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Dear Chump Lady, Is sex addiction a myth?

Dear Chump Lady,
It seems to me that a lot of betrayed spouses like to jump on the “my cheater has a sexual addiction” bandwagon. It is so incredibly sad to read their stories! What is so clear to me is that within the “Skein of Fuckeupedness” (as you call it),  these poor people go through every possible reason for their betrayer’s behavior  — from I’m co-dependent, to they’re Narcissistic Personality Disorders, to mid-life crisis, and then finally landing on sex addiction.  
I think labeling the cheater allows BSs to avoid acceptance of who their spouses really are. It also allows them to avoid admitting or accepting that they have no deal breakers. Though, I honestly think this is the final attempt at controlling their betrayers’ sexuality – as if putting it in a disease context makes the cheating controllable,  but that is another topic.
What do you think about cheaters who are “sex addicts”?
It’s Bunk

Dear Bunk,

Well, whatever it is, I don’t think it’s healthy to stay married to it.

Personality disorders, mental illness, and addiction are real. My advice to someone dealing with one of those issues would be the same as someone dealing with a purported “sex addict” — you cannot fix this. In the words of the recovery folks — Detach with love. But definitely detach.

I don’t think deciding that your cheater has a Syndrome makes it any less imperative to protect yourself from their self destructiveness. Whatever you call it, it ain’t good for you.

What I do think happens to chumps though, when you have a label, is that the chump has a whole new canvas of codependency to work with. If you frame it that the cheater is Sick (sympathy), instead of framing it as the cheater is Selfish (judgement), then it’s harder to break away. Good people don’t leave sick people. They leave bad people. But if the bad person is really a sick person, well, then you feel you have an obligation to stick it out. (I tackled this dilemma in another letter – But I Made a Vow.)

All these illnesses — mental, personality disorders, and addiction — require the afflicted to make a choice about whether or not they’re going to treat their illness. It’s not a pass to abuse others. Addiction ends because addicts make a choice not to abuse (drink, drugs, other people). It’s different from other illness, like cancer. You don’t get to decide to just cure yourself with cancer. You do decide to get sober.

My brother is a recovered addict. He told me when I was going through my infidelity nightmare, it’s not that addicts don’t know what to do, or how to get help — it’s that they don’t WANT TO. They like getting high better. It feels good. He called my ex’s shit pretty well.

Addiction by its nature is selfish, destructive, and full of deceit. I think cheaters do behave often as addicts. They just want their fix and they don’t care who they hurt. They are not poor sausages at the mercy of their neurotransmitters, they are sentient beings making appalling decisions and lie to your face about it.

Whether it’s a cheater or an alcoholic, or a “sex addict” — leaving them is the kindest thing you can do for them. Or, in drug recovery parlance — “Don’t get between an addict and his bottom.” Let them hit the skids. It’s the only hope they’ve got of experiencing painful enough consequences that they will WANT to change on their own.

Oh, and I know that hope (but they’re in recovery!) will keep the hardcore chumps stuck too. I have to help them with this!

In my opinion, don’t waste your life on this. Monogamy is not 12-step. If a person is truly a sex addict (or any kind of addict) to get clean, you need a ton of support. My brother goes to meetings every week. He has a sponsor. Recovery is a lifestyle for him, a religion. It takes a tremendous amount of personal strength to get right in the head. The odds of relapse are high.

Do you want that in a spouse? Do you want someone who needs a lot of support and hand holding not to betray you?

Why spend your life this way when there are good people out there who are not addicts? Who know how to be faithful and with whom you share values?

The best thing I can say about a chump giving a cheater a label, is that it might direct them to a place of support. There is a lot to be said for discovering that you aren’t alone. And perhaps through finding that sort of community, an infidelity Al-Anon, the chump will find the strength to leave.

That’s my hope anyway. Thanks for writing, Bunk.

This column was previously published. I’m recycling while I’m updating my site. Please feel free to comment! Thanks.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “My brother is a recovered addict. He told me when I was going through my infidelity nightmare, it’s not that addicts don’t know what to do, or how to get help — it’s that they don’t WANT TO. They like getting high better. It feels good. He called my ex’s shit pretty well.”

    Well and succinctly put. I believe at the end of the day it’s about choices, the choice between self-gratification or being a decent grown-up human being. It may not be an easy choice for some but it s still a choice nonetheless.

  • I got the ‘mid life crisis’ one, of course it went on for six years.. it was a very long crisis.

    • I lived with my stbx with the MLC label for 7 years ( he’s going on 9 now ).
      Thus label kept me stuck while he quit his high paying job, went back to school for 7 years and basically turned my life upside down.

      Had I found chump lady all those years ago I would have taken my chump glasses off and seen him for who he is.

      MLC my ass. He’s selfish. He used me, sucked us dry financially and left me to rot in an unfamiliar city once he got his dream job.

      MLC makes the chump feel like the cheater has lost his marbles and gives us hope that they don’t know what they are doing to us. Mine knew exactly what he was doing to us.

      He has no MLC. He is not confused or conflicted. He’s just a regular old ( not so special or unique ) cheater!!

      Oh – and I spackled over the porn thing too. Must be an addict – it’s changed him.
      No – it’s who he has chosen to be!

      My bad.

      My Tuesday us very very close 🙂

      • Yeah,

        The bad thing about infidelity forums is that they inadvertently develop a group mindset dictated by the membership, especially the members who have been there the longest.

        For the most part, you’re dealing with highly codependent people who have latched onto some relationship “guru” (sometimes they have a few of these) who is selling a message that conforms to their predisposed coping strategies dispensing advice, and that’s probably the last group of people you should be taking advice from. On the one hand, people are drawn to those forums because they feel isolated and alone, and suddenly here are these folks who are “going through the same sort of thing”, so in that sense there’s immediate comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, but… (yeah, there’s an important ‘but’), you’re usually dealing with people more highly codependent than you are, and part of the reason they hang out year after year after year in those forums under the guise of “helping others” is because they are still trying to get a grip on their own lives, and they are desperately trying to control their own situation, and controlling others by proxy and dispensing advice has become a hobby of sorts that fits their pathology 🙁

        The problem is not that their heart is not in the right place. The problem is their focus is on trying to control things they cannot control and manipulation.

        Even so-called “hardliners” in infidelity forums tend to fit this mold. The method is different, but the objective is the same: change somebody else with your behavior. So whether they’re telling you to “stand” (and masochistically endure—I guess you are like Jesus being crucified for your spouse–so that redemption can be yours) or to “File immediately and help him/her pack their bags” so that they will “wake up”/”come out of the fog” or whatever, the focus is on getting a reaction out of the cheating spouse either by coercing them or by doing your best imitation of a self-righteous doormat who is covertly manipulative.

        • TH, that last part is the main reason I got off those forums quickly. The idea that I should basically lie and manipulate to get my husband back was disgusting to me. The 180 and all that crap just pissed me off.

        • The illusory Midlife Crisis.

          Based on a model proposed by Elliott Jaques, I think, and then later popularized in 1970s self-help books and then in Hollywood films.

          It’s something that has become the catch-all stereotype used to explain any perceived aberration in values or behavior among 40-sometings (though some pop psychology gurus have expanded midlife to be 25-70 years of age–lol).

          • Except we realize, looking back, that the shitty, self-absorbed behavior isn’t an aberration at all. It’s just more of the same, perhaps with a foray over “the line,” which, in my ex’s case, was actually fucking a warm body, vs. just fantasizing about it constantly. The sudden change in habits, mannerisms, etc., only sprung from the newness of a relationship with his soul mate. But he’d been an irritable jerk all along–this was not new. It was a crisis because I finally realized I’d been violated. This allowed me to finally pull the plug on a crappy relationship that I’d have stayed in for the rest of my life otherwise.

            I made a friend on the MLC boards–she and I both divorced our abusive ex’s and marvel at the men and women who remain stuck in the limbo of despair years later. Many are there for economic reasons, best as I can tell. Some cannot let go of the idea that maybe their spouses have brain disorders and are just sick and need help. Some don’t want to have to find a job. Others just like lots and lots of sympathetic prose from supportive strangers. I had to flee. I found camaraderie there in the early stages, and some help with my grief, along with some understanding of what type of person the OW is. It was chilling how many experienced the same treatment from their husbands as I did from mine–verbatim! So I am thankful for the MLC support site that I found, but Chump Lady was really the avenue of a full realization and solid recovery. I am so grateful for the support here–a healthy dose of righteousness and inspiration.

            • I found out about ChumpLady from the MLC site, right in the nick of time! I never went back. But it was helpful for the 9 years I was in limbo with a multiple cheater!

          • thank you both for explaining.
            “though some pop psychology gurus have expanded midlife to be 25-70 years of age–lol”
            wow, way to remove any responsibility and accountability for crap behavior, decisions and abuse. “Hey it isn’t my fault, I’ve been having a mid life crisis for 50 years!

          • Yes, I fell for the mid life crisis as well. It and my completely co dependent chumpdom kept me taking more abuse and disrespect for 5 years.

            I now make a point of going on to MLC forums and calling it for what it is: narcissism.

            You can have a mid life crisis and evaluate yourself without severely hurting and disrupting the people around you.
            My husband knew exactly what he was doing. How easy was it for him to keep me in line by talking about his depression and confusion. Depression does not mean losing your morals. You can be depressed and still not fuck other people.

  • Did I do some digging in my search for the reasons my stbx cheated? Sure did! Every reason he came up with could be intelligently refuted. He was bored? He didn’t put one ounce of effort into bringing something new and creative to our marriage. He suffered a childhood trauma? Never once mentioned it in 17 years or asked for any kind of help in dealing with it. AP introduced him to kinky sex? Never knew it interested him. If he had expressed the desire to explore I would have been open to giving kinky a try. He was angry at me because I asked him to spend time with me instead of meeting a “friend” at the bar? He should have opened up his mouth and said so instead of fucking the AP like a passive aggressive five year old having a temper tantrum. Stbx has proven himself to be a selfish, immature, cowardly, morally fucked up piece of shit. Wonder how he’d like that label?

    • So true! My ex was not a bit of fun in those last years we were together but, oh yeah, he performed well for everybody else. You know I believe most of our exes looked at us as objects and when they got tired of real life and a new (not better!) offer came along, off they went. I believe my ex lived for years deceiving me, he was not committed to our marriage, and dodged any real communication? There was a disconnect. I think he liked how he looked with his perfect family, until it wasn’t enough kibbles. Grass is greener, and all that. I felt that. My ex chose to overlap his last affair with the last three years of our marriage, and at the same time felt entitled to annihilate our finances. He did not want me living in our community afterwards and effectively dissipated our community assets. My ex grew more and more checked out and was the kind of guy who was more present for people he didn’t know than he was with his own family. Looking back he had a very compartmentalized life. Family and activities, work and friends, fitness club and friends. He never mixed them. And he hung out with questionable people. Both at work and at play. Never made a big effort to make our acquaintances close friends. He hung with a lot of men who didn’t value the women or the children in their lives. Weird. We were pretty isolated too. I think most families are when they live thousands of miles away from family but I think he wanted it that way! We were different though. He always needed more stuff and his fitness and aging were a major concern for him. Still are. I am more relaxed about life and think I am pretty hot always. But aren’t most Chumps? Lol. We did value different things. I did put family first. His priority was always about him and what he wanted and after awhile he just stopped discussing our future. I think he got off on having a secret life and I stopped loving him when he always seemed to put me down. I think he is selfish. He had a problem with my weight. He did so many things during our life together that people do when they are not living honestly. It was a choice. None of my FOO issues compelled me to jump in the sack with someone outside my marriage. As to MLC, we all experience reservations about growing older but normal people just work through it. Healthy people grow together. We get fit, do new things, buy that car, rethink our priorities. I think we can go crazy (akin to teens and their growing independence) and have a great marriage. We live intentionally and recognize that it’s not our significant others that are lacking…. We don’t rewrite history, demonize our spouses, and abandon our families. This is what CHEATERS do.

  • A decade and a half ago, I walked into the home office and found the computer frozen with porn pictures of teenaged girls. ExH told me he was dowloading software and that was malware (or whatever it’s called….).
    After the affairs came to light, I wonder….

  • I don’t know if anyone is familiar with the site “” but I once saw an anonymous postcard that read: “You don’t have Aspergers, you’re just an asshole.”

    That message transformed the way I looked at my X. He self-diagnosed himself (because going to a real doctor is a waste of money especially if you already know it all) as having Aspergers Syndrome. And he very well may have it. But AS doesn’t excuse cheating, nor does any other illness.

    So, consider this message:

    “You may have [fill in mental illness here], but you’re still an asshole.”

    Then leave!

  • I really do believe my H is a sex addict. He will very easily change his addiction if something is not readily available. He gained well over 100 lbs after we got married. He longed to smoke pot, but managed to stop himself. He would drink at work when he couldn’t look at porn.
    People married to sex addicts need different support than what’s out there. We have been gaslighted for years, maybe decades for many. It can take a long time to finally see reality. After initial discovery, we’re told by experts to wait a year, no matter how you feel. My instinct was to run, but was told over and over to stay and work on things. The 12 step group for those affected by sex addicts told us we also had a ‘disease’. The sex addicts in our lives are all too happy to go along with labeling us codependent. They talk about the ‘family disease’. It serves their purpose.
    He’s still addicted. I see now that he’ll always have an addiction. For now, it’s his 12 step group and religion. It can easily fall back to any other of his drugs.
    I have finally reached out for help. Real help, from family who love me and want the best for me. I’ve stopped covering for his sorry ass and have told them the truth. They are helping me wake up from this nightmare. It’s scary to look back with new eyes, to see the level of deception that he put me through. I knew something wasn’t right with the marriage. I figured I wasn’t doing something right. Maybe I was pushing him away. He supported this view from the get go. It was the perfect cover for him. If I was concerned with myself, I wouldn’t be looking at what he was doing. He planted many seeds of doubt, and let me believe that I was the damaged one. For years, I thought I was broken beyond repair. All the while, he knew the truth. It makes me sick to think about it.
    We need a new kind of support out there. This blog is one of those important places for a dose of reality when you’re stuck in a nightmare.

    • Super: So glad you have reached out for help.

      Your description of the addict turning around the problem and blaming you for all issues in the marriage is spot on. For me the worst betrayal was realizing that my STBXH had manipulated, conditioned and abused me into thinking that any and all marriage problems were about me; that I was “broken beyond repair”; and that he was perfect. As you said, he knew the truth all the while. That is devastating because this person not only betrayed you by cheating, he betrayed your trust that a human being who supposedly loved you would never intentionally falsify your reality.

      I found that shook me to the core far more than anything else. I feel your pain. I’m happy you have some clarity now. Hugs!

      • Yes, I can’t blame sex addiction or any other addiction on the demise of my marriage, but my husband has conveniently declared that it was my “nervousness and anxiety” that he could no longer put up with. So, in other words, it’s all my fault.

        No acknowledgement that watching my life savings go down the drain could cause a person to be anxious. No. According to him I had a choice to love him, be calm, and give him lots of affection in spite of our financial circumstances, and I fell short of that.

        And he made me feel guilty when I tried to explain to him that I’m at a time in my life where some financial security is needed. No, according to him, I should have clung to him harder (and had lots of sex). Never mind that he was never home at night for it!

        He had no idea, and still doesn’t, that my money fed us, housed us, and clothed us, and when it was gone, and he was unwilling to work for anyone, I felt utterly hopeless.

        But it’s all my fault.

        • I hear you. Mine used to blame me for being controlling and suspicious, and unable to just relax and enjoy the relationship. Uh, well multiple smaller D-days don’t really make me feel secure and able to relax! Maybe instead of accusing me of being suspicious, acknowledge that he was the one who caused that by constant repeated cheating!

          Blame shifting is incredibly damaging to the chump. Your brain starts to get trained to think that way, and then in future interactions you still feel guilty and to blame for everything; even after kicking him to the curb, I have times I feel this way.

          Hope you’re able to see that now, I know it’s hard!

      • Thanks DefyingGravity! It’s true that the most painful part is the realization that he intentionally falsified my reality. That’s not something you can just ‘get over’. He’s remorseful, but I see now that it doesn’t matter what he does anymore. The damage is too great.

        Hugs back 🙂

      • Hi DefyingGravity,

        “For me the worst betrayal was realizing that my STBXH had manipulated, conditioned and abused me into thinking that any and all marriage problems were about me; that I was “broken beyond repair”; and that he was perfect.”

        This was exactly my situation. It upsets me even today, more than two years down the line and with a new partner. I think that having your trust in someone broken so badly is very damaging.

    • Maybe we just need common sense information. If a person craves drugs, alcohol, sex and porn and cannot control his intake of food, then he is not available for any relationship with another person because he is all tied up with the substance of the moment. Anything but the marriage. No counselor in his right mind would say a partner should stay in that mess for a year; the counselor would be telling the cheater he needs long-term rehab. And people coming out of rehab need at least a year to get some control over their own lives and how to live in sobriety. There’s a reason why real addiction counselors tell people to get away from the home environment; addicts in early recovery are not ready for the stress of serious committed relationships and family life.

      And people who have been living with addicts aren’t ready either. I am not going to say anything other than had I done a year on my own with no dating after separating from my alcoholic spouse, I probably never would have been involved with the Jackass. I hadn’t confronted my own co-dependency. I needed to stabilize my own version of “sobriety,” fix the picker, and value my own life.

      Really, it’s not all that complicated. If you love an addict, let him go. You didn’t cause his addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. Addicts are not available for relationships; their relationship is with the addiction. And the urge to stay I would call “co-dependency,” whether it stems from fear of the addict facing life alone and dying as a result or it stems from the need to “fix” others or it stems from fear of living one’s one life. Or all three. And for the love of God, when addicts’ lips are moving, they are lying.

      Let me repeat that: If your partner is abusing alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn or is cheating, your partner is lying. And lying because the high is all your partner cares about. So when we chumps wrap our heads around these facts, it’s a no-brainer to leave. If I had taken my own advice years ago, I would never have been married to my X either. Where our responsibility lies is in having “deal breakers” and not allowing cracked Jesus cheaters and quack counselors to talk us into spending years trying to get water out of a dry well.

      • True. But it’s difficult to see when you’re in it sometimes. I’m a smart gal. I’m University education. I have lots of life experience. But when DDay hit, I was thrown for a loop. I didn’t know what to trust, so I looked outside of myself for help. I did have the strongest urge to run, but I didn’t listen to myself because I no longer trusted my instincts.
        The only addiction I was aware of was his food addiction. Am I that bad for thinking that we could tackle that one at that time? He never drank at home. He works with computers, so it was easy for him to hide the porn and the emails to prostitutes. In the end, he simply forgot to delete a conversation with OW. It was bound to happen at some point.
        The thing is, we’re told to avoid regular addiction therapists, because they ‘don’t get it’. Really? If it is a real addiction, why wouldn’t they understand? Why does this addiction get special status? Why are CSATs the only ones you can go to for help? I wish I had gone to a regular addiction therapist. Maybe I would have gotten that common sense advice when I needed it. We did see a marriage counselor early on. He tried to get me to see that I wanted to leave and that I would be okay. I’m a sahm, and was too scared to act. Fear has driven been in the driver’s seat for a long time. It’s taken anti depressants to help my panic attacks subside. Now that my mind has calmed down, I’m starting to see things clearly. Whatever it takes to get me to the other side.

        • Super-Chump, I totally understand where you are coming from. This ‘sex addiction’ ride has been a complete nightmare. The whole CSAT racket as far as I can tell is more evil with mindfuckery of the chump then the rest of the RIC combined. Why? Consider the business model: if the chump leaves the ‘addict’, then problem is solved and there will be no $ for the CSAT (sex addicts rarely seek treatment on their own). The CSAT only makes $ if the chump stays and cajoles the cheater into ‘recovery’. But the CSAT can’t just work on the ‘addict’, because eventually the chump will catch on that the addict is not changing. No, the CSAT must work on the CHUMP and convince the chump that they are half the problem. This doubles the market for the CSAT’s services and keeps the chump on the hook, believing that if they can just fix themselves, it will clear the way for the ‘addict’ to fix himself/herself. But it’s always a double bind – if you are detached and minding your own business you will be deemed lacking boundaries and enabling, if you enforce boundaries you will be deemed controlling. And they DO discourage partners from leaving the addicts! Explanation: because you ‘love’ the person and if you do not stick around and fix your own issues you will just go back to this addict or find a new one. REALLY? How about we DITCH the abusive f’ers, and THEN get therapy? Well, no. Because then your healing would be expedited (less therapy $) and we lose the addict’s participation (less therapy $). That is just not good business.

          We chumps are just walking targets for exploitation. And it is for the exact reason Super-Chump stated – our realities have been so FUCKED WITH we will trust anyone more than ourselves. FYI – for anyone out there considering seeking the services of a CSAT – pay attention: an incredibly large proportion of these people are “recovering sex addicts”. Think about that. Think about what that means. Do you really want to put your psychological care into the hands of that personality type? The personality type that finds it much easier to blameshift to the partner than accept responsibility for their own actions? Think about it. Buyer Beware.

          My opinion? By all means, chumps, get help for your trauma and whatever issues that may have facilitated your exploitation. But as CL says, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE. Get out of the burning house FIRST, and then get trauma care.

          • I guess it’s not really more evil than the rest of the RIC. I guess it’s just another hopium distribution channel. UGH.

  • “Addiction by its nature is selfish, destructive, and full of deceit. I think cheaters do behave often as addicts. They just want their fix and they don’t care who they hurt. They are not poor sausages at the mercy of their neurotransmitters, they are sentient beings making appalling decisions and lie to your face about it.”


    XH had S11 for the weekend. On Saturday night, the girls and I decided to have a picnic in the park. As we were leaving, car windows down, D16 suddenly shouted, “That’s DAD!”

    D14 and I both looked in time to see XH jump away from some woman he was with. He and the woman both looked at our car, having obviously heard D16’s shout. XH was clearly distressed at the discovery; the woman just seemed bewildered. I tapped the gas and off we went – I had no reason to linger.

    While I felt surprisingly “meh” about the incident, the girls were upset – they ranted on and on about it. Then, after awhile, both girls said they felt sorry for S11 because he was home alone while XH was on a date. So we stopped and got some of S11’s favorite snacks and ran them over to XH’s house. S11 was happy to see us and happy for the snacks. When D14 asked him where Dad was, he said, “Walking in the park with a friend.”

    I just rolled my eyes.

    The ONLY person XH cares about is himself. He has part time custody of one child, and even that’s more than he’s interested in. Instead of spending what little time he has with his son, he leaves him home alone so he can go date. Parenting is not his priority – it never has been. It wasn’t for either of his parents, either.

    If only I’d paid attention to all those signs 30 years ago. Argh!

    • What a true asshole! Couldn’t put the needs of your son before his own even for a weekend. Your son deserves better, Red.

    • Are you thinking of telling your X that you will get a custody order change if he continues to leave your son alone? Even though your son is 11, that seems very irresponsible. I might have loaded him up in the car and taken him home and faced the judge if that was the consequence. Just thinking out loud–your situation may be far more complicated than I know.

      • Red, that is the best advice I could give to any young person (i.e., myself 20 years ago): watch the parents carefully. If you can see they are peculiar and you STILL find him devastatingly attractive, fix your picker.
        Why? because when the lurve wears off and you are into the gritty reality of daily life, which requires friendship, teamwork and reciprocation (out of which a deeper connection and love grows), the coping skills of the FOO emerge.

        Boy, did I need to know that lesson in my twenties.

        By the way, Chumps, I cannot recommend Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) enough in navigating all this stuff. It helps you stay calm, keep your mouth shut, stop trying to ‘connect’ with him, focus on yourself. The 12 steps is a life changer. I don’t know why it sounds like a cult, when actually it is a way of learning how to live less dysfunctionally and love more healthily.

        • Patsy – like you, I wish I had known 30 years ago what I know now. ALL the signs were there: flaky parents, no money, quick to pawn off responsibilities. I spackled myself silly for DECADES.

          These days, I just watch and observe. His actions tell me all I need to know.

          • We could be twins Red, if not we are from the same mould!! 🙂

            You have just described me perfectly, only it was for me 37 years of marriage and 45 years of so called friendship but only from me it now is obvious.

      • LaJ – 11 is the youngest age you can leave a child home alone in our state. That XH does it so often really bothers me. I suspect that if XH starts dating someone seriously – seriously enough to introduce to S11 to her – S11 will bail on him and want to stay here more often…

  • My take: Fucking other people is a deal-breaker to marriage. Period. Label or no label.

    • Yes. And I would say any physical affair or any emotional affair of any duration is also. (I might give a second chance for a minimal FB flirtation with no physical contact that my partner ended by coming to me, showing me the message thread, his cell phone, etc. and taking initiative to work on the marriage if he was vulnerable to such distraction. “Might” being the operative word.

  • I like CL’s take on this (as usual).

    My STBXH played the sex addiction card right after I filed for divorce, in an apparent last ditch attempt to avoid the consequences of his actions and continue getting his kibbles/cake. He told me he was a sex addict and was starting treatment, and he finally made “full” disclosure to me about the extent of his cheating (although I’m sure there’s much more). He did it knowing full well that my helper co-dependent personality would kick in and cause incredible guilt, making it extremely hard for me to continue NC and the divorce. Again, an example of the cheater pushing the emotional buttons he knows you have. My sister is an alcoholic and I have historically been her worst enabler because I love her, and he knows this.

    It did make it a lot harder for me initially to continue the divorce and NC. But ultimately I decided that it really didn’t matter if he was sick or just a cheater asshole, and I wasn’t going to try to untangle that skein. Regardless, I wasn’t going to continue placing myself in physical and emotional danger by being with him. I told him that I was glad he was getting help with his problems, but that it was no longer safe for me to be a part of his life. Then I just went NC and ignored the subsequent pleading/ranting/rage/theats/etc. emotional abuse.

    Ultimately as CL says the only thing that matters is protecting yourself. It’s unnecessary to try to figure out if sex addiction is a thing or a fake excuse, because ultimately you won’t ever trust this person again and the situation is unsafe. So the only thing to do is move on.

    In other news, it’s Tuesday for me. I’m feeling so much better. It’s strange but I basically woke up one day and realized that over the past few weeks I have been “meh” and easily maintaining NC not just in practice but in my brain, where it counts. I can’t explain why it happened or how I got here, but I did. I’m sure there will be many bad days to come as the divorce finishes up, but a year and eight months of hellish torment seems to have ended. Thanks to everyone for the support and I hope you are all also progressing well.

    • Congratulations on getting to meh, and for not getting sidetracked with his talk of “sex addiction.” You are mighty, especially since he knows your vulnerability in the “helping” area.

      I hope you find a way to untangle yourself from your sister’s addiction, too; I’m sure you know that enabling her isn’t helping her. Tell her that the way you will help her is to go to AA with her or help her find a rehab or an addiction counselor with a good track record. Tell her you won’t bail her out of any more messes or give her money or whatever it is you do that supports her addiction. This is incredibly hard. Even though I no longer live with my XH, I still worry about him and have the urge to fix the messes he’s made. Codependency is hard to kick, just like drugs. But their lives and our lives depend on us getting healthy. Again, good work with the STBX; the Jackass is still in my brain but I am working hard to end that and get to “meh” myself. I spent too much time feeding the hologram in my head

      • Loved: thanks for the words of encouragement!

        I have actually successfully stopped enabling my sister. I actually think that the experience of dealing with that was important “practice” for preparing for this situation with STBXH…lot of the same guilt and co-dependency issues.

    • DF, sometimes I feel less than because at about 9 months from d-day I still hurt so much. It makes me feel better to know how you feel at more than a year and a half out. I have to quit comparing my recovery to anyone else’s because there is no one who is in my particular pair of shoes. I’m so glad you’re attaining MEH! I see glimpses of it now and then and know in time I’ll get to Tuesday too.

      • Moving: I’ve seen a lot of your posts here and read your story. IIRC, your situation is very complicated with a lot of legal and financial difficulties? That’s really hard, makes NC harder and probably getting to meh harder too.

        As far as the journey to Tuesday, it’s weird. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t see myself slowly getting better and better over time; in fact I feel like I had a lot of emotional relapses not that long ago. But for some reason, without even realizing it, I turned a corner recently. I only realized it when I noticed that I wasn’t having a physical anxiety response to seeing his name in a text or email, or when someone referenced the divorce.

        Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts, and I know there are rough times ahead. But the difference to me is this. For the last year and eight months, the issues with STBXH defined my life. They were my reality, my focus, the primary defining issue. Now, they aren’t. I mean STBXH and the divorce are still problems, legally, financially, even emotionally, but now I look at them as equivalent to other “normal” problems in my life that crop up with work, family, etc. STBXH issues are one problem in my life, but they certainly don’t define it or me. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about him or the situation; it’s not the constant background noise that it was for so long. I don’t have that awful pit in my stomach 24 hours a day. I’m just living and dealing with my shit, including this particular piece of shit, like I do everything else. So for me, that’s Tuesday. You’ll get there too. Hugs.

        • Defying Gravity & Moving Liquid –
          DF – I’m so glad to see that things are moving so well for you. It’s a bright shiney day once you round that corner.
          ML – Your own advice to yourself is spot on 🙂 You cannot compare your recovery to anyone else. It is all so incredibly personal/individual and complex! And depends so heavily on the surrounding circumstances.

          I believe I would have walked away the moment of discovery if it had not been for my 3 step-daughters. The girls were adopted by my Ex and his 1st wife at 4, 3 and 14 mos. Both my ex and the girls’ mother are terrible parents and when I married my ex I became their primary parent. If I left, I would have no “rights” to the children and it took me a long while to come to terms with leaving them in the care of these two damaged and damaging people. So, it took me 18 months of false reconciliation before I called time of death on my marriage, then it was another 9 months before the divorce was final. The moment I called “divorce” my Ex raged and cut me off completely from the girls.

          So… we all have our own timeline. Be gentle with yourself. This shit is hard.

          My best to you both 🙂

        • Defying gravity – great post! And I could have written it too. I’m 9 months past dday and it occupied every waking moment of my life until BAM – yesterday – a Tuesday, it WAS weird when I thought about the date. I turned a corner. I’ve filled so many holes with other loving people before I even knew it, and here I am – somewhat on the other side. I truly didn’t think it would happen to me coming from such utter despair and living that way for so long. I think it’s a necessary process to go all of your grief with a fine-toothed comb, like it or not, but it helps the brain to realize this shit isn’t really going to kill us. We NEED to process it ALL for as long as that process takes each one of us. No timetable. And, yep, I know there’s more shit ahead but I have will take those days as they come and let them stay on a back burner for now. I just have so many more good friends now than I ever did! This forum has helped me more than anybody could know.

        • I think your explanation about it no longer defining your life is good. I have also recently felt that what happened to me is no longer the most defining/biggest thing in my life. It feels a bit more in the rear-view mirror and a little foggy. Yes, I still have some sadness here or there, but it’s not overshadowing everything anymore. I don’t think I’m quite at meh, but I think I am getting really close.

  • Here’s what I think I’ve learned from being here, so far: if people want to cheat and/or abuse sex, drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling, etc., then they need to live on their own and go enjoy that. They have thus opted out of a committed relationship to a human being in preference to their addictive or destructive activities (as I am not convinced there is “sex addiction”.) Think of it this way—I wouldn’t get involved with a smoker because I had a parent die of lung cancer and I can’t stand to be around cigarettes or cigars. I don’t cheat, drink, do drugs, smoke, look at porn, gamble compulsively or cheat. That’s the baseline.

    • I’m not convinced either about the sex addiction. Seems like it is a handy excuse as opposed to simply admitting, “Yes, basically I’m a lying, deceptive jerk who likes cheating. I cheat because I can, because I am entitled, because it makes me feel powerful, because David Niven and Robert Wagner are way cooler than Inspector Clouseau, etc., etc.”

      If it is “real” addiction (and I would defer to the experts), I differentiate it from dependency on drugs or alcohol.

      In any case I agree that none of these are valid excuses for bad behavior.

      • Chumpguy, I read only recently that the ‘experts’ do not believe that sex addiction exists. Me personally, whilst not an expert, believes that it is just another excuse to add to the collection of excuses that are used by cheaters, whether they are male or female.

        • IMO sex addiction is utter bullshit, end of story. If something has a chemical component that causes physical addiction, fine but I am really tired of pretty much anything a person does to excess being labeled an addiction. And I include gambling and porn “addiction”, it’s a choice, it’s not alcohol, it’s not heroin, it’s not nicotine. If sex is classified as addiction then I guess you can say I’m addicted to having fires in my fireplace and I spend too much money on wood cos I insist on the fire even when it’s not that cold out.

  • When my ex first revealed he was cheating with other men, about halfway through our marriage, he decided this was due to sex addiction (not that he was gay, oh no, anything but that). He joined a SA group and attended weekly for quite a few months. I was sometimes concerned that this group was just an easy way for ex to meet other “addicts” like himself for good times, and in looking back, that is probably true.

    Around the nine month mark, ex admitted to me that he had gone to a gay bath house “to test himself” and had gotten a blow job from some stranger. He said this did NOT break his sobriety, however, because all of his fellow sex addicts in the group said it was fine, that since he was “testing himself” this didn’t count at all and no problem. Back at the time, I was disgusted with the whole thing and insisted he drop the group. (I wanted to leave him then, but did not, as our son was very young with significant developmental problems, I was scared of being a single mother, I made little money and was just too frightened of being alone.) Now I look back and realize that he made up the part about the group saying what he did was fine, of course they did no such thing. He was just lying as usual. I don’t believe he revealed his lapse to the group at all.

    Anyway, after that, he didn’t bother pretending to be a sex addict anymore. We sort of shoved the whole thing under the rug and didn’t speak about it. Oh, I still played marriage police occasionally over the next decade, and I occasionally found some shocking stuff, but I still didn’t leave. I just felt sicker and sicker, and became less and less of myself. Meanwhile, he continued to cheat at a staggering rate.

    Today, I’m actually glad for the final OW and the ending blow to that charade of a marriage. I’m not sure anything else would have gotten me out of there. We did have bogus reconciliation, but I had somehow gained the strength to end that when it became obvious ex would never, ever change.

    Anyway, having lived life with a “sex addict,” I call bullshit. My ex used that as a cover and an excuse. The reality is he simply enjoyed lying and cheating, he liked fooling me, he prefers sex with men and he wanted the cover of a wife. I don’t believe in sex addiction. Not long after the SA stuff, ex was actually diagnosed as a narcissist by a therapist he saw once or twice. Now THAT I believe in.

  • It really doesn’t matter, does it? You’re addicted to sex, affairs, coke, alcohol, brownies, danger, porn, gambling, and the TLC network?

    Great, I accept that. I am addicted to peace of mind. I have an uncontrollable impulse to get the hell away from you forever. Sorry, I’m just wired that way, I guess. And you must accept me as I am.

  • Yep, I went through the mid-life crisis label, the blaming it on his FOO, the self-blame, and the sex addict thing. I mean, after-all X had been paying prostitutes all over the world while away on business. And yes, often unprotected sex… for years…but I digress…

    It was exactly around the time of Tiger Woods fiasco. So, Chumpy me, found the best darn sex addict therapist in my city. I told her my story.

    She said, ” He is either a sex addict OR just an assohole.”

    Hmm, after 5 years out — I pick asshole. Cluster B Asshole is my diagnosis. Ha!

    But really one can diagnose and try to “unravel the skein” ad nauseum but in the end — do you want to live with that? Someone who is capable of such duplicity. Not a chance.

  • Well I think our society pushes us into becoming excessive people. It really bothered me when the government was opposed to using abstinence as a means of birth control in High School sex Ed. If you eat too much, abstain from food. If you smoke, abstain from cigarettes.

    Since my separation I’ve abstained. I’ve had some encounters. I just haven’t found the next special one yet. I just prefer love followed by sex. That way I’m not being used.

    Society pushes sex like crazy. Sex sells products. So what do they do? They push viagra so the baby boomers are sexully active till there 90 just to sell Coca-Cola.

  • For over 20 years, I spackled, so I’ve tried on all those labels on what fit for that particular moment. In the end, the label that was spot on was asshole.

  • I am very glad to see this post made the cut to be recycled…it was one of the most helpful ones that I read during The Troubles.

    “Well, whatever it is, I don’t think it’s healthy to stay married to it.” Yes.

    A friend told me “if he ever gets better, you will know.” Understanding that helped me detach – I can send his soul good wishes for solid mental health and a strong moral compass, and don’t have to be near the sickness and the sadness and pain created by his failure to treat it.

  • I would say that my ex was addicted to admiration and attention, rather than sex.

    I think the cause of this problem is the great big void within her soul where most people have a sense of themselves and a place from which they can draw self comfort. If you don’t have this then maybe the only way you can soothe is to draw attention from external sources.

    Everybody likes sex, so maybe “sex addiction” is a sure-fire way to get a fix?

    I don’t really know, though. I feel like I was used as a “legitimate” source of admiration and attention for many years, until I had nothing left and started to stand up for myself. Once I did that, it was over.

    • Kendoll I totally agree with this. The sex is just the drug of choice. The underlying deficiency is not feeling good or whole inside.

      That is one of the major reasons that I decided I had to finally leave the STBXH. He might be able to stop screwing things, maybe, although I kind of doubt it. But regardless, I have far less confidence that he can fix the the emptiness inside him that made him do it in the first place. That kind of internal rewiring takes a lot of hard work, personal reflection, and uncomfortable self analysis. Based on my experience with him during our ten year relationship, I KNOW he can’t do that.

      So even if I could lock him in a damn chastity belt, it wouldn’t make a difference in the quality of the relationship. The lying and the betrayal came from another place entirely, not from between his legs.

  • “Addict” is a very convenient term to use when what you appear to actually suffer from is having poor boundaries, high entitlement and an abusive mindset. You can apply whatever rationalization you choose for the behavior that results, but it will not change the end result. A person who believes that his/her wants, his/her desires and how he/she feels, is not just important, but it is the MOST important thing at all times and in all situations, cannot be a participant in a reciprocal relationship.

    Label it addiction, label it Cluster B, label it Asspuppet, label it douchenozzle, call it a turd in a punch bowl – whatever – the end result for us Chumps is the same. We are not responsible for whatever it is that drives these assholes to be assholes. They were assholes before we met them, they had no interest in correcting their assholery when we were with them, and they carry their inner asshole with them as we make our way down the road away from them. We know how difficult it is for all of us to change our thinking, feelings and reactions – and we’re fucking motivated! Imagine how difficult it is to change if you’re only slightly or in no way motivated to do so.

    Cheater McAsspuppet can give whatever name he wants to his problem, he’s still an emotionally abusive POS – and that’s what I need to understand and remember. The what is my problem; the why is his.

    • Yes! And “crap life skills” in things that matter. Committing to a good marriage, working on a relationship you value, these are not on the radar for those who think life is all about “me, me, me.”

  • I am going to make the following post brief, because I intend to share my story at another time but I just wanted to thank you Chump Lady for your blog.

    My story in a nutshell is when I was a teenager, my first who I dated intermittently over the years lied about being married, having kids and his age to me! I was made unknowingly into the other woman and to participate in his committing adultery, something to which I never ever would have consented to had I known the truth. If I had even known his true age of when he met me, I would have never ever dated him. Suffice it to say, I found had years later of the truth from his wife, and it left me hurt, betrayed, enraged and distrustful of others.

    As I scoured numerous articles trying to make sense of this, I became more hurt and confused by the existing discourse on affairs. I found the articles to be problematic, as they attributed the cheating to either the biology of men, or something that the person who was cheated on was not able to provide for their partner. What hurt me the most, was reading that these men really love their wives, they just cheat because they want variety and that their relationships with their partners often improve during the affair. As the unconsenting and unknowing other woman, this hurt me even more to see that he could have never “loved” me. Eventually after two months of learning the truth and seeking help, I came to understand that he either is a Sociopath or displays Sociopathic tendencies and that my fault was beig too trusting and not knowing this type of evil exists. Learning this created almost a crisis in how I viewed humanity although now three months later, clarity has set in and I realize this man was selfish and he is incapable of loving anyone. Also, now that I am of a more clear and rational mind, I can dissect the discourses. For example, the biological theory of men needing multiple partners is actually disempowering to men insofar as it makes it seem like the only thing controlling them is their penis. Sorry, but there are men out there who have evolved to be highly intelligent beings, and have the ability to say no to cheating. The theory that these men suffer from an addiction, or love their wife is equally problematic. You do not hurt someone ever that you love. True love is altruistic in nature; I’d rather stab myself before profoundly hurting someone I love repeatedly.

    Coming to the Chump Lady website has been every validating. Thank you for serving as a voice of truth and thank you for deconstructing these problematic and gendered discourses. Betrayal is a severe form of violence and abuse and thank you for creating awareness around this! You teach others how to protect themselves and move on, which is paramount to breaking the cycle of abuse perpetuated by the betrayal and cheating.

    As an aside, I see myself as a warrior (not a survivor or even victim). I am going through the process of restorative justice (sadly I can’t pursue this in court) in a very intelligent and diplomatic way. I believe that people like this need to be held accountable, or they just go out and hurt others.

  • That was a very insightful post, but I have to admit, the main message I am taking from it is that the men whose penis is more powerful than their brain must be avoided at all costs! I wonder what the equivalent is for cheating women?

    • I think Kendoll describes cheating women quite well in his post above. It comes from an inner void they have which to put it simply, results in their tending to be attention whores.

      I worked with a woman once (she was in her early 30’s and attractive) who told me her mother “taught her” to use sex as a form of power in all relationships…personal and work. During our girl talks, she regaled me with her “strategies” about seducing men for her own specific purposes…whether it be a promotion, a short term gain of some sort (like a trip or gift), or, most horrificly, to have a means of compromising otherwise powerful colleagues. On a personal level, she described it as sport to know that she could “steal” men from their partners, even if only for a single encounter. She seemed to truly enjoy knowing she could inflect pain on other women. I listened to her only to learn…in absolute fascination with the pure evil of her personality.

      Many years later, I looked her up out of curiosity. She is still single, but the face in her picture is that of an old, sunburnt whore.

      I think this type of evil person is cultivated by circumstance and by a certain predisposition. How to avoid these women? Don’t fall for a woman who worships you, who falls for you too quickly. It is an act. We too need time to develop feelings in a relationship. Sparkles work both ways.

  • Even Dr. Harley of Marriage Builders likens affairs (even emotional affairs) to drug addictions. What do drug addicts do? They lie, throw their family under a bus and steal money for their next “high.”

    And this is why reconciliation is so risky. If the cheaters aren’t willing to do some AA-type program for the rest of their lives to ensure they will be faithful (and really, how many are willing and able to do that?), looks like the chances of recidivism are very high. And even if somehow they were able to be faithful, who is to say they won’t replace one addiction with another, like some type of drug addiction?

    It appears that cheaters have addictive personalities. My XH admitted to me that, for several years prior to having an affair with a girl 20 years younger than him, he had been obsessed with having a sex change and was seriously considering it, and was looking at a lot of transgender porn. But he said that during his affair, his transgender fantasies obsessions somehow disappeared (though he was still taking sleeping pills and other drugs like codeine to help him sleep).

    Also, look at Robin Williams. Very well-publicized addictions to drugs and alcohol. Also a long history of infidelity, including having an affair with his son’s nanny, who became pregnant with his child while he was still married to his first wife. He later married the nanny, who ended up filing for divorce like 20 years later amid rumors of his cheating and his alcohol problems. I wonder if there are any studies out there showing that people who engage in infidelity are also more likely to have other addictions.

    • I had not known about Robin Williams’s infidelity until reading about him yesterday. I also read that his first wife sued him for giving her herpes. Unbelievable.

      I really liked him as a comedian and so many of his colleagues talk about what a genius and good person he was. There are so many past associations with friends with Robin Williams in the cultural background setting our tone that I really enjoyed.

      So confusing and sad. In the end, people matter even if you are high and they don’t much matter to you at the time.

      My eulogy: Robin, you were a cheating piece of shit who made shitty choices that hurt others like hell. No matter how funny, smart and loving you seemed to be with some people, it still mattered that you decieved. You did not have it that bad— you were not a penniless refuge gang rape victim. Now you are dead having made the ultimate ass of yourself.

      • I also loved Robin Williams as an actor in some of dramatic roles and was disappointed to see that he was a cheater, though I can see it. He seems like a flaming narcissist who must have the entire spotlight on himself.

        It is also another story I think of the karma bus hitting the cheater. What a way to die. What kind of emotional pain must he have been going through considering that he had a great career, lots of friends, made a lot of money and an attractive young wife (things that many people typically associate with the “good life”)?

  • I get that people can be flawed and many people struggle with substance abuse, I get that. But I also believe that when you choose something it usually feeds two very basic needs. I want it. Or I need it. I think us Chumps fill that NEED. We are steady, loving, supportive spouses. WANT however is not so altruistic. It is a choice to be purely selfish, and fuck those consequences. Immediate need gratification rules over how does this affect me and how will this decision affect others? I think that for people who cheat they don’t think beyond what they want right NOW.

    • You got that right Drew…home with us Chumps is the safe place…where there is someone that just wants to be happy and will do anything to make that happen…even if it takes all of our self respect and dignity with it…

  • Who cares if sex addiction is real? Bottom line is that fucking other people decimates your marriage. It’s ALL bad-the deception, lying, risking our health & finances, trying to place blame……just so they can get their fix. Not many addicts beat their addictions and I for one do not want to waste the rest of my life waiting for the next relapse. It’s a poor bet & I won’t take it. My stbx can mosey on down the road to wife #3 for all I care. I’m just waiting to execute the escape plan.

  • I think one of the sad things that can happen when you’re married to, or in a serious relationship with, someone who has some sort of addiction (drugs, alcohol, sex, attention, food, exercise, porn, facebook, whatever) is that you kind of find yourself alone a lot of the time, even when they’re around. I was not smart enough to see things for what they were and, like many people here, tried to “fix” myself in the hope that life would be good again. All the while I was self-medicating with alcohol. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I definitely took refuge in a couple of glasses of wine every night. It’s a very strange life, to be very sad and hopeful at the same time, all the while trying to raise a child, hold down a job, keep the peace and pretend that there’s nothing wrong. I thought this was how most married couples lived. Maybe they do.

    • “you kind of find yourself alone a lot of the time, even when they’re around.”

      Oh this is SO TRUE. I was never so lonely as in the last years of my marriage. It was the strangest feeling having the husband there but feeling so completely isolated. I used to cry for no apparent reason in the shower in the morning, just these wracking sobs from deep inside me. I could not understand where it was coming from.

      I feel far less lonely living alone now; in fact I love it. And I don’t cry in the shower anymore. 🙂

  • My x didn’t have a sex addiction….although my water bill was exorbatant when he lived here so maybe it was an in the shower type of sex addiction. I think he was just a dumb fuck….through and through and in every way possible. One big dumb fuck!

  • I know this is an older article but thought I’d pipe in as someone who is married but separated to a self proclaimed SA. I did not give him that label he gave himself that label. Do I believe in SA? Not really sure on that. My best guess is that he gave himself that label knowing me and my heart and my kindness and my love for him that I would want to help him get better. I think he told me that because he knew on the 3rd Dday that he better claim that label to get my sympathy. I think he also knew that people would find out now that this was the third time he confessed to me that he was cheating and he cares a lot about what other people think of him (ie: coworkers) That was two years ago that this came out and sadly I wish I had this site and I wish I had the knowledge I have now because I did feel sorry for him. It did make me feel bad for him. It did make me want to help him and it does add so much more pain to the situation. I swear if he walked up to me and said I cheated on you with 60 women over our 10 year marriage because I wanted to and I could and I don’t love you it would have been painful no doubt but I would have said fuck you and fuck off. When they come crying like broken men on their knees crying saying they have an addiction you want to do the right thing for yourself but you go back to vows and you see your best friend in pain and you want to help them.You spend hours upon hours trying to figure out how does sex addictions work and it creates a whole other level of searching the net for recovery stories of SA and success rates and blah blah blah blah. From what I have read as far as my husband goes with his level of SA is that he needs severe treatment and meetings and lots and lots of therapy. He did not go to a treatment center, he went to SA meetings once a month for about a year until his/my/our therapist said she doesn’t really think that SA meeting 12 step stuff works but she can fix him so he stopped going and now goes to therapy 2X a month and that’s it. So when my therapist and my husband ask or wonder (more the therapist than him) why I freak out at the thought of moving back together it’s because I feel I have been played in more than one way. I recently brought this up with him the other day and said from everything I have read you are supposed to be in some serious treatment but you don’t even go to meetings. How was it that you could not control yourself for our entire marriage but now you have been “dry” for a year. How do you manage your urges and desires? He replied that he takes care of himself once a week and back then he did not have friends like he has now. He had no one back then really. I said what do you call me and your kids? You had us. But now he has a lot of friends at work and they all hang out and think he’s cool. I said well what happens 10 years from now when you don’t have those friends or life changes and people change jobs and move? Oh that’s a good question. I’m not sure. So my dear hubby is sober because he has good friends in his life now. Uh Okay… wonder I question him and our therapist.

  • My D-day was 8 months ago – I had suspected something was going on for about 4 months prior to that and it took me that long to get the evidence I needed to confront him – after 29 years together I found he had been visiting prostitutes – he eventually admitted to 15 years of visiting brothels -at least 2 times a year – he blamed a porn addiction and his FOO – his father was an alcoholic and a serial philanderer, but his mother was a beautiful saint that I loved. My husband also has told me his ‘story’ and has tried to present me with the ‘sex/porn addiction’ explanation I also wish that he had told me that he was just keen on fucking young prostitutes and because that’s how he got of and he was no longer interested in me. We have 4 beautiful adult children and my family has been my life’s work really – I’m a teacher and about to graduate with an honours degree in psychology but my family has been my focus – I have no siblings and my parents are both dead. He is trying very hard to convince me to allow him to stay – He was out of the house for 3 months but I have allowed him to return to attempt reconciliation. I find the thought of starting a new life alone exhausting I know that’s not a good reason to remained married and I am struggling with the realization that we do not share the same values and morals – he has been a very good deceiver and I was always prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt – I trusted him blindly. he is attending counselling once a week with a specialist in the field of sexual dysfunction and addictions. He is not attending any meetings he says he has gone cold turkey on pornography and no longer feels tempted by prostitutes – I find this hard to believe as he claims he attempted to stop his prostitution addiction over those 15 years without success – how then does he just explain being able to stop since he was exposed – he says he feels now like he was 2 different people that he didn’t fully accept that it was him acting on his desire to fuck those prostitutes and then return home to me and the children. He always exposed such judgmental views on people that strayed from their marriage and particularly those that used prostitutes – he knew my views on prostitution – I feel sorry for those women and girls they are often victims of abuse themselves and very often have addiction problems – there is a terrible problem in trafficking of women and young girls and this is directly connected to men’s use of these women as objects – that they can buy?? anyway what is reasonable to expect in the way of his action to work on himself if he does have a problem – I actually don’t feel that interested in spending the next 30 years of my life with an addict – but the thought of leaving and starting again feels exhausting – I feel stuck what would others expect as far as evidence of an honest commitment to engage in the marriage. He is humble, he apologizes regularly, he says he takes full responsibility, he listens without complaint to my rants and emotional roller-coaster, he is attending weekly therapy and marriage counselling, he says he will do anything to regain my good view of him but I do not trust him anymore – that is just broken, and there is no innocence in our marriage anymore all of my memories of thee last 15 years are tainted by the know that he was betraying me. I loved him very much but I’m not sure this will sadness and loss will ever change – and I feel that it is going to be a on-going problem – is it possible to move on from this ??? have another chumps had successful reconciliations??? How do I deal with loving him and wanting things the way I thought they were and the reality that we now are negotiating an entirely new relationship ….one that makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I feel very, very conflicted and confused. I am under no financial constraint to stay – I negotiated a financial contract prior to him returning and will leave this marriage with a comfortable life and a new career if that is what I choose. but I will lose my family as it was and I feel very attached to that although in all honesty it has been tainted for me – my children know about his unfaithfulness but not the full extent of it… I would appreciate any advise or input for others

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