the first place?) and pull it off without her ever finding out, why not have a loving wife and precious family AND a banging hottie who will talk dirty to me on the side? What the wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I’m just getting my jollies is all — I’m still loving and taking care of my wife.

Until she finds out. And is hurt. And then life sucks.

You can go to therapy if you want (btw “You need therapy” seems like SUCH a woman answer to a problem, let me tell you). And yes, more sex is always good for the relationship (definitely more of the practical male-type advice there). But at the end of the day, it boils down to simple selfishness and thinking you can get everything you want without hurting those you love, and a man doesn’t need a therapist to get past that, he just needs reality bashed into his thick skull.

(Preferably dosed with love, forgiveness, and a second chance, however.)

The moral of the story is: Selfishness is a relationship-killer, no matter how that behavior/attitude manifests itself. And let me tell you, men hardly have the monopoly on selfish attitudes and relationship-destructive behaviors. Attack the root cause of the destruction, not the person.

avatar Matcha April 6, 2012, 12:16 pm

Question: Why should I give a second chance to someone who disregarded my feelings and was just occupied with his own selfish desires? I’m talking about someone actively sexting or having a mistress for, let’s say, months.

I mean this as a real question. If he’s fine with compartmentalizing whatever feelings he wants, then what is my forgiveness going to accomplish?

avatar Buckley April 6, 2012, 12:11 pm

For my 2 cents, here is my offering: I’ve been chatting/texting with other ladies for 6+ years? My wife and I cannot stand each other. Stopped having regular sex years ago. Have a son who needed us to stay together.

Can confidently say if my wife (we are separated now, and divorce is my initiative) was more adventuresome in bed, talked sexy, tried harder to ‘give’ in the marriage, I would have walked away from the texting. As it was, it satisfied a sexual need.

Not proud of this, but neither am I beating myself up with it either.

avatar Hal April 7, 2012, 1:18 am

First? When someone writes what they did about “how can I…”, my gut reaction is “I need emotional support for what I’m feeling, and I’m right dammit!”

In any marriage, there are essentially three sides – her side, his side, and then the truth. Few people ever tell the whole truth when discussing their problems. In addition, some people respond to calls for advice, by relating to their own experiences of pain or shame or anger – not really seeing what the real problem is, and only making matters worse because of their own pain.

So. Fidelity. Is it the act of not cheating on the significant other, or is it not only the not cheating on the other person, but also not giving one’s significant other a reason to want/need to do so? Men cheat, Women cheat – so it isn’t taking sides to suggest that in this situation, both sides have to be looked at carefully before offering advice one way or another.

As for all of the advice I could offer you on this, I’ve deleted about seven paragraphs, before finally settling down on this:

“If I’m damned if I do, and Damned if I don’t – I’ll be damned as I will.”

If you equate fantasizing with the actual dead of Adultery – then you will have placed your husband in the position of penalizing him regardless. If he can look at other women with lust, but restrain himself and come back to you, that either speaks highly of his own set of values, or it speaks highly of his appreciation of your own worth (or both!). If you’re afraid that he MIGHT actually commit adultery – well, that’s been a possibility since the day you two were first married. But if you place him in the position where he’s damned either way, then you’d best be prepared for his choosing to be damned as best makes him the happiest.

Do I know my wife fantasizes about other men? Duh! Why do you think movie stars make the money they do? What we do about our fantasies is what makes or breaks us as people. Why is flirting called flirting and not called adultery? Because they are not the same thing. Why is fantasizing called fantasizing and not adultery? Because the words are two different things for two different concepts. Can a man think of killing another without being guilty of murder? It would appear so. If wishing one could kill another person was sufficient grounds for condemning a man to prison for the rest of his life, then “thinking about something” is no different than “doing that something”. In reality, these are two distinct and separate things. So, by analogy, thinking about committing adultery is not the same as actively doing it. Many may argue that the thought of it is the deal breaker. Were that true, then everyone would have at some time or another, been guilty of thinking “He/She’s HOT” or “I wish I could and be sooooo happy!” In the end? Fantasies are left behind and reality is that which we do despite our fantasies.

My advice? If you’re afraid he will leave you – then talk it out with him. Don’t get a referee (a third person), do it yourself. The day you got married, I’m sure you knew that statisically, 1 in 2 marraiges fail. You approached each other in front of the Altar with a desire to commit to each other and watch each other grow old. For better, or for Worse, in Sickness and in Health – until death do you part. Neither of you held your fingers behind your back in a crossed fashion saying “as long as the other doesn’t fantasize about others or doesn’t get fat, or doesn’t get so sick I have to spend every waking moment tending to them”. At least, I hope not!

I don’t know you, and I probably never will meet you. What I’ve watched given as advice above, made me shake my head and sigh thinking “I’ve been there. I know what it feels like on BOTH sides of the coin.” Women telling me I should dump my wife (and men saying the same for that matter). Women telling me that I have so much to offer to some better deserving woman other than my wife. The thing is? I had come to realize that some people are angry or hurt, and have a very jaundiced view on life – and their advice certainly reflects it. In the end? I can only say that you have to make a decision based on what you feel is right, not what someone else urges upon you. If you can’t do that yourself – then be prepared to find out belatedly, that not all advice (including mine for that matter) is worth following. Don’t let the emotions fool you. Your mind is more than capable of sorting out your own emotions and your own issues – better so than anyone else in the world. The crux of it all is that you need to be able to dispassionately look at everything and assess the issues. Then, when you’re more calm, make a rational decision.

Ok, my final thoughts/suggestions may sound sappy – but what the heck, give it a try. Go to YOUTUBE and search on Frankie Avalon and Annette Funichello “Because You’re You” and watch/listen to the video. Then search on Trace Atkins “One Hot Momma” and watch that video. Maybe – just maybe, walking along a moonlit beach with your husband might remind you of why it is worth getting married in the first place. Perhaps listening to the lyrics where the singer says “You want that body back, you had at 17” and realizing that the man doesn’t CARE if the woman he’s with has that body or not – she’s one HOT Momma (with all the FANTASIZING that goes with it!). In the end? If your marriage works out as it should? It will be your body that his arms hold. It will be your eyes that he searches into for his other half. It will be your comforting that he needs when he’s hurting inside. It will be to you that he seeks confirmation that his life has meaning. In the end, it will be either of you or him, who cries into the night when death’s angel passes by and harvests one or the other of your souls. The pain only hurts when something of great value has been taken from you. So? Make it such that he knows he did the right thing in marrying you. Remind him of why you fell in love. Nurture both him and your marriage and ask that he do the same. Don’t bludgeon him with a so called “marriage professional guide” or with his supposed sins. Either he’s committed adultery or he hasn’t. Either he’s had the choice of forsaking you, or he’s not chosen to forsake you. Until then – smile at him, and remind yourself how often you have had the opportunity to look at other men, compare them against him, and then decide that while they might be fun to be with, or more handsome, or even richer then he – you still want to be with him.

Alternatively? One or the other of you will give up on that dream, and the marriage dies – and that as they say, will be that.

avatar kenny July 30, 2012, 1:17 pm

My girlfriend and I have been together for four months. I was caught by my girlfriend when she used my passwords and found I had been chatting with numerous woman on line. I am completely and totally in love with her. I cannot explain why I continued to go on line and have these contacts. I never intended to meet any of them or follow through. I never wanted to hurt my partner like I have. I am so ashamed, embarassed, guilty and humiliated at what I have done. I feel so much pain for hurting her – I truly believe that she was 100% committed to me and that she looked at me as her hero when we first met. I had no “emotional” committment or engagement with these woman. I did not have any feelings of love or caring for them. It was simply chatting. However, reading all of the comments here I realize that it was cheating, that it is a betrayal of our relationship and the love and trust that it was built upon.
We went to Church together last Saturday with her daughters. I went to a counselor last Friday and she goes to see her tomorrow. Hopefully, we will go together. I am flawed and do not know why I would do this when I have the most beautiful, loving, caring woman in my life. I need to know why and I need to fix it. I hope that she will stay with me to do so. What I did was wrong and I will never do it again. But, I must understand what led me to do so in the first place. Hopefully, between counseling, prayer and forgiveness we can stay together. I want this to work. And if she gives up I have no one to blame but me.

avatar Pam August 18, 2012, 7:12 pm

I have been married for 23 years and found out my husband met someone via “words with friends” They were sexting for 2 months before I found out. He then “confessed” that it was over. He actually told her to text him that he would never hear from her again. 2 months later I found out that they continued with a phone app on his phone. Her husband busted them numerous times, but never informed me. When I found out I called him. I think it is over now. Word of advice is the cell phone is not the only way to have a texting affair.

avatar Blindsided October 9, 2012, 11:27 am

I just recently found out that my husband of 24 years has been sexting and texting via Poker sites for the past 2 years. He has also been watching porn for the last 10! I could not have been more hurt if you hit my chest with a bowling ball. We have 4 children, our youngest has special needs. I spent the first 10 years of our marriage working and supportive so he can fulfill his dreams of becoming a successful business owner. During his climb to the top, he left me behind, was inattentive, was always too tired to look after my physical needs, etc… I was having and raising our 4 children. I begged him time and time again to make time for me in the bedroom but he would fall asleep on the couch and I would go to bed alone. He was the only one I wanted, and still is. He showers me with gifts and I have everything I ever want. I have been very open about my needs; a desire for emotional and physical closeness to him. I too need a partner and need reassurance. The only, only one this I was absolutely confident about, was that he would not cheat. So you can imagine my absolute devastation when he told me just recently that a) He has been watching porn for the last 10 years, and has been sexting for the last 2. He has promised that he too had never spoken live with anyone, nor video chatted, or any other form of contact. You learn quickly what other programs are out there…Skype, Facetime, etc… no site is safe. I went to counselling immediately and have been going weekly. I want to go alone. He too will go to counselling, alone. To me, all of it is 100% cheating….what I was begging for him to give me, he gave to others, strangers. This hurts a lot. I`m an attractive woman, judging by the attention I get when I go out, and am somewhat adventurous in the bedroom so I am confused, embarrassed and ashamed by his behaviour. I am hurt beyond belief. He of course has stopped everything, deleted everyone, blocked everyone and no longer goes on the computer in the evening. He has given me full access to his computer and phone. I don`t check too often, but every once in a while I feel the sudden need to search. He didn`t handle being successful well. He thought he could have his cake and eat it too. It was completely selfish, self-absorbing and only about him. Now I`m in a position where the decisions I have to make are NOT selfish…they will affect everyone in my home, mainly my 4 children all under the age of 17. I am so angry at him, I sometimes cannot be in the same room with him. He is guilt-ridden, embarrassed, ashamed and so very, very sorry. But like some of your comments, it was not a mistake, it was a choice…a choice which denied my access to a loving husband. I just don`t know what to do. Yes, I do love him, but hate what he`s done. Of course it goes without saying that the trust is completely gone..what if it doesn`t come back? I wish that all movies that are constantly playing in my mind would just stop! I feel for everyone here who has gone through this, I admire all of you who have made a decision, either leave or stay and work it out. I was always adamant that if my husband ever cheated on me I would not stand for it (and I view all that he`s done as adultery). But it`s hard when you`re faced with it. I`ve prayed about it and since it`s happened, 2 rainbows (separate days) have appeared for no apparent reason over my house. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, so at least I know God is trying to guide me. I`m not looking for advice, just encouragement. This is a great site and interesting to read both sides.

avatar Mrs.c April 27, 2013, 1:15 pm

I’m going thru the same situation the only difference is that we have two small children. An honestly I feel like if my world has come crashing down! I thought that we had a good marriage. I did everything for him, paid attention to him.it’s not like I ignored him or anything! But it was the other way around he pushed me away every time, yet I gave him all my trust. Now I don’t know what to do? I’ve always been the person that always told him that I would leave if he ever did anything yet what stops me is that we have two children together and besides everything I still love him, but I don’t know how to forgive him? He has apologized over and over, an is trying super hard!

avatar Mrs. L July 15, 2013, 9:08 pm

Hello all,
I can honestly say that cheating is cheating! I just learned of my husbands deception about a month ago. I found out because he had no choice but to tell me because someone found out and was going to blow the whissle! My husband and I have been married for 2 1/2 years and he was sexting, facebooking and trading photos with many other women since even before we were married. Its a very long story but the women are local (most of them) even women he has known since high school. I am trying to forgive but boy I can’t forget – NO MATTER how hard I try. I read just about every message and how erotic they were. This bothers me so much because I feel the vows were a lie and there was this secret life hidden away. I can say that I also sex text him so for me its like I am no different then them and why was I not enough for him? He has started therapy and has apologized over and over and over again. He is trying to make up for it but of course how does one do that? How do you totally forgive and how do you ever forget and let it go…. Those women knew he was married and they talked about me. GROSS!!!! I am starting therapy for myself next week. Oh and did I mention we have a baby girl and many other children. Large blended family. SIGH!!!! I love him and that makes this the hardest thing in the world…. We have a great time together and honestly we have a great sex life as well…. TRYING AND FEELING SAD TODAY… thought I would share…. Learning to forgive and forget????

avatar BreezyAM July 16, 2013, 12:00 am

*hug* Been there, done that.
It took many years for my husband to actually stop. I hope yours stops sooner. I am so so so so sorry. It took me about 2 years after the last time to forget when the last time actually was, and to not suspect he was doing me wrong every time I turned my back. It’s only been within maybe the last year or two I can say I am glad I stayed (about a decade in now). And that’s about… I want to say almost 4 years after the last time? (I can no longer remember when it was… I know it was somewhere in April or May, but can’t pinpoint the year anymore -thank god). I no longer think about it every minute of every day. But oh it SUCKED getting there. Awful just awful. Still battling PTSD from it.

avatar Mrs PJ July 25, 2013, 4:31 pm

So where do I begin. Just recently married, not even 2 months and found out that my husband is sexting with the same person I found him sexting with a year ago. Back then he swore he would stop, I would even spot check him o see if he did and I would never find any messages, (he must have been deleting them before I could see them). So I suddenly got that pit in my stomach feeling like something was up. His phone is always on silent and he even changed the settings on his phone so messages don’t appear when they come in. He had the nerve to tell me by doing that I would conserve battery life on the phone, what a joke!! So I didn’t find an exact message but I found an email where he says watch that your husband doesn’t find the messages you’re SEXTING me. He just flat out said it, they shared obviously some photos back and forth. She is clearly married and she has been the topic of issue for a while now, even before we married. Before we married I was able to forgive seeing that we had kids, but not even 2 months after us being married…really?! I’m stuck at a crossroads. For some reason it feels worst now knowing that we are married and took vows in front of God and this is what I find. Funny thing is with all this Anthony Wiener stuff going on I asked him a random question, I told him there was a poll online surveying people to see if sexting was cheating, would you believe he said absolutely it is cheating!! Are you kidding me! I wanted to reach trough my phone and strangle him. How could he say yes it cheating, meanwhile he is probably sexting her as i type this. Not sure how to handle this, its very hard for me to hide my feelings and act as if everything is ok…yet I dont want to break up my family. I also don’t want to confront him about it and begin the wrath of what comes with confrontation….confused

avatar lets_be_honest July 25, 2013, 5:22 pm


avatar Mrs. B September 14, 2013, 11:20 am

Just found out 2 weeks ago that my husband has been doing this for 6 months with someone at work. Found him texting one evening and he tried to hide the phone and lie about it. This has not been the first time. About 2 years ago he made up a new identity claiming he was single on facebook and was having conversations with various women. About 5 years ago he was calling some lady at work because she needed “support.” I believe there was no actual sex involved but doesn’t matter. One betrayal after another. I swore that if it ever happened again he would be immediately out the door. We have been married for 33 years. He is 60 and I am 56. Right now I am just trying to sort through my feelings to make the right decision. He is extremely sorry and is trying to do everything in his power to show me he loves me. Blah. I just don’t understand. Our marriage hasn’t been the best in past 4 years. I lost my dad which caused extreme grief and he started a new job and has been working nonstop. He comes home at 5 but then works in his office at home for another few hours. So, needless to say, there hasn’t been a whole lot of communication and togetherness. I had been asking him over and over to spend less time on work, to plan things to do together so we don’t fall apart. All of this was taking a toll on our marriage. He pretty much kept on working (and apparently texting). I bet many of you will think I am pretty darn stupid to have put up with this before and to even contemplate keeping him now.

avatar BreezyAM September 14, 2013, 12:05 pm

You’re not stupid. You’re in a long term marriage and want to believe him, want to do what’s right, and you don’t want to lose your marriage, especially after that many years. That’s pretty normal, not stupid 🙂 I don’t know what I’d do but I wanted to just give you some love and support. I know I’d be very insecure that my husband was just staying to avoid losing his lifestyle in a divorce. 🙁

avatar CaliforniaGirl November 25, 2013, 12:34 pm

This just happened to me too. But, we had a negative cycle going on in our relationships and my husband felt I wanted out. And because of my actions, he involved himself deeper and deeper into gaming, a little game called “World of Warcraft”. This led to him meeting a fellow female gamer. The sexting affair happened over the course of a few days before I busted him and we immediately immersed in couples therapy. I left him for a few days after finding the text on his phone and went to a hotel room. I also took a picture of the filth with my phone and blew the picture up to 8×11 and taped it to his computer monitor.

In our case, we had mutual marital strife. We’re working on things in therapy. Get to the bottom of why you think your husband engaged with such behavior. I admit, if I weren’t married and with a year old child, I probably would have left. I, too, have a zero cheat tolerance and if it weren’t for the fact that we weren’t 100% mutually happy in our marriage and didn’t have work to do, I don’t know that I would have seen hope in us. We have been to two therapy sessions and his repeat answer to having strayed down the line of inpropriety was his being convinced I was miserable in the marriage and leaving. I have to say that we have talked about a lot in therapy and it’s been really good. We’re both communicating more with one another and taking the time to be kind and connected. It takes a lot for me to rise above what happened and be kind to him, even loving. I sometimes feel nauseous that he gets to do what he did and then, for the sake of working on our marriage, I, in turn, have to be kind when I’m pissed. It’s like a get out of jail free card and it’s BS.
What I can also say about my experience is this: I lost sight of myself as a person after our son was born. I became “messy mommy”, stopped doing the things I enjoyed, stopped being myself for my son. He became my priority, so much so that I lost myself. When this adultery happened to me, I thought “what do I do if I leave him?”. I’m unemployed and a full-time mom. I decided that I wanted, for myself, to start finding myself again. If there is any chance you have lost yourself and would experience utter despair being a single parent, while you work on your marriage, also work on becoming yourself again. That’s been my goal since this happened (it’s only been a month total).
I have huge trust issues when it comes to my husband now. I feel comforted when he’s with me, his phone is, once again, silent. But, he’s going on a huge business trip for 20 days. What lingers in my mind is he could do whatever the f()k (pun intended) he wants because he will be in Kansas and I will be in California. For 20 days. I’m not coping very well. He says she’s blocked from his phone, but it could be that he easily lifts that block and I would be none-the-wiser. I’m seeing the therapist, alone, in this time he’s gone.
Ugh, it’s not an easy road. I’m not sure there is one good answer for any one person’s problem. I think some men are more pathological with this. I guess, is this an isolated experience because of marital strife, or is this an ongoing hunger he may have, a compulsion?